Looking for God

I was trying to remember a name. I just couldn’t produce it. The thing is I knew the face, the nickname, the particulars of associations and mutual friends. Then it dawned on me, I don’t need to know all the names – first, middle, last. All I need to know is how we are connected. The stronger the connection, the easier it will be to recall that person, even if there is no specific name to roll off my tongue.

I think this is true with God. I don’t have to know His name (though He told Moses that it was “I Am”). Seems that every religion, every faith, and every believer has a set of names for the Creator. Some are actual names, others are honorifics, and still others are descriptors. We spend a lifetime trying to figure it all out. We yearn for and at the same time dread a relationship with God. Although there are many who believe that there is only one way to get to God or enter heaven, I think there are many ways. Whether you embrace Christianity or perhaps Islam, or maybe Buddhism, all ways lead to God. Despite the multitude of names, despite our failures, and perhaps because of our flaws we all search and just maybe we will find what we are looking for. And we will remember that name!

The ways are many
We do nothing in this life
Ask me his name now

Looking Dented

A long time ago, the Food and Drug Administration took a step to protect the public from illness and in a way unscrupulous corporations. This step was a simple one – they required an expiration date on drugs and a best used by or expiration date on food. Over the years this has become a very accepted thing. When I’m at the grocery, if the choice is a gallon of milk with a short date (expiring in 2 days) or a long date (expiring in 2 weeks), I will take the longer dated item. This is mostly common sense and experience with sour milk.

However there are some items where the date is merely arbitrary and designed more to be able to rotate stock. I’m talking about most canned goods, block cheese, and dry goods like pasta and sugar and the such. You see, food waste is often the result of grocery stores pulling items for disposal based on the best used by date (such a 1st world issue). Which bring me to hunger in America. Sparky and I have taken over the stocking and arranging of the church pantry for the St. Vincent DePaul Society. We are an “emergency resource” for people who have a sudden and dire need for food.

We take food donations from our fellow parishioners and we supplement it by buying from the Food Bank. Now the food bank is a marvelous operation. It is a warehouse filled with bins of non-perishable items. They usually charge only a small amount ($0.18/pound) for the food. You name it you will likely find it! They have rice, pasta, cereal, canned goods of all types and then the other items that are just as plentiful. Things like packaged Jell-O, crackers, catsup and mustard, ramen noodles, dry soup mixes, taco shells and potato chips, and the list goes on. The most wonderful is that they also have freezers with meat – chicken, beef, pork and the elusive fish. We went to the food bank and they were having a special event – all (read ALL) food items were FREE! The catch is that most of the food is approaching the “best use by” date or possibly beyond that date, or the can is slightly dented.

I know that I have some items that are past the date. There are many cans that I’ve purchased that I find a small dent in the side. (I suspect that Sparky has super strength and squeezes them a little hard when placing them in the pantry.) I still use them. There are however some people who would toss the can away. There are others (or possibly the same ones) who if the best by date is even in the same year would dispose of the item.

Which made me think about all the “throw-away” people who have been dented by life, all the people deemed past their “best used by” date, those we judge expired. I don’t think a few dents makes a person less valuable. We all get old and hopefully when we develop infirmities we are not thrown away. I hope that even those who society sees as so far past their expiration date that they are tossed out will be rescued from the discard pile and be given the dignity they deserve.

Looking Clingy

The cooler weather has created a problem. This is an issue I’ve struggled with for many years, and I’m not alone. There are millions of women who have faced this same thing and still there is no 100% perfect solution. I’m talking about static cling. This happens every year as the furnaces run and the humidity drops in every building in the colder regions of this country. It starts as a little bit of creep. The slip (yes some women still wear them under dresses) starts to crawl up. Eventually it is at the waist in a big wad (if you are unable to find a bathroom or quiet corner to adjust it to its proper position). Eventually it gets so bad that the dress starts to walk up your back side. This is when you must take drastic measures.

I was once told that the easiest “fix” was to wet your hands and smooth the fabric. This does work but only on fabrics that don’t show water marks and it is temporary. Another thing that can be done is to rub a dryer sheet on your slip and the underside of the skirt and between the slip and your stockings. Some have resorted to removing the nylon stockings – but if that look is unacceptable then you have no recourse. There is another cling problem can occur simultaneously with the above. That is the “hitchhiker” where you discover a piece of clothing (usually a pair of underwear) has been clinging to the inside hem of the skirt, and tantalizingly been showing itself to the world! To remedy this you must stealthily snag the hitchhiker and stow it in your purse.

