Fellow Travelers


I travel (metaphorically speaking) with a remarkable group of women. These women, for the most part, are writers, bloggers, seekers and the go-to women when you want something done. So today, I am going to list some fantastic blogs and sites for you to visit, for inspiration, encouragement and, if you are anything like me, a dose of humility at the talent out there!

Story Circle Book Reviews is one of the many sources of “womenkind” for me. I started with this group as a reviewer, in which I still take part, as well as working as an editor,  book-requester and behind the scenes help-where-needed gal. These are some of the women who have created blogs, and worlds, that I long to inhabit – and feel honored to visit.

Susan Wittig Albert is my favorite author – a woman of remarkable and varied skills. The series which sucked me into her orbit is the China Bayle’s herbal mystery series. In the years I have read Susan’s work, she has had at least 3 other series, going concurrently with China. Confession time – I am an insomniac of life-long suffering. When I have a really bad night, I lie there with the lights off, and write my own make-believe story, about a woman named Shanghai Bailey. Corny huh? China and Susan are not really flip sides of the same person, but they share a love of herbs with me! Her non-fiction works also grace my shelves, and help me along my path of self-exploration… Susan’s websites (yes, plural!) can be found at:

I am very proud to say that I consider Susan a friend – a wonderful mentor!

Next up on my palette of women I want to be when I grow up is the uniquely beautiful Susan J. Tweit. Another multi-talented woman, her haikus, photography, and moving blogs about her husband’s recent passing due to brain cancer have totally amazed me. She does reviews for SCBR as well. Her books are best sellers, and today’s blog, sort of a listing of all she is doing in 2012, including remaking her late husband’s 110 year old studio at their home in Colorado, is amazing.  Susan J. Tweit – Mindful Living. Be sure to further explore her blog after you read this particular post.

A new acquaintance, via SCBR is the oh-so-fascinating Khadijah Lacina (aka Yemeni Journey.) Born in the American heartland, she embraced Islam (well before 9/11) and lived with her husband and eight (yes, 8) children in Yemen for nine years. She has recently returned stateside. She is a writer, reader, reviewer, herbalist, fabric artist  and translator. Her blog, http://yemenijourney.com/ is full of wonder and grace. Her perspectives on religion, family life, living in Yemen versus the United States and her path as a Muslim woman are so enriching and educational.

Outside of my SCBR world, I have “met” bloggers whose stories enchant me, teach me, and  embolden me on my own paths to wisdom and discovery. First in that list is Ashley of Lil Blue Boo. An artist, DIYer, Crafter, Clothing Designer, Blogger and cancer patient, this young mother is absolutely phenomenal. Her attitude in today’s blog personifies her outlook on life. “Every day is a good day. Some days are just better than others!” She could be bummed at her constant chemo, her complicated regimen for knocking out the cancer which has invaded several parts of her body. But she isn’t. She has bracelets (those ubiquitous rubbery-stretch ones) that say “Choose Joy.” and that is her philosophy. I intend to buy a package (20 for only $15, postpaid) and share them, to encourage others to choose joy in their lives. Do check out her crafts, her line of children’s clothing, and great patterns.

Another “online” friend is from the part of my world that I consider my “hippie” persona. We met on Facebook, and I wear a Worldwide Hippies wristband that she sent me. Diana Carson-MayWaldman is yet another inspiring woman in my life. With her encouragement, I submitted my poem, Cancer Dancer, to a collection of poetry that was just published. Hip Poetry was edited by Diana, her husband Mitchell Waldman and Joe McEvoy, Founder of Worldwide Hippies. Di has fierce likes and dislikes, and I adore her enthusiasm for life and the hippie mantra (“People Who seek Peace, Justice, Love, Harmony – Promote Basic Human Rights and Positive Change in the world!”) She and Mitch also run Blue Lake Review, an online magazine with Diana as poetry editor. She is such a strong advocate for women and children, and her work, and words, keep me going on bad days…I am blessed to know her!

Perhaps friendships and discoveries made online are not “real” in some ways, but for me, these women have touched me, and I look forward to corresponding with them, reading their blogs and reviews, and learning from them as I continue on the adventure known as life. I hope you’ll join me in discovering their blogs and the beauty they encourage in all of us.

