Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Three Story Life - Fishbowl

I like privacy. It's been a designed part of my life, by arrangement and preference since I was 16. Fortune favored me by allowing the circumstances to keep my life quiet and personal. It hasn't been quiet or personal since living the three-story life. My stuff is out in the public domain, so much so, that, before I have my coat off from whatever undertaking, I'm asked about outcome. It's a small thing; a thing I'm a little ashamed of having trouble adjusting to, but taken in a bundle, every day, every step out the door and walk back in, it's impacting my body, my mood, my well-being. Today it's my glasses. I have a pair several months old that have been an expensive hassle. I don't remember wanting a coating (and I'm not even sure now if it's glare or scratch) but the damn stuff warps in heat. The lenses have been replaced three times already, striated at the hands of the people adjusting them who plunged them into the heated beads that allow bending the frame, thus warping my lenses. I've got striations in the left lens now, without knowing what heat did it. I don't use hot water, I don't dry my hair with my glasses on; mysterious appearance. I went to the eyeglass place to ask for a solution. Blah, blah, blah, I have no interest in talking about it because it's the usual damned if you do/don't of business transactions these days, but since I told Dad where I was going, before the door was shut, he wanted to know how much of a fight it was. I don't know why he wants to know this stuff. Is he interested in how my life is? Maybe. Does he enjoy my confrontation scenarios? Maybe. He's learned just enough about my reluctance to share everything to know how to ask a question to which I cannot reply only fine. So, he's learned that. Why can't I learn to just let it all go? I moved into the basement when I was 16 to get away from all the questions my little sisters peppered me with, and now I am already in the basement. Reminds me of the old performance review snippets being email forwarded years ago. "This employee has reached performance rock bottom, and is starting to dig."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Garden 2012 The Launch

The garden plot on Saturday, April 21. South Lyon residents can sign for a section for free, the city tills for free and I'm loving South Lyon even more. I picked Number 9. It's a sacred geometry number, one of my favorite numbers of lore from my banking days, and it's a li'l piece of a Beatles tune. It is in the worst of all possible locations for watering, equidistant farthest away from the water spigots; but closest to the woods in case of an urgent biological need. SL workers mowed and tilled both rows of sites on April 1, so there was a fine skin of grass, easily removed with a twist of a hand shovel. From the 1st to 21st, I visited the place, overwhelmed by the 30 feet x 60 feet size of it. 1800 square! Oy! I've offered the back half to friends who might grow some lettuce here, a tomato or two there. Harry, who is 92, said he's in for advice and support. I ordered Dad some heirloom Bonny Best and Beefsteak tomato seeds, and they are germinating in compostable cups from the Tuscan Cafe. On Saturday I sent Dad to the store for string and potting soil, I walked to the garden and met them there. Dad stayed in the car, Scott sat in a plastic chair enjoying the breeze. I planted two rows of onion sets, and two rows of sugar snap peas. The work felt wonderful, but I'm hurting a little still today. I want to get the golden beets in, the two varieties of heirloom spinach, and at least one of the Detroit Red heirloom beet varieties still this week. Friends offered stakes and chicken wire, when the time comes to protect the nascent plants. I am excited, nervous, and overjoyed about this first foray into the realm of growing good food.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Brigg's Mansion Stone Hedge For Sale

