PICTURE PAGES

I started a project early this year that involved organizing my pictures into some kind of an album with notecards and descriptions. I did four pages and the set all of it in the roller cabinet under the TV. It's been sitting there ever since. Meanwhile, the pile of pictures that need to be organized just keeps growing. Sunday morning, I got up and went through my usual Sunday morning routine: breakfast, CBS Sunday Morning, laundry. Whenever I would settle into the couch with a mug a of coffee, I'd end up with animals laying on me. Not such a bad thing, but they made it difficult to want to move. It was raining and dreary outside and it was just easier to turn the couch into a raft and play a movie. So that's what I did, but I also pulled out the photo project and worked on it some while I watched the movie. 

I started with a stack of pictures I had found while cleaning out the attic of my childhood home. They had been in the bottom of a box lid that was inverted and holding old bits of notes and mostly trash. I started to just toss the whole lid into my garbage bag when I paused and decided to flip through the debris. I was surprised to find these particular pictures in with a pile of trash. There was an old picture of my Grandmother, Nellie with her sister and one of Pepaw in his Navy uniform. There were several old square black and white prints of my brother when he was a child and three photos from his wedding with Katrina. There was one of all of us sitting around the dining room table. My Dad's parents, Mom, Janell, Randy and Katrina. This was before J and it looked like Thanksgiving. I recognized the Pyrex dish of sweet potato pie and the tan Tupperware pitcher that I am sure was filled with sweet tea. The table was blanketed with the red calico tablecloth that always adorned that table. It is present in the picture of me blowing out candles on my third birthday cake, another picture from the stack of salvaged pictures.

Then I came across a picture of no people. There's nothing written on the back to hint at where or when the photo was taken. I took a photo of it for Instagram and my mother later commented on it saying that it looked like the lake Pontchairtrain Bridge. When she said it, I knew that she was right. I figured that someone had taken it the year we traveled to New Orleans for Randy's senior trip. I have no memories of that first trip to New Orleans. I was way too small to form lasting impressions. Not like Disney Land. I was small then too, but I still have hazy images in my head of the Dumbo ride and our odd encounter with Donald Duck. I only have memories of stories told to me of that family vacation. My mother tells a story of how she made me a harness with a leash so she could keep track of me. She said that some old man yelled at her and gave her grief about putting her baby on a leash. He followed her the length of the French Quarter Market before she turned around and yelled back at him to leave her alone. 

That's the only story I know from that trip. I remember coming across a picture of the my brother, sister and I posing next to a cannon. My brother is sitting in the photo, his long legs made longer by the bell bottom jeans he's wearing, and he has his arm wrapped around my middle. It is obvious he has been put in charge of holding the toddler still for the picture. I know this picture was taken in New Orleans only because at the time of finding the picture, my mother looked over my shoulder at it and said so. Yet the picture tells more of a story than that. I suppose that is why I am drawn to photographs. Each one tells more of a story than just "we were in New Orleans" or "that was the time we visited your great Aunt in California."

I suppose that is why I feel such a need to get my photographs and stories in order. 

 

GARBAGE

Saturday morning, I returned from grocery shopping and went straight to work in the basement. I organized the totes that had been pulled from the shelves and riffled through. Michael, when he's on the hunt for something, will open up totes and rummage through them and then just walk away. For ever. I put totes back together, organized old camp gear into one spot, took loads and loads of just plain garbage and placed them in my Bagster bag. When I'd done as much as I could in the basement, I moved to the garage, systematically moving from shelf to shelf and tossing things into a garbage bag. I organized gardening stuff like seeds and bags of potting mix. The animals at one time had nocked over a bag of grass seed and a bag of pebbles. I swept all of this up. Michael showed up just in time to help me haul out the garage garbage pile I had built near the door and to clean off a shelf containing random tools. 

There were two contractor bags full of stuff from our last basement clean out. One of them had stayed down there for so long because it was too heavy for our trash dumpster. It sat there for over a year. Every time I walked down to the basement, my eyes landed right on that bag. It was hard to miss since it was right at the bottom of the stairs. That was the first thing I hauled up the stairs. When I say 'hauled', I really mean hauled because that bag was HEAVY. There was a lot of me talking out loud to myself, counting steps, grunting and sweating, but I got that bag out of the basement and into the dumpster bag. After that, the rest was easy. Suddenly, getting rid of trash, didn't seem so overwhelming. It didn't take long for me to fill up my Bagster bag. The garage is now neatly organized and things are easier to get to without stepping on the wrong end of a shovel or falling into a pile of chicken feed bags. I also have a legitimate laundry space in the basement, where I can walk through with a basket of clothes without bumping into a stack of boxes and trash. The basement floor is clean, so when I drop an article of clothing while moving it from the washer to the dryer, I don't have to re-wash it or throw it away or burn it. The basement floor does not have a five second rule for anything. Now, at least in the area where the washer and dryer are, the floor is clean.

There's still things I need to get rid of, but they are all things that I don't want to throw away. They are things that need to be sold or donated or gifted away. My goal for the weekend was to get rid of the garbage and that is exactly what I did. My goal for the rest of this year and the following year is to remove unwanted and unused things from the house, clean out catch all drawers and never let any of those things make it to the basement. Because if it ends up in the basement, it will be there for the rest of my life. Someday, someone's going to have to come clean out my house when I die or get too old to live there on my own. I want to make things easy for that person. I think of the stuff that accumulated in just the attic of my childhood home. Boxes of papers from our school days, old clothing patterns, wrapping paper, things that had sat up there for so many years that it was now warped from heat and unrecognizable. So much of it was unsalvageable. At the very least I'd like to leave behind a good estate sale and not boxes of useless old mail with mouse chewed edges or carpenter bags of garbage.

At the end of the day, all that will be left to be dealt with will be the furniture, a small closet of clothes, small kitchen appliances, some art work and some nicknacks. All of this makes it sound like I'm planning for my death. I guess, in a way, I am, but really I'm planning for living. I am always thinking about the dirty garage or the gross basement. These things take up brain space whenever I am out doing fun things or sitting still on the couch. I am always thinking "I really should do something about the trash in the basement." Then I let myself get overwhelmed by the amount of work that is going to be involved and I do nothing. So now the filth and grossness has just become a guilt loop that plays always in the back of my mind. Instead of fully just being present in something, I am eighty something percent present and the rest percent thinking about the mess and being overwhelmed by the mess. 

