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Archive for May, 2013

Secret

When I drive over the Catching Slough on my way home every night, I almost always catch my breath. Tonight was a golden monochrome of silver.

Pale green/gold light filtered through lavender clouds and caressed the green, velvety rolling hills, revealing depths in the contrasting textures of leaf and needle and blade. Mysteries lay up every draw. The tide waters filled the Coos river to its banks, its steel gray waters the perfect anchor to the scale of hues in this picture.

Shhh, I thought. Too many people knowing about this would ruin the serenity of this scene. I think this as I hit the wipers once. As I drive on, I turn the delay on low. Before I reach home, I have gone through every setting on the delay and back to off.

Maybe I don’t need to worry so much about keeping this secret. Many people are so sweet, they would just dissolve in all this rain. ūüôā

Dandelions

The gardening bug crept up on me slowly. I bought my first house at age 28, and after a while, I started paying attention to the flower beds that were already established.

I remember my friend, Jennifer coming over to help me one day and I was amazed that you were supposed to pull grass out from the flower beds and cut in a defined border. I honestly never thought about it before.

I didn’t have a whole lot of success with my own plantings until I learned that plants require extra water in the summer. Who’d thunk?

Segue to my purchase of five and a half acres of swampy hillside, a dozen years later. When I left my home in Portland, I couldn’t leave my two huckleberry plants I had just established. I had a beautiful sword fern I contemplated digging up, too.

After I planted my huckleberries down here, I looked around. My hillsides are covered in huckleberries and sword ferns. (Remember, I am not a complete idiot, but I sure feel like one sometimes.)

Every couple of years, I read an article about how wonderful the misunderstood dandelion is. It has medicinal properties, it tastes great in a salad, it’s root will break up compacted dirt.

Portland is a very green city, and as a budding gardener, I was exposed to a lot of thinking about organic gardening, preventing erosion, using native plants to avoid the need to water, etc.

Maybe I’m not so much an idiot as naive, but after we carved our homesite out of a hillside, there was an incredible amount of bare dirt contrasting sickly with the amazing, abundant green all around us.

If you’ve ever been to the Pacific Northwest, you can imagine. If you are from the arid Southwest, you would be awed. There are many beautiful things in nature, and Oregon’s green is at the top.

Knowing that we receive substantial amounts of rain in the winter, and with my Portland mind set, I began to worry about erosion. So when the first dandelions came to colonize my bare slopes, I welcomed them.

Gah! Makes me want to take the “not” out of my blog title!

Last year I declared war on the dandelion and I curse the day I ever worried about erosion here in rural Southern Oregon. A little erosion is a fact of life, whether you build, or a hillside decides on it’s own that it needs to slide and slump down.

I plan on doing much blogging about my thoughts on gardening, but now, after some rain, it’s a good time to start pulling dandelions!

One Month Later

 

I need to leave my house at 5:00AM in order to start my work shift at 6:00AM. I get up get up at 4:00AM , Monday through Thursday, to ride on my Nordic Track for 5 songs. (about 20 minutes) I’ve made a great playlist shuffling through all the upbeat songs to wake me up and spur me on.

I have managed to carve out some time, to do some of the exercises I was doing during my three week furlough, as I had blogged here: https://coyotemonster.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/an-old-stretcher/.

One month later, I’m starting to see a difference. It’s subtle, but gratifying. I’m still not up to my all time best, going two “miles” in 20 minutes, but I’ve advanced from 1.1 miles to 1.4.

One night, I stayed up rather late, considering my early alarm and John suggested I move the time back to 4:30. I refused, saying that would be the beginning of the end. Most of the time, I stick to my sleep schedule out of a desire to be a safe driver and a good worker.

A salesman came to our house and I mentioned yoga as an aid to quit smoking. It’s my belief that smokers relax with their cigarettes because of the deep inhales and exhales, such as you do during yoga. I’ve read that the nicotine in cigarettes actually restrict your blood¬†vessels, causing your body to work harder to perform its normal functions. How is that relaxing?