Stone Hedge, the home automotive magnate Walter O. Briggs built in 1915 for his family is for sale at the bargain price of $450,000. Architects Chittenden and Kotting designed the pale fieldstone manor at 700 W. Boston Boulevard. 9,638 square feet, 11 bedrooms, 9 fireplaces, 7 bathrooms, copper gutters, a cold fur closet, a liquor safe, stained glass windows, Pewabic tile. Carved into the library mantel are famous Detroit Tigers and famous opponents - Hank Greenberg, Babe Ruth, Charlie Gehringer, Lou Gehrig. Mr. Briggs owned the team from 1920 to his death in 1952. Tiger Stadium was originally Briggs Stadium, home to both the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, but despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, it was completely demolished in 2009. Neighbors in the Boston Edison neighborhood included Charles Fisher (next door on Boston Boulevard) and Henry Ford's family was around the block. Mark Hickey has some beautiful pictures of houses on the two streets. I've loved this part of Detroit for decades. My mother lived in a house there that was a home for working single women. My father courted her from the parlor - no men allowed anywhere else in the building. I wanted to buy a house on Boston back when the two streets were terribly neglected and unloved; boarded windows, fire-licked roofs, bedraggled gardens, only a few homes maintained. Since 1980, people have bought homes, repaired and planted, and the house I wanted to buy is now lovely and occupied. I hope someone who will love Stone Hedge buys it, lives happily in it, and doesn't change too much of the gorgeous history.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Too much attention paid to anything can make you balmy, and I wander in and out of the too much realm quite often. I love following research trails. Sometimes I get some insight. Mostly I get a headache. With no map, and little understanding, I'm trying to focus on my spiritual adventure, with the intention of gathering peace around and within me. Not sure this can be abetted by research, and I am not convinced any of us have the answers to a deep connection with divine higher power. I am not sure we are supposed to have the answer. If I were an omnipotent god, and wanted awe, and collective bliss for my people, I sure wouldn't put the operating manual on google docs. We journeyers talked last evening over green tea about creative bliss, finding the oneness sweetspot within, and manifesting our desires. I said being in a state of bliss is just what it is: there is nothing else. Can we connect bliss with manifesting? I honestly forgot how manifesting works. Attracting abundance. I lost that part, like a name I cannot remember. I had that eerie feeling of having to explain something urgently, and not being able to find the words. Achieving desires is destination, and what I'm understanding a little is that the journey is what we need to enjoy. Be. Now. Gratitude. Be in the now with gratitude. While we were conversing, I lost my ability to connect the dots between brain, heart, spirit. Is there a convergence someplace? Is it necessary to find it? Or is my inability to describe what I was understanding the very nature of connection with God? Acceptance is enough. Maybe that is the core of faith. The abundance of books about connecting with spirit speaks to how hard it is to explain. I read Dr. Lee Lipsenthal's book enjoy every sandwich this week. He had an extraordinary end of life experience, which he credits to his medical background, his professional path, in combination with his spiritual state. He meditated, he could put his consciousness in connection with all. He was at peace with his mortality as a spiritual and human being. He wrote of the God spot. When Janice mentioned the bliss void last night, I thought of that place in the parietal cortex, and I did a perfunctory internet search this morning. There are a couple scholarly articles about brain tumors and self-transcendance, and many sites debunking the whole notion that connectivity to God can exist in a brain spot. In My Stroke of Insight, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor describes a stroke that washed out her motor skills, while heightening her sense of spiritual well-being. She moved out of left brain and into right brain. This morning I flipped an Osho Zen Tarot card for the day. It was Turning In. Turning inwards is not turning at all. If you try to turn in, you are seeking and that leads to frustration. Oy. Did the brain invent God? Or did God invent the brain? I don't know and neither does any other human we know. We all do our best to balance the experience, and perhaps that is the key to the kingdom. As Teilhard de Chardin said, we are not humans having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Quiet by Susan Cain

Whew. I can wholeheartedly admit to being an INFJ and I feel good about that. Thanks to Susan Cain and her new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, I finally feel fine about being an introvert. Her book reveals the research regarding nature:nurture (you're born that way Intropal), temperament is not necessarily personality, that American corporations' celebration and promotional love of Harvard Business School extraverted clones is not necessarily the best choice for American businesses. Witness the run-up to 2008, during which the Harvard MBA non-risk averse/ reward seeking/ dopamine-addled CEOs brought the global economy to a crashing halt. Witness also that the government bodies supervising these extravert extreme money sportsters were populated with more of the same. My brother David sent a link to a TED Talk given by Susan Cain, and I was impressed that, although her voice shook a little, she stood there and gave us all this great information. I put a hold on her book immediately. Thanks, bro! I wrote back to David that I remembered 10th grade, the first card marking in Mr. Manos' Social Science class, what should have been a slamdunk A for me. He gave me a C. I gathered all my data, made an appointment and quaking with fear, outlined my reasons why I thought I deserved an A. He listened. He reminded me that at the beginning of the year he said class participation would be 50% of our grade. I squeaked that my participation level was the best I could pull off. He didn't budge. I didn't budge. I told him I'd take it up with my counselor. Manos changed my grade to a B-. In the business world much later, I sat during a performance review while my boss held her pencil over the "Team Player" evaluation box. "Opportunity for improvement?" she queried, pretty damn sure she'd get acquiescence. I thought about it a minute or two. I was tired; tired of forced participation over many decades, and tired of extra work to change what was essentially my core temperament. I shook my head. No. I am not a team player. I will never be a team player. I do not do well in work pods, on team building activities, or in groups of more than 2. She checked the box anyway. I took it along to my next boss, explained my position and he erased it and checked satisfactory. Introverts like quiet, minimal stimulation, privacy and the opportunity to wield their business and creative magic away from the klieg lights, and off the stage loved by extraverts. Introverts need to be given a little room. With a door. And a lock.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Movies Made, Seen and A Certain Age

