I Did Do It…

Sometime ago, I admitted to taking on a job I wasn’t sure I was qualified for.   The hard drive for the laptop arrived, I took a couple days to gird my loins and then, much to my surprise, the job went smoothly and a working laptop was delivered to the customer, along with the old hard drive, in case they wanted to hire a real expert to retrieve their files.

You may wonder why it’s taken this long for me to post the update…

I was waiting for a call informing me that my repairs were short-lived and a demand for a refund…

This self-improvement stuff is not always a walk in the park.

Since nearly a month has passed with no phone calls and no dirty looks when I walk by each morning during Oakley’s exercise time, I conclude it’s safe to surmise that I did, in fact, do it.

Next item on self-improvement list:

“Learn to suppress the urge to wait for the other shoe to drop.”

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In a somewhat related topic, one of my email accounts was hacked.   Or at least I think it was.   Which is funny, because I’m pretty proactive about complicated passwords and frequent changing.  My customers complain when they receive their initial set-up information and password(s),

“I’ll never remember that!”

To which I reply,

“Fine – change it to whatever you want – just please, please do not use “password1234”.

So yesterday, I spent the day deleting accounts, setting up new ones and doing a thorough scouring of my computer.   None of which revealed any source of the fraudulent email sent from my account.

I found some cool new tools.  I also realized though I may have downsized my material possessions, my bookmarks menu, as of yesterday, qualified me for ‘hoarder’ status.

I only re-bookmarked eight of the long list of folders/links.

I’m feeling pretty purified this a.m.

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Many years ago, I spent my working time between two state agencies.   With duties that required 4 or 5 different log-ins and passwords, at each place.   With strict instructions to not repeat anything, anywhere.  And the requirement to change said passwords every 30 days.

I took these instructions to heart.   At home, with yellow legal pad on my lap and cold beer in hand, I thought about how to accomplish this feat without having anything written down anywhere…

The system I came up with has worked for 15 years – in fact, it worked until yesterday…

And so, I came up with a new one.

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I admit to having fallen behind on what’s what in computer world.   Like most everyone I know, I learn what I need to and cross my fingers for the rest.   The only reason I’m sought out for help is my life experience has been varied enough to have dabbled in quite a few different venues.

And also because my financial status means I have to learn how to fix things myself, rather than hiring an expert to do it for me.  Yesterday’s events made me take a good look at what I know – what I need – and what can be let go.

Simplifying my life means I’m tuning into how complex a new object is – do I understand how it works?  If it breaks, can I fix it myself?   What if the electricity goes out, can I still use it?  Can I maintain my daily needs if all that is supplied to me and under the control of someone else simply breaks or disappears?

Sadly, sections of my life remain that can still be knocked for a loop by outside forces.   Or can result in a wasted day, fixing what someone else decided to destroy for their own benefit, or just for the fun of it.

Much like the peasant in Dark Age Europe, I can arise each day, minding my own business and doing what I need to do – all the while aware that unseen forces may strike at anytime, to lay waste to the little bit I’ve achieved.

Rather than losing my life, virtue or survival needs, I only lose my reputation, financial status and worthiness to participate in modern society via a three digit number –  666 doesn’t get you much in way of shelter, transportation,  work or insurance to protect you from Life’s little hiccups.

It also seems you may not even be able to get a date now, unless your three-digit score is of sufficient value.

Life, Love and the pursuit of things that bring you the experience of happiness are now in the hands of someone else…

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It occurs to me that nothing much has changed in 1,500 years.   Only the methods and means of devastation have.   Instead of a quick thrust of the sword and a blessed end to a life spent waiting for the next catastrophe, you can now experience the devastation of your livelihood with the added benefit of being guilty of planting your crops in an area where Bad Guys are known to roam and not putting up a tall enough fence.

You not only get to live, but you also get to shoulder the blame for the marauding behavior of others.

Which makes sense –

People who are dead don’t pay banking fees, taxes or support our medical system.  They have no need for insurance or global investments.

People who are blameless have no need to purchase security or back-up options.  The also don’t pay fees to change or hide the listings which reveal their crop locations.

Welcome to the new Dark Ages.

