Wake Up

Facebook has exploded with photos, meme’s, commentary, and disgust at what happened this weekend in Charlottesville.  I’ve got friends, People of Color, who are triggered.   I would be too.  Free speech is one thing, but Hate Speech is not protected under the 1st amendment and this entire rally was about Hate specifically directed at People of Color.  They should never have gotten a permit under that premise.  Even allowing the ACLU supporting their right to march, they should have been shut down as soon as they showed up with torches and weapons.

The meme’s that truly twist my gut are the one’s that compare the police responses.  Charlottesville vs Ferguson (actually, according to some eye-witness responses I’ve read the most aggressive police actions in Charlottesville were against the unarmed counter-protestors.)  Charlottesville vs Standing Rock (When the Nazi’s showed up armed where were the high pressure water hoses (in freezing temperatures) and the rubber bullets?).  Most terrorist acts in this country have been committed by alt-right, white, males.  Why aren’t we more afraid?

Well, some of us are.  The problem is that most of the “authority” in this country is also white and male.  I guess it’s harder to be afraid of someone who looks like you.  People of Color know.  None of them are surprised by the way things went down in Charlottesville.  Women know too, but we’ve been taught to stay silent, to accept that ‘boys will be boys’.

Being Politically Correct takes a bad rap.  But let’s talk about being socially correct.  Let’s talk about being kind, civil, caring, thoughtful and considerate.  Can we say, “That is NOT acceptable behavior.” when someone is actively trying to hurt someone else?  Can we say, “That is a hurtful statement.” when someone says something that may not be intentional but is still not appropriate?  Can we say, “Your feelings do not entitle you to hurt someone else.” when someone uses Free Speech as an excuse for Hate?

How often in my life have I remained silent when someone has spouted aggressive, hateful language?  How often have I neglected to come to the defense of people I love, who society has marginalized?  I have heard comments about People of Color, Gay people, Trans people, Disabled people, People of Faith and I have not always spoken up.

Small excuses lead to big actions.  When someone is not called out, it gives them permission to continue.  When no line is drawn there is implicit permission to escalate.  What happened in Charlottesville is not acceptable behavior.  Anyone who can’t see that needs to take a good look at why they support rude, hateful, hurtful, and inconsiderate behavior and recognize that it is supporting that kind of behavior that is truly evil.

Author

At my table at the MN Authors Book Fair

I do love to read and although I’m not keeping up in the reviewing department I have been catching up on the stack of books sitting beside my chair.  As an author I have a great appreciation for readers.  I am delighted when people are interested in my books.  As a reader I am not a good friend to authors.

Perhaps it’s the introvert in me that makes me resistant to reaching out to the authors I admire.  I am well over the shyness I had as a child.  I’ve worked with the public.  I can talk to anyone if I have to.  I’m just not inclined to reach out first, even with my good friends.

I had the opportunity this weekend to be an author in public.  My writer’s group hosted a book fair.  I went and had a good time.  One of the other women in the group offered to share a table with me.  That made stepping away for a little break a lot easier.  It also encouraged me to have some conversation.  In that context, talking to other authors is interesting and easy.

I did a reading which was well attended.  I got a lot of questions both curious and contentious.  I find it amusing when people think I’m against them and try to challenge me.  I’ve come to a place in my life where I can stand pretty comfortably in my truth and not get defensive.  I have a calling.  I write from a point of view.  If you need me to have further credentials then I’m not your gal.

Some of the most delightful people I talked to were clearly extraverts.  I love getting caught up in that kind of energy and carried along for a short bit.  One of the women I spoke with writes about and advocates for women recovering from the sex trafficking industry.  I have no exposure or experience outside of the news so I was truly interested in hearing her story.

At the table next to us was an author who writes mysteries.  That’s not a genre I’m particularly attracted to as a reader.  It was fun to eavesdrop on her conversations as she sold her books and to talk to her as well.  I am intrigued and might have to check out her series.

