When it hits close to home…

Posted on January 8, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Health, Philosophy |

Arizona Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords

It is a sad thing that my first post of a new year involves local tragedy. I use the word “tragedy” advisedly, as many things happen during a lifetime, and looked at from a very broad perspective, are part of the dance of life. Use of the word “dance” here is in no way meant to demean or make light of the real emotions involved. I have been filled with emotion all this day.

I woke up about an hour before the event occurred, with a blinding headache. This is unusual for me, and although I hadn’t been feeling tip-top for some days, I was surprised at this. I also felt a bit wary, as if there were tension in the air.

I made my morning tea and toast, and turned on the computer, as I generally do. I don’t usually look at the news outlets first thing in the morning, but, through my email, I am signed up for local breaking-news-alerts. Sometimes I find the notion almost funny—as there is very little breaking news in southern Arizona, other than occurrences regarding border security with Mexico, which is only an hour’s drive south of me.

I immediately noticed the name in the news, today. Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is MY congressperson, I voted for her each of the three times she ran for, and won, her congressional seat. I have heard her speak; she has left phone messages at my home letting me know when she’ll have a townhouse meeting near me. I’m on her email update list, and I follow her on Twitter. In short, although I’m not VERY political, she is the politician I am most in touch with.

Additionally, the shooting incident took place about 8-9 miles from me, in a shopping center I’ve visited frequently, usually while on my way to pick up supplies for a job. I had lunch at a restaurant a few yards away, just two days ago. I picked up some sundry items at the pharmacy next door while there. I had actually planned to attend one of Rep. Giffords town meetings when she came to my town.

As the day unfolded, I heard the incorrect report that the Congresswoman had died of her gunshot wound to the head. Tears streamed down my face. Later, it was reported that she survived her wound, and was recovering well after surgery. Her aide, a judge, and a little girl, among 3 others were not as lucky, and several others remain in critical condition. At this time, I don’t know if I knew any of the victims. It is possible. Tucson, though large in area has a small town feel and is a close-knit community, and as I’ve worked on the periphery of performing arts organizations, I have had occasion to help coordinate events with the mayor of Tucson and other political leaders.

I say this not to name-drop, but to show how much the community works together. This is very personal to us here, and even more stunning as it makes international news. The area where the shooting took place is normally very peaceful and congenial. Everyone knows the intersection and the small businesses surrounding it; it is a crossroads of the northwest part of the vicinity.

Our local news advised us to avoid the area, as the streets were shut down in all four directions. This is a major artery here, and I’ve passed through hundreds of times as my most direct route to get to meetings in central Tucson. I’m scheduled to attend a dinner tonight; I don’t know at this moment if I’ll be able to get there.

Mostly, in addition to those who were killed and injured today, I mourn the loss of freedom of expression. Ms. Giffords has always been known for her friendliness and for really hearing what her constituents have to say. She flies all the way home from Washington to have these meetings regularly. She is a moderate Democrat, and has been considered by some Republicans to be more the old style of Republican than are the current “Tea Party” Republicans.

Tucson is not a hugely important city in the United States; certainly it’s no Chicago or New York or Los Angeles. That something like this could happen so close to home has me rattled. I feel quite safe, or at least as safe as I always did, as the police have the suspect in custody, and it appears to be an isolated incident. But I felt, as I watched the national news coverage of the scene, much as I did when viewing the aftermath of 9/11…although obviously a much less impactful event in the scheme of things, there is a loss of innocence and joy that I and many will now have to work to recapture. My heart and my thoughts go out to all impacted by this and other similar events.

Peace; Salaam; Shalom β™₯

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Posted on December 18, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Music, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality |

I want to get this down while it’s still fresh in my mind. Today, (and similar days in past Decembers), is one of the more emotionally devastating, yet ultimately satisfying days of my year. I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally, but, I think…in a good way.

I do free-lance administrative work for several arts and cultural organizations. One of them is a chorus I sing in as well. Today, we made our annual “Christmas Caroling” trek. I put that in quotes, as I don’t really know what “Christmas” means…more about that in a minute. I generally grumble and mutter under my breath when the group plans this expedition. Coming up to the time, it seems overly precious and sentimental; not to mention, well, more “religious” than I’m comfortable with. I’m the kind of secularist that, on one level, really doesn’t understand how someone can say something like: “I’m an atheist. But. I really like Christmas!” —what? What does that mean? To me, when I observe the society around me, I can’t define “Christmas” as any one thing. It is a pivotal celebration for some branches of religionists. It’s also associated with Pagan or natural celebrations of solstice; in fact the solstice observances of many cultures have been hijacked by the Christians in order to incorporate already existing holy times into the celebration of their leader’s birth.

