Thursday, July 18, 2024

Listening to the News...sigh

 It turns out that, if you are to be able to communicate, you need to PAY ATTENTION. There are those of us that continue to ignore events and never read a newspaper on purpose. That would be me. My excuse is that I have a visceral reaction to the news. Just one item can set me off!

It all began way back...way, way back during the Johnson administration, Viet Nam era and the beginning of the troubled 60's and 70's. The news was never about progress or accomplishments. It was about the Democrats battling the Republicans. As a republican, I found it all very hard to swallow. 

I was all about honor and respect and progress and, above all, intellect. I liked IKE. It just seemed to me that decisions that were made about war, long hair and young people in general were not smart.

I then turned to JFK as a hope that maybe, just maybe, "different" might not be something to fear. We could learn from our mistakes and change.

But enough!!! I am now 82 years old. It is time to let it go and, well, pay attention. I have begun to listen to NPR news in the morning. I now know that the more things change the more they stay the same.

  • Not Viet Nam but The Ukraine
  • An election is about to get very ugly
  • The environment is still in trouble
  • Women are under attack
  • Education that we applauded was on the upswing no longer a priority and so it goes. 

Even at my age it is not so much a difference of opinion as it is an avoidance of the unpleasant. I need to suck it up and PAY ATTENTION!

How about you...are you watching what is going on?

Have a wonderful day.

b+

Thursday, June 6, 2024

It's All Good...I Think

You loose...sorry!


OK...so life is not perfect! What is a person going to do.

When my husband passed away I went straight to anger and that feeling of rage continues for many months. Is that normal? I have no idea. What was my way probably was not anyone else's. I had know for many year that "Life is not perfect."

This last weekend my friend died suddenly. His wife called because she had not heard from me. I was oblivious to the event. I'm not good at reading email and get myself reprimands for my bad habit. If there were a way to get rid of junk mail, I would probably be better. In this case it was so sad. I did not give her the support I wanted to give.

I had to remind myself one more time...life is not perfect nor am I.

I told you in my last post that I had been put in "time-out" by my car. I do not drive as safely as I should but then who does? Life is not perfect!

There are mishaps with family, broken fences and money worries...life is not perfect.

And for some strange reason I remain optimistic...hopelessly happy or positive. It may be the medication or it may be pure practice. Who knows.

How do you handle life when everything is not perfect. I would like to know.

My go to attitude is "It is all good...I think!" But still the fact that life is not perfect remains.

b+

Friday, May 31, 2024

I was Put in Time Out by my Tesla!!!

 I am the proud owner of a Tesla. Yes that electric car that has everyone talking is mine. Is it the car of the future or will that Chinese car beat it out in the end? At this point in time I just don't care. I own a Tesla and I am happy.

BUT...Elon Musk does have a way of keeping his owners in line. After all, this car needs supervision and the learning curve has challenged me. The computer updates are amazing but if I screw it up, I will be put in "time out". Tesla gets sued when owners don't obey the rules and they wreck. Humans do that sort of thing.

Last winter Tesla came out with a new "supervised autonomous driving" opportunity for owners. I started using it immediately. But like a lot of people I didn't do my homework. It seems that if you override the system or if the camera in the cab catches you not paying attention, a computer somewhere in this world knows and gets mad at you. Even though I was in love with the new program and felt safer in the car than I had in the past, Tesla was not impressed. They were watching how I drove with the cab camera and monitoring things like abrupt stops etc. SOOO I received a message on my computer screen in the car and the function was locked for a week (or more). This grandma was put in "time out".

I went from frustrated to mad and back to frustrated. I could understand how the system wanted to save their own bacon...after all, a misstep by them could cost lives and they know it is not perfect. Highways and drivers are not all that reliable. Wrong turns by navigation, road construction and other driver all played a part. I think what frustrated me was the message that said that if the system was overridden more than 5 times, a driver could not use that option for a week. In other words, too much supervision was not a good thing. Hence my frustration.

If it were not for my sense of humor, this whole thing could have been bad. But in the end, I know that paying attention is to my advantage. I love the car. I am a busy woman and don't have time to fuss about the little stuff. At the age of 82 supervision is a good thing. And being in "time out" just made me laugh!

How's your day going?

b+


Making a Home one Mismatched Piece at a Time

 We bought a second home without any resources to furnish it. It was a leap of faith in the best of all worlds. In the worst of all worlds, it was a big mistake.

