Thursday, July 24, 2014

Acquainted with the Night

The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb- time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.

- John O’Donohue in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Had a good day yesterday.  Our pasta and meat sauce lunch was fantastic, and I won the jackpot.  Yep, I finally got the full card.  Made myself ten dollars.  On a busier day it would have been more.  It's a little over a year now since I retired, and I think I joined the Center a week or two after that so I'm at or nearing my one year anniversary.  The year flew by.   

'The world rests in the night'.  There was a time when I used to wait for everyone to go to bed, and then I would step out my back door and become 'acquainted with the night'.  I loved the quietude.  Sometimes, it the weather was bad, I'd turn off all the lights, the television, and sit in a darkness lit only by candlelight.  The night has been my time for as long as I can remember.  I can still picture that little girl I was sitting up in bed playing with paper dolls by moonlight.  Or those nights my friend and I slept outdoors in my backyard.  I discovered an entirely different world out there...and even then the quiet of the night was special to me. 

Even while I was still employed, I still found time to enjoy the night.  Yet, ironically, now that I am retired and have nothing to pull me out of bed early in the morn, I find that the latest I go to bed is 11 pm, and I usually fall out as soon as my head hits the pillow.  And, I am up and about early morn, sometimes before the sun comes up.  

Speaking of the night, 'Acquainted with the Night' by  Christopher Dewdney was a fantastic read.  I've already read through it twice and often skim over some of the chapters.   The  book is arranged in 'hours' of the night, starting with 6 PM and ending at 5 AM. Within each hour, the author focuses on one part of night, such as night creatures, dreams, insomnia, fears of the darkness, children's view of night and  ancient and modern night celebrations. Indeed, everything to do with the night is found in this book from the stars above to night in art to creatures who live in caves or the abyss under the sea. Just talking about it makes me want to dig it out again.

Wishing you all a blessed day.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Wee Bit of Hodgepodge

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. 

Frederick Keonig

Good morning. It's pretty humid out there today, but when I look back at how bad last year was, I have no reason to complain.  There's been no extended heat wave here this year...yet.  We have a couple of hot humid days and then the coolness returns.  Today we are supposed to have some storms and more coming tomorrow.  That might be a good day to stay home and relax. 

The nurse from my ex-job returned from the Philippines yesterday.  She has been on sick leave for quite awhile and has decided that she is not going to return to the job either.  The stress of the job almost killed her.  That's the way it was in that place.  Good workers were not appreciated.  Instead, we were pushed to our limits and pretty much forgotten once our health issues force us out of there.  She, though, has not yet learned that they just don't care.  She is trying to get us altogether for lunch.  I already told her not to expect me, that I'd love to get together with her and Jane (another co-worker who ran into health issues because of the job, but I cannot sit down and 'play nice' with a bunch of liars and hypocrites.  All knew I had health issues and not one called to see how I was doing.  That hurts, but I guess deep down it was expected.  I saw it happen to the others who left.

I swear this plant gets stranger and stranger looking every day.

Everyone waiting for Bingo to start.  I won yesterday.  Trouble is, whenever I win so does someone else, and the winnings are already small. So I ended up with $2...just enough to buy tomorrow's lunch and cards and at least I had a chance to call out 'Bingo'.

Each summer high school students come from around the country and volunteer their time.  They help with the cleaning and mingle and chat with the clients.  Each group stays about 4 weeks and then a new group comes in.  See the two boys at the nearby table?  They are part of a group that recently came from Canada.

Yesterday's lunch....chicken cutlet, noodles, and mixed veggies. Not bad for a dollar.  Trust me.  The chicken tastes better than it looks.  Speaking of yesterday's lunch, I'm wondering if I am too critical.  One of my friends that sit at our table has heart issues, is nearly blind, and is hard of hearing. When she had her own place, not only did she get her lunch for free, but she would bring a container, and they would give her dinner to take home. That never bothered me.  But now she lives with her daughter who cooks for her every day.  The daughter escorts her to the Center now, and they both sit at my table.  The daughter often talks about the meals she has cooked.  My friend is blessed now to have home cooked meals, plenty of snacks, and someone to take care her.

