Perspective

I last wrote in February of this year, about the importance for me to listen rather than speak, and I am very glad I made that decision.  In that time I’ve learned much about myself in relation to others, and I’ve come to several conclusions about relationships.

 

On this American Thanksgiving Day, I am beyond thankful, I am grateful.  Grateful to those who were braver than I could ever be about formerly taboo subjects (#me, too).  Grateful to those who can thoughtfully articulate in a few words the enormity of history being made, and not in a good way (JK Rowling and Stephen King, for two examples).  Grateful to family members who are passionate about their opinions, because they make me think about my own and how I choose to express them.

 

I’m grateful to the heroes and helpers who don’t bother to weigh the pros and cons of a situation before coming to the aid of our fellow humans (Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria).  Grateful to those who are not afraid to call out people in power (Amy Siskind and her extraordinary weekly list).  Grateful that fewer people are asking how something will affect them personally and more are asking how it will affect the poorer among us (health care).

 

I’m grateful that I have a brain that comprehends and is intuitive, and a heart that is empathetic and large.  If I could ask for something in the wizard’s black bag, it would probably be courage; I hesitate to speak out when I should, I am afraid of confrontation (going way back to my youth), there are fears tucked away that I logically know are ridiculous but my soul knows they are huge, and I don’t have the equipment to deal with them.

 

I started writing Tea and Sarcasm to be a sort of record to my daughters how I grew up and became who I am.  I’ve since realized it’s more about shaping myself by my past and what kind of person I really want to be.  And the kind of person I really want to be is an amalgam of what my two daughter have become: independent, brave, socially aware, sure in their footing, and not afraid to call out injustice anywhere.  I cannot take credit for any of these remarkable qualities, because they clearly came from somewhere else as you can see from my past postings.

 

I’m just grateful.

 

caffeine mug

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To Sum It Up….

I’ve been silent.

 

I have so many words incoherently babbling in my brain, yet I don’t write any of them here and for a while I didn’t understand why.  There’s words of rage, sadness, despair, hope, joy, thankfulness, delight, misery, anger, offense, love…you get the idea.  Sounds like great fodder for a blog, right?

 

I found this quote and it explains why I haven’t written out my brain droppings:

 

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.  ~ Paulo Coelho

Everybody is expressing everything it seems, but is it doing any good?  I’ve become more a listener than a speaker lately, and I think it’s going to be that way for a while.  

When I have something to say, I’ll be here.  For now, I’m off to set a good example.  Be kind.

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Ten on Tuesday

  1.  Screw the US media.  From now on I’m getting all my news from BBC.
  2. I haven’t knit in a week and I’m getting cranky.
  3. The current state of our politics doesn’t make me embarrassed to be an American, it makes me embarrassed that we have the political system we do that allows this to happen.
  4. The President-Elect is acting like a nasty little boy who runs into his mother’s dinner party and takes great joy in overturning everybody’s drinks and smashing all the dishes knowing that nobody will reprimand him.
  5. Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful and I’m taking my time decorating for Christmas.
  6. Turkey croquettes made with leftover stuffing is an amazing thing.
  7. This was the first time we’ve ever had leftover stuffing.
  8. The turkey soup was damn good, too.
  9. Why does putting on a pair of black tights make me feel like I weight 20 pounds less?
  10. If I didn’t have tea, I think I would be a much more unstable person.  And that is saying a lot right there.

 

 

 

november-morning

This was my living room at 7:30 this morning.  Kind of how I feel.

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Thanks, Nature

Today I took a hike.

Older Daughter and I drove to a state park and walked a few trails.  We saw an enormous deer trotting away in slow motion, barely making any sound even though the ground was thick with dried leaves.  We saw impossibly small berries still clinging to ashy grey branches, stirring with the slightest of breezes, as red as sun-struck church windows.  We saw spongy neon green moss wrapped along tree roots like blankets tucking in for the winter.  We saw bare white birch trees arching up and up against a sky so blue it was impossible to stop looking at it while breathing in the beautiful crisp fall air.