The confusing thing to me is that in some countries, Christmas is also a cultural holiday; a time to share gifts and cards, parties and greetings, and perhaps a softer attitude than at other times of the year. Is there something in the darkest time of the year that causes us to slow down and reflect? Something beyond the religiosity of it all?

In times past, I’d tell people I don’t celebrate the holiday, as I’m not a Christian or a Pagan. I’d receive looks ranging from the quizzical to the hostile; from those who’d ask what either of those spiritual paths has to do with it (!) to those who are strictly Christian and don’t like the Pagans or secularists usurping “their” holiday. (Kind of ironic, considering)

So I grumble and complain and say I don’t want to do this “caroling” thing…and yet…I always do. We’re not the kind of carolers that go door-to-door. We visit care facilities such as today’s Alzheimer’s, Hospice, and Chronic Care units. I realize, as I always do, that most of the people who receive the gift of our songs have heard them all their lives, whatever their religious or lack of religious upbringing. These holiday songs are ubiquitous. You’d have to travel somewhere really remote, or never leave your home between November 1st and December 26th to avoid them. This becomes important in the saga of the caroling.

Our first visit was to an Alzheimer’s unit, a nice set of five cottages around a central courtyard. We visited all five cottages. In most, there were a mix of relatively alert, and pretty-much-out-of-it residents, with a few visiting family members thrown in. We never know what kind of reception we are going to get, because with Alzheimer’s patients, the short-term memory is the first to go, and they may not remember their son’s name, for instance, but they sometimes do remember all the words to a Christmas carol. I’ve seen this happen many times. The residents will look around in confusion as we enter their living space. Are they supposed to know who we are? Some of them give us hostile or suspicious looks.

And then: We start to sing. We sing very well, as we are from a semi-professional chorus. Rich, four-part harmony greets the residents as they listen to familiar tunes. Some of them open their eyes, and watch, with rapt expressions. Others keep their eyes closed, but, somehow, mouth the words. Still others wake up, as if from a long sleep, and start to sing along; voices beautiful; moving; emotional.

This is when the magic happens for me. For those few moments, there is no illness; no loss of cognitive function. We all share in these carols we know so well. We sing a mix of purely secular winter songs (Jingle Bells; Frosty the Snowman) Pagan (Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly) to the overtly religious (O Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night) and we always end with We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and at that moment, I do; I really do!

As we ended with each group, we went to shake hands with those who were able to do so, and greet them. Two women and one man kissed my hand. πŸ™‚ We were told by their caretakers that they hadn’t seen some of them this animated in a long time. I felt blessed in my ability to share this gift. I was content. It was meaningful. We had another facility, a county nursing home to visit, and then…we had “a thing at the mall”.

“What a contrast”, I thought to myself, “between singing to these lovely folks who can’t get out for a concert, and singing for a lot of mall shoppers trying to get the best deal!”

At the county-run large nursing home facility, I recognized several residents from the prior year. Unlike at the previous venue, there were a variety of ages; many quite young, but profoundly disabled and requiring 24-hour care. The staff member that took us around to three main lounges explained that, although some residents would have their eyes closed, or otherwise appear to “not be all there”, they nevertheless just might be able to take the music into their inner lives. She told us that last year, a resident came out of a coma after we sang! This was the first I’d heard of that. Again, a few audience members sang or mouthed some of the words with us. Others sat still and unblinking with tears running down their cheeks. One man, relatively young, sat with his eyes closed, seemingly oblivious, until, during Jingle Bells, two of the singers actually jingled bells they had brought with them. He opened his eyes and stared and stared at us.

And so, on to the “mall thing”. I will say that, although I don’t frequent malls to begin with, this day is probably the last day I would have chosen to visit any mall. The parking lots, and the mall itself were packed with shoppers, hoping to be inspired just a week before the holiday that causes them to give.

Some, obviously, were enjoying the shopping. Many, however, had “that look” on their faces; the “concentrated; obligatory; let’s get this gift buying over with” sort of expression that makes me question the wisdom of this December Debacle.

