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!

Looking Basic

I was called basic recently. I’m pretty sure my response wasn’t what they expected. For those of you who might be around my age (without the benefit of sons “in the know”), the definition of basic is: (slang) characterizes someone or something as unoriginal, unexceptional, and mainstream. My response was a smile and a laugh. This was followed by a “thank-you”. They were trying hard to insult me. But I’m okay with being mainstream. I don’t seek the spotlight so being average or unexceptional isn’t always a bad thing. As far as being “unoriginal” they have no clue. They don’t even know I have a blog let alone that I write poetry. In fact, they don’t know me at all. Sure I dress pretty normally (and yes I wear a lot of LuLaRoe® so I guess that IS pretty basic). The only really out of the ordinary thing I wear are my hats. Sometimes the universe provides poetry fodder…

I own it, I’m basic
You criticize what I wear
You don’t like my hair
Tell me I’m just thick
I own it, I’m basic

Always ready to compare
Shout that I’ve a fat derriere
Try to make me go ballistic
I own it, I’m basic

Call me names and swear
Hope to drive me to despair
Exclude me from your clique
I own it, I’m basic

Tell me I’d best beware
Hurl threats and fiery glare
But I’m wise to your schtick
I own it, I’m basic

I bat down insults midair
I’m not an easy one to scare
I’m an anti bully Bolshevik
I own it, I’m basic

I’m middle of the road aware
And it’s true I don’t care
I’m just an average chick
I own it, I’m basic

The above poem is a Dansa. It is a stanzic rhyming form with a refrain. The first stanza is 5 lines with the 1st line and the last line being identical. The last line becomes the refrain and is repeated as the last line in all subsequent stanzas. The rhyming is limited to 2 rhymes for the entire poem. The rhyme scheme is as follows: A/b/b/a/A, b/b/a/A, b/b/a/A, etc. There is no maximum number of stanzas but there must be at least 2.

Looking at the Root

We were discussing foods at the familial Sunday night ice cream social. One of Sparky’s sisters, who happens to be more sophisticated that the norm, was touting the merits of roasted radishes. Now I’ve made roasted root vegetables, usually consisting of potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and when they are on sale beets. But never in my wildest dreams would I have considered radishes. Because I decided to try some new side dishes this year (once a month), I though why not? So I purchased a bag of radishes. The recipe was very easy:

1 bunch radishes
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1 T. olive oil

Trim off the tops and ends and wash well. Cut them in half. Place radishes into a Ziploc baggie and add the other ingredients. Seal bag and shake well to coat evenly with oil and spices. Place them cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes until easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot and season to taste with salt and pepper.

They did look festive. Can’t say I’m a real fan but Sparky seemed to like them. They had the texture of roasted Brussels Sprouts. The flavor was a watery cross between cabbage and carrots – a little sweet but with a slight bitterness (sort of like Brussels Sprouts). I think I’ll try them again but perhaps with butter and fresh garlic. Don’t mind the snowman plate. I got them out for Christmas and decided to use them for a little while since they are a bear to get stored away!

Looking Winterized

The space heaters have been running in the upstairs every night. Our bedroom gets very cold since it is the corner of the house and there is no wind break. We used to have the bed on the inner wall but had to reconfigure the furniture when we bought new bigger furniture (a long time ago). No matter how many blankets I pile on the bed I’m still cold. Sparky on the other hand is cold until he goes to sleep. Once sleeping his metabolism goes into hyperdrive and he is a furnace. I’ve attempted to snuggle up to him but because I’m cold, he instinctually moves away. I end up chasing him to the edge of the bed… I promised myself that I wouldn’t whine about the heat of summer and I didn’t! But there is no such promise not to complain about the cold!

The following poem is an Espinela. This Spanish form consists of 2 stanzas and 4 end rhymes across 10 lines. Each line is 8 syllables with a rhyme scheme of abba for the first stanza and accddc for the second.

Cold winter air makes clear the sky
Shines down a frozen light from stars
Makes black shadows on snow like scars
Achy bones chill will amplify

Mocks my hopes and dreams of July
My breath is frozen in the air
Come summer quickly is my prayer
Huddled closely to the fire
As flames fade soon to expire
My icy tears exclaim despair

Looking Beyond Tomorrow

Today is the day when many make their New Year Resolutions. As I’ve stated before, I make goals not resolutions. So without further ado the goals for 2022.