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Writers Wanted: Peaceful Souls Need Not Apply

I’ve made some changes in my life recently.   Mostly internal changes with how I view my world, but a few relationship changes as well.   I awake each morning with a greater sense of peace and retire each night, tired from physical labor and heat, grateful for my comfortable bed and happy to fall asleep quickly.

Which is wonderful, except for my writing…

When I’m happy and content, I don’t write as much…

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Nestled within my box of ‘Important Papers” is a 1984 Air Force Academy folder, gifted by a recruiter who was impressed by the fact I can do hundreds of basic math problems in 2 minutes.

It is faded and has two or three layers of tape across tears caused by the bulging contents.

My poetry.

Some was  neatly typed on an electric Smith Corona II and signed with a flourish at the bottom.

Someday, that signature might be worth something, ya know…

Others are written by hand, with the mess of shredded paper at the top, showing where the spiral rings of a stenographer’s pad was located.

Still others reside on yellow, legal-sized lined paper – borrowed from the pads my plumber dad always had stacks of for computing and calculating bids on.

I take them out every once in awhile and as I read, I’m transported to the time of unrequited love, yearnings and all manners of teen-aged mooning about.

I gave up writing poetry in my 20s as only a major, one-sided crush or devastating heartbreak from getting dumped could inspire me to write poetry.

And I just wasn’t that willing to live a life of continual drama for the satisfaction of claiming to be a poet…

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In that same box are several binders full of short stories, journals and partially completed novels.   There’s nothing especially useful about any of it, but since it all fits nicely in the box I would have to keep anyways for medical files and tax returns, I haven’t thrown any of them away…at least not yet.

I had reason to be in “The Box” this past week and realized much of my most prolific writing is done when I’m struggling.   When I’m not happy with the way things are going or am questioning the common wisdom of our culture.

I also tend to not talk as much when things are going well.

What’s the point?   Everything is going along smooth, so there’s really no need to ‘share’.

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And so, with my peaceful soul chugging along just dandy, the in-progress fictional novel is pulled to the top of the ‘Writing To Do’ list and I dive into a mystical kingdom of my own making …

It seems as if one of my characters is getting just a tad big for his britches, causing all kinds of rampant discontent and a war might be looming on the horizon…

Furiously, I start writing…

Green and pleasant screens

Excellent read on the benefits of living walls. Had to share!

Architecture, Design & Innovation

They absorb pollutants, deter graffiti artists and have a calming effect on those who live around them. Sean Farrell of green screen supplier Mobilane explains why ‘living walls’ can help us breathe more easily – and add wow factor to a scheme.

Hardly a day goes by without a news story decrying pollution levels in the UK. Most recently, London’s North Circular has been identified by Transport for London (DFL) as the capital’s most polluted road.

Big problems call for creative thinking and green screens – or living walls – represent a cost effective, instant weapon for tackling pollutants. Green screens also absorb noise, boost biodiversity levels and, quite simply, look great adding a welcome organic counterpoint to the bricks and mortar of urban development.

Living walls are certainly garnering some high-profile supporters in the fight against poor air quality. London mayor Boris Johnson has secured funding for…

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Anniversaries, Progress, Cursing

I’ve been MIA from WordPress Land.   Cooler weather and a few misty, drizzling mornings mean I’ve been hitting it hard on the landscaping project, eager to make up for all the weeks of missed opportunities while I hid indoors from the heat, some days from 9 a.m. on…

I logged in this a.m. to give a brief update, because much to my surprise, there are folks who notice when I’m not posting, liking or commenting daily…  Who knew?  Thank you so much for checking to see if I was still alive and all right – what a blessing my blogging community is.

Lo and behold, when I logged in, I discovered a notice celebrating my 3rd anniversary here at WordPress.

Three years?  Already?    How time flies when you’re having fun.

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My landscaping plan seems to morph daily as I discover natural flora, learn more about my house and the land it resides on and relentlessly ask myself, “What do you really want?”  But, progress has been made and now, the shape and form is starting to be more recognizable by those not familiar with the dream in my head.

Pay attention to the pics – there’s a quiz at the end…

The entire south perimeter wall is now done.   Two days ago, during a cool morning blessed with a light drizzle, I and a helping hand wrangled tires for nearly two hours.  The eastern and western perimeters are now defined with stacked tiers, just waiting for me to lug dirt to them.