The only thing we had on our side was that we were not too proud to use other people's leftovers. We moved into a small park model that did have minimal things and even some booze and dry goods. So we just used what was there and had fun in our new location. I didn't mind and my husband didn't even notice the lack of things. We were good.

If the cornmeal didn't have weevils, I used it. The neighbors were horrified! Why, I told them is what I wonder today. I guess they asked.

That was many years ago. But, even today, I am using the mismatched thing from the first park model. Now they are "quirky" and interesting. Mugs from a now-defunct restaurant hold pencils and the original set of 4 dishes sit in my cabinet. Discarded bedside table lamps were painted orange and one sits on the mantel and another beside a guest bed. The original dining table from the house is now on the porch and I eat on it regularly. It was painted black and looks pretty darn good.

An Indian rug hangs on the living room wall and another is beside a bed. They were both abandoned in the park model. Bedside tables are in another guest room. 

The rest we bought at consignment or antique stores (fancy junk shops). It really is true that one man's junk is another man's treasure. A bakers rack, chest of drawers at one shop($80 for both), two bedside stands and a bedroom set (end table and dresser) at another. The cost is minimal and all of the pieces are beautifully worn.  A brass bar cart came from an estate sale.

All personal items like art are curated...we travel and buy some things along the way. But art from a thrift store or antique store works for me. As long as it hangs together nicely. 

We started this journey toward owning a stand-alone house after we retired. That was over 25 years ago. Many things were left and I am okay with what is gone...well there is that one little table and two chairs I miss. It is not perfect but the willingness to live within your means does not mean you have to live small. A retirement with a lot of style is possible even if you are not rich.

If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them.

b+



Sunday, March 31, 2024

Five Little Ducks...stories played out!

The children's song about the little ducks leaving the nest to fly away has always been one of my favorites.  Every mother has seen their babies fly away and rejoiced. Life comes full circle. Animals live that same cycle. Babies grow up. Birds leave the nest. Life goes on.

So when the three ducks show up every year near my patio I am not surprised. But I am puzzled that it always seems to be the same three. Something just doesn't seem right. It appears the one did not fly away at all.

Five little ducks

Went out to play

Over the hills and far away.

The mommy duck went "quack, quack quack,"

Four little ducks came swimming back...

And then Three

Two

and One.

A drake, a female duck (a hen) and a not quite a drake but still not a hen gather here on the 5th green of the golf course. She leads and the other two follow along obediently. They eat, sleep, and guard each other. Each and every day this time of year they come. 


I have not named them. Jinxing them would be very possible. See, an eagle and a very large owl live in the trees next to the street. Naming them just doesn't seem like a good idea.

So I just watch. Each time they come, I am more interested and puzzled.
It has been suggested that this is a m

√©nage √† trois 

but it just doesn't appear to be a romantic threesome. Then someone suggested that the not quite a Drake or a hen was a teenager who refused to leave home. I believe that could be possible. Does that happen in the duck community? 

A month had passed when one day she took a break from Drake and the teen. I suppose she was tired of being followed around. I was worried. The Drake didn't go to sleep on the ground but stood on one leg watching. She was gone that day but as surely as the sun came up the next day, there she was. 

When this extra drake showed up, Drake and Drake/hen acted very cool and disinterested.  But he came back the next day. He was intruding and Drake and Drake/hen did not like that. Within a short time, they were in hot pursuit. They all waddled into the bushes...only two came out...the Drake and the Drake/hen. The extra guy flew away and I haven't seen him since. I will always wonder what happened.

I have a lake just on the other side of my backyard golf green. A large flock of ducks gather every spring and a few nest close by. It is a hard life...the nest is constantly under attack but if the hen can help them survive until they can swim it seems they have a chance. 

As for the teen flying over the hill and far away...he may never do that. Maybe he will stay behind guarding his flock. That is my hope. Like mommy duck, I want him to be safe.

Have a wonderful Easter!

Oh and stay posted...just in case she actually builds a nest and has a new clutch of babies!

b+





Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Things that Go Bump in the Night

Do you live alone? Are you afraid? Do noises make you jump?

My little dog is a barker and noises make her jump. She barks at her reflection in the mirror, a shadow on the floor and the people walking on the sidewalk a block away. She is vigilant, careful, and noisy. Other than that she is perfect. At less than 5 lbs her personality is very big. If she is really onto something, she will come and find me to make sure that I know. Things like the yellow Preen container or anything that she has not seen before will send her into action. 

