The Storm that Approacheth has Arrivedeth –

Picture of Storm Rolling in
The blessed wind brings the storm our way – the light white is the wall of clouds approaching

Late yesterday afternoon, after managing to untwist and untangle the dry, clean laundry from the sagging clothes line, I took a stroll around my place to see what changed during the two lovely weather spring days I spent holed up and hobbling around the house –

*Note to self – remember to tighten the clotheslines before next laundry day – –

Even with Oakley’s digging, rooting and completely successful transfer of nearly all the mulch I placed over the Jerusalem Artichoke bed last fall, into the house (over the course of the entire winter, one or two pieces clung to shaggy coat at a time) I see signs of new Artichokes rising amidst the decay of last years stalks (which I didn’t get trimmed close enough to the ground…)

Jerusalem Artichokes - 2015
Jerusalem Artichokes – 2015

I admit I’ve rather forgotten what these fellas look like when they first poke their heads through to air, but these 3 are in the right spot and don’t look the same as the weeds I pulled nearby, so keeping my fingers crossed they are what I hope they are – 🙂

To my delight and then dismay, I see that one of the tulip buds unfurled –

Picture of yellow tulip
That is Yellow! Yellow I Say!

Delight because the few dips in temperature had not sabotaged the dream of tulips this spring…

Dismay because the bulbs I purchased last fall were clearly marked “purple” and “white” – this is yellow – maybe yellow is the new purple….

*Note to Mom -Thanks for helping me plant these bulbs last fall –  it’s perfectly okay if you did, in fact, drop a bulb outside the rock border area – we’re pretty laid back in regards to perfection around here – 🙂

Alas, I will wait to see what the others reveal during their unfurling – granted, this area did contain existing tulips before I accidentally weeded too vigorously the first year – then left entirely alone the second year until the wild poppies were done and I knew where to be careful, so as not to disturb wild poppy seeds.

Perhaps, one of the old existing bulbs decided to make an appearance, now it has been assured of a proper backdrop and doesn’t have to fight with foot high weeds –

You don’t always know, for sure, what you’re Sowing

I’ve planted seeds before that ended up not producing what was indicated in the packet picture – –

One year, some round squash, tiger-striped dark and light green, appeared right in the middle of the oblong, yellow, spaghetti squash patch –  we knew not what to do with it and was unable to identify it or a relevant recipe, so it simply became a fall decoration – –

Sh – ahem, correction, Things happen –

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I can picture it now – dedicated heirloom seed saver is in workshop, patiently putting together seed packets for internet orders –

The door flies open, wind whirls across the neat seed piles waiting to be packaged –

Hubby stomps in, manages to close the door before it blows off its’ hinges and gustily exclaims:

“Man!  That wind is a blowin’ gangbusters today….What?! Why are you looking at me in that tone of voice?”

🙂

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And now I’ll share the real storm that arrived –

The storm of my outraged sense of justice, compassion, tolerance

For Pete’s sake, I’m not even sure what part of me has been outraged, but here I sit, dealing with it….which means if you continue to read, now you are part of the process…

These past few days I’ve been told of or witnessed several instances of someone declaring,

“I don’t really think you can be a (fill in the blank with trade or talent) without formal (fill in education, training, expensive equipment) and anyone who says you can, is wrong or lying to you…”

Now, while that may be true for some things (being an astronaut or brain surgeon come to mind) the occupations, activities or trades that graced the ‘fill in blanks’ in these recent statements were not either of the aforementioned, highly specialized, endeavors –

They were, instead,:

  • Author
  • Gardener
  • Builder of Dwarf Cars

Poppycosh!

On Being a Writer (someday to be Paid Author)

Yes, I had some ‘training’ for writing – I went to state mandated school for 12 years and had to take some form of writing, reading or English class each and every year – I also was raised by those who loved to read, in a house full of books –

And no, I’m not (yet) a paid author – and neither do I have a Master’s or Doctoral degree in any such related studies –

Yet here I sit, boldly and brazenly writing and publicly publishing – as most every one here in the WordPress community does.

