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Friday, June 17, 2016

It Got Better

After posting on Sunday - and then hearing that dreadful news from Florida - BD and I took a walk to a very special forest and meandered its fairy tale-ish mossy green paths. I hadn't been there for weeks because it has been under water - which is stupid because I own high end rubber fisherman's boots - boots meant to keep you both comfortable and firmly rooted even when the deck is awash and tilting. I could slosh through any puddle a month of rain could lay in my path. But for sure - I know this special bit of woods is a healing place and I should never, ever think I'm in too much of a hurry to stop there and let it perform its magic on me.

RIGHT BRAIN:  She's right, you know.  All too often you zip on home without stopping to take advantage of that gift

 LEFT BRAIN: I know. And you feel too down in the dumps to believe, or even remember, that it only takes 10 minutes to feel that magic.

And that magic is palpable.The first time I felt it was way back around '89 or '90, when I had my first experience of Life After a Library Budget Cut. I'd been through many personal budget cuts ... i. e. being flat stone cold broke ... but that was always my issue. I just hadn't found a job yet. I could do something about it. This was different. This involved OtherPeople'sMoney. Our little library was then in its infancy and was operating on the thinnest of shoestrings.  Suddenly there was a revenue shortfall - probably the result of the savings and loan debacle - and $ for libraries took a massive hit. I was so depressed I couldn't even look forward to going to work. That 35 acres of woods had recently been cut and the jumble and tumult of regrowth had made it a Sleeping Beauty tangle of briers and thorns.  BD took a machete and hacked a sort of path out of the wilderness and I walked through it for the first time.

It wasn't even pretty. It was winter, all bleak and brown and dead leaves. It was a wild tangle of greenbriar, blackberry and holly leaves. You couldn't walk there without scratching your arms to shreds and still yet - in the middle of it all I felt the magic. The peace. The assurance that as dreadful as things get - the earth still breathes her gentle, cradling pulse up and around and through and into you. And like Antaeus - we can draw strength from our mother too - we can heal and stand tall and shuck off suffering and straighten our shoulders - not to lift a heavy burden but to realize that the burden is not so heavy.  I walked out of there knowing there was work to do, but confident that I could do it.  And I did.

And I have known since then that there was a magical place I could go to for healing. Over the years,the tangle has resolved itself into a forest and then our darling Randy came along to make the paths wider - YAY - but rougher, as he cleared away the leaf loam and revealed the tree roots. He also triggered another of nature's amazing tricks - for when the damp paths have no leaves on them emerald green moss, dotted with pale bluets, will spread atop them.  Imagine, if you can, the dark green of a heavily shaded forest with a bright green network of paths woven all about. Here you can duck the heat of the sun. Here you can imagine pixies and fairies, elves and sprites, peeking at you from behind a fat white oak or a fringed cypress tree. Here there is a place for all of nature's land magic. Here you are not in the seat of dominion but in the throng of earth's family. Here - if you let yourself, you can restore your soul to peace and calm.

On Sunday I spent several hours there and Monday, on the way home, I realized that it would take only 10 minutes to top up my peacefulness tank if I just pulled off the road and got out of the car. Nothing I had to do at home was as important as seeking the healing. So I did just that. In my work attire, shoes that were definitely not walking shoes, I slipped beneath the caress of the trees, down a path till I was just out of sight of the road, and soaked in the magic.

For sure - there is ALWAYS enough time to soak in the magic.

RIGHT BRAIN: So don't listen to her

  LEFT BRAIN: And don't listen to her either.

 LEFT BRAIN:  RIGHT BRAIN:   LOL listen to us both. Stop on the way home and take a walk.

I won't. Or I will. I'll remember that we are responsible for making our own selves happy. It's a choice.

Friday, June 10, 2016

It Gets Better

At least, I hope it does. Memorial Day weekend I had a mini meltdown and that sort of spilled over into the greater household. A tough week followed and last weekend wasn't really any easier. I felt like a Hank Williams song.

Even when the pressure began to lessen as this week progressed I still found myself channeling my Inner Mr. Darcy - who, to quote Miss Elizabeth Bennet was "of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”

Whence my continued bloglessness. 

And as I've tried to work my way through this without, you know, weeping in my cereal or at county meetings, I've suddenly realized that, while I have some legitimate issues stressing me out - most of which are not fare for public consumption - the habit of trying to make Everything Come Out Alright has prompted me to pick up burdens that aren't even mine and toss them onto my back.

