Household help!

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By anyone’s definition, my house is very big. Although it is only my
husband and me living here now, there was a time when our home
did not seem big enough for our family and the many guests we had
over the years when our children were young.

In my early childhood, my parents were able to afford household help
so that other than making my bed and the “teach-your-children-
responsibility phase” my mother was going through, my chores were
not very many. That all changed when we moved to New York and
household help was something that only the very wealthy could afford.
That was my introduction to the “real” world of hard physical labor
if one wanted a clean home.

Both my parents worked during my childhood so that each one of us
was expected to do our share. I remember waiting until the last minute
each day and then scrambling off the couch when I realized my mother
could be walking in any minute and would scold us for the fact that
nothing was done. I wouldn’t have minded the scolding except that my
mother’s scolding was actually more of a whine…the kind that is tinged
with just the appropriate amount of guilt-producing expressions that
are difficult to forget even years after the events have passed.

To give an example, my mom would say: “What have I got here? Four
mortgages?” and sigh deeply. Once, in my haste to clean up all the dishes
that had piled up during the day, I didn’t realize that one of the glasses
in the sink was broken until I felt the stab as I plunged my hand deeply
into it. I remember panicking more about the scolding than about the
blood that was profusely dripping into the sink or the stitches I should
have gotten at the hospital or clinic. Instead I made my sister promise
not to say anything to my parents and I hid my injury for however long
it took to heal (at least two weeks). I still have the scar.

The silver lining is that I never, ever again let dishes accumulate in the
sink. To this day, my sink is always ready for action. I am always washing
and putting away the dishes, whether they are mine or everyone else’s.
Peace of mind is very important to me.

But I was actually intending to write about household help. Like the
frustration I feel when I see that my cleaning lady (who has been with
me for 3 years) still doesn’t sweep behind things…unless I specifically
ask her…Just this morning, I noticed accumulated debris under the
pingpong table. I am not sure what the problem is, I have already said
that this is a big house, still it is not a big deal to just sweep it. And
having said that, I guess I will take myself, my broom and dustpan and
take care of it now!

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Noguchi Museum

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I find myself in NYC at the moment. The last time I was here it
was a quick trip just like this one but I had an obligation to be
around for my daughter’s cat while she went away on a trip to
California for a close friend’s wedding. Although it was just a few
months ago, I feel like it was ages since I was “home”…

Yesterday I took myself out to the Noguchi Museum. I was filled
with admiration for the sculptures and the quiet meditative feel
that I absorbed from just being in the rooms. The garden was also
peace inspiring.  I sat and observed a young artist drawing, a few
people quietly chatting, and a toddler sitting on the coarse gravel
ground cover playing with one of the stones. My immediate thought
was that his bottom must be hurting but then I remembered that a
child of that age has a built in cushion thanks to his diaper!

Museums conjure up feelings of reverence in me. I love to go into
churches and settle my soul. The feelings I get from sitting quietly
and alone in churches is replicated in museums, especially if I am
by myself. Yesterday was one of those days. I am very happy to be
living in a city (albeit temporarily) that has so many options for an
afternoon of culture.

Where do the days go?

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I find it hard to believe that my last post on this blog is almost a month old.
Every day, I write at least in one of my blogs (I have five, not sure why except that I feel like every one of my passions needs its own space where I can express things about it). So I have a blog about dogs, a blog about optimism and gratitude, a blog about senior citizens, this blog which is mostly about weight and life issues and then a final one which is a collaborative effort with a few other friends who are also writers.

One of my frustrations has been not to be able (or willing) to take the time to get to my as yet unpublished (because it´s not finished) work of fiction.. Or should I say, works of fiction, since like blogging, I find that I have too many ideas for just one book. Anyway, right now I am working away on a mini iPad that I have not been very nice to…complaining always that it is too small, when in reality, all it takes is a little getting used to. I purchased it about two or three years ago, it was really reasonable. Then I bought a nice keyboard for it, and a case and it is actually working very nicely. So maybe the problem is me, and not it.

Not sure why I went off on a tangent like that except that I felt guitly about not writing in this blog for my faithful followers. I agree that blogging in each site every day is excessive, but once a month is really not cutting it either. Either we put the time in and honor our followers, or we simply go away.

I hope all this rambling hasn´t turned you off. In closing, I would just like to say that although I haven´t been writing here, I have been writing generally, reading also. My weight watchers journey is going strong although I admit that the weight loss is very slow because I don´t feel desperately about it. Of the 50 lbs. I would like to have lost by the end of this year, I have lost 26, so there we are.

Nothing’s changed, so my perspective needs to!