Frank asked if John did yoga with me, and I casually said, “He has no discipline.” I often blurt out harsh¬†assessments¬†without thinking and this was most certainly one of those instances. Luckily John is very indulgent and thick skinned (and forgetful ;)…) so I doubt he remembers the incident.

When I think of discipline, I think of the Flaming Lips song, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

Her name is Yoshimi\ She has a black belt in karate\ Working for the city\ She has to discipline her body

How do you feel about the word, discipline? Does it bring up feelings of resistance or defeat? Maybe you instantly relate it to children. Or do you embrace it?

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1 [Official Music Video] – YouTube.

Hustle

Do the Hustle!

Sometimes, doing a job can be like doing a dance.

I work in production. What this means to me is the act of making a product, in sequence. People learn different positions in the sequence, and then they do it, over and over and over again. I’m sure there are lots of jobs like this all over the world.

In my case, I can’t talk about what I help make. Anyway, due to cutbacks in the government, our production has slowed considerably. At least half our personnel have been laid off. I myself was put on a three week furlough. When I returned, quota was seriously low.

I am used to lots of activity, continually challenging myself to work faster, more efficiently, more accurately. Now, the pace is much more relaxed, and I find it harder to stay alert and focused during my 10 hour shift.

(This time does not include my 45 minute lunch break, by the way. It amazes me when I encounter people who just take for granted they will get a paid lunch. I guess that says a lot about me, who’s never had a job that pays a person for eating. I don’t know.)

Anyway, often I find my eyes drooping, losing focus. That’s when I’m grateful for a personnel absence, or any extra bit of work. Something that lets me get that groove back. That hustle.

But after many weeks of being rather slothful, I found it hard to find that hustle again. It made me conscious of the process of gearing up and I thought I might blog about it, while I wait for my clothes to dry.

First, I must combat the physical feelings of weariness. This is an issue when you have been working hard all week, or when you are drastically doing less work than previously.¬†I’ve¬†been using a shortened type of affirmation. I just say words that I associate with having hustle. Energy. Focus. Vital. Lively. Alert.

My brain might be very simple, but I urge you to try this. Just say words silently to yourself, words that you associate with the feeling or attitude or aptitude you wish to have.

Then, I channel Sarah. To watch Sarah work is to be amazed. Imagine a sewing machine going at, I don’t know, half speed.  Saying she is like a machine is not quite right.  She is so very smooth and human.When I need to perform, I visualize Sarah’s swift movements and strive to copy them.

I’ve worked next to Sarah a few times in the morning and talked to her about her amazing ability. I don‚Äôt know if she does this every morning, or if my compliment made her think about what she does too much, but she became a bit fumble fingered. Not to a detrimental effect, just short of her normal flowing pace.

I’ve experienced this a bit when I begin gearing up. I don‚Äôt fumble, I just can‚Äôt find my rhythm. ¬†My muscles are tight. I am really trying. I am whipping myself. But true, efficient speed cannot come until it is natural, smooth, unthinking.

That’s a trip, right. A thinking person just turning off and just doing. Sort of like meditation, maybe. My understanding is that you attempt to turn off and just be. (I am most certainly wrong. I tend to paraphrase things in my mind and often go right off the track.)

I‚Äôm going to bet a lot of people reading this are thinking, I could never do a job like that! Doing the same thing over and over would bore me to death. I¬†couldn’t¬†stand it! I want to be an internet entrepreneur. I want to find my bliss and make money doing what I love.

More power to you, I say. I myself started this blog hoping to generate interest in a novel I have yet to complete. I have very detailed ideas about being my own boss.

But consider that shirt you are wearing, those pants. Consider that burger you bought for lunch. Consider the container you pour your shampoo from. This stuff was made for you by people. Hopefully by people getting paid a decent wage with medical benefits, but when you buy your stuff from China, well…

I’m sure a lot of people making these things for you are bored by their job, but they have to pay the bills. Maybe they feel stuck and only live for the weekends. Only dream of escape.

