Another year, another philosophical post

Life is challenging and sometimes scary. Life is exciting and oh-so-fun. Such a dichotomy fills my days. And here we are with another year flown by in the unyielding dance toward the final destiny.

Those of us who are baby boomers have been hit hard at our cores that many performers and influential people of OUR generation have passed away. Every time one of the death notices shows up on Facebook, we are forced to examine our own mortality and admit that it just as easily could have been us. That’s hard, friends.

As most of us do this time of year, I’ve been trying to re-imagine my life for 2017. What makes me happy? How do I want to serve others? What am I going to do to support a healthy lifestyle so maybe I won’t have a heart attack on a plane between London and Chicago? And where is my safe, drama-free place?

I know you don’t want to see photos of my recent foot surgery ( just ask, and I’ll share privately 🙂 ) but having the bunionectomy and hammer toe correction this fall helps me believe there’s hope of a more active and pain-free 2017. If recent days are any indication, I might actually be able to walk those daily 10,000 steps and ride my elliptical bike for an hour a day. And I love my aqua aerobics classes!

Realizing that I can lose that damn weight if I want to is freeing. I’m setting my sights on simple changes in my diet — a fruit, a vegetable, and a protein at each meal will go a long way toward making me healthier and happier. At least for the time being, I’m cutting out processed grains, potatoes, rice, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) because they all cause inflammatory reactions. I’ve got enough inflammation in my joints to last me the rest of my life, thank you very much.

I’m also looking at finding the right niche that needs me for volunteer work. It’s been suggested to me that my relative youth, computer skills, and upper body strength make me a good candidate to work at the local medical equipment lending closet. I’m heading over there to return the shower chair I borrowed for use after my foot surgery and to sign up to help. More on that as we go along.

As a lifelong learner, I’d like to up my photography game this year. I have seen lots of changes in my photos and my gear since I retired four years ago, and I love that I’m still a student of this beautiful art. The plan is to set up a little studio in my office (which needs some massive decluttering and reorganizing). It’s a process. I also plan to do another photography challenge this year to keep me disciplined and learning new techniques.

Recently, I discovered that there’s an actual college degree program and career as a food historian. I’ve always been fascinated with the cultural and familial connections of what people eat — and it seems a perfect way to meld my love of preparing and eating food and of photography. Again, more on that in future posts.

Finally, one year from today, Music Man and I will be entering the next chapter in our life together. He retires on December 1, 2017, and I’m discounting the holidays as a lost month, but January 1, 2018 will begin to tell the truth about what we have done in 2017 to prepare for it and who we will be in the future. Frankly, I can’t wait to have my buddy around more.

Happy new year to you, dear friends. I intend to focus on a positive path through the issues that are likely to present themselves in 2017, and hope we navigate this year in peace and productivity.

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What’s In A Word?

Click into photo for bio and photo source

Click into photo for bio and photo source

Anyone who’s been around me more than a few minutes knows that I love language — its sounds, its clarity and lack of clarity, and its anthropology. A friend of mine sent me an article about learning Potawatomi, the language of an indigenous American people who are now scattered to the winds in “a tribal diaspora” — as the author puts it — and the language of her ancestors.

I loved Robin Wall Kimmerer’s understanding about the Potawatomi people’s language and their relationship to the earth — their language gives life to inanimate objects. In this excerpt, she talks about how a noun moves to a verb, giving it animacy. The language lovers among you will totally “get” Kimmerer’s thrill when she sees the relationship between language and the natural world.

An electric current sizzled down my arm and through my finger, and practically scorched the page where that one word lay. In that moment I could smell the water of the bay, watch it rock against the shore and hear it sift onto the sand. A bay is a noun only if water is dead. When bay is a noun, it is defined by humans, trapped between its shores and contained by the word. But the verb wiikegama–to be a bay–releases the water from bondage and lets it live. “To be a bay” holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots and a flock of baby mergansers. Because it could do otherwise–become a stream or an ocean or a waterfall, and there are verbs for that, too. To be a hill, to be a sandy beach, to be a Saturday, all are possible verbs in a world where everything is alive. Water, land, and even a day, the language a mirror for seeing the animacy of the world, the life that pulses through all things, through pines and nuthatches and mushrooms. This is the language I hear in the woods, this is the language that lets us speak of what wells up all around us.

Click here to read the entire essay on The Daily Good.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a botany professor at SUNY Syracuse in New York, and has published several books and essays. Here’s an interview with her in a podcast. Fascinating!

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Duvet Day

I had a duvet day today.

From Pinterest -- original source unknown

From Pinterest — original source unknown

Frankly, I did not know that there was such a thing as a duvet day, but the picture tells the story. I’ve been known to stay under the covers all day and read, but today’s tale is not one of reading in bed. I was actually trying to get something done!

The big snuggly down duvet needed cleaning. It was only the hottest day of the summer so far, but I was determined that I needed to get this off the floor and put away for the summer. Did you check the date of today’s post? Summer is practically over, although it doesn’t feel like it today. Even after four years of retirement, I still think in “teacher calendar.”

I let my fingers do the driving first, and found a web site that said I should wash, then rinse the duvet twice, followed by many dryer cycles to be sure all of the feathers were fully dry. Otherwise, they would mold, being a natural product. It was also suggested that I put tennis balls in the dryer to help fluff up the down.