Late Bloomers is a Julie Gavras film about coping with aging. Yay! Starring the real life cinema elders Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt, written by Olivier Dazat and Julie Gavras, translated by David H. Pickering. The film looks into the oppositional denial/engagement behavior of a married couple of retirement age. Marvelous, timely, real life and needed. I can't wait to see it. Reminds me of interviewing a financial planner as a married woman. When do you want to retire? he asked. Never, said the ex. Tomorrow, said I. Most importantly, the audience for this film is eager, has money and will spend it at the cinema. In 2011, movie attendance was down. Again. 2011 saw the smallest movie going audience in 15 years. Blame it on whatever you'd like, people aren't going to the cineplex. Google docs houses a pdf file of global theatrical market statistics through 2010. In recent years, women have been staying home more than men. Meanwhile, obtuse Hollywood is gambling on cash cow movies re-released in 3D despite the clear evidence that 3D attendance worldwide is going downhill fast. We have more women than men in this country. Women make over 80% of the purchase decisions for the family. We have an aging population worldwide, in bigger numbers every year. Mark Jenkins, in his review of Late Bloomers, casually tosses off the marketability of the film as not distinctive enough to draw viewers who haven't given much thought to aging. And so? It's a big, rich global crowd that wants films like this to pay to see. Perhaps the tide is turning. Women filmmakers globally are taking the next step, identifying the big bucks yet to be gathered, and employing excellent actors with maturity and skill to play characters of a certain age. Yay! to Julie Gavras and the women in film who make us cheer. And who are savvy and brave enough to detect coin in our pockets that most of Hollywood cannot discern.

Lucky Friday the 13th

13 has had a dark reputation for centuries. No 13th floor in tall buildings. Famous people avoided the number. Abhorred like national healthcare, women, the bogeyman, and the color green in business attire, undeserved negative attention has been its unlucky fate. 13 is an object of derision since patriarchy got the license to run the planet. 13 was a beautiful number when women ruled the world. The goddesses loved 13. 13 in antiquity was a holy number, a stroke of luck, good omen, shiny with divine auspices. Mama Donna Henes covers the history in depth today. There was a reason for 13 witches in a coven, and it wasn't just because women like odd numbers. If you squint at this Chinese character for luck, you can see a number 13. Or maybe I'm just lucky to be so nearsighted. And there are instructions here to draw luck. I had the good luck to review Hobart's Winter/Spring2012 literary journal titled Lucky 13 for The Review Review this month. You should be so lucky! Fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blogs for Women Over 60

A sign on the roads in England that delighted me read Priorities Change Ahead. The first time I saw this, being the obedient first responder to orders, my brain spun. A sign is a sign is a sign! I never thought what UK highway system officials intended about driving, but what this sign meant in my life. I was only 50 then. Now, immersed in the fog of accepting that there is less time for me in the future on this planet than past, I think of that sign. We all have to change priorities in a country where age is not honored, women as elders are shoved into the first available invisible place; at a time when healthcare will be a priority while legislators decide old people (and children) don't need to keep living. Priorities change ahead. We were at a jazz festival in Detroit when a young person offered us a coupon for teeth whitening stuff. The young persons used to offer cigarettes a long time ago. Priorities change ahead. As he held out the coupon, I laughed, and said teeth whitening is number 1,741 on my list of priorities. My sister laughed. What are the other 1,740? she asked. We can't tell from search results on the internet what is a priority for women over 60. Hairstyles, fashion, sex, celebrity. My priorities as a woman over 60 are similar to most American women. 1) My health, 2) Family's health, 3) Exercise, 4) Relationships, 5) Finances, 6) Good work. Work might be volunteering, if 5) Finances are in fairly good shape, and there's time because 1) and 2) are well. I keep applying for part-time work in town and I keep not getting called. And I'm trying to give attention to signs. What is the work I would love to do in the time remaining? How can I help? In what way can I help heal the political polarity, the planet, and find deeper meaning in spiritual pursuits while maintaining optimum physical condition? These are the subjects women over 60 give priority. We can help each other find the sources for reaching our real goals. Please tell me where you find additional strength on the internet, and I'll link the sites. Let's create a community that shares and celebrates our priorities because priorities change ahead.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Masters Tournament: Tradition That Needs to Change