I am stronger than that! I am a doer! When did I forget that? I do not shy from hard work. I tackle. Cleaning out the garbage is just one step towards reclaiming bits of myself that I've hidden away for some reason. It's like I've been in hiding and I don't even know why. Now I'm thinking about the next project that I've been putting off because it seems overwhelming and I'm totally ready to take it on. Look out hedges and over grown vegetation. I'm coming for you next. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Last weekend, I did three things that I haven't done in long time. The first thing was to take the nail polish off my toenails and leave my toenails bare. I know I've posted here before about how neglectful I can be to my toes. I still have a scar on my wrist from that time in yoga class when I sliced my wrist open with my big toe while hopping forward to forward fold (my mat has seen it all; blood, sweat and tears). Last Friday night, because I know how to p-har-tay, I gave myself a pedicure and when I had finished the trimming and filing, I opted to not repaint my toenails. It seems a little odd to see my toes without a bright shade of blue or purple attached to them, yet totally normal and natural. I like it. 

The second thing I did that I haven't done in many weeks was to write in my Fortune Cookie Journal. It seems that I only write in that journal on Saturday mornings when I go to Heirloom and sit alone at the counter. We've had other obligations recently that has kept me from that morning routine. Saturday morning, I sat down in my usual spot and opened my journal to the first free Fortune Cookie prompt. I tapped my pen on the counter, took a sip of coffee and then looked off at nothing in particular while thinking about how to even start the first sentence. My biscuit sandwich arrived just as I was really getting going and very soon the words wrapped around and around the page, filling all of the white spaces of the page. I can't tell you how often I am surprised that I run out of space or I have that much to write for one sentence. I can't tell you how often I get frustrated when I run out of space and sit there stammering to myself "but, but, but..." I can't tell you how good this makes me feel.

The third thing I did that I haven't done in really long time was to buy a bouquet of fresh flowers. This is something I haven't done in ages. I stopped buying flowers after the first time we thought we might buy a house as way to sort of cut back on spending. It was $4 a week that was unnecessary, and is still $4 a week that I should not be spending. Michael has a new pay schedule and budgeting around that is eating my lunch. I thought I had cracked the code of the new budget with his last paycheck. Turns out, I would make a terrible decoder. Last Saturday morning I walked into Trader Joes and the first thing I saw was the flower display. I had started turning towards the sunflowers when the Gerber's caught my eye. I reached for the bouquet and said to myself "you deserve this." Then I decided that flowers were a necessity because of joy. This made me happy.  

Today, I am thankful for bare toenails, Fortune Cookie tales, and $4 flower bouquets. I am thankful for doing some things that I haven't done in a while. I am thankful for the simple things that have brought me joy this week, like the arrival of our giant Wast Management bag. I'm going to throw so much crap away this weekend. It makes me giddy. 

I am thankful for you.

 

I'VE GOT BOOBS AND AN IPHONE

Michael and I left to the concert only to get to our car who's battery was dead. You see, when Michael parked the car, he put it in park and then just got out. I sat there for a minute wondering if he was going to figure out that he'd left the car running, but he was busy marking our parking spot on the map for later. So, I reached over and killed the ignition and retrieved the keys. Turns out that when this is done after the driver side door has been shut, the car lights decide to not shut off on their own. They stay on and drain the battery. We got into the car and nothing happened. 

Right at that moment, a guy on a golf cart drove by and we flagged him down. Michael asked him about getting a jumpstart from someone. The young guy looked at us and said "uhhh...yeah...uhhh..let me go check on that." Then he left and we never saw him again. We stood there for five minutes or so trying to figure out what to do next. Occasionally someone would walk by and we'd ask if they had jumper cables. No one had jumper cables or they were parked "way over that away". Michael looked at me and said "I'm going for help" and he walked off in the direction of the stadium. Meanwhile, I stayed with the car and continued to ask people as they walked by if they could help. 

Two men walked by and I stepped up and asked them if they had jumper cables. The guy who answered said "We're parked way over at the Taco Bell. I got tacos! But Hey, You've got boobs and an iPhone, so you should be okay." I don't even know if I managed to get any words out. Now that I think about I might have said "thank you" and if that's true, then I'm punching myself in the face. But I'm pretty sure that I mumbled a thank you as I stood there by my car with the hood up and an awkward half smile on my face. A few minutes later my phone started ringing. It was Michael and he'd found real help from an actual tow-truck service provided by stadium parking. When he got back to the car, I told him about what had happened. He said that it was probably a good thing he hadn't been there. The tow truck guy arrived and we got to work on getting the car started and then headed home.

On our way home, Michael asked me how I felt about the whole thing with the taco guy. I told him that at the time of it happening, I was too stunned to really think about anything, but now I'm super pissed that I wasn't quick enough to come up with a witty and cutting reply for the jerk. Michael wanted to know how big the guy was and if he could have beaten the jerk up. This must be a Y chromosome thing. I appreciate the sentiment, but I could have beaten the guy up and had in fact been wearing the proper shoes to do so. When I posted the exchange on Facebook, I had one commenter suggest that I really did have an upper hand because of my boobs and phone, while the jerk only had tacos. I've had a really hard time letting this comment go. Again, I'm sure he means well but it is an ignorant, naive and stereotypical response. 

First of all, having boobs has nothing to do with my ability to properly apply jumper cables to my own car battery. Implying that I need to 'use' my body parts to get some other person to do this for me, is insulting. Secondly, I know that this commenter has daughters, which leads me to wonder what he's teaching them. I have an image of his lesson forming in my brain where he says "Now girls, when you get a flat tire, here's what you need to do. Reach your hands inside your bra and plump up your bosoms. You might even lean forward to reposition them in your bra. Then tug your t-shirt down low. When a guy stops and asks you if you need any help, lean into him slightly, leading with your breasts. After he's done changing the tire for you, he may decide to cop a feel. This is understandable considering you did use your boobs as leverage for his services. I say, go ahead and let him. It's the least you can do for him changing your tire." 

Men, I want you to imagine teaching your own daughters that lesson. Yeah...just go ahead and teach them how to show a little cleavage instead of how to actually change the tire on their car or how to hook up jumper cables. Look into your perfect little angle's eyes and tell her that it is perfectly acceptable for men to objectify her body. Because that is what you are doing every time you say objectifying words to another woman. 

But, I mean, hey! If you've got boobs and an iPhone, baby you can do anything. 

WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE

Last night, Michael and I went to see U2's Joshua Tree Tour with Beck. I had scored some free tickets with seats way way way at the top of the stadium. I didn't care. I had never seen Beck perform live and I had already heard how amazing the Joshua Tree Tour was. It didn't matter that they all looked like ants. That's the thing about concerts, particularly those of this size and magnitude. They always manage to pull every soul in to praise. And it was beautiful. There was one moment when all the lights were turned off and the stadium became a sea of cell phone lights. From our vantage point, we could see it all and I started laughing and crying at the same time. Before Beck left the stage, he warned us that when U2 came out and started singing those first seven songs we would have feelings. He said chills will crawl up our arms and we would be filled with all of the feelings. 

Beck was not wrong. 

