Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Waiting Game

Today's horoscope for Cancer from today's Washington Post:

You are a sign that is ruled by the Moon, and today's solar eclipse could hit you hard. You might need to wait at least six months to understand the meaning of this event. You will have a clue one week and one month from today.

I guess that means I have to wait until January 12, 2019, to understand what, if anything, may or may not have happened today. And on August 19, I might have some idea just what that event was unless, of course, it happens in the next four and a half hours.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Who Gets the Short Straw?

It seems as if overnight or every time you turn around, straws are the hot topic. We could and should be worried about plastic trash in general, but something about straws has hit a nerve. It hit mine a bit early; I've been using metal straws at home for quite a while. I would agree that eateries bring or offer us straws with too many beverages. I can drink my glass of water or iced tea lips to glass thank you very much. There are beverages, though, that call out for a straw. Milkshakes. Smoothies. Thick cold substance hovering between a solid and a liquid.

One of my birthday gifts last weekend was a set of metal straws of a smaller circumference than the metal ones I already had. Some of these are even bent to mimic bendable straws. They fit into a velvet bag and fit just right in the bottom of my purse. I've used them at a couple of places around town. I don't drink Starbucks coffee often--the coffee tastes somewhat burnt--but I stopped in today for an iced coffee post-swim and pre-quilt guild meeting. I noticed that they had for sale a re-usable plastic glass. I thought that the least I could do was get one. I may never use it at a Starbucks to get the 10 cent discount offered, but I'll use it at home if nowhere else. The barista asked if I wanted a straw. I took great pleasure in whipping out one of my metal straws and noting, "No thanks. I brought my own."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

What Goes Around

I don't like being in crowds; I never have. And if the crowd starts moving, making me move with it, I pretty much suffer a panic attack. That's why I deliberately avoid situations in which that might happen. If I have to be in a moving crowd, leaving a sporting event for example, I stay as close as possible to the person I'm with, usually the husband.

But by deliberately avoiding large crowds, I often find myself not going to events I'd like to, or that I think I ought to. An example is the Women's March the day after the 2017 Presidential inauguration. I really wanted to be there. I really did. At the same time, I found the thought of the crown absolutely terrifying. Even the crowds at the local event seemed daunting. I asked two dear friends who were going to the event in D.C., one from here and one from afar, to represent me, to be there in spirit for me. Knowing how I feel about crowds, they both agreed.

This past weekend saw Families Belong Together rallies held nationwide in protest of the current administration's program of separating immigrant children and parents. While I did not even consider trying to get to the national rally in Washington, D.C., I hoped that the local rally might be manageable in size, and decided to give it a try. What I posted on my Facebook page pretty well describes my motivation.

Going to the Families Belong Together rally today. I normally avoid crowds, but we no longer live in normal times.

The same friends who represented me at last year's Women's March offered support and guidance. Stay to the sides of the crowd. Feel free to step back out of the crowd. Stay close to the husband. And my local friend asked for a ride to the rally, giving me a second person to whom I could turn.

I wanted to make some sort of poster to take along, but not enough to make a special trip into town when I discovered the sheets of foam board I thought were in my studio closet weren't actually there. It was evening by then, and the rally announcement had said there would be poster-making supplies on site. My friend, on the other hand, was prepared and had a great sign.

We lessened the distance we had to walk by using my temporary disability parking tag. As we walked toward the rally, both the husband and friend noted that there were places I could sit so as not to overdo my still-healing knee (that weekend, the knee replacement was 10 weeks old). Next time, I'll listen to them and/or bring my own chair. My knee was extra-swollen and awkward for the rest of the day.

We ended up, not intentionally, at the front of the small area in which the speakers made their remarks. If you know me and if the video link works, you can see me here at the beginning and end of the report. The end is a longer shot than the beginning. If you don't know the husband, he's the gentleman to my right. He is also the gentleman shown "up front" in the photo at the start of this post.

The crowd was not at all bad; I had nothing resembling a panic attack. I didn't experience any real anxiety, though by the end I knew I had overdone it as far as my new knee was concerned. It was a good event; I am extremely glad that I decided to give it a go.