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Posted in Notes of interest, Womenkind, ~ Renew ~, ~ Review ~ | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Just One Look


Today is our 38th wedding anniversary, my husband Ed and me. We met at the end of August, 1973. We got engaged on September 13th, three weeks later. We married on Groundhog’s Day 1974. And we have belonged to each other, heart and soul, ever since. Good times and bad, we have tried (and sometimes struggled) with our handwritten wedding vows. I deliberately left out any mention of God when writing those vows, not because of my beliefs, but to honor my husband’s agnostic ones. But my father, whose sense of humor I inherited,  decided to insert God into the portion of the ceremony where he read his wishes for us. A special memory. We were married by a minister, nonetheless, a dear family friend, the Reverend Bob DeWolfe.  Our wedding was held at the Red Castle Inn, on one of the hills overlooking the river which once flowed through Nevada City, CA. There is a freeway there now.

It was my second marriage. The first one, what they call now a ‘starter marriage’ broke almost before it began. Ed and I met, almost accidentally, and I know that people say that someone was “meant to be” right from the start, but all I really know is that I saw him standing outside my sister’s apartment door, raising his eyebrow at me, and I was struck dumb. If you know me, you’ll know that isn’t a typical occurrence! He was different from the other boys (oh, sorry, wrong plot line…) tall, dark and yes, handsome. I had always liked athletic blonds before, stocky monkey arms…ah well. that was before.

I was 21. He was 29.

THEN:

NOW:

I consider myself part of an unusual marriage; one in which we have both learned and grew in wisdom, understanding and love for one another. He has accepted the changes in my personality – increased feminism and temperamental moodiness – and I have embraced the changes in him – increased need for quiet and peace, and an isolationist personality.  The road is not always smooth, but we managed to have two children together, raise them in love and with the intent to make them and our marriage part of a unique family unit. Our kids are grown up now, and we have grandsons, but we have never stopped looking at each other with smiles, laughing at the absurdities of life, and loving what we have made together.

Neither of us has enjoyed good health, but somehow the illnesses brought us closer together, understanding the fragility of the human body, and the limitations that time puts on us as we continue to tread the one-way path to the future, whatever happens. When asked what the “secret” of our marriage has been, I always say, our ability to laugh at ourselves, and with one another, and a deep, abiding friendship with one another. I have made lots of bad choices in my lifetime – marrying Ed was definitely NOT one of them!

Posted in Personal Ramblings, ~ Reminisce ~ | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments

What’s Size Got to do with it, Got to do with it…


For some reason Tina has occupied my head lately. What’s Love Got to do With it is a catchy song, although the lyrics are a bit mixed up…(http://youtu.be/TCBttS_y7lE) But when I started meditating on the topic of size, while making chocolate chip cookies, I could hear my revised version, sung A Capella, echoing in my ears. (It could be my tinnitus, I admit… it often takes on the sound and shape of different things!) ANYWAY, my mother used to always tell me not to make cookies too big, because if someone was gonna take two cookies they would take two cookies, whatever their size was. She also taught me to use only 1/2 of a 12 ounce package of chips in a batch of cookies. Two batches from one bag! Hey, she was raised, and a newlywed, in the depression era of the 1930s! And since times are hard all over again, it could be that these are lessons to take to heart, all over again.

I live in a tiny house. I have written about my house before, so won’t wander off the topic now, just to say that I read an article in Better Homes & Gardens where they talked about this couple struggling with a little house – about three pages into the article they mentioned that the house was 1800 square feet. Little? Whoa Nellie!

We live in super-sized times. New houses are huge, set on tiny little lots where you can hear your neighbors gargling in the morning, or fighting when they get home from work. No yard to worry about though! Only room for a lap pool, if that. Meals at restaurants are often so large that they could easily feed a family of four, unless of course you are at a trendy restaurant that serves cuisine nouvelle, with tiny portions elegantly served, with the only big thing about it being the tab.

The economy is forcing many into smaller, more economic cars – yet I am bumfuzzled by the number of SUVs trolling around the streets in metropolitan areas. Gas-guzzlers, hard to park, expensive to insure, they hardly seem worth the cost and daily expense, unless you live in mud or snow year-round! I always smile when I see a Smart Car zip past – looking so tiny and efficient, yet leaving a feeling of “where is the rest of it” when it has gone past.