🐭 Last year, for the second time, Geowoodstock was cancelled. I’m pinning my hopes on 2022 – 3rd time’s a charm. I’m ready to go. I have my passport, the ArriveCan app on my phone, my vaccination certificate and my booster. We have worked out the timing for the “molecular testing” and will be hoping that everything goes according to plan.

🐭 The publishing of the poetry didn’t happen. There were too many road blocks, money being only one. But I’m not giving up it is on the list of goals this year. I think I’m going to enlist the aid of a friend who works at a printing company. Perhaps he can assist in the copy editing and maybe help steer me to a local print shop…

🐭 I’m going to straighten the basement storage area. I’m going to brave the spider infested basement and declutter and organize… That screaming you hear is just me stirring up the 8-leggers.

🐭 I’m going to get rid of some excess clothing and maybe a few pairs of shoes. Yes, I know. The shoes is a BIG maybe…

🐭 I’m going to finally shed that extra 7 pounds that have been clinging. I almost had them on the run but the pandemic closed the gym. The plan is to see if I can get back into the swing but at Planet Fitness instead of at the University.

🐭 I did manage 12 new recipes last year. This year will be 6 main dishes and 6 side dishes. First up will be a stuffed flank steak. I had this at a dinner many years ago and got the recipe but never tried it. This is the year!

🐭 I’m going to read one book a month. I am hopeful that I’ll shatter that goal! I have a list.

🐭 I’m going to watch one movie a month – either on Netflix, on DVD or in the movie theater. I think this will be entirely doable. I may surprise myself and exceed the goal…

🐭 I’m going to send birthday cards. I’ve gotten very lazy and let FB remind me and then end up just posting on their timeline. It isn’t the same as a snail mail card. Besides I have a ton of cards just sitting there waiting to be sent!

🐭 I’m getting more involved at church. I already do the organizing and stocking of the food pantry. I joined the Rosary Society just as the pandemic hit. Now I’m going to start attending the meetings. I am also part of the “Luncheon Brigade” which is a group of volunteers to make food for all the funeral luncheons. I really hope I don’t have to make anything this new year – because I really hope no one dies anytime soon.

🐭 The travel goal this year will be to take a trip to FL to visit my sister probably in late January/February. We will also head to PA to visit my sister because it is the thing to do. And at some point we might plan a visit to Montana to see Sparky’s sister. I do not want to go to Montana in the winter!!! And that brings us to BC, Canada in August. Keep your fingers crossed. I’m thinking that if Canada is scrubbed (again), we will head to Hawaii or Alaska instead. In this pandemic climate, being flexible is mandatory.

🐭 This year marks the “countdown” year before I’m fully retired. I hope to complete the training of my former work place staff before I’m “outta here”! It will be interesting to say the least to see how many will be scrambling to get my help before the clock runs out.

🐭 Another goal is to complete a couple craft projects. The first is doing some illustrations for a couple of poems that I want to give as gifts. The other involves beads and wire. It is an experiment – cross your fingers. If it works out I will post a photo!

🐭 My geocaching goal for this year is to reach the milestone of 4000 caches found so that Geowoodstock is #4000! Since at this writing I’m at 3699, I think that is entirely possible. If Geowoodstock doesn’t happen (again for the 3rd year) I’m willing to make the goal 5000 for 2023.

🐭 This is the year that I’m going to do the one chore that I abhor – washing the Venetian blinds. This involves taking them down, filling a bathtub with soapy water and letting them soak. After a good soak holding them up and spraying them off. Of course that is followed by the drying of the blinds which can take up to a week. I really would almost prefer to spend the money and just buy new ones. Sadly we have odd sized windows and these were custom made…

🐭 My last goal is an easy one. We will have Sparky’s parents over for dinner at least once a month (but not on a new recipe night). We took dinner to them several times early in the pandemic and ate outside. Now that we are all vaccinated and have had boosters, I feel it is safe for them to come to our house more often.

Thanks for reading this long long post. Do you make resolutions?