A wagon full of flowers
and Annie

But things that go bump in the night? This is a whole new thing. I was going about my evening routine when she turned inside out and startled me. "Oh...Annie what are you doing? It is fine"...I sounded so sure and confident until I heard it too. I couldn't locate the sound. Was it on the roof scrape, scratch, drag, thump!!! What in the world was going on? Where and what was that.

Annie calmed down but my heart was thumping. What was that? Of course, I will never know. I know our neighborhood owl does hunt. Owls seem really big to me but what do I know. I hope the owl and a lively catch had a battle royal on my roof. If that is not the case, I might be a little concerned.

I went to bed, covered up my head, and, wonder of wonders, woke up in the morning! Everything was fine, Annie was sound asleep beside me.

But when I had the roof inspected the next day, no one said a word about owls or carcasses. Surely someone would notice that sort of thing don't you think?

Am I afraid?....no, not at all. I am more apt to get up and look. But things that go bump in the night and a barking dog will get my attention.

How about you? Are you afraid?

Hope you are having a wonderful March.

b+


Saturday, February 3, 2024

Don't Dither...Be Smart!!

My Grandparents,
 He lived to be 74 and 
she to age 82. They both lost all
their teeth in their 40s.

I know you are drowning in advice if you are an aging retiree. As we all know, people like us are in charge. We don't change our minds willingly.

Once we are over 65 my friend said, our children want to be our parents. She didn't like that. It doesn't seem like that to me but in many cases, it is true. Children of any age can be age blind. Fear might be playing a part for them. They do not understand aging so they project their fears onto us. 

Age blindness has children giving advice on issues they know nothing about. It all looks so simple to them. In my friend's case, a daughter wants her to move back to the East Coast to be nearer to her. It would simplify the daughter's life. Her mother believes that leaving this snowbird life would be the last nail in her coffin...life would be over. The daughter doesn't understand her mother's fears.

My mother asked me what she would do after she could not manage her home anymore. I was dismissive of her. I remember suggesting we could find help so she wouldn't have to move. It never occurred to me that she was ready to move and actually wanted to do that. What she might have had in mind was moving in with me. So, her staying in place was easier for me.

There are so many things going on as our life progresses. Being independent is very important to many. the trick is to do that smoothly and keep our families happy. My advice at the age of 82 is:

1) Never appear to be in your dotage if you are not. Being helpless is a way to get attention but it will come back and bite you. 

2) Always take care of medical issues. Hearing aids, glasses, and teeth are medically expensive. When you retire, make sure you have money to deal with those things. If you cannot hear, younger people think you are senile when all you are is deaf. Don't be oblivious to the world around you...wear your glasses. As for your teeth... your whole body is damaged when your teeth are bad. Besides that, it is not attractive to have rotten teeth. (Tooth Decay: Can it Kill You?)

3) Learn what is happening and what will happen as you age. There are signs of deterioration so learn about those and how to overcome those that can be overcome. You need to understand where you are at the onset of aging issues.  (Dementia),  (What to Expect while Aging, Mayo Clinic)

4) Include your children in big financial decisions. They will appreciate that and it will make their life much easier as time goes by.

5) Discuss what your life will look like as you become less capable.

5) And lastly, the obvious is to remain active. Our children will trust you if you exercise, write, read, and socialize. PERIOD

I will repeat: use whatever devices you need to function. Hearing aids, glasses, and medication are important. Don't dither. Act smart and your children will think you are perfect because you truly are! 

What is your advice?

b+

PS: I have a confession...I take a dose of CBD every night. I believe (that is important) it helps!


Friday, January 5, 2024

The Readers Responsibility

 The discovery that my readers have a responsibility when they read my or anyones writing was an epiphany. I had always thought that I needed to tell every detail so my reader would understand. The color and setting and even the mindset of the person telling the story needed to be put on the paper. Then it occurred to me as a writer that the reader is also responsible.

In blog reading there are rules. 

    -If you are a troll that controls your world by tearing it down, go away. Bringing the writer down with you is not right. It is mean and hurtful. 

    -Every reader needs to bring to writing a willing and imaginative mind. Not all writers write "literally". The words should allow you to create your own color and location. If I give you a recipe with exact measurements, that is one thing. If I am writing philosophically, exploring thoughts, or telling a story, that is different. 

    - Many writer need encouragement to grow with the reader. Comments are appreciated.

