Do I or Do I Not Want To Do?

I stole this title from the NY Times Magazine section.  It caught my fancy, since this is a question we struggle with every day . Well most of us.  Maybe not the pope or Mother Teresa or dedicate activists.

I HAVE TO OD WHATIf you are working (for a paycheck), you may say “I do not want to do my work today.”  Yet you will because you have to feed, house and clothe yourself.

If you are not working (aka retired, home with children, unemployed…) , you may say “I have to do this (whatever) today”.  But you really don’t want to.   Despite your “freedom from a job”, the Have-To Cultural Police take over your psyche.

WHY do I go through a whole day doing “I HAVE TO” things?  When I get to the end of one of these days, nothing really good has been accomplished.  For example:

I haven’t saved the world from hunger
or stopped a war.

OK, that’s an unreasonable goal.  Let’s come closer to home:

I haven’t rescued a friend from an unhappy situation.

I haven’t even made my yard look more beautiful (although I question the value in doing that, in the scheme of things.)

I haven’t made a new friend.

I haven’t created a work of art, or a touching poem, or an interesting story.

I haven’t even done anything on my Bucket List.  Or anything to get me closer to my Bucket List.

Letmake-a-lists talk specifics.  Here is my “Have-To” list for today, February 12, 2014:

Have to go to church to return dishcloths I took home last week to wash.

Have to take (horse) fecal samples to vet clinic for testing.

Have to pick up halters I had repaired at local tack shop.

Have to go to Non-fiction Writing Class (OK– One thing on today’s list that helps get me closer to a Bucket List item)

Have to write Marketing plan for National Horse Trail group.

Ironing1Have to iron some shirts (Oops, had a typo for a second there, it said “iron some shits“.  Maybe it was a Freudian slip, since ironing shirts is kind of in the category of ironing shit … unless I can find a good classic movie on TV at the same time.)

Have to sort out old tack (which is laying all over my bedroom) to sell at an event this weekend.

Have to dig out instructions on how to get ready for new window installation, which is tomorrow.

Have to….

I won’t bore you with the rest.  I am starting to bore myself with this list. ZZZZZZZ-Z-Z-Z

GRRRR… Well, I HAVE TO go now because I HAVE TO go do my errands (see list above). Somewhere in this mindless chaos of errands I hope to find beauty and peace.

Dear Reader: May your days be filled with lots of “I WANT TO”
… and not so much “I HAVE TO.”
WHEE-E-E-E-E!

horse water

Birds on a Wire

birds on a wire5In honor of Arsenio Hall, makes you want to say “Hmmmmm…”

Why do a flock of birds ALL perch on the same telephone wire, shoulder to shoulder, all facing one way, peering out into the distance?

There are so many telephone wires to choose from!  There are so many trees to choose from! (If I were a bird, I’d want to perch in a tree… better grip, prettier scenery..)

How do they pick that one wire?  Is it the Big-Man-On-Campus Phenomena? BMOC bird decides, ‘Yup, this is the one.”  Then all the hangers-on to BMOC:  the adoring girlfriends, watchful sisters, little snotty-beaker brothers, his  “I love you man” crew, nagging cousins, grumpy grandpas, sweet grandmas – do they all follow him to the wire and settle in?

Shoulder to shoulder… it couldn’t be for the warmth, since rarely do their feathers touch.

birds on a wire6Do they jostle as they settle in, bumping left and right :

“Hey move over, I don’t have an inch of room here!”

“You need to lose some weight, fatty!”

“Yeah well the worms were so good this week”

“I don’t care, move over, lard ass!”

“Now, now children, there’s enough room for everybird!”

“I’m not perching by HER! She’s got worm breath!”

“Yeah?  Who says, skinny legs!”

An on and on, until everyone settles down, fluffs up their feathers, tightens their grip on the wire, and stares forward.  Suddenly, SILENCE.  Just 100 bird stares looking across the distant hills.

Now, my dear reader, you may wonder what is going on in those tiny birdbrains.  And so do I.