I hoped that what we were about to do would ease their pain, if only a little! πŸ™‚

Inspired by a project born in another state, the Arizona Music Teacher’s Association decided to bring a “Random Act of Culture” to southern Arizona’s busiest mall on the busiest shopping day of the year. Fresh from my lunch of hummus and Greek salad, I wandered over to the large rotunda. There was an organ playing Christmas carols; not a terribly unusual thing in a mall in this season. It seemed there were many onlookers lining the railings from the floor above, and as I and my colleagues merged and mingled with the shoppers, we became aware that it was almost time. The organ stopped. And then it started again, at four times its previous volume. A conductor appeared on the landing between the floors. As the organ completed the introduction, several hundred voices, all mixed in with the shoppers, began to sing. Chills ran up my spine. Although under very different circumstances than in my morning activities, I still felt that I and the others “ministered” to these shoppers, perhaps victims of our consumerist culture; perhaps only trying to bring happiness to their families and friends.

As I contemplate my day, I’ve let go of feeling that any one group was more deserving than another. We’re all in this together, doing the best we can. As I was driving home from the mall (after taking 38 minutes just to be able to leave the mall!) I noticed a bumper sticker on the car ahead of me: “Don’t Postpone Joy”. Indeed.

Here is video from the project that inspired ours. We may make the local evening news with our event; if so, I’ll post an update here. We sang the same music as in the video, and received the same spontaneous applause.
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Her Beans and My Heart β™₯

Posted on December 17, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy |

Roasted Sesame Green Beans

Last month, I participated in that American Institution known as “Thanksgiving Day”. For the past couple of years I had attended a potluck dinner, and was assigned to bring vegetables. Although green beans are traditional for this meal, I wanted something different, and consulted my favorite food blogger, whom I’d known for about a year at the time. “Sesame Green Beans” were the result of this consultation, and were the hit of the party two years running.

This year, through a series of events, I was called upon to provide the entire Thanksgiving meal, although for a smaller number of people. I again cooked the green beans, but this year, it was a different experience. The beans were excellent, as always, but I was not able to report that fact to the dear friend who had provided the recipe.

You see, I only knew her through her blog, and through the many emails we’d exchanged over the three years we knew each other. Last year, soon after I reported my latest bean success; I read what was apparently to be her last blog post. She wished her readers a happy Christmas, declared she’d be back in the new year…and was not heard from again.

Most of you know that bloggers come and go. It is a strange medium in some ways; if a person wishes to be anonymous, s/he can usually do so. Casual, hobbiest bloggers don’t owe anyone a thing. They can start to write, gather a following, and decide to stop at any time.

What has amazed me about a couple of the social media outlets I’ve been involved with, is that, over the course of spewing my thoughts, I have made genuine, lasting friendships. I counted this food-blogger among them. She wrote about more than food, but that was her passion, on this particular blog. I’m not much of a cook; never was, but she was easy to talk to about all sorts of things. She was kind to me; commenting on my blog often, and sending me emails when she came across something she knew I’d like.

We started to share more about personal situations. She was a very private person, as am I, so I was honored by her trust.

She doesn’t owe me anything; never did…but…it seems odd to me that after three years of several-times-a month communication, it would cease—for me, and with all who knew her from her blog.

Perhaps she thought she would come back, and somehow, didn’t have the heart for it. Perhaps she didn’t want to write a “goodbye” post, because she felt she’d come back in a bit, and then what would she say?

Some of us who were her friends thought she might have become too ill to post, and we tried to find out more. It appears she is still with us, from the latest reports.

Somewhere along the way, however, I’ve realized that I have been guilty of some of the same behaviors of which I accuse my food-friend. I have not updated my blog very often lately. I’m not entirely sure why, although I have a few good ideas. I tell myself it’s something I can do “tomorrow”, and we all know there is no tomorrow.

I tell myself that I at least answer emails from concerned friends, unlike food-friend who has not. But I haven’t even done that as quickly as I’d like to these days. And there are non-blog friends, and even family members who have not heard from me as much lately.

I’ve gotten some lovely messages from blog friends wondering where I have been! I am humbled; I’m chagrined. A couple inquiries I’ve gotten truly have made me realize how much I was preoccupied with my own issues.

One was from a someone whose mother recently passed away. He is young to lose a parent. And yet, in the midst of his grieving, he took the time to inquire how I was, as I had not been on this blog for a while. It shames me to know this, not in a self-deprecating way, but in a self-involved kind of way.

