Wish I Could Flush it All Away


I was thinking earlier today – and actually remembered tonight – that it sucks getting ‘old.’ Why? Well, there’s no one around to talk with about, um, bodily functions. In particular, um, er, hrm, ah… elimination. Yep, times are tough. And I’m left wondering if anybody else experienced what I experienced when I….  Never mind. I flushed and forgot about it. Or, I thought I did. I guess not.

I wrote the other day about the “New Abnormal” Normal.” Face it, this high unemployment, to some, is here to stay for quite a long while. That’s what “they” said the other day. What changed between then and now? Did something magically happen to turn things around just like that? Today, Employers see uptick in hiring in 2010. Yesterday, the song went along like employers know that they can squeeze what they have left for employees until their veins are dry, milking them for all they’re worth and then some. Why? Employees are terrified to lose their jobs and will take whatever is thrown at them, just so that they can keep on keeping on.


A Moment to Listen


The elderly woman suddenly appeared in my office and darted behind the partition with her hands behind her back and an ear cocked to the doorway. It’s not unusual for people to pop in, nor is it unusual that when they do, I’m right in the middle of something. I glanced up from my computer screen to meet her eyes; the glance held only a bare moment before she looked away.

In the same way, I returned to what I was doing, but left it open for her to talk. I don’t remember what she was talking about, but the next glance I gave her told me that there was something on her mind.

“She makes me feel dumb,” she blurted out. A few sentences later, she elaborated with, “There are times when she’ll just butt right in and take over. She about knocked me down the last time.”


The Universe of Music


Freedom's just another word when nothin's left to lose,
And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free...

The next to the last chair of the second violin section of the symphony was mine. The city high school's underground bomb shelter was our practice room, and my chair was located at the direct center of that large, low ceilinged, basement room. It was a gray, dank, sparsely lit room, it's corners lost in shadow, its unadorned walls a blank testament to the room's intended purpose.

Books in one hand, instrument cases in the other, the legion of musicians would silently file in and set up. Shoes on concrete floor, the opening and closing of the heavy door at the top of the stairs and the snapping clicks of case clasps turned into the cacophony of tuning instruments within a few, scant minutes. From my perch in the center of the room, I could watch, and marvel.


Arkansans’ Flooded Christmas

floodWhile Santa made his rounds around the globe, what hovered over us here in Arkansas was a torrential downpour, adding an additional 9 inches of rainfall to an already oversaturated earth.

Major interstate highways flooded for miles, trapping unsuspecting travelers where they stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. State highways fared worse; to close an effected area meant an hour’s added detour around the flooding. Roads closed yesterday afternoon remained closed today. The water just isn’t receding.

Those hardest hit by the same storm that blanketed the east in snow were those living in low-lying areas. What was considered safe before Hurricane Katrina was subsequently reevaluated by FEMA to fall two feet below a safe flood margin.


Through the Rain, Everything is OK


Like hundreds of leaky faucets dripping loudly in nighttime stillness, the random pings and clangs and tings abruptly jar my thoughts, bouncing them around in one direction then another. Darting here and there, I watch for positive glimmers to shine through the gray, drenched day.

Drip, drip…

With quick suddenness, she put a plastic bag on the floor next to my computer.

“Take that out to your car as soon as you can, Hon,” she said to me.


From Open to Cubed: Office Makeover

office1The past week saw a complete transformation of our very busy office. Construction happened while we tried to maintain a “business as usual” flow.

A few weeks ago, it started, with the expected sign in the lobby that said, “Excuse our mess, we’re remodeling!” For that most part, that mess consisted of only a few packed boxes here and there.

The office had been open, with mismatched desks seemingly randomly placed throughout the “pit” of a room. That openness allowed us all to talk to each other or ask questions or to quickly see if someone needed time to do what they were working on. The disruptions and interruptions were frequent, but we managed to work together. I was the primary cause of the majority of disruptions and interruptions as I had to bring my people in from the front to take them all the way to the back where my desk was. I used the long walk back to "break the ice,” which was intrusive for some. The open floor plan was not very private, and fell far short of HIPPA requirements.


Reaching Beyond With Eyes Wide Open


My friend Rebecca posted this photo this morning on Facebook, capturing her first glimpse of the winter storm falling on her part of West Virginia. That something so severe and cold and smothering can be as beautiful to behold as unpredictable and searing and illuminating fire only illustrates nature’s perfection all that much more.

The photo was a perfect accompaniment to my horrified thoughts at our recent military presence in Yemen. And to think I thought the latest increase in troop deployments were headed to Afghanistan. I fear for the soldiers in Afghanistan in a way, I suppose, that mothers of soldiers fighting along unseen and unknown fronts in Viet Nam did. The whole thing reeks of slimy politicking, with no purpose other than chest puffing and adding to the ever-deepening piles of shit we’re supposed to wade through on a daily basis.

I implore everyone to take some time to hear the lessons that nature, natural law, freely gives us. It’s time to move past the point where we, as a species, grow beyond not playing well with others, especially with ourselves.


Quirks and Quips Quiz

QuipIt's one of those things. It's stuck in my head. You know it by that song that plays over and over, getting louder and louder with each go 'round. Instead of a song, my head is echoing with "quirk, quip and quiz." I recognize it now. It's an idea!

Idea + me = trouble... Are you ready to play along?