"We are all welcome here" Bono told us this last night. His words stick in my brain today, particularly after reading this morning's headlines. This country is starting to look more and more less welcoming. We have a President who condones white supremacy; in fact owes his presidency to white supremacists. He has issued a ban on Muslims, a ban on Transgendered in the military and an end to DACA, the program that protected immigrants brought here as children. Those immigrants are now at risk of being forcibly removed from the only home they have ever know. The Secretary of Education has rolled back Title IX which would withhold federal dollars to Universities who did not combat sexual harassment because Title IX was too harsh for the accuser. Trump has hired Eric Dreiband to lead the Justice's Civil Rights Division, a man notorious for fighting efforts to support Civil Rights. 

I have seen so many posts of outrage recently over the football players who take a knee during the National Anthem. Some of you get really really angry about this. I mean, my own mother made the comment about how "they should go back to where they came from" if they refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Except the 'they' whom she is referring to are Americans. They are young men who have taken to sitting down or taking a knee during the National Anthem as their peaceful protest against a government that does not support civil liberties for ALL Americans, a government that supports white supremacy and a country that does not value their lives.

But it causes you so much anger because they won't stand for a song. 

We are not all welcome here. 

SEVEN

The Cabbage turned seven on Friday. I made her stand against the wall to mark her height and then we ate pizza and watched the Cosmos. Her birthday party was on Saturday at a gymnastics place. I was pretty put out with the 'No Adults Past This Line' rug separating the waiting room with the gymnastics equipment. I wanted to jump on some trampolines. There was cake and presents and then we left the Cabbage with her mom so she could spend time with grandparents who had driven in from Iowa to see her. The Cabbage and her Mom met us the next day at the body piercing place. Our gift to her this year was ear piercings.

Michael and I rode our scooters to meet them. We had a few minutes of waiting for the shop to open and the four of us were just standing around talking. The Cabbage walked up to my scooter and hopped on. Erin, her mom, started to tell the Cabbage to get down, but I stopped her said it's okay. Then I looked at the Cabbage and told her not wiggle around too much. We were all kind of looking at her sitting there on my scooter and noticing how her feet almost touched the floor board. Suddenly Michael beckoned the Cabbage over to his scooter and made her climb on. He pulled out the passenger foot rests and asked her if her feet touched. They did! We all did a happy dance (except maybe Erin, because it makes her nervous, she is the mom). The Cabbage is tall enough to ride on the back of Michael's scooter. 

The Cabbage is tall. I think the most fascinating part is that I swear, just three weeks ago, the Cabbage was asking to be measured on the wall. She stood up tall and Michael put his fingers on the wall to mark it. When he looked, he said "Nope...not marking it. It's barely changed since the last time we measured you." The Cabbage pouted. When I marked her height on Friday, Michael and I stood there looking at all her growth and how so much of it seemed to happen in just three weeks. She's grown almost a foot in one year. We are having a problem buying pants that fit her length wise without falling off width wise. She has complained about gymnastics and how she doesn't want to do it anymore. She says the stretching hurts. Part of that is because her leotard isn't long enough for her torso and it ends up in an uncomfortable wedgie up her butt. I went to buy her a new one, but buying a size up wasn't fixing the problem. 

I ended up getting her a two piece set with shorts and a tank. The Cabbage wasn't happy about it, but we had a long talk about how the one piece wasn't going to work well for her body. When she whined about really wanting the one piece, Michael chimed in with "I'm sorry honey, but you're just too tall for the one piece." I immediately corrected him by saying "It's not that you're too tall, Cabbage. You're perfectly tall. These leotards just aren't the ones for you." Michael nodded his head in agreement. "Yes! Cindy's right. You're perfectly tall." I'm being very careful about not attaching negative words to anything about her body and I am increasingly annoyed at an industry that insists that we, even children, are one size number. I am annoyed with an industry that says this particular number and cut of cloth is the average size for all women. This industry is out of touch and ignorant of what average really is. It's hard enough being a woman and trying to figure out pant sizes. Now they have to make it suck for the kids too. 

Or at least for the adults who are purchasing the clothes for the kids.

As a result of all of this, I've taken to only purchasing cool t-shirts that I come across. She has plenty of t-shirts, though she prefers wearing dresses. That has also made things easier because leggings tend to me more forgiving in sizes. She wears a lot of unintentional capris. I leave the shoe shopping up to her parents because I don't understand children shoe sizes. At all. I mean, seriously. Matching a child with a proper shoe size is a MENSA test. Any way.. the Cabbage is growing up and doing big girl stuff like getting her ears pierced and talking about getting rid of her Barbis.

Change happens real fast. 

TRAJECTORY

I opened my daily news email and right at the top is read "Today is the 16th Anniversary of 9/11." I was struck by this sentence, like falling into an icy river. Was that really today? I remember Chris and Todd picking me up before lunch at work. We went to Galileo's and sat with a beer, unable to stop staring at the TV. Chris and I looked at each other at one point and we both said "Talaura" at the same time. He went to his phone then and sent her a message. She was fine. The country went into shock. We went through all the stages of grief. We went to war. 

Chris and I would later joke about how politicians would use the phrase "9-11 changed everything" as a scare tactic for votes. We shifted into a country easily ruled by fear. Too easily. The date 9-11 became the Boogie Man. You said the words with a hushed tone while looking over your shoulder as if someone might hear you. And then what? Something bad would happen. Might happen. You never know. The date became cursed. The reality was that the changing of everything would end up being a delayed reaction for me. It would take four, no..actually three years for that wave to hit. J would go to war. We would spend Saturdays building care packages. We'd send him our Girl Scout cookies. I'd buy an extra box of tampons so I could send them in his care package. You know...for bullet wounds. Chris would spend late nights on his computer and occasionally he would be able to catch J online for chats. Chris would come wake me up and say "J's online now. You want to talk to him?" I'd crawl out of bed and sit at Chris's computer and chat about nothing with J. The last time we talked, I told him about Dad's haircut. We laughed. Later on, I would find out that out private messages where all being recorded and read by my government and I would be filled with rage over the injustice of it. 

When the tsunami wave of 9-11 finally did hit, it destroyed everything in it's path. Dad stopped sleeping. Mom grew hateful and bitter. Katrina went a little crazy, but can you blame her? Randy pulled further inside his personal shell. It was all sad all the time, but eventually we started to rebuild. We found a way to absorb it all, some of us better than others. That's how it works. Shit gets destroyed, you clean up the mess and rebuild. Prepare for the next disaster. Today though, I started playing the What If game. What if J hadn't died? What if he'd come home to us all? Would Dad not have gotten Alzheimer's? Would Chris still be alive? The What If game never goes well. Michael and I watch a show called "You're the Worst" and most of the characters on the show really are the worst. One guy though is really sweet. He's an Iraq Veteran and he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We watched an episode recently where he was really struggling. He was struggling to keep it together. Struggling for help. Struggling to stay alive. What if J had come back to us in one piece? Would he be struggling with PTSD? It's naive to think he wouldn't come back from that changed in some way. Would we know how to help him? I mean...we didn't know how to help ourselves for a while there. 