As if I've been gathering party favors for a Pity Party.

I think it's time for a pow wow with TheBrains. So you two ... what's going on?

RIGHT BRAIN:  Ahh Ahh Ahh  TheBudget! TheElections! TheCommittee! TheBook! SummerReading! TheBoard! TheHusband! FatFatFat! AIIEEEEE!  It's all going to crash down into a conflagration and anyone who survives will be living in
After the world is left devastated by a vampire pandemic in Jim Mickle's impressive low-budget post-apocalyptic thriller, the survivors are forced to wander a devastated US landscape dodging religious fantastics and bloodthirsty monsters who will stop at nothing to see humanity at its knees.

Or that brain. She's crazy. I've got everything under control.

RIGHT BRAIN:  You think. Just ignore me and watch the damage I can create. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

LEFT BRAIN:Oh lord. Just put your panties on and listen. I've got a plan. Or at least I've got a list.

RIGHT BRAIN:  See? See? See how you always dismiss me and my feelings. You - you lazy schoolmarm. Why did you let it get this way?

LEFT BRAIN:  (Pauses and then sighs) You're right. I have been lazy about making a plan to get us through the next year or so. But that's partly because you've been so depressed and frightened. I've been too busy looking for reasons you shouldn't be so scared  ... like what Martha Beck said this morning ...

Living fully requires a return to the looseness that predates our first breath to an untroubled trust that we are supported by a universe that has no interest in hurting us, only in teaching us to dance.
~ O, The Oprah Magazine, July 2015 Martha Beck ~

RIGHT BRAIN:  Oh. Yeah. I forgot about that

LEFT BRAIN:Right. "Oh yeah." and remember that mantra "That may be true, but not for me" from Esther Hicks?  About how to feel when ... ya know ... Apocalypse feels like it's Now?

RIGHT BRAIN:  Yeah. I remember. I even tried some but it wasn't enough. I needed more.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, I knew that. That's why I was looking for more soothing mantras and reminders. Instead of making a plan.

RIGHT BRAIN:  And also because you're lazy.

LEFT BRAIN:LOL. I am. I know it. Especially because ThisPlan is all about the BigEnd and you know neither of us gets any reward from completion. We're E.N.F.P. and we're look-a-bird people. 

RIGHT BRAIN:  (smiling) Yeah. we are. and it's true - this week we've gotten a lot of scary things done and I'm not quite so sure there is a zombie outside the door. 

LEFT BRAIN: Nope. No zombies. Just patterns. Habits and knee jerk reactions to stress - things we ought to have recognized sooner. 

RIGHT BRAIN: Patterns?

LEFT BRAIN:yeah - Like in Mike Byster's book  -
The Power of Forgetting by Mike Byster   just, not number patterns but a way of responding to stress we have that isn't useful. 

RIGHT BRAIN: You mean the way I respond.

LEFT BRAIN:Well, yeah, But we're all in this one. You might have the impulse but I'm the one that starts listing all the ways we've been put upon. When we go out and put a lot of that stuff on ourselves. 


LEFT BRAIN:Yes. you too - onancounta you are all the time feeling "I can do that" and "I should do that" and I can fix it and I can take care of that and you know - I, me, me, I

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Hmm. Makes me sound sort of stupid doesn't it?

LEFT BRAIN:Eh. No point in name calling - it wouldn't really be true, now would it?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uhm. No. And besides, my feelings are legit.

LEFT BRAIN:Legit, yes, as in, they're real, but are they the right feelings at the right time? I mean ... do you really think ______ and ______ and _____ are wanting to torment us? Crush us? 

RIGHT BRAIN: Sometimes.

LEFT BRAIN:Really?  

RIGHT BRAIN: We ullll.. It FEELS that way.

LEFT BRAIN: But can you see any other way that crushing behavior could be explained? 

RIGHT BRAIN: As in - somebody we know and love might be scared because we're withdrawing 'cause we just have so dang much to do?


RIGHT BRAIN: It's a pattern isn't it?

LEFT BRAIN:Do you remember? Do you remember the last time we had a massively giNORMOUS project to complete? And how we felt? and how we behaved?

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah - and I've felt guilty about that ever since. 

LEFT BRAIN:Right. So - let's not do that again. Let's not withdraw again.

RIGHT BRAIN: So do we you have a plan yet?  Other than not withdrawing?

LEFT BRAIN:Well. Hmm. No. But I do have a sort of list of Things To Do with dates on them.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah, but here it is Friday and I feel like that list is not complete.