The rally was this past Saturday. Yesterday, I went to one of the quilting chapters to which I belong and at which I am one of the younger members. Not more than a couple minutes after I got there, one of the older members (I'm guessing she's in her late 70's) said she had to talk to me and took me aside, away from the tables at which people were sitting. I, of course, started thinking, "Oh crap, what did I do wrong now?" The woman, wife of a retired minister, said she had seen me at the rally not in person but on one of the local news broadcasts. She thanked me for having gone, saying she had wanted to go but knew that she would not be able to manage it physically. She was glad I had been there in spirit for her.

So I was represented in spirit at one rally then, later, did my own representing in spirit at another. What goes around comes around, and this time that's a very good thing.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

It's Been Too Long

I really should try to update this blog more often. An entire year between one post and the next does not make me happy. As I go through the day, a thought here or there is followed by another thought that I should write something about the first thought. You can see how often I've gone through with that. It's mostly because somewhere, possibly folded in the emotional baggage some of us carry, is the thought that keeping a blog or journal is a waste of time. I need to work on changing that. I like to write and therefore should write even if it is just for myself.

My six-months-from-New-Year's-Day birthday means it's another new year, this time a new year of my life. According to the horoscope in today's Washington Post, here's how that year might go:

This year, optimism becomes a given in your life. You will see concrete results from this attitude change. If you are single, you have a strong personality, so you probably will need someone a little less intense for a partner. You will have several potential sweeties around you. If you are attached, this year offers many romantic moments. Aquarius teaches you how to express your feelings.

Do I have to be single to be strong? Does that mean I am not strong having been married for a third of a century? I'm also not sure how being married relates to the "several potential sweeties" angle. If I skip those thoughts and go to the next line, not passing "Go" on the way, "many romantic moments" doesn't really seem like much for a whole year. How about some excitement on a front other than the romantic one?

About those "concrete results" from being more optimistic, well, there might be something to needing to be more optimistic. My 62nd year had more than a few rough spots. Several people I know got medical diagnoses of a less-than-positive nature. The results for most have, however, been positive. While I do have pretty much the dream job (part-time, from home), I'm still adjusting to the retirement of my boss of several decades (and the only reason I went back to work when asked to). Even after more than a year, there are new things to get used to with a new boss. Even though it was the right time, saying good-bye to our canine companion Biscuit still hurts much more than a little.

And my own physical condition leaves a lot to be desired. While I feel so much better after April's knee replacement, to get there I had to give up several things I loved doing and that kept me in great physical condition. And let's not talk about the more than 15 pounds I've gained as a result. I went from being in the best physical shape I'd ever been in to being in worse shape than at any time since childhood. Would being more optimistic help here? Probably, but it's not necessarily easy. I am working steadily at getting my strength back while also dealing with knowing that more of my weight gain may have come from emotional eating rather than lack of exercise. Having lost 30-plus pounds at one other time in my life tells me that I can do it. It also tells me that it won't be easy. Note to self: Try to feel more optimistic about succeeding.

Should I offer resolutions for this new new year of my life? Would "be more optimistic" count? Would "blogging more than once a year"? Spending less time on social media and more time in creative pursuits? Keeping the house and environs neater and more organized? All the resolutions that come to mind are based on improvements, suggesting there is a lot that needs fixing. Which I know, when it come right down to it, there is.

So let's start small, with putting up another blog post before 2019. And add a photo or two next time.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

If July 1 Is Your Birthday ...

This year you value your domestic life even more, if that is possible. You are aware of a need you have to be more independent and a self-starter. If you are single, you will want a meaningful relationship; do not settle for less. If you are attached, you and your sweetie emphasize your domestic life together. You might even take cooking classes together, or remodel your home. Libra might unintentionally create a lot of friction.
(from The Washington Post)

Interesting, but I'm not quite sure how to take it. Sweetie? I have never thought of the husband in such terms. Does valuing my domestic life mean I have to clean more often or better? I guess a need to be more independent and a self-starter might fit with the New Year's resolution mentioned in last night's post, tell me again I can't, but then I know that at times I am too independent. At least there's lots of food for thought here.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Another Year Counted

I've been pondering the passing of time as I think of something from my past and realize that it was 40 or more years ago. When I was a kid, 40 years seemed an eternity. I could not imagine myself 40 years later. Heck, I couldn't imagine even turning 40, but then I grew up with Jack Benny's always turning 39. Jack Benny? Talk about dating myself! Watching Mitch Miller on the black-and-white television. Listening to Andy Williams or Bobby Darin on the huge stereo console with speakers on each side and on which one could stack multiple records to be dropped and played one by one. Damn! Those things take me back, forget 40, but 55 years.