South perimeter - eagerly awaiting Passion Flower plantings
South perimeter – eagerly awaiting Passion Flower plantings

After the much prayed for and gratefully received rains of this past week, I’ve determined my block retaining walls must not just cover the west side, but a goodly portion of the south side – that ditch has begun to be dug and I’m eagerly reformatting “The Plant Plan” to adjust for this addition.

Southside - Ditch to be dug for blocks
Southside – Ditch to be dug for blocks

The south side of the western wall block project has been completed and waiting for the corner to be set for the southern run before filling in with dirt and planting.

Western Wall bed in progress
Western Wall bed in progress

I must admit the frenzy of activity these past days coupled with cooling fronts passing through, has me arising each morning in pain.   By day four of cool weather and extra help (which goads me to continue working when I really ought to take a break), I awoke yesterday, uncertain if I could drag myself from bed for another day of labor.

I did, simply because there won’t always be help showing up on days when the heat is bearable and I can’t stand to lose a single moment of either.

As I wandered around my slice of heaven, I pondered upon what project to handle.  Quite frankly, after two days of moving, stacking and arranging tires, I wanted to mess with something else for awhile.   I confess to wandering around, thinking and musing until Ms. Handy-Manny arrived.

I confessed my pain, admitting that I was somewhat at loose ends and not sure where to start the day’s work.  We wandered a bit and chatted – about my dreams, what was going to go where and such.    I told her how I loved lilacs and maybe someday, I could get more for the eastern edge – she gazed and said, “Why don’t you just transplant from the bush you’ve got?”

Really?!?  You can do that?!?

All you real gardeners are free to groan and then laugh at my ignorance…

Since I needed room to maneuver dirt around on the east side, we instead planted a neat row of lilacs next to where I’ll be seeding the grass for me, the wonder dog and the child-unit  to run and play fetch on.  To my immense satisfaction, my lilac bush has been left alone for so many years, Ms. Handy-Manny figures I can get nearly 15 more transplants from the north side this year and probably 20 from the south side next year, if I so wish.

Can you hear the celebration going on inside of me?   I nearly did the hippy-hippy-shake in the front yard when she made these pronouncements.

East perimeter tier and the abundant Lilac Bush
East perimeter tier and the abundant Lilac Bush
New lilac plantings, flanked by two cottonwood cuttings gifted to me
New lilac plantings, flanked by two cotton-less cottonwood cuttings gifted to me

The sunflowers placed in the northern portion of the western wall project are growing by leaps and bounds and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a late frost with a bountiful harvest of yummy seeds – (yes, I’ll share with the birds…I guess…  Me and the child-unit LOVE sunflower seeds…)  Because of the late planting and no flowers yet, I’m not holding my breath, but still holding hope…

I swear they've grown a foot the past four days
I swear they’ve grown a foot the past four days

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I feel as if a momentum has been reached – as if all the weeks and months of planning, organizing and hauling in supplies are starting to pay off.   As if this whole summer has just been waiting for this week to burst forth in productivity and gains.

I can’t begin to imagine what abundance there will be this time next summer…

Oh, yes, nearly forgot – the quiz…

How many piles of F**cking rubble left by the stuccoers and in need of clean-up did you find in these pictures?

Rock Memories

Flowerbed in the Morning
How many rocks can a daughter chuck, if a daughter chucked rocks?

My mom is a rock hound.   Much to my grief.

My childhood years often contained many walks during which we lugged rocks back from 160 acres of pastureland to the in-progress flower garden.    I often whined about having to carry them.

As the project took shape, I thought I would someday see the end of needing to lug hands, jackets and pocketsful of rocks back to the home place.  I sighed with relief when the project was pronounced ‘Done’.

But we were not done…much to my sorrow.

Apparently, rock gardens and such require a periodic cleaning.   Every rock must be removed, fill dirt from our Colorado winds brushed and washed away, new weed guard laid down and the rocks, sparkling from their fresh bath and dried to a lustrous sheen by the sun, placed ever so gently back into their allotted space.

Who knew rocks required baths?

