• nova,  politics, culture, society

    What’s Important?

    A friend of mine — a best friend of mine (Anita Lewis) — spoke today about gratitude on Infinite Matters. She just came through Hurricane Irma. Having survived what I consider to be more than my fair share of life’s critical emergencies and traumas, I could totally relate. And, of course, as with everything, relating brought analysis and conclusions based on my own experiences with a forest fire-storm, numerous tornadoes, proximal lightning strikes, floods, being under siege because of armed federal fugitives with the resulting response of county, state, and federal law enforcement and their (thankful) invasion of my farm. Worst of all, brutal, physical assault that completely changed my life.

    There seems to be a real disconnect in a solid majority of everyday people between what’s really important and what, lacking experience with real danger and disaster, only seems to be important, so much so that what is actually important doesn’t ever really hit home with most people until they face extreme crisis, catastrophe, trauma, unbearable pain, and, yes, death. That disconnect is, I think, what separates war veterans, military and civilian, from those of us who have never experienced war firsthand. It’s what separates law enforcement from the rest of us. Mostly, especially today, it’s what separates cultural combatants from reason.

    When the biggest issue in your life is whether you’re going to make the mortgage payment or the rent, get to work on time, earn that promotion, or, even more trite, going to be able to get that limited edition iPhone, your nails or cornrows done by your favorite beautician, catch a date with some hotty, or be able to walk around publicly flaunting some aspect of yourself without criticism, then cultural issues can, for some, seem really significant. When faced with true hardship and trauma, though, everything pales, except what really is important: love, life, health, safety, sustenance, shelter, and freedom from terror and from physical pain for you and your loved ones and kin, maybe even, at least for some of us, extending that, too, for your kith, and your neighbors, near and far.

    I think a solid majority of the well-off — and, no, I’m not speaking ‘financially’, but, rather, those who, regardless of circumstance, have love, life, health, safety, sustenance, some sort of shelter, and freedom from terror and from physical pain — need a hard wake-up call, a lesson in what’s really important, a hands-on experience that nails them in the forehead and dumps them into survival crisis. Maybe then they’d realize that all this fuss about varying cultural and political differences is, in fact, a luxury allowed them because they are not having to focus on base survival.

    My husband, Forrest, has it quite right, I think. Are you willing to give up everything for it? Even your life and the lives of your loved ones? If the answer is no, then, no, it isn’t important. If the answer is yes, then, yes, it’s truly important.

  • the personal side

    February 15, 2017 – Diamonds in Experience

    Frozen diamonds greeted my bare feet this morning. Refreshing to the toes and soles, I delighted in the sensation of those crisp, frozen water nodules crackling underfoot. It sleeted sometime in the night–just a little–and it coated the truck, the drive, the ground with glowing shimmers.

    Experiencing what we, in zentao, call ‘moment’ keeps me vital and life enraptured. For me, that’s important for my writing, my artwork, and, yes, even for playing my husband’s music. It keeps me enthused and refreshed. Without those experiences, what would life become? Just drudgery and duty? I don’t know.

    I do know that I’m never bored, never lacking passion. There’s always something fresh and new to me. For me, experiencing compounds a desire to learn more, and, then, to express anew in word, in sound, in imagery, through my art, my novel writing, my musical performances.  So, no, never lonely, never bored.

    Life is full and sweet, full of delight. It’s also, of course, filled with hardship, toil, and danger, but, even inside the frenetic and the frantic, there lives ‘moment’–the play of light and shadow, the scent of soil, of wood, of sweat or blood or mud, yes, even muck, the sound of snapping wood and of the storm wind’s turbulence, the sting of frozen fingers thawing, the taste of terror fading on the tongue as panic eases. There’s always something to stimulate an awe in me.

    I guess that’s why I’m flummoxed when acquaintances arrive, bemoaning loneliness and boredom. Even when I worked at a job requiring me to perform repetitively like some machine, I never experienced what they suffer, so I never know quite what to do or say. It’s not a shared experience.

