Coffee

There are needs, and there are wants. I NEED my morning coffee, or my day has a dead battery and I need a jump start. The smell of coffee brewing comforts me, and feels like home. With coffee, I can face my dog Roscoe who has only 2 speeds: asleep or 90 miles an hour. My little Mia wakes up like me, she stretches, yawns, and with only one eye open, she ambles up the stairs to begin her doggie day. If you were a fly on the wall, you would see that as I write I am sipping the elixir of the gods. You guessed right, if you guessed coffee. Strange rituals and choices have developed around coffee, and older people like me may remember when your choices were black, or with cream and/or sugar. Better hope that the person in line before you knows the difference between lattes, Americanos , and frappicconos, one shot or two, skim milk or whole milk, and what flavor they want in decaf or regular coffee (whipped cream or not), or you might have gray hair and wrinkles when it”s finally your turn to order.

History is divided by B.C. and A.D. The literate know that B. C. means before coffee. Anthropologists will study coffee shops and the coffee culture. White Pottery will be excavated for carbon dating. We have coffee to give us a reason to connect. “Let’s have coffee” sounds better then ” Let’s have sex on that table”. Coffee shops have rules: 1. Keep your voice down, 2.No loud parties! 3. Don’t yell at the barista for another round and 4. If you are alone, keep your eyes on your computer screen, and your earbuds in. My best friend and I even give directions to each other using the closest coffee shop as our reference point.

Coffee shops are elitist. Think about it! Harley riders do not come roaring up,dismount,and order a latte. “Let’s go have a beer.” is their favorite invitation. Cowboys, farmers, and
mechanics have dirt under their fingernails, callouses, and grease smeared on their shirts, and eyebrows may raise if they walk in to have coffee. Young professionals, students, meet-ups, and artsy-fartsy types claim coffee shops as their habitat.

Coffee can express love and friendship, and how well we know each other. Roger liked his coffee with enough cream in it to make it a caramel color. One of my sisters likes black, and blacker coffee. Another sister likes enough cream or milk to make it latte color. She also loves Christmas, because Eggnog and Gingerbread lattes are available. My sister from Portland is a coffee snob. She grinds her own coffee and uses a French Press, all very “Portlandia”. My mother is a coffee wimp. She runs hot water over the grounds, and calls it coffee,when it should be called colored water. My friend Susan likes cream and “real” sugar in her coffee. I like cream in my coffee, so please leave room for cream and then I add “fake” sugar like Splenda or Sweet and Low.

Let’s have coffee….

Coffee

Roadkill

This last Sunday I was driving on the street in Fort Collins, and I was shocked to see several wild turkeys that had been been struck and killed in the road. There was one survivor struggling to stay alive. I kept driving but burst into tears at the thought of the bird dying in the street alone. Cars avoided the injured turkey but no one stopped. My heart demanded that I turn around and take the bird to the veterinary hospital, but my brain argued that I should just keep going and not intervene with wildlife. My heart won. I scooped the bird up and placed it on the floorboard by the front passenger seat. Eyes open and still breathing, the bird had a compound fracture of a wing. Wild turkeys aren’t beautiful, colorful birds, but I saw myself reflected in it’s eyes. We spoke in unison ” Please help me, it hurts so much.” My mind went from the turkey, to me, and to Roger as he was dying. I couldn’t keep the real and the memories apart. I was captured and tortured by my vision of Rogers last breath and my feelings of pain and deep sorrow.

I got the bird to the veterinary hospital, and they called the Raptor Society to come pickup and evaluate. Waiting and crying were the only things I could do. Eyes open and still breathing…
A young woman coming to visit her injured kitten stopped to ask me what was going on and she sat and stayed with me. We covered the bird in a towel and checked every few minutes to make sure it was still breathing . I doubted they would be able to save or rehabilitate the young turkey, but euthanization would end it’s pain. Someone would witness it’s death and
it wouldn’t die alone on the road. My companion agreed and said she was so grateful that her kitten would survive. We waited together until the bird was picked up. I don’t know my companion’s name, but we were together,shared our vulnerability and saw how fragile life is. Thank you.

I cursed my out of control emotions and my determination that this young turkey would not be roadkill. The past and the present were tangled up. In that moment I knew pain and death did not ask permission to attack our complacent and ordinary lives. Death can happen in an instant or slowly day by day. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw a group of wild turkeys crossing the road in the same place, it was their path. I sat and watched them cross and I took a deep breath of relief and comfort. They all made it across. Eyes open and still breathing.