During the moving, cleaning and replacing, much hilarity occurs when enthusiastic rock movers accidentally smash the fingers of less than thrilled co-workers.    These stories make rich family lore fodder and are repeated for decades…

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My senior year, we took a class trip to the mountains.    And visited a pre-historic lake bed.   Filled with really pretty, and big, rocks.    Apparently, the chaperones and sponsors did not know about the severity of stealing rocks and I, in my desire to be a good daughter, lugged a stone the size of a small cooler onto the bus to bring home as a souvenir of my trip.   The Rock Hound is happiest receiving special rocks from special places – these have long replaced postcards, t-shirts, shot glasses, spoons or plates.   Bring a rock and she is happy.

All the way home that bus trip, people yelled and lifted their feet as we wound up and down mountain grades – the huge souvenir slid from one end of the bus to another – too big to fit in an overhead, it happily moved from the back end of the bus to the front and back again.

It became dubbed, “Tamrah’s Damn Rock” for the remainder of our trip and not even the adult chaperones objected to the cursing…

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In the early days of my marriage to an introverted officer of the law, the Rock Hound’s sister visited us in our new mountain home.   Built on a rocky hillside.    Rock collecting runs in the family and she promptly oohed and ahhed over some red rock sitting in the back yard.   Picked it up to take it home.   Hubby, with a sufficiently serious frown, informed her he would have to cite her for removing it if she insisted on taking it.

Shocked, she set it down and apologized.

He grinned and explained he wouldn’t write the ticket if she picked it back up.

We may be exes now, but he still inquires about the  itinerary each year she visits.  He still dreams of intercepting the Rock Hound and her sister during one of their site-seeing trips – for the day to be slow enough at work to stop them, with lights and siren, because he has nothing better to do.

He can’t wait to ask,  with stern face and serious tone, to search their car for contraband rocks.

There are many reasons why I still love that man – this is one of them.

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Over the years, I’ve read about the energy power of crystals and various other rocks.   I’ve participated often in the “love stone” joke (just another f**king rock).

But at some point, I came to realize the importance of rocks.    I was in grief and walking.   Walking in the vain attempt to leave my grief behind.

A glittering stone on the path catches my attention just at the time I’m thinking of my loved one and the good times shared.

The rock is picked up, dutifully carted home and placed in a treasured spot about the home.

It’s my connection to those I no longer get to see everyday.

Last year, I went for a long walk.  And came back to the Rock Hound’s home with a pocket full of sparkly and unusual rocks.

I showed them to her and she started to relieve me of my burden.

“What are you doing?” I huffily asked.

“Putting them on the rock pile.” She replied, amazed at my irritation.

“No!  These are MY Rocks!”

Took her over 40 years, but I’m finally converted…

Move the Rocks and Be Happy About It

Rock Moving
Rock Moving

At some point in my teen-age years, my Dad told me about a time he was pressured into attending a function he did not wish to go to.   Nothing eerie or out of place, just a simple social function his presence was requested at and one he had no wish to attend.

He finally decided to go out of respect for the person inviting him.

On the way to the function, he was asked to put a smile on his face.

He closed the story with the phrase,

“You wanted me to go, I’m going.  But I don’t have to be happy about it.”

Patience…we’ll get to the rocks, which I know you’re dying to hear about…

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During the course of my BS career, I worked nearly 30 years in a variety of industries.

Before Stroke – but it does ring true for other reasons…

There were few jobs I couldn’t find a way to be happy in.  Even when moving rocks, patiently, from one place to another.

Back and forth – Back and forth.

Sometimes, the people I was moving the rocks for made the time interesting.   As a bartender and waitress, I met many folks and heard a wealth of stories and wisdom while I ran around, taking orders for rocks and delivering them to those who wanted them.

The rocks, themselves, rarely changed.    Over and over, I took orders for rocks and delivered them.

At some point, the stories became cliche, because I’d heard it all before.   I became tired of the industry that required me to show up and smilingly deliver rocks, day in and day out, with no benefits, no room for advancement and a death certificate required should I have pneumonia and foolishly claim to be too sick to work.

I moved to a different rock pile.

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Learning at the new quarry kept me entertained for quite some time.   I now had to use computers to record for others data concerning the rocks I moved, when I moved them and how they were doing at their new location.

Occasionally, I found myself mindlessly moving rocks from one pile to another, report on it, and then report when I moved them back to their original location – when that occurred, I ended up changing quarries within a year – I was unwilling to move rocks simply for the paycheck.

