Looking at the Nest

I’m looking at my finances. Since 2017, Sparky has been retired and for 2 years we mostly lived off my income. When I retired in 2019 I had a slight panic attack thinking we’d be soon penniless. After reassurance from out financial advisor, I relaxed. Sparky recently went from part time work to being a substitute (he must put in 4 hours of work every 2 week pay period). And although I’ve had some very nice on-call work, it isn’t the same as making oodles of money. We have always lived rather frugally and that has continued. With the increase in fuel, food, and utilities, I’ve been even more careful with expenditures. I’ve been “feathering my nest” by saving every extra penny. I have now started drawing my pension. It was a lovely surprise. In fact this money is pure gravy for our bank account! I’m starting to think that the nest is not so bare and that I can afford to relax a tad… provided the rate of inflation doesn’t evaporate my new nest egg!

Money earned, saved and quickly spent
I try to figure where it went
Hoard every penny I could save
Put money toward my own nest egg

My spendthrift ways have got to go
If I want my savings to grow
Make every nickel scream and beg
Put money toward my own nest egg

Dining out and expensive shoes
All these things the frugal eschews
No parties where I buy the keg
Put money toward my own nest egg

Shop second hand and all the sales
No lash extensions or spa nails
No more massage or a waxed leg
Put money toward my own nest egg

A little Kyrielle to drive home the point!

Looking at Traveling

Today is the end of the vacation. We are spending the majority of today in transit from Florida to Indiana. It is both sad and a relief. I love visiting with my sisters. I enjoy the warmer weather. I am enchanted with the ocean. That said there is no place like home. If only I could have the kind of technology in the Star Trek universe and simply step onto a spot and be teleported in an instant from place to place. That would be heavenly.

Instead I’ve steeled myself for the inevitable long lines, the removal of shoes and the rush and crush of humanity as we all navigate the TSA checks looking for shoe bombs and other such dangers. This time around I tried to pack lighter. I wanted to be able to put everything into one carry on bag and to avoid checking a bag. I’ve gotten pretty good at packing but there are still some things that won’t work. There is no way to take a walking stick on the plane. They are not so accommodating, couple that with pathtags (which look very suspicious on x-ray), and the needed hemostats, telescoping magnetic wands and assorted electronics and it screams security risk. Therefore to avoid all the commotion and the possibility of a pat-down, they must be checked. Which is kind of expensive because the price has been increased like everything else! It is such a hassle to drag 2 bags and be loaded down with a backpack.

Because the return flight was booked to make it feasible for son#1 to collect us after his work shift was over, we leave at noon from Florida and arrive in Indiana at 10:30 PM. We have 2 layovers (because Sparky was trying to get us the cheapest flights). That means we will have a big breakfast and arrive at the airport by 10:00 AM. We will get a snack on the plane if we are lucky. Then a late airport lunch at our first layover (2 hours). If it is anything like our last airport meal it won’t be tasty and it will be really expensive! Then we will fly to another airport and get there for a 3 hour layover that will (if we are hungry) allow for another super expensive meal. Then it will be a shorter flight to home. All this is dependent on weather. I really, really hope we don’t end up stranded anywhere! I’ll let you know on Monday if there were any glitches in the meantime I’ll be mostly absent from WP but will try to catch up when possible…

Looking Set Free

The opposite of enslavement is manumission, a setting free. This comes from the Roman act of freeing a slave whereby the owner places his hand on the slave and pushes him away. So often we are attracted to someone who is not in our best interest. It is wonderful when that attraction is seen in truth and both parties part amicably. In my experience, that isn’t the usual scenario. Instead the outcome is devastation and destruction to one or both people…I humbly submit my Haiku Sonnet:

Coward peeks and hides
Dreams of being his lover
Caught in his embrace

Shy I duck behind
Compared to him I’m nothing

My moment to shine
I turn to face his glory
Will he notice me

He sees my longing
Pours his light and heat on me
This love burns me up

Leaves me scorched, barren, alone
Aching for what might have been

As a post scrip, today is Ash Wednesday. It is a day when many Christians begin their Lenten journey to Easter. It is a time of recognizing that we are dust and ash and admitting our flaws, shortcomings and our sinfulness. It is also a period of reconciling with God and remembering that we were formed from earth in His divine image. That we are loved through no merit of our own and embraced through grace. God’s love burns us up and makes us new. A far cry from the kind of love that many seek and are unable to find…
The Haiku Sonnet is a series of 4 Haiku followed by a couplet to yield 14 lines as a sonnet requires. The Haiku by definition does not rhyme (unlike the rhyming of a traditional sonnet) thus the Haiku Sonnet does not have a rhyme scheme.

