A Road Map for 2022

From my journal. After a few years I’ve realized that the “new abnormal” is the new normal. As if the old normal wasn’t challenging enough! Here are my strategies to navigate this ever changing world, subject to change of course.

Continue reading “A Road Map for 2022”

Bringing Back the Music

After 1 ½ years of silence due to the pandemic, music concerts that were canceled are returning so when a friend said “Hey, I have 2 extra tickets to a Jackson Brown/ James Taylor concert -want to go?  Instantly I said “YES!” despite the fact the tickets were almost $140, it was at the huge Moda Center in Portland (I usually avoid large venues), and I would have to attend in a wheelchair due to my knee injury.  Sometimes you just have to seize the moment and go, letting the universe work out the details.  So on a rainy night in October, off the three of us went.

It only took about two chords of “Running on Empty” on the piano and I was transported back to a much younger me, a college student in the mid-1970s in that living room, that turntable, my friends, a more hopeful era infused in musical talent.  Two of my favorite musicians at that time were Jackson Brown and James Taylor, their vinyl albums well worn with use.  Looking back it was a time when I had the world at my feet- the music of the time making it all the more exciting.

I don’t know where the world went wrong since then.  We were the generation of change, peace, and environmental awareness.  I hardly recognize the country I live in now.  Still in that massive venue, thousands of us masked gray-haired Boomers let the music of these great musicians bring us back, and boy did they put on a show, visibly grateful to be doing so.  “In My Mind I’m Going to Carolina, For a Dancer”, all my favorites. Brown and Taylor sounded just as good as they did 45 years ago.

The view from ADA seating

Maybe it’s my imagination or I’m suffering the prejudice of aging but I thought the music of the 60s & 70s was just the best.  Maybe every generation feels their music was but I’ve noticed the younger set actively appreciating this same music.

The attendees of my deep water exercise class at the local pool are all aging boomers. We all look quite inauspicious old gals on the surface but we have colorful histories as young women. The class before Halloween we all “dressed up.”  Our Purple Witch teacher had on a playlist of oldies including “Monster Mash” and other crazy music from our era. As we swished and kicked, we sang and shouted to the music trying to guess the title or the artist of the music to win power bars.  “The Monkeys, Sly and the Family Stone, Loving Spoonful” we yelled out. Memories let loose.  The lifeguards looked on with disbelief at all us old birds having such a good time and one of them took pictures.  (At this age who cares about what people think!)

Music has always saved me but in the last few years, it has been such a refuge.  Turn down the news and turn up the tunes I say.  Welcome back, musicians.  Thanks for making the world a brighter place.

Notes From A Tripod

(Another take on my knee injury a couple posts back…)

The doctor reviews my MRI and informs me it’s a wear injury- a polite way of saying you’re getting old. The cartilage in my knee has worn thin from age and a simple turned ankle on a hike tore the meniscus which led to a stress fracture to the head of my femur.   “Stay off your knee for 4 months, non-weight bearing- crutches.  Watch that left hip.  It shows low bone density.  Don’t gain weight.   We’ll go from there.  No surgery, no easy fixes. See you after the first of the year.” Appointment concludes.  Crabby surgeon departs.  I remain in a state of shock.

What the doctor didn’t tell me is how to cope with this loss, this massive change in my life- no walking and no clear path to recovery, no dangling hope. All he sees is the injury and not the humanity surrounding it.  The quick fix laparoscopic surgery I expected disintegrated into months of recovery with no clear resolution.  My world shrinks from a universe to the size of an orange.  Will I get to walk or hike with my friends again?  Will I ever again see the tips of my cross-country skis cut through sparking snow?

Every day humans are faced with diagnoses, injuries, and other nasty things that upend their lives instantly.  It can be a lonely path to navigate.  Every day you’ve got to stave off the demons and keep on going, reframe your life, lower your expectations.  For me being a highly creative person and very goal-oriented, this is a challenge.  My big native plant garden project? – canceled until further notice.  Travel?  I don’t think so. Grocery shopping, housework?  NO. Cook?- barely.  This is my first major injury in six decades of living.  I am such a beginner

After weeks of flapping my wings against my cage, I’ve had to revise my life.