To hep me plead my case, I will say that I’ve spent some time helping a dear friend who has been ill, and attempting to mend fences with family members, particularly one who may not be long for this world. But it doesn’t compensate for neglecting to notice what others have been dealing with. It doesn’t excuse lack of compassion.

I am hard on myself, as we often are. Noticing is an education. Taking action on what one notices becomes the harvest of our being. I am reminded that whenever I am feeling judgemental about someone’s actions, I’d best look within to see if there is some version of those things operating in my experience, and then, with great understanding, forgive us both!

To all those, blogging or not, who have touched my life, I thank you for being my life tutors. Blessings be.

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The other way

Posted on November 23, 2010. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality |

This speaks to me as my life has unfolded lately:

No Other Way
by Martha Smock

Could we but see the pattern of our days,
We should discern how devious were the ways
By which we came to this, the present time,
This place in life; and we should see the climb
Our soul has made up through the years.

We should forget the hurts, the wanderings, the fears,
The wastelands of our life, and know
That we could come no other way or grow
Into our good without these steps our feet
Found hard to take, our faith found hard to meet.

The road of life winds on, and we like travelers go
From turn to turn until we come to know
The truth that life is endless and that we
Forever are inhabitants of all eternity.

So many times I’ve said to myself “why can’t this have happened sooner?; why did it have to happen at all?; if I knew then what I knew now; …etc. etc. etc.

The fact is, even if I knew then what I know now, then would have been a different then, and now a different now. I would not be the person that says: “if only…”. The words you read here would be those of someone else!

I’m not sure why, but this, strangely, gives me comfort.

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October, the month of letting go

Posted on October 30, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality |

I’ve written before about Dia de los Muertos, here and here.

Although not raised with this holiday, I do live near people it’s important to, and it’s become a reflective time for me.

Letting go and acknowledging what I want to release, as we travel into the last part of the year, has become a meaningful ritual. This year, perhaps, I’ve let go of a little too much.

But, perhaps…I shall regain my equilibrium. I welcome the time of embracing; releasing; regaining.

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Random Confessions

Posted on September 22, 2010. Filed under: Culture, EFT, Games, Health, HowTo, Music, Musings, Philosophy |

This is a time of year I often evaluate aspects of my life. Some do it at Gregorian New Year; others in the Spring…to me, the fall is the best time, the time of the Autumnal New Year. I can look at what I’ve “harvested” over the past few months; evaluate what I want to tuck away for the winter (Don’t chuckle; though I live in the Sonoran Desert, we DO get winter. Or what passes for winter, here, anyway) πŸ˜‰

Another reason to evaluate in the fall is that it’s a tradition for part of my family. Although I wasn’t raised with this holiday; some of my family members celebrate the Jewish New Year; and I observe my own version of Yom Kippur in a September. I think the fact that I was not brought up in that particular religion makes me more able, objectively, to appreciate some of the ceremonies it has. I have a lot of religious baggage from the religious upbringing I did have; and am still reconciling myself with what was passed to me as truth.

Some random things I’m looking to let go of:

Hair! I’m sure I won’t really do this; but my hair has been bugging me lately. I’m sorely tempted to shave it all off. I’ve always been “into” my hair; it’s sort of long for who I am, and it gets into everything. During the long hot summer we’ve been having here, it’s particularly annoying. I know the more obvious solution is to just cut it short! But I can’t! That would be so un-me. I’d rather just cut it all off, if I’m going to change it…but then I’m afraid I’ll look like an melon or, worse, TweedleDum! (TweedleDee wouldn’t be as bad!) πŸ™‚ So, I’ll probably, as I usually do, just let it grow another inch while I ponder…

Papers! Seriously, is there any reason to keep old bills around any more? They are all accessible and stored online from every institution. I act as if I’m about to be subject to a tax audit of the last 78 years (!) and I’ll be one of those people that rolls in 24 carts of materials to be examined. In looking to clean out and simplify certain aspects of my life; both out of desire and necessity, I’m gingerly going through these old records and shredding away! I hope I feel better afterward.