The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and amateur golfer Bobby Jones in 1932. Roberts' tradition insisted golfers use Augusta National Golf Club caddies, all of whom were African American until 1982. That tradition ended. Since 1982 players can employ their own caddy. A par 3, 9 hole course has hosted a family event since 1960. Players participating can use their children as caddies. The nonfamily tradition ended. In 1975 Lee Elders was the first African American to compete in The Masters, 15 years before Augusta National Golf Club admitted its first black member. In 1990, the all-white tradition ended. Martha Burk tried to protest the no women allowed event in 2002 and was blocked twice by courts denying her a permit to protest. I enjoy watching The Masters. It's pleasing to watch people at the height of their professional game competing. Yesterday we talked about women not being allowed to play. These conversations included my Dad telling my sister that it doesn't matter that Augusta National is a private club; women should be allowed to compete. And I wondered out loud how to change another no women allowed tradition. It is a private club, yes. It is a private club for men only. But The Masters Tournament is a sanctioned PGA event. The PGA is complicit by allowing a private no women allowed club to host one of its major competitions. Tradition is no reason for continuing gender discrimination practices. Golf is not a man's game. Why not host a women's Masters? Or have the event elsewhere? Tradition has been changed within The Masters, and at Augusta National Golf Club, in the past. Time to end the no women allowed tradition, not just in golf, or all sports, but anywhere we identify men only exclusion. We do this the same way men have kept women out. With money. Do not support any money-making venture that mandates no women allowed. Do not support the advertisers for no women allowed events. Do not buy golf equipment that encourages no women allowed traditions to continue. Do not support candidates for office, or club administrative positions, who support men only exclusivity. Change the channel. WNBA draft is April 16. LPGA schedule is in full swing. Start watching women professionals compete.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Three Story Life: Grayscale

On this beautiful spring weekend, I cannot get myself out of the funk. Lowdown, hollow gut funk. Accumulative malaise. Scott is having an upbeat week. Dad maintains his usual life is a pain median line. All's well in the 'hood. But I've lost the color in my story. Depression is probably not catchy, but living in its weightiness long term is. For 7 years it has been my job to keep the mood elevated in the house. I haven't done a great job, but we kept going. I am unable to contribute right now. Every lift is harder than the last. I can act in a way that helps Dad deal with his issues of aging, and help keep Scott out of the way of Dad's mood, but I have trouble helping myself now. I'm down the blue scale to indigo, and the flight plan back up is missing. I know better than to read the news, or watch television because the news and television makes me scared and mad. Today I read about Walker in WI signing Act 219, reversing the equal pay law. Ron Christy on Hardball with Smerconish last night spouted the litany of Republican crud that the war on women the Republicans are waging across the country is a construct of the Democrats. And my gut gets hollower. The war on women perpetrated by drone Republicans doesn't impact my life as much as every tshirt put in the wash inside-out does, but it feels similar. It feels like progress is ephemeral and pointless. Tried to pay my car insurance yesterday. $12/month increase. And she warned about $30/year per driver Michigan mandated increase coming in May. I was so defeated by this I walked out. I actually said out loud I can't deal with this right now. I commented to Dad about it yesterday, and he got further depressed. My bad. Just now he said I want to help you out. He wants to give me $20 to buy a pair of sandals he just bought. It's a lovely thought, it's shoes, and I'm grateful for his offer, but it just made me sadder. I thanked him, demurred, and he said he doesn't want me to miss out on the sale. Sigh. My sadness must be terribly obvious, when Dad wants to help me cheer up. There are so many of us caregivers in the world, doing the best we're able, while we lose surety of our ability to do our best. We lose the essence of appreciation when we cannot appreciate ourselves. And we must appreciate us. To all the caregiving, weary, big-hearted women who wonder if there are good thoughts ever to be had again, I'm sending mighty good thoughts in your direction right now. Hold yourself tight, sisters. Hug yourself, pray, suck your thumb, cry, write a blog post, go to bed and pull the covers over your head, but find a way to heal for this moment. The next moment will take care of itself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fairytale Movie Princesses = Boomer Anxiety About Aging?!

We have an infestation of fairytale princesses in theaters, and more on the way. Snow White has three, and Sleeping Beauty is in the house, too. Mirror, Mirror plays Julia Roberts as the evil stepmother queen. Snow White and the Huntsman features Charlize Theron as the obsessed woman on the throne. I think we're getting these princesses and the wicked (but oh, so beautiful) stepmoms because there just aren't any women caped crusaders to follow the guys into the theater. Have we had enough of comic book heroes? Probably not. But since we have no equally famous and powerful women in that realm, we're stuck with fairytales. Fairytales have a beautiful princess who either sleeps, pricks her finger spinning, falls down running and is rescued by a bunch of short guys, or just hangs around waiting for a handsome prince to rescue her from whatever lowly existence she thinks she has. And an evil wicked nasty queen is just good fun, right? Well, not according to a Harvard professor quoted last week in an article by Linda Holmes about Snow White's recidivist film appearance. We're addressing aging women's anxiety about...aging, according to Maria Tatar, Harvard professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the mythology and folklore program, and Holmes claims she specializes in fairytales. Oy. I want to know what research supports such ludicrous speculation, and what the hell the article is playing at. None of these plots indicate pop culture connectivity of any kind. The queens want the young girls dead. The queens want to eat the princess's liver. The queens are murderous psychopaths, and this relates to women anxious about aging? Lest we all forget - again - boys with money who want more money decide which movies are made. Boys have no interest whatsoever in addressing boomer women's anxiety about getting older. This is not why these movies are getting made. What a load of...fairytales.