And I think I'm old when I ask if someone remembers the Caravan (Home of the Humpburger) here in Charlottesville. Or the Chinese Dragon out Fontaine Avenue Extended where a friend learned to tell the gender of an unborn child by whether the mother's face changed during pregnancy. I was abroad for my second pregnancy, but said friend nailed that older son would be just that, a son. Those things only take me back about 30 years.

If you've visited this blog before around this time of year, you've seen that with a birthday six months away from New Year's Day, I have a tendency to think I should evaluate any resolutions I made six months ago and/or make some birthday resolutions for the six months that start that day. Of course, my New Year's resolutions have fallen off in recent years. My sole resolution for 2017 was somewhat fuzzy in that it was to try to live up to the sentiment on a Spartan race t-shirt I got for Christmas: TELL ME AGAIN I CAN'T. I guess I was hoping that in 2017 I would be brave or braver, set goals or higher goals and, whatever, accomplish more or accomplish it better. I'm not sure why I might have been feeling that way, though it could well have been that I was feeling lazy about resolutions  and using the shirt was the easy way out.

As for birthday resolutions, I noted in last year's birthday blog post that I was going to keep them private. That suggests that I made at least one, but if I did, I've now forgotten it or them. That's actually a good strategy--keep them private even from myself. Or, more pessimistically, there are said to be some memory issues with aging, not that I am.

Resolutions to keep for the next six months, written down so that I can hold myself accountable? I'm in a work wellness program in which I can get $250 if I continue to eat the amount of protein I should 20 days each month and do something creative for eight hours each month. The challenge ends in December, so keeping with those could be one resolution. I'm registered to run a half marathon in November, trusting the sons who say that if I can run a ten miler as I did in March I can run three more miles and make it a half. Let's make that a second resolution. Given that these cover just six months, two seems a reasonable number.

So much forbirthday eve musings. Tomorrow, I'll get to see what the coming year holds according to The Washington Post's daily horoscope. That's sometimes good for a laugh.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Up in the Air up the River

sunrise on the Amazon

I worked for somewhere around five hours on a post about our time in the Amazonian rainforest. I had fifteen or so photos in there, words and more words all to describe the highlights of our several days there. All I had left to add was the high point of our time there, the canopy walkway. The post would not preview. Despite my having used the Save button several times, exiting and re-loading the post to try to get it to preview erased all my work. I just don't have it in me to re-do all that, but here are some photos and a few words about the canopy walkway adventure I was going to write about after the preview. This was the absolute highlight of our time in the rainforest.

The first thing you should know about that adventure is that I have some fear of heights. I have frozen several times when on a bridge or a ledge even if it's not terribly far off the ground. I was thus somewhat worried about whether I would be able to handle the walkway. I'll get it out of the way now and say that I was able to. The first few sections had me pretty shaky, but I kept telling myself that there was no going back. I also had trouble at first looking down while on the walkway itself; I could only look down from one of the platforms between sections. By the end, though, I felt quite comfortable and was sort of wishing we could go back and do it all a second time.

The walkway is constructed of ladders on which the wooden walkway segments sit. 
I asked Paul how many ladders were used, and he said that might be worth learning in case someone else ever asked that question. Before we started, he demonstrated how stumbling or falling against the side of the walkway would not take it all down. Still, some segments looked a bit more intimidating that others.
I think the husband took the photo below because I don't recall being comfortable enough to stop and use the camera while on the walkway itself. As I recall, I only shot from the platforms.
It did occur to me that I should prove that I was up there; hence, this shot.
And just what does it look like from above? Pretty darn neat!
You'll have to take my word for it, but there are monkeys in the above photo.
And here's the intrepid canopy walkway crew. Our fourth was feeling under the weather after taking her anti-malarial pill that morning. It wasn't the same without her.
Apologies for not sharing a bit about the gateway to our Amazon, Iquitos; our visit to Indiana; how proficient I am with a blowgun despite never having had a lesson; birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians; termite nests; and the coolest tree ever. Wait, I'll use that as an endpoint.