People! Do you ever see people as baggage? Is that a rude thing to ask? Some of the people who have been in my life don’t quite fit anymore, while others are changing roles or adding to them. This is natural evolution in most cases; but we humans tend to hold on even as we evolve, sometimes. I’ve heard it said that if a relationship isn’t serving you, let it go! Much like you would and old vacuum cleaner that blows dusty air out instead of sucks it in. Some of my relationships are work-related, and I’ve noticed that, in most cases, when the working relationship ends, very often the personal one does too. Most of them need the glue of the common interest and activity to hold them together. There are exceptions, of course. It’s perfectly possible—and I have done—to find a long-term friend in these circumstances, but as I look back, I realize that, out of all the people I felt were extremely important in my day-to-day existence, only a handful have stayed in touch with me, or I with them. I am more guilty of this than most, I think. If someone calls, months after a project, and wants to have lunch, I’ll think “Why?” I may go ahead and have the lunch, but in these cases I’ll feel tongue-tied and awkward, and say things like “So, how’s your life been since we finished producing that art project 1000 balloons as Representative of Modern Angst?”

Thoughts! Here are things—and I have heard it said many times that “thoughts are things”–that are a bit harder to deal with, even more so than people. People will eventually go away if I ignore them long enough (I know I sound unsociable, and I sort of am!, but I only do that with people I want to go away), but thoughts! what can one do about thoughts? Really, for me anyway, there are only two ways to clear up the unwanted kind. One is to replace them with better-feeling thoughts, and make some new memories. After some practice, these will become my thoughts. It doesn’t do a lot of good to dwell on the unpleasant ones without some form of relief. This can be anything from vigorous exercise to energy techniques, but best for me is to imagine the kinds of thoughts I’d like to have!—Not to sound too Pollyanna-ish… πŸ™‚

English! By this I specifically mean the English language used in sacred choral music. A lot of people in the western world play in orchestras or sing in choruses. I have done both for many years. In the “classical” tradition (misnamed, but that’s another post) πŸ˜‰ most—by no means all, but most—of the vocal music consists of interpretations of western Christian liturgy. Many people can just sing those right along for years, regardless of their background or beliefs. In one of the choral groups I work with, there are a surprising number of spiritual persuasions and non-persuasions. I will confess that, for me, it is increasingly difficult to repeat phrases that have no place in my belief system. I could just continue to “suck it up” as I have been doing for years. After all, choral directors and coaches often tell us that part of our “job” singing this music is to be actors, to “sell” it. I do see this as important if accepting a role in a play (and I WAS a missionary, for the Save-A-Soul Mission, in the musical Guys and Dolls–ironic, huh?) but, there are a variety of roles in plays, whereas in traditional western classical music, there is mostly this adulterated religious expression. When these works are sung in Latin or German or French, I at least get some distance from them, even though I still know what every word says. I can more easily step into a “role” if I’m not using the language I speak and think in.

Ideas! You’d think this would have been covered in “Thoughts”, above, but ideas are different from thoughts. An idea is: “Hey maybe I’ll become a circus clown! That’s just what I’ve been needing to spice up my life!” or, “I’ve noticed that when I go into rooms painted Chartreuse I feel peppier! I think I’m going to paint my whole house Chartreuse!” (I never said “ideas” were necessarily “good” or “helpful”.) They are Proclamations rather than mere Thoughts. All of us have probably thought of a product or two from time to time that *does* seem to be a good idea. Some of them languish away on the back burner, while others are brought to the forefront. So I’m ready to let go of the not-as-good ones.

Fix-it Projects! My house seems to need a lot of work at the moment, some of which I can do myself, some not; some of which costs a fair amount of money, and some not. Everything from replacing the carpets to fixing the leak in the garage seems to need doing. The kitchen could use some work. The bathrooms scare me a little. But how to prioritize? Should I do the things that cost the least and that I can do myself first? Or should I make a list of things from most to least urgent and work my way down as best I can? I’m a bit unmotivated and disheartened, but if I want to leave this house for greener pastures, these things must be done. Even if I don’t…I deserve a nice place to live, don’t I? I’ve just thought of a third way to do my list, which brings me finally to…

Lists! I have a love/hate relationship with lists. When I travel, I obsess about them. I put everything I want to pack on a list, from underwear to nail clippers. After all, I’m traveling all the way to…California!, a primitive land where I’m sure they don’t have things like toothpaste, should I forget it, nor could I possibly borrow it from my native Californian sister, whom I will visit–backwards creature that she is! She probably scrubs her teeth with backyard sand! …And then there’s the other kind of list: “Things To Do”. I like to make these lists, but I rarely do what’s on them. My streak of rebelliousness comes out when I’m told to do something, even when I’m the one telling. I don’t really want to “Do” anything. I do often do things, but I’d rather just “Be”. Perhaps I should make a “To Be” list! Yes! I’ll put that on my list of things To Do. πŸ™‚

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It hurts me in small ways

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality |

NaBloPoMo September

Continuing on the “Art Month” Theme, I include here a Prose Poem I wrote a while back. The “You” I am addressing is that entity called “Life”

You don’t know what I hear
when you tell me things.
I want you uncensored, and yet…
there are ways I am not like you.