There was a great variety of styles, genre’s, topics represented at the fair.  I managed to leave without buying a book, but it was really hard.  I have a few on my list for later, once I get to the bottom of my reading pile.

Sacrificial King

Crossing the Mississippi at the corner of MN,WI,and IA

In Frazer’s The Golden Bough there is some exploration of the notion of the sacred king.  There are a number of components to this idea.  One is in the Divine right of kings to rule, and subsequently that they are the representatives of the Divine on Earth.  Then there is the belief that the kings are connected to the land.  As the king succeeds the land thrives, as the king fails or falls ill the land is depleted.  In a system that holds these principles to be true, the logical outcome is to demand the sacrifice of the king to relieve a drought or natural disaster.  Frazer took that philosophy and connected it to the agricultural cycle of reaping and sowing – death and rebirth.

Prairie reclamation project at Wyalusing – Wisconsin State Park

I came back from spending a long weekend on the land to see my Facebook full of images of our Secretary of the Interior assessing National Parkland for its value to sell to industry for development.  Moving from visiting a Prairie reclamation project at the height of success to a clearly out of control consume and profit narrative was disheartening to say the least.

On the way home I noticed the corn was starting to come in from the fields.  The corn harvest is the mark for me of the Lammas celebration, John Barley Corn is dead, long live John Barley Corn.  This is the representation in Wicca of the sacred king mythology.  The grain God is sacrificed to feed the people.

Prairie Flowers

It’s been difficult to sort out the sacred from the political.  Police are shooting people, healthcare continues to be threatened in spite of an overwhelming majority who clearly want to have coverage, and our sacred lands are being sold out from under us – again and still.

I see spiritual representatives from around the world being dismissed by Big Oil at Standing Rock.  I see a spiritual leader in my hometown, trying to help a neighbor in distress, being shot by police.  I see places that I’ve stood in awe of nature being looked upon as a feast for mining, logging and manufacturing industries.

Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King.  This is part of the grail quest.  The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King.  The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land.  Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail.  Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.

“LIfe will find a way”

We need to ask the questions.  We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand.  Why can’t we get along?  Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause?  When and how much is enough?  Who has the vision for our future?  Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?

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Happy Lammas!

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Previous blogs about the holiday season:

Lammas

Ducks, Geese, and Corn

Corn Mother

First Fruits

Corn on the Cob

 

Contentment

Minnie would be more content if I’d leave her alone during nap-time

I think a lot about what it means to me to be happy, to be content, and to be satisfied.  I don’t spend a lot of time appreciating my successes or taking in the feeling of a job well done.  I suppose I could do some psychological speculation about why that is, why I don’t “allow” myself to enjoy success.  What it comes down to is I’m always looking for the next thing.

My daughter, Karina, has been very verbal about bringing all of this to my attention over the years.  She doesn’t appreciate it when she struggles to make me happy, or to meet an expectation only to get “Now that that is out of the way……….”  Her, “Hey!  Wait just one minute.” has forced me many times to stop and honestly acknowledge her efforts.  This is why I really need a gratitude practice.

Orion and I at the movies. I still need practice at the selfie.

This weekend was a simple, easy, uneventful weekend.  Orion and I did a few things.   We saw the new Spiderman movie.  He got a haircut and his beard trimmed.  We kept an eye on Minnie (Karina’s dog).  I puttered a bit in the kitchen.  There was a conference call for event planning committee and the beginnings of organizing things to bring.  I stayed up late and finished a couple of books.  I slept in until I was ready to get up.

Reviewing the week, thinking about what I was going to write in my blog, I realized that this was contentment.  Not too much, not too little, but a just right weekend.  Then I realized that part of the reason I could feel that contentment (rather than pressure, or resentment, or disappointment, or exhaustion) was because I had the previous weekend off.

I went into this week well rested.  I’m feeling good.  I have a list of things “to do” but feel like I’m making progress and not overwhelmed.  I had a good balance of things I wanted to do and things I needed to do.  And the things I needed to do I appreciated being able to do.

