Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Titles Under Consideration (Or Not)

I haven't committed myself to any of these titles yet.  See what you think.

1.  Fuzzy Foods and Odd Stains:  Tales from the Back of the Fridge

2.  The Effective Bribery of Children:  Getting Past the Shame and Using the Power

3.  Your Rabbit's Birthday:  Making It Special

4.  Bad Smells and their Origins:  When Air Freshener Fails

5.  Between the Sneezes:  Enjoying the Ritual of the Morning Sneezing Fit

6.  Listening When Your Pet Shares Its Hopes and Dreams

7.  Avoiding Humilation at the Gym:  Tips for those Who Just Move Differently

8.  Discomfort at the Hair Salon:  The Case for Robot Stylists

9.  The Goldfish:  Exploring The Vast Potential of an Underappreciated Pet

10. Why is the "Laughing Cow" Laughing?  The Dark Side of a Happy Bovine *

11. When the Hour Is Up:  How Your Psychologist Really Feels About You

12. Holding Onto the Pounds You Know:  Proven Strategies for Maintaining Girth

13. When Feet Go Wrong:  A (Clumsy) History of Spectacular Falls

14. Using Invasive Plants to Quietly Avenge Your Neighbours

15. Understanding and Encouraging Your Eccentric Small Pet

16. Fruits:  The Sneaky Cousins of the Vegetables We Trust

17. Loving Our Toes When They're Non-Traditional In Appearance

18. Toxins We Love:  The Enduring Joy and Promise of Household Cleansers

Feedback is welcomed. :)

* I have nothing against Laughing Cow Cheese.  It's probably yummy.  But I saw that face staring at me at the grocery store.  Simply put, she started it.


Excuses - but why?

I enjoy going to the gym.  I love writing.  For the past few days, I have found reasons to avoid both of those things.  I have managed to watch tv, shop, talk on the phone.  It's not that there hasn't been time.  It's just that I haven't used it for those activities.

I know I'm not the only person who doesn't do what they know to be best for them.  Are we rebellious?  Are we self-destructive, lazy?  I don't know.  I just want to understand why we don't always move in a forward direction as we go through life.  Maybe that's just the way we are but I have a question: 

How different would our lives and the world look if we did make the best choices all of the time?

Wow.  We would do more, create more, feel better.  And, we would spend less time fighting with ourselves and regretting what we haven't done.  Then, we would have more time to do even more good things.  Things would just get better.  And better.

I am going to try stop wasting time coming up with reasons, excuses, explanations for why I don't do things that are simply right for me to do.  It's not that complicated.  It's time to get on with it and make the most of every day.  Even though I have exercised a lot of creativity in coming up with excuses.  And you know - exercises, creativity - that sounds almost as good as writing or working out.  So I can give myself credit for that, I suppose, and, oh dear, it's starting again.  Better get moving.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's So Easy to Miss So Much

Admittedly, I'm sitting in my basement right now.  But earlier this evening, I left the basement and sat in our living room.  I'm glad that I did.

As I sat in the living room, with my legs curled up, on the really comfortable couch, I felt a nice breeze from the open window.  I heard a bird (and this one was singing not squawking, unlike most of the birds I've heard lately) and I enjoyed the occasional glance at the sky to the west.  It was a lovely time of day.  It's a lovely time of year.  It was a lovely time of life.

I didn't have to come upstairs and sit in the living room.  I was enjoying watching tv downstairs.  OK, I was watching So You Think You Can Dance.  I love the expressiveness of the dancing and the love of dance that the contestants display.  But I didn't want to spend all evening watching tv and I left.

It is so easy to miss out on a nice evening like this one.  And to miss out on so many other things as well.  I don't know that we choose to stick with the familiar, to hide in the basement, to stop trying new things.  Rather, we get comfortable and forget that there are other joys waiting to be experienced.  They may not be big and spectacular - they can be as simple as sitting in a living room on a beautiful evening.  But when we have so many things around us to experience and enjoy, it's nice when we realize that, do something different, and savour more of life's rich offerings.


Monday, June 20, 2011

A Waste of Time or The Rhythm of Life

I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight.  Around dinnertime, it had turned into a disaster zone.  Once I emptied the dishwasher and refilled it, I sorted out the sink.  I've done these things more than a few times before.

As I worked on the sink, I thought to myself that this kind of thing is a waste of time.  How many more creative things could I be doing if I didn't have to get rid of yucky food debris after dinner?  Or change the sheets.  Or clean the bathroom.  And this doesn't even take on the question of why I am the one who does these things.  For now, it is fair in this household that I do them, I guess.  It's just - these things are boring.  Are they a waste of our time?