Having said that, I for one recognize that each person brings their own meaning to the words. The story I wrote about Frog lately required you to just go with the concept of "talent". It was not specific in the "who what where when" and I did received feedback. When I wrote about being Perfect, some thought that striving for perfect was too much. In my mind Perfect was very different from Perfection. But you bring your own meaning to words so that is what I want you to do.

If I were to tell the whole story you would have had to see the world through the eyes of a small, dusty, well used village located in a small valley in Oregon. Streets would have been unpaved with potholes filled with water. Coal fired stream engines would have filled the air with coal smoke and cinders that appeared in the laundry hung on the lines. Dogs would be mating in the streets and the teacher that lived beneath the hill would be entertaining her very handsome husband. It would be Saturday night.

I would tell you about my Swedish great-grandmother that came to live in a tent house before she had her 4 children and a great-grandfather that signed his name with an X. You would know that he had helped build the bridges on the railroad, those same railroad bridges that are still in use. The year would be 1953.

My husband's parents. The hills 
behind them are the hills I grew
up climbing.
The story would have begun with a small house that I came home to as a boby just 5 miles away from that dusty little town. It would have included a company town built around a mine. 

Yet, in the story with thoughts about two characters that grew up in that world, you didn't need to know that. You could have found those characters in the deep south of the USA or in the outback of Australia. It was up to you.

So, dear readers, are you working at living up to your responsibility so I can write for you? Is this the year, 2024, when you will let your imagination run wild? I certainly hope so.


b+


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

On Being "PERFECT"...this year we will get it right!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                    
I use that word quite a bit. In the world that I live in, pictures, people,
The perfect Palo Verde bloom.
and life are at any given moment perfect. And yet here I am...making resolutions, again! Didn't I do that last year and the year before? 

Yet the notion is so wonderfully hopeful. This year I will get it right...maybe. 

It all goes back to that writing class I took at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Arizona. Optimism springs eternally from my breast and I continue to hope to improve. I licked my wounds after writing for that group of writers. I need to be not exactly perfect but the best I can be at what I love to do. I want to write with other writers again.

In that class, we were challenged to describe what "voice" means to us. Anthony Horowitz should have been the example I used. He is a genius at using the first-person position as though it could be his voice. I want to be able to do that. He packs action, conversation, and authentic emotion into what he writes. If you listen and watch carefully, he is truly there.

The Word is Murder felt almost autobiographic yet I don't believe it was. For example, another character reacts strongly and offensively to a gay. Horowitz as the storyteller is greatly insulted. It turns out Horowitz bills himself as "a defender of gays and alternative lifestyles, a moderate on abortion, and a civil rights activist". It is all in the story much like Chekov's gun on the table. 

The Word... is written in the first person voice as though he were telling his story to you verbally. What an inspiration it was for someone like me who does write that way yet is in the process of making the stories...well...almost acceptable. I am daring to dream I suppose.

What do you think? 

So, for 2024 the resolution is to get better at whatever I set out to do. Perfect would be the goal, but I would settle for just getting a notch better at life. 

What do you hope for? 

Happy New Year everyone!

b+

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Revisiting Frog

We all had talents but none quite like
Frog and Arvid's. 

I have been told that we are born with a talent. Figuring out what that talent is can be the hard part. If you are a "gifted" writer or musician or even an artist you are fortunate. But not all of us are gifted with beautiful talents. The plumber or electrician does not get an audience. Still, we value those people. But what about all the others.

What about the gifted liar. You know that person... they cannot open their mouth and tell the truth. The lie was there and that was that. I knew a boy named Arvid. His mom was a really nice woman. But Arvid stood out. He got to skip school sometimes because he was such a gifted liar he could convince his mom that there was no school on Fridays. 

The lovely mother of Arvid finally caught up with him so then he could not take any days off even when there was no school. He would go by our house early in the morning with his lunch box ready for a day at school even when there was no school. 

"Where are you going Arvid. There is no school today."

"I told my mom but she didn't believe me," he answered in disgust.

His talent was grudgingly admired in our little community. 

Many years ago I wrote about a character named Frog. I had known someone like him when I was a child playing in the dusty streets on summer nights. That boy that I later named Frog could cuss a blue streak. Where he learned those words only he knew. And his cuss words were colorful as well as descriptive. They appeared in places that were not needed just out of the clear blue sky.

"Well, #@_#@" he would say. My eyes even watered sometimes.

He was redheaded like his mother and freckles covered his face and nose. Dirty hands and necks were common but his face was always clean and so was his hair. His mother was a good mom. You could see him coming a block away. Frog was fun although just a bit scary. When I was caught jumping up and down on the bed, it was probably Frog's cuss words I was using. I blamed it on my aunt but really it was Frog.