Post hair-cut Orion is very pleased about “looking sharp”

This coming week I’m gearing up for a whirlwind.  The event, Earth Conclave, is on the schedule.  I know I won’t get a blog in next Monday (maybe Tuesday).  I’m excited and nervous and hoping I have left myself enough time to put what I’ll need together.

But…. I don’t have to pack up Orion for the weekend.  That’s taken care of with the new schedule.  I don’t have to worry about not being able to get through.  I have a health reserve going in.  I may be on the committee, but it’s not “my show”.  I’m not cooking,  I’m not “in charge” of anything.  I’ve volunteered to facilitate a few things on the schedule, but I know this group (and my skill set) and it won’t be difficult.

This is where gratitude is easy for me.  I haven’t always been able to do these things, or do them without too much effort.  I am very grateful to have the opportunity, and the support, to be able to do them again.

 

Weekends

Sometimes “not being Mom” means going to Minnehaha Falls with my daughter.

My schedule has changed considerably in the past few weeks.  My son’s step-mother and I have come to an agreement that scheduling would work better for everyone if the two of us confab and just let the ex know what we’ve arranged.  That said, she even offered to return to the original agreement ex and I had when we first split up!

This is huge for everyone.  It means Orion will be spending quite a bit more time with his father.  It means that it will be easier on both sides to plan weekend events.  It also means I may actually have an opportunity for a life outside of being “Mom”.

Orion will tell you the bed at Oma’s isn’t as nice as his, but he makes do.

Orion and I spent the week of 4th of July with my parents.  It’s clear they need a little help as they age and I’ve been trying to visit more frequently and for longer periods of time.  I missed the trip I’d planned for Memorial Day weekend as I was in bed on heavy duty pain killers.  Walking in at my folks I admit to feeling a little guilty for not making it up.

I know what it’s like to not be able to keep up with the day-to-day of living.

My little sister and her family had a visit while we were there. That’s my Dad and my other sister’s “handy” husband.

My own house is suffering from years of neglect and I’m playing catch up when I can.  My parents are now at a point where they also need a boost just to stay even.  They didn’t get that when I didn’t show up in May.  After I’d been there a day I texted a friend “I think I’ve done more housework since I arrived than I’ve done at my house in the last month!”  (I’m not sure if she was shocked about how much I was doing there or how little I’d done at home.  LOL)

Andrea is the sister who does most of the care-taking. That back brace (and surgery) has slowed her down just a little bit this past month.

I don’t want to give the impression I’m doing it all.  My sister is a trouper.  She’s covering long drives, doctor appointments and scheduling, medications, emergencies and the 30 min. weekly (plus) drop-in to see how things are going.  Her new husband has done things like adding grab bars to the bathrooms, helping with deadfall, and maintaining the driveway.  He has also committed to shoring up the back porch and gazebo.  (I wish I had one or two of him at my house!)

It’s not all work either.  I had a lovely chat or two with my Mom.  Orion and I got Dad to take us out on the lake in the canoe.  Meals are still good (even if I am doing more of the cooking) and Dad still bakes bread.  Orion gets his waffles for breakfast and most of the time he and Dad manage ‘bathed and dressed’ without me.  (I do lay clothes out the night before.)

I’m grateful that I still have them to visit and that I’m able to be helpful.  I’m grateful that they are still managing in their home.  I’m very grateful my sister is close by when they need something.

Things change and life moves on.  It’s clear we’re all shifting into a new stage.  Hopefully we’ll all manage to do this with grace and compassion (and maybe a little fun).

Midsummer

Happy Litha! The feverfew is blooming under the new moon.

It’s been cold and rainy here.  Cold is relative.  Two months ago I thought 50 degree evenings were crazy warm.  It’s always seemed odd to me, a native Minnesotan, that Midsummer comes when it does.  Pretty much this marks the beginning of our genuinely hot season.