Sometimes I am still amazed at the chain reactions. Life is just one giant Rube Goldberg device. Some of it resulting in disaster and heartache, but some of it also resulting in great joy. I hate that 9-11 changed everything. 

IDEAS AND STORIES AND GRATITUDE

I read something recently that inspired me to start writing a story about a girl and a horse. It is a story about things that I don't know. Write what you know. Except I'm writing about the opposite. I mean, I know what it is like to be a girl who wants a horse, but I don't really know anything about horses or horse farms or history. But I am writing it. I am writing this story just like I have started writing all of the others. I will wright until I reach a spot where I stop and then it will get set aside and never finished, but the intention to go back and work on it is there. This story, like all of the others, is a story that I want to finish. Of course, I want to finish them all, but right now, in this moment, I want to finish this story about a girl and a horse. 

I find myself in a spot where I want to do a lot of things. Cleaning out all the garbage in the house. Making a yoga video series. Writing writing writing. Taking some pictures. Making some money for Christmas presents by selling those pictures. Setting up a shop or something. Something. Take a nap and hang out in the hammock. Harvest more purple hulled peas. There is a lot on my list. I want to move forward with all of it, yet there's something keeping me rooted in one spot. I have become Chris. In so many ways. I have lists. I have unfinished bits of writing. I threw a fit about the trailer for the New Justice League movie and how the industry has just ruined so many of the comics I read as a kid. I am this close to putting unopened mail into manilla envelopes and labelling them with the days of the week. 

I made an appointment to meet with a therapist and immediately regretted it. She used the words 'psycho analysis' and that's what caused me to pause. I don't need to be psycho analyzed. I'm not crazy crazy. I just feel a little bit numb on the insides. Insignificant. Hollow. Full of doubt. Maybe even lonely? Lacking in vocal communication skills. I am not a danger to myself or others (not intentionally). The words 'psycho analysis' suggests to me that there is something seriously wrong with me. Like my brain is really truly cracked. I don't need to be analyzed. I just need to talk to someone who's feelings are not going to hurt by what I have to say. I just need to talk to a person who will listen without interruptions and who will listen with some empathy. Then maybe that person could give me some advice on how to communicate effectively with words.

I wanted to cancel the appointment or maybe just not show up; though just not showing up is not my style. I told Dr. M. all of this when I sat down in her office. She told me that I was the boss here and that this could be my first and last session if that is what I wanted. I told her some of my story and how I feel like I have lost the ability to verbally communicate effectively. There were tears, something that hasn't happened in a while and an act that usually makes me feel shameful or pathetic. I let them come easily this time and I didn't get mad at myself for it. She had me read a passage from The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. The passage discussed a section of one of Dr. Freud's papers on grief in which he says that grief is an illness. It when on to mention another prominent psychologist who felt that grief required treatment just like any other mental illness. My pride has not allowed me to think of myself as being sick. The idea that grief is an illness was not an easy concept for me to accept. It did give me some things to think about. I scheduled another appointment with her for next week. 

Lately, I find myself waking up periodically in the middle of the night. I sleep pretty well from about 9:30 to 11:30. Then I wake up because the dog has made a noise or the cat. I have to get up and use the bathroom. On average, I'd say I get up out of bed at least two times a night. Last night I slept straight through until my alarm went off. For the first time in a long time, I pulled myself out of bed this morning without the urge to flop right back down into it. I remember how I had such a hard time navigating in Portland because of their two norths, a true North and a magnetic North. During my second visit to the city, I got it all figured out. I just had to learn a new way to navigate. That is what I am doing now. My north has shifted and I am just starting to learn how to navigate it all after realizing that I can't do it in the same way as before. 

So...this week, I am thankful for moments of vulnerability. I am thankful to be learning new ways to navigate. I am thankful for a good nights sleep. I am super for grateful for that moment at work when ABBA's Dancing Queen started playing in my playlist. 

I am thankful for you. 

 

LABORING

It has started to become a Labor Day Weekend tradition to meet my brother (Randy) and sister-in-law (Katrina) at their place near Rockaway Beach. They have some land there that holds a small cabin and a storage shed, with room to park their camper. There's electricity and water hookups. All the things you need to camp comfortably. Before we got our camper, we'd go and stay in the cabin. The Cabbage would end up sleeping in the camper with Randy and Katrina. Part of this tradition also included the Cabbage. We always had her for Labor Day Weekend, which is also the weekend before her birthday. So Katrina would have a cake and a birthday present. We would have a moment in the afternoon where the Cabbage would blow out some candles and we'd eat cake. Then she'd take her new Barbie or whatever into Randy and Katrina's camper to play and watch TV. 

The Cabbage is slightly disappointed in our choice of campers. We do not have a TV.

Any way, the calendar worked out weird so that this year we did not have the Cabbage for Labor Day. This was the first time we've made the trip without her. It was also the first time we made the trip with our own camper. There were a few days of planning before we got there and Katrina and I were kind of at a loss for things to do. We were so used to planning our weekend around kid friendly things that now we were all "what do adults do?" Turns out that adults do a lot of things. We went to a distillery. We went to a few thrifty antique shops. I found a sack of Howdy Doody heads of various sizes. I also found Suzanne. I decided that she could take the place of all the baby doll heads I had planned to fill the lantern with. She is spectacularly creepy and Michael can't even stand for me to mention her name. He's already that disturbed by her presence. I can't wait to set her up that lantern with a butcher knife. I'm so in love with her creepiness that I am even considering using her in this year's Christmas card. 

On Sunday, we made a last minute decision to drive over to Eureka Springs. It was only an hour away and Micheal had never been there. I hadn't been there in years. There was a time when Eureka Springs was the weekend getaway place. We camped there regularly when I was kid. I remember one trip where J and I rode the trolley car all day long while our parents roamed the shops. Later on, Chris and I would make trips there together. The Mud Street Cafe was our favorite place to eat and when Katrina suggested we go to Eureka Springs, I declared that this is where we'd eat lunch. Some things have changed in the little town since the last time I visited. There are new shops and some even empty shop spaces. My favorite jewelry store where Chris bought my pearl earrings so long ago is still there but the jewelry has changed styles. Mud Street Cafe has not changed a bit. It is still one of the busiest places. They still have the coffee mug of Trivia cards on the table. The food is still delicious and, dear Lord, the desserts are still the best, most decadently wonderful desserts. I ate cheesy grits with vegetables and slice of coconut cream pie. I left with a goal to learn how to make that pie and go on a coconut cream pie diet. 

