Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stories of Things

I sat in my living room today and tried to find something that would inspire a piece of writing.  I noticed the pumpkin.  While I haven't written the piece that I came up with in my head at that time, I came up with some good material.  This evening I tried the exercise in another room.  I noticed a clock.

Clocks are more commonplace than pumpkins but even a simple clock has a story attached to it.  This clock was a wedding present from a family friend.  It's worked for almost 20 years; the marriage has too.  That's pretty much the story of the clock.  There's lots more I could say about my marriage but that could be another entry, maybe even two.

In thinking briefly about the clock, I thought of how every thing in our homes has a story attached to it.  The story may be interesting, sad, complicated, funny, or associated with travel, a certain person, or a certain time in our lives.  There are so many tales these items tell!

In living with these items and knowing all their stories, whether we acknowledge them consciously or not, I wonder if we stay too close to some stories that would be better off dropped in the past.  The items can be nice; sometimes the stories attached with them or not.  I have some brown wicker serving pieces in the dining room.  I remember where and when I bought them.  It wasn't a healthy, happy time in my life.  Perhaps it would be good to remove the energy or whatever is associated with those pieces.  It doesn't help.  And I could function quite well without them anyways.  I like to wash dishes well and wicker is not great for that.

In trying to minimize the amount of unnecessary "stuff" in my home and life, I want to listen to the story that each item has to tell.  I might cut some off rather quickly, knowing that an item is so special it stays or so weighed down with negative connotations, it's on its way out.  I will give them all a chance to state their case though.  They have their reasons for being here.

In living with way too much stuff, as some people do, I wonder what it's like with that many stories being told all at once.  I imagine the stories would beg individually and as one for attention.  There would be a lot of noise.  It must really weigh people down.

Tossing things out from the past won't make everything right.  If only.  Some people have been through very difficult life experiences.  Hanging onto things is a way they cope.  They do their best; coping at all is admirable.  But, tossing some things out can free us from associations we don't need.  And free us to live more fully now.  With our pumpkins.  In January.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Gift of a Tear

Moments ago, I felt a tear run down my face.

It was not a surprise to feel that tear.  It was not the first.  But when I felt it, as it followed its downward path, I appreciated it.

It was the absolute honesty of that tear that struck me.  It gently flowed from within.  It gently flowed because of the way I felt.  I was in tune with my feelings.  I am grateful for that.

Sometimes I want to cry.  I want to let out the things that are bothering me.  The tears won't come.

This evening, tears flowed freely.   It doesn't mean anything is terribly wrong.  It means I was letting myself feel some sadness.  That's ok.

I think it is helpful to let ourselves feel all of our feelings.  And to never be afraid to feel an honest tear.


Friday, January 27, 2012

On Being An Aunt

I find it kind of funny being an aunt.  I never decided to be one.  There was no application process, that I recall.  But now I have one nephew and five nieces.  I also have what I consider to be a potentially important role to play.  I want to do it right.

With my nephew, I'm not sure that I can offer much.  I was not a little boy and I am trying my best to figure out what to do with my son.  Perhaps I can pass on some of the knowledge I acquire there to my nephew.  I will give it a shot.

To my nieces, I hope that I can make a positive difference, big or small, in their lives.  I hope that I can encourage them to develop and enjoy developing all their wonderfully unique talents and abilities.  When I learn that one of them likes to write (among many other things she does really well) and I give her a writing pad, it's a vote of confidence in her potential.  When another one likes to draw, I give her a blank paper pad and hope that she will filll it with her beautiful imaginings.  When one needs furniture for a certain room in her dollhouse, I set out to find that furniture.  I want these girls to know that I see them, hear them, and believe in them so much.

Some of them have started to admire female singers.  I will show my interest, because of their interest, but I hope that maybe I can steer them away from wanting to copy or be that actress or singer.  I want each of the girls to be herself, always.  That's wonderful enough.  I hope they know that.  Yes, Taylor Swift is amazing; so are you.  And we need you just as you are.

I have learned not to pretend that I am their age or one of them.  I was tempted to do a gymnastics manoeuver last summer for two of them until I realized that might ruin the visit quickly.  Trips to emergency rooms tend to do that.  In staying true to my age and role, while also having fun with the girls, I can give them a view of what it's like to be a grown-up girl.  I think that's useful.

All of my nieces have wonderful mothers, as do I.  I am not trying to step on anybody's toes.  But it's nice, I think, for girls to have a variety of women in their lives and always nice when these women show interest and belief in them.

I didn't have aunts to whom I was close when I was growing up.  I was gifted for a short time with someone who filled a similar role.  I wish that time had been longer.