Karina’s birthday is at the beginning of June and we couldn’t plan her preferred pool party unless we delayed it or held it indoors.  Cool isn’t unusual.

Because of everyone’s crazy schedule we’re still delaying her birthday.  We managed to all get together this weekend.  Karina and I have a deal.  I take her out to a high-end dinner for her birthday and she does the same for me.

Happy birthday Karina! Huge deserts and the leftover bags.

This year she chose Pittsburgh Blue, a chain steakhouse.  It was surprisingly good.  The steaks were done to perfection and the seafood we had was also very tasty.

Gilda’s Club Friends and Family Day photo

Orion and I also stopped by Gilda’s Club for Friends and Family Day.  We’ve been doing this as an annual event, being sure to get our photos taken.  Looking at those pictures I note I have a jacket or sweater on in most of them.

We did silly one’s too

Orion brought his drum and we enjoyed a drumming workshop along with visiting. Hoof on the Roof, a folk band, joined us as we finished up drumming.  It was a treat to jam with them.

In spite of the cold things are starting to bloom in the garden.  I got behind so I still have a few things to plant.  I’ve been worried that I’ll lose everything when we start tearing things up to get the remodel going, but I’m afraid we are stalled again.  I really don’t want to wait for another year!  I miss having a fully functional kitchen.

tomatoes are starting to form in spite of the cool evenings

There are things I’ve been putting off (like a new microwave) in anticipation of getting this all taken care of.  It’s frustrating.

Fourth of July is coming up fast and furiously.  I’ll probably be off-line, so don’t worry if you don’t see a Monday blog next week.  I will try to remember to take some photos.

Hints of jalapeño as well

 

 

Maybe parades and fireworks will fill my page.  Maybe flowers and wildlife will inspire me.  Maybe I’ll remember to take pictures of the family.  Fingers are crossed for a fun filled, good weather, holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Midsummer Posts:

Midsummer

Storm

Midsummer – apparently I’m not very creative with titles at this time of year!

Charleston – I haven’t posted about Philandro Castile.  It’s too close to home, too horrible, and I’m not the one.  But I will say Black Lives Matter, because they should and it’s pretty clear that they don’t.  I will say it’s important to remember.

Theory

Testing the theory: things will look better after taking a break

We seem to live in a world where “Fake news” is thrown around to discredit something someone doesn’t “like”.  I see all too often that belief seems to count as much or more than science or facts.   “Theory” is an inflammatory word.   I suspect that’s because there are a lot of people who “believe” they understand what it means and don’t want to be told they are mistaken.

It doesn’t help that the word has a specific usage in scientific lingo and a much broader usage in the English language.  When someone says, “In theory….” it’s clear there is speculation involved.  There is not a great confidence between what is “supposed” to happen and what seems “likely” to happen.  When a scientist talks about, “The theory….” it pretty much means that in all the time that theory has existed it’s been the best explanation of all the facts available and that so far nothing has come up to contradict it.

When we talk about education theory or theory in a philosophical setting what we’re really doing is talking about belief.  We really want something to be true so we create a theory and then test it in practice.  But people being people, we don’t want to change our beliefs, so when things don’t work we change the parameters of the test.   No wonder everyone is confused.

In science when a fact shows up that disproves the theory, the theory gets changed so that it explains ALL the facts.  It’s a very different mindset.

So, although I’m still taking tests and they still come back “normal” there are some theories.

Testing Karina’s theory: you need a little more sass

I have speculated, for much of my life, that the place my back goes out puts stress on the nerves that impact my digestion.  The converse also applies, when my digestion is aggravated it “stresses” my back.  I’ve seen this happen time and again and when I can break that feedback loop things do seem to improve.  I think it’s the explanation that best fits the facts as I see them.

My chiropractor is on board with this theory.  He did an x-ray series and can point to places where it’s likely there is some stress on the nerves.  Unfortunately, in order to be “clinical” the nerves have to be pretty much pinched off, which thankfully they are not.  The radiologist makes some remarks about odd curves and twists but concludes basically “normal” (I’m sure there’s a for a woman of my age in there somewhere.)  We’re hoping a chiropractic radiologist will be a little more specific and can talk insurance into paying for more frequent adjustments.