Quirk /'kwerk/: a sudden turn, an artful evasion, an idiosyncrasy.

Every once in awhile, something hits me upside the head with a solid smack and I can’t help but take notice. This time, it was the realization that…

I am downright quirky.

For the most part, it’s those idiosyncrasies. When I notice them in someone else, I find myself irritated, so of course I avoid seeing them in myself. I mean, why irritate myself when others can do it so well?


Rollin’ Downhill

train“I don’t much like this time of year,” he said, his usually lilting voice flat and dull.

“It’s tough right now, and getting tougher. I can’t do anything I want to do for people.”

That’s my neighbor, a kind and giving man with a heart of gold.

Little did he know that I shared his feelings, in a profound way. Hanging up the phone, I was sadly relieved. I wasn’t alone as I struggle with a pending deep depression, and just as saddened that I had company.

Sometimes, it feels like a train running downhill, and fast, out of control. The only hope is that, at the bottom of the hill, there’s no sharp curves to navigate too. Just a straight line of track, just something to cruise until the downhill speed runs out.


Life is Worth Fighting For

sunsetthroughthetreeWhen I called her name, the woman stood up quickly and bounced toward me; a big smile filled her face. She remarked that the waiting room conversation was getting “a bit deep,” and the wink she gave me told me she wasn’t talking about ‘intellectually’ deep. She told her story:

Back in early February, she went to the doctor for the pain in her lower back; putting off the visit was no longer an option. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, with a large tumor on L5. Her treatment was to begin immediately and with very aggressive chemotherapy.

She was devastated, and being a nurse, she knew that Stage 4 foretold the battle she was facing for her life. She went into work the next day and talked to her supervisors who then recommended that she resign, effective immediately. In emotional shock, she didn’t think before signing the document they quickly prepared for her.

The first chemo treatment caused her hair to fall out immediately. Her husband found her baldness unattractive and he left without ever looking back.


What a Girl Won’t Do for Chocolate

frogThe other day at work, I called this old man from the waiting room. When that room is full, there’s no telling who will stand up to answer my call.

I recognized this old man right away, I had seen him before, and turned to head back to my desk, keeping up my usual jibber-jabber to set a welcoming tone.

I was a bit more rushed than usual, so I set a quick pace, leaving the old man to saunter after me. Half way there, I glanced back to see just how far I left him in my dust and waited for him to catch up to me.

“Hmm, nice!” he says to me with a glint – a perverted glint, I might add – in his eye as he caught up to me.

I whipped right around to face him full, got my finger up in his face and forcefully said, “Watch yourself.”

The office went silent and all heads turned my way. The old man took two steps back, a startled, surprised look on his face.


It Did End, But Nobody Noticed


A conversation earlier today touched on the topic of September 11, 2001. Did I remember? Oh, yes. Vividly. A strange silence hung over the country, waiting, watching, horrified and mind-blown. Part of that silence was due to the grounded planes, marking just how much they contribute to the sounds of the life we take for granted.

How many parts of the world experience events like 9/11 as a matter of course?

Whether attributable to the attack on US ground or the change of the millennium, one life ended. And, like all endings, another life began.

But, nobody noticed. The world remained, we were all still breathing, so no one noticed just how different “things” really were.


Oh, the Pretty Pictures

stairwell .

Standing at the top of a staircase looking down is a disconnected experience. Out of view is the first few steps necessary before reaching the bottom, the solid ground. Disoriented, a hand or two might grasp for something, anything to steady the mind’s eye. What is forgotten in the moment is the sensations traveling the length of the body from the feet; the pressure on the soles from the body’s weight. One end doesn’t know what the other end is doing.

(Yeah, I know. But this isn’t Politics 101.)

Taking this photo was a challenge for me. In order for me to orient my brain enough to feel solidly grounded, I planted my feet wide and took more than a few deep breaths before I could raise my camera up to take the shot. Yes, this is exactly what I saw at that moment in time, and looking at the photo now still threatens to disorient my sense of balance.


Tim Knows How to Pry Me Out of the House


Daily horoscopes are just like any other prophesy or prediction. Once spoken, you are duly warned. The hope is that you listen enough to ward off the prediction. Of course, there’s this thing called “self-fulfilling prophesy” where a person is so anxious and fearful beforehand that the dreaded thing happens just because the person set it up so well to happen.

My horoscope today caught me blindsided, it’s so close-to-home:
…put some distance between you and whoever or whatever has been making you feel so blue lately. Come on. You've seen way too much of your living room lately. Your dog is even trying to figure out how to get you out of the house. Go ahead; have some fun. You've put in your time.

I don’t think I’m really all that “blue,” but I do tend to stay home when I’m home. It’s the part about my dog that hit my funny bone. Well, “dogs” in my case. I truly wish I could train them to understand it when I say, “it’s a day off tomorrow, we can sleep in.”


A Bonus Punch


These two guys (i.e., young men) came in today. They work for a lawn care service, and when I asked just how busy they were this time of year, they taught me a few things. They go around picking up branches, raking leaves, the usual stuff. But, they also said a lot of things grow in the winter, such as monkey grass.

Monkey grass? There’s something called monkey grass?

What they described sounded to me like fescue, which I have a fair amount of out in the pasture. Or, I thought I did. A woman listening in on the conversation suggested I Google “monkey grass,” and sure enough, there it is.