While I agree that education and practice can enhance a writer’s craft, I do not believe it to be the must-have ingredient in the making of a paid author –

What is necessary?  To my mind?

(Oh, thank you so very much for asking, I’ve been bustin’ a gut, waiting to proclaim the answer, sans a paper certificate that comes attached with a $120,000-$200,000 price tag…I trust you to forgive me my sins…)

Necessary:

  • A mind that observes reality and wants to know what the possible back story leading up to the ‘observed now’, might actually be
  • An imagination that can come up with many varieties and flavors of said back story
  • The curiosity to ask, “What motivations, life experience, problems to be solved, led up to this moment?”
  • Compassionate room in the mind for all the possible answers that present themselves

Add to that a love of the ebb and flow of words – whether said love was gained through years of reading, or a simple born-in ‘hearing’ for such things…

The great writers I love and appreciate know how to craft each line –  first as a small tributary –

One that flows and then joins another, and then another, until the whole, massive, roiling, moving torrent bursts through the delta and joins the calm of the ocean –

Or spills over the edge of the cliff and lands with an impressive display of mist, rainbows and thundering applause at the bottom of said cliff, which, in the end, wasn’t so steep or deadly, after all –

These things are, to my mind,  necessary to graduate from Beginner to Master –

Take the classes – perfect your craft – learn the rules so you can break them at will –

But don’t ever, EVER! EVER! believe the person who tells you your natural way of seeing the world and your love of sharing said vision via a river of words isn’t good enough for you to be dubbed a writer.

It is…And You Are…And you’ll only get better as you move forth in your journey…

Next on the list of things reported as ‘you simpletons can’t do’…

…is Gardening

If you have been waylaid/lambasted by such feedback, I simply refer you to two resources that applaud your courageous, gambling heart:

First – Mr. Gardener Extraordinaire’s wise musings, which I will re-cap below, to save you the strain of clicking yet another link:

(If you like the following, you might find the linked story useful; otherwise, know the important points of gifted-to-me wisdom are listed below).

  • A few years back, the Master Gardening certificate was big doing’s around here.  So he bought the book, read it, and found out he’d been gardening wrong for 60 years.  Since he raised a family and kept many of the residents here in fresh veggies for the same amount of time, he threw the book in the dumpster and went back to his ‘wrong ways.’
  • Every year, something will go wrong – something won’t grow, or won’t keep good or will end up dying.   Doesn’t matter how long I garden or how good I get at it, every year, something will let me down.

And, secondly, if you would like to start gardening without taking a college or Master’s course, but are rather scared silly by those who say you can’t just jump in and do – I encourage you to check out Sophie’s Free Super Simple Guide to Growing your Own Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs eBook

Yes, technically, reading about such things does mean you’ve done some ‘learning’ but what comes across most in her guide is

“Don’t Worry – You Can Do It – It’ll be Fine!”

Though I’ve read many a book and blog about gardening over the years, nothing touches the great gush of support and confidence one feels just from reading Sophie’s take on the matter.

Since I’m more than happy to experiment and try…

…whether I actually know anything or not…

…gardening is just a life long exercise in observation and experimentation, to my mind.

I do feel bad…

…when my clumsy attempts or wrongly pursued ‘good intentions’ end up killing something –

I confess – I’ll have many mass murders to answer for when I reach the Pearly Gates…

I trust those Dandelions who find safe haven here will be in massive enough numbers to speak up for me and tip the scales at my eventual trial…

On Building Dwarf Cars

Take a few minutes (4:35 to be exact) to marvel at the talents of one Ernie Adams.

(You will find the statement that raised my hackles around 2:19 if you’re in a hurry and just want to know what dwarf cars have to do with writing or gardening)

Barcroft Cars Presents – Ernie Adams & His Dwarf Cars

In Conclusion –

Yup – it is satisfying to work at your ‘craft’ in order to journey from Apprentice to Master.