Likewise the other tests come back “normal” but when the bariatric PA looks at them she sees potential for issues.  So I’ll take another test and then the entire bariatric group will put their heads together and see if indeed the PA’s observations explain the problem.  If her theory holds then they will decide if there is anything they might recommend doing about it.

It may be that I just had a bad turn of what has been a chronic problem and that treatment is to do what I’ve been doing all along.  I might have some bad spells and may need a little more intense intervention – pain meds, more frequent adjustments, possibly another round of physical therapy – to get through those acute moments.

That certainly sounds a lot better than the other possibilities that have been floating around in my head!   Thank you all for your concern and good wishes.

Tests

I am a good test taker.  I always have been.  Unfortunately that makes things a little difficult when it comes to the medical community.

I know something is wrong.  I’ve known something is wrong for several months.  My tests all look good.  It can’t possibly be a big deal right?

There is a great deal of evidence that women present differently than the male based “standard” in a lot of conditions.  There is a great deal of evidence that women are dismissed when they report symptoms.  Historically I have found that my instincts are probably more reliable than a few tests:

I told my mother I had a tummy ache.  She said it was because I’d eaten too much (chocolate).  I said I couldn’t get up.  She said I shouldn’t stay home from school.  24 hours later my appendix burst on the operating table.

I had a surgeon ask me flat out if I was sure he should take out my gall bladder.  After all I was pregnant and the tests were not definitively bad.  After the surgery he said my gall bladder looked like a green raspberry it was so full of pencil point sized stones.  Yes, it needed to come out.

I had a GI specialist do a CT scan.  All the other doctors and nurses were whispering colon cancer under their breaths.  Late that evening he came in and told me not to worry.  It couldn’t be cancer.  It was probably crones disease.  How can you possibly take away a diagnosis like that unless you’re sure?  He was sure, based on the tests, and he was wrong.

I had persistant bleeding, a little anemia.  It’s that whole peri-menopause thing the doctors told me.  The anemia wasn’t that bad – take some iron.  Talk to a gyn about an ablation, you could force menopause that way.  The gyn did a biopsy (as standard procedure) but everything looked good. It did force menopause.  I had endometrial cancer and a hysterectomy.

I’ve had high blood pressure that didn’t respond to blood pressure meds.   That’s because the rise in blood pressure was indicating pain (which I and really bad at reporting).  I’ve had blood clots with both cancers, and it’s a good thing because treating those blood clots is the only thing that got the cancers diagnosed.  It’s not like I haven’t gone off the rails on tests, just not in predictive or indicative ways.

So for the last two weeks I’ve been taking tests.  They all look great.  That’s supposed to be good news.  But I know something is wrong.  My experience tells me the harder it is to find what is actually causing the problem, the harder it’s going to be to address it.  Still more tests.  Still more to come………

Holiday Weekend

You can see I’ve not spent a lot of time tending to the gardens

I’ve not been feeling well.  That’s why I’ve missed a post (or two).  It’s also why I had to cancel my plans for the Memorial Day weekend.   Orion and I were going to go up and spend time with my parents.  We were all looking forward to it.  Unfortunately I wasn’t up for the drive, much less a week in a bad bed.

Instead Orion got to spend the weekend with his father.  I got to spend the weekend on pain meds and in pajamas.   Not feeling well is boring.   I did a little puttering when I felt up to it.

One day I decided I was up to putting in a few of my plants.  I have a lot of containers so this isn’t a strenuous task.  I was sorting through my “greenhouse” for the tomatillio’s and watering what I was leaving behind.  Apparently I was there long enough to panic the poor fawn that was hiding behind the clematis.

I didn’t even notice it (not that I was noticing much anyway) until it ran from its hiding spot.  Poor thing had to be scared near to death.  Unfortunately it ran to the nearest, darkest, hidey hole it could find.  My garage.