I’ve been there. Heck, I didn’t even have Saturdays and Sundays off for many years. I was doing good when I could swing two days in a row off. I was the person in the chain hair salon styling your hair for peanuts, hoping for a good tip.

I thought I was miserable, but as I look back on it, styling hair was fun. It was cool, all the different people I met and worked with. I got to be creative. I got to get out of my own head.

And I like doing production. I like doing my part to make a thing of worth. I like being able to listen to an audio book or music while I work, being able to day dream all day. I like the people I work for.  I like the people I work with. And, I like to hustle!

I recently tuned into some Fleet Foxes lyrics, ‚ÄúAnd now after some thinking, I‚Äôd say I‚Äôd rather be/A functioning cog in some great machinery/serving something beyond me.‚ÄĚ

That started me thinking. Of course this contrasts with Bog Seger who feels like a number. Or Huey Lewis working for a living. But I can get into that lyric. I can get into my life.

“Lost” Keys

Another vote for deleting the “Not” in my Blog title….

Last night I was rather busy, coming home. I put down my laptop case, unstrapped my backpack, and then headed outside to hunt slugs. (I’m all for the minimal suffering, so I hunt them and stab them with a steak knife. No, I am not next in line to be a serial killer, I just think it’s the humane thing to do!)

Then I called my highschool best friend I’ve recently reconnected with. During our chat, I wondered about my keys. I can’t remember why, but I looked in the little bowl by the door and only saw the spare car key in there.

I began to shuffle through the things on my desk top and table, mentioning to Jennifer that I couldn’t find my keys. That led to a discussion on¬†Alzheimers, and then on to more fun filled topics.

I have to get to bed very early as I need to rise at 4:00 every work day morning, so at 7:45, I sorrowfully said I had to go. I finished up my blog post, then cast about for my keys again.

I looked over the desk and table again. I searched my backpack. I upended my backpack. I searched the bare kitchen counters. I looked in my coat pockets four different times. I looked in the bathroom. I went back outside, covering my hunting path (found another slug to kill).

I was sure I would find it outside, because my car key is one of them fancy dancy electronic remote start keys that cost $$$ to replace, but no, I did not find them out there. I went back in the house, through the whole routine again. I pleaded to the universe for mercy. I was going to go crazy in the near future.

I checked the top of the dryer, and I found the spare car key.

Wait a second. Wasn’t the spare in the little key bowl? I look again. After spending a half hour frantically looking everywhere, I find that I mistook my bunch of keys for the spare key. I had put them where they are supposed to go, after all.

D’oh!

But I assure you, I am not a complete idiot.

Nostalgia

Yeah, it’s been a dry winter and I’ve been worried about forest fires, beings as how I live in the forest!! But a few days ago the rain started. I think it’s been wetter the last few days than all of winter. And our freshly chip sealed driveway is taking a beating by the constant downpour.

And yet….

I was coming up Beaver Hill around 5:30 AM and there was the clouds kissing the tree tops, and getting mighty slobbery at it too. A feeling comes over me. Sometimes I feel it in the heat of summer.

I am taken back I don’t know how many years, probably not too long after we moved to Oregon from Missouri. These states are so different from each other. I’m sure it rained in Missouri, but in the summer fields turn into dirt. Here in Oregon, it usually rains well into June, and though we might have a warm summer, rarely does it top 90, let alone 100. Our fields turn into, well. less green. The grass will turn a lovely golden color if left to grow long. The best descriptor of Oregon summers is pleasant.

Oops. I think that’s supposed to be a secret….

Many people don’t care how lovely it is here in the summer, because they know most of the year it is, ahem, damp. Except this year. I was off work for 3 weeks the beginning of April and it was acting like August. We made the appointment to get our driveway chip sealed. Well, that’s another blog, I think.

