New Connections

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Born into a republican family, I am now a left-leaning liberal, a lonely weight on a scale of reasoning countering more conventional, conservative familial coins. Most times the scale is not level, but to me, that hardly matters. I do not perceive such tendencies as I’ve nurtured into being over the last 15-20 years as a new thinking connection, since they feel more like uncovered clarity than something once tightly shrink-wrapped and forbidden. Yet viewed over the longer life, these thoughts are indeed new, in the sense that non-moderate ways of thinking are clearly a departure from my blood tree. Where is the line between what I think and what I was, albeit subliminal at times, taught to think? Are these thoughts truly my own or did I merely rebel against my parents well-intended guidance, or perhaps finally warmed to college’s relentless peer pressure influence on a late-forming mind?

As the days continue to clock-spin toward the inevitable, I do not suffer fools as easily as I once did. Nor do I possess a willingness to spend time foolishly as conveniently as once I did in days now distant in the mirror. I am aware of increasingly connecting to nature and knowledge, while disconnecting ever-further from the banal and temporary nature of simply being entertained. I gladly fall prey to the siren song of well-written verses, or luxuriate in watching a well-crafted documentary around a subject I know not enough about or yielding something new where I thought I walked expertly.

I continue to choose the path of connecting to learning and expanding awareness. Such new connections, be they people of interest (both aligned and opposite), or insights that cannot be left unpondered, or moments that bare emotions and bring new colors to living, are my foods of knowing and slakers of my learning thirst.


Writing Challenge:  NEW CONNECTIONS
  1. New Connections – Patti Larsen
  2. Agents and Rushing into Publishing – Nicole Williams
  3. New Connections – Rebecca Bradley
  4. Forging Threads – and New Connections – Annetta Ribken
  5. Getting to Know You – Rebeca Shiller
  6. Sole-Mate? – India Drummond
  7. New Connections: Social Networking and Writers’ Group – Ruchira
  1. Second Tuesday. 1. New Connections – Alberta Ross
  2. New Connections – Linda
  3. New Connections – Gary Varner
  4. Facebook Connections – Eden Baylee
  5. Tuesday Review – Kira Morgana
  6. Sunny Sings the Blues – Sunny
  7. A Nod to Glass Cases – Gale Martin
This post is part of a monthly writing challenge known as “Second Tuesday,” written by members of the Fellow Writers’ Facebook group. Click on any link above to read another “Second Tuesday” post. Enjoy!

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Time for the New Pig

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New year resolutions:  I don’t abide by that process, although I do believe in the annual retreat review/reset of goals and objectives. So…isn’t that a form of resolutions? Yeah, probably. Likely just dressing up a pig and calling it a Pig.

Over the last week I followed my usual annual process of invigorated reassessment followed by a few cute forms for tracking the supposed new habits and pretending like the new tasks are norms in my life. Truth is I generally function under an umbrella of an organized framework by either being invigorated in the moment and thus do something I want to do that also happens to be something I should do, or I find intellectual distractions that keep me from the assigned task. Note that I rarely procrastinate on things that have to be done (in the sense of impending arms-length deadlines), but seem to have an internal taskmaster that schedules priorities by some mystical process my conscious self isn’t allowed to understand. And that’s probably a good thing, or I’d mess with the process and likely compromise the whole time-space continuum thing.

Part of me yearns to allow more serendipity in my life, while the logical side plots to create more charts and process flow maps. And lists. Gotta love those lists. List making is the ultimate “enjoy the journey” activity, since apparently most the pleasure comes from making the list not checking off the list items.

So this year will be different? Right. Resolutions (er, the Pig) will be obeyed, and resistance is futile. Right. I’ll get back to you on that one soon, but don’t loose any sleep waiting up for my report. It’s on my list, but who knows when I’ll get to it.

The New York Times Blues

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Although I sometimes slip in and out of self-imposed media blackouts (at times it’s just healthy to unplug from negative vibes), I’ve a long love affair with The New York Times. Sunday afternoon used to find me curled up in an easy chair plodding though the Sunday New York Times, more book than newspaper.