Looking at the Opening

I sort of promised to post about the opening. So this post will be mostly photos.
This is what you would see walking into the showroom.

The individual pieces were tagged with a place card with a photo on the back to show what micrograph I used when modeling it and the front to show the title, medium, and the price.












In total I had 87 pieces on display. Before the opening, a physician from the Medical Center (a couple blocks away) stopped in and bought a piece! If you look closely you can find the piece she bought. All purchased pieces got a green smiley face sticker placed on the name card! By the end of the night I’d sold a total of 6 pieces. I was very excited!

Looking Fledged

I was contemplating the empty nest. That is MY empty nest. Both the boys have moved out and it doesn’t seem likely that they will be moving back in. (cheering and doing a happy dance) However that means that this nest is very empty. We live in a house with 4 bedrooms. Sure, we’ve slowly repurposed them into the computer room, the craft room, and of course a guest room. We have lots of space that is under utilized. If the housing market weren’t so crazy, I’d suggest we downsize. Anyway, I had son#1 over for dinner and we were talking about what “home” meant. His suggestion was that home was where you feel safe and loved. And for him that is true. Although he has his own house, he calls where Sparky and I live home. It is, according to the internet, a rare experience to have parents who are still married, who are loving and supportive, and to have escaped childhood without soul crushing trauma!

Feathering the nest
Find the end of night
Young are safe

The above is a modern Lune. The Lune was invented by Robert Kelly in the 1960s. It is an American version of the Haiku. The Kelly version of the Lune is syllabic with a syllable count of 3/5/3. A more recent (modern) version looks at a word count instead of syllables. Below is the Kelly Lune version of the same poem…

Feathered nest
Find the end of night
Young are safe

Looking at Warmer Weather

As of this post, I’ve arrived in Florida. The 2nd annual Sisters Retreat is happening. Sparky and I traveled by air to Pensacola Beach, FL on Valentine’s Day. We were even able to continue our tradition of having Taco Bell to celebrate! The current plan is to spend a couple days with my sisters. Then we head to Alabama for the big geocaching “Bama Rama” for 2 days. Then it is back to Pensacola Beach for the Mardi Gras parade and 5 more days of fun in the sun before we have to fly back to cold and dreary Indiana. The weather at home has been hovering between 12F and 30F contrasted to 59F to 70F at the beach. It will be nice to thaw a little! Of all the things I’m excited about, seeing my sisters tops the list. The beach and finding some shells is also an anticipated delight. However my sister’s hot tub is also a highlight! I scheduled a few posts while I am away from home but promise to respond to comments as best I’m able while traveling… The beach is calling me – talk to you all later!!

Looking for the Zen

Put aside the worry and strife
Seize the moment enjoy your life
Do not neglect to live today
Open your mind embrace a heart
Affection takes root a good start
Avoid throwing true love away
Met with hatred show others love
Pray for their souls and rise above
In heaven all debts you repay

So I have completed the 5 week Meditation course that was offered at the museum. I had some problems in the beginning as I was by far the oldest person in the class – by nearly 40 years. The instructor seemed at first surprised having anticipated a small group of college aged people. I am not as limber as I used to be and sitting on the floor on a thin yoga mat meant that my legs went to sleep within a few minutes. I moved to a short bench. The instructor, Zabina, explained that she would talk us through exercises. First it was posture. Everyone was shown and we modeled the straight back. Secondly, we focused on breathing from the abdomen. This was not new to me. I find that it relaxes me and I can lose touch with the parts of my day that are causing me to worry. (And I am an expert at worrying!). Then she told us to let go of all the little tasks and “sink into the feeling of being”. I’m still not 100% sure what she meant. But I relaxed my mind while maintaining the posture and breathing and did some positive visualization. It was much easier to do this as the classes continued. By the last class I felt accomplished. I didn’t fall asleep – not once.

And because I know someone will ask, the poem is a Nove Otto. This form was created by Scott Alcorn as a 9 line poem with 8 syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of a/a/c/b/b/c/d/d/c.

Looking to Shovel a Haiku

The W3 poetry prompt set this week by Angela (AJ) Wilson at the Skeptic’s Kaddish is to write a Golden Shovel using a Haiku. I considered using a haiku written by one of the outstanding poets on WP (and there are so many who seem to have mastered the Haiku). But then I thought of Bashō and considered using one of his since he is the master that so many emulate. In my search for the one poem of Bashō’s that sparked my creativity, I found another poet and poem that spoke to me.