Are they dreaming of warmer days?  Are they trying to recover from the dizziness they got circling around for the past hour looking for the perfect wire?  Are they thinking of recipes for sauted worms?  Are they planning the next nest build – what type of twigs make the perfect nest, how to pack it in, what crook in what tree is ideal? Are they looking for predators?

bird poopMeanwhile, I am in a car driving under the wire. Glancing up, I step on the gas as I pass underneath.  If they decide to SCHLAT while I’m underneath, my car will be SLICK with SCHLAT SPATTER. (Repeat that ten times…)

And as I disappear in a cloud of frozen car exhaust, are they watching us with their own bird questions?

cars on road“Why are all those cars going down THIS road, when there are so many others to choose from?”

“Geez, those cars STINK!  Let’s get outta here!”

“Why is that person all alone while that other person has four other people with him?”

“What type of cars are the red ones?  Do you think they are related to our buddies, the cardinals?”

“Where are they going?  To buy worms?”

“Why is that person chirping while driving?”

“What is that square little thing with a bright screen doing, held in her hand?  Maybe it’s a high tech worm finder!”

“OOPS, watch out, those two cars almost ran into each other!  Spread your wings and fly away from there!  Danger, danger!”

Wave to the next batch of birds who settle on a wire where you drive. A little friendliness might encourage them to hold their SCHLAT just a bit longer. And don’t use your high tech worm finder while driving.

texting

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Ok, so this is like TOTALLY CREEPY!

seegerThe last week I’ve had that song in my head.  You know how it goes when you get a tune in your head and it won’t go away.  I decided that if that song is going to be so pertinent, I need to write a blog about it.

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passin’… Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time ago….

And THEN….and THEN…. Pete Seeger dies.  The father of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, among so many other classic folk-protest songs.  Was I having some kind of premonition?  But I have never had any particular relationship with Pete Seeger, other than appreciating his singing and his dedication to social issues.

Perhaps others around the world found that song coming into their heads too, right before he died? It makes you want to believe in some energy source that swirls around the world… Does Steven Hawking have anything to do with this phenomenon?

If you remembered the Seeger Flower song:  Remember Haight-Ashbury?

How about “If you’re going to San Francisco… Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…”

Used to be San Fran was THE place to be.

The hippest of hip.  The coolest of cool. Love.  Peace.  Free love.  Weed. (formerly known as pot)

portlandia-cool-wedding-fred-armisen-carrie-brownsteinWhat I wanna know is:  Where is the Haight-Ashbury of 2014?  Where do 18-25’s flock to now?  How do they escape THE MAN?

Portlandia?

Licking the Mixing Bowl

licking the bowlDoes this sound familiar to you?

Mom is baking a birthday cake, or cupcakes for a Sunday School picnic.  You all line up begging to be allowed to lick the mixing bowl clean. UMMM… chocolate cake batter!  It takes about 15 minutes to finish it off, fingers sliding over every square inch of the bowl. The mixer beaters are more fun and messier, getting your tongue into and around all those metal bars.

But alas, here we are at middle age – the age of being healthy, watching your weight, or salt, or carbs, or fats, or  …

I’ve got a substitute for the chocolate batter licking:  Licking the Vitamix Bowl clean.

It has all the satisfaction of getting the goodies out of the corners, all the taste sensations of fresh and sweet.. and none of the calories. Unless of course you just made a homemade milkshake.

applesauceI use the Vitamix to make homemade applesauce.

Recipe: Apples and a touch of lemon juice. Thanks to sister-in-law Sonya for the recipe.  I was never a great cook, but I can handle this one. I can count to two.

Tim Allen

OK now, get out your blenders and rev them up.  (AKA “Tool Time”  Tim Allen. Grunt.)

Return to that nostalgic time… just close your eyes and PRETEND it’s chocolate cake batter.  Or better yet…. oh heck, go ahead and make the cake batter in the blender. No kitchen appliance should become a part of your kitchen until it’s been anointed with chocolate.  So sayeth Ginny.

The applesauce can wait.

vitamix choc

What a wonderful mess

Me and My Big Mouth

Yesterday I posted a blog saying I was praying for snow.  Me and my big mouth.

It sounded all so romantic.  Now look at it!  School cancelled, wind whipping, chickens freezing their chicken feet off.

View out my back window, morning of Jan. 21.  IT WAS 47 DEGREES YESTERDAY.

Yes, I’m on my way out to the barn in a few minutes.  Horses need some treatments for mouth ulcers.  (Don’t ask)

You can start sending me hate mail now.

snow-lex

What if this were the last snowfall?

snowflakeI’m sitting in our living room looking at the dusting that we Kentuckians call “snow”.  It’s white, it’s cold…. I’m pretty sure it’s snow.