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Ten days ago, I blogged that the world was angry! Nothing’s changed in
the days ensuing this remark, in fact the fact that everyone is angry has
actually become even more apparent since I mentioned it. Going on FB
has become a challenge…I already can predict which of my “friends” will
be there and what they will say. I do have to sign on at least once a day
because I made a commitment to the FB community that I belong to that
I would share a couple of things on a daily basis in 2018. Thank goodness
it’s already the end of July…I can keep it going for another few months
and then make a life decision. Do I stay or do I go?

I have been looking into options of where to go on Social Media to get
the kind of interactions I want: non-political, compassionate, intelligent
conversations about where our world could be headed if we all decided we
are in this together and should really try to improve things.

Because of my age (60’s), I find that there are limited options because the
world at large still caters to the youth! Nothing wrong with that, I was a
youth once and in essence, still identify more with the young than with the
old simply because they are more involved and invested in making sure that
our planet survives. Still, I want to have real and important conversations with
people who have been around the block and have gone through some stuff.
Unfortunately, some of the sites for older folk that existed a few years back are
“parked” or “gone”…does that mean their founders are also? It doesn’t make me
feel so good but I will spend a good part of my morning searching.

In the meantime, if any “third agers” happen upon this blog and can offer some
ideas, please send them my way!

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The world is angry!

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I live in a small town. You know what they say about small towns: Big Hell!
Until recently, I was very content in my small town, living my life, enjoying
the odd social gathering and essentially knowing how my days would begin
and end. The last several months have been increasing my discomfort level
as I hear and see many acquaintances really get into the misery the rest of the
world seems intent on living.

My writing has always been a need for me. I cannot agree with people who say
they “love” to write, for that has never been my feeling. I need to write, I want
to write and get paid for it, but even though I don’t get paid for it, I still need
to do it every single day. Some days it is just a sentence in my head. Some
days I actually draft things out in a notebook the old-fashioned way, with pen
and paper and then I forget how important the particular prose felt in the
moment and I lose the paper, or the notebook until I am clearing off a particular
space and come upon it again.

The social media rants that I voluntarily read increasingly rob me of time and
energy and deplete whatever optimism lives in me; yet I find myself having to
really exercise discipline to sign off or at the very least, put my phone aside to
do other things. It is amazing, I rarely respond to posts even though many of
them stir deep feelings. I get a kick out of those who do because they often end
up saying things I am sure they regret. Not to mention getting “blocked” by the
administrators for offensive and crude language. I can’t entertain the idea of
ever being blocked so I simply do what many others do, read and move on.

I live in a small town that has a large quantity of expats. Although I lived in a
different country and learned its culture well, I am now living in my birth land
and identify more with it. I find that the typical expat (whether originating in
U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia or Africa) believes their new country is somehow
lacking and wants things to be just the way they were “back home”. This attitude
irks me but I remain silent because silence is the path to peace and understanding.

There are so many things that can be said about learning a new language, about
preparing mentally to make a huge move, especially when the one certain is that
wherever you go, there YOU are. I lived in Puerto Rico once. I do remember that
the absence of family and friends was a bit lonely, but it was also tremendously
liberating. I found that I developed some new (positive) traits by not being labeled
or thought of the way family and old friends can see and pigeonhole one. Rather
than wanting things the way they were in my past, I was thrilled to be living in a
completely different culture and learned to love it just the way it was.

I don’t really remember where I was going with this blog, but there it is. I guess
the lesson for today is that if you want to make a smooth transition into a place,
it is best to go gently and quietly into its spaces to first absorb and understand
and then to pitch changes if they are necessary or even wanted.

 

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Why Write?

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I have been describing myself as a writer for at least three decades.
I cannot say that I enjoy writing, it is more like a calling, an impetus
buried not too deep that makes me set down on paper many of the
varied thoughts that take a hold of my brain. I want to write a novel,
a story that follows closely the reality of my small town but one that
I could tailor so that no character would recognize him/herself in. I
am not sure that is at all possible.

My friends in the small writing circle I belong to are not all in the same
writing place. A couple of us (not including me) are quite far in the
quest to write the book, others of us are tampering with sentences and
one of us in essentially very new and shy about the process of writing
and actually sharing. I am not sure how our small group even got
started but here we are enjoying almost a second year of being together.

I don’t know how many of us “social media” followers are feeling as non-
excited as I am. Every day I open my emails on yahoo, aol and gmail and
I am disgusted by the many emails that begin with doom and gloom subject
lines. By this I mean, their titles are “Last chance” “Deadline approaching”
“Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity”…to spend, spend, spend.
I realize that it is a marketer’s function to make sure even spirituality sites
find their “followers” at the shopping cart but I am frankly so turned off
by it that I have unsubscribed to many of the sites that I used to enjoy.