LEFT BRAIN: It's not

RIGHT BRAIN: So ... can we get it done?

LEFT BRAIN:I don't know. 


LEFT BRAIN:Stop that. Nobody knows. all we can do is try.

RIGHT BRAIN: (swallowing back a scream) gulp. Okay.

LEFT BRAIN:right. Okay. But here's a mini plan for the weekend. Let's take TheNotebook home with us and make a list of TTD for Monday. 


LEFT BRAIN:And we can work on the bigger TTD for June as well.


LEFT BRAIN:And we can worry about July's TTD list ... Oh - I've got it - Next weekend. 

RIGHT BRAIN: Alright. I'm good with that. 

LEFT BRAIN:so is there anything else you'd like to do - anything else that would make you feel better?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uhm. Maybe. All these TTD lists and stuff - they're all WERK. Where is my play. And my ART?

LEFT BRAIN:Well - what sort of art would make you feel happy?

RIGHT BRAIN: Tablecloths. I want to sew tablecloths. and napkins. to go with the new dishes.

LEFT BRAIN:Okay. When? This weekend?

RIGHT BRAIN: Uhm. No. No. I want to do them on Friday. Next Friday. When everone's gone and the house is clean and it's perfect.

LEFT BRAIN:LOL! It's never going to be perfect, but I know what you mean. Okay. I promise. Next Friday we get out all that cloth and the sewing machine and make tablecloths.

RIGHT BRAIN: And can we design the new closet?

LEFT BRAIN:Of course. We can start doing that this weekend. 

RIGHT BRAIN: Oh. Goodie. That's really going to be something, isn't it. It'll be worth having a construction crew all over the house this summer to get that.

LEFT BRAIN:I think so too.

RIGHT BRAIN: Okay. Then I'm good. I'm still a little scared, but I'm good.

LEFT BRAIN:That's probably about as good as an E.N.F.P. is ever going to feel when she's working on a big closure project. 

RIGHT BRAIN: (chuckles) Yeah, a Big Bird Project.

LEFT BRAIN:(laughs) Okay. Then let's get out of here. What do you want for dinner?



Okay - it sounds like TheBrains have the beginnings of a plan. And we all sure feel more relaxed this Friday than we did last Friday. I guess that's about as good as we can make it right now. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Baaaaad Blogger

  I've started at a dozen blog posts and petered out writing them in May - and here it is, almost the very last day of the month with nothing to show for a month of Mayness. Nor any Aprilness, for that matter. Baaaaad Blogger.

Well. Okay. I'm gonna cut myself some slack for my reticence because it has been a tough tough couple of months. Lots of the things I wanted to blog about, or gripe about, or just vent about, were things that don't belong on social media. That's still true, of course, but they're just enough behind me that I don't think I'll slide down that slippery slope.

And of course, that begs the question ... what does belong on social media? If it's all selfies and MyBigFatPerfectLife, then aren't we just 2 dimensional advertisements for the props in our photos?

I'm still enough of a 19th century southern belle to live by the dictum that we "don't air our linen in public". Venting should be restricted to things that deserve vitriol, like, oh, you know, cropped pants.

Even these 7 foot tall models have stumpy short legs in cropped pants! I mean ...who wants to have stumpy short legs?!? or worse - broad derrieres!

Which doesn't mean there isn't a place for shorter pants or jeans, just so long as they taper towards the ankle, a la Audrey Hepburn or they really are jeans you've rolled up so you can go wading in the ocean. That mid-calf flare doesn't do a thing for any woman and in  heels? Sheesh. Really. And yes. Some of my sweetest dearest friends wear them and they all end up with wide derrieres as a result. eh. What's a math loving. proportion seeking geometrist to do?

Or leggings? I don't care how young and fit you are or how far you've strayed in the opposite direction - leggings are for exercising in or layering, as in ... they should come with mandatory tunics. What ever it is you think you look like when you wear leggings with short tops - you don't. You look mostly naked and if you are not at the beach or in a gym class - you shouldn't be dressed like that in public.

Honest and true - there is such a thing as beauty and it starts with proportion. In fact, scientists have demonstrated that the equilateral triangle is the most pleasing shape to the human eye and the more of them you are born with, or can create with artful dressing, the more beautiful you'll appear. Don't believe me? Watch John Cleese's fascinating DVD FACE or read the book - DK 2001. Your public library can get it for you.  And here's a link about it:

So it must be true because, after all, "Scientists Say",  as in this quote from The Guardian's Martin Robbins in his March '12 eponymous article:

"... when the phrase is employed, 'scientists say' no such thing. Some scientists say it, some don't, and some might say something completely different. Often the writer makes little attempt to clarify where the claim stands in the grand order of things."