Roadkill

Playing Pinball

Topic? I have been waiting for inspiration to strike. I got nothing, and that may be something! Confused, and waiting for clarity, is my usual state of mind; all the while life is happening and manipulating me. It feels like pinball (remember? ), balls flipped this way and that, falling in holes and popping back out. I can hear the bell ringing, signaling that I scored, and feel the disappointment when the ball quietly rolled out of play. I was not a “pinball wizard”….. But I could concentrate, and learned how and when to press the button that moved the bumpers and flippers. I felt excited when I pulled the lever to shoot the ball into play. I was sure that this time I could wrack up a big score. This time would be different.

The lyrics to “Pinball Wizard” written by Pete Townsend describe him as a ” a deaf, dumb and blind kid” who plays by “intuition” and “sense of smell”:

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
He plays by intuition
The digit counters fall
That deaf dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

When I played well I took all the credit, and when I didn’t, the machine was bad, the sun was in my eyes, or God was not on my side. The poor decisions I made that caused the machine to “tilt” were not my fault. I had all my senses, but no intuition like the pinball wizard. I was not inside my life and felt numb. When I shot the balls into play, I did not have a plan except to do the opposite of what I learned as a child. How could I keep the ball in play when I was full of fear and my brain to heart coordination was way off?

I’d like to think that today, I own my life, mistakes and all. Sometimes no matter what I do, a ball rolls slowly and quietly out of play. Roger is no longer in the game and even the “Pinball Wizard” can’t change that. I play with less desperation and entitlement, and more for the simple joy of playing. It’s been a long game and much more to come. When I pull the lever to put the ball into play I accept that luck is a part of the game, but practice is most of it. People say Danita “Sure plays a mean pinball!”

Playing Pinball

Micro Bursts

Micro poetry is just what it sounds like: very short poems about any subject you like. Just for fun (are we having fun yet?), I will look at my stack of books and pick three topics from what I see. 25 words or less

BURN                            Burn  By Linda Howard
My blood boils
Bubbles of troubles.
Blistering skin
Peeling off.
Breathing in
Steam heat.
Dreaming of icy cold water
Ah!
Swimming in ice cubes.

DROP THE ROCK           Drop the Rock….the Ripple Affect
Carrying this weight                   By: Fred H.
I can’t keep up.
My feet shuffle
Back hurting.
Choices?
What choices?
It’s so obvious
Let go now…
Drop the rock.

HOARDING
Sweet stuff…
Piles of treasures
And trash.
Surrounded by walls
I built and
Mazes I made.
I am hiding.
Can you find me?
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding by Randy O. Frost
And Gail Stetekee
I am paying attention to the moment, looking at my books and writing about them. This is a good exercise for me when I am losing my place. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. The only place and time that is real is NOW. Getting lost in the past or the future are options that come too easy for me. I worry about what will happen and regret what has happened. Choices? What choices? My sister,Lisa, is a gratitude guru, and helps me to remember gratitude can give me the gifts of the Present. I love presents!

 

Lisa’s blog : habitual gratitude.blogspot.com

Micro Bursts

My Banjo

I am learning how to play the banjo. My teacher is a wonderful man; patient, funny and supportive. Please send him ear plugs. Learning to play was not on my radar, but when I picked up Roger’s old banjo, I thought “why not?. Maybe it was a way for me to feel closer to him after he died. How on earth would I ever learn to play the banjo? My confidence level hovered around zero. I needed a teacher. I didn’t want to be a beginner, but I got humble real fast. My fingers were complete strangers to the chords. This finger here and next finger there… the result resembled a crab.When I strummed it was obvious that my fingers were not feeling the music. I kept showing up at my lesson time and begging to be let in.

Every great banjo player was at one time, a beginner, just like me. Bela Fleck was not born with a banjo in his hands and even Earl Scruggs had to learn to play banjo. That’s what we humans do; we learn and we practice! I have tried not to practice mistakes, so I play slow before I play fast. I place each finger carefully, press the strings down and strum. I do this over and over until my fingers remember where to go and my brain knows what sound I should hear. Then I do it faster and still correctly. I have practiced a lot of mistakes over my lifetime, and wondered why things just didn’t get better. I have practiced choosing men who were big mistakes, and self hate when these doomed relationships self-destructed. Practice can never make life perfect . After awhile even wrong notes and clumsy technique can sound O.K. When you hear the correct notes and timing you finally realize your version is a mistake and sounds awful. How did I learn to play life so wrong? No one gave me lessons to help me play well and beautifully. The lessons I was taught protected the status quo, and I never knew I had my own music inside me.