Learn something new every day, eh?


Awakening: Epilogue

Have you read Awakening: Part I and Part II?


The Teaching of Wisdom is not a textbook with numbered pages. The Teaching is one of [spiritual] indications for life as applied to each necessity. ~Agni Yoga, Pp 304

In my early years, every Sunday was spent in church, eyes and nose running from the allergic reaction to the ungodly amount of women’s perfumes, dutifully standing, kneeling and sitting per the little, cheap mistlette’s instructions. The priest, shrouded in vestments waving incense, everyone in their Sunday best and the evil sounding pipe organ music lacked meaning for me from the beginning. The school bused us into town for religious studies twice a week. The nuns, all dressed in black with horribly wrinkled faces and gnarled hands, the only flesh visible, only served to terrorize my young mind, making anything they said only indiscernible noise to my ears. None of it came remotely close to what I had experienced in the woods that day.

No one ever mentioned anything like what I had experienced. I wouldn’t have known how to open the subject to talk about it myself, so I carried that memory with me in silence. Could I be the only one that had that happen to? I was certain that I was. And, never once did I question its occurrence.  That experience was more real, more truthful than anything I had ever experienced before, and for many years, since.


Awakening Part II: The Clearing

Have you read Awakening Part I: The Path?


They are gone…

Kneeling, her chin on her chest, her arms loosely hung at her sides, her heart was saddened. It was a deep, aching, heavy sadness. As she knelt, the humming slowly quieted.

As the humming eased its grip on her, she found that her vision was still flicking back and forth, though at a slower pace. The color had returned and her senses felt.

It was easier now. She sat staring at a small point of ground that didn’t seem to change much between the flicks. One was of bare dirt between grasses, the path, and the other of underbrush and weeds but no path.

She look down at her thighs and saw the jeans she had on with her flannel shirted arms next to them. She hoped her knees weren’t dirty, knowing she’d catch hell when she got home if they were. When her vision flicked, she startled. A very rough, coarse material now covered her legs and arms. Looking at her chest, she saw the same and much longer braids. Reaching up with one hand, she touched a braid and felt the movement in her scalp, but the hair was black, rough and the braid was tied off with some sort of string instead of the rubber band she had used. The fear returned. Those weren’t her legs, body and hair!


Awakening Part I: The Path

indiancampPushing closed the latches on the violin case, the sad feeling that always came with the sharp, metallic clicks seemed stronger this time. It was always sad to enclose the beautiful sounds within the hard, impersonal case, but it was necessary. She took good care of her violin.

Raking a brush through her long, brown hair, she divided the mass into two, then braided both sides, tying them off with rubber bands. As much as she loved to feel the wind lifting the hair and blowing it back, she knew it wasn’t always safe to leave it wild and free.

What? Who said so? Yet, she knew it was true. It wasn’t safe.

The red handkerchief was ready to roll and tie across her forehead, then she quietly turned the knob on the bedroom door and listened. Walking silently down the hall, through the kitchen and dining room, she was at the door. The rush of her successful escape caused her to rush, just a little, and she was out the door and running across the back yard.

Her hair wasn’t loose and flying like she wished, but instead, her braids thumped on her back as she ran across the expanse of the open yard and into the underbrush-thick woods. Not until the house was safely out of sight did she slow to a hurried walk.

She slowed more as the scent of the woods met her nose. The deep smell of the earth, the pine and the green of the tree leaves calmed her heart, the sun shining through here and there warmed her face, and the cool air touched her cheeks. The large mass up ahead was a beloved tangle of deadwood, cracked and bleached from years of weather, but she didn’t stop.


When Wonder Isn’t Wonderful


I wonder…

Duality is a given, a foundation of life. There is the most profound and wondrous duality of all of life: Spirit and Matter. It is wondrous, wonderful, a wonder.

Matter, the material, is the trap we’re born into, with lifetimes to learn how to transcend that trap, free ourselves to grow and become our potential. Many paths lead to this same goal; and just as many are detours, pits of quicksand, set there to suck up and devour any who choose that particular path, despite the infinite warning signs of gigantic leaps of faith needed to carry one over the traps.

I wonder…

When will the blind see and the deaf hear? Those are the ones that pound mercilessly on the table as they blast out their defamations as though they are the only ones with the right to judge, condemn and sentence, all in one breath.


Get Your Head Out of Your…

head_up_assDo I need to say it out loud?

Do I have to?

It’s too bad that the concept isn’t more far-fetched than it is, wouldn’t you say?

Wake up and smell the roses already.

Do I have your attention yet?


If you have a job, you’re one of the lucky, gas prices are slyly inching back up, food prices never came down from last year’s disaster, and none of this stimulus stuff seems to have any effect at all. The weather, the politics, the news, the weather, the politics… In self defense, the head goes up the back door and there’s only room to focus on getting through one day to see another.

Does it have to be this way?


But, you’ll have to come out of your little protective shell a bit more to find that out for yourself.


Hey Judge, Watch the Signs Already!


If you drive an unfamiliar road, you watch the signs. Usually, those road signs give you fair warning of what’s about to come up. I used to drive a Honda that handled so well that I knew I could take corners at up to 20 mph faster than marked before it felt like it was too fast to make the corner. ‘Maria Andretti,’ I know, but I also know that my little pickup doesn’t handle like that, so I heed those signs and take corners per my truck’s mechanical capability. No brainer.