So why, I ask, does she still march into the kitchen with her container for food to bring home the moment she gets to the Center?  She certainly doesn't need it anymore. There are others there who are still in dire straights, and lunch is their only meal of the day.  They don't get this special treatment.  It just doesn't seem fair to me. 

May you all have a day filled with laughter and love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dilemma Time

 Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off.  

Author Unknown

Hubby's surgery was over in a snap.  It was quick, painless and painless.  
Wish the rest of the day had gone that way.  The clinic works with a private cab service that shuffles its clients to and fro.  That spared us the expense because I don't drive.  And the ride over was so pleasant.  The driver was friendly and easy to converse with.  Tipping is not necessary as it is added into the bill, but we enjoyed him so much that we gave him a little extra.  Hubby and I were both in good spirits until we walked into the place. Then we realized that patience was definitely needed.

It was packed.  Standing room only.  I went outside to sit on a bench for awhile when my back started giving out.  Finally, we managed to get a couple of seats and we waited for over two hours.  Poor hubby was starving.  When he finally went into surgery I took a walk to the only food place nearby, Dunkin Donuts and bought six of them.  He ate 4 of them when he got out of surgery.  Then came the ride home.  It was a nightmare.  The cab driver obviously didn't know his way around because he ended up taking us way out of our way, and got a little huffy when hubby told him so.  Needless to say, what should have been no more than a 25 minute ride turned into nearly an hour.  Needless to say, this guy did not get that extra tip.

I think I mentioned not too long that an army Sergeant stationed at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey contacted me regarding my family tree.  The old cemetery on the grounds interests him, and he was especially eager to meet with me regarding what I have learned about this family.  He suggested that we meet sometime in August. This is such an opportunity, one that I never expected.  Hubby said he would drive me, and this would give me the opportunity to also visit my grandparent's graves.

But, August is the hottest month, and, although I really would like to go, but I worry about Miss Minga.  I cannot leave the AC on all day (I fear an electrical fire), and I am hesitant to leave her in the heat...despite the fact that she lies as close to the heater as she can during the winter months.  But that is a different kind of heat, and she is so old now, I just don't feel comfortable leaving her for so many hours.  There is no one to come in and check on her.  I've been thinking of writing him and asking him if we could do it in September instead. At least it 'should' be cooler, and I will feel more comfortable about leaving my baby.  It's only a day trip, but when you love an animal, they have to come before all else.

At one point  my ancestors owned hundreds of acres of the   land that the Arsenal is built upon. Their farm was located on this property and  near the edge of the former Walton Farm property, was used as either a family or community burial ground from at least 1787 until at least 1884. Currently, the only known published records of its existence are in Munsell's 'History of Morris County, 1739-1882'.  Most graves are identifiable only by fieldstone marker. What is known is that this ground, near the edge of the former Walton Farm property, was used as  burial ground from at least 1787 until at least 1884. 

It saddens me that for so many years I lived so close to my ancestors but had no idea they were there. My dad, my aunt, and most of my uncles worked at Picatinny for as long as I can remember, and they hired me when I turned 18, but when they offered me 'hazardous pay' I ran the other way.  I grew up fearing explosions, and as we kids sat in class, we never knew if it was Picatinny or the Dickerson Mines. (Another ancestry line) A wee bit of history here--When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Picatinny Arsenal was the only munitions plant in the nation capable of producing anything larger than small arms ammunition.

How awesome this visit will be!  It wasn't so long ago that I hadn't even known that they existed.  And now I have this wonderful opportunity to stand on their grounds. For hundreds of years my family lived in that area.  The last was was my parents' generation. Now they are all gone.  All that is left is their graves.
 As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
Homer, Iliad

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Morning This and That

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. 
Ambrose Redmoon

Good morning, everyone.  It's a grand Monday morning.  The humidity has still not crept up to unbearable levels.  That will be coming on Wednesday.  Hubby is going to have the cataracts removed in one eye this morning.  He said there was no need for me to tag along, but I am going anyway.  Wouldn't seem right for me to be playing a game of bingo while he is having matter how minor the surgery may be.  I'll be next for the surgery, but I am so darn nervous.  I can take tremendous pain, but the thought of surgery scares the heck out of me.