A yearning to try, the confidence to laugh at mistakes and a sincere joy in the doing of said craft is all that really counts –

Pepper in the education, degree, public approval or expensive equipment when and how you see fit.

Unless

You’re going to be an astronaut –

(you really do need some pricey protective gear and rocket scientists to aide your quest, otherwise, you could die while trying…)

Or a brain surgeon

(yes, I confess, I’d really prefer you have some formal training, else I might die while you’re taking a stab at your new career…)

If this is the case, for You – Right Now!…

…disregard all the previous ramblings and go find someone who writes knowledgeably about such things, cuz, seriously, you won’t find much helpful advice here – 🙂

Food and Chemicals

Lynne McTaggart’s blog this morning, citing the work of Dr. Grace E. Jackson, highlights the increasing volume of evidence linking some pharmaceutical medications to dementia.

The list of medicines cited as the biggest offenders against our brain matter:

  • Cholesterol lowering or blocking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anti-depressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Certain Medications for ADHD

All have been shown to have debilitating effects on our grey matter, often resulting in some form of dementia.

Now I know why the recent elections in my area went the way they did.

Silly me, I thought people were just too lazy to research – turns out, they are probably suffering from some stage of dementia.

I feel bad about my previous harsh thoughts towards my fellow citizen voters.

Sick people deserve compassion.

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I’m also concerned about Dr. Jackson’s career.   History tells me she’s on a path that ends in being ostracized from the Lodge of Modern Medicine.  I’m awaiting her being added to the Quackwatch list.

(No, you don’t get a link for quackwatch.   This guy doesn’t do his homework.  I only know about him because he came out with egg on his face when the Weston A. Price foundation refuted his findings on a point-by-point basis.   Those folks know how to research and footnote, therefore are link-worthy. )

Maybe I should send her Mr. 11 Dimensions’ address – they can hang out in seclusion together.   Although I think he may be currently enjoying genius status….his status in the world of Physicists has changed frequently – so not sure if he’s in seclusion or not.

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I’ve always held that modern medicine has gotten very good at keeping the body alive while what’s wrong is figured out.   Broken bones, gun shot wounds, blocked airways…hey!  Modern is where it’s at.

I’m still convinced that daily health and quality of life comes from ingesting properly prepared, nutritious food and seeking assistance from a holistic provider when you’ve gotten yourself ‘jacked up’ (Politely referred to as ‘out of balance’ by the holistic circle.)

And taking supplements if you’re not getting nutritious food.

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When I first entered the Traditional Diet world, I ran my mouth to friends, family and neighbors nearly 24 hours a day.   The changes I observed in my own body were so significant I could hardly wait to share.   So many things became clear on why I had suffered from various health problems for so long.

I turned my back on USDA and FDA guidelines.   My new guidelines were: “Was this available to my ancestors who lived 40,000 years ago?  In this form?  If not, how much would they have to eat in order to get that amount?”

(Did you know that to get a cup of corn oil into your system, you would need to ingest 1/2 bushel of corn or more, at one sitting?)

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I’m a big fan of ‘experiential data’ – I’ve seen what happens to data when the graph doesn’t look just like someone wants it to…especially if that graph is directly tied to that someone’s paycheck.

I’m also a big fan of ‘natural selection’ – even though completely adhering to that would mean I would be dead by now…and wouldn’t have lived long enough to procreate….

My brain full of history tells me that if physical bodies evolve slowly to survive in new conditions, our bodies haven’t had enough time to catch up with all the wondrous food products that come to us via the Industrial Revolution.

I can trust my brain – I’m not on pharmaceuticals.

I can go crazy all by myself, thank you very much…

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I have my own set of data on whether to believe Modern medicine or Age-Old practices.   I’m not afraid to experiment on myself.   And I’m not afraid to say, “oops!  that didn’t go well, let’s try something else”.

I think my ‘all or nothing’ personality combined with a healthy skepticism of anyone who makes grand promises with a similarly attached price tag, along with personal mishandling by both modern and holistic practitioners,  has placed me in a position to be rather open to views that go against the majority consensus.