  • family, friends, students

    This is going to be a Rough Week



    Well, it’s already apparent. This is going to be a rough week for me. I’ve got eight days to survive tippy-toeing around a husband who, home for a much-needed rest from driving big rigs on nasty, congested highways rife with ignorant, rude, in-a-hurry 4-wheelers, is taking exception to almost every word and phrase I utter. So I’m taking a vow to remain silent unless asked a direct question. It seems the only way to avoid huge, ugly conflicts. I am hoping that he’ll mellow out in a few days, but that might be asking too much. As he gets older, he gets less tolerant and more and more testy, and I’m about the only one he feels ‘safe’ to blow off steam around. But I don’t like it; I find it hard, sometimes, to just shut up until he finally mellows.  Other than leaving for the week, which is an option I’m prepared for, silence seems the best plan until and unless things start getting very ugly. It’s a good thing I’m good at silence and zen.


  • family, friends, students,  the personal side

    The Start of Today


    I wake up, refreshed and looking forward to a productive, happy day. The air outside brings joy. The wind brings a freshening. The sky is bright and overcast, feeling of potential storminess. It’s wonderfully invigorating.

    Downstairs, I clean up the usual disasters from my mom’s misfit dogs. I clean her bathroom, so, when the CNA arrives to give her her shower, there’s no trace, no sight or smell, of Mom’s bad habits. I change her bedding once the CNA has her in the shower. Done, I grind coffee and set the 40 cup percolator to doing it’s job…after having drained the last of the previous batch into my carafe.

    I head upstairs to my office. My cell phone rings. It’s Forrest, the love of my life. Unfortunately, hubs is Mr. Grumpkin, today. He spilled his coffee.

    I suggest a different cup. (Because, damn it, he’s always spilling his coffee, though I don’t mention that.)

    He gets grumpier, bellowing at me that he doesn’t need my advice.

    Okay. Sorry.


    I share tidbits about his favorite cat’s antics. I mention some of the latest discoveries in science. I talk about one of his pet interests, our music project.


    It’s a non-conversation. I tell him so, beg off, and end the call.

    He’s on vacation, starting Saturday. I think I’m going to have to find another place to stay for those eight days he’s going to be home. I really do.


  • off the cuff,  you gotta love life

    New System Engaged, But There’s a Miffed Wet Hornet


    So, after a lot of hard work and even more patience, the new phone system is working, now, throughout the house as well as in the office, with wireless, LAN, and DSL all working seamlessly together along with FAX and landline phone WITH the plus that, if and when the DSL goes down (something that happens about once a week here in North Idaho), I can still get on the Net via another wireless option.

    This has taken almost an act of Congress to get functioning, but, finally, as of yesterday, all systems are stable and working within optimum parameters.  The entire project took remodeling the whole system from a patched together one. It also required a great deal of coordination between disparate companies, plus some remodeling in the office and other parts of the house structurally connected to that office.


    Of course, just when you think that you’ve got everything back under control, all hell breaks loose somewhere else, in this case, at the two shops where my husband’s trucks are sitting. The first truck is his relatively new KW heavy haul…which needs a new wiring harness…which isn’t in stock (of course) and the second one is a loaner that, upon start-up, is throwing engine errors and is rife with air leaks.  Lucky for me, I’m sitting safely home, nowhere near a husband who is about as happy as a wet hornet.


  • deeply moving, silent, still

    Brain Silence


    “The brain never sleeps.” That’s what one neurologist said to me during a break at an event I attended several years ago. I listened, nodding and smiling when appropriate, but, all the while, I was thinking, “This is news?”

    It’s too obvious to me that my brain never sleeps. But it does go silent on occasion. I’m having one of those ‘occasions’, right now–brain silence.

    It may be because I finally am going to get a verdict on something that’s been hanging over my head since December, something that could completely change my life. It could be that it’s just a ‘time-out’ after months upon months of often frenetically-paced ‘doing’.

    It could be that I’m fed up, too–fed up with fellow-citizens, national and global, who seem bent on self-destruction, a self-destruction that was completely foreseeable as a consequence since I was in high school.

    I’m not sure why my brain has gone silent, but it’s an interesting experience. I’ve had this happen a few times, mostly just before I’ve had huge perception shifts, not when some life-changing event occurred. During those times in the past, I was more robot than human, I think…just doing by rote the day-to-day ‘have-to’s, not-thinking. And I’m good–very good–at not-thinking. But this feels different. Not ominous. Rather, it feels like what is to follow is inevitable…immutable.

    It’s strange.