He's is my hero, this man, this love of my life.  He's been through so much, but has never given up...cancer, Hep C, emphysema, glaucoma, and now they found a cyst on his kidney.  I was truly blessed the day he walked into my life and sat on that bench next to me.

On Friday I had to go back to my old neighborhood.  Time to deposit again.  Good thing it is only every six months that I have to make the trip.  There is always that negative aura that overwhelms me as soon as I get off the bus.  Yet, this time there was something different.  There were many changes on the avenue.  Old stores closed and new ones had taken their place.  Of course, this was the avenue and not the street where I had lived.  

The bus driver was fantastic.  I overheard him tell someone that he used to be a standup comic, and he kept us laughing all the way with his deep baritone voice.  Here's a couple of the one liners I remember...

 'Remember, the early bird may get the worm, but it is the second mouse that gets the cheese.'

'They say that  money grows on trees.  That's why banks have branches.'

Needless to say, I didn't want the ride to end. 

While waiting for hubby I finished my book on African spirituality and started reading "Romancing Life:  My First 65 Years of Learning a Living' by Amy Aukersmit. Although I have accepted and feel I am handling the aging process well, sometimes it is comforting to find out how others handle it.  Here is a description of the book.

'I have learned that the years pass more quickly after the age of sixty-five, and I've learned to accept the early mornings and early nights that now arrive unexpectedly. I've learned to laugh more often at more things than I did before, and I learned that to worry is a total waste of time...because hardly anything is as bad as it may seem. I've learned to accept the wrinkles where they never used to be...and my hairdresser now blends the strawberry blonde with the gray. I trust that I will grow old gracefully...and if someone doesn't like me it's none of my business. "After Sixty-Five" Is a freedom I do suppose...In that you know more of the basics and care less about the frills. And whether they are here or matter what... My children remain near and dear in my heart forever and always... And I will always wonder if I would have or could have done more. And now... As I wander towards the sunset...There are still rainbows and rainy days and all the sun and clouds in between... And so it is...' 
Went to the fruit stand on Saturday.  Bought some wonderful tasting sweet Bing cherries.  My dear friend,  Jo , turned me onto the fact that they are good for arthritis, and I am doing whatever I can to bring this pain under control.   Perhaps they will do some good for the fibro pain as well.  Other purchased goodies include....


These taste just like the ones that used to grow in grandma's garden.  Used to help her pick for her raspberry jam and ate just as much as went in the pail.

Gonna saute the brocolli in olive oil and garlic and cut up a nice salad with the rest of the stuff.  These cucumbers are garden fresh.

Well, that's about it right now.  Gotta jump in the shower now so hubby can have time to get ready.  I think I am more nervous than he is.

Have a good one.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Wishes

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Notice how big this plant is getting.

Happy Friday everyone! May your weekend be full of adventure and cheer, and may the start of next week be a long ways from here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's a Lovely Thursday Morning

The most tangible of all visible mysteries - fire.  

Leigh Hunt

Good morning, everyone, and a fine morning it is.  The oppressive humidity has finally broken, the sky is clear, and the temperature will be cooler than usual for this time of year.  It will feel good to be able to take a deep breath of fresh air. 69 days left of summer, and that will be over before we know it, and I've not done much.  One trip to Coney Island, a few days at the park, and that's all I have done so far.  Kind of sad, isn't it?  But the following picture I took yesterday morn shows the quality of the weather we have been having.  No sun, gray, depressing, and far too humid. Don't feel much like doing anything in that kind of weather.

Yesterday I was on the bus coming home from the Center and as we were nearing my stop,  I spotted fire trucks with red lights flashing  in the vicinity of my building.  My heart dropped.  Not only was I worried about my home and my dear Miss Minga, but the scene also brought me a flashback from many years ago when I was also coming home on the bus.  Only that time I was coming home from school. "Oh look at all the fire trucks", a classmate called out.  "There is a fire".  There sure was, and it was MY house that was on fire.  