Last night as I was just about ready to feed Odin, this flatbed tractor trailer hauling a crane went speeding by my driveway, and eye-balling that monster, I judged it to be going close to 50 mph.  Now, this photo was shot while standing in my pasture and shooting in the direction that truck was headed. See that sign? Well, it really is a 90 degree curve there, and not that far away. The speed limit on my road is 35, so that sign is placed where the corner coming up wouldn’t be a problem if going the speed limit. But, at 50?


Foggy is as Foggy Does on Friday

pisces My horoscope for today is a surprisingly accurate fit… for yesterday:

“…Your path is very similar to driving through a fog: all you need to count on is that the road is there, and that your headlights will illuminate the path directly in front of you…”

At one point in the afternoon, I looked up and saw the backside of a man standing on a ladder, fumbling with something on the ceiling. As usual, my mind’s focus was only on the task at hand – getting as much done as accurately and as quickly as I could.

At first, it didn’t even hit me that someone was standing on a ladder in the middle of a big office. A few seconds later, it hit me as odd and curiosity took over. I looked closer and realized that what the man was doing was replacing batteries in the smoke detectors.

“What in the world?” I thought to myself. “Why would the state hire someone specifically to go around replacing smoke detector batteries? How stupid and wasteful is that?”


A Welcomed Sight for Sore Eyes



It’s not a great photo. It’s not even a photo of the greatest of sunsets. But, it is a very welcomed sight nonetheless. We’ve had weeks and weeks of almost non stop rain and solid cloud cover. It’s been dreary and depressing. Well, as the cold front moved in this afternoon, it pushed those clouds away. Oh, it was so great to see blue overhead again!

I can’t ask for a better end to a long week and the beginning of the weekend. That just might make it a bit easier to deal with turning the clocks back and shorter days come Sunday.


Head to Wal-Mart For Your Casket


From the realm of the ridiculous, the largest retailer made an announcement today that is sure to add to the giant’s coffers; that is, if anyone can get beyond the issue of the bad taste left in their mouth.

The world's largest retailer wants to keep its customers even after they die.

Wal-Mart has started selling caskets on its Web site at prices that undercut most funeral homes, long the major seller of caskets.

The move follows a similar one by discount rival Costco, which also sells caskets on its site.

Wal-Mart quietly put up about 15 caskets and dozens of urns on its Web site last week.

Prices range from $999 for models like "Dad Remembered" and "Mom Remembered" steel caskets to the mid-level $1,699 "Executive Privilege." All are less than $2,000, except for the Sienna Bronze Casket, which sells for $3,199.

Caskets ship within 48 hours. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept third-party caskets.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

The caskets ship within 48 hours? Does that mean you have to buy ahead and store it…where? In your living room? Undercutting morticians? Is that wise? And, just what kind of quality are these caskets and urns? Where are they made – in China? What are they made of? Plastic?

This is just one idea I cannot wrap my mind around. Discount caskets. Just what is the world coming to?


A Place to Call Home: City or Small Town?


City or small town living? Is it an easy choice?

Imagine the first warm days of spring. Throw the curtains wide and open the windows to let in some fresh air. It’s sweet, it’s caressing, and it lifts the spirit.

A bird might chirp. Is it a robin? Is spring really here? The spirit lifts higher. Once in awhile, the sweet air carries a touch of warm earth or maybe a trace of an early blooming flower. A buzz comes into hearing range and goes out just as quickly. If there’s flowers, there’s bees. Life is alive and well with a perpetual invitation to come along.


Adventures of a Mattress


No matter what it is with a mattress, it takes two. Understatement of the century, right?

Well, when it comes to my wild hairs, I tend to forget subtle things like that. So, here’s my latest adventure, this time with a mattress.

I don’t often think about the comforts of life. Some things just aren’t that important. Like the bed I’d been sleeping on. It was over 20 years old, it started out as a soft-sided waterbed and ended up about as uncomfortable a surface to sleep on as you can get. It just didn’t matter. It was a minor irritant until I got myself jiggled around and nested in.

Lo and behold, a new outlet store opened along my route, so I stopped in yesterday, on the way home from work. It was pretty dingy inside, bare concrete floor, no aesthetics whatsoever and beds all over the place.


All Systems Down

courthousetowerIf you've ever had a power outage at home, you know the feeling. Even if it's daylight, your mind starts running through the Plan B you once thought about - and have since forgotten. Don't use the hot water, don't open the freezer door, no way to make coffee, no TV, no radio (do they even make battery operated transistor radios anymore?), and, heaven forbid, no Internet! Whatever will you do now? And the thoughts roll around, on and on, until the power comes back on. The dilemma is over.

Sure, losing the electricity is tough to deal with. We use it constantly and take it for granted. When you flip the switch, the light comes on. That’s just the way it is.

It wasn’t the electricity that went out in the office yesterday, but it was an even greater neutering. Statewide, our whole system went down. And it stayed down, rendering our computers and phones still and useless. That meant that we were rendered still and just about powerless to do anything resembling work.

What could we do without the computer system? Open the mail. Too bad that chore was already taken care of for the day.

At first, the office was quiet. We all sat staring at our screens as if our collective will would bring the system back alive.