I can't answer that question definitively.  If all the household tasks were handled somehow, we would have more time to do other things.  In corporate offices downtown, people have jobs to perform - the cleaning of their workspaces is taken care of by others.  I can see some advantages to being free of all such responsibilities.

I can also see that the simple duties we undertake in our homes lend rhythm to our lives.   We can do many other things in a day but we return to these activities and they provide us some constancy, some grounding, some order.  And that's good.

When we neglect these activities, we mess up not only our homes but also our lives.  I don't want to do that.  Sure, I'm not thrilled about fishing debris out of the kitchen sink but, after I've done that, I want to notice and appreciate that we have a sink, a kitchen, running water and a home.  I want to keep on experiencing and enjoying the rhythm of life.


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Trust of a Rabbit

That's a nice title for an entry but I am not sure that my rabbit trusts me.  I'm not even sure he likes me.  He seems to be more interactive with my husband (who claims not to like him) and my son.  Maybe the fact that I'm the one who scoops him and puts him in his cage makes him keep his distance.  Or perhaps he just doesn't care for me.  It happens.

Regardless of my rabbit's feelings towards me, I hold the little guy's life in my hands.  I was carrying him around the other night and we were both working to ensure that I was holding him securely.  Looking at him, I was struck by how vulnerable he is.  I am careful with him.  But he has no control over that.  He is so dependent on me.

Every pet depends on its owner or owners.  People acquire pets for various reasons.  Sometimes, they are the wrong reasons.  Sometimes, they are the wrong people.  Sometimes, reasons and lives change and things aren't so good for a pet anymore.  I admit that when my son was younger, I didn't give my rabbits the attention they deserved.  I will always regret that.  Animals still need us no matter what is going on in our lives.  We owe them good treatment and proper care.

I will go downstairs tonight and give my rabbit some of the care he deserves.  It is wonderful that so many pets get good treatment.  I hope that by teaching children about animal care at a young age, through humane education programs, and by encouraging adults to take pet ownership seriously, we move towards all pets being valued and treated very well.  I hope we can show that we are worthy of their trust.

Even if I do scoop my rabbit up and put him in his cage at night.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Right, the Plants - I should probably water them or something

I don't have strong feelings regarding houseplants.  Does anyone?  I used to water a sunroom full of plants when a neighbour was away.  She must have really liked them.

I have six houseplants.  Maybe.  That's all I know about anyways.  I don't know why I bought some of them.  They're green, they're leafy and that's about it.  I understand why I bought ones that were in bloom; I like colour.   And sometimes those plants bloom again later.  That can be really nice.  With the others though, I don't feel a lot of love.  Occasionally, I notice them and think they might need water or something.  It's not unlike mealtime at our house.  And pouring a little bit of water on them (admittedly mealtimes are a little more complicated) keeps them going until the next time.  And on it goes.

I don't have the heart to stop watering these plants or just dump them out, much as I may want to do those things.  So the plants keep on, well, being plants, no matter how I feel about them.

Perhaps my disinterest is a little stronger at this time of year.  I have a lot of outdoor plants and I look forward to the colourful displays they will provide.  Maybe I'm just tired of things that clutter up the house.  We have papers, books and coats for that - we don't need plants to help out.  Or maybe I'm just not a houseplant person.  I can live with that.

The plants will continue to be here as long as nothing untoward happens to them.  There could be an overzealous spraying of a household cleaner, a window adjacent to the plants being left open on an unusually cold night, an infestation of some kind of bug (I generally prefer to avoid household infestations but can make an exception) or, oops, I could leave them by the sunny kitchen window and forget to have someone water them when we go away.  Things happen.

Regardless of whether these plants remain here long or not, I don't think I should buy more of them.   There's nothing wrong with these or any houseplants.  They should just be in a place where they're appreciated.  And that doesn't seem to be this house.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

On Technology and On Resisiting It

I took a very good writing class today.  The instructor was enthusiastic and interesting and there were four students in the class.  It was a dream.  I could have stayed there forever.

Since class, I have reflected on the words of one of the other students and felt a little bit sad.  She seemed like a nice lady, she is talented with words, and she has an interest in writing.  This lady has negative feelings towards technology, however and she seemed a little bit down about it.  She is entitled to her feelings about these things, of course, but I think she is limiting herself.

