Looking Nosy

The questions below are copied from smlret’s “My Blog – Just another WordPress.com site” who took it from lifelessons, who copied them from another blogger. She suggested a simple cut and paste to a new post, adjusting answers to each question, and adding a link to the comments in her post. I love these “questionnaires,” so I’m playing along and would love to read your answers!

1. Do you like mustard? in a word NO!
2. Choice of carbonated drink? I don’t drink carbonated beverages but back in the day it would have been Dr. Pepper for the win!
3. Do you own a gun? I have no tolerance for guns. I do not own one and would never allow one in the house. I believe in the police force.
4. Whiskey, Tequilla, Rum or Vodka? I’m absolutely no fun. A teetotaler by choice. Alcohol tastes awful and has undesirable effects on me – I’ve never been drunk because I fall asleep before getting any kind of “buzz”!
5. Hot dogs or Cheeseburgers? Hm. I suppose I’d rather have a really good cheeseburger. Plain – just the meat, cheese and bun. A really good burger doesn’t need all that other glop to taste delicious.
6. Favorite Type Of Food? I’m partial to Thai and Japanese sushi. However good Italian is not to be ignored. And good old American BBQ ribs done right are irresistible!
7. Do you believe in ghosts? Can I claim to be agnostic in my belief of ghosts?
8. What do you drink in the mornings? I only have water to slug down some morning medications.
9. Can you do a 100 Pushups? Hahahahaha! Really? Hahahahahaha!
10. Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall?? Fall is my favorite followed by Spring.
11. Favorite hobby? Geocaching, or… nah, its geocaching.
12. Tattoos? Not in this lifetime.
13. Do you wear glasses? Yes. Except when I work at the computer – I’m nearsighted and I sit close enough that I don’t need them currently. I imagine time may change that…
14. Phobias? I do not like or tolerate the 8-leggers.
15. Nickname? Muris, Muri, Mouse one, Squeaker, Pitsie, Red, Hey You – I answer to most names and sometimes even when I’m not being addressed!
16. Three drinks you drink? Water, Propel, Milk
17. Biggest Downfall? I never learned to curse effectively.
18. Rain or Snow? Rain
19. Piercings? I got my ears pierced at 16. I developed a metal allergy at 40. Currently my ears have closed so the current answer is no.
21. Kids? Just 2 sons with whom I am well pleased.
22. Favorite color? Black. It is a long story.
23. Favorite age? I enjoy 5th graders and college freshmen. But all ages have their charms – well most do… The 7th grade boys who haven’t discovered deodorant are not especially pleasant to be around.
24. Can you whistle? Nope. I have tried for the last 57 years to get the hang of it to no avail. I was scarred for life in 1st grade playing the clap, snap, whistle game…
25. Where were you born? Flint, MI
26. Brothers or Sisters? 2 younger sisters. I was “the first yard off the bolt” as Aunt Maisy would say.
28. Surgeries? Hmmm. Let me count – 9 I think but I may have missed one or two little ones.
29. Shower or Bath? Shower is the only way to go. I don’t like to create my own soup.
30. Like gambling? Nope. I prefer to give my money away to organizations that will help people…
32. Broken bones? Wellllll. It depends. I’ve never broken a bone accidentally. I have had my jaw broken surgically and my maxilla broken as well.
33. How many tv’s in your house? 2 — one in the Family room (the new flat screen, HD smart TV) and one in the basement that is too big and old to be sold that is not hooked up to cable or antenna that is used for the xBox.
34. Worst pain in your life? Working for SWMNBN for 26 years.
35. Do you like to dance? Nah. I’d rather watch others and get a good laugh. I’m not coordinated and have no rhythm!
36. Are your parents still alive? My mother is still spry and lively. My father passed in 2007.
37. Do you like to go camping? No. Nyet. Nein. Nah. Nee. Non. Nahi. Não. Nej. Ochi. Nihil. Không. Dim. Cha. Nope!

Please join in! These are fun to do and fun to read and remind me of when I used to blog on xanga. All you have to do is copy (CTRL+c), paste (CTRL+v), and change the answers to reflect your experiences!

Looking at the da Vinci

If you didn’t know, we are now in the “future” as far as surgery. It is now common place to undergo robot assisted surgery. I’m writing about this because my husband is preparing for a da Vinci procedure to repair his hernias. The benefits of the robotic assisted surgery include:
Decreased rate of hernias returning
Shorter hospital stays
Fewer complications
Less blood loss
Reduced need for narcotic pain medicine
Faster recoveries
Minimal scarring

The doctor is of the opinion that he will be up and about after a few (3) days and shouldn’t expect to miss any work. Of course this is optimistic. Sparky is after all a 100% red-blooded male who whimpers like a 3 year old when having a splinter removed, a man that can’t put in eye drops without assistance (that includes a head lock). In the interim he has been banned from certain activities in the gym – no squats, no weights, no squats with weights, and no rowing. On the bright side he won’t have to do any bowel prep. And there will be minimal incisions, just 3 tiny ones at each groin and at the navel. The procedure will occur on Monday. So I’m bracing for 3 days of pure chaos. If I’m MIA it is because I’m taking care of the invalid….

Looking at Cooked Mud

My ceramic class is half over and all I’ve got to show for it is this one orb. The kiln was having problems with not getting to temperature or getting too hot. So they had to do some repairs which meant they have a backlog of pieces waiting to be fired. I was very lucky not to have had anything of consequence in the burnt load (just a necklace pendant or two, so no big loss). Others were not so fortunate. The current mantra at the studio is “its only mud”. So here is my latest piece of cooked to perfection mud.

This is Syracosphaera orbiculus, a coccolith found in the Eastern Equatorial Atlantic ocean. I was posting this anyway but when CalmKate posted about water I knew I’d have to add this one to the mix. Her post is located at https://aroused.blog/2020/01/19/friday-fun-water/. Please go visit and introduce yourself! And for those who are not familiar with coccoliths, they are phytoplankton that have a calcium carbonate skeleton. What I’m representing with this sculpture is the skeleton that remains after the plankton has died. These organisms are found throughout the world in both fresh and salt waters. They are the basis of the food chain. Syracosphaera orbiculus is a smaller coccolith with a diameter of ~14 microns across. For those needing a point of reference, a human red blood cell is about 7 microns. This one is recreated at about 3 inches in diameter and was made using a mixed clay body using half brown stoneware and half white stoneware. It is glazed with Atomic Purple and Woods Blue high fire glazes. The Woods Blue when put on thinly is a rich yet transparent brown which is ideal for textured areas that you don’t want to obscure with a heavy glaze. Atomic purple is actually a nice lavender color with a semi-matte finish that contrasts well with the shiny look of the Woods Blue. I was one of the only people who was pleased with the latest offerings from the kiln.

I’m hoping to get a few more things back before the end of the session in February. I’ve got at least 4 pieces queued up and it will be anyone’s guess if any of my orbs make it into of the loads. Cross your fingers!

Looking Social

It has been quite the month. I’ve met with many friends. This means that I’ve had tons of lunch engagements! The first was with my friend from work. We had a lovely lunch and chatted about all the events of the holidays. All the family stuff which has been a struggle for her was calm with a minimum of drama. She is optimistic since the hiring process for the director of electron microscopy has been successfully completed.

Then there was lunch with the coworker I’ve known the longest (who is still working – having celebrated her 35th work anniversary). I got all the dirt on the drama at work. Which made me feel sorry for her and Mr. Fudd and at the same time so very relieved and even giddy that I am no longer involved. Next I had lunch with a Vet Tech friend. She has big changes in her life as her marriage is over. She had been very unhappy for a very longtime. She is now smiling more and seems lighter. We had a very long lunch and I got to see photos of her new house.

My next luncheon was with another former coworker and his boyfriend. They joined me for a leisurely lunch on his day off and when his BF was visiting. He thinks of me as his second mom and really wants my approval. His BF is very sweet and they seem to be good for one another. I’m hoping he has found his forever love because he deserves happiness after all he’s been through!

Then there was the lunch with the former secretary at work. She is battling lung cancer now on top of all her other health issues. Of course she was never a smoker and hasn’t been around smoke. Because the cancer had been very slow growing (at least that’s her story) the doctors were in a wait and see mode. Anyway it is growing and causing her some problems. My personal opinion is that they figured she was going to die from something else before the cancer. As is she needs a double knee replacement which they won’t do because of her weight (morbidly obese), she is diabetic which doesn’t help at all, has congestive heart failure, gastric peristaltic paralysis, diverticulitis, and a host of other lesser issues. I was very surprised and happy to see her. The last 3 years we have scheduled lunches and dinners all were cancelled at the last minute due to her health.

Of course I also made time for my other friends who don’t have any connection with work. I’ve geocached, shopped, baked, played board games and shared meals. I’ve enjoyed family time with the weekly ice cream at my in laws house with the puzzles. I’ve had lunches and expeditions with my sons and had dinner at their house (per the contract) but they seem to enjoy having us over and hanging out with me… however I am exhausted by being so social!

Looking at Giants

Have you ever had the sensation of being very small and surrounded by giants? This is my every day experience. I don’t think of myself as short until faced with the reality. This usually occurs when I see photographs. I was looking for a photo with saintvi but couldn’t find one. She usually complains that she looks so big next to me. This is a photo of me, my husband and son#2 at his graduation from college. The next one is the whole family plus my mother in the middle a year ago Christmas – and I was even standing on “high ground”!
 

I’m sort of vertically challenged. I asked for and received a step stool for Christmas. I keep it in the kitchen and it comes in very handy when getting items from the top shelves. But this isn’t about me being short. It is about everyone else being very tall. There is only one person in Sparky’s family who isn’t exceedingly tall. All the rest tower over me. I remember one of the first times we gathered as a group. We were standing in line and all I could see were belt buckles and boobs. I was getting a crick in my neck trying to look up at everyone’s face. And just the other day at church I found myself surrounded by giants. When we stood I couldn’t see anything but people. I am wondering if I’m shrinking. Perhaps everyone is getting taller? Is it something in the water supply? Or maybe the air? Maybe it is just that I’m living in the basketball center of the US and we just grow them taller around here…

Looking at a Challenge

I was hoping that 2020 would be the year that just flowed. You know the feeling – when everything just falls into place and the living is easy. I was lulled into a false sense of calm and then all holy heck broke loose. I somehow jinxed myself and the whole family when I put up the post on gratitude. Since that post I’ve had several events challenge my sanity.
1. The master bathroom toilet started to malfunction. It wouldn’t stop running. At first it was just a little trickle then I had to turn the water off to the toilet.
2. The front door lock has become defective. You can lock it from the outside but to unlock it from the inside is nearly impossible. And it just kept getting worse.
3. I found some evidence that we have become the winter residence for some mice. I love mice but they have no business in my basement! Sparky wanted to put out some snap traps but I suggested that we caulk the opening around the dryer vent and put out some humane traps. I won. The mice are being relocated slowly but surely. Until that time all bread is in the refrigerator.
4. I said that I was going to get more involved in church activities. Boy was I unprepared! So we were part of a trivia team last Sat. I’m being urged to join the Rosary Society but I think I’d be the youngest member!
5. Among the family we have 3 health issues (none life threatening but worrisome nonetheless), 2 work issues (that will no doubt be resolved easily), and a couple house issues that are just annoying…

I’ve got my fingers crossed that this is just a hiccup and I will have smooth sailing real soon.

I try to keep everything level
But that’s not in the plans of the devil
He rocks the boat
And gets my goat
And turns my serious to revel

Looking for Safety

Calmkate posted a writing/photo challenge at https://aroused.blog/2020/01/11/friday-fun-safety/ and I decided to take up the gauntlet to explain what safety means to me.

There was no sleep amid the screams
Dirt and debris from falling harm
A child’s cry rises above the din
Guardian angel don’t leave we pray

She sleeps deep with gentle dreams
Curled in clean cotton draped warm
The rain drums a lullaby with furnace hymn
All that was is washed away

President Franklin Roosevelt made a speech where he outlined what his vision for the United States would look like. It was 1941 and the world was poised on the verge of what would be come WWII. The speech is referred to as the Four Freedoms Speech. He outlined four essential human freedoms that would later be written into the charter for the United Nations. These four freedoms are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Growing up in the Midwest in a middle class family I took these for granted. I enjoyed the privilege of never really knowing hunger, cold, lack of shelter, fear for my life or home, nor persecution for my faith. As an adult I know that there are people all over the world who live in abject want. They have neither shelter or food and the access to clean drinkable water is nonexistent. There are some who are beaten, jailed and killed for practice of their religions. For many fear stalks them day and night. They have no voice for there is no free speech or press. They must guard their thoughts and words for a slip of the tongue could result in imprisonment or even death. Safety for me is linked inexorably with freedom. Safety is never doubting that when you close your eyes to sleep that you will open them again. It is no worry about when your next meal will be provided or whether your opinion will result in arrest. It is a feeling of mental calm and relaxation, secure in the knowledge that the wolf is not prowling and death is not knocking at the door. Safety is what all the refugees across the globe are searching for. They just want what I have. All those opposed to allowing the refugees and asylum seekers to enter our country seem to think that safety and freedom are finite. I know differently. As the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty proclaims:
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Looking at Little Ones

Christmas brought the extended family together – along with the great nieces and nephews. Some of the WP blogs I follow spoke of grand children. It brought home the issue that Sparky was musing on – our lack of grandchildren. Sparky and I are not grandparents. At this point in time it doesn’t look like we ever will be. And all our closest friends are in the same boat. It made me think. None of my sisters is a grandparent. Of Sparky’s 5 siblings only one is a grandparent. That is a total of 16 nieces/nephews and only 4 have children! Statistically speaking only 25% of the Gen X group in our families have reproduced… There have been lots of people who have theories as to why Gen X has failed to date, mate, and procreate. Some posit that the males have become addicted to pornography and there are no flesh and blood women that can compete with the idealized version in glossy magazines or on the computer screen. One theory is that Gen X is so self-centered that they are unwilling to share their lives with anyone. Another theory is that they are so driven in their pursuit of success/wealth/status that they have no time for personal relationships. An article pinned the blame on economic factors. It observed that they were financially unprepared to support themselves let alone another. Another journal (psychology) took the view that women ranked potential mates/spouses based on earning power before physical characteristics and placed more weight on their monetary worth than their personalities.

Although all these may play a part, I don’t think there is any one overall cause. Case in point, my sons are shy. They are, when with family, engaging with quick wits. They are kind, generous, thoughtful, and helpful. But when they are in social situations out of their comfort zones they become quiet, withdrawn, and unable to hold an intelligent conversation. Granted they have made strides toward being more social. Son #1 becomes loquacious when he consumes a couple of beers. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean he is talking to females. Son #2 is more at ease with the fairer sex but is likewise not actively dating. The fact that they are not in high earning jobs (a musician will never be filthy rich – at least not a violist) doesn’t help.