And in those ways that you are—
I imagine myself.
It’s not in my character;
you don’t mean it to be this way;
it is I who am not in synch.

I’ve always felt queer and out of place,
even within the out-of-place culture.
I just go along as best I can
without wanting to conform.

It has brought me peace
and loneliness.
I am not worldly like you.

You say as I am out there
with my trip firmly placed
like to have chosen
from among those on offer;

but they never were; not to me.
My way was not to sample, only taste.
To know that I don’t fit this world of yours
Hurts Me in Small Ways.

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My home state rocks…today!

Posted on August 4, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality |

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples,” the judge wrote in a 136-page ruling that laid out in precise detail why the ban does not pass constitutional muster.

The judge found that the gay marriage ban violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.

“Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge ruled.

Thank you U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker for seeing sense. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog; I’m not terribly politically involved, but human rights are one of my handful of political passions. I know there is a long road ahead, but I shall take time today to feel some elation along it.

Hurrah! πŸ˜€

Story Here

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Peevy Weekend! :)

Posted on July 25, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, Musings, Philosophy |

I’ve been grouchy for a couple of days. Usually, I like to stay upbeat and optimistic on the blog, but occasionally I give it a little rant time, just for balance. I’m going through a phase, it seems. I don’t see these as negative (still trying to put a positive spin on it) πŸ™‚ but as springboards. I’ve noticed in the past, that when I become extremely disgruntled, it signals impending change in my life. It’s like those last little bits of complacency are still trying to hold on.

So in the interest of acknowledging the change, and because I tend to process my life on this blog πŸ˜‰ here are my current grumblies—not in order of importance:

Missing socks: I was doing laundry today; which I tend to do while also doing a multitude of other things, and a sock was just gone! I’m sure we’ve all experienced this; for me, it’s simply not possible to get on with my life until the sock is found. Finally, it turned up in the corner of a fitted bedsheet. Personal Quirk regarding socks: I have a color-coordinated sock drawer. I like it best when all the black socks are together; then the blue ones, then the brown ones, etc. Unlike many of my fellow desert dwellers, I wear socks all summer, so I have a lot of them.

Technology in general: The thought of not having access to my computer 24/7 is frightening for a few reasons. A lot of my life is lived through the machine at the moment, and not having a computer would make me feel cut off. The obvious example: I’m using it right now to talk to you! πŸ˜‰ My computer is sort of limping along these days having quirks and grouchiness of its own. I may have to get a new one. 😦 I think I messed up my sound card recently…music plays fine, but I’m not able to use voice/microphone without grave distortions…not that I want to much, which brings me to:

Telephones in particular: I admit this is a personality quirk. I must have been traumatized by a telephone at an early age, because I really, really do not like talking on them. I can do the professional thing for work-related calls (although I prefer email if at all possible) but I don’t like having personal conversations on the phone. I generally just use my phone for emergencies, and quick business calls—I don’t even have it turned on most of the time. I don’t know why email, and more recently instant messaging is OK, but phone/voice…not as much. I’ve even lost friendships over this. I have a friend who hates email, so would call to arrange a lunch or whatever. If I didn’t answer the phone or wasn’t available when she called, I’d answer in email…which she wouldn’t read for three days, and by then, the moment had passed! πŸ™‚ We eventually realized we were not technologically compatible, and don’t see each other much now. 😦 I also don’t like being interrupted by the phone. It startles me when it rings. I will most often let it go to voice mail, and respond when/if I feel like it. (stubborn streak!) If I know you very well in person and you live at some distance from me, I will chat on the phone, but if you live in my area, I would much rather arrange a meeting by email, and then show up and look you in the eye! The aforementioned former friend would also do something that bugs me: she’d be calling to arrange a meeting, and then start chatting; asking about my life; telling me about hers. That’s what we’re planning to have lunch for, right?—to catch up with each others’ lives. I find this sort of conversation irritating (never said I was a fun friend). πŸ˜‰ By the time I get off the phone after one of these kinds of conversations, I wonder why we’re bothering to meet for lunch!