The best part was that Michael also loved Mud Street. He usually is disappointed in most places. There's always something that he complains about. It could be the service or it could be some aspect of the food he ordered. But everything at Mud Street made him happy. In fact, he even told our waitress that he had never worked or been in a restaurant where everything was done so well. He also really enjoyed the town of Eureka Springs and we talked about visiting again some day soon. It was a good trip. It was a good weekend, so good that I have struggled to get back into my normal routine this morning. 

I'm still dreaming of coconut cream pie. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

I know that I have not talked much at all about our garden this year. I created the kind of garden that could get neglected and I have seriously neglected it all summer. We went through the lettuce and arugula early in the season. I've been eating on the kale that's starting to peter out. We've just now started to get tomatoes from our tomato plants and most of those are still green. The other boxes were devoted to purple hulled peas. We've already had one harvest of peas, enough to have a whole meal with stewed tomatoes. For weeks I've looked at the vegetable garden and noticed that there was another harvest of peas coming but I've been to lazy to fight with the mosquitoes and ants for the peas. 

Tuesday evening, I came home to an evening on my own. After eating a doctored Trader Joe's frozen pizza and sharing my crust with the dog, I pulled on my garden gloves and got out the weed eater. I managed to cut down one and half weeds when the line ran out. I swore and then got out the extra weed eater line and some scissors. The line was replaced in a short few minutes and I was back at it, fighting the weeds around the outside of the house and then inside the garden. I pulled up the over grown arugula, found three red Roma tomatoes (from plants that sprouted up from last year) and two bell peppers. I harvested the last of the kale and then started collecting purple hulled peas. By the time I was done, my arms itched with bug bites and my nose was running from allergies. After a quick shower, I spent the next half hour or so shelling purple hulled peas. 

I can remember sitting on the tailgate of my Dad's blue pickup and shelling purple hulled peas until the tips of my fingers were purple and tender to the touch. In fact, for some reason or another, that tailgate was the spot for all of the garden harvesting chores from snapping green beans to shucking the corn. My Dad's blue pickup takes up a lot of space in my folder of childhood memories. I can still feel the bare skin of my sister's leg pressed against mine as the four of us (Dad, Mom, me and Janelle) sat in the cab traveling to our next camping adventure. I remember the time that truck broke down while we were visiting the Puye Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico. Janell and I ran around the ruins at the top of the bluff while Dad tried to figure out a way to fix the truck. The truck looked so tiny from our vantage point of standing on the ruins. As the day wore on, I remember sitting inside the home of the guide/caretaker while we waited on Dad to get back with a part to repair the truck. The guide was a Native American and his home was filled with traditional Native American pieces. He had a row of carved animals sitting on a table. His hair was long and he wore a park ranger uniform. I remember being little in that truck. 

It's funny how some things trigger a memory and the more you think about it, the more vivid the details. When I finished shelling this latest harvest of peas, my fingers were purple and tender just as they were those many many summers ago. I am thankful for that tender feeling in the tips of my fingers and I am thankful for that purple stain of my skin. I am thankful for the memories that those things triggered. I am thankful for the harvest from our little neglected garden. We have probably two more rounds of purple hulled peas coming. The tomatoes that are now so green will eventually ripen even if we have to line the windowsills with them to get them to do so. These are good things to be thankful for this week. 

I am fortunate.

My tithe this week has gone to the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Houston and the American Red Cross.  Please give if you feel so inclined. You can also buy something from the Hurricane Relief Amazon Wish list. When you start the checkout process, you'll see a listing for Merritt Law Firm LLC Gift Registry address. That's the address you'll select for shipping. I just sent a large package of baby soap. 

 

TILT SHIFT

I can feel the change in the earth's angle as we start to move into a new season. It is a physical sensation; my body feeling almost heavier as it readjusts to the new angle and shift in gravity. There has even been a few dizzy spells, though that probably has more to do with what is happening in my sinus cavity as a new round of pollen floats through the air. The mornings are cooler with the hint of crispness. That sounds like a wine review. As you swirl the weeks between Summer and Fall in your mouth, you will notice a cool crispness with hints of fresh mowed grass. Hold the glass up to the light and you will see the light filter through in a hazy sort of way as if being filtered through fog. 

Actually, it was the change in the light that I noticed first. For the past few weeks, the house has been dark when the alarm goes off and I go and wake Michael up to get in the shower. Even after he's out of the shower and it is my turn, the sky outside the window is still dark. The sun has just crested over the horizon by the time I pull out of our driveway and head to work. I've noticed a shift in the angle of the sun as I do my morning loop outside and the way it filters through the tall decorative grasses that are planted around the place. Usually there is a layer of dew and as you pass by a particular decorative grass, the sun hitting the dew drops makes it look as though the grass is tipped with diamonds. The sun, as I walk back towards the building, is so harshly bright in my face that I have to walk with my eyes almost closed.  

My mind whirls with ideas as I walk, tugging my sweater up to zip it. I think of all the things that I want to do now and into the next year. I want to get started before the bell starts to toll for the end of the year. I imagine cleaning out everything in the basement and the house. I imagine the possibilities of being able to pack up all of my belongings into one vehicle. I mentally start taking an inventory of all the things stored in boxes that I never use or even look at. My mamaw's china. A box of childhood toys. Five boxes of elephant figurines. My thoughts move from the things in the basement to the garage, past the old bicycle I would like to get rid of and into the house where I think of the drawers and cabinets of things that do not serve me. I feel such an urge to remove everything that I almost order a dumpster. 

The idea of getting rid of everything makes me feel instantly happy. It tops the list of projects that has formed in my brain. Step 1: Get rid of most of all my possessions. Step 2: Organize what's left. Step 3: Start a yoga class video series. Step 4: Make a Halloween wreath out of baby doll heads. The wreath idea came out of my idea to fill my decorative lantern with doll heads for Halloween. Last year I did floating pumpkins. The Cabbage is vehemently against my Halloween decorative ideas for this year. My Halloween decorating ideas are about the only thing that I am excited about for Fall. So, doll heads are happening. As for the rest of the stuff on that list, I don't know. We'll see how I feel when I have a weekend free and clear enough for me to put my foot down and say "This is what I am doing THIS weekend! Don't try to stop me!"

Most people look forward to moving into the Fall season and all of those traditional Fall related events like football and turkeys. I see it as my last chance to get things done before the cold weather sets in and I don't want to leave my house.  