I also refuse to knowingly purchase anything with Aspartame in it.   My son sorely misses chewing gum.    We haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t contain aspartame.

If you do a search of Aspartame, you’ll find plenty of people crying “Poison!” and about the same number shouting, “Shut up, quacks!  It’s fine!”

My deductive reasoning says, “If it’s ‘fine’ then why do your footnotes (if you have any) contain studies 20 years old and dissenters cite numerous studies conducted almost non-stop for the last 10?”

Until proponents indicate to me they are willing to back up their claims with current, 3rd party performed, non-grant funded research, then I’ll stick with avoiding it.

(Maybe they are suffering from dementia and can’t remember to put footnotes in….)

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I changed over to ‘good fats’ in 2006.   As of January, 2010, blood tests revealed my Cholesterol (good, bad and trigs) to be in normal ranges.   2 modern medicine doctors, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist all stated they couldn’t see any problems there. (although one of the modern medicine folks suggested I should start medicine, to keep the number good…arggghhh!)

I’m over 40, my exercise entails typing and doing housework, I’m a smoker with a kitchen devoid of ‘fats’ except for the following: homemade lard, real butter, coconut oil, olive oil, tea oil and a smidge of peanut oil.

I’ve stubbornly ingested in large quantities the very fats the FDA, USDA, AHA and AMA have all told me to avoid like the plague.

Hmmm….still here.    Good Cholesterol levels.   Brain functioning (okay, maybe not to your standards, but I do not leave my house only to be found 6 hours later, wandering around in the woods, unable to tell you what my name is or where I live…)

I don’t take my blood pressure.   I don’t have any scales in my house except for those to weigh food (Uniformity in homemade dinner rolls necessitates this piece of equipment….)

I look over each day and ask: “Did my health prevent me from doing something I wanted to?  Do I have clothes that fit?” (I hate to shop – I still have the nightgown I wore on my wedding night…and yes, it still fits….)

I check in with my body after I eat.   Is my tummy happy?   How’s the digestive process going?  Painful?  Loud?  Smelly?

I also analyze my sleep patterns and dreaming.   If those are unusual, then I know something has gone astray either in my brain or my body.

(day 2 of no coffee…. day 3 of no Tylenol pm…..tummy is happier, body still not sure how to sleep 8 hours straight, on its’ own…but I did get to 4 last night….)

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In short, I come back to the same thinking.   I’m not particularly afraid to die, nor am I trying to extend my life as long as I can.   I instead am trying to enjoy whatever time I do have.

Home cooked meals with Hubby and son, made from food purchased direct from farmer/rancher satisfy my nose, heart and tummy in a way McDonalds can’t.

Pain pills, anti-depressants, and hormone therapy side effects made me decide the original symptoms were the lessor of two evils.

Extra Vitamin C, various Chinese herbal blends and aromatherapy make me feel better when I’ve overindulged in thoughts or substances I should have left alone.

Day after day, I practice medicine on myself…

Some things are just better left out of the hands of ‘experts’.

Surviving The (parent) ‘Hood

Beautiful morning.   Fresh breeze, Peak looks beautiful, my writing is going well…  I’m in the Zone.

Noise the pitch and timbre of a fire engine’s siren finally penetrates my self-induced dazed.   Out my window, I observe the fire drill in process across the street.

Perhaps a little background is in order.   Nice family lives near by.  Mom, Dad, two little ones, I’m guessing 2 and 3 or 3 and 4.   Neither old enough for school.  Usually pretty quiet during the weekdays, so I’m surmising both parents work.  But come the evenings and weekends, Dad and one or two of the child units can be seen ‘havin’ fun’ in the garage.

But not this morning.   Judging by the pitch of the first bellow, I surmise either physical or emotional hurt was inflicted on one child by the other.   The first wail is one  long, loud protest full of indignation, rather than actual hurt.   (Hey, I’m a Mom, I know these things!)