Odin’s Playful, Perfect Timing


I didn’t know it when I walked out the door with my camera in hand, but there was a party going on next door. A bunch of guys, young and old, were out on the porch smoking.

I get lost when I’m outside with the dogs, Odin and my camera. I wander aimlessly, oblivious to anything beyond the three acres enclosed in pasture fence. I noticed those guys smoking out on the porch when I heard a city-slicker’s attempt at neighing like a horse. It was pretty pitiful of a sound that I felt was meant to make fun of me.

I beat that feeling down for a few heartbeats and did what I usually do; I hid out of sight. Then, I saw the old water bucket and the light bulb went off in my head. I’ll show those guys what a real horse is, I thought to myself, and I grabbed that water bucket up.


Social Networking’s Next Level? I Think I’ll Pass

max_headroomLost in ever-loving, romantic thoughts, I used to think about writing a book about my life. For the longest time, I kept journals; not so much for my book’s fodder, but to work out what I had experienced daily, more as a way to keep myself honest with myself than anything else.

Journaling got me through quite a few rough spots along the way, to say the least. What it proved a thousand-fold is that the process of writing is integral to learning, to balance, to goal fitness and to staying sane in an insane world.

I haven’t thought about writing a book about my life in years. Thinking about it now, the same old question still is, “Just who would be interested in my life?” Sure, I have a lifetime of experiences that, if shared, would curl many a mothers’ hair, but would they be interesting enough for someone else to read cover to cover? Nah. At this point, I’d even have a hard time reading a book about my life.


You Should Think About This

UnmaskingHypocriteIf there's one thing that sets my blood a-boil, it's someone telling me what I can and cannot do. I get the same reaction when I hear someone telling someone else what they can and cannot do.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it wasn’t wrong or bad to think that a person who assumes they are favored, obliged, smarter, of better breeding, more popular, wealthier – better – is not possible, not true, and certainly far from reality. No one person is ever better than anyone else. Period.

For this reason, no one is ever right in pushing what they believe down my throat.  I have the same red blood coursing through my veins, I require food and water and sleep, I eliminate waste and yearn to procreate just as much as the next person – or any other living thing on Earth when it comes right down to it. I do not assume that I know what’s right for another person, and resent it when someone assumes that only what they believe is the right way to believe.


Who Will Pay for News? Good Question.


More specifically, who will pay for online news? If there has to be one thing that stands in the way of fully transitioning to the Information Age, this is the issue.

The news itself is necessary. The news is a solid, well established checks-and-balance between the government and the people. The news provides the information needed to make an educated decision on crucial issues that effect each one of us. The news provides the facts, and it’s one-to-many distribution waylays disinformation and rumors.  It is a necessary part of "the system” of a government for the people, by the people.

The physical newspaper is jam-packed with ink from front to back. Articles, commentary, opinions, photographs are crunched into every possible inch along with advertisements. Those ads provide the paper the income needed to produce such a mountain of information on a daily basis and operate on the notion that the more eyes that see the ad, the more familiar the brand name and likelihood that the product will sell. The expected return on a newspaper ad is a realistic 20 percent.


A Slow Sunday at Home

odin101109After too many weeks of my camera wrapped up snug as a bug in its case, I took it out and dusted it off today. Ah, its weight is comforting in the hand.

As usual, I wandered around, looking around for visual excitement and interest, not paying much mind to anything else. It’s so relaxing and invigorating at the same time.

What always stops me in my tracks and takes my breath away is Odin. I marvel at his beauty, his strength and his presence. It’s always a thrill to catch a good photo of him.

I took 80 shots today, and there’s quite a few good ones. It will take me awhile to get them prepped for Out in the Back Yard, though I expect to have quite a few new entries there in a few days. I’ll have a few more of Odin, and I grabbed some decent shots of Saki, Hiro and Jake too. Of course I took a lot of what’s left of the wild flowers. It’s sad to see them giving up for the year. Still, there’s some good photos to hold me over until spring.

It’s a good way to end the weekend. No thoughts, no worries, just tucked in warm with Hiro and Saki at my feet, Jake by my side and a good book to read. I hear Odin right outside my window thumping a foot now and then, breaking through Chloe’s snores coming from the foot of the bed.

I’m tired, I’m warm, and I’m home. I couldn’t ask for more.


Who is That in the Mirror?

transgender-photo In the last 20 or so years, more than a few times I’ve caught a glimpse of myself as I quickly passed a mirror and was startled. It’s that thing of time: I feel the same as I did when in my 30’s, but what greets me in the mirror nowadays is not what I would see in that mirror 20 years ago. Startled, surprised, momentarily shocked, that mirror warrants a second glance. Looking hard, critically, I see the remnants of what the mirror beheld in the days of old, then I come to terms with the current reflection. Yes, it is still me staring back from the mirror, albeit older, much older.

I’ve never shared this bit of weirdness with anyone before, so I can’t be sure if it’s something that is common – or not. You see, I live so much in-the-moment that I probably give new meaning to the “Space Case” continuum.  Regardless, it is from this perspective, unique or not, that gives shape to certain reactions of mine.

Yesterday, toward the end of the day at the end of two harrowing weeks of overtime and running all out, an older woman sat at my desk and launched into her story. She was relatively tall, large, and had a very large head topped with teased, hairsprayed hair. She wore a blue, sort-of smock top over black, yet it remained her very large head and face that kept me startled.