And don’t get me started with Pinterest! So I clicked on one sunset picture,
and you know how Pinterest makes you sign up after a click or two? Well,
I did and now it seems every single day, I receive a come on from Pinterest
telling me that they have found another 18 sunset pictures I can see. Does
anyone really know how to work an algorithm to improve these pitches?

Or how about Amazon sending me pictures of the same items I just bought
last week and asking me to buy them again? And on Facebook, let’s pick on
Facebook for a minute. The other day I uploaded for my “fans” a “Happy
4th of July picture and good wishes”. I posted it. It got a lot of “likes” but
FB now wants me to “promote” the post…see what I mean about the algo-
rithm…doesn’t the robot know that it is now the 6th of July and no amount
of boosting is going to get me more clicks for this once-a-year event? I try
to stay away from FB and that is probably going to be my decision for 2019.
2018 I made a promise to my followers that I would post a recipe and a flower
every day. Because I am the kind of person who says what they mean and
means what they say, I can’t see myself NOT doing it until December 31, but
after that unless something really radical changes at FB, I think I will be out.

A lot of people say these things and say “no more political stuff” and then you
see them being bad mouthed, or in a bad mood or poo-pooing just about
everything in life. What’s the point? Be a mood lifter, there are plenty of jerks
out there who can only see the black dot on the white sheet of paper. Who
needs more of those?

Thanks for reading this far! Have a great evening.

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July is here already!

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It’s the Fourth of July! Celebrations are going on in the U.S. but
where I live (in a tropical paradise), nothing seems to be going
on in quite the same scale as the celebrations of years past.

I feel a bit odd that one entire month (June) went by and I didn’t
post a single entry. It is not that I don’t write every single day,
because I do, it just hasn’t been the kind of writing that I feel
comfortable sharing. Not sure what that’s about.

My husband was away for almost the entire month of June. He
returned quite exhausted and seems to have caught a bug, maybe
on the airplane? I feel bad for him but in a way, perhaps it is best
to let him rest while I catch up on some of the writing that I have
put on the side so I could devote myself to doing the chores that
keep our household running and that he is usually responsible for.
A few more days won’t make any difference, the poor guy has a lot
of things on his mind.

So July! I have continued to have slow progress with my Weight
Watchers plan and I am confident that by the end of this year, I
will have lost most of the weight I have set myself a goal for. It
would be wonderful to begin 2019 (which feels like it is just around
the corner!) in some new clothes…

I have done some serious decluttering in June. I actually got rid of
a good amount of clothing and knickknacks that were not bringing
me any joy. It is amazing how light one feels after disposing of items
that no longer fit one’s life. I finally accepted that I was keeping things
for the wrong reasons. For example, a friend of mine gave my daughter
and me earrings that were crafted by her then-boyfriend, a man I know
and whose behavior has impressed me, but not in a good way. I never
wore the earrings because they were too long for my short neck and my
daughter never wore hers because they were not in a style she liked. But
I felt I needed to keep them because my friend might be hurt if I found
another home for them.

A few months after the earrings were given to us, my friend’s relationship
ended. The artist boyfriend began a new relationship and a year later, that
one also ended. Every morning, I saw the earrings. I moved them from one
side of the dresser to another.  I began to question why I still had them.
One serendipitous night as I was watching Youtube, I ended up catching a
video on Marie Kondo, the decluttering consultant…she has a very unique
way of approaching decluttering. You have to gather all the items you own
wherever you are working. You hold each item in your hand until they either
spark “joy” or not. If they still give you joy, that is your permission to keep
them; otherwise, it is best to find a new home for them.

I held each pair in my hands. Waited for the “joy” that never came. I made
two beautiful packages for these lovely items and then placed them with
other “treasures” I was giving away to the local Animal Shelter for their
fundraising campaign. It felt so good to send the earrings to a place that
I know will find someone they can bring joy to.

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In and On Plan

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I begin every morning with fruit. Early this morning, I realized I had
finished the last of my blueberries yesterday morning and completely
forgot to buy new fruit. Then I remembered I had a lovely salad left
from yesterday’s lunch which included two slices of tomato! Tomato
is fruit…so I added a bit (a lot actually) of cottage cheese and voilá,
my dilemma was solved. If only all of life’s tribulations could so easily
be remedied.