Dad, probably badly mislead by the same child psychologist that led me down the wrong path years ago, decides to join in, with his own rendition of throwing a tantrum.   (the advice is, when your child sees something more immature than him/her, they will stop in speechless amazement.  It’s hard for most folks to remember how to act more immature than 2.   So this advice does not work often.)

Pretty soon, the other child is chiming in, from pure empathy and about four neighborhood dogs believe the Twilight Telephone has started and they better add their part to the conversation, quick, before it’s all over.

(I’ve tried proofreading 3 sentences for the past 4 minutes or so now.   Can’t concentrate and feel irritation at the loud interruption.  But instead of trying to make it work, I take a break and go to the window, watching the drama unfold.)

One child is carried into the house by Dad – this one seems to have genuinely gotten into real crying by now.    The heaving little chest and hiccupped sobs tell you that True Hurt, real or imagined, has occurred. (My guess is all the hollering and howling have now scared us… bad.)

Out comes Dad, who returns to the house with the other child, who is not hurt, but still wailing at the top of his lungs with Indignation and boy, does he look pissed.    Wailing and howling from the dogs drown out some of the conversation (Dad has figured out by now that the so-called advice of shocking your kids speechless by your own tantrum is not working), but the gist of it gets through.   Little Mr. Ticked-off  is being given a time-out.

To which the continuous shrieking of “No! No! No!” is the only answer.

I hear and count the sound of parental hand coming into contact with diapered butt, five times.     Shrieking raises a decibel or five.  No more taps can be heard and the wailing has disappeared into the depths of the house, so I figure the time-out place has been reached, even if resentfully.

Then slowly, the dogs stop howling, the shrieking and crying stop and only the frustrated words of a Dad and the soothing responses of a Mom are left.

“He has to learn he can’t do that.   How else are we going to teach him?   I don’t know what gets into him.”  I can hear not only the frustration but also the confusion as well as a little slice of, “where did I go wrong?   What’s wrong with my parenting?”

Soft spoken words I can hear, but not clear enough to make out.   I think this go-around, Mom is in charge of drying tears, de-escalating anger and boosting the confidence of one who truly does want to be a good parent.

I think about going over and saying, “I know just how you feel and I’ve been where you’re at right now.  But cheer up.   It just gets better and better.”

But I figure its not really my place to.  Plus, right now, I don’t think he’d believe me.

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Dad might be embarrassed, knowing I’m sharing this with you.    Maybe he doesn’t know that anyone who is a parent understands this morning only too well.

Sad thing is, the only instruction manual kids come with is the one in the parent’s head.   The one that either got written by their parents, or the one they rewrote when they dreamed about what a perfect childhood would look like.   And yes, children can give us a lot of pointers on how parenting should be as long as they haven’t been exposed to TV, school, or the brats who live down the road. (yes, I’m prejudiced sometimes.)

There are all kinds of parenting books and some are actually written by Real Parents.   But alot of the advice and guidance handed out concerning parenting comes from folks too busy with getting a Ph.D., writing, interviewing and lecturing, to actually Have Children.   So my question always is, “What do they know?”

Not alot, sometimes.   And if your childhood was  less than good, chances are you are rooting around for some advice or else you’re rewriting the player’s manual, experimenting as you go.  And when stress, the unexpected and unmanageable all happen at once, it’s hard not to dive right back into the traditions and rituals you grew up with.    And later, remorse and regret when you realize, you lost it, what you tried didn’t work or maybe you should really leave this parenting stuff to the experts.  (You know, the ones who don’t actually have children themselves.)

Update – while I’ve been musing about parenting, peace and harmony have returned.   Mr. Ticked off and Dad sat on the porch for awhile, little arms around big neck.   Now they are in the garage, trying to get the vehicle Dad is restoring started.    Mr. Ticked off has become Mr. Handy Manny and is right ready with whatever tool Dad needs.    Mom is watering the flowers and looking pleased.

The crisis that wasn’t a crisis after all.