Houses, Cars, Meals – bigger is better. Or is it? This seems to be a new wrinkle on keeping up with the Jones’ – we can flash our money, our status, and our value by super-sizing our lives. We are an obese society as well – making me think back to Fiddler on the Roof – when the wife bemoans that they don’t have enough money so she can cultivate a “proper double chin.” Schools no longer routinely offer Physical Education, and the evolution of home gaming, and game systems makes it even harder to get kids out to exercise and play. I truly do remember leaving my house in the morning after breakfast in the summertime and only coming back for meals – rolling in around 5 after a full day of rough and tumble playing with the neighborhood kids.

A salt shaker the boys found - still with salt inside

I know some nostalgia is creeping in here, despite my best efforts to the contrary. Recently, when we had our grandsons for 5 days, they spent the whole day, everyday, prowling around our 10 acres. They found a “dump” site from the previous (Victorian Farmhouse) place here, and wallowed in great joy amongst old pieces of china, wood and mysterious metal gizmos. (And, yes, I did vet the place first – and in fact, as a crafter, insisted on purloining some of their finds for future projects!) They came in when I hollered, and fell happily to sleep at night, no game systems, and only a movie or two to entertain them inside!

I think super-sizing is a choice. A bad one, but still, a choice we each have to make. I have lived in large houses, and small ones, and found ways to enjoy them both. Right now I relish the simplicity of the small house. Easy to clean, inexpensive to heat/cool, and friendlier and cozier somehow. I am getting that way about my meals too, small in portion, simple in ingredients, and providing an intimacy and charm that a big meal doesn’t give. Don’t get me wrong, I love a honkin’ big Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, but somehow our lifestyles today negate the value of the “occasional” big meal. And a homemade meal.

How can you start to back out of the mega-sized society we live in? Take a look at this wonderful list on Mother Nature Network. Think before making big purchases. Don’t stockpile things anymore. I mean, the money some families have tied up in garbage bags (600? Really!) or batteries is often ridiculous. Shop carefully for big-ticket items. The only place I intend to grow is in my knowledge of myself and in contributing to the small-is-better movement! How about you?

Posted in Notes of interest, Uncategorized, ~ Rant ~, ~ Reminisce ~ | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Family and Forgiveness


After three difficult years, my daughter and I had reached a comfortable relationship again; then it blew up in my face. She accepted a friend request on Facebook from a family member from which we have been estranged for over 10 years. And the estrangement had solid roots.

But the big question really has become – what is forgive and forget all about when it comes to family? Not where my daughter and I are concerned, but where past hurts and wrongs dwell, moldering in the once forgotten past? We as humans move on quickly in our lives, and as Americans, we have a tendency to forget the past and its lessons to us. This has become in-your-face clear to me with this latest snarl in my life. And come on, let’s be honest, even if forgiveness happens, unless the initial problem is based on frivolous causes, we don’t really ever forget. I’d like to think that this is because the lessons learned and remembered keep us from repeating our mistakes – but truly, I believe what it is belongs more to the realm of what the mind does, and is capable of doing.

I am angry that my daughter opened herself up to a relationship again with this family member, particularly since she was present and aware of the problems that caused the severance of the kinship links. And I am hurt that my daughter thinks so cavalierly of my past pain and unhappiness that she is willing to rake it up again, and remind me once more of the suffering this family member caused. And I am bewildered, because I would have liked to think that my family ties that are intact and strong (or strengthening) are more important to my daughter than a distant (both in time and place) relative that she has not seen for 15 years.

My daughter’s point of view is that she is an adult and can do what she wants. Indisputably true. Yet does this give her the right to do things that cause pain to others, just because she is an adult? And why would anyone want to open their heart and home to someone who has lied to, cheated, stolen from, and abused emotionally and financially, an elderly woman?! Where is the benefit in doing that? To me, it would be like accepting someone into your home who has served prison time for a heinous crime. You can feel sorry for the person, and even want the best for them, but you wouldn’t expose your children, your marriage, your lifestyle or your security to such a person, would you?