It has been a hectic week. I have travelled to the U.S. for just a few
days to take care of some very necessary errands and I am fully aware
that two of the ten days are traveling days so don’t really count. It is
eye-opening to see just how little one can actually get done in a week
in New York. Life here is hard, it seems much harder than when I was
younger and living here. Living in a tropical paradise where everything
moves slower has definitely spoiled me for the hectic pace that is kept
here.

I find I am more sensitive to the sounds, smells, and attitudes than I ever
was before. Although I excuse people because the pace of New York has
always been very fast, I find myself feeling disoriented and quite out of
touch with what the population of New York finds important. Listening to
the news is always disconcerting, journalism finds its success in sensation-
alizing everything but there is no doubt there are situations of violence on
every corner of this melting pot, patchwork quilt or mosaic, pick your term!

My visit is coming quickly to an end. I am blessed by having the most loving
children and for them I am grateful. My work here for the moment is done
and I will be back late in the summer to get any shopping done that I want.
For now, I will enjoy my last day in the company of my children, taking nice
pictures to share with my husband back home.

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Suicide Awareness…

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                       Communication is king

Avicii’s apparent suicide has left me profoundly sad. I remember that the first time I
heard the song “Wake Me Up”, I had a bit of trouble reconciling the upbeat music with
the sad and haunting lyrics.

I am more than twice his age. My thoughts about suicide have always been very clear.
Just don’t do it. But I have never been in a place so low that it would be a solution that
would occur to me. I have always been grateful for the faith in that “something out there”
that provides the strength I have had in the face of many obstacles and disappointments
that just being alive will bring.

May he rest in peace, finally in a place where nothing is painful. I cannot even begin to
imagine what it must be like for his family to know that this exceptional human being is
no longer available to chat with, to laugh with, to just hug and let him know that they
would help him find peace.

It is sad to know that so many of our talented people are simply not prepared for the fame
and fortune we foist on them with our superficial love. When I was a young girl, I longed
to be like the Supremes, singing my heart out to entertain people but also to feel that I
was somehow appreciated and that I “counted”. My parents never encouraged that side of
me, suggesting that I study for a career that would provide basic funds and then maybe a
little extra for affordable luxuries but certainly not the “Hollywood” glamour that I thought
I craved. My life has unfolded in such a way that I do enjoy a bit of popularity and fame in
my small town and I can attest to the fact that sometimes it is not pleasant to be out with my
husband or family for a nice quite family dinner and have several people interrupt our meal
because they would like to have a word. It’s exhausting. And I am not (1) that famous,
(2) that young or (3) that sensitive.

 

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Cauliflower pizza, anyone?

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A lovely head!

I did a terrible thing today: in anticipation of tomorrow being garbage
day, I decided to clean out my refrigerator! No, that’s not the terrible
thing I did! The terrible thing I did was to throw out almost an entire
week’s worth of vegetables that my husband and I purchased at the
farmers market just last week.

I don’t know what comes over the two of us when we visit the place. It’s
like all those colorful vegetables are shouting to us that they want to come
home…and that they will be cooked…only to end up in the compost bucket
time after time.

In the last few months, since I’ve been watching what I eat, I have become
a bit more interested in trying out new recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I used
to love cooking, especially when my children were young and I was a full-
time (and happy) stay-at-home, home-school Mom. But then the kids grew
up and moved away and now it’s hubby and me and we spend a lot of time at
home (semi-retired) and I have embraced this “new life”.

My husband enjoys cooking and so for the last few years, he’s been more or
less responsible for the meals we have for dinner. Of course, he also enjoys
eating and snacking and has a penchant for things like pepperoni, potato chips,
chocolate…thus, we have both gained a fair amount of weight in those same few
years.  I know no one was forcing me to have the extra calories; I am human too
and although I don’t indulge in pepperoni or chips (no sacrifice really, it’s not my
thing!), almonds, chocolate and cake are definitely on my list of favorites.

Since I joined Weight Watchers in December, though, I have definitely been off
most of those goodies. Not that WW “forbids” anything, I just feel that if I am
dieting, it should feel a like a diet. I am one of those people who feels a need to
have “rules” that I will feel disappointed about breaking. I know, I know, but
there you have it.

Last week when we were at the farmers market, there was an enormous cauli-
flower for sale. It was sold by unit and my husband found a much smaller one
that he preferred but he deferred to me since I had visions of making a pizza
with a cauliflower crust. I don’t know what possessed me to think I was going
to actually tackle that project; to begin with, it involved getting out and dusting
the food processor and making cauliflower rice! It never happened and today
when I found myself tossing the entire head, I was overcome with pangs of guilt.
If we had purchased the smaller head, it would have been a nice side dish for one
of our few dinners at home this week. I told my husband that from now on he
must not humor me when I lose my head momentarily like that!

 

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