I know that technology has changed and will continue to change the way that people record and share their thoughts and ideas.  But things have always changed.  At one time, books were new.  At another time, letters were born.  Movies came along and television followed.  People have used telegrams, phone calls, faxes, emails, cell phone transmissions, text messaging, and social media.  New mechanisms come along but people still communicate.

For me, new technology and the use of social media have enriched my life.  I like being able to look things up on Google to quickly answer questions.  Facebook has enabled me to reconnect with important people who had disappeared from my life, as they sometimes do, and to have fun with people who are in my life now.  Occasionally, I send text messages that involve sorting out the details of getting together with people.  Being on Twitter has helped me learn about areas in which I am interested and to learn of other people with similar interests.  (Yes, there are other rabbit fans out there.)  And my favourite type of communication is still face-to-face, ideally over coffee.

I wish that today my class could have helped this woman learn to like technology a little bit more.  Of course, we can't and shouldn't force our opinions on her.  But maybe if we could show her that  technology has some positive uses, we could have helped her open up to the possibilities.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Meditating Without Words

This morning, I meditated.  When I do so, I try to clear my mind of words and listen to the sounds around me.  It can be a challenge (I started composing this entry as I tried to meditate) but it's an interesting exercise.  And I have moments where I feel like I am simply experiencing, without judgment.

In getting my mind closer for a little while to a wordless state, I think I may become more child-like.  I don't apply labels to every sound.  Usually we have labels for everything.  I can't look at a flower and simply enjoy it.  It's a blue rock phlox that is ideally planted in a rock garden.  We know so much information.  We have so many details attached to everything.  It is nice to clear that out sometimes.

As vitally important as words our to our communication and lives, I find it interesting to consider what it would be like to live without them for a while.  Where would our impressions, our pure thoughts lead us when we go with our wordless experiences?  It is not just a matter of silence between people, it is an absence of words in our minds.

Our minds are amazing.  They're also very full.  I think a little bit of decluttering now and then of the mind can help us find our way and help us find its beauty.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Carrying Cupcakes

I was out today and encountered a popular cupcake store.  I decided to indulge and bought two cupcakes to take home.

I had to take the bus home and wondered if the plastic box I received to transport them was adequate.  Perhaps a bag would have been helpful but then it's so much better to keep cupcakes in an upright position and bags don't always ensure success with that.

Setting off down the street, I clutched my plastic box.  I suppose the key to the whole thing with cupcakes is that they are often packaged in clear boxes and clear bags.  Cupcake vendors are smart.  They want other people to see the cupcakes.  They want to plant the seed in their minds.  Because I wanted my (overpriced) cupcakes to make it home safely, I wanted to handle them carefully myself.  But I was also feeling protective of them when other people got nearby.  I did not want anyone to take my cupcakes.  I would defend them.

Because carrying cupcakes in open plastic is such a public thing, I have encountered comments before.  I didn't get any comments today.  I was kind of alone in my thoughts anyways and tried to give off a bit of a please-don't-approach air.  But what if someone knocked them out of my hands to be cruel?  What if I tripped and they went flying?  Everyone would know that I had wanted cupcakes and I wasn't going to get them.  Cupcakes make us vulnerable.  It would be so humiliating if they ended up as piles of crumbs on the street.

I got the cupcakes home safely.  Mine wasn't actually that tasty after all that and I don't think I'll buy any for a while.  But they made for an interesting trip home on the bus and  I can't believe how protective I felt towards two simple cupcakes.  I don't remember being that protective getting my son home on buses when he was a baby.  Oh dear, did I just say that?


Other Voices

I like to have a pen nearby.  It's not that I need to write things down all the time but I like the option.  It bothers me just a little when they disappear.  And they do.  I find that pens,  unlike socks, are found again but they do go on extended trips into sofas and other secret places.  I miss them then.

Of course, we have tools other than pens with which to transmit our ideas now.  With computers, smart phones, and tablets, we can capture all of our thoughts.  Not that we need to capture all of them, I know a lot of mine are not worth saving, but we can.  And we're lucky to be able to do this.

I've thought before of people in the world who don't have the means to record and share their thoughts.  People live in poverty, some people are illiterate.  For some, daily survival and protection of one's family are the main objectives in life.  They may be able to verbally share their stories, at times, but if their reach is limited, their thoughts, their experiences, their unique lives do not become known to a wider audience.  We do not learn of their realities.