After living in Michigan for many years… now there is some SNOW! You haven’t experienced The White Wonder until you live in one of the Great Lake states, where the forecast is often for 8-10″ in a single snowfall.  Where it doesn’t melt all winter, but keeps piling up by the side of the road. Where your windows get frost on the INSIDE, because it’s THAT cold. Where everyone with a brain carries salt and a shovel in their trunk.

On the other hand, Kentucky snow is pretty much wimpy… not much, not so cold, and melts down in a few days.

Regardless of this anemic snow climate, I still love waking up in the morning to a white back yard, to trees and shrubs covered with white icing like cakes, to the glitter of crystal ice on the fish pond on our patio.

I am not one who would move to Florida when I get old.  (Notice the “when I get old” part — since I still consider myself young…..Idealism or denial?  OK, Don’t answer that question! That’s a whole different topic….)

I listen to neighbors and friends when there is a forecast of snow:  moaning, complaining, worrying,  frowning, planning their emergency trip to Kroger for bread and milk “just in case”. And of course, leaving work early before the first snowflake hits the ground.

SNOW!!! YIKES!!! YUK!!! BRRRRR!!!

So I got to thinking:  What if this were the last snowfall?  Ever.

snowmanWhat if the global warming predictions came true overnight, and you never saw a soft white flake drifting out of the sky, swirling around looking for a good place to land, and settling quietly between two blades of grass.

Never could look out to the grey light of morning to see a white blanket over the back yard?

Never again watched kids form snowballs – or build lop-sided snowmen – with their frosty mittens?

horses-snowNever again bundle up and walk out into a snowstorm, feeling the cool wet flakes hit your cheeks and lips?

Never saw your horses standing quietly in their paddock with a layer of snow on their backs, like large gingerbread cookies covered in white icing.

The end of snow… unimaginable!

inconceivable  

I’m praying for MORE SNOW this winter.

No hate mail please.

Hangin’ Out with the 1%

There’s one thing I love about reading the New York Times:  I get to see how the 1% spend their oodles of money.1%-graphic-popup

Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, we all know about the 1%; the top layer of wealthy people who have 35% of all the wealth in the U.S. and 42% of all wealth if you don’t count the value of their houses.

(See http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html for all the statistics).

Their average income $1.3 Million, and their total average wealth (all their assets, like homes, stock, businesses, etc) is $16.4 Million.

Here’s what the NY Times tells me about things that the top 1% worries about:

  • What types of house can you get for $800,000?
  • The Atlas Collection (Silver bracelet, $5,600) from Tiffany
  • The Chanel Watch with diamonds ($6,850)
  • Cartier New Diamond Collection (no prices; if you have to ask you can’t afford them)diamond watch
  • Bloomingdale’s Furs: ON SALE
  • Two full page advertising spread: CHINA WATCH (in case you are investing there)
  • ” THE COLLECTION” app for the iPad (THE MUST HAVE APP FOR THE WELL CONNECTED FASHIONISTA)

I think I will have to feel sorry for the 1%, because they have some awful decisions to make:

  • They need to decide how BIG a diamond watch they will get,
  • Do they need a new mink stole for this Opera Season?
  • Should they invest in the “charming” Long Island $800,000 house, or go for the MUCH BETTER MUCH BIGGER $2Million house?
  • What to do with that extra $3Million, is investment in China a good decision?  Consult the tax attorney, is it deductible as an off-shore investment?

On the other hand, the rest of us 99%-ers only worry about:

  • Will I have enough money to retire?junker
  • Will Obamacare survive long enough for me to afford healthcare?
  • How can I pay for my kids’ college?
  • How long will the old car last until it needs a major repair?
  • When will jeans go on sale?  ($50 is WAY TOO MUCH to pay for jeans)…Or better yet, what does the consignment store have in jeans?
  • How can we afford to eat organic food, and where can we fit a garden in our tiny backyard, so we can grow our own.

bags of moneyI’m afraid that soon the 1% will soon turn into 1/2% — and then 1/4%  —  as wealth accumulates into a smaller and smaller number of hands.  The bottom of society will soon (if not now!) be left without jobs or food. Banks will stop loaning to the lower half. The minimum wage will shrink further and further away from what it takes to live.