Fortunately the fire had been caught in time, and the house was not badly damaged.  My beloved dog, Susie, had been saved by the fireman, and was in the care of a neighbor.  Sadly though, we lost our memories. All of our photo albums and the box that contained all the little holiday gifts I had made my parents in school throughout the years had been destroyed.  Unlike today, where photos are stored on computers and never lost, 55 years ago they were hopelessly lost. I had nothing of myself from my childhood.  It wasn't until a few years back that a cousin contacted me via Ancestry and sent me the only picture I have of me and my dad.  My dad is the one with the mustache. I still lack a photo of my mom.

The fire yesterday turned out to be a few houses down, and that, too, was not a serious one.  Thank goodness all ended well.

It amazes me how easily things can trigger an old memory for me today.   I'm often surprised that I find my memory triggered by the most subtle things like the scent in the air or a photo in a magazine.  Just the other day it was the wind that reminded me of a windy day long ago.  I'd always heard that older people will have poor short term memories but very good long term memories.  But, I wonder if that is all there is to it.  I think slowing down also contributes to the memories of bygone years.

I know in my case from the age of 30 up I was so busy with work, school, and raising children that I had no time to cherish the past.  I was too busy looking forward.  But, aging brings with it retirement and a slower life style. There just seems to be more time to savor the good times of the past...and an opportunity to work through those bad memories that you had pushed far into the background.

And finally, another photo of my dearest friend, Miss Minga, my shadow. This was when I came home yesterday. You can just imagine how relieved I was, but I was still trembling from the tremendous fear I had felt.  

Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Ramble

The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

T.H. White
The Once and Future King

Who knew when I boldly marched into the principal's office that March 23rd, 1965 to announce I was quitting school that I would become a lifelong learner? It was such a stupid thing to do. That was the year I turned 18, and I only had 3 months to go to graduate.  And it wasn't that I hated school so bad.  No, quitting was my way of getting back at my overly strict parents. Several years later it became one of my biggest regrets, but thankfully I had enough sense to go back to school and rectify it.  It wasn't easy going back to school at 30 for my GED or at 50 for my degree.  It wasn't easy working 9 to 5 and racing off to the city to attend the classes necessary to become a  certified substance abuse counselor.  None of it was easy, but I did it.

And during that time I attended classes to become an ordained Interfaith minister as well as bardic and ovate courses in an online Druid training school...New Order of Druids (NOD). And throughout the years I have studied Astrology and  Philosophy with the Rosicrucian Fellowship, Transpersonal Psychology from a school I no longer remember (it was so long ago) although I do have my certificate packed away someplace in the house, and Kabbalah.

On my own I have studied numerology, mythology, goddess,  runes, I Ching, alternative healing, and dreamwork as well as various paths--Celtic, Faery, Avalon, Huna, Orisa, and a wee bit of Asatru.  I've recently discovered Western African Spirituality and Tradition.   'The Way of the Elders: West African Spirituality & Tradition' by  Adama Doumbia is a book I cannot put down.  And I have yet to learn Tarot and crystals. 

That's a lot of learning, but I've had 68 years to do it in.

One important fact I have learned is that you are never too old and it is never too late to learn something new. There is just so much out there that you could do. It's up to you.  You can choose to learn new things or further your knowledge of things you previously learned, or you can choose to do nothing as the ladies' I attend the Center with.  Don't get me wrong.  I love them all, but they are so stuck, and I've grown tired of trying to dig them out.  None of them have a computer, nor do they want one. Yes, there ARE cons to owning a computer, but there is also so much out in the world that is just waiting to be learned.  And then I've offered to teach them how to get the most of their cell phones, but they are not interested. "Oh, I am too old," or "I can't be bothered," or, and I love this one, "I have better things to do with my time."  Yeah, like play bingo and watch jeopardy on television.

But I understand.  These are women a generation older than me who have never had a career. Some have never even had a job and are currently living off their deceased husband's social security, or if they did work, it was only for a short time here and there.  And yes, they are happy living their lives as they are.  So, who am I to try to push them into changing? Yet, in a way they are learning something new when I talk about the nutrition in the various foods or what alternatives are good for pain and blood pressure.  I share recipes with them and talk about caring for an aging pet.  And I learn from them as well and love when they share their tales of their generation or about how it was for their parents after they had immigrated into the US. 

Yes, each day we do learn something new.   Every day is a learning experience just waiting to happen.