But the worst and most annoying cling problem is when you are walking and the skirt or dress decides to adhere to your body in a painted on look. The skirt is wrapped around your legs, the back is glued to your glutes and the bodice (which used to be blousy) is now imitating a sausage casing. Do you ever wonder why women often wear their coats indoors? Now you know. With winter approaching I’ve been wearing my leggings under long skirts and this creates lots of static. My skirts do cling. This causes Sparky to want to touch me. It does however come with a cost. That static electricity will discharge and the resulting ZAP is often audible and visible followed by Sparky’s yelp of surprise….

For your poetic pleasure I present a Two by Four poem. It was invented in 1999 by Lee Ann Brown. It consists of 4 lines with 2 words per line. They may or may not rhyme. The subject emphasis is on whimsical, creative, or experimental use of language/word play.

Stealth static
Indecent cling
Thigh generator
Electric sting

Looking on the Patio

When we bought this house in 1991 it had a couple features that I thought were desirable – a real fireplace, a half bath close to the kitchen, Venetian blinds that were INSIDE the glass of the sliding door, an inground gas grill, and most importantly a bonafide patio! One of the first purchases we made was a picnic table for the patio. We held get togethers and birthday parties that revolved around that picnic table. We grilled out and ate on the patio during spring, summer, and fall until the weather no longer cooperated.

Over time things wore out and had to be replaced. The inground grill became obsolete and we couldn’t get replacement parts. It was eventually scrapped. The fireplace was a total disaster (which resulted in Sparky using a snow shovel to fling a burning log into the snow as the house filled with smoke). It is entirely for show and hasn’t been used since the second disaster, a replay of the first (see above). Which brings me to the patio.

The picnic table takes up most of the space on the patio. It is a massive table easily seating 8 adults. It is made of solid wood and weighs a ton (not literally). The last time it was off the patio was when the across the street neighbor wanted to borrow it for a big party 20 yrs ago. It took 4 adult men in their prime to lift and carry it to their backyard. Every other year Sparky would apply a coat of Thompson’s Water-seal. It has been over 10 years now since its last treatment. It is still solid and holding up well(drat). When we had children at home it was great to eat outside – less mess and easier clean up… We haven’t eaten out there in a very long time. I keep thinking that one of these days the table will rot and fall apart. After 29 years that hasn’t happened. Perhaps this coming spring I’ll advertise and find it a new home – if Sparky will let me….

Looking Folded

Pressed paper dry and brittle
Origami woman creased deeply and folded neatly
Faded ink hints at a boldness lost in kimono patterns
Her hands lay in her lap
Her heart lay in her hands
Her memories fold back on themselves
Sliding like silk between parchment
A puff of wind and the silk billows
Scattering thoughts as dust motes
Love lost like frozen flakes and
Haiku emotions sharply cut the paper

My youngest sister is preparing to bring her MIL into her home. There are issues. Not the least of which is that dementia has become so pronounced that it is no longer safe for her to live alone in her own home. They have been attempting to care for her long distance (my sister and her husband live in Florida and his mother lives in Ohio) but even with a Monday through Friday sitter/housekeeper and the installed monitoring cameras it has become obvious that she needs someone with her around the clock. The town she lives in doesn’t really have many options, even with her daughter nearly next door (but she is still working and has a husband who is not willing to have his MIL join their household). So as soon as the bathroom is remodeled to be safe, they will move her to Florida. She indicated that was her wish when she visited them this last summer in a rare moment of clarity. If they can get her moved then the house and car can be sold. If it comes down to finding a nursing home there are many in the area to choose from. As I look on from a distance, and the grief of losing my mother still a raw memory, I see the pain of losing a parent while they are yet present as a special kind of torment.

Looking at Friends

I wrote a post and indicated that I had visited in person with an online friend. I also stated that I had met several bloggers in person and that everyone is wonderfully interesting, kind, and yes – very REAL! Michelle (Michnavs) told me that she would like to hear about meeting my internet friends. So here goes:

As soon as internet chat rooms appeared, the debate on what constituted a friend started. Are the people you interact with online really friends? Or can you only count them as friends if you have met IRL (in real life)? I’m not sure about you, but I’m convinced that the people behind the avatars and profile photos who I interact with on a regular basis are indeed friends. I’ve come to the conclusion that reading another’s blog gives you a window into their world and their lives. Just like meeting face to face, it is the give and take and sharing who you are that starts the process of becoming friends. Over time, as you learn more you develop a relationship that deepens to friendship.

Xanga was a wonderful blogosphere. I had lots of people who I interacted with. My first online friends just so happened to be family members: Old Dog Sparky (husband), Gma_Joyce (mother), alibeshall and slccole (sisters), Viola4Money and Crispix_Fiend (sons), Napolean_Bean & Mr_Share (niece and nephew). Of course I already had met them.