I have this memory, so clear. Being in some sort of truck, wet to the skin, feeling the heat coming up from the floor boards. It felt so heavenly. Chime in sisters, if you remember similar. Seems like it could have been a return from skiing, but I believe it had more to do with target shooting on Mt. Hood in a clear cut. Maybe it’s the culmination of hundreds of rainy day hikes.

And when I see those clouds come down to touch the earth the nostalgia is so¬†visceral.¬† It’s like a peek into another world. It’s the past thrust into my lap. I am overtaken. In the best way.

So, rain on!

Yikes!

Hello, WordPress public!

I created a poll a couple posts ago, and got some lovely responses from family members! (Thanks a bunch!) I wanted to find out what the appeal of my blog might be to strangers, though. How does it work?

I’m sure the answer is as varied as the people in the world, but I’d like a clue. I spent a whole day creating a blog that was seen by very few people, even my facebook crowd. The ones that did see it, liked it and decided to follow my blog, for whatever that’s worth.

I’m not a real ambitious person, but I would like to see some reaction from my blogs. I started it to create a presence on the web, so that when I publish my book, I can reach a broader audience. In the mean time, I just ramble about things that cross my mind, and hope to start a conversation.

Up till a second ago, I was going to title this blog gagalicious. Just did a google and I definitely don’t want to do that!! I shudder to think of the followers I would get from a tag like that. But I was trying to come up with a catchy word to describe a gagging impression a person might take from a title or content or perceived personality.

The blog I worked so hard on which got very little traffic, was titled, “We’re the Best that We Can Be” Ironically enough, the blog talked about my own gagging response to this, our high school class motto.

I also get a bit of a yikes response to people I perceive to be falsely, or ignorantly, bright, peppy, optimistic, or new age. I believe I will write a blog on my views of new age. They will certainly be typically contradictory. But hopefully, it will help sort out my own prickly feelings.

Because here comes the contradictory bit of this blog. As I worked through my blog about my class motto, I came to realize that the problem I had with it was all in my head. When viewed from a different perspective, I could see that this motto had something to teach me, something to help me, something to believe in.

Rogue Jet

My lovely and generous sister won a $50 gift certificate for a jet boat ride up the Rogue River in Southern Oregon, and she gave it to me! boat

I am a pretty big cheapskate and wouldn’t have gone with out the discount. Once we had gone, John couldn’t believe that attitude. It is so worth doing. But you must go the complete 104 mile wilderness trip. I suppose if you can’t be on a boat all day, you should take advantage of their shorter trips. You will see Bald Eagles and Osprey. Probably deer, elk, turtles, and maybe even a bear. I saw all of these, except the bear. I guess some have even seen a cougar down by the water.

They’ll give you a thrilling ride through some really spectacular county

.speed

Even when there is no white water, the pilot will make some.

wave

And if it’s good weather, you won’t mind getting a little wet!

smile

 

I was thinking about this trip tonight, as I start to get the Sunday night blues. The ride up the river is so thrilling with new sights to see around every corner. The ride down is so fast, though. Just like seeing your weekend slip away, too soon it’s over.

 

 

Why do you decide to read my blog? (A poll)

A) Interesting Title

B) Interest in the Tags or Categories

C) Curiosity

D) Got some time to kill

E) Support the Blogger

Do comment, be honest, and just type the letter, or make your comment as lengthy as you want. Just comment!! ūüėÄ

We’re the best that we can be!

It’s been 30 years since I graduated high school, so you can guess what’s come up.

I’m not sure I’ll go to the reunion. It involves a total of ten hours travel time, and I’m not sure the math adds up. At first, I gave absolutely no thought to going. What did any of that have to do with my life right now?

But, a couple of nights ago, for some random reason, I decided to accept the friend request from the facebook page for Centennial’s high¬†school¬†reunion. I found myself fascinated, spending a significant amount of my severely limited free time to cruise the profiles of everyone¬†associated¬†with the page.

Many people look back on that time with fond memories. Me, not so much. I cringed a little when someone gushingly posted our old class motto, “We’re the best that we can be cuz we’re the class of 83!” I hated that motto the entire four years of my education there.