Nevertheless - FACE is a delightfully interesting documentary and truly worth a few hours of watching.

Okay - that's the sort of venting you're supposed to do in social media.

So - anyway - what's the problem with TheQueen these days that makes her only want to gripe on her blog and ... well ... who cares what bothers her anyway?

Sigh. I am not sure. Or in the places I am sure, I just can't bring myself to spit it out here. So it probably means that I have some hard work to do behind the scenes before I am ready to go public. It's always so much easier to muse about how the process went, than to (B)log my way through the process in real time.  And as I've pondered this, it hit me - I need to start with where I want to be and work my way backwards.  So the other day I sat down with pen and paper and began a list of all the deadlines I have - or at least as many of them as I can think of. With those in hand I began to list the steps that need to be taken to get me where I want to be.

LEFT BRAIN:  sometime in late July or maybe sometime in August - no no no wait! sometime in 2017.

 RIGHT BRAIN: No no! We can't possibly plan that far ahead! Too much! too much!

LEFT BRAIN:  Okay - maybe 2017 is too far out. We'll stop with mid-August.

 Well, hello you two. I thought you'd be lurking around here somewhere.

LEFT BRAIN:   Of course we are. We're in your head. you know that. And it was my idea to start making the lists and charts. I'm the only one around here who can come up with a plan.

 True. Thank you for that. Do you have anything more to add?

LEFT BRAIN:  No. I'm still formulating the plan. And I don't trust you-know-who to say anything sensible.

RIGHT BRAIN:  Of course I wont say sensible things. I only say TRUE things. And it's TRUE that I'm relieved you started a plan because I've been feeling reeeeealy unsafe. And scared. And worried. And overwhelmed. and I think I'll go hide under the pillow right now because that's how I feel these days.

LEFT BRAIN:  I knew that. I'm sorry it took me so long to figure out how to make a plan. I'm still not done with this one yet. It's just a start.

 RIGHT BRAIN: That's okay. It's a start and we really need to start. I already feel a little bit better, even though my tummy hurts. I have guilty gut. I'm going back to bed.

LEFT BRAIN:  I'm checking out too. We just didn't want you to forget about us.

 How could I?  You're in my head - all the time.

LEFT BRAIN:  Better in your head than dead. Which is what you'll be when we aren't here any more.

RIGHT BRAIN: (giggles)

 True. Well hop back into my head ... or go to bed ... while I wind this up. We can come back and lay out the plan when it's finished.

LEFT BRAIN:  plans are never finished. they're dynamic road maps, subject to change.

 You know what I meant. I just wonder if anybody else would understand where I am right now? I mean - should I post this at all?

RIGHT BRAIN: Of course! Spit it out.

LEFT BRAIN:  I agree - put it out there so it isn't cluttering up my work space.

RIGHT BRAIN: Yeah or giving us a tummy ache or  guilty gut.

 Okay. Here goes. Just know that we're workin' on it. And we'll try to be a better blogger. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Spend It Like A Man Jar

What is that, you want to know? Well. The concept came from columnist Jan Malone, lately of the Richmond Times Dispatch, though I don't remember if it originated with her. It goes like this: 

Most men hate to stand in line and to extend that time merely to count out change at the cash register is insupportable. They just hand over a bigger bill and stuff the change in their pockets. When they get home at night they empty their pockets and that change usually goes into some sort of container on their dressers. 

The argument was posed in her article that men also don't want to appear small and petty about insignificant sums. Of course, men have deep capacious pockets that hang from their waists. They are square shaped and they tend to have much higher opinions of their physical appearance than women. The extra width around the hips and upper thighs caused by bulky fabric is nothing to them in exchange for not having to carry stuff around in bags. 

Women, otoh, who traditionally did not have any money or had less, or had to account for every penny to someone else when they returned home, tend to count out each of those to-be-accounted for pennies. Also, women do not want extra width around their hips and upper thighs no matter what causes it. They lug around purses that rival carry-on luggage that seem to grow in weight and width as the day wears on. Women look for any means possible to remove heavy metals from their purses. Thus, they never have change to toss into dishes on their dressers. 