Birds Punctuate the Days by Joyce Clement
One blue egg all summer long
Now gone

I decided on a Nonet (9 lines with the first line having 9 syllables and each successive line having one less syllable than the previous line).
Exacting Standards by murisopsis
Decade or a shorter period
Searched for a heart, wanting just one
Watching, waiting for eyes blue
Incubating hope’s egg
I rejected all
A short summer
Winter’s long
They’re now

Looking at More or Less

Her house refuses to wait
until a man replies to
The question she shouts
Provide sufficiency
End disappointment
Sustain hope
No more no less
What do you want
He cries
No more no less

Here’s a little free verse written in honor of a strong woman. She is much younger than myself, and has seen a horrible reversal of fortune. She was married (technically is still married but the divorce is soon to be finalized) and is parenting 2 young children on her own. She has moved into a small apartment and went from part-time to full-time employment. This was a rough transition for her but thankfully her employer was very eager to give her more hours. She has a mother who is willing to care for the kids after school.

For several weeks (after her husband simply stopped coming home) she was sure he had been injured or killed. She called the police, his work, his friends and all his family members trying to find out if they knew where he was, the last time he was seen or if he’d contacted them. If anyone had information they weren’t sharing it. He finally surfaced at Christmas. She was beyond angry. By then she had cancelled all the credit cards, closed the bank account, and changed the locks on the house. Because his paychecks hadn’t been deposited in almost 6 months, she had put the house on the market in an effort to prevent foreclosure.

She is smart and wounded. She is strong but struggling. Her dreams of what life was supposed to hold have evaporated. But (and this is what is so terrible and magnificent) she is no longer relying on someone else to provide her happiness. She has discovered her inner warrior. She knows that she is capable of giving her children a home, love, security, and the support they need. There is no more waiting on a man to rescue her. She will settle for no less than what she is worth!

Looking at the Years

****WARNING**** Long Post!
I celebrated my birthday recently. It was not a milestone event but that was a minority opinion. Most of the family thought it was quite the occasion! To celebrate I made pumpkin bread pudding. As I was making my bread pudding, I was musing about all the birthday celebrations from years past. I’d like to take you on a stroll through some of my more memorable birthdays.

When I was in 2nd grade I had a party and invited several classmates (including 2 boys). We had a great time until the balloon race. We were all given balloons and had to bounce the balloon in the air with our heads from one end of the room to the other. Once at the end, you had to sit on the balloon and pop it. I had a yellow balloon. It was made of some super strong latex and no matter how hard I sat on that thing it just wouldn’t pop! We all took turns trying to pop it until finally my mother attacked it with a fork!

My parents had asked me several times since Christmas what I wanted for my 12th birthday. I wanted a canopy bed. They were all the rage and even my friend Anita had one. My parents had grown tired of the request and out of frustration informed me that if I wanted a canopy they would find a can and I could pee in it and put it under the bed. I was grossed out and had resigned myself to having a boring bed. When I got home from visiting with my grandmother I discovered my bedroom had been transformed – a new bed with a pink frilly canopy!!

The year of my 16th birthday found my family living in Detroit, Michigan. It was only for a year and what a mostly miserable year it was. The only good thing about that year was my new friend Kitty. Kitty’s father was a journalist and he covered sports. She invited me to go with them to see a race horse that had just won a big money race and was being retired. Since my birthday was on a Saturday, we were able to leisurely go through the barn and visit with all the horses. Although it was miserable cold outside, the barn was warm. It was an exciting and indelible event!

My 20th birthday was notable. I had planned on traveling from Purdue University to my hometown for my birthday. A few days before, the weather forecast was calling for a winter snowstorm. That soon turned into a blizzard. It was a blizzard of epic proportions! The university closed and cancelled classes for the first time in 109 years. No one was going anywhere. As the wind howled and the snow fell by buckets, I saw my birthday buried in a snow drift that nearly reached the 2nd floor window of my room. My roommate however was a champ. She made cookies (the Pillsbury cookies in a tube). We spent the day watching TV and drinking hot chocolate to wash down chocolate chip cookies! We talked and laughed so hard our sides ached. That is my idea of a celebration!!

Most of the “in between years” were a blur as I was more focused on our sons than on my birthdays. The exception was my 50th birthday. I came into work and everyone was wearing black armbands! I was given a balloon with a vulture on it and a cake with a tombstone. My coworkers all wanted to know if I was depressed to be turning fifty. I just laughed. Other than the cake and the most delicious “memory pills” (mint M&Ms) the day wasn’t much different than any other day.

These birthday memories are nice to have but a birthday is just another rotation around the sun. I suppose some people imbue the day with either dread or joy. Me, I’m just happy to mark another year gone and another year ahead!