The next friends from Xanga I met were at a Xanga Meet at the home of ZSA_MD. There I met her daughter SaadiaOnline, and several others including Harpos_Mark, Adventofreason, and Macphoto. It was a highlight of my time on Xanga. The connection with ZSA_MD (Zakiah) extended to her recommendation of a vascular surgeon, which I’m convinced saved my mother’s life! Out of that meeting I got to know Sandra aka Harpos_Mark and we visited her in VT during one of our travels.

Then I met saintvi. We live within the same area and decided to meet. I consider her my BFF. Who knew that I’d find someone who is like a sister through the internet! I then met joyouswind (her daughter) and BookMark61 (her now ex-husband). Saintvi and I get together all the time and even go on vacations together (with or without Sparky). She held a xanga meet at her house (many years ago) and I met Seedsower, Angie1972, Hereliesnelsonthegreat, and a multitude of her relatives that were online! We’ve gotten together with Nelson and his wife almost every 3rd of July, and on Halloween too. We visited their home when their daughter was born, went to her 1st birthday party, and even made a hospital visit when his wife was recovering from surgery. I’ve gone on a road trip with saintvi and Seedsower to visit Angi. Saintvi and I stayed with Angi’s parents. On a trip to visit my sister and mother in PA, we dropped saintvi off at Seedsower’s home. When we came back to pick her up, we got a tour of the greenhouse and her home. She gifted me with a “Lazarus” Daylily. I’d say that qualifies as friends….

When Sparky and I were traveling east in NY, we arranged to meet with Passionflwr86 and her new husband Ro_ad808 (who met through Xanga!) and had dinner together. On another trip we stopped in SC and had lunch with arnatmom! Later saintvi and I travelled to NY for a surprise birthday party for Seedsower. It was hosted by Aloysius-son and his wife lorilily. His family was there (Thankyee, dingdondingbat) and a bunch of friends from xanga: DreadPirate, Flashfosgitt, and Donkey-guy-10. We had so much fun. Although most are no longer blogging I’ve kept in touch on FB.

After I started geocaching I met some cachers that were also on Xanga: GeoPunk7242, PunksGF, Karhu_Kasha, TimWalshMI. We geocached in Winona Lake and met ata_grandma. She invited us to her home and even fed us! It isn’t too far from where son#2 now lives so I’m thinking we will visit her again soon!

When RighteousBruin9 was travelling across the state I invited him to stop by. I gave a tour of campus, made dinner and we put him up for the night. He has stopped by again and knows that he is always welcome! Some people are just easy to talk to and Gary is one of them!

Once my sister had her house in Florida, I arranged to meet Crystalinne. Our first meeting was at a mall. After that we have gotten together several times at my sister’s home and had so much fun – eating, playing board games and just having a ball! I’ve met her sons and even a boyfriend!

And lastly, saintvi has a friend from Xanga who was one of the Xanga celebrities – The Theologian’s Café (Theologian Dan) whose parents live not far from saintvi in MI. When he travels from TX, they always get together for a meal – I’ve been along several times.

So there you have it 36 that I’ve named and there were several others whose names have slipped my mind… I’ve met so many online friends who became in real life friends. And not a bad one in the bunch!

If you read this whole long post – thanks. Perhaps someday, when travel is possible, I’ll get to add your name to this list!!

Looking at the Web

O the internet never sleeps
Dark web blacker than ocean deeps
With just one mouse click each one leaps

Life’s dramas online are displayed
Decisions are discussed and weighed
Reputations are often flayed
Social media secret keeps

Tender psyche from wounds will cry
Bullies force agony’s loud sigh
The victim sleep and rest deny
The bright glare of the screen eye weeps

Connects to friend and foe alike
Bring comfort or a viper strike
Need to tell bullies “take a hike”
The taunts and threats from keyboard seeps

Someone close to me has been recently bullied online. The bullying was an assault on character, self image and self worth. Of course the anonymity of the internet made it nearly impossible to determine the origin of the posters. However the combined computer prowess of family members ascertained that the posters (unless they are genius computer hackers) were located in New Zealand, France, Belgium, and Germany. Since the young person on the receiving end has never travelled to any of these countries, and has no friends or acquaintances located there made it easier to shrug off the attacks. Sadly it wasn’t until the situation was brought to the parental attention that emotional equilibrium was restored. This event just brought home to me how vulnerable our teens are despite their assertions of independence.

The above poem is a Zejel, a very old Spanish poetic form that is also likely an even older Arabic poetic form with an origination date somewhere between the ninth and eleventh centuries. It has 8 syllables per line and is composed of an initial tercet (3 line stanza) in monorhyme. It is followed by an undefined number of quatrains (4 line stanzas) having a rhyme scheme of: bbbA, cccA, dddA, etc. Thus the first tercet defines the rhyme for the last line of all subsequent stanzas.