Music Man had some money left over on a laundromat debit card, so I went there first to see what type of extra-large washers and dryers they had. Two of each – check. The card had $1.03 on it and the place was kind of sketchy. Maybe not my best choice of the day.

I knew of another laundromat that a friend recommended, so I went there next. This place didn’t use a debit card, only quarters. The large washer was $4.50 per wash, so that would be $9.00 in quarters just to get the duvet washed and rinsed thoroughly. I couldn’t even bear to count up how many quarters it would take to dry the sucker.

I did a quick check on the price of tennis balls on Amazon – I was in the car and took the easy way out. Another two bucks.

On to the next option.

Imagine my relief when I discovered that my local dry cleaner would do the whole duvet for $19.99. Add it up, friends. It would cost about the same to wash that thing myself, plus the hours I would spend in a laundromat waiting for it to be done.

I went home, stripped the duvet cover off the comforter, and read the tag. DRY CLEAN SUGGESTED. Bam!

There’s a reason why God created convenience retailers. Let this be a lesson to you.

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On Sunday, the children’s message at church was about “what kind of penny are you?”



The church member delivering the message had a bunch of dark and oxidized pennies and a bunch of shiny new ones. She asked the children which they would rather be.

I squirmed in my seat during this message. It should have been a simple little lesson, but as a grownup, the characterization of even a penny as being dark made me uncomfortably aware of how often our language demonizes dark or black as being a bad thing.

In these very difficult times, insulated white people need to think carefully about what message we are sending with our words, not to mention our actions. Do we really want to tell small children that dark equals bad? In this case the lay minister used the word mean to talk about bad behavior.

I saw a quote in which someone said that the United States is ripping off the band aid of equality and democracy and underneath it is a seething infection of racism and prejudice.

As a lover of words, I hope that my words also speak love and tolerance – and even using the word tolerate makes me squidgy. I need to do better than tolerate people of different colors and ethnicities. I need to love them wholeheartedly.

And I need to do more than just love – I need to help spread the word. Maybe someone reading this will think twice about characterizing dark as bad. It’s not just political correctness; it’s reality for many people in our country.

Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

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Pity Party and Plans for the Future

Sometimes it takes a pity party to reboot your life.

In the last month or so, the following things have happened to me, and they resulted in my spending a lot of solitary and moody time on the couch reading and watching movies and television.

  • My son told me that I was never going to get anywhere with my blog if I didn’t focus my topic. He’s a social media expert, so I imagine he is probably correct.
  • My physical therapist told me that my knee probably isn’t going to get much better and that I’m going to have limitations with my range of motion in my surgical knee no matter how much I exercise it.
  • I realized that wearing a Fitbit has positive and negative aspects. On one hand, I love the documentation of one’s life because I’m a born and bred social historian. On the other hand, the Fitbit also hands up my failures on a social media platform for me and my Fitbit friends to see.
  • I blew up at a party when a friend made a political “joke” that hit a nerve.
  • A dear friend told me that I have to get off social media and stop worrying about what other people think – including the comments sections of political posts on Facebook. I encounter so much hatred and ignorance that it makes me frustrated, and resulted in my rude behavior on Easter.
  • I missed seeing two annual flower shows that I love because I really didn’t have anyone to go with. My friends are all busy and interesting people with their own lives and it’s very hard to schedule activities together. Having active lives should be a good thing, but not if I have to wait to do something because we can’t schedule a time.
  • I read three books with bloggers as the primary characters. They were well written and the authors clearly had knowledge of the blogging world, but it made me look at blogging success through different eyes.

So, I’m declaring the pity party to be over, and this is what I’m doing to change my perspective. Continue reading

Favorites of the Week

I’m back again with a bunch of totally disconnected bits and pieces that piqued my interest this week. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

Home decor
  • While looking for wire plate stands that hold more than one plate, I discovered this gorgeous plate holder at Bed Bath and Beyond. I don’t need it, but it’s beautiful and someone among my French decor friends must have to have it to complete her look!
Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

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Roasted Chicken – the Awesome Budget Stretching Food

Every time I roast a chicken, I am reminded that there’s a reason chickens are awesome.

I had seven people over for dinner last Friday, and chose two plump roasters at my butcher shop. Out the door, less than ten dollars.

Click into photo for recipe and source

Click into photo for recipe and source

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A Mighty Fortress

Music Man and I have a favorite brass group that we “follow” whenever they are performing in the Chicagoland area. The King’s Brass is a seven-piece brass group with additional keyboard and percussion players. Founded 35 years ago by director Tim Zimmerman, the group plays about 120 concerts a year in churches and concert halls. The members of the group are all professional musicians with gigs at universities and symphonies, but they travel six months of the year with King’s Brass. Their concert tour schedule is here; if they are in your area and you like church music, I highly recommend that you try to attend a concert.


Click into photo for source and more information about King’s Brass.

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The Documented Life

Recently a young friend commented on her frustration with Facebook constantly changing its formats, making choosing the way we interface with its programming difficult. She wants better control over whose posts she sees and the frequency that she sees them. I agree with her that it’s annoying to be faced with “suggested posts” and “sponsored posts” in addition to have people’s posts hidden from me because I didn’t comment enough. Annoying. Obviously, Facebook isn’t interested in what we want it to do for us; Mr. Zuckerberg and his staff want to make money. I get that and I’m happy that Facebook is still free.

Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

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