It’s All About ME!

“A lifetime is like a drop of water into the ocean.” *

This is a quote I find very relatable as I approach my 92nd year on this earth!  For reasons beyond me, I feel very special, as though finally, yes, there is a reason, reliable or not, known or unknown!  Convoluted sentence?  Goes with the territory!

This story is not wholly about me.  Recently I saw the movie “The Green Book” – very  enjoyable and entertaining.  Not till next day did I realize also how relatable to my life (totally different however) this movie is.  It is the story of one preferred class being superior based primarily on skin color.  My tale is about Clarence, a ‘never-do-well’ college educated black man, addicted to alcohol, and my mother, an immigrant from Italy with little reading and writing skills in Italian or English.  What she did have, was  a tremendous desire that her children become Americans, which to her meant reading, writing and speaking English!

A little background into my family gives the story of a young widow (my mother), with 4 children under the age of 5, and 3 ages 8-10 (set of twins).  The nuns of St. Paul’s Catholic School cared for my mother (she was awfully good to them) and wanted to ease her burden somewhat.  They took me into 1st grade even though I was only 5 and spoke only Italian.

To backtrack a bit, these were the days of Prohibition.  My parents had a huge garden of grapevine and grapes, made their own wine, and disposed of it however they did (?).  Needless to say, our home was always full of people, all colors.  Enter Clarence:  he loved my mother’s cooking and wine.  My mother so admired his educational background, she asked him to help me with reading, writing and speaking English, and she would provide him with all the Pasta E Fagioli (Pasta & Bean Soup) he could eat!  They made a deal, and I had a wonderful tutor 4-5 years for which I am forever grateful.  Early on I latched on to his love of reading.  If I lost most of my “things” in this life, but could still read, the loss would be “0”.  Clarence had a rocky life, but was always appreciated and loved, even to this day, by me.

 

* Author unknown

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Memories | 8 Comments

My Continuing Life

As I awakened this morning,  I had a very inspiring thought/idea for my next blog writeup.  By the time breakfast was over, and my writing utensils were set up, the idea was gone!  And so it seems, as time moves on for me, that I must move more quickly now, to accomplish what I came to do.  And what is that one might ask?  Exactly that — a big question mark!  My holiday weekend was spent in Portland  with family and friends, and was all I could have wanted.  Coming home to my little house, just me, squirrels and birds – totally different, yet just as satisfying.  So what is real, all of it or none, and does it matter?  It’s gone.  Only now remains!  And I think of all I must do,  and know by the end of the day it will all be gone and amount to nothing – and start over again tomorrow…. One could so easily give up and view life as a futile gesture.  Another would say “that’s a copout”.  We must “fulfill our destiny” – whatever that is!  The search goes on!  I will end with a phrase from Victor Frankl:   “What is to give light must endure burning” and another from Edith Wharton:   “You can be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Memories | 3 Comments

Four Legged Creatures

Animals as pets were not part of my growing up.  The occasional dog was kept by the male members of the family to take along on hunting trips.  My mother’s love was cats…indoor, outdoor, male, female, stray or otherwise…they were all the same to her, and they were all called Tommyboy, for tom-cats.  And of course she fed them all!  On the other hand, my husband’s family raised cute little wire-haired terriers, so dogs were always a part of his life.

After marriage and 3 children later, it was time for a dog.  What breed of dog??  We decided to go to the local shelter and look around.  Luck was with us.  We came home with the best dog ever – a sweet gentle Dachshund, whom we called Fritzie.

Six months later we were on our way to Colorado for a year, and left Fritzie with our neighbor, Mrs.  Marzen, who had recently lost her husband and lived alone.  On our return to New York, we couldn’t separate them – Fritzie had found his permanent home!

Another child later (now 4) we moved to Huntington, Long Island – new town, new house, new job.  We were barely settled in when my sister decided to come visit.  She came with a woman friend, and another friend in her pocket, literally – a six week old Chihuahua just barely weaned, called Poncho.

The children were totally captivated by the dog, and he was ours!  Poncho lasted about 5 years.  He was very protective of our 1/2 acre.  Snapped at the mailman everyday, also any and all persons approaching the front door.  But one day romance struck.  He caught the scent of a female in heat, a few blocks away.  During one of his trips he was struck by a car, and he was gone.

.