It was perfect, even when I fell.  I landed on my hip and my wrist, but I didn’t wreck the camera or my phone or my sunglasses.  Later I found out my leg was bleeding, but thankfully I have a prepared traveling companion who calmly assembled the neosporin and the correct-sized bandaid, applied both in a very businesslike way, and was done in less than a minute.  No kiss for my boo-boo, though, so maybe not totally perfect.

But it was a necessary and welcome balm, because I realized no matter how much my world may be turning backwards I would always have this.  The absolute beauty and centering of nature, the quietness of thought and observation, and the chance to remember that though I am but one, I am at least one and I can do many things.

Tomorrow we shall feast, way too much food for just four people, and watch movies and football and parades and remember how much family means to us.  We will remember there’s never a lack of hope or a path to take, and that we will never be alone.

I am thankful.

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Love these nut jobs.

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Well, now….

The only thing I want to say is this:

Please stop using the phrases “Get over it!” “Deal with it!”  “Move on already!”

People don’t necessarily rebound that quickly, and everyone grieves at their own pace in their own way.  You should be able to experience your feelings about any situation and not be scolded with impatience by others.

When my mom died, it was a sudden and unexpected shock.  My dad grieved and experienced things he’d probably never encountered before as he was not a man who was “in touch” with his emotions – Greatest Generation and all that – and so he probably suffered even more.  Can you imagine how awful and embarrassed and ashamed he must have felt after two months when his boss told him “you’re not bouncing back as quickly as I would have expected.  I need you to snap out of this.”  He felt worse.  He felt as if his already dicey emotions were being rated and calibrated for someone else’s inconvenience and he was found wanting.  On top of that, he was concerned he’d be fired simply for mourning his beloved wife.  I felt so much anger on his behalf.

It happened to me, on a much smaller scale.  I called the leader of the volunteer group I was a member of (after the fact) to explain why I hadn’t been available the previous week.  Her response?  “Oh.  Sorry about your mom.”  Wait for it.  Pause.  “But in the future, could you maybe let us know ahead of time you won’t be here?  We only had five people at the meeting and it was really inconvenient for everyone else.”  I bit back the response I wanted to give: “Sure.  Next time my Mom dies you’ll be the first to know.”  It was tempting to walk away from the group, but I didn’t.  I stayed and made it better.

The reason why such pronouncements are inappropriate should be crystal clear, but as I’ve just illustrated, it’s not.  Let me help:

“Please don’t presume you know how I feel.  Please don’t put your agenda ahead of my feelings.  Please don’t pronounce what is good for me based on what is good for you.”

And, may I add to all those on various sites who feel they’re doing their civic duty by explaining to everyone else in simple terms what has really happened to our country, you adding “Period.  End of story” does not make it so.  Even if Captain Picard said it, it would not be so.

America is an ongoing conversation.  Everyone gets to speak, everyone gets to feel, everyone deserves respect for the same.

What are you doing to make it better?

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So What Did I Miss?

(Gotta love Hamilton for all the phrases it gives.)

 

I have been amazing myself with how little I’ve commented on our present situation, how I have vastly reduced my presence on the VagueBook, and kept to my own counsel on the tweet machine.  At first, I figured “who cares what I think?”  Then I realized people did care, if only so they could rip me a new one.  Then I kept quiet more as a sanity-saving strategy, and reduced the number of websites I would normally (obsessively) check.

But what I’ve come to realize is, this is not a him-or-her situation, nor is it a D-or-R situation.  It’s a moment frozen in time where we are defined clearly not by who we support but HOW we support.  I’m not talking lawn signs, either.  I’m talking the response we have when confronted with a difference of opinion, and what that says about us.

I’ve observed some severe and completely out-of-proportion responses to something as banal as a question regarding voting times.  I’ve seen a vitriol-laced insult to someone posing a possible scenario.  And any disagreement from “the other side” led to hysterical promises of what would, in any other time, be noted as a potential threat to safety.