Hey, You Guys…


What’s going on, you guys? So, what have you been up to? You guys want to meet at the Courtyard, then go over to Bobby D’s? Cool. I’ll be there at 9:00…

The Courtyard was an old bar with nightmarish acoustics because of the large pool, located in the Ramada Inn. It’s not in this photo of Binghamton, NY; it’s off to the left a little, across the river. Bobby D’s was a swanky roadhouse sort of bar that didn’t have much better than a dirt floor, it was so filthy. It was kitty-corner to that building with all the columns on the left, do you see it? The out of town, top-40 bands would play the Courtyard, and the rock bands would play Bobby D’s. Back in the early 1980’s, you could go out 6 nights a week and catch a live band. Ah, those were the days.

Too old now to even stay up past 8:30 during the week – and not minding it a bit – I got to thinking about phrases. You know, the ‘local’ phrases. Well, it’s not only phrases, but pronunciations.


Stop and Think First


It wasn’t all that long ago that we were warned to be careful before hitting that Send button when writing an email. It’s good advice, and one that still seems to be tough to remember. Hammer out your heart and soul, say what’s really on your mind, spill all the beans and forget the life raft because when you hit Send, it feels so good. You got it off your chest, the weight is lifted. Then, once you settle down and have your emotions back under control, the dread creeps in. How much damage did you do?

There’s no tellin’. That’s the good thing about blogging – you can go back and delete a post if you want to. It’s still out there though; that’s the nature of RSS feeds. But at least some of it is deleted. It’s the same in Facebook. If you change your mind, just delete your post. There’s at least an illusion that you covered yourself and prevented the damage of your burst of hot-headedness.

It wasn’t that long ago that long distances charges on phone calls kept us in check. To save on long distance, we wrote letters – with pen and paper, an envelope and a postage stamp. The only time you were S.O.L. in stopping that letter from being sent was if you dropped it into a big, blue, public mail box. If you stuck it in your own mailbox to be picked up by your mailman, you had some time to run out, grab the letter and put the flag back down before he got there.


Coming Home is the Best Part of the Day

familyThere’s nothing better than coming home after a tough day at work to be greeted by the dogs and Odin.

(Of course, now that we’re winding down, the horse fed, the dogs fed and all laying at my feet as I sit at the computer, they become ‘fragrant’ too. Who knows which one it was that just let loose a loud, obnoxious fart! I knew it, it was Jake. He has that guilty look on his face…)

I don’t know how Saki and Hiro, the two little dogs, can wag their tails so hard while jumping all over me and yapping away can be any more welcoming. Chloe the Shepherd and Jake the Aussie aren’t half as fast, so by the time they get up to me, still before I’ve even moved the truck through the gate, Saki and Hiro have run off to bug Odin. Odin will trot up to me as I get out of the truck at the house and insist on a few itches before he’ll let me go in the house to change.

I was a little later than usual, working late then stopping for groceries (Oh, there’s the fragrance now. One of the dogs had to have eaten something more than the dog food I gave them to reek like that. Yuck!), there wasn’t much daylight left to the day to ride. But, Odin wanted to play, and that’s what we did.


Unemployed? Some Things You Need to Know

thumperWhen I saw this man last night at a local festival, I thought to myself, “If he was looking for a job right now, he probably wouldn’t have much luck.” His choice of clothes and his body language spell L-O-S-E-R, loud and clear. Never mind that he has a new haircut and he’s cleanly shaven, or that he seems to have found himself a way to drum up some money, it’s not enough to outweigh the negatives in the picture he paints of himself.

Is he one of the millions that have lost their job in this latest economic mess? Are you?

There’s no doubt about it, if you lose your job, it can be the most stressful, depressing thing that can happen to you. Job loss runs right up there with divorce in the list of most stressful life events, and taking the psychological hit can knock you to your knees.

Think positively, come to terms with the major blow to your psyche, and get back up on your feet. Do this as quickly as you can. Sure, there’s a grieving process that goes along with job loss, so do whatever you can to separate out your emotional state. Be strong!

Faced with such a life-changing event in your life, what can be most helpful is learning everything you need to know about being unemployed.


How Much History Don’t We Know?


Launched by an article about the ancient (500 BC) Mayan culture’s possibly sudden exodus to the shores of Yucatan, my mind has been caught in the wonder of it all.

From what I recall (I didn’t bookmark the article, dangit), archeologists found an amazing, mile-long staircase up to a mountain-top compound that was never raided, possibly because of the very long trek to get there. The photo is of part of that mountain-top palace, still standing in its wondrous, architectural glory. Household tools were just left lying, as though just used and set down as the people made their getaway.

Though some of Mayan decent live today, no one knows what happened, what made an entire culture leave their palatial homes. Did everyone decide at once that they wanted ocean-front property? Did everyone make it?


S-u-n-s-e-t Spells Relief

septsundaysunsetHello. My name is Theresa and I'm addicted to... sunsets!

I gasped in wonder when I saw that sunset, feed bucket in hand and an impatient horse circling around me. It had been over a week since we’ve seen any sun here, and this gorgeous view was the perfect end to a beautiful day.

Yeah, that sunshine outside got me moving. I surprised myself by getting off this chair in front of my computer, grabbed the saddle off its stand and headed outside to ride Odin. I didn’t think, I just did it.