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There’s a reason why opposites attract.   Its all about Parenting.    Someone has to be the one to keep their cool and help heal and bolster, no matter what catastrophe just happened.  If a couple has way different sets of phobias, fears and what’s important, then somehow, all the bases get covered.

In my house, that means I’m in charge of answering questions about sex, love, spirituality, why junior high girls are mean and high school girls think they’re fat when they aren’t.  I’m also in charge of answering questions about history, the universe and the natural world. (Thank goodness for Wikipedia!)

Hubby is in charge of figuring out which cell phone, computer or software is safe for use and a good buy.   He’s also in charge of deciding whether the boys can shoot BB guns, have rollerblades or go snowboarding.  I think those things are too dangerous.   He reminds me I’m raising boys.  Once they got older, he was also in charge of purchasing birthday and Christmas gifts, because I think Xbox is the antichrist and I still can’t figure out how to get my pictures from my Blackberry phone to the computer, other than emailing them to myself right after I take them. (yes, he’s in charge of purchasing my technology too…)

I remind him that life is too short and how dirty socks lying on the floor won’t matter in a hundred years.

He reminds me that just because I’ve lost 3, doesn’t mean I can smother the one we’ve got left.

I’m in charge of finding out the REAL reason a little person is upset.

He’s in charge of telling me to back off, when the answer is, “Nothing.”  (even though I know it’s not ‘nothing’!)

Somehow, we’re always there to reassure each other and when necessary, to protect the little person in our house from to much smothering or micro-managing.  Too much mushy-gushy or too much bossing.

Little Persons need someone in their corner, All The Time!   Little Persons that don’t get this, turn into Mean Adults.

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About a year after Morgan died, I ran into an old friend.   Seems she and a colleague were writing a book about parenting.  (She’s allowed too, she’s got three Little Persons).    She complimented me on my parenting views regarding teenagers.  That was fine with me, since I’ve been around her teeny-boppers and pre-teens.   I enjoyed them.

Although I had changed a lot about my parenting style before Morgan died, there were even more things I changed after I realized that no matter what you do, they can still be gone in an instant.   My youngest is old enough to be a good reality check for me.

When we get cross-ways, he’s now old enough for us to sit down and talk about what exactly is causing the problem, what each of us want, and where to find the common ground we can both live with.  Kids do know the boundaries and they know when they are being selfish or taking advantage.

It’s not beat or talked into them.  They know.

But they also see a lot of adults around engaging in the same behavior, so why not?

The hardest conversation I ever had with a child was trying to explain why I expected better behavior from them than they were observing in the adults around them.

“Because I know you can.   Because you’re capable and compassionate.   Because there’s still a chance for you to fashion something different for yourself.   You don’t have to live the way these folks do.”

If I had gone over to Dad this morning, that’s what I would have shared with him.   That Little Person is your best friend.   They’re  the one that reminds you when what you say and what you do don’t match up.

They  keep you honest and make you more conscious about the choices you make.

They are your own little Dali Llama, gift of the Universe.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

No one said Teacher would show up potty-trained.

(P.S.  I will share with you the one, and I mean only one, time that the advice regarding temper tantrums pointed me in the right direction.

Morgan was 3.  Lego’s all over the living room.   Me?  I’m working graveyard shift, dispatching, and trying to figure out how to survive on 2-4 hours of interrupted naps.   He’s asked to pick up his toys.  No.

He’s asked again, more firmly.  Then he’s told, sharply.   And the tantrum begins.

I feel myself getting ready to ‘lose it’ – – so instead I start running around the house, waving my arms in wide circles (remember Windmill exercises from P.E.?  Yup, that’s it.) all the while laughing and bellowing at the top of my lungs, “I’m losing it.  I’m losin’ my bloomin’ mind” over and over.

It worked.   We ran around like wacko’s for a good five minutes or so.  I sink on the couch, exhausted.   He hugs me and says, “You’re funny mommy.”   And went over and started picking up the Legos.    I think the laughing is what did it.)