 

I call this the Super Bowl mentality.  It’s not enough to compare the facts, the statistics, the record, the analysts; no, we have to portray unwavering adherence to the team with a fervor bordering on hysteria or we’re not TRUE fans.  And we are so sure of the outcome, that we are on the side of the TRUE winning team, that there is no room for any disagreement.  We shout down our opposition because of course we’re right, and if you think the opposite then you are clearly demented.

This is worse than the Super Bowl, though.  This is not being a fan.  This is rabid and foaming-at-the-mouth hatred for anyone and everyone thinking differently.  This is raw and naked detestation coupled with venom and enmity towards those who have simply voiced a different opinion.  Why has it come down to such a violent way of thinking?  Why is someone’s way of thinking either right or wrong?  Why is it necessary to put down in the most acrimonious way somebody’s point of view?

 

I believe this can all be chalked up to a lack of thoughtful discourse, or, to go even further, a lack of thought.  Some of us don’t think carefully before speaking; we don’t even let the speaker finish their thoughts before we rush in with our assertions that “I’m right and you’re wrong and if you disagree then you’re just a _______!”  (Please insert your label of degradation here.)  When was the last time we heard an exchange such as:

Sam: Isn’t it amazing how beautiful the green air is?

Pete:  (Thinks a moment)  Is the air, in fact, green?

Sam:  Of course.  Don’t you see it?

Pete:  Well, no.  Can you describe it to me?

Sam: It’s……green.

Pete:  Interesting.  Like, a grass green?  Teal?

Sam:  I don’t think teal is considered to be in the green family.

Pete:  That’s interesting.  I always thought it was.  What would you call it, blue?

Sam:  You know, I’m not sure.  Maybe?  And you think it’s green?  Maybe I’m mistaken.

 

No, I can just see this happening today:

Sam: Isn’t it amazing how beautiful the green air is?

Pete: What are you, some sort of @%$!*&  Only a %^# would say something like that!  Are you one of those *@^#%$*@?   God, I’m so SICK of you &^$#&*@!!!  You are the reason why this world is the way it is!  Why don’t you smarten up and realize the only true air color is RED you moron!

Sam:  [backs away]

FIN.

 

Maybe instead of things like mandatory health care or taxes or car registrations, we should have mandatory book reports.  That way we’d be sure people are reading something that expands their worlds a bit and exposes them (without the “news” channels and social media gangs) to varying viewpoints that don’t threaten anyone.  You know, something they can put some thought into.

 

educate-ass

Nothing like a smart butt

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And How Are YOU Doing?

No, really, how are you?  Feeling good?  Family okay?  Weather inoffensive?  Food reliably obtained?  Good.  Enough about you, my turn!

 

LOVING MY NEW GIG.  Here’s my summary in a neat little pro-con list:

PROS OF TEACHING COLLEGE:

  1.  I don’t have to issue stupid “bathroom passes” and keep track of them and wonder just how many unsavory germs have been transferred to me.
  2. I make ONE lesson plan and teach it three different times.  For moneys.
  3. These young adults get my jokes.  I can throw out a bit of humor, a bit of snark, and I don’t have any Mom-of-Snowflayke calling me and yelling at me in front of the principal that I hurt somebody’s fragile ego.
  4. I’m only there for an hour and a half.
  5. I’m not hobbling together equipment or, worse, buying my own sound system and CDs so that a decent sound is experienced.
  6. Powerpoint is my BFF.
  7. No faculty meetings!
  8. No lunch duty!
  9. Actually being trusted to come up with the course content and the style of teaching and the examples I choose and.. and.. and… forget it, that’s everything right there.