I don't know how these voices can become heard, how the words of those who don't write, or use a computer can be shared.  Maybe it helps to recognize, though, that despite all of the communication that is going on in the world, we are not learning the whole story.  There are so many more voices that need to get in on the discussion.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Five Entries

OK.  I committed that I would write 5 entries on Saturday.  I left it late and now it's really late.  This is my fifth entry.  My brain has gone to complete mush, I'm tired and I'm kind of sore.  Clearly I should be sleeping, soundly.  I will therefore leave and use this as my fifth entry.  You can't stop me, no, no, you can't.  I'm done.


Grocery Shopping

My family went on a big grocery shopping trip.  It was a Costco trip so everything really was big.  Our supplies had gotten low which may explain why were all so excited with what we bought.  Sometimes after grocery shopping it seems like a bother to put the food away.  But there's a sense of gratitude as well.  We are lucky to have food to refill our fridge and cupboards.  I know that some people can't do this.  I should buy a bag at Safeway again for the food bank.  Good nutrition is so important.  Everyone should have enough food in their cupboards and fridge.


Farmer's Market

I went to a farmer's market this week and had a great time.  I didn't buy much.  I controlled what I bought because I tend to overbuy at such places.  It was tempting to once again come home with way too much produce.  Thinking about it later, I realized that it's not the produce itself that's so exciting.  At this time of year in a climate like this, it's not exactly locally grown.  It's really not that much different from the stuff at the grocery store.  What I want to bring home is the experience of going to the farmer's market.  That's nice.  But a lettuce bought at a grocery store and a lettuce bought at a farmer's market don't look a lot different when they've been forgotten at the back of the fridge for a week or two.  And by then, the experience of the farmer's market is only a memory.  And an ugly lettuce is a reality that needs to be faced.


New Books for Schools!

It was heartwarming on Twitter this week as the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation announced the schools to which it would be granting money.  Educators at schools in need of resources apply; some schools win.  It must be so exciting at those schools to hear the good news and the money must make such a difference.  I can picture beautiful new school library books where before there had been tattered, dirty old ones.  New books are so much more inviting.  Reading would be so much more inviting.  This is a wonderful initiative of Indigo Books.

The only concern I have with this program is that it's necessary.  Why are there needy schools?  I don't believe that the socioeconomic status of families should make any difference to the resources of a school.  I don't think that school councils should have to raise money or that foundations should have to give out funding.  I passionately believe that every student should be on a level playing field at school and have an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams.  It is governments that finance education - I think it is the responsibility of government to ensure funding is adequate.  Is education not a high priority?

That's about all I have to say.  I am very excited about the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.  Just not about the work it has to do.


Saturday, June 4, 2011


I am fascinated by the fact that people have different abilities and I am passionate about the importance of people finding and using these abilities.

With the above being said, I think it's sad that so much adoration is placed on a select few in the world.  Actors, athletes, musicians and some "celebrities for no particular reason" are held in high regard, pursued relentlessly by photographers, interviewed extensively and sought after for autographs.  Why exactly are they considered so much more important?

I will admit here that I've had a celebrity crush or two in my time.  Or more than two.  And I still have one.  I'm human.  But as much as I like one actor, I also know that he is a person and I am a person.  I would not seek an autograph from him, given the opportunity.  I consider it like dropping to the floor and saying I'm not worthy.  It was funny in Wayne's World; I don't think it is in real life.

Everyone has so much potential and so many people are making valuable contributions by doing what they do best.  Admittedly, if I was ever anywhere near the star of The Mentalist, I might act like Wilma Flintstone did when she was about to meet "Stony Curtis."  But I don't live in a state of awe and I do live trying to be the best me, regardless of any celebrity.

And for anyone who doesn't know that Flintstones episode (if that's possible), Wilma lept in the air, somehow held that position and exclaimed "Stony Curtis!"  She was very excited.

JAHD  (and RIP to the real Tony Curtis, worthy of a leap in the air too, I'm sure)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Gardens

A garden can be beautiful.  A garden can be planted with a creative spirit, using flowers as crayons to colour a space.  I want to plant and enjoy my garden in this spirit.

I see neighbours who meticulously maintain their outdoor spaces.  They even include a plant or two (maybe three!).  Their houses and yards are tidy and look good.  But, in my opinion, their yards could be and offer so much more.

People are entitled to their own ideas about their own gardens, of course.  I know that I want mine to be a lovely, colourful and soothing place.  I can pretty much guarantee that it will not be meticulously maintained.  I will really try to make it beautiful.