Two children later, total 6, it was time for another dog.  We were quite sophisticated by now, we thought.  A larger dog seemed a welcome change.  Thus our search led us to a local breeder of black Labradors.  He had a new litter of these delightful dogs, and we had the pick of the bunch.  Misty (as we eventually named her) came a few days before Christmas and was confined to Greg’s (our oldest child) bedroom so as to be a surprise to the younger children.  Although there were some audible squeals, no one suspected a thing.  It was a lovely surprise for all to see this squiggly little black thing under the tree on the morning of.  However,  Misty’s days were numbered.  Too big to be confined to the house, and too rambunctious to roam the neighborhood (dogs did not have to be leashed).  Oftentimes she would escape,  and we’d find her at the harbor, playing in the water.  The end came one day when I returned from shopping to find that Misty had stripped the  couch down to its  wooden frame!  Fabric and stuffing floated from floor to ceiling, and Misty was  having the time of her life.  Fortunately, we had a friend whose parents had a turkey farm in Massachusetts, and were looking for a large dog to help control the turkeys.  Misty had a long and happy life there, chasing turkeys, and we were able to move on to another dog.

Luckily, we did not have to search far and wide. A multi-breed dog, belonging to a teacher friend of Toms’,  had recently had a litter of puppies, and he was anxious to find other homes for them.  We were offered one, we accepted, and were very happy with our decision till the end.  Hupa, named after the Hupa Indian Tribe in California which we had recently visited, was everything we wanted.  Not very big, but sweet, gentle and protective.  She moved with us from New York to Oregon, and lived till put to sleep due to a seizure disorder.

Now I live alone, and am asked by friends and family why I don’t have a cat or a dog.  I’ve had cats (my mother’s – at one point there were 12), and our 4 dogs.  Although I look back with pleasure mostly, now I have all I can handle with bees, birds, feral cats, and squirrels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Memories | 7 Comments

MOVING ON

MarathonThe year 2017 was an up/down one for me.  In January 2018, I resolved to examine some of the issues – what was good, not so good, why, etc. etc.  The first week of May 2018 is almost past, and I haven’t gotten any closer to resolving the issues of 2017, let alone remembering what they were!  Not to feel guilty – it is the past and I don’t have to do anything about it except to remind myself that I’m still here, and consequently have things to do or I wouldn’t be here.

My birthday came and went (so good to have it early in the year), my gardens awakened, and continue to thrive with new plantings on the horizon.  All routine things.  Happily though, some events not routine occur, which bring joy and much pleasure.  Such was the case this past weekend with the happening of the Eugene Marathon!  I participated in the Half-Marathon Walk with my daughter Janet and our friend Carl.  We finished the race with walkers still behind us! As some of you may know, I look for coins on my daily walks, and probably average 8-10 pennies a month (and sometimes silver!).  Well, surprise surprise!  We had  barely started walking our walk, when I spotted 2 shiny pennies in the middle of the path!  Picked them up, and we were off!

At one point along the way, our friend Sarah Case waited patiently with a nice box  of delectable pastries – a welcome treat!  The route was well-marked using orange traffic cones, with polite and helpful police at some of the more challenging intersections.   My son-in-law Tom Keating snapped pictures of the group along the way, grandsons Ryan and Sean provided a cheering section, and daughter Sara (who could not participate because of an injury) greeted us at the finish line with hugs and more picture-taking!!  The weather also cooperated.  The weatherman had predicted Monsoon-like conditions.  Instead we had mild temperatures, very light sprinkling of rain, thin clouds, bright sun – all in all varied and unremarkable – making perfect conditions.

Marathon pic from JaneOf course, our attitude helped.  We were going to have fun, and we did!! Jokes, laughs, stories, serious moments, all in all delightful.  I’ve already signed up for next year, but it doesn’t matter whether I do it or not.  I’ll always have the  1/2 Marathon walking experience and coming to the finish line with family and friends.  Something more out there?  Why sit when you can walk?  (See you on the trail….)

  

Posted in Bits and Pieces | 4 Comments

DOUBLE TALK

Some days I feel on top of the world. Others, like today, I’m overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge concerning a routine situation! This can be a downer if the vacillating is too frequent. As I pondered this dilemma, I thought back to my paper of a few months ago related to thinking. Maybe I should be more philosophical, and ask what happened to affect me adversely, or be more psychological and think more of why I’m thinking as I am.

This all sounds like too much “double talk” to me. One site on the internet puts me one step closer to the difference between the two. Simply put, “Philosophy is about establishing what’s right about human thought, and Psychology is about what goes wrong with human thought.” I feel wiser already.

According to http://theydiffer.com:

  • Philosophy makes us look outside of us, imagine different scenarios, and wonder about human behavior in a Universe where everything is possible. It is the highest point of human contemplation: the contemplation of the eternal “what if”. Psychology makes us look inside ourselves and creates theories starting from man’s most intimate thoughts.
  • While Philosophy singles out the individual in his uniqueness, Psychology looks inside the individual to discover truths which apply to all mankind.

All of this is good, but I need a less highfalutin reason why I’m feeling up one day and down the next. A perfect world can be longed for, but it will never be. Consequently, I’ll have to deal with each day either philosophically, looking for reasons outside myself, or psychologically, looking within for awareness of the “why” concerning the given situation.