The 1% will need to start building castles with moats, and hire armed guards to protect their foodstores.  Hmmm… sound historically familiar? (Hint: the “King” is NOT the US President)

feudalism

What If… How Can I….When Will I Find Time To…Did Anyone Remember To…?

snoopy-joe-coolI don’t know about you, but I am a worrier.   I would LOVE to say I’m not.  You know, I could be Joe Cool in every situation, perform better under stress, all that stuff you hear about Type A personalities.

I didn’t even know I was a worrier until someone (my doctor) asked me.  I complained about not being able to go back to sleep at night when I woke up, and he asked, “What are you thinking about when you can’t go back to sleep?”, and I replied, “Oh, just worrying about various little things.”

Voila!  He nonchalantly declared, “Oh, you’re a worrier then.  Here’s a pill for that.”  (OK, Truth Time… no pill offered. There is no such pill.  Trust me, if there was a little RollStones-Single1966_MothersLittleHelperyellow pill I’d have it.)

Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
There’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day
PS You’d have to be born later than 1960 to appreciate this song.  

But not me. I am NOT Joe Cool. I worry over the most mundane things, and over some big things too.  But usually it’s the small stuff that keeps me awake at night.  Why is that?

Like ‘work stuff’… Even though I’m retired, I’m a volunteer for the KY Horse Council and I still carry around all the to-do’s in my head that I’m NOT REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYMORE.  (I put that in CAPITAL LETTERS so I could SHOUT it to myself… IT’S NOT YOUR JOB ANYMORE, STUPID!)

smokestacksYou name it, I can worry about it. And when I run out of things to worry about in my own life, I go on to my kids’ lives.  After that, I start on the big ones: Environmental disaster, materialism, American obesity, poverty and hunger around the world.  All that stuff you can’t fix.

Because let’s face it… there is plenty to worry about if you really need something to keep you awake at night.  I really DON’T need anything to keep me awake, since I have to get up at about 3:00Am to use the bathroom anyway, and I need all the sleep I can get the rest of the time.

One of these days (er.. nights I mean), I will actually solve one of these problems while tossing and turning.  So far it hasn’t happened.  Still waiting.

All of my brilliant ideas surface while I am either showering or mowing the grass.  Not while I am tossing and turning at night.  I wonder if I could mow at 3Am?  It might be more productive.  Or shower at 3AM, now that would JackNget husband’s attention. He might commit me to the looney bin, and while there, I’d have ALL DAY to worry, in my little white suit tied to the bed.

Just me and Jack Nicholson.  ARGHHHHHHH!!!!!

Now I REALLY can’t sleep. Jack Nicholson is roaming around in my head. ARGHHHHH! The little yellow pills are lookin’ good right now.

Hard-working but Under-appreciated Christmas Worker

charlie brown xmasBy now you’ve heard all you can stand of Jingle Bells and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas on the radio.  The retail stores killed us with kindness by opening early Thanksgiving eve with their Christmas sales.  The tree is already looking a little bedraggled.  Your bank account balance is anemic (or your credit card balance obese), and that ugly Christmas sweater you get out for the once-a-year wearing is getting those little fabric balls on it.

Yet we still look forward to Christmas morning:, the peace and quiet, when even McDonald’s closes its doors. (Don’t they??)

At this holiday time, I’d like to recognize one hard-working yet under-appreciated worker:

(DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..)

SCOTCH TAPE!!

scotch tapeThink of the poor roll of scotch tape.  It sits in your drawer all year, quietly wrapped around itself, in an unattractive clear plastic shape which everyone recognizes. Throughout the year, you occasionally take a small piece or two, reducing its roll size slowly.  You curse at it when it won’t tear neatly on the tiny metal teeth; then you curse again when it curls around your finger and attaches to itself, or doubles over making it useless. You throw it unceremoniously back in the drawer when done with it, closing it into the darkness with stubby pencils, rubber bands, pens that have run out of ink, random batteries, paper clips, and all the other flotsam and jetsam of life.

junk-drawerThen comes Christmas.  Fickle creatures that we are, we suddenly LOVE our Scotch Tape. It is retrieved from the junk drawer – its dark tomb – and placed on the kitchen table or the bedroom floor for hours while we wrap presents.