But I live in a small Northwest Ohio town where delivery is not available, and the snailmail subscription is a bit pointless with its two-day+ delay. I’ve tried using their Web site, which has to be one of the worst designed sites for users, although everything’s there if one has the patience to wander around lost and serendipitously bump into bits of news. Yes, I can walk down to the local newstand and buy a daily copy, but at current prices that amounts to $85 a month, and even for a pleasurable habit that’s an obscene amount of money for a newspaper. I’ve even tried their $20/month TimesReader, which is pretty slick, but I *hate* paying a subscription fee for something online that delivers ads to me. Subs are supposed to be a way to avoid online ads, not pay for the privilege of their annoyance.

Enter TimesSkimmer, stage left. I discovered this alternate way of reading the Times online last week. Skimmer’s been there a while, but like everything else on the NYTimes.com site, it’s apparently a bloody secret since they hide it so well. While it’s missing the panache of TimesReader with its slick browse-news-by-photos feature and ability to look back through seven days of papers, Skimmer has smaller ads (which I can block in Safari whereas Times Reader is an AdobeAir product and unblockable) and Skimmer is organized well enough to make finding things not quite as onerous as the main site. No search, but once one clicks on a story headline/summary to read, you get the Web page and can search, etc., from there. Pretty slick, not perfect, but will do for now.

I don’t ask for much:  just let me live in a small town where I don’t have to drive all time and can walk to work, and has The New York Times home delivery. I guess one out of two is as good as I’ll get…for now!


Frugality’s Ten Commandments

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Caught this on TheStreet.com, but thought it worth sharing. I’m big on a recycle-reuse-reduce philosophy, so these make a lot of sense to me. Plus, they point to a self-reliance, self-sufficiency attitude which we all could do with a little more of in our lives. But on the keeping up with the Joneses, I confess I don’t have a neighbor named Jones, so I’ll have to find someone else to ignore.

You can read the details of each commandment here, but the 10 commandments themselves pretty well tell the whole story.

  1. Thou shalt do things yourself.
  2. Thou shalt not waste.
  3. Thou shalt not pay full retail price.
  4. Thou shalt ignore the Joneses.
  5. Thou shalt look for alternatives before buying.
  6. Thou shalt buy used.
  7. Thou shalt be patient.
  8. Thou shalt purchase by value, not price.
  9. Thou shalt only buy when you have the money.
  10. Thou shalt not buy things you don’t need.

Christmas Spirit

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I’ve ranted before about the uber-consumerism of the holidays, both from irritation about the season seeming to start earlier every year, to the stress of what overspending does to many folks who can’t afford it, yet feel the pull of the season. Yes, I know the government wants us all to spend, spend, spend to fuel the economy, but in the current climate that’s rather insane. Many Americans are in financial trouble today because of the excesses of yesterday, although clearly not all because of Christmas spending.

The reason for the season seems lost, the true justification for the gift-giving being religiously based. What happens if one is not religious? Then the reason becomes a gift-giving expectation with a touch of enjoying a time when people seem to be nicer to each other than usual. If all this is beginning to sound like I’m a Christmas Grinch, you’d be off target, but not totally. My childhood generated a lot of good Christmas memories, but truth be told, they were either gift-related or moments when our family got together in a festive way. The latter is a great reason for the season, the former a lousy one.

The Leaf Man Cometh

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So much for plans to sleep in on Saturday. Late last night I realized that TODAY was the volunteer leaf pick up in my town. Most years the city provides leaf vacuuming, curbside, but the last two years, no-go. Budgets and all that. This year a mayoral candidate organized a volunteer effort to pick up the leaves and take ’em to the county mulch pile. Cool.

I’m not a leaf raker & bagger normally. I believe in mulching the leaves to feed the grass, rather than consigning bags of leaves to the dump. But I haven’t kept up with raking this year, so this was an opportunity to support the cause, ensure the leaves go to mulch and not landfill, and catch me up. There are still leaves around to mulch, so fall’s duties are not quite over.

Pickup starts at 8 a.m. so at 6 a.m., wishing I was still snug in my warm bed, I’m out there in the dark, raking and bagging. A street light made it reasonably possible for the first hour or so, but I still felt a bit sneaky doing it in the dark! Results? My shoulders ache, I’m still amazed my little yard could generate twelve bags of leaves, but at least the task is complete. Now I can shower and leaf (groan) to go the coffee shop for the day to work on the Nano novel.