Focus on what I can do…

Get a new doctor (check)

Write

Draw

Read

Watch movies

Sing

Play guitar

Swim

Ride my bike

Get outside

Clean out some drawers

Breathe

Meditate

  • I have to remember to ask for help (hard).
  • I have to permit myself to pamper myself- hire a housekeeper, get a massage, buy audiobooks, get a therapist. (hard) 
  • Be humble- I just ordered a wheelchair as my back aches from weeks of crutches.
  • I have to allow myself some days of just being pathetic even though I know things could be worse. (easy)

I emerged from the doctor’s office that day feeling my mortality diminished

but still, I felt a pulse

and I had to drive home to beat traffic.

Said the tree to the sky

My limb is broken

I will have to find a new way

To dance with the wind

Artwork and poetry by the author

See my other blog on sustainable living at OneSweetEarth.blog

When All Else Fails, Bake a Pie

It’s late summer and the berries are ripe and the apples are coming on.  My sweetie and I have a tradition of riding our bikes down the road on a summer’s evening when the air is cool and picking enough wild blackberries to make a pie

Now, I am not the best pie baker, and sometimes I have been known to purchase a crust (Trader Joe’s is the best) but this time I dove in and made a gluten-free crust.  We both agreed it was pretty good.  Raymond likes Ice cream on his pie and I prefer yogurt.

Now the thing about eating a fresh-baked pie is that it’s pretty hard to be depressed about the world at large when you’re digging into a warm concoction of sweet berries and crust.  In that moment nothing exists but the pie and the people enjoying it.

Entering pie bliss…

Never baked a pie?  Don’t be intimidated.  Have someone show you how to bake the crust, watch a YouTube video or just buy one.  The fruit part is easy and it must be fresh!

Pie makes people happy. They should serve it at peace negotiations. Sit down at the table and serve the slices to the ones you care about. Serve with coffee, tea, and ice cream, or whipped cream if you prefer. Spread a little joy one pie at a time.

(sketches from my day planner)

Learn about the history of pies by watching this video

The Garden Gazette

This is my alternative news outlet lately…

The Garden Gazette

Off with the news

out to the garden

plenty of good tidings to report there

The red of ripe tomatoes

peeking from a tangle of foliage

zucchini lurking like green submarines

below the surface of splaying leaves

a raspberry to pluck here and there

the green beans are longer than yesterday

maybe tomorrow for dinner?

dangling cucumbers play hide and seek

eluding my grasp

the sunflowers have opened their cheery faces

to the delight of probing bumblebees

the eggplants are ready to pick!

This is a better way to begin one’s day

in the company of bees

to the whirr of hummingbird’s wings

to the gifts of my labors

the earth brings forth

The Mundane That Keeps Me Sane…

A recent entry from my sometimes rather crazy journal/sketchbook.

Hanging Laundry

Bend, lift, snap, pin

repeat

the basket empties

the lines fill

the mind stills

banners of clothing

undulate with the breath

of a June morning.

images by the author

Also blogging at One Sweet Earth

$16 Coffee

Today I bought myself a 12 oz package of coffee from our local coffee roaster in town, Caravan coffee. They have hands down the most delicious coffee I have ever tasted but I rarely indulge as I need to stick on a budget. But today after my weekly Tuesday grocery trip bedecked in mask and gloves, instead of going home I turned my car around and headed toward the coffee roasters. I needed a psychological boost, if even a small one, during this craziness that Covid 19 has brought upon us.


I parked the car, headed into the tiny lobby, and selected my blend suggested by the barista. She asked me if I wanted the courtesy cup of coffee that goes with any coffee purchase and I accepted, of course. My purchase total was $16 for the 12 oz. package of coffee, roughly double what I usually spend in the grocery store, but today no matter. There was no inner gasp or eye blink. This was an “I am so worth this and you have been doing such a great job you go girl” moment.


Seated back in my car I sipped my organic, single-origin, recently roasted & fresh from the grinder cup of coffee. I paused, closed my eyes as the rich steaming, liquid infused my tongue with a complexity of flavors that did cartwheels in my head all the way home. If I were a dog I’d have been in a full tail wag..


There is 12 oz. more of this black magic now stored in my cupboard. It’s not a cure for the coronavirus but for $16 it’s a fabulous cure for the Covid blues. Sometimes you just need to reward yourself during tough times. Go do it. You’re worth it.