CYNICAL

I was reading this article from the Times recently. It discusses the history of food stamp and SNAP benefits fraud. I looked it up while I was thinking about writing an entry about something else, which I will get to eventually. Did you know that there is less than 1.5% fraud in SNAP benefits today? We hear repeatedly about how our tax dollars are being waisted on people who just want to take advantage of benefits. The USDA reported that as of May of this year, there are about 44 million Americans using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). So less than 1.5% of that is acquiring SNAP through some sort of devious means such as using a dead person's social security number. Another way of abusing SNAP is buying non-eligible food items and the only way to do that now is to have a store willing to sell those products. 

We are a cynical nation of human beings. We instantly think that someone less fortunate than ourselves are just lurking in the background to take advantage or steal. I often wonder if that cynicism comes from a self knowledge of their own behavior. If given the opportunity or put in the same shoes as someone on SNAP they would take advantage of the system. My yoga teacher, Karen, said something once that sticks with me to this day. She said that when you look at someone and think they are judging you, it is really just a reflection of the judgments you have of yourself. This is something I think of when I hear my mother complaining about some woman or other who looked at her a 'certain way'. I refrain myself from saying that there is no way she can read that woman's mind and know that she is even thinking anything at all. We assume that other people are thinking the worst about us because we are already thinking the worst of ourselves.

Which brings me to my original thought on Trump's ban on Transgenders in the military because I have heard the critics who say that Transgenders only want to be part of the military for free sex-reassignment surgery. Trump's ban also includes a stop on re-assignment surgery for active personnel. And to those critics and Trump I'd like to say this: Shut your judgmental, unchristian, hateful mouths. First of all, being in the military is not easy to begin with.  I don't want to do. I surely respect those who do, but I'm a wimp. The food alone would kill me in two days. It's not just the constant drills and bad food that makes being in the military difficult either. There are deployments that take you away from your loved ones for years on end. There is also the constant threat of being shot or blown up and not making it home to those loved ones. People join the military for a number of reasons besides the desire to protect this country. Chris joined the medic crew in the National Guard purely for the sign on bonus. He was a terrible medic, couldn't stand the sight of blood, but it was a job. Some people just need a job. What about those soldiers who joined knowing that the government would pay for their college education? Isn't that taking advantage of the situation? 

It takes something special for a person to just step up and volunteer to serve this country, regardless of their need for a job or financial aid. Should it really matter if that person is straight, gay, bi, or Transgendered? I mean, why not continue discriminating and add religions to that list? The people who join the military are risking their lives to make your life safer. We should be doing everything in our power to make their lives easier when they are home. They should have access to state of the art health care. They should have paid scholarships to top universities. They should be able to walk off the plane from deployment and straight onto a good paying job. They should have the best mental health care and you know what? If they want gender reassignment surgery they should get it. Because they stepped into the line of danger so I wouldn't have to. 

This should be true for ANY person who chooses to serve this country. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

I met with my doctor yesterday to discuss the lab results from some tests I had done a couple of weeks ago. I was a little bit nervous about this because the blood draw and urine sample seemed excessive, but they were just being thorough. Turns out, everything is just fine. Cholesterol is steadily declining. I am back to the weight I was the last time I was in. Sugar levels are excellent. My doctor is happy with my diet and my exercise routine. He did think that I should update my tetanus shot. The new tetanus vaccine last ten years now and covers whopping cough. I tried to negotiate against getting it. My doctor is pretty great and told me that I didn't have to do anything, but he did it in the same tone of voice my childhood doctor would use when I tried to get out getting a shot. So...I got the tetanus shot.

I have had a few things recently that has made me anxious. I was worried about my lab results. I was worried about paying some bills. I had to present a poster on some research I have been doing at a work retreat. I was stressed about that. So this week I am thankful that all of those things making me anxious have been solved this week. Lab results were good. Poster presentation was a success. Payday came before the checking account fell into the negative numbers. I am also reminded of the consequences of worrying about things I cannot control. Sure, I can take care of my body and eat right. I can prepare for a presentation. I can minimize spending. I cannot control my genetics. I cannot control people's reaction to my work and, unfortunately, I cannot just make money appear out of thin air. That would be a nice trick though.  

I am also very thankful for the time I got to spend with Talaura and her family. I am thankful that I could show Talaura this new place I call home and that Sarge was comfortable in my home. Talaura's nephews and niece are hilarious teenagers. There was a moment during dinner on Sunday with all of them when one of them randomly shouted out something so funny that I nearly sprayed my drink all over my dinner plate. I couldn't breathe from laughing so hard. I am thankful for that time. My prayer of thanks for this week is a simple one. Gratitude for well spent time with loved ones. Gratitude for good health. Gratitude for minor success stories. 

Gratitude for you.

Happy Thankful Friday!

 

RAMBLE RAMBLE

The other day I met with a woman about the possibility of teaching in her new studio. I didn't really know what I expected out of the meeting but once I got to the studio and sat down to talk with her, I felt horribly unprepared. She asked me questions about my teaching style and about my past teaching experiences. I explained that I used to teach a lot of classes for someone with a full time job. I told her that I had moved to KCMO about six years ago for a new job and that I decided then to take some time off from teaching while I got used to a new city, new job and a new life. Then she asked me to teach her a twenty minute yoga class, twenty minutes of a class I had not prepared to teach. No plan. Free style teaching. I taught the best impromptu twenty minute yoga class I could teach after almost five years of not teaching. 

Let's face it. It was a rusty class. I went with a basic class I would teach to a not so experienced yoga student with a few simple rounds of sun salutation, followed with a warrior series of poses, some seated postures, a twist and some alternate nostril breathing. When I was done, the woman sort of nodded her head and said "okay...ummm...I need to think about a few things and then I'll let you know." I knew that I had just failed this audition. She did say that she really liked my teaching style and that I sounded very knowledgeable. Her body language said that she found me boring and not to her taste. I rolled up my mat and headed towards the door. The yoga teacher for the class that was about to start had just showed up and so the studio owner introduced us. That teacher said that she really liked my ear piercing. I told her 'thank you' and then I started rambling on about how it was new and I had been totally unprepared for the sound it would make when the needle went into my ear. These words were falling out of my mouth even while I watched the woman's face twist into a look of horror. I just couldn't stop myself. Then I looked her in the eye and said "I have no idea why I am sharing this information with you."

I slapped my palm against my forehead as I walked back out to my scooter. What the fuck was I thinking?!?! I couldn't for the life of me figure out what had just happened back there in that studio other than I for sure know that I am never going to hear back from that studio owner. I reran the interview/audition over in my brain while I scooted home. I had said nothing about moving here with Chris. I didn't breathe a word about him and the illness that led to his death. I left out the whole part about me being a widow.

I did that on purpose for a number of reasons. I hate that look of awkward pity that comes across a person's face when you tell them you are a widow. It is human nature to spout some sort of condolence, which always comes across as forced. Death throws people off leaving them at a loss of what to say in response to it. I am not one to play the widow card to garnish pity and favor. In fact, favors from that kind of pity feels like the worst kind to me. Another reason for avoiding the subject is that I don't want to give off the impression that Chris is the reason I stopped teaching. Actually, now that I really think about it, he'd probably be really disappointed in me for not teaching. 

So, instead of mentioning a late husband, I decided to talk about the sound a needle makes as it pierces through the cartilage in your ear. I'm not sure why I couldn't have stuck with something as basic as "I carried a watermelon." I had to just dive straight on in to grotesque.  

 

ECLIPSE 2017

I am not even sure where to start this story. Talaura and her family had been planning this trip for well over a year with hotel bookings and finding an event viewing area. I started making plans with Talaura about her trip to KCMO and me tagging along with her and her family, way back before the new year. We had prepared for everything. We had sunscreen. We had water. We had camp chairs. We had snacks. Most importantly, we had our protective eyewear. We were prepared, but the one thing we could not prepare for was the weather. Weather is not easy to predict or plan for. I was looking at weather maps the week before. At that time, the weather in St. Joseph, the place we had planned for, did not look good, but two hours to the north west looked okay. We put Nebraska on our Plan B list. 

Monday morning, we got up early and glued ourselves to the news. Partial clouds. Possible thunderstorms. Poor visibility in Nebraska. Plan B was out. The local weather guy said that Marshal MO looked like the best viewing area for the eclipse. We kept this in mind as we loaded up our vehicles and headed out to the Rosecrans Memorial Airport. We spent an hour at the airport before deciding to head east. Talaura and I looked at the sky and both agreed that locking ourselves down in one spot with clouds moving in was not going to work. We convinced the others to load back up and head east. Then we hit rain. Heavy, heavy rain. Just when we thought we might be driving out of the worst of it, the rain would pick up and skies would get darker. Talaura and I spent the whole time frantic with worry that we had ruined this whole thing for everyone. We finally decided to turn around and just head for any glimpse of clear skies. 

Then we found it. A place in the clouds had opened up around the sun. We pulled over to the side of the road along with a few other cars and hoped out with our eclipse glasses on. The clouds broke open long enough for us to watch the partial eclipse move into totality and then we basked in that minute of darkness. Everyone cheered. We listed to the crickets. We felt the chill of the night time air. I snapped pictures and as I got a glance of some of the images I was getting, I was so excited and moved to tears. It was absolutely awe inspiring. I stopped taking pictures after totality and just watched. Then, it was over. The sun came out from behind the moon and the clouds moved back in along with more rain. The whole experience was the tallest emotional roller coaster that I've ridden in a very long time.

I am still a little stunned at our luck. If we had stayed put at the airport in St. Joseph, we would have missed the whole thing because of rain. If we had continued to head towards Marshal, we would have missed the whole thing because of rain. Yet, by some act of universal intervention or even a miracle, we were able to witness this unforgettable event. It was like the clouds parted just for us. 

THANKFUL WHATEVER DAY

Yes, I usually reserve these posts for Friday, but Talaura and Sarge get here TODAY! We have a full day of sight seeing planned for Friday. I need to fill her full of BBQ and then we need to make sure she gets some National Park stamps on Saturday. Sunday, we drive up to meet her family in St. Joseph for Eclipse 2017 activities. We will be watching the eclipse at the Rosecrans Memorial Airport along with five thousand other people. We will witness totality and stars and I've already started getting emotional over the whole thing because Science! and WOW! So, needless to say, I have a lot of things to be thankful for this week. 

This was the first week of school for kids here and Michael's first week at a new school with new students. I am thankful that he seems to really really like the new place. At least he's excited about being there right now in this moment. I'll take it. I have a meeting scheduled next week with a new yoga studio that just opened up right down the street. I am thankful for the possibility of teaching yoga again. I went to the dentist today for a routine check up and my wonderful dentist went on and on about how great my teeth look. I left with a clean bill of toothy health. I am thankful for that toothy health. FLOSS EVERY DAY! I reached out and scheduled an appointment with a therapist because I have issues that I need to talk about with someone with an empathetic/sympathetic ear. It's probably something I should have done a long time ago, but I am thankful that I am doing it now. Actually, I already feel better just having set up the appointment. 

Mostly though? I am super thankful to have Talaura here for a few days. I want every thing to be super awesome and perfect while she's here. She always does a great job of showing me around New York when I visit, coming up with unique and off the beaten path places to explore. I want to do the same thing for her. I am thankful to be able to return the favor. 

So that's it. Peace out for a few days. DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITHOUT LEGIT ECLIPSE GLASSES ON! Even though all of the eclipse guides say to just watch and don't try to take pictures, I've bought a special lens filter and I'm going to try to take some pictures. If I find myself too much involved, I'll focus only on the eclipse. I promise. I will take a moment to have true gratitude for the moment. 

Happy Thankful Whatever Day!

 

DO GOOD

My friend Jill is a teacher on the Kansas side of the city. I don't know if you've heard, but Kansas kind of screwed up royally when it came to spending with out increasing taxes. Actually they are a good example of what not to do with a state budget (as is Oklahoma, but at least Kansas has well maintained roads). Well, thanks to all of that, the Kansas school system is not even sure how much money they're getting for a budget this year. Any way, Jill sent me a link to a fundraiser for one of her teacher friends who is trying to raise money for alternative seating options.  She knows that I sometimes post things like this on the blog and I said "Sure!".

And okay, I know this isn't a Donors Choose Project. I know that these kids aren't as hard up as some of the others. I'm paying it forward because it is the right thing to do. I've noticed that ever since the 45 was elected, I've started stretching my resources to be more charitable. Ten dollars here. Ten dollars there. I support Planned Parent Hood and Donors Choose. I pay for reliable news from honest to God journalists (not gossip rags). I toss over a donation to causes of other bloggers I follow. Giving financially, even though it is not much, is one easy way to help this country that is in serious need. I mean, what else am I going to do with that money? Pay off my credit card debt? Ha! I'm taking that shit with me to my grave. 

So, if you feel so inclined and want to help out a friend of a friend buy alternative seating for her classroom, just click the alternative seating options in the first paragraph. I plan on giving as soon as payday rolls around. Pay it forward. Do some good. Vote with your wallets! All of the positive things!

Thank you!

BECAUSE OF YOUR AGE

I have a doctor's appointment coming up in a couple of weeks to see how things are going with my cholesterol medicine. To prepare, I had to have some blood drawn for my visit and while I was in the lab, the technician handed me a cup and said "your doctor has also requested a urine sample." I let me lip frown to one side when the technician said this. I had not prepared for a urine test (not because of drugs). I had prepared for the blood draw by doing a twelve hour fast. I only had a little bit of water that morning to wash down my vitamins. I looked at that cup and thought I would be lucky if I could give them a teaspoon. Also, I looked at the cup and the three vials of blood they took from my arm and got a little nervous about all of this testing business. When I voiced this nervousness to Michael, he said "It's probably just because of your age." which made me kind of want to shove him down a flight of stairs.