We don’t curse it when it sticks to itself, because it’s the holiday season and curses are temporarily replaced by good humor.  He (she) will absolutely LOVE this present!  Rip rip stick stick tape tape.

Scotch-tape2It gladly offers up its stickiness, even though with every rip of tape from the roll, it comes closer to its own death by trash can.(Or recycling bin).  We curse a tiny bit under our breath at the last bit of tape that we wrestle off the now empty roll, as we try to ‘make do’ with that last short piece.  Then without a second thought, we toss the ugly clear plastic shape into the trash, and pull out a new, healthy, fat roll. Not a thank you, not a last bit of tenderness to the empty roll that gave his life that you might have presents.

So this year, as you wrap presents, say a quiet THANK YOU to your roll of Scotch Tape.  Or perhaps if you are done with wrapping, open that dark drawer and gently caress your ugly plastic duckling, taking a moment to thank it and 3M.

Throughout 2014, as you open your presents, whether Christmas or birthday presents, consider for a moment the small bits of tape still holding together the ends, regardless of where you ripped the paper. Scotch tape does its job even as the crinkled paper is torn apart and then tossed in the trashcan, holding on determinedly even as it  sits in the dark, waiting to be entombed in a plastic bag destined for the landfill.

We should all be so selfless and dedicated to our tasks in life.  A hearty cheer of admiration for Scotch Tape!

Picking on Brother-In-Laws

I get tired of all those jokes about Mother-in-laws. So men, pull on your big girl panties- it’s your turn.

ALL ABOUT BROTHER-IN-LAWS

Let’s start with a brother-in-law I might call Bill.  I might call him that since that’s his name.  No anonymity when you’ve got a blogger in the family.  Luckily he lives many hours from me so he can’t come over and TP my house.

So Bill just didn’t get blogging.  “What’s the point?” he asked.

Actually it was a good question, but I’m not sure he’s ever read a blog in his life.

Pastor Bob just a few minutes before wedding...

Pastor Bob just a few minutes before wedding…

Bill and I are actually on good terms for a few reasons:

1. He was courageous enough to marry my most wild sister.

2. He was courageous enough to stay with my most wild sister over many years.

3. He always loves a good political argument (He’s a libertarian, I’m a liberal… the words ALMOST sound the same — but they like LIGHT YEARS apart on the political spectrum)

4. He fixes and upgrades their house with not much help (except an electrician or two)

5.  He’s always in a good mood… at least when I see him twice a year (Ask my most wildest sister if that applies the rest of the year…?)  I found out this past week that his good mood is buoyed by fart jokes… but hey, if it worked in middle school….

bye-byeBut enough about the person I might call Bill. Let’s discuss the positive attributes of just about any brother-in-law.

First.  You can visit them but they don’t come home with you.

Second.   They are stuck with one of your sisters, so they have saved at least one other man from disaster.

Third.  (At least all of mine) they are meek and lowly when the Mrs. is around.

Fourth. They are good for carving holiday turkeys.

Fifth.  They are always good for a Fifth of something.

Sixth.  They shovel driveways when you come to visit in the winter.

Seventh.  They occasionally tell some good jokes.  And occasionally are the joke themselves.

national-bring-your-brother-in-law-to-work-day-new-yorker-cartoon Eighth.  Can’t think of an eighth one.  I’m sure there is one…..

I actually feel sorry for my Brother-In-Laws, that they have to be introduced to our strange Germanic family with its fatal attraction to Scrapple and Corn Mush.  Gravy is considered a beverage (thanks, Erma Bombeck) And our out-of-control family reunions where there is certain to be a whining teenager who can’t get cell service, or a pouty middle schooler because the place doesn’t have an X-Box. Not to mention there are so many people at the reunion you trip over them just making your way to the bathroom,  AND the majority of us are tea-totallers (NOT ME!).  So family reunions don’t even include a BYOB theme.  What’s up with that??

To the Brother-In-Laws in this family, my message of hope is:

Hang in there, soon you will die.  We will serve Scrapple at your funeral.  My sisters will either cry or say under their breath, “Thank God!”.  We will remember your worst jokes, and, to bring back old memories, will bury you with a snow shovel and carving knife.  And maybe a flat screen TV so you can watch the football play-offs in heaven.  Now THAT would be heaven, wouldn’t it?