I did not go into all of this with my daughter. I let her know, briefly, succinctly and quite gently that I was not sure how I felt about her choice in this instance. I protected myself on Facebook by blocking this person, so I cannot see her comments, or have any contact with her. And I have come to the point that I figure that if my daughter wants to open up her life to someone who is negative, conniving and, to use another family member’s term, evil, it is indeed her choice. MY choice is how I handle, and channel, my anger and hurt. And since a falling-out with my daughter might mean a decreased access to my grandsons, I have to factor that in as well.

Forgive and forget. I am struggling, every day, to become a better person. I have chosen not to forgive this family member her transgressions, but since they were not directly against me, I am letting them go – lifting them up to the universe for resolution. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/8-Ways-to-Forgive-and-Forget has given me some insight to this process, as have friends who have listened to me rant, rave, and cry over yet another tear in the fabric of the tenuous mother-daughter bond. I was wrong to judge my daughter’s choice, although I still believe that this relative is not a person I would accept or cherish in my life. Forgiving my daughter for the pain she visited on me may take a little longer, but it will come. She is precious to me, and as I get older, I value my children more and more. My son is simply the best son a parent could ask for, so I will bask in that relationship, and strive to bring more sunshine and light to my fragile relationship with my daughter. It is all I can do.

Posted in Life is What Happens..., ~ Rant ~ | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bookmark Topics – a Window into the Soul?


From October on I had one problem or another involving my computer. First, it was a couple of months before we could line up an internet connection that we wanted, one without cable, satellite, landline or other gizmo to complicate our lives! We got AT&T, with which we are quite pleased. We have wireless through the phone lines – without a phone line. Totally rad!

Secondly, my laptop (which is actually a netbook and close to being the electronic love of my life…) was unlucky enough to score a virus – even though I have virus protection and a husband that is really savvy about computers. Eventually we saved all my files, but we forgot to save my bookmarks before we purged and reset to factory condition. No one’s fault – neither of us even thought about it!

So… I had to start over again. As the last month has evolved, I have changed browsers (from Firefox to Google Chrome) and learned how to use it. And, I have created a new set of bookmark folders. Every time I want to bookmark a page it goes in a specific folder. I seem to have changed a bit in what I want to save, and how the bookmark folders are laid out and configured.  So I figure the virus was a virus geared not really to destroy my computer, but to move me from 2011 to 2012 and open my mind up to the possibilities of a new year.

My folders are delineated thusly:

  • Blogs
  • Books
  • Crafts (crochet, craft ideas, craft products, sewing, kids crafts and Silhouette Cameo are the sub folders in that file set)
  • Feminism (Spiritual as a sub folder)
  • Organizational (as in “getting organized”)
  • Poultry (because I want chickens and ducks this Spring!)
  • Professional (SCBR and Bobby as sub folders – my current professional projects; Story Circle Book Reviews and Robert F. Bradford, whose stories and plays I am working on getting published)
  • Recipes
  • Study (topics that have attracted me in the new year… So far, Urban Homesteading,  Green Festivals in California, Sabermetrics and the philosophy of Finding Time)
  • Wish List (things for home, mostly electronic, that I want… soon, or maybe… later?)

Statue of Psyche by Bertel-Thorvaldsen

Looking through my bookmarks gives a deep look into me…my psyche, my interests, what enthuses me, interests  me, intrigues me and motivates me into learning new things, approach new topics and continually pursue enrichment. It isn’t because I want a college degree, or to enter quilt contests, sell expensive handcrafts or become a speaker on behalf of feminism, spirituality, sabermetrics, chicken breeds or anything else. I do it because I can. Because I enjoy it. Because it stimulates me, and provides me with outlets that make me, perhaps not a better person, but a more evolved and interesting one.

Our time here, our human life span, is short. My absorption of learning, new experiences, reading, writing,  researching, allow me to grow. So… yes, my bookmarking system reflects not only who I am, but who I would like to become. Is it perhaps time for my readers to evaluate their own bookmarks? Their filing systems, their own  feelings and sentiments about what they enjoy, seek out and are enriched by?