So now I can play a few songs on my banjo, my practice is about using the equipment and my new skills to finally make music. It feels amazing to play “Mary had a Little Lamb”. “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” is just around the curve (of planet Earth) but I will get there.  Bluegrass here I come. I don’t mind the slow going on my banjo skills, because I am very concerned about getting it right. I have found the right teacher. Thank you John! Roger is probably laughing at me. I know he is proud of me and so am I.

My Banjo

What Time is It?

Minutes, hours, days, weeks and years. Clocks and calendars do the counting for me. I fill my time, take my time, waste my time and lose track of time.Can I really ” take” my time,or “waste ” my time.? I am not sure, but I am certain that time adds up to be my lifetime. When I am crafting, reading, or writing I often feel that I step out of time. I am often surprised how much time may have passed while I was occupied. As Roger’s dementia was progressing, I was painfully aware that each moment brought new losses and more grief. In each situation, a minute was 60 seconds long, and a day was still 24 hours, but my experience of time was very different.

For the last few months , I have used a lot of my time in conflict with the board of my HOA. My friends, my son, and my sisters might tell you I have been obsessed with this conflict. I hate to admit they are right. I got angry about an injustice to a homeowner, and I set out to prove that I am right, the board is wrong. And while I was at it, I organized a meeting with the board where homeowners could express their grievances with how the board and property manager were not doing their jobs. It was like I jumped into a lake with dirty water contaminated with anger, resentment and righteous indignation. When I got out of the water I carried all these nasties on my skin, and a shower could not wash them away. I was unaware how they infected my life. I wrote letters, speeches and perfect retorts in my head. I vented in emails and I hit the send button. I made lots of phone calls to gather information to prove how right I was. This was how I spent my time when I wasn’t crying in frustration. I actually resigned from the board this spring because I felt shamed at 3 different meetings and each time I went home crying. What was my first clue that this was a toxic group for me!?

Last week, I went to an evening Alanon meeting. When I got home, a nasty email from the board president welcomed me. I had to respond..take this, and this…and you are so wrong! I kept rewriting it to get the right amount of sarcasm. After an hour of this, I stopped and reconsidered. It felt like someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to look at what I was doing. My dog’s beautiful eyes were watching me and I wasn’t paying attention to him. I was hungry and tired and wanted to eat and chill out. And here I was writing a nasty email so that I could “win” a battle of words. What is the truth? Likely the president and I both have bits of truth and bits of misinformation. I am sure of only one truth, I want to spend my time doing what I love. Resentments and judgements steal my time and poison me. Every moment with Roger I tried to focus on him and make a connection. Those moments are infinite.
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz

 

What Time is It?

There was an Old Woman….

I was thinking of nursery rhymes as I was crocheting this morning, my fingers and my mind both wondering along. If you pay attention to content, many nursery rhymes are really not appropriate for children.There are sad rhymes, violent rhymes, and sexist rhymes. I know I tend to overthink, but I have several examples of nursery rhymes that are not rated PG.

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN
There was an old woman
Called Nothing-at-all,
Who lived in a dwelling
Exceedingly small;
A man stretched his mouth
To its utmost extent,
And down at one gulp
House and old woman went

This rhyme screams of sexism, ageism and has the icky element too. The old woman is called “Nothing -at- all”, invisible to the world. She is so without merit that her house is “exceedingly small”. Put her away so we can’t see her. We don’t want to be reminded that we too will grow old and become worthless. Of course, it is “a man” who takes care of the “problem” by eating the old lady and her house. He does it in one gulp! This is not warm and fuzzy.

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed

Where is the Father or Fathers of all these children? Child support? Joint custody?  The overwhelmed Mother/old woman whipped the children “soundly”. She gave them a “hard and severe” whipping. What a pleasant thought. This old woman needed lots of therapy. I hope the child abuse was investigated. What a dysfunctional mess!

THE THREE SONS
There was an old woman had three sons,
Jerry and James and John,
Jerry was HANGED, James was DROWNED,
John was LOST and NEVER WAS FOUND;
And there was the end of her three sons,
Jerry and James and John!

What a sad tale for children. Old women have miserable lives; they get eaten, whip their children, or all their children die before them. Of course, we make them the stars of nursery rhymes for our children. This is not how I want to earn my gold stars.  Old women are not even valued in nursery rhymes, and certainly not by our culture.  I bet Jill tried to talk Jack out of going up the hill to get water….

There was an Old Woman….