Looking to Right a Wrong

For nearly 30 years I worked in a hostile environment for a toxic boss. After her ouster, the new boss began his reign. Though it was at first less obvious, it became increasingly apparent that he too was a bully. Then I retired. Currently my former work environment is in serious trouble. They have replaced nearly three quarters of the staff. That means that much of the “institutional memory” has been lost. They have also lost much of the basic expertise and experience to stay in compliance with regulatory requirements. But the more pressing problem is one of attitude. There is a pervasive apathy. I have been going in once a week to train the new staff on procedures and techniques. I’ve made progress. The problem seems to be the now absent managerial oversight since the boss announced that he is leaving at the end of the fiscal year. Even those persons still in supervisory positions are feeling the uncertainty. The stalwarts are starting to talk about abandoning ship…

Righting a wrong needs to happen from the wrong management, wrong attitude about value of staff, and of course the wrong approach to financial stability. I have the unique perspective of being on the outside with a window into the heart of the issue. As I see it there are plenty of workers that have been wronged in more ways than one. I suppose I could list them all but that’s not the point. It has become obvious that I can do a few things to correct some of the problems. I was always trying (and being sabotaged by management) to improve morale. I can now make a difference. On another front, my old position has been vacant for over 18 months. I have been trying to not only train the staff but to sift through the new employees to determine if any are up to taking on the responsibilities my position demanded. I’m ready to make a recommendation.

A search is on for a new director. This person will inherit a mess. And just in time for an accreditation visit. I’ve promised to try to help get things sorted out as far as compliance goes. But until a new director is onboard, that is one wrong that I cannot right.

Looking for Socks

I am guilty of holding onto stray socks. I never want to toss that lone sock just in case the other one miraculously turns up, or in a more likely scenario, one of a different pair is gone creating a need for a new mate. This last Christmas I asked for socks. I got one pair from my friend saintvi and 2 pair from my fashionista friend. Although they are wonderful and soft and a delight, they aren’t the usual everyday kind of socks. Maybe I’ve trained the men in the family too well. I can only imagine them contemplating the Christmas list.
#1: Mmm, it says socks. Why are there socks on the list?
#2: Really? Socks? Let me see that!
#1: I think it is a trap. Do you remember when Dad got her a bathrobe?
#2: Yeah. That was a disaster.
#1: I think I’ll get one of the other things. Socks aren’t very expensive and I’ll leave those for Dad to get.
#2: Me too. Dad is braver than I am!
Sparky: Socks. Nope. Not touching that one with a 10 foot pole. I’d rather get her another bathrobe. At least the bathrobe costs more than some ugly black crew socks…

So I’ve not had any new socks since 2018 when I bought some to give myself, from Santa of course. I’m down to 3 pair that aren’t threadbare. I had been saving and making new pairs from the single sock drawer for so long that I don’t have anymore lone socks in the drawer. Well, no more black women’s socks are languishing as solo footwear. I do have a couple men’s crew and tube socks of a variety of brands and styles but that doesn’t do me any good. On the bright side, I just might take the time to go buy some socks (besides I have a 30% off coupon for Kohl’s)!

Skin as pale as ice
My feet get cold when snow falls
Thick socks cannot warm
Fire fails to thaw my feet
My toes are waiting for Spring

This is a Tanka, a Japanese form consisting of 5 lines with a syllable count of 5-7-5-7-7. As with most Japanese poetry rhyming does not occur.

Looking for Mr. Right

It seems we have regressed a little during the pandemic. It has become more difficult for men and women to date. It is harder to meet potentially marriageable people. Sure the technology is there. You fill out the personality profile, the intelligence quotient assessment, the emotional intelligence test, and tons of compatibility profiles that are all fed into a computer that matches you with others who have turned to computer dating/matchmaking services. What happens when you look but only find Mr. Wrong?

So far my son’s have not found Ms. Right. And to complicate matters they have been swiped left far too many times. They have not given up on finding love. The pandemic however has put their search on hold. With their prospects dimming, son#2 is talking about getting a dog. Son#1 has decided that being alone isn’t such a bad deal. But he’s the introvert and terminally shy. He hasn’t discarded the idea of love or marriage. His philosophy is “If someone drops from the sky, I’m open to a relationship, but I’m not going to tie myself in knots trying to find the one.”

Sometimes being happy with who you are is the biggest attractant. Having a full life is very possible without a spouse or significant other. At least they are currently surrounded by friends and family who provide a network of caring. That also means they are surrounded by people who are on the lookout for eligible women. We are all sure that they are 2 Mr. Rights dwelling in our midst!