Fortunately, the rain stops, the sun shines, and we might even have a full moon. Suddenly, all’s right with the world!!

 

Posted in Bits and Pieces, Quotes, Words of Wisdom | Tagged , | 1 Comment

ATTITUDES

Aggressive, Assertive, Passive

Attitudes towards people or happenings, positive or negative, affect all of us whether we admit it or not. A recent discussion with a friend evoked this thinking, and a bit of research has perhaps clarified it for me.

Our family size – 9 children – was a normal one considering the times, and also normal the inability to predict male or female offspring. Consequently, we had 6 males/3 females. For better or worse, I was in the middle – 3 males before and 3 after. Being naturally (?) shy, it was easy to get lost in the shuffle, allowing me, often times, to escape to my room (passive?) in a tense or noisy situation.

The 3 older boys were close in age (one set of twins), so often their wants and needs ran concurrently. This, most of the time, led to noisy altercations (aggressive?). As I learned to read and speak, I equated their actions as being assertive, to stand up for your own rights. But something my understanding ignored (at the time) was we should respect the rights of others also.

An interesting fact for me is how my mind can put 2 and 2 together and come up with 5. Surely the two attitudes, to a greater or lesser degree, could be interchangeable? No!

­Being aggressive ­toward someone undermines the other person’s self- esteem and rights.

Being assertive recognizes one’s own rights without attacking or manipulating anyone.   A good leader is assertive!

Being passive could mean compliance with the wishes of others, and/or undermining your own wants and needs.

Enter another element, self-respect. Those who behave assertively always respect the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of other people as well as their own.   Or they give up and feel resentful towards those who do not read their minds or sense their needs. Many of our behavior patterns were learned during our upbringing.  Being put down, or pushing others around, feels familiar, and acceptable.

To counter these feelings takes time and patience.  Fortunately, there are therapists and books galore to undo the many years of pushy, manipulative, or passive behavior.

 

Posted in Memories, Soap Box, Stories, Words of Wisdom | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

SOMEWHAT POETRY, cont’d

REVERIE

I sit in the bright sunlight
Captured by the nodding daisy heads,
Lulled by the hum of the bees.
Wild and wind tossed
The berry blossoms swirl around me
And I think of you.

A dragonfly, shiny blue
Weaves its way through the tall grasses.
I close my thoughts to lose myself in the noisy silence,
But the jailed words that would be spoken
Are as the roar of the ocean
And I think of you.

**********************
TRUTH

Why pretend any longer?
Who am I fooling?
Only me.

Does the wind long to be liquid?
The sun gloats smugly without which we are lost.

Would the trees be rock?
Be who you are.
The world awaits.

***************************
LOSS

I wish I could know you
But you’re leaving.
The desolate loneliness sweeps over me
As locusts consuming the toils of man.

I think of you and the energy
Stored within me
Drains to nothingness.

There was a time –
I knew you well.
Where?

***********************

JOY

Joy –          Wind whistling through the trees

Joy –          Birds cavorting with the air

Joy –          Lean your head toward mine

Joy –          Ground trembling with green

Joy –          Sky bare of frown

Joy –          Love me, love, love me

Posted in Poetry | 5 Comments

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”

Way back in 1975, almost 43 years ago to the day, I wrote a paper on the misuse of guns and the lack of gun control. Today, considering the current ongoing situation with shootings of the innocent, I would like to share that paper with you.

****

The often quoted Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms. (I’m not sure it does. If at all, in a very limited outmoded sense.) But is this right a license for Americans to kill each other? The prevalent feeling seems to be that murders are committed by criminals, and gun control laws would disarm the law-abiding citizen while the criminal keeps his weapon. Although criminals were responsible for 28% of all murders in 1972 according to FBI statistics, the fact remains that many innocent people are killed with a handgun every day by other than criminals.

Throughout the nation, newspapers carry shocking stories of gross unnecessary tragedies. In Chester, PA, Shawn Armstead shoots himself after finding a .45 caliber revolver in a dresser drawer. He is dead at 4 years of age. Shooting at tin cans among sand dunes near their home in Palm Desert, CA, Juan Diaz, 19, accidentally kills his brother with a .22 caliber pistol when a companion jostles his arm. The FBI reports that of the 19,510 murders committed in the United States in 1973, 53% involved handguns. Long guns accounted for only 12%. The problem then, is mainly with handguns rather than with all firearms in general.