Interestingly enough, both men and women tend to see all bills handed to a cashier as Spent Money - already gone. The change is either an insignificant sum or it's added weight on some poor woman's shoulder. 

Of course, today, many women do have their own money and it is not unusual for it to be a greater sum than that of their men. This break with tradition should be followed, says Ms. Malone, by another one where women spent more like men, using whole dollars, and carrying the change home (in pockets or purses) to put into dishes on dressers or perhaps in jars in closets, just so nobody thinks the accumulated change belongs to the spear side of the family. Yes. Spear side is the opposite of distaff side - who knew? Anyway, If women spent more like men they would accumulate surprising amounts of cash which is tallied up in the "Already Been Spent" category and can now be spent again on fun stuff - like ... New Clothes or that expensive shampoo at Ulta that really does make your hair look thicker. 

And now you know why it is so important that I find my missing Spend It Like A Man Jar. I'm almost out of shampoo! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Old Dog Learning New Tricks

Shamelessly stolen from Megan Hills at mycartoonthing dot com .  Because if you know TheQueen, you know she does not decorate. She is even less likely to redecorate. She wants her stuff put in place and left there for eternity.  Like a flowing mane of hair, taut abs and other things she has long resigned herself to doing without, decorating is not part of her CV. In fact, furniture buying and renovating fill her with dread. TheCastle is perfectly fine just the way it is for just the way things are. (think "Pawpaw always said ...")  At least, this is true right now - while she's still werking and goes to her lovely office 5 out of 7 days a week.

The thing is - she won't be werking forever. Not too far over the hill, although still a ways to go, is

And all that private space she's had, all these years, in her office, at werk, will belong to some other lucky person and TheQueen will have to find a place to play with her toys somewhere in TheCastle - where ThePrince (Consort) has been strewing his stuff about since 1992!

Uhhhhh. So not happening in this space.

Thus, while I'm still able to escape the madness of a building project, I'm hoping ThePrince  will make some additions to our space. First off is a downstairs bathroom into which geezers can get their walkers and wheelchairs. Wide doors, smooth shower stall, maybe even a flexible vanity top. That way we can move our bedroom to the first floor and I can have that old bedroom for a studio - where my toys don't have to be put away so that we can sit down to dinner. The pleasure of leaving a sewing machine AND an easel set up and ready for play sounds like pure heaven to me.

Of course, such a shift means all the public and joint recreation stuff we do in the den-but-future master bedroom has to be done somewhere else. And that is why, as we slide into our geezer years I am pushing someone to make this house bigger.


or should I say


I do not want this construction project to end up being a deconstruction project. Let it not be the seismic shift that splits a 45 year old relationship apart. We nearly came to blows over the bathroom renovation of a few years ago and every day I have to listen to his complaints about the finished room - now, at last, made of new enough components that it can be cleaned. It fits me just fine but he complains that the tub is too short, too shallow, the shower head is uncomfortable and the sink is too small. I have to go into my head- buzzing white noise space whenever he gets going because, honestly, the bathroom is just fine. It's just not the old bathroom which had been built with second hand tub, tile and a formica counter top.  Old is the operative word - because anything that came before is better than anything that could possibly come after. (that is the first trick this old dog ever learned when it came to ThePrince)

ThePrince and I play well together but we have never worked well together and renovation is very hard work. Also - we have different taste - and we do different things in a house. But this time I am going to learn some learn some new tricks and the first one is to not care what we end up with but to let him build anything he wants. Though he has different taste, he does have good taste. He is the scion of a family of quite notable decorators. All H-family women can decorate. I just have to trust that he won't go off on too wild a tangent as this project unfolds. Now that I think about it - none of my talented sisters "decorate" and even though my artist mother could have been a decorator, she was not so inclined either. We would never go to a furniture store and select a "room". We are far more likely to assemble pretty things we've made or collected in artistic, if eclectic, groupings and besides, I love the old family furniture given to me by my mother-in-law.  I love the stories they tell, even if they don't all go together.

And so I have told ThePrince that the job of choosing for this new bathroom is his. Actually, I told him that he had good taste and I trusted him to select lovely things for this new bathroom. And honestly, I will like whatever he picks (even if he does use the old faucets from the renovated bathroom that he cherishingly stored out in the tool shed).  What I want out of this project is a studio for my toys. And the first step to having a room of my own is to get a bathroom downstairs - and a living room off the end of the house - with a guest bedroom over it.

Because in a few short years I will be here all day long and as it is right now - there's no place for my toys in this house.