At this point, the only people I chat with (at any length) by phone are my sister, occasionally my niece, and an old friend. My cousins even email me. Recently, though, I realize my phone-hermit tendencies have been hampering my social life in unexpected ways, Hmmm. πŸ™‚

My Interaction with Medical Personnel: While I can’t imagine any of you saying “Oh, boy! I get to visit the doctor today”, I disliked my medical appointment this week more than I usually do. A lot of fussing, I thought, and recommendations for blood tests (just to check—for what?) and a stern lecture about diet (want my pasta!) because of blood sugar issues. I tend to get rebellious (more of the stubborn streak), but I realize this isn’t helpful; it’s better to concentrate on what feels right to acquire optimum health. So, I allowed myself to growl at the doctor (once I was safely home) πŸ˜‰ and then make the d#*% shopping list he wants me to.

Other Drivers: I am, of course, a perfect driver, driving at the perfect speed for the occasion. πŸ˜› YOU, on the other hand… πŸ˜‰ are driving 25 mph in a 45 zone. Or, you are riding my bumper. Or, you have suddenly decided to make a left turn right in front of me. I do use these opportunities to breathe deeply and embrace the quality of patience…sometimes. πŸ™‚

These are all, relatively minor; in the scheme of things. There’s a lot I could get upset about in the world, if I really wanted to. Which I don’t. I think change comes from within, and the best thing to do is recognize these grouchy moments as foment for change. If I contemplate society, or my life situation, or anything else that doesn’t seem quite right, I can do one of three things: either continue whining and complaining, take some inspired action, or stop thinking about the things I’m not going to do anything about. I allow the first action for a little bit of time, but I don’t like to indulge or nurture it too much because, ultimately, it’s doesn’t help anyone/anything. Still, without the occasional glass (or blog) of whine; sometimes the peeves get stuck. None of us want that! πŸ˜€

Finally, a friend sent this to me a couple of days ago (in email, not by phone) πŸ™‚ and while I don’t have kids (or anyone else) who would do this, I, um, can relate:

Last night, my kids and I were sitting in the living room and I said to them, ‘I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.’

They got up, unplugged the Computer, and threw out my wine.
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A picture of the Universe

Posted on July 12, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy, Science, Spirituality |

Space news doesn’t make it into the bigtime news very often. There has to be a shuttle launch or a major issue with the International Space Station to make headlines. So this photo of the aftermath of the big bang (you’d think that’d be pretty bit news!) sort of slipped through the cracks. Here is the photo, and here a newsclip with one of my favorite physicists commenting on it.

I think the photo is astounding; perhaps even consciousness changing. Something that disturbs me, though, is in Dr. Kaku’s commentary. He declares “This is the fireball that created the Universe (emphasis mine)...Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 1 ‘In the beginning’…” I’m not sure why he brings the bible into it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about integrating science and spirituality; I’ll get to that in a minute. I’m just wondering if Dr. Kaku and other scientists like him really equate the event known as “the big bang” with the first chapter of Genesis (from the Judeo-Christian scriptures).

Much as I respect some traditional religious teachings, I have never, really, been able to wrap my mind around a religious theory which claims a finite date on the calendar as its start. As in: The world was bad and sinful, and then “the special person” was born, and changed everything, and nothing that came before was any good, and you must embrace this new thing which is now true forever. This doesn’t fly for me, but neither does scientific theory stating that “The Universe” “began” at a certain moment in linear time. Besides the obvious (and a bit testy) question: “What happened before the big bang?” (or, conversely, “What happened before ‘The Word’, or ‘The Way’ from Genesis) the concept of a finite beginning is simply incomprehensible to me.

You can probably guess the primary linear-beginning religion I’m thinking of, but there are others. I’ve stated before on this blog that I’m a Universalist; that doesn’t mean I believe every single thing that each religion teaches, but that all are of equal value. I’ve found life enhancing wisdom in many sacred texts, particularly those of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism (in alphabetical, not priority order).Β  I’ve studied all these in classes and/or groups, and have lived the teachings as well.

I’ve lately been exploring an even newer, yet ancient, philosophical structure which promises to integrate scientific understanding with mystical wisdom; something I’ve sought for some time.

So, is this picture, amazing though it is, a stop-action photo of a real event in linear time? Or, more likely to me, a moment; a point in the ever-changing landscape of our inquiry?

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