Frog was one of those talented children. What he did with that talent is hard to imagine. Liars can be politicians but cussers?

School must have been torture for him.

I had a hard time picturing him in the classroom without the cuss words showing up in the middle of his reading or during math exercises. Thank heavens our teacher was well-used and weather-worn. She knew a good cuss word when she heard it.

I always wondered what became of Frog and if he ever tamed the demon of words that lived in his mind. They just seemed to come out of nowhere and I always felt like Frog was as surprised as we were when he opened his mouth to talk.  I suppose Arvid felt the same way. It was hard for them.

But again, what good is a talent if you don't use it?

What is your talent?

b+







Saturday, December 9, 2023

What is that sound?

Paper #5 Barbara Torris
WHAT IS THAT SOUND I HEAR?

Is that my Voice or is it yours?

I have been taking a class presented by the University of Arizona's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The class, Writing for Self-Discovery, is a commitment that has me writing a story, 900 words long, that is submitted on the weekend and then reviewed by fellow students in the class. It satisfies me. I like that.

This week we were asked to talk about what we think the term "Voice" means. We were given a quote from Janet Conner from Writing Down Your Soul, pointing out that we all have a unique Voice that is waiting for us to listen.

I am not one to admit that I hear a Voice inside my head. That might not be a sane thing. Yet I think I need to let you understand that it is there. Just under the surface of the din around me, the Voice waits to have its say. It is my inspiration. It is the way I write and speak.

My life is not perfect. I have always quoted Popeye the Sailorman when I make a mistake or people don't like me. "I yam what I yam and that’s what I yam," I say and shrug my shoulders. What are we, my Voice and I, going to do? Then I might sigh. Mistakes happen. As for people not liking me, I laugh and think “Really, what’s not to like.” I try to laugh even though it may be painful.

Writing in my authentic writing Voice helps me keep those things that go wrong in perspective. Obsessing about anything is not good for me. At 82 years of age, I need to tame my obsessions and use writing to help work out what is happening or even why. I used to say that I had to write almost daily. But of late, it is getting very quiet. I don't feel as inspired as I once was. I am still hoping that the class will get me back to myself. We will see.

Back in the day when I began blogging around 2006, trolls would call you out or make disparaging remarks. It was necessary to have a thick skin. Those who persevered were rewarded with better skills and even better understanding of their Voice.

At one time I had a disclaimer on this blog because of trolls. It asked the reader to overlook what I missed in rereading. I learned from people like the NYT’s Frugal Traveler (https://www.nytimes.com/video/frugal-traveler). He had stayed at a roadside motel in Florida and extolled its virtues. When I researched it, I commented on his blog that it did not look safe. He called me out on the comment then went to my blog and called me amateurish. It was the truth. However, I was allowed to be inexperienced. My goal was to put myself out into the world enough times so that I would improve. Readers were kind and supportive. If others read, I needed to acknowledge their presence. They help me be very careful about editing etc.

But if someone tries to silence my Voice or even change its tenor, what will happen? See, taking a class in writing makes it necessary to listen and learn. We learn by listening to other's Voices and being allowed to have our say. It is a give-and-take. 



When beginning a story, the Voice is given free rein. The story emerges without any concern for what the reader does not know. I know that telling a story requires two things: 1) A story that reveals just enough, and 2) A reader with an imaginative mind. If the story doesn't engage the reader with an imaginative mind, then it is all for nothing. 

If those people want to see their own writing style and make an effort to change mine to fit their desires, I need to be careful to take what I need and leave the rest behind. It is our job to become better at listening to others while remaining true to ourselves. Bending to the desires of what is popular is not helpful and can destroy our confident Voice in the end.

Voice....do I even understand what it is? Those words inside my head that have me being grateful and hopeful when I awake, and creative when I write are mine. That is the way I write and even talk I suppose.

The challenge this week in the class has been a wonderful thing. I write in a “first person Voice”. It is in the end all about me here on my blog. My Voice may not be perfect, but I am still blogging after all these years! Amazing.

What are your voices telling you?

 b+


Thank you for reading.
FYI Articles recommended in class

Reference:
Louise De Salvo, Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives (1999) Janet Conner, Writing Down Your Soul (2008) 

Featured Post

Listening to the News...sigh

 It turns out that, if you are to be able to communicate, you need to PAY ATTENTION. There are those of us that continue to ignore events an...