Update

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My writing energies this month focus on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) annual challenge, so blog posting is sparse. Since the NaNo challenge is all about word count, have to be stingy with the words and keep them hoarded in the novel!

I posted a while back (or was it on Facebook?) about the mystery of my big maple tree’s potential color. Screaming Yellow is the winner, although the tree was reticent to show its true colors and remained green longer than other trees around here. And when it finally turned, the top half went yellow before the bottom, so there was never a moment of a solid yellow tree. But still, a lovely blanket of yellow maple leaves cover my yard. The grass, knowing I mulch and not bag leaves, is giggling as I write this in anticipation of the fertilizer soon to feed their hungry roots.

The photo below is my daily view from where I usually sit and surf or write, and as you can tell, my maple tree fills my view nicely. Can’t wait until snow comes and the same scene changes to soft snow nestled on bare branches. Seasons. Gotta love ’em.

10-10-10

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Today’s date is one of those calendar quirks that numerologists would tend to associate with…something significant. To me it’s just another day, albeit a sunny, warm, October day with the leaf colors beginning to approach mid-point.

As I sat on my porch this morning, reading the Sunday funnies and pondering life through the colored backdrop of my neighbor’s oak tree, I wondered if at some point in the future I’d remember where I’d been on October 10th, 2010. Or if I’d remember I wondered about this oddity come November 11th, 2011. And so forth.

But in the end, just another good day to be alive and thinking. Don’t need the numbers to align just right to make this day any more special than every day.

Embracing My Inner Plant

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I’m pondering a fairly radical lifestyle adjustment:  embracing my inner-plant and going vegetarian. A couple times in the past I tried this challenging choice with mixed success.It helps that I love vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and that I rarely eat beef, but on the dark side I’m quite fond of salmon, shrimp, chicken, and pork. Of course such a change would mean getting familiar with such plant family equivalents of the Addams Family as the oddball shown at right from my latest CSA haul. Never eaten kohlrabi (German turnip) before, but am about to figure out how to cook this alien-looking member of the cabbage family.

My driver is not an ethical one. Statistics are out there to confidently support all positions, but I’m feeling eliminating meat (and eventually dairy) will significantly help some health issues I’m dealing with, and be of great help to losing weight, a long-term demon/monkey I’ve dealt with (among other benefits).

It’s not a path for everyone, and still pondering whether it’s the right one for me. I will likely start with a 2/5 approach that’s popular these days (two days vegan, five days usual). Whichever path I take, you’ll likely hear about it here on inkmusings, along with photos of the journey. Which begs an answer to this perplexing question:  if one says “cheese” when photographing people, what’s the smile-inducing trigger word when posing rutabaga? “Compost?”

Do Squirrels Dream (of days off)?

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It’s a glorious day in my small Ohio town:  clear blue skies, slight breeze, 70°, leaves beginning to change colors. I picked a great day to take off and wander in nature…if I didn’t have a list longer than my arm to accomplish today. I’m planing on a three-day weekend to jump-start back into house fix-up mode and make some progress, so will have to work extra hard today to avoid the temptation to just take off.

But first I have some errands to run, which will conveniently place me outside on this glorious day. Plus, as I write this, I’m still in my bathrobe and sitting on the porch, enjoying the weather. I think sleeping late, and a definite reluctance to get out of jammies is de rigueur when it comes to day-offness. The remainder of my morning will let check a few things off the refrigerator list:  driver’s license change of address, drop fireplace trim panels off at the machine shop to be cut down, library. And then the afternoon beckons with painting a couple of doors, the hall linen drawers I’d primed two months ago, vinegar-boiling more hardware to strip away 90 years of grime, and countless other goodies if I have time left over.

No question it will be hard today to avoid one of my favorite day-off past-times:  sitting in a coffee shop or cafe in the middle of the afternoon knowing I normally, at that time of day, am crunching numbers or analyzing resource impacts in my cube at work. Which brings me back to Mr. Squirrel. What does he do on his day off? Does he visit the neighborhood cat and not taunt him (one of his daily chores), or sit under the big oak tree and not gather nuts? Every day’s a working day to a squirrel, but happily I can enjoy and relish my human Friday off.