I love that horse! He always gets me laughing and finds more than a few ways to amaze me every time I’m around him. I brushed him out, sprayed him down and got him saddled. Since I drank close to a gallon of iced tea, I had to run inside for a minute and left Odin standing there. Nope, he wasn’t there when I got back, but the smart horse didn’t drag my rope through the gooey mud puddle, and he was only a few feet away from where I left him.


It’s All in The Hairline

napolitano_andrewSome things are just …”off.” Like this guy’s hairline. I nabbed it off of Google Images, and his name is Andrew Napolitano, if that means anything to anyone. It's the best photo I could find that illustrates my story.

Now, take that hair, cut it to about a half inch long all the way around, make his brow one that overhangs, add in a uni-brow, then dye all his hair black and you have the perfect image of this guy I met today.

It took me a long time to quit staring at this guy’s face. How in the world does a hairline grow so low onto a person’s forehead? Did he go overboard with the Rogaine? And, how can there possibly be a shadow over the bridge of his nose?

As if that wasn’t enough, this guy thought he was… Oh, I don’t want to say this but it’s true: He thought he was hot. Cocky as all get-out, especially since he thought he’d been wronged.

“Oh, sorry,” he says looking down at his cell phone. “My wife texted me, wants to know if she can come back here because some man is talking to her in the waiting room and he’s making her nervous.”


What’s Been Working For Me

facebook_logoSince I started my third blog this summer, I’ve found it more and more difficult to keep up with what it takes to make Entrecard work for me. I find it virtually impossible to set aside the time and energy needed to drop, whether it be reciprocal, or visiting all my favorite blogs. All the changes in the last year, leading to the sale of the service, played a major part in my disenchantment, with the possibly fatal “final straw” being an increase in make-money blogs (the all-time low quality crap) requesting to advertise. For the first time since joining Entrecard, I’ve denied more ad requests than I have approved.

What I want – and need – is a place to keep track of all my favorite people and their blogs all in one place. To my surprise, Facebook does just that.

networkedblogs The Networked Blogs application within Facebook makes it extremely easy to follow my favorite blogs, with links all on one tab in my profile. I’ve added A Bumpy Path, eyebald and Out in the Back Yard to this application, and when I create a new post, a summary shows up on my profile and wall with a link to the blog. My friends can keep up with my blogs as easily as I can now keep up with theirs.

What I’ve found to be the greatest part of networking through Facebook with other bloggers is that I’ve come to know them more, which adds to the enjoyment of reading their blog posts. Status updates and more photos and the interaction with other friends means more is shared, and appreciated.

cmf-125x125 For an advertising network, I joined CMF Ads. Created by a few of the personalities from the original Entrecard, the CMF blog network is an ad exchange service that works. You pay to advertise on blogs, and others pay to advertise on your blogs. What could be simpler?

The biggest positive about CMF is that the network consists of only quality blogs created by serious bloggers, not just your get-rich-quick-blogging crap that I refuse to allow on my blogs, let alone visit. You can click from one CMF blog to the next and never find anything but a good read.

Since I haven’t had the time to spend dropping cards from one blog to the next, I’ve found that the traffic from Entrecard has become nil. That is a glaring indication of the drop –n- run, blow-your-bounce-rate-to-hell, less-than-desirable traffic you get from the sort of reward system that Entrecard is built on. What good does it do to pour your heart and soul into your blog if no one bothers to stop long enough to read what you wrote? Now, the majority of my traffic comes from search engines, CMF and Facebook. And, my bounce rate is cut in half.

So, folks. Send me a friend request on Facebook. Get your blog on Networked Blogs and join CMF Ads. For me, Entrecard’s days are numbered; I’m just waiting for you all to join me on Facebook.


The Power of One Among Many

If there was any before, there can be no doubt now: Housework sucks, especially when you use ammonia to clean. When a woman tells a man that she loves housework, it’s not the actual act of cleaning that she loves, it is that she shows her love by taking care of him. Think about that before you leave your smelly socks and skidded up underwear on the bedroom floor.

“The average American household has two and a half children.” The first time I heard that, I thought, “What? The S.O.B.’s went around and chopped kids in two?” Today, I read that the average person has six and a half close friends; that’s all we’re able to wrap our minds around. Six and a half? It’s no wonder I suck at math – these statements just don’t make sense. I’ll have nightmares until I figure out just which one of my friends is walking around with only one arm and one leg.

Yesterday, I read about a blogger who was a successful and published novelist. With a three-book contract cancelled after his second book, he sank into despair. He said it was blogging that resurrected his writing “mojo” and incidentally, launched him into a far more successful – and stable – writing career. The key, he said, is to always deliver value.


Coming Out from Behind


It’s been gnawing at my craw a bit lately, this thing that people seem to be doing more and more often. It’s judging. I see the painful results of harsh judgments, and it’s not a pretty sight to see someone ripped up and spit out like that.

The last person I saw on Friday was a woman that I’ll call Jan. She’s about as real a person as they come, and quite bubbly for someone in her late 30’s. She’s a single mom, fighting one hell of an uphill battle. You see, Jan is severely dyslexic, which has meant a lifetime of misdiagnoses and misunderstanding.

Instead of learning coping skills, she learned to be anxious and nervous. She fears the parts she doesn’t understand and becomes so flustered when she thinks she doesn’t understand that her mind takes off in a whirlwind. Then, she’ll call herself stupid and idiotic and dumb and apologizes profusely for her anxiety. She is far from stupid, something I remind her of every time I see her.