According to public opinion polls, Americans have favored gun control laws overwhelmingly since 1938. A 1972 Gallup Poll shows that two out of five Americans would ban handguns for everyone, except for those people who need them for public safety use, such as police, security guards, and the military. Why then, hasn’t Congress acted? Primarily because they have been afraid to buck the NRA whose million members are made up of hunters, sports shooters, collectors and dealers. One reason is that the powerful NRA Lobby has the ability to evoke a tremendous response from its members in the form of angry letters to the congressmen. The law makers in turn hesitate to cross gun control opponents for fear of vote loss at election time.

Actually, the NRA stresses lawful gun ownership, with emphasis on existing gun laws. According to a recent article in US News & World Report, a point that is being made by gun control opponents is that it is the user of the gun – not the gun – that is the problem. “Better enforcement and tougher penalties” they say, “are the appropriate remedy – not registration, licensing or ban.”

Regardless of whether the person or the gun is the problem, the fact remains that as long as there are handguns available, people will use them. According to FBI statistics 31% of all murders in 1972 occurred within families and another 41% grew out of arguments and disputes, often between people who knew each other. Criminals made up about 28%.

Gun control opponents are aware of the handgun menace, but they are also very much aware of the anti-hunting groups that would ban all guns and ammunition. Bob Brister, writer for Field and Stream, expresses several opinions from sportsmen about what should be done about the handgun problem. “Some believe we should not give an inch on any form of gun control. This is based on the premise that no matter what gun laws are passed, anti-gun elements will have a foot in the door and be back for more legislation. Others believe it is better to get a reasonable law relating only to cheap handguns rather than risk an avalanche of antigun bills which might take away all handguns and possibly, eventually, shot guns and sporting rifles as well.”

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, a watered down version of the original proposal, is weak and ineffective. Although the law stats that sellers of handguns must be licensed and forbids interstate mail sales, the law also has some very important negative aspects. Except for known criminals and mental incompetents, anybody can own a gun. The law bans the import of the ‘Saturday Night Special’, an inexpensive, easily concealed, foreign made handgun, but not the parts! Consequently, the ‘specials’ are assembled here and continue to be sold.

Former police chief Jerry V. Wilson, writing in the Washington Post asked “…what do all those handguns contribute to our society to justify the deaths and crimes of which they are instruments?” According to estimates made by Professor Franklin Zimring of the Univ. of Chicago, “assault with a gun is five times as likely to kill the victim as assault with a knife.”

Our objective must be to enact sane, sensible, effective, federal laws. A new booklet, Gun Registration: Costly Experiment or Crime Cure? , published by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, presents some little known facts concerning licensing of handguns. New York City, with eight million residents, has 24,354 pistol licenses, of which 564 are issued to citizens who do not require them for their jobs. Yet the city has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. Since l966 when New Jersey enacted its fire-arms-owner license law, its murder rate has doubled. Illinois has had a similar problem. Obviously, individual states are not able to cope with the problems arising from the misuse of handguns, and so must rely on stricter federal regulations or advocate a complete ban of these guns.

Opponents of gun control laws maintain that these laws are an ‘invasion of privacy’ and violate their ‘right to keep and bear arms’. Maybe it is about time we took a good look at the Second Amendment, and realize that “it was only meant to give states the right to have an armed militia of citizens”, and not a license to use a firearm against another.

 

 

Posted in Soap Box | Tagged | 4 Comments

With love, on St. Valentine’s Day

There are many stories about St. Valentine’s Day.  The one I grew up with was about a priest named Valentine.  And what he liked to do most was marry couples.  He lived during the time of Emperor Claudius.  Claudius wanted to have a large army  (doesn’t anything ever change?) and expected men to volunteer.  But many men did not want to go to war and leave their wives and families.  Claudius then had the brilliant idea of forbidding marriage.  Of course the people thought it a terrible idea, especially Father Valentine.  So he continued to marry people in secret.

One night, he was caught and thrown in jail and told his sentence was death.  Many young people came to the jail to visit, and many threw flowers and notes up to his window.  They all believed in love as Father Valentine did.

The daughter of one of the prison guards was allowed to come often, and she and Father Valentine talked for hours.  On the day he was to die, he left a little note for his friend, and signed it, “love from your Valentine”.

I like this story best of all I’ve heard.  The note probably started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine’s Day.  Every year on this day, people remember Valentine, but mostly they think of love and friendship.  It’s a wonderful tradition.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!

 

Posted in Memories, Stories | 6 Comments

January 2018

It seems January is a month of many birthdays among my family and friends. A new beginning, another year, even as the current year is winding down. My own birthday is coming soon, and it gives me pause. Is it true what “they” say “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better”? One can only hope. Following is a poem written by Henry W. Longfellow, which is indeed full of hope.

What then? Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come, it is no longer day?
Something remains for us to do, or dare;
Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear;
Not Oedipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode,
Or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode
Out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn,
But other something, would we but begin;
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Posted in Quotes, Words of Wisdom | Tagged | 2 Comments