CONS OF TEACHING COLLEGE:

  1.  I’m an adjunct, so no office.  But that’s okay because I can just go hang out with a student at the lounge and pretend I’m holding office hours.  Still get the job done and there’s tea and snacks nearby.
  2. I’m an adjunct, so no benefits.  That part is not okay because I’d really like some decent benefits, but in exchange for that, my college contributes 3% above my contribution to my pension.  THIS ROCKS.
  3. Sorry, I forgot this was the con list.  Pretend I struck out that last part.
  4. Um…..

No, that’s pretty much it.  Just those two things are the downside.  Oh!  I thought of another PRO: it is literally (please read that in Chris Traeger’s voice, thanks) five miles from my house.  Not 5.3, not “about” five, an actual five miles.  That tickles me.

 

9am-lecture

Too true.

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O Gardening, How I Love/Hate Thee…

So we used to have a really awesome vegetable garden.  We grew all kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, and even tried corn and carrots.  The carrots were sad, twisted, and bitter, much like some people I encounter on a daily basis, so we decided it’s better to buy them.  The corn was fun to watch grow, and even more fun to watch my Hubby HAND POLLINATING the suckers to make sure everything would come out hunky dory.  The resultant sexy corn had lots of missing kernels and looked a bit knobby, but tasted very sweet, unlike any people I encounter on a daily basis.  We decided that was also better to trust our local farmer’s market for future corn.

We took a pass on a veggie garden for the last few years because of time, weather, and general “ugh, do I really want to dig this all over again?”  But two years ago we built a lovely sturdy raised garden, and put all sorts of good soil in it.  I ordered plants online and lots of seeds, too, and lovingly started our garden.  I had not factored in the resident groundhog, Fred, or the voracious bunnies, or our newly adopted beagle Nellie.  It was an….interesting garden season.  So this year we armed ourselves with chicken wire fencing and garden stakes and whatnot, and felt sure we were all good to go.

 

There is something so sweet about blind faith, isn’t there?

 

We didn’t mail order our plants this year.  In fact, May was such crappy weather we didn’t plant until the beginning of June and used well-established plants from (forgive me, here, because it’s just so shameful to admit) Home Depot.  *shudder*  I try to be a good steward of the earth and take care to note where my food comes from and just who I support with my grocery dollars, but time was short and they were right there….

Here’s the rub:  We have gorgeous beefsteak tomatoes, although I find the flavor not as intense as a true Jersey tomato.  We have plum tomatoes that are great but they like to lay down on the ground as if they’re too exhausted to show up anymore and make it difficult for me to find them.  We have cherry tomatoes that are cheerfully determined to wrestle the plum tomatoes to the ground because they’re showoffs and they want to grab all the glory and attention.

We have cucumbers that grew astonishingly fast, wrapping themselves happily around the fencing and the strings we tied up, blossomed beautiful flowers, gave us three outstanding cucumbers, then promptly died back like something out of a body-snatcher movie.  Three. Lousy. Cucumbers.  Didn’t even get one of those hidden canoe-sized ones.

We have the tallest, strongest, most wide-leafed zucchini plants I’ve ever seen in my life, dripping with gorgeous blossoms (that I really want to fry up) and NOT A SINGLE FRUIT.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  Not one.  Ginormous leaves, incredibly thick stalks, proud blossoms…..and then nothing.  Not one sweet little squash to make bread or frittata or saute with garlic and mushrooms.

 

And that’s it.  That’s the whole garden this year.  It’s now August 29, so I don’t think I’m getting anything else this year, and I have to wonder if I count this year as a success because of the tomato bounty or a failure because of cukes and zukes.

 

IMG_1070

This is what I was hoping for…

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Well, Hey There!

Holy Hannah, can I just tell you how many blog posts I’ve composed in my head and was convinced I’d sit down and have jewels of words just pour out all over your monitor?  Can I tell you how surprised I was to find I hadn’t written any?  I must have the most realistic dreams in the world…..