I say 'kind of' only because I do not have the energy to care for his invalid ass. 

I am not an old person! Forty one is not old! Maybe it's a little bit old. I have noticed that there's an increase in the white hairs on my head. There's a grouping of white that is starting to form a streak through my bangs, but I think it is pretty cool. It's like having highlights without going through the process of getting highlights. But we all know that graying hair is not indicative of age. Sure there are days when I feel like an old woman. I look at the things that have happened to me in my life and it seems like all of it should not fit into forty one years of life. This makes me feel older than my actual years and disappointed that I am not really all that wiser. Then there are the days when I crawl out of bed to the tune of my cracking joints and I have to gimp my way to the bathroom and think "Jesus! Have I been abducted by aliens and returned to earth as a hundred year old woman?" Then I look out the bathroom window toward the skies and beg them to come back and get me and return me back to my supple youthful body. 

As if I have ever had a supple body.

I'm still very much young. I speed to work every day on my scooter. Last week I performed a perfect cartwheel with out incident. In fact, just the other day, I had a total childish impulse to steal something from Target. Our Target could use a little feng shui help in the area of their front doors. When you walk in the doors, the shopping carts are immediately to your left. Four steps across from the carts is that area where they have all those dollar items of kid things and crafts. Immediately to the left of the shopping carts are the exit doors. See...it seems like I've already cased the joint. To replace your shopping cart correctly back in any kind of order out of the way, you have to walk back through the dollar section. On Saturday, I paid for my items in the self check-out line and then pushed my cart towards the door. I paused and looked around at the already scattered carts and decided that I was going to return my shopping cart to its proper place in the cart corral. Then, as I passed a rack of various dollar craft items, I had the most sudden, intense urge to just grab something and stick in my shopping bag. I thought, very matter of factly, "I'm going to steal something." 

I did NOT steal anything, but the urge to do so was so shockingly intense. It was the most compulsive urge that I still can't believe I walked out of there without slipping something into my shopping bag. Something is cracked in my brain or maybe I'm just in a place right where I'm all "fuck it!" I just don't care. Crap...I just realized that's not a youthful feeling. Teenagers care about everything. I don't really care about anything. Well, that's not really true. I care about what I can do in my neighborhood to fight racism; I'm calling my local community center to see about teaching a yoga class there. I care about the environment and equal rights. I care about the masses of uneducated, misinformed Americans because their ignorance led to the election of Donald Fucking Trump as our president. But apparently I don't care if I get caught stealing a dollar item from Target. At least, that is what my brain was telling me on Saturday.

Maybe it is because of my age. Because of my age, I care very little about what others think of me. Because of my age, I have a little bit more wisdom. Because of my age, I'm becoming a klepto. 

SILENCE IS VIOLENCE

I didn't have a stellar high school history education. I remember one teacher in particular who just let us do whatever and often played movies like Red Dawn. We did cover the Civil War, at least the basics, like Abraham Lincoln and states succeeding the Union. In all of the lessons taught to me, the teachers talked about the various things that triggered the Civil War, like state's rights versus federal authority and the election of Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth President of the U.S. But the most important part of the Civil War, the thing always emphasized, was that it ended slavery. My take away from these lessons was simple. Slavery was (and is) a horrible horrible thing. It is a shameful awful part of our American history. People who fought to keep slaves were awful and cruel and the furthest thing from anything Christian. Villains. They became villains in my mind. 

Lessons on World War II came along soon after. We learned about Hitler and Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. We learned about a bomb so horrible and destructive that countries came together to make a declaration to never use it again. My take away from my lessons on World War II was that Nazis did horrible awful things to people they deemed less than themselves. Color, religion, sexual orientation, not being full blood German, were all things that would send a person to prison camp and death. Somewhere around 7 million Jews and around 1.8 million non-Jewish Polish citizens, not to mentions the hundreds of thousands of homosexuals, disabled people and people of other religions, were killed by Nazis in World War II. Nazis are horrible, evil people. Villains. They are villains.

We have villains living among us now. They are people who believe that the color of their skin makes them better or gives them more rights than those who are different from them. They believe that African Americans should "know their place". They believe that their Christian religion is the only religion and that those who follow any other form should leave this country. They believe that homosexuals should be 'cured' or killed. This group that consists of white men and women are not true Americans. They spread hate and intolerance. They teach this hate to their children. They are a disease. A blight. They are domestic terrorists. Wars were fought to end people like this. 

The very same people who brought violent protests to Charlottesville, South Carolina over the weekend. 

Those men and women, cheering for racism and holding Nazi flags and Confederate flags are domestic terrorists. 

It is my responsibility to speak out against racism. It is my responsibility to stand up to hate. My silence to those hateful actions is to condone racism. This blog is my voice and the best outlet I have in this moment. I am not a public speaker, so this is my public stage. I will not condone or tolerate hate and racism in my family, in my friends and in my community. 

 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Summer is winding down. The temperatures around here have been very reasonable. Kids head back to school in just a few days. Our house has shifted from the Monday thru Friday schedule with the Cabbage back to the every other weekend schedule. Michael is teaching at a new school that is a little bit further away than the old one. Our mornings have had to shift and change to accommodate for the length of time it takes for him to get there. Routines are changing and though I do not relish the shift in seasons (I am a tropical weather girl), I do appreciate the change in routine. 

Second Noble Truth: The origin of suffering is attachment. 

I can easily become attached to a routine. Set in my ways, is one way of putting it. A disruption or a change in my routine can certainly cause me suffering. Except I know now that it is the attachment that causes the suffering. Being attached to being set in my ways is the cause of suffering. I marvel at the number of times my stubbornness has served me so little or how my silent protests to change have gone unnoticed by those around me because no one hears my protests. Because it's silent. I need pointy arrows (for a number of reasons). Also..I've started rambling. Any hoo, change and shifts in routines is good for me and I am thankful for them. I have come to realize that I have become too attached to my current routine and that I have taken a long enough hiatus from teaching yoga. It is time to throw a new yoga resume together, toss it around and see where it sticks. 

It is time to be less set in my ways. Less attached.

I am thankful for our new TV off at 8:30 rule because I end up reading a whole lot more. This is an activity I used to do more of. I used to devour books. I want to fall back into the habit of devouring books. I am thankful for the lady who did my blood draw this morning. She didn't hit the mark at first, but didn't dig around too much trying to find it. She got it on her third gentle shift over. I am really thankful for the breakfast I got to eat after it all because I was HUNGRY. I am thankful for the 80% chance that it will not rain today. I am thankful for you.

Happy Thankful Friday!