Step carefully over the shovels and don’t cut yourself on the sickle on that table!

Now I had to worry that the little fawn might get hurt climbing amongst the piles.  Gardening tools have some sharp edges.  Fuel for tiki torches is toxic.  Who knows what might slip and slide in that stack of coolers.  I gathered my things and went into the back yard, leaving the garage door open.

When evening came I had to make a decision.  I wasn’t going to bed with the doors wide open, but I didn’t want to trap the fawn overnight.  About 9pm I shut the door and before I went to bed I went into the garage and looked around.

I didn’t see the fawn anymore.  I know they are experts at hiding.  I know the light wasn’t very good.  I crossed my fingers and went to bed.

The next day my daughter came over and dropped off her dog.  My daughter is a competent, conscientious, independent young woman.  But sometimes when she comes home she’s 6.   She came in and left the garage and the house door standing wide open.   I only know this because as she was getting ready to go she realized her dog had run out.

Peek-a-boo all the way under the table and out the other side

Later that afternoon Minnie (the dog) and I took a little walk.  When we came back in through the garage I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  Damn.  The fawn is in the garage.  I don’t know if it was there all night or if it came back in the wake of Karina.  Minnie didn’t notice it and I wanted to keep it that way.

I left the garage door open.  I did put out some water.  I also threw some oats along the driveway.  I curled back up in my chair (that walk was a lot!) and watched movies for the rest of the evening.

As dusk settled I noticed the light went on in the garage.  I have a motion sensor in there.  I grabbed the camera and snuck over to the window.  Sure enough the fawn was creeping back outside.  Then I looked up, as did the fawn.

tentative….

A happy ending.  The pair ran off into the back yard and I immediately shut the garage door.  It started raining, heavily, and I returned to my cozy chair and my movie.  That was about as much excitement as I could manage for the weekend, but it left a warm feeling.  I’m grateful to have been a participant.

Happy Ending for all

 

Sorry the photo quality is so bad.  Most of these are taken at a distance with zoom.  Several are through the window, and standing a bit back.  But at least you get the gist.

 

Have a Good Day

The end of a good day

I’ve been listening to some of my friends talk about the notion of acknowledging “Today was a good day”.   It’s something that one of them noticed in a series about living in Alaska.  People, who are essentially living on the edge of subsistence, finish up their day with that little affirmation, “Today was a good day.”

We speculated about whether this is an Alaska thing.  I suggested it might just be something that shifts when you’re living on the edge.  I equated it to the Native American “Today is a good day to die.”

My friends are using this affirmation to see if it shifts their world view.  They think it does.  It changes the way they approach their days.  It started me thinking about what makes a day a good day.

A day sailing is a good day

I’ve certainly had days where if I managed to get dressed or showered that was a good day.  I’ve had days where just being alive at the end of the day meant it was a good day.  I’ve had days where I’ve gotten all kinds of things accomplished be a good day.  I’ve had days where I’ve been of service be a good day.

It’s interesting to me that there isn’t any kind of personal standard for a good day.  I like that.  I like that there is room for a good day no matter what kind of shape I might be in.  I like that I can have a good day just taking care of me as well as having a good day helping out someone else.

Captain Beth ( WIMNsail.net ) pulling out of the Marina – sharing in someone else’s passion is always a good day

In thinking about a good day there is something that does stand out for me.  A good day is active rather than passive.  I don’t mean that there needs to be a lot of activity.  I can have a good day curled up reading.  But there is a big difference between choosing to spend the day reading and sitting down for a break and having the day disappear.

There’s something about a good day that requires attention being paid to the day.  A good day demands engagement at some level.  Perhaps that is the change my friends are observing.  By using the affirmation they find themselves paying more attention to their days.  Being more appreciative, living in gratitude for each day, is certainly a positive life change.

Maybe I’ll give this good day thing a try.

On or in the water sounds like a good day to me.

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