I will try to be a good aunt and I love that some of the girls consider me a "cool aunt."  I am very glad that I stumbled into this role, however it happened.  I hope that I make a difference. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Locks On Doors

I wonder how often it's ever mattered, for any of us, that a door is locked.  It's an ugly thought - have people turned or tried to turn doorknobs in the hope that perhaps we weren't careful?   Have we ever been close to someone breaking into our homes when we're out or sleeping or even awake?  How much protection have our locks really provided to us?

I believe in locking doors and I do so during the day, at night and when we go out.  We have an alarm too.  I am rather aghast when I see people on the news who say, after some crime has been committed, that they will start locking their doors.  Had it never occurred to them that this might be a good idea?  And I don't think it matters if it's in a big city, medium-sized city or small town.  People aren't uniformly good or bad in any environment.

There are people around with different moral compasses.  Neighbours had a garage sale and something was stolen.  Somebody broken into another neighbour's house while I sat in the living room, on the phone to my brother, and looked out the window at that house.  A senior lady was beaten up in the parking lot of the mall near my home.  Sadly, not everyone has good intentions.  We need to be vigilant, watching out for ourselves and others.

I guess we can't know how often our locks protect us.  Perhaps they only offer a very small degree of safety.  On police shows, it always appears really easy to break in a door.  It does cause more commotion than opening an unlocked door though.  We don't have to make it easy.

I firmly believe in locking doors and I will continue to lock ours.  I'm aware, though, that we can only ever be so safe, so secure.  We live with that reality everywhere, every day, even in our homes.  It doesn't have to paralyze us with fear; perhaps it can help us to be somewhat cautious and to realize how precarious and how precious our lives really are.


Monday, January 16, 2012

A Truck Went By

I have a job.  I had not worked in an office for over 11 years until about 9:30 this morning when I started my part-time job.  I was supposed to be there at 10.  I didn't want to risk being late.

The job is largely a return to accounting.  While I love writing and insist that it always be a part of my lfie, this job is fun too, it seems.  It will also provide a little money.  That's good too.  That's very good.

Today while at work, I noticed a transport truck go by on the street.  It's that type of area - it's industrial, there will be other transport trucks.  It was good to see that truck go by.  It was a sign of activity.  There was more traffic on the street later in the day too.  I felt a part of something again.  It was nice.

It has been a gift to spend as much time as I have with my son over the past 11 years.  I do not regret that.  He has been in school for a long time now though.  And I have been home alone in a quiet house on a quiet street.  I have enjoyed interaction with wonderful friends but a lot of that is over now, during the weekdays, as they have re-entered the workforce.  Too often, I was on my own.  I would look out the window and see the stillness, the sameness.  If movement caught my eye, it might be the couple that walks down the street every day.  Or a squirrel.  Or a postal or courier delivery truck.  None of it was energizing.  None of it made me happy or motivated to do very much.

I came to realize my need for energy when I noticed that when my husband and son were home, I accomplished more.  It seemed that if other people were around, if there was life nearby, I would do things.  No matter how much time I had available during the day, I wouldn't get a lot done.  It wasn't right for me to be here.

In going back to work, I am part of something again.  I am contributing towards the activities of a company and I am part of the economy.  I think that I will have lots of time to do what I want outside of my part-time hours.  It seems to feel good to be employed again.

I guess it's ok in life, and perhaps good, to try on a few different roles and experiment with different situations until we find what's right for us.  Others don't necessarily know what that will be; we don't know until we try and perhaps fail at some options.  I'm willing to admit I failed at staying home and being productive.  And I'm very glad that I found an opportunity to try something different and see big trucks go by.  The squirrels and I are tired of each other.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Foods For Thought: 2012 Edition

No one has ever asked me to write about food.  Luckily, I suppose, this does not deter me and I have decided to record some thoughts.  They're not necessarily helpful and certainly not scientifically based.  I have not discovered the next super food and I will not be discussing the many wonders of quinoa.  (And, can there really be that many?  When will we learn the real truth about that show-off seed?)  Anyways, here is my list of foods for thought:

1.  Cauliflower - It's time.  Does cauliflower receive a lot of attention.  It doesn't.  Is it loaded with nutrients?  I'm not sure.  But I like cauliflower a lot and I believe it's time for this shy, humble vegetable to receive the adoration it is due.  Look at it there, almost fading into the background beside confident, colourful broccoli.  Hide no more, cauliflower.  The spotlight is on you.

2.  Turkey - I have long been a wannabe vegetarian.  Ideally, I would stop eating meat at some point and become a more traditional vegetarian, the kind that doesn't eat meat.  I'd have a hard time giving up turkey though.  I remain a lover of all creatures but I would wrestle a turkey to the ground for the gravy alone.  Cooking the bird can be tense (Is it ever going to reach the proper interior temperature?  Ever?)  but I and many others love a turkey dinner.  And the house smells so incredibly nice when there's a turkey in the oven!