Bits and pieces of her life come out now and then. Jan was thought to be so mentally retarded that her mother was strongly advised to commit her to a mental institution for life. They said she would never learn anything and become very difficult to handle as she grew older. Her mother didn’t believe them, but attending public school wasn’t much of a success.


Update on Hiro and Thanks to You All

I stopped to see Hiro on the way home from work tonight. I have to say, the people at the vet are wonderful and everyone stops to speak to Hiro when they walk by his cage. They’re keeping a close eye on him..

When I got there, Hiro was coming out of anesthesia, and doing a lot of whining. That broke my heart to hear, but I was assured that it was mostly the drugs talking, not that he was in pain so much.

But he sounds like he's hurting, that's for sure. Not only did he lose his leg, he lost his cajones too. I had the vet neuter him at the same time he was removing the leg. I figured with only three legs, he's going to need to lose some of his ...confidence... to survive now. In other words, he needs to stay close to home instead of agitating the big dogs in the neighborhood that he'll no longer be able to run away from.


Hiro is in a Tight Spot and So am I

hurthiroHiro and I are going through a boat-load of firsts together.

It’s the first time I’ve ever had one of my dogs shot, and it really hits home just how much my critters mean to me.

When I walked out the door to leave for work this morning, there was Hiro, lying under the truck on his side. He’s usually the one I have to yell at to quit jumping on me, so I knew something was wrong. One of his forelegs was three times the size of the other, so that made diagnosis easy enough. A wag of his tail, a quick lick to my face as I picked him up to carry him inside, and I knew the leg was all that was hurt.

A mad dash out the door to make it to work on time and my mind is reeling. I figured he probably tangled with one of the four-wheelers he’s so fond of chasing, or, the horse finally managed to kick him. Then, there was the dilemma of getting him to the vet, something quite difficult to do when working all day.


Those Danged Expectations


Is it a learned thing, a conditioning of sorts? How do we set ourselves up so well to be so …disappointed? Here I am with all the psychology education I could get my hands on and I’m still asking the same questions! Am I expecting a different answer from the textbooks and journals than what I usually find there? What a bother! Truth is, there are just some important things you’ll never find in a book.

Like, you turn the key in the ignition and the car starts. It’s not too much to expect, right? But when the car doesn’t start, the Plan B that was never expected to be needed and thus unthought of has to be created and put into action ASAP. That’s a major “un-oh” moment if there ever was one.

You can be careful to choose the gallon of milk with the longest code date of all the jugs on the shelf, and when you pour out a glass to enjoy with those fresh Oreos, you expect that milk to be drinkable. Don’t look now, but you need to get that soured, spit-out milk and cookie combo off your monitor and keyboard fast!


Generally? There’s No Such Thing


Generally, there’s no such thing as ‘generally.’

Did you know that public education funding comes directly out of the defense fund? Yep, it is. From the get-go, the average, everyday Joe is carefully molded to become the perfect soldier that does what he’s told; nothing more, nothing less.

Public education goes out of its way to “generally” produce externally motivated personalities with independent, critical thinking all but non existent. With across-the-board prescribed content and reinforced peer pressure, what results is generation after generation of passive sheep, ready and willing to do what they are told, nothing more, nothing less.

The affluent send their kids to private schools where the emphasis is on leadership of the masses – generally. Any school’s biggest threat is the students who fall outside the general norm, such as gifted or challenged learners.


A Dilemma of Normalcy

A temperature of 98.6 is normal. That the clock keeps ticking away the seconds is normal. A person wearing clothes is normal, and a dog scratching fleas is normal. When things go kaflooey, when a temp isn’t normal, a trip to the doctor’s office throws a wrench in the day. If the clock wildly jumps around seconds, minutes and hours, a trip to Wal-Mart for a new one is in order. A person wearing clothes out in public is normal, but I bet those clothes aren’t on when that person is taking a shower like they normally do. And, the dog could’ve run into something he’s allergic to, so there you go again, this time to the vet.

Lately, I’ve been noticing quite a few more things that aren’t quite what I’d call normal. Imagine my surprise when I transferred the photos from my camera to my computer yesterday, and found this photo. It was windy, so whatever it was I was trying to take a photo of is missing, and I got this anomaly instead. What is this? Is it the birth of a pod person?

But, that’s beside the point. Or, normally, it would be beside the point. The point is…

Normalcy is a dilemma for me.


It’s Time to Take a Closer Look


The top 10 percent of the population holds 90 percent of the wealth; while the bottom 10 percent of the population is unemployed – until they run out of unemployment. At the same time, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of homeless, though no one seems to know just how many there actually are. The homeless are not counted in the census; you have to have an address to be counted.

I read a headline this week that said something about new unemployment claims have leveled off, and of course that’s supposed to be a good sign. The reality is much less of a ‘good sign’ as most of the people who were laid off at the beginning of this economic mess have run clean out of money, and since they haven’t worked in the past 18 months, they don’t qualify for a new claim. So, it’s pretty clear that the good ol’ 10-percent-unemployed number isn’t including everyone that is unemployed.

The 80 percent of the population that has only 10 percent of the available wealth in the country controls the remaining 90 percent because we are The Consumer Market.