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And then came the day when I was in charge of coming up with a plan as to how rocks would be moved.    I was delighted.

FINALLY!   I have the power to make sure any moving of rocks will be done in an efficient and useful manner.   Each rock touched is merely one piece of the magnificent structure and while duly noted and reported, the moving of the rocks became synonymous with the building of The Great Pyramid.

Purpose, Higher Ideals and Goals, Efficiency, Economy…

I was in Heaven.

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Then I discovered there are many who like moving rocks from one place to another without really changing anything.   Moving rocks around aimlessly is big business and those who engage in the activities are very defensive towards anyone who dares to question the purpose of their activities.

I spent 9 months pleading for rock movers to see the big picture.   To dream of what they could do once freed from the insanity of lugging rocks back and forth, every day, with no sense of purpose or accomplishment.

To no avail.   Livelihoods were at stake and resistance was strong.

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During this same time period, I noticed how very unhappy the rock movers were.    Break time meant talking about anything except life in the quarry – the party later tonight or the latest jokes and gossip making the email rounds.    Snide remarks regarding other workers in the quarry were common and among the sections most ripe with rock movers, lay the most venomous snake pit ever known to man.

I came to the conclusion that pointless moving of rocks erodes away the soul.   Deep down, the spirit knows it’s being wasted away, engaging in the futile and redundant each and every day.    But the ego understands that when you engage in the unneeded and pointless everyday, there is little room for failure.

Show up, move the rocks, be happy about it and you can survive.

I left the quarry.

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My co-worker
My co-worker

Now, I’m moving rocks, blocks, tires and dirt.   From one place to another.   There are days when I faithfully lug my teal bucket, reminiscent of those used on archeological digs, except for the size and color, back and forth.

Back and Forth.

All while praying for strength and stamina to carry the bucket just one more round.

Please, today, let me move more rocks.

No one pays me to do this.   No one records how much I get done each day and no one cares if I fail to take a 15 minute break at 10 or decide I’m knocking off early at noon. I do not have to sit for an hour each quarter to hear about how my supervisor wishes I could move more rocks and write better reports to justify my activities to the budget committee.   I do not have to attend seminars, classes or meetings in order to move my rocks.

I do not have co-workers who snidely comment on how much I’m paid to move rocks and I don’t have to justify my rock moving techniques to them, or train all of them on how to move rocks efficiently.

I no longer have to convince people that moving rocks in this way makes sense.  Builds for the future.  I do not have to prove that my 5 year plan is good for the ages and is fluid enough to handle future rock moving activities.

I have only to carry my bucket to the front yard and start moving rocks.

And man, am I happy about it…

Perspective, Part Dos

I’ve had the metaphor of bonfires as part of my personal toolbox for quite a few years now.   When I first latched onto it and who may have shared the idea with me I have no idea, but I know I often look at myself and laugh at the realization that once more,  I’m dancing on top of the wood pile, screaming about the unfairness of it all, when I could just as easily step to the perimeter circle, have a beer, roast a marshmallow and enjoy the beauty of the night.

I firmly believe it our duty as friends and family members to be the gentle reminders to those burning in the middle of their own bonfire.   For when your tail is on fire and you are in massive pain, it’s hard to see the beach for all the flames, if you’ll pardon me making up my own little metaphor…

I’ve been blessed with many in my circle who are kind enough to hold out a hand and gently urge me to join them on the outside looking in.

But it is not always so…

I’m also blessed with those who help me in other ways:

“Why did you build the bonfire anyways?   It’s not like you needed one.”

“You just need to put the fire out.   No sense asking for trouble.”

“Hey – you made your fire, now you must roast on it.”

While all of these may be valid points, I’m not sure they do much in the way of helping anyone step back from their bonfire.   They may incite one to leap from their own bonfire into someone else’s, but in the end, what has really been accomplished?

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A few years back, the news was full of stories regarding the crashing of space junk into Jupiter.   Scientist were seen giving each other high-fives and laughing in ecstasy over all the data they would get and study for years from this one event.

I thought about what their thoughts might be had they been living on Jupiter at the time of the event.

Very different, I surmise….

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Life events change your perspective – sometimes for the better, just as often, for the worst.

In the end, choosing perspectives is our greatest power…