Posted in Life is What Happens..., Personal Ramblings, ~ @ Random ~, ~ Renew ~ | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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You have to Be Carefully Taught – A Monologue on Marriage


For those of you too young to remember the musical South Pacific, You’ve got to Be Carefully Taught* is a song from that marvelous show. It actually deals with prejudice, not marriage, but when I was feeling the urge to write about something that recently happened I was drawn to that. Who you become starts when you are a child. You are taught, by your parents, your peers, and society to behave in certain ways, to believe certain things and to accept certain “realities” as “truth.”

My husband is 67. Born in 1944 to very traditional parents – a father who was a lifer in the Navy and a mother who was a homemaker who had no college education or interests in life besides family and home (Kinder, Küche, Kirche.) She raised her children traditionally, with the prejudices, viewpoints and traditions of her generation.  (DOB 1922) By the way, I am a homemaker myself, and do NOT disapprove of the Kinder, Küche, Kirche way of life. But I am well-read, interested in a plethora of things, and constantly striving for self-improvement and, even, enlightenment. My Mother-in-Law was not one of those kinds of people. She was what my friend Joan calls a “young soul.”

My husband remembers being scolded, by his Uncle, while living in Philadelphia (Ed was born there) about playing with black children. It was acceptable on the corner baseball lot, but for Pete’s sake, you don’t bring “them” home with you to play! My Father-in-Law, due to his military experiences, didn’t seem to have such well-defined prejudices – but he wasn’t around much, and the family stayed stateside throughout his tours of duty.

My husband doesn’t have those kinds of prejudices. What his mother, unfortunately, taught him was that housework was “women’s work.” He has never done any inside housework without being asked first. Then he does it, cheerfully enough, but he never volunteers. He DID step up when I was in treatment for and recovering from cancer; did the dishes, fed the dog, fed me (I am kinda tired of PBJ, to this day…) and did laundry. That all stopped when I was back on my feet. So imagine my surprise when I got up this morning to a clean kitchen! Well, I always wake up to a clean kitchen, since doing the dishes and tidying up our little place is a before-bedtime routine. But I was headachy last night, and after putting the dishes in to soak (yep, no dishwasher here but me!) I said $%^&* it, and went to bed.

Ed doesn’t listen (but that is a rant for another post!) well, so my mutterings about the mess in the kitchen fell, I thought, on deaf ears. You need to know that my husband has wife deafness, not an actual hearing impairment. He is capable of hearing, just not listening… He doesn’t multitask well. Which is why I love car rides, because he is sort of a captive audience…

But this time, he was listening. When I staggered out this morning he had already been up for several hours. And the dishes were done! I was delighted and touched that he had done it, and then even a little doubtful and suspicious, long time wife that I am (38 years in Feb!) wondering if he was up to something. Nope. Just being helpful. Wow.

My husband also is not good at apologies. Yet he is starting to realize that I don’t ask for much, but when a problem occurs that lies at his door, I appreciate a sincere “I’m Sorry” to a fained ignorance of the problem. So you can teach an old dog new tricks, apparently!

I did not marry Ed for his housekeeping skills, his income, his ability to apologize or any other ephemeral talents. I married him because he made me laugh (after a previous marriage filled with pain and angst,) he was reader, enjoyed our daily times together, walking, working, or talking. I strongly believe that you should not try to change the person you are with – that is their task. Don’t marry or hook-up with someone who drives you insane, for they won’t make the changes you want, and you will end up bitter and frustrated. Change yourself, learn acceptance and appreciation of the good points.

Sometimes, you may find, as I have, that the changes you wanted in the other DO happen because the love you share creates a desire to please you, to comfort you, to take care of you. *That* is not a male or female trait. It is a partnership trait. I love this quote:

“I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it's only a choice of attitude.”

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction” Antoine de Saint Expury (French Pilot, writer and author  of ‘The Little Prince’ – 1900-1944)

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, for we are imperfect beings. But in looking outward together, we have learned a lot about each other, life, our interests, our family and our wishes for one another. I have regrets in my life, who doesn’t!? But marrying Ed isn’t one of them.

* Lyrics to the song

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Posted in Life is What Happens..., Personal Ramblings, ~ Reminisce ~, ~ Renew ~ | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments