Looking to Flower

Sparky and I went to Fernwood Botanic Gardens and Nature Preserve (here after referred to a Fernwood) to place some geocaches with saintvi and joyous wind. It was a beautiful day. The sun was out but the temperature stayed at a pleasant 72 degrees. There was a gentle breeze. We had had rain but the ground was not muddy. But most of all we enjoyed the company of friends as we trekked through the woods. Saintvi took photos of beautiful and strange fungi and there were lots of them due to the earlier flood this summer. I decided to take some photos of the wild flowers. Sure I could have snapped pictures in the manicured gardens but I decided to document the beauty growing along the trails.
This purple thing was weird and is a soapwort gentian. I’m not sure it is exactly pretty but it was very different.
This pretty flower is orange jewelweed. It was really difficult to get a photo because they were bobbing in the breeze!
I scrolled through the identification guide, did a search and just couldn’t figure what most of these were called. Anyway I enjoyed seeing the variety and snapping a few photos. If you know what they are called let me know – I’m always up for learning new things… On a related note, the big geocaching event is this Sunday at Fernwood. Sparky has to work so I will be going alone and meeting saintvi at Fernwood. This is going to be so fun!!

Looking for the Finish Line

I am struggling to see through a fog. I think I’m headed in the right direction only to be brought up short. It has gotten to the point that I’m hesitant to move at all. I have been told that there is a goal and that I’m responsible for moving across that finish line. There are moments when trouble and difficulties are seen with a sharper focus. It is as if a veil has been lifted, the smoke clears, and all is seen with clarity. I’ve had one of those instances of eidetic vision.

At the crack of the starter’s pistol
The race begins
Flying heels and elbows
The pack thins

Running hard as I can
I tire and lag
Goal of a personal best
I feel hope flag

I’m bringing up the rear
Passed by all
Worrying about finishing
Before night fall

When it dawns on me
I don’t need to run
I can stop to smell the flowers
I deserve some fun

Quitting the completion
A thought so new
Frighteningly foreign
I knew what to do

Pull off the shoes and runners vest
Slow to a walk
Let go of worry and all the rest
Listen while God talks

It is going to take a little time but I’m certain that I need and want to make a change in the course of my life. Perhaps I’ll assist in a vet clinic. Maybe I’ll get more involved at church. I could seriously learn to throw on the wheel. It is possible I’ll even put some of my ceramics on Esty. My mother has been hounding me for years to get my poetry into book form. I might join the gym (not that I really want to but there wouldn’t be a single reason why I couldn’t). My sister suggested monetizing my blog. Currently I’m looking at options to occupy my time as well as consulting with the financial planner to see what I need to do to be able to retire and not outlive my money. In the meantime I have a business trip planned for late October which requires me to complete a poster presentation. I have a biennial inspection in late November and a semi-annual inspection in December to prepare for. I have October performance reviews due and a score of monthly items to handle…

Looking at the Studio

The new session of ceramics class has begun. There have been some problems that have not yet been resolved. During the 4 weeks when the studio was being dismantled, a sewer pipe burst on the main floor. It occurred on a Sunday and no one was around to notice. The ensuing flood caused the ceilings in the lower level bathrooms to cave in. The ceiling in the photography studio collapsed. The ceiling in the jewelry studio leaked. The ceramics area was not spared. The ceiling in the ceramic studio is very tall and crisscrossed with duct work, pipes, and conduit. It is also cement. There was runoff from the other areas which damaged some students’ work. Mostly the pieces that hadn’t been bisque fired turned to mud, cardboard boxes turned to pulp, and sewer water filled the bisqued and glaze fired work. It caused a very rank odor in the studio. We fared better than the other areas. The photography studio lost most of its stuff when the ceiling fell, crushing the enlarger and the dark room developing equipment, and ruining the chemicals, film, and paper. The jewelry studio was soaked with sewage. They ended up just tossing most of the beads (you really can’t wash poop out of seed beads).

The pipe was fixed but the damage hasn’t been repaired. There are no restrooms on the lower level – they are off limits. The photography studio is closed (possibly permanently). The jewelry studio is still cleaning but the hazmat crew has allowed the students back into the space. They are complaining that it smells like bleach. I’d take bleach over what it must have smelled like before! The ceramics studio reorganization happened. The shelves were dismantled and reassembled to uniform heights. I have it on good authority that it didn’t go smoothly and there were heated exchanges, some lost screws, and several “reinforcements” were pressed into duty to complete the shelves. The shelves look a little cleaner. The tables were recovered with some canvas, the wedging table was refurbished, and the supplies reorganized. The glaze room was scrubbed and the buckets cleaned off on the outside. The sewer contamination forced some Summer session folks to abandon unfinished work. Thankfully my pieces were in the kiln so they were safe! You would think that in 4 weeks, with the help of a hazmat team, the floor would be cleaner…

Looking Beyond the Police Tape

Yesterday was a bad, horrible, no good, rotten day. It started off with a tragedy and went downhill from there. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed several police cars parked in one area with their lights flashing. This is not in itself unusual. The Security Police do periodic sweeps of the parking lots writing tickets for improper parking. It is the beginning of the academic year and there are lots of students who try to sneak into the Faculty/Staff lot. But it wasn’t just a couple of police cars. There was a fire truck, several bigwigs from HR (easy to spot as I’ve met them at various functions), a hand full of big shots from Risk Management & Safety (I know all of them because we interact on a regular basis), and a few “suits” who might have been PR/general counsel. They had cordoned off the sidewalk, parking lot and one lane of the nearby street. What really caught my attention was the big black screen erected around a car. I’ve seen the screen used before. It is to shield the person(s)from public view as the paramedics work. Seeing as there was no ambulance and no discernible medical personnel, I concluded that the “victim” was beyond help. Within an hour the news was relayed – one of the housekeepers had passed away in his car. He was a 30 year employee aged 57 who was diabetic. He hadn’t been feeling well and decided to go sit in his car. He worked in my building and I would see him in the mornings taking the recycling out and would hold the door for him. The staff working in the basement saw him daily as he maintained the floors. Then other things happened that made me sad and mad and are fuel for a rant on another day.

Yesterday’s tragedy highlighted the brevity of life. We have a finite number of heart beats allotted in our lifespans. I couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, I am not using my remaining time in ways that make me happy. I do feel that I’m making a difference. I know that what I do is valuable and necessary. But life is too short to be unhappy. And right now I’m miserable. I’m not going to do anything hasty but I am going to look at my retirement portfolio, do some calculations, and start on “the plan” to keep busy in retirement.

Looking Panicked

People crowding, touching, talking
Air heavy, stale and warm
Now into my hair they’re coughing
In my face like bees they swarm
Can I escape? I start walking
Anywhere but here and fast
The exit path is blocked
Toward the door unlocked
Air is thick I gulp and gasp
Credible excuse concoct
Keep away, I’m free at last

I don’t often panic. I have a “cool as a cucumber” exterior – most of the time. (Except when spiders are involved.) However I’ve been finding that I am having dreams where I wake myself in a state of panic. My heart is pounding and I’m sweating. I can barely catch my breath. The worst part is that I don’t remember what the dream was. There is no spider or tragic event. I am just afraid. I know people who have anxiety in situations that lead them to have panic attacks. I’ve never counted myself susceptible to that particular problem, until now. So far I’ve only experienced it at night, in my bed, and I KNOW there is nothing happening that should induce the panic. But now I’m starting to be concerned that these episodes might find their way into my daytime and work hours. I’m pretty sure this is all connected to problems that exist in my little world. And I’m confident that everything will work out in the end. It is just that getting from here to there is a pretty rocky road.

Looking at the Decision

The Amber Alert and an overheard conversation has triggered some deep thinking. I turned over these events in my head and came to the following conclusion: There are two ways to go when having a child. You can either carry on with your life without making any alterations to your priorities/taking any responsibility. Or you can put the child first and make their well-being and safety your primary goal in life. And I’ve seen and met both types of parents.

The self-centered parent often sees the child as an impediment to enjoying life. The parents’ needs and especially wants come first. This is evident in choices made – buy diapers or cigarettes, groceries or beer, shoes or methamphetamine… Those of course are the extremes. It is the same when the parent prefers to surf the internet instead of taking the child to the bathroom, or is in conversation with another adult and ignores the child standing up in the shopping cart. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t use the smart phone or look away from the child ever. But children need our attention. They need our help and our protection, not only from bad people and dangerous things but also from themselves. They have to be taught that fire is hot and will burn so that they don’t put their hand on a hot stove. They have to learn that streets are busy and they can be injured or killed by cars so that they don’t walk into speeding traffic. The parent who wants to go out to party getting so drunk that they come home and pass out is definitely putting themselves first.

The other type is focused entirely on the child. As with the neglectful parent, there are also extremes with this type of parenting. I’ve seen children so “managed” that they’ve never felt sand sift through their fingers because mommy doesn’t want them to get dirty and then there is the possibility that there are germs in the sand that would harm their delicate child (who lives in a virtual bubble). There are helicopter parents who attempt to insulate their children from any negative experience or consequence. These children have never gotten an average grade mostly because mom/dad will argue the grade with the teacher and more often than not get it changed in the student’s favor. Although well meaning these parents are setting their children up for failure in the “real” world. The kids never learned how to deal with disappointment, how to lose gracefully, and how to stand up for themselves. They had every advantage growing up but there comes a time when parents can’t step in and “fix” things. It doesn’t go over very well if your parents want to argue with the boss about your work load or your vacation schedule or a tiff with a coworker.

I’m not sure which child has it better, the bubble wrapped child or the child raised by wolves. Having a healthy balance is best for everyone. Yes it is OK to have some “me” time with the caveat that even when taking time to nourish your adult side you are still responsible for your child. And it is good to allow the child to develop coping strategies for disappointment. Remember not every child is a gifted artist, not every child is a star quarterback. It is OK to be average in some subjects as long as the child is doing their personal best and putting effort into the work. Being responsible for the welfare of the child does not mean having training wheels on the bicycle until the age of 12! Being an advocate for your child does not mean their team always has to win, they must get 1st place in the science fair, have the lead in the school play, or be the most popular student in the school – especially if it is achieved through your personal intervention in their life!! As for the child that is left to their own devices, if they survive, they will probably be that kid that spends almost every day at your house looking for structure, security and a sense of belonging. If you become that substitute parent, they just might stay in school and out of jail.

OK. I’m done. We return to the regularly scheduled program…

Looking Alert

I have the Amber Alert notification enabled on my phone. Usually they come in from far away locations – New York, California, even Florida. On August 29th my phone made lots of noise about an Amber Alert from Sturgis, MI (not so far away). The first alert was that 3 children were missing. Shortly after that the notification was that 3 children had been abducted. And within a half hour it was amended to say the 3 children were abducted and the suspect was armed and dangerous. The story has a happy ending. The children were recovered unharmed (at least physically) and the father of the youngest is in custody. Seems the mother had a restraining order. The father disregarded the piece of paper, assaulted the mother, kidnapped all 3 kids, and threatened to kill them and himself. The father is in custody. The children are reunited with their mother. Which leads me to ask why this happened.

I thought about it long and hard. It niggled at my brain and burrowed in my subconscious. I’ve determined that it comes down to conceitedness and an egocentric attitude. This man put his wants before that of any of the other people in the story. If he couldn’t have the ex girl friend then no one could! He took not only his child but 2 others. He treated them as if they were inanimate objects. It wasn’t about hurting them – it was that through them he hoped to manipulate their mother, cause her pain and ultimately punish her for leaving him. He thought about what she held most dear and then stole it. In this case it was her children. I suspect he will be spending a good long time in jail. I doubt (yet there is always hope) that he will be able to step outside his own wants and place that of others first.

Looking Older

I was once young. Time moves and my younger self slides further away. I glance over my shoulder and can barely make out the color of my hair. So here I am. One moment I was limber and strong and carefree. Now I find my body does not cooperate as easily. There is dissonance between will and ability. I must cajole the present me into doing what the past me did without a second thought. My 10 year old self is impatient. My 16 year old self is disgusted. My 30 year old self is disappointed. My 45 year old is resigned. But it is my 60 year old self that is angst ridden. I wring my hands and wonder how this has happened. But I know the answer. I am still alive. And that is a wonderful thing. I was once young and it was marvelous. Now I’m much older and life is different but still superb!

Above is my prose poem about aging. I was talking with my sister in law and she was saying that her significant other was doing some modeling. He is making lots of money posing for advertisements. The company is looking for additional models. Specifically older women with grey hair that are slender and active. Seems that here are a dearth of older women willing to look their age. Go figure. I noticed a company was hawking a drug for erectile dysfunction and the man in the ad was silver haired and obviously in his 70s but his “wife” looked like she was a 30 year old that had been made-up to look older. It just didn’t look right….

Looking Resilient

Life consists of a series of events. Like pearls on a string each is part of who we are. There are times when we actively slide a pearl onto the string – we make choices. There are other moments where choices are made for us for better or worse. Whether you are actively navigating through life or passively allowing life to sweep you along, you will encounter difficulties. Things happen. The key to living well is being resilient. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; a toughness. That is not to deny that bad things have happened. It doesn’t mean suppressing emotions. What it does mean is that when troubles come you don’t let those bad things change who you want to be, how you love, when you pray. You acknowledge the problems. You grieve, cry, perhaps even let loose with come choice 4-letter words but you step forward and move away from the difficulty toward possibilities. Let that pearl sit there because it is now a part of your history but don’t let it be the last pearl on the necklace of your life.

Resilience is hard to master. Some folks never get the hang of it. It is more than placing one foot ahead of the other. It is an attitude mixed with some courage. It is believing that you are worthy of love. It is saying that your life is your own and your capacity to love is infinite. If you need to be reminded, print this and read it before you go to bed and before you get up in the morning. It is said that if we hear something often enough we will come to believe it. This works for negative as well as positive words. Listen for the positive!

Looking Over the Top of My Glasses

I got an email from my ophthalmologist reminding me that it is time for my annual eye exam. Last year I had an exam that indicated I didn’t need to change my prescription. As far as I can tell, my eyes haven’t changed. I still can type on the computer better without my glasses, I can still thread a needle, and I can still read an ear tag without resorting to a magnifying glass. I wear prescription safety glasses at work (~9 hours a day). These are a slightly different shape than my regular glasses and because the lenses are bigger I don’t have to look over the top (not that I could anyway). For some reason the very top and bottom are the equivalent of looking over or under my other pair. Supposedly they are the same prescription! It is a mystery. My current quandary is whether or not to make an eye appointment. I know that it will cost about $200 for the exam. I also don’t want to put off eye care just because you don’t mess around with your eyesight. Still I’m not having any problems…

Second sight
Do your glasses help or hinder?
Near vision
Far vision
Night vision
Do your glasses clarity render?
Will your glasses magic engender?

Just a little poem in 2 rhyming sounds… I’d pay the $200 plus some to get glasses that made it possible to visualize magic. Perhaps all we need to see magic is the right frame of mind!