I broached the subject with son#2 the other day. He told me his horror story. He had been texting a woman from a dating app. They agreed to meet for coffee. Taken that son#2 doesn’t drink coffee I can assume that it was the location and informal atmosphere that was the deciding factor. I had never heard the term “an Irish exit” before. The definition of the Irish exit means to depart from any event without telling any anyone, basically sneaking away. I was appalled. What would make my wonderful and polite son do something so awful? I guess after the beverages had been purchased and they were chatting, the young woman was recounting all the things she liked to do for fun. They had some things in common but when she dropped the bomb he took off. “Oh, and I like to occasionally smoke a little crack…” This of course was inserted in the middle of the list. He listened smiling and nodding as his mind went into panic mode. He excused himself to the bathroom and left.

With all the online dating it becomes all too easy to fabricate an identity or gloss over your personal foibles and flaws. The idea that you can find someone online is much rarer than they want you to believe. Couple that with the swipe left effect of most dating apps and there really aren’t any prospects. On a high note son#2’s coworkers think he is a catch and are actively trying to line up some likely prospects from their circle of friends and family. Son#1 is likewise on his Aunt’s radar and she has sent him the email of a young woman she works with… we are crossing our fingers and at the same time not getting our hopes up. *sigh*

Looking at Words

Stack up words
Brick by brick
Count syllables
Tick tick tick

Build a story
Create a wall
Peek over the top
You can’t see me at all

The poet writes
And hides within
Shows you beauty
Reveals sin

I was reading a book (it doesn’t matter) in the waiting area at the salon. I read the little description on the cover and then the authors bio blurb on the inside back cover. As I finished the first chapter (while waiting to get my hair cut) it occurred to me that the author had inserted himself into the book, not as the narrator but in the voice of the father figure. The further I read it became obvious that the author was also speaking as the best friend. I managed 5 chapters before being called back for my turn in the chair. During my haircut the book’s owner returned to reclaim it. I will not be searching it out to finish. But it got me to thinking about how we try as story tellers and writers to both reveal ourselves and at the same time divorce ourselves from the story. Some writers are better at it than others. People have assumed that I am my characters. I’ve been asked if I have ever been in an abusive relationship, faced death, worked in the military or the police force, and if I’ve ever been divorced. The answer is no, none of the above. Yet I have felt many of the same emotions that are universal to many situations. They overlap and so yes, I’ve been afraid, terrified, ashamed, cowed, berated, ordered, commanded, in love, out of love, rejected, comforted those dying and those grieving. I’ve marshaled the troops (I did raise 2 boys) and formulated a battle plan (I worked in a hostile work environment for many years). However I am not a sociopath or psychopath. I am not a recluse or a crazy cat lady. And so I continue to reveal myself in this blog as I write about my ordinary life and I draw on my observations and my emotional experiences to flesh out the characters in my stories. In case anyone was confused…

Looking for Meaning and Truth

How does it feel to gather
A random emotion bouquet
Carry it or wear it or rather
Place in a vase for display?

Would you shelter together
Hold hands or link arms
Bolster courage in bad weather
A physical barrier against harms?

When all events seem against you
And fortune abandons your cause
Do you seek friends or solitude
Or take comfort in prayer or laws?

It is in times of trouble
That the measure of the soul is seen
Until that critical bubble
Even the atheist appears serene

When on the brink of death
You see life as deeply flawed
And drawing your last breath
Call out loudly “My God!”

We are a very stubborn species. I’m sure everyone is aware of at least one person who has taken a position that they have defended despite all evidence that they are mistaken. Either out of an inability to admit an error or a refusal to accept fact, they persist in their position. I’m pretty certain we all know more than one person. We could even be that person on one or more occasions. The thing is, when it is all said and done, we are faced with death. Some believe that death is final nothingness. Others believe it is a passage into paradise. Still others believe it is merely a means to recycle into another being in this plane of existence. It comes down to a question of an eternal soul. Is the belief that of an eternal soul that is reunited at death in the presence of the creator, or a soul that is eternal and is reincarnated into different physical manifestations based on how well you behaved the last time, or perhaps that the soul doesn’t exist as an eternal creation? There are many who profess that there is no God and there is no heaven or hell. They say that it is only the here and now. And yet in that final moment every one becomes a believer…