  1.  July was a very hot month so I found lots of things to either do inside my house with air conditioning, or in my car with air conditioning, or at somebody else’s house with air conditioning, or in a restaurant with air conditioning.  In July I pretty much forgot what fresh air smelled like.
  2. I also celebrated an anniversary in July, and it always amazes me how my wedding day only feels like two years ago, max.  But it’s been twenty-eight, so either I’m the Doctor and I’ve nailed time-travel, or this is a pretty good marriage.
  3. I learned how to can!2016-08-22 22.18.10
  4. Which maybe wasn’t such a smart thing to do since it introduced a new component of humidity in my house.
  5. August was also hot, but I didn’t care because we went on an Alaskan cruise.  Do you know that it doesn’t go much above 80 on the interior passage of Alaska?  Me neither.  Did you also know that it’s a temperate rainforest?  Me neither.  And what are rainforests good for?  Sing with me, kids: H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y!!!
  6. It was an amazing experience that I am truly grateful for; we saved up for this trip for eighteen months but it still boggles my mind just how expensive it was.  It also taught me a lesson about cruises (this was my third one): limit excursions to ONE per day.  Not because I was overstimulated or anything like that, it was just so redundant.  We went from Juneau to Skagway to Icy Strait Point to Ketchikan, and every single excursion in every single place took great pains to educate us on bears and skunk cabbage.  Go ahead, ask me about bears and skunk cabbage.  I dare you.
  7. I did get to see a glacier.  Yup!

    That’s Hubbard Glacier, and when I saw how close the ship got and how incredibly cold the surrounding air was, I figured I’d finally found a place to live in the summer. But alas, regulations and rules and all….

  8. My knitting has been in drips and drabs.  I made a shawl to bring with me on the trip but didn’t use it much.  I’ve started two other shawls (because why not) and a couple of baby bibs, because many people I know are into the whole procreating thing.  It’s so easy to knit baby stuff, I keep forgetting.
  9. I started orientation on my new job, where I am alternately exhilarated at the thought of teaching college and appalled at the thought of teaching college.  Classes start September 7th, so if you don’t hear from me after that…..No, that’s not a fair thing to post because after all, I’m pretty bad at posting on a regular basis.  So if you see a post after September 7th and I don’t mention my job, maybe just figure it’s best not to talk about it.
  10. Like that’s ever stopped me before.
bean

I do that too, but for all the wrong reasons.

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Happy Fourth Birthday! No, Wait…

Happy Birthday the Fourth?

May the Fourth be Birthday?

Go Fourth and Birthday?

Happy Birthday America on the Fourth of July!  Yeah, that’s it!  And what are we celebrating on this day, besides barbecues, beers, and parades?  Prices slashed on mattresses!  Woo hoo!

 

I kid.  I am always fascinated by our War of Independence because it just seems ridiculous to me that we actually won with all the odds stacked against us.  How did a group of volunteers actually defeat the strongest military presence of that time?  How did we get a group of men to hammer out an idea that was the basis for an entire system of democracy?  How did we not get engaged in war many times over by other countries that wanted to rule over us?  How in the world does it still work?

 

Of course, people will argue that it doesn’t work.  I have been known to say that our political structure is damaged beyond repair, that we should abolish the two-party system and go back to the two people with the most votes become President and Vice-President, that there should be no such thing as super delegates or a party convention.  There should be term limits, caps on spending for political campaigns, a shorter season, etc.  But the United States of America as a government has carried on for two hundred and forty years, and we have a nation we can be proud of.

 

We also have a nation that has much room for improvement in terms of caring for the elderly and the indigent, educating everyone equally and not based on zip code or bank balance, maintaining our roads and bridges and parks and monuments without a political agenda snuck in at the last moment, and perhaps realizing that we are all on the same side.  We don’t need any sort of us-vs.-them attitude in anything we set out to achieve together as a nation, as we learned during the Civil War that we’re better together than apart.  We need patience, clear communication, and a resistance to personal gain at the expense of someone else.  I still believe in us.

 

So Happy Birthday, America!  You look pretty good for your age, and I like those colors on you.

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