Isn’t there always room for improvement? Was my miserable teenage self really the best that she could be?? Were any of those cretins I went to school with the best that they could be?

I started to think about our mascot, Elmer the Eagle. Of all the images to remember him by, one overshadowed all the others. Image

I thought¬†viciously, “This eagle surely isn’t being the best he can be. If he were, he would rip his animator to shreds! Making him parade about in a one strapped overall like some redneck Lil’ Abner. Ye Gods!”

But I had to spend quite an inordinate amount of time scouring yearbooks to come up with the picture above. I thought it would be plastered all over the year book, it was so prevalent in my mind. Instead, I had to come to grips with the truth that I had only glimpsed a student made poster from a homecoming float my freshman year.

Wow. Just wow. This random image seems to be the emblem of my emotions of my entire high school experience. Since I had to look at it closely in order to make sure you would see the details of the image, I found it to be rather quaint. Look, they were very careful to use red and blue, our school colors.

I feel very apologetic to the innocent student earnestly composing this poster. “Happy Birthday Elmer” How sweet. Of course, looking at the pictures of us young students, I found each and every one of them, even the nerds, to be luminously beautiful.

Yes, some students I still identified as nerds, but please remember, I thought of myself as a nerd, too. And my older self realizes we weren’t nerds, we just didn’t have the social capacity for rising above the low opinions we and others had about us.

For myself, I was never the most well adjusted teenager. I was struggling with an emerging mood disorder and tragically low self esteem.

I had been bullied my first years of moving to Oregon. Not a patch to what today’s kids endure, but it traumatized my sensitive ego. And by the time I got to high school, I was thinking about suicide.

No one knows, but I made one very pathetic and ineffectual attempt. Honestly, I think I was entranced by the romance of mental illness. What a thing to idolize. Other kids were busy making friends, and homecoming floats. They were playing on sports teams, or attending them. They were pursuing their wholesome interests, one way or another.

I ¬†guess I was pursuing my interests ¬†too, the melancholy girl interested in mental health. It should come as no surprise that I’ve battled a mood disorder my whole life, then. One of the tools to combat depression is affirmations.

Affirmations have worked literal wonders with me. But I had to get over a large hurdle first. I had to realize that¬†what you tell yourself doesn’t need to be true, it just needs to be what you want to be true.¬†Like telling yourself that you are the best that you can be!

Affirmations should always be framed in the present and positively, just like the name of my blog isn’t. I’ve heard it put forth that the brain does not register not, so when I say I’m not a complete idiot, what I’m really hearing would be…….Can’t be more diametrically opposed to positivity¬†than that.

(But I won’t change the name of my blog. I still think it’s funny. Hopefully you do too.)

I’ve had to come to grips today with the fact that I have looked at my education with a highly distorting, negative filter. Some random, ingenuous image on a homecoming float symbolizing all that was wrong with high school?

Looking at kids with the same impressions I had back then, I wonder what my experience could have been like if I had been open, warm hearted, and just cheerful.

I decided I was ugly and unlikable because of some hurtful things that happened to me in the fourth, fifth¬†and sixth grade¬†and I let it color my entire life until recently. That says kids shouldn’t bully one another, but it also says that I wasn’t given the tools to get over that.

I’m not a parent. If I was, maybe I wouldn’t say that we shouldn’t try to insulate kids from unpleasant situations. Not only is it impossible, it teaches you and molds you into the person you will become.

Hopefully kids today just learn how to let those unkind words and actions roll off them. It should teach them how to stand up for themselves, to exact fairness from others. And it should teach them how they should not act to others.

I smugly thought I was immune to such¬†behaviors, but I can recall being a jerk a few times. At the very least, I was very¬†judgmental¬†to a lot of people, thinking they really didn’t like me and were out to get me.

No one is immune to being a jerk, I guess, but it helps to learn how to be self aware, so you can try to be the best that you can be!

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