Also blogging at One Sweet Earth

The Art of Staying Sane

IMG_1579I hardly recognize the world we live in.  Even though I attempt to shield myself from too much news, I can’t avoid the tragedies of political chaos, mass shootings, human suffering, cataclysmic storms and forest fires from reaching my ears.  Then there’s climate change. It can cause one to live with low-level anxiety.writing-828911_1920

In order to give myself some level of relief, I have a few strategies.  Writing is my first go to.  The immediacy of pen to paper as a mode of expression is so satisfying.  I may write in my journal, work on a poem or continue to write on a longer essay that I’ve been working on.

Continue reading “The Art of Staying Sane”

The Joy of “Breaking the Rules”

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“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
[Commencement Address, Wellesley College, 1996]”
― Nora Ephron

As a child, I tried to please to gain my mother’s attention.  I colored meticulously in the lines and got straight A’s.  As a teen, I strove to have a perfect body but did not have good material to work with.  As hard as I tried, I was not beautiful nor popular.  It all was for naught.  Trying to be perfect did not curry affection.

Around 40 years-old I had had enough of being a perfectionist.  It was making me miserable.  I decided if you can’t be perfect, strive to be interesting. I started breaking free by doing small acts of rebellion. It began with my artwork…..

I quit practicing calligraphy.  Making perfectly proportioned letters gave way to altered, be-creative-2111029_1920skewed forms.  I gave up working on the wheel in ceramics shunning symmetry for wonky, sometimes smooshed,  handbuilt pieces.  The female figure became a lovely opportunity to distort and exaggerate.  There are often holes where breasts Mama Tilly front QEshould be, with huge hips & thighs going counter to what our culture celebrates.

I avoid drawing straight lines preferring to make them wavy or zigzagged.

img_0342.jpgWhen I began teaching (I started late), I changed the Ms. in my name to Mz. Pass.  When students questioned that choice I responded that I really liked the letter Z. It was a horribly underused letter of the alphabet and I thought it worked better in this application.  That explanation seemed to satisfy their 6th-grade minds.Garbo tilly QE

I use a “coffee name” at Starbuck’s or equivalent when I order.  This habit started out since no one could seem to write or pronounce my name correctly.  Zelda became my alias but I am having so much fun having a different name I am considering trying on others for size. Olivia or maybe Ophelia?

My latest is leaving the gender and marital status blank on forms when possible.  For race I check “other.”

These small acts might seem ridiculous to some, but for myself, a recovering perfectionist, they are oddly liberating.  I am always on the lookout for other creative ways to break the rules.  For more on my crusade against perfection go to my post, “Escaping Perfection.”

In the meantime, remember…If you can’t be perfect, strive to be interesting.

You’ll be so much happier!

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The 11 to 1 Lap Swim

swimming-924895_1920Swimming has been a part of my life since I was a teenager.  It provides me with exercise and emotional release.  I try to swim at least twice a week.

Last week when I stepped out on the pool deck I was dismayed to see a class taking up the last two lanes.  All the rest of the lanes were full except for the water jogging lane.  I asked the lifeguard if I could swim in that lane, assuring him that I would move if water joggers showed up.  He replied, ” Oh, no problem.  I’ve never had any problems with the 11 to 1 swim.  You guys always seem to work things out on your own.”

His statement gave me pause.  As I swam, I realized that in the 27 years I had been swimming in that pool, I never had issues with any other swimmer in the lanes.  Every day during the adult lap swim, people of all shapes, sizes, ages, varying ethnicities, and political leanings manage to share this aquatic real estate and get along.  We make room for one another and try to join a lane of similar swimming ability.  When I have asked to join a lane, I have never felt unwelcomed.  We stay out of each other’s way.  There is a politeness to a fault.

If only the rest of the world could operate like the 11 to 1 lap swim.

 

Lap Swim

Lost in a fluid world

Bubbles of air

Stream past my ears

 

Immersed in liquid meditation

The sound of my breathing

The rhythm of my strokes

The repetition of laps

Soothes me

 

Thoughts dissolve

Emotions untangle

Problems find solutions

Suspended from land

In the blue cosmos

Of the public pool

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