3.  Cinnabon Samples - There was a time in my life when I ate cinnamon buns quite regularly.  I love them still.  Sometimes, when I walk through the mall near my house, the Cinnabon place gives out samples.  They are incredibly tasty little bites.  Always.  The consistency of their quality makes me wonder though.  There are parts of cinnamon buns that are less than exciting - just bun, no cinnamon, no icing - but the samples are always oozing with gooey goodness.  How do they prepare the samples so that they're all really good?  What special bun-slicing procedures are involved to produce these trays of perfection?  How sticky do people get behind the scenes preparing these samples for us?  We need an insider.  There's more to this story.  We need the truth about these tasty temptations.

3.  Crackers - Why bother?  Yes, they can be flavoured nicely and sure, they add structure to soup but I don't see a lot of difference between crackers and their boxes.  There are many more interesting ways to consume calories.  I ask you to consider a world without crackers.  It might be a beautiful place.

4.  Juice:  Apple vs. Orange - For me, it's an easy choice.  I'll go with orange.  There's nothing horribly wrong with apple juice but it's not the nicest looking drink and it's sticky.  Ideally, most of it stays in the glass and there are no fingers involved but there's always the chance of ending up sticky when apple juice is around.  Who wants that?  Then there's orange juice.  It's a cheery glass of sunshine in the morning.  Look at it, smiling away.  Yes, juice is a calorie-heavy way to consume fruit but orange juice tastes good and has health benefits.  And let's face it, orange juice is not to blame for the developed world's weight problems.  To be fair, neither is apple.  I think we should continue to enjoy our juices, whichever we prefer.  And I'm rooting for orange.

5.  Barbecued Meats - To me, barbecued meats are not collaborative components of a meal.  They arrive on your plate all proud of themselves (Look!  I was on a grill.) after being exposed to fire and believe they are so far superior to every other food present.  How does coleslaw stand up to the intimidation of barbecued steak?  Not well.  The exception is with hamburger patties - with them, the patties take their place inside the buns and then submit themselves to topping application.  Barbecued steak, chicken and pork could take a lesson from hamburger patties.  They've got their egos in check and they're very tasty foods.

6.  Starbucks Baked Goods - I suggest they start over.  Clear out the glass showcases.  Clean them thoroughly and find some new recipes.  I can be hungry in Starbucks and still not want one of their baked goods.  I wish they'd give it some serious thought.  I love baking - I could do a much better job than they do.  And I could make some of the items healthier too.

7.  Middle Eastern Food -  Sometimes the only good thing to come out of a relationship is an enduring appreciation of a particular region's cuisine.  Or so I've heard.  I will always enjoy the pleasant seasonings of the Middle Eastern approach to cooking.  For that I am grateful.

8.  Carrots - We go through a lot of carrots in this house but most of them go to rabbits.  I plan on challenging the bunnies and trying to secure more carrots for the people in the family.   They're a healthy vegetable and it's time the rabbits learned how to share.  Once they know we don't want to take their carrot tops from them (rabbits find the leafy top to be the tastiest part of a carrot and I don't know why Bugs Bunny always threw it away), they might relax a little.  We'll see.

9.  Ice Cream - Dare I say it?  I think I will.  I could live without ice cream.  It's not as boring as crackers and there are some delightful flavours but, for me, it doesn't live up to the hype.  I never sat and ate a pail of ice cream over a break-up.  I don't turn to it in times of stress.  There are Sour Cream Ruffles Potato Chips and bags of chocolate chips for those times.  I will continue to binge inappropriately on foods that are bad for me, at times that work for me, but I won't be loading up on ice cream.  And I only like small Dairy Queen sundaes for the hot fudge sauce.  I could do without the ice cream part.  There, I said it.
10. Toast - Ah, toast.  If there's a more comforting, good-natured food than toast I don't know what it is.  Sure there can be hard feelings when it gets burned and I have encountered some potentially dangerous toaster situations but transforming bread into toast is worth the risk.  Whoever invented the toaster did a very good thing.  Toast your bread and choose your spread.  Toast makes the world a better place in its own quiet, golden brown way.

Well, that's it for now.  These are not strict guidelines for what you should or should not eat but it would please me if you thought of me next time you're shopping for groceries (and please do avoid the cracker aisle - if you take away nothing else from this piece, please do that for yourself, for me, for the world).  And if you ever have carrot tops you don't need, please send them my way.  My family would be in a much better negotiating position with the rabbits.  We'd like that.  Thank you for your consideration.