  • deeply moving, silent, still,  the personal side

    A Quarter Inch of Joy

    I was out watering my ever-bearing strawberries, and, in the process, knocked a tiny black creature — a quarter inch long little black wasp — into the rain cistern. Reaching down with a gentle finger, I scooped her out and put her on my t-shirt sleeve before finishing my task while keeping an occasional eye on her revival progress.

    It took her about two minutes of rubbing herself on the soft cotton material of my shirt sleeve, then another three or so of “tidying” before she considered herself “presentable” to the world again.  Watching, I was captivated by the meticulous attention she paid to every part of herself — her antenna, her thorax, her legs, her head, her wings.  She was not hasty; she attended every detail in a thorough, methodical, and almost leisurely, never panicked fashion.  Her lack of fear, her sense of “safe”, brought me a great measure of joy — that the small creatures around me know that I will never intentionally swat, hit, squash, or harm them.  It brings me a greater measure of joy to watch these wonderful living things go about their daily business in peace and harmony with every other creature who shares their life journey.

    Be kind. The life you save could very well brighten your own well-being.

  • family, friends, students,  off the cuff,  the personal side,  you gotta love life

    A Sony Friday; a Sony Saturday, too.  *Sigh*

    Husband gets wild hair.  Let’s put all the CDs inside a stereo unit.  In fact, let’s get two or three of these things and put the stuff we mostly listen to on them.

    Ah, honey?  Let’s try one.  First.  If it works, we’ll think about running them in series.  Okay?

    Awwwww.   Yeah.  Okay.  You’re probably right.

    I roll eyes.  He gets so enthusiastic, then, when you suggest just a tad bit of self-restraint, it’s like you dashed cold water on him.  But he dries off fast.  Good thing.

    But.  This is going to be a P-R-O-J-E-C-T.  With a super capital P.

    Hubs BUYS Sony CDP-CX445.  It arrives, 2nd day air UPS.  I groan when I see, then HEFT, the box.

    Okaaaaaay, I think, brace yourself, knowing that means that I’m going to spend all night, all day, all night, all day again, and probably another all day, helping.  There goes the weekend!

    He’s so excited when he hears it actually got here.  On time.  In Podunk, Idaho, no less.  He races home.  He unpacks it.  He pulls 400 CD’s, stashing the jewel cases in a box. He dumps the Styrofoam packing into the garbage.  He hasn’t yet broken the box down, though, and I have to keep walking around it to help him when he smartly commands, “Hand me that wire.  Hand me that flashlight.  Hold this.”


    He’s in bliss.

    So I finally crash.  He stays up till 4AM loading the CD’s into it.  Morning comes.  He’s out of bed in a flash, four hours earlier than usual. 


    “Will you type the artists, album names, and slot numbers for me into an Excel spreadsheet?”

    Right.  “Okay,” I say, hoping it will only take maybe an hour to do.  I mean 400 slots is a piece of cake to type.  Should only take a little bit of time, right?  Because how bad can a piece of electronics slow something down. 

    HINT: It takes almost a full minute for the machine to read the Artist and Album label because it first has to laboriously load the CD, taste it, think about it, then decide if it wants to show you the answer.  (I start twitching after the first five.  I’ll be a basket case after fifty, never mind you might as well call the men in white coats after the full four-hundred.)

    We start doing a comedy show to ease the pain as he presses next and I wait patiently like dutiful wife, fingers hovering over keys.

    …We get through 200 of them…in two hours.  I’m about buggy.  And…and…and…we’re halfway through.  He does a rah-rah arm pump.  I just want to GET DONE.  “And 201?” I ask.

    “It’s not reading it,” says he, which means he has to hit play so we can listen to it to identify artist/album.  And….


    We check again.  Nope, disc is fine.  Change the CD to somewhere else.  Nope, disc is fine.  Load something else into slot 201.  Skips.  Ummmm.  Go backwards and forwards from 200.  Skip.  Stops skipping when it is at 189.  Everything back of 189 is fine.  Everything forward of 189 skips.

    Now what?

    Call electronic stores.

    Call everybody.



    No. Not. Never.


    …And he’s still researching “another solution.”

    So, what are we going to be doing?  Tearing this entire house apart again, laboriously loading CD’s back into their jewel cases, and….

    And…I don’t know.

    I think I’ll put on some Dokken on the five CD changer and try to ease my migraine.

    …I HATE Sony.  Have since they started that proprietary nonsense.  Then they started that invasive crap.  Sony = contemptible.  And their electronics SUX a bad egg.