Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Fair … and a thought about safety

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Standing in line for the giant ferris wheel when we were at the fair last week, I looked around at all the people there on a Thursday. My first thought was that I was glad I wasn’t there on a Saturday or Sunday! Crowds are not my thing at all. I like calmer, happy, gentler fun and laughter; crowds tend to be too manic and out-of-control for me.

Looking at the people in line and around the fair, a second thought struck me: the Colorado movie theater shooter. That shooting in the theater was such a random event; not the act of a foreign terrorist hell-bent on terrorizing Americans; it was a guy armed with guns (a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol), an American, a student. If it could happen there, it could surely happen at a fair packed with people. Sure, they check our bags as we enter, but it’s a cursory check, quick, brief.

It saddened me that I even had that thought. It saddened me that any gathering could be a target for someone armed to kill with guns. I wish I hadn’t thought it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last week, I heard a news interview with a young woman. “I went to that camp. I was at the camp where the shooter was a counselor. I just can’t believe it! It’s just so … so … surreal! To think that I … I was just amazed when I made the connection. It’s so surreal,” she said in breathless, awestruck tones. The news reporter went on to say that the shooter had been a counselor at the camp … in 2008. Not recently. Four years ago, in 2008. He also went on to say that the young woman never actually met the shooter, not ever. She just happened to have attended a camp where the shooter had one time been a counselor. Years ago.

This is news? The reporter went to journalism school to make these kinds of non-connections between events and people? There is NO connection. Why does the media make these stretches and try to create a connection that does not exist? Why did that young woman feel that this was “so surreal?” She never met the guy. She has zero connection to him. Since I live in the same state that he’s from, am I connected? No.

Talking with other friends, this seems to be fairly common among some young people, trying to connect themselves to media events in some way, any way, even when they’re not connected in any way. Why this stretching? Is it for some measure of fame, false as it is? These false connections diminish the real facts, diminish the real news, diminish the real connections that could lead to some understanding of these events. I don’t understand why everyone wants to be a media darling, falsely attaching themselves to tragic events. It’s so surreal.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Unemployment Benefit: The Fair, home tour and dancing!

080609 fair giant ferris wheel

What a super-fantabulous fun-filled day yesterday! I spent the day at the fair having fun, then went on a VIP champagne–and–hors d’oeuvres home tour of beautiful model homes and then finished off the night at my friend’s Scottish country dancing class. (I did spend two hours in the morning working on my job search; I was a responsible adult.)

Orange County Fair – My granddaughters, their cousin, my brother and I all went. We started with some food (Wow! Prices have really gone up; had to shop around for 072612 Fair - Cat Womensomething that didn’t require selling a kidney.) and watched a bit of chef Robert Irvine’s demonstration.

Wandered over to the tattoo booth and I got a mehndi (henna) tattoo and the girls got airbrushed tats. Then it was off to the giant ferris wheel, where the attendant looked like Snoop Dogg. What a view from this thing! Loved it. My brother and I wandered the exhibits while the girls went on more rides then we all watched young people dancing and performing at one of the stages. Oh! And we finished up with funnel cake. Always have to have funnel cake at the fair!

 072612 - Julia airbrush tattoo   072612 Fair - mehndi art tattoo072612 - Fair - J and B airbrush tattoes

VIP Home Tour – I received an invitation from a home development around the corner to come view their latest model, complete with champagne and hors d’oeuvres, so my friend Vicki and I went to go hobnob with the upper crust.072612 pacific shores - kitchen lighting (Actually, Vic IS upper crust, but she’s the cool kind.)

I’ve always loved to view model homes; when my daughter was young, we used to visit one of the local developments, pretending we lived in “our” selected model, deciding how we’d arrange our furniture – fun, imaginative play. Vic and I had a great time enjoying the models, although we had to question why one of them used plain old white 072612 pacific shores - bath backsplash4x4 tile in the bathrooms. The food was fabulous: melon with prosciutto, fabulous cheeses (my fave was the cherried cheese), fruits, wraps, assorted crackers. One guy was obviously there for the food and drink as he kept going back for seconds, thirds, fourths.

072612 pacific shores - wall stencils - close-up

Scottish Country Dancing – And then we were off to Vic’s dance class. This was my first time seeing her group, although she’s been dancing for years. I think I could do this! I love choreography and it was pretty easy to pick that part up since I have a ton of ballet training; the challenge (as in most dance) would be in the technique. It’s similar to ballet in some respects, though, so maybe I have a shot. I told Vic that it’s different than my usual salsa dancing where there’s a lot of body contact. “It’s British,” she laughed; “they don’t touch.” ha!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Visitors

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I fed the plants in my little courtyard garden earlier this afternoon. As I stood there watering, feeling the warmth of the summer sun on my skin, relaxing my muscles and mind and spirit, I noticed the white butterflies that floated softly from plant to plant – from the roses to the society garlic, to the salvia and  mandevilla. I noticed the spiders busily weaving their webs among the plants, hoping for their catch of the day. As I bent down to clean out a few leaves near the jasmine and the fountain flowing next to it, my arm brushed a transparent web that I didn’t see before. A couple of wasps busied themselves, hunting amongst the flowers.

My little courtyard gives me quiet, meditative time, looking up at blue skies, watching the clouds blown out by the ocean breeze as they spread wispily across the sky, feeling warm rays on my skin. I enjoy the aliveness of my garden with flora growing and changing, insects making their homes, everything alive and vibrant. Later this afternoon, I heard mourning doves calling their gentle coo and looked out to see a pair perched atop the garage. Ah, summer …

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Authentic Self - What do I choose to consume?

Mom used to always tell us "Don't be a follower." She always taught us to listen to our true hearts and not just go along with the crowd.

But when you're a pre-teen/teen/young adult, following the crowd is what gets you accepted by others, it's how you make friends. If everyone is wearing the current trends, listening to the popular music but you're not, it's easy to be left out of things. So we quiet our true hearts, go along with the crowd, do the things everyone else is doing and we're accepted as part of the group. It's human nature; we're safer in groups. And we start believing we're choosing for ourselves when we're really following the crowd in order to gain acceptance.

When we're babies and toddlers, though, this "following" mentality doesn't even register. We are totally reactive and accepting. Babies drool, make funny faces, laugh at silly things, wear untrendy clothes - without ever a thought as what anyone else might think. They're completely, totally uninhibited and free of any judgment, of themselves or others.
Choose wisely what you expose your mind to; what input you give it; who you spend your time with; what kind of "bread" you feed your one-of-a-kind mind to nourish it." - Beads of Wisdom, Janice Lynne Lundy
As I got past my 30s and beyond, I started to do more self-examination. What did I really like? What really spoke to my true heart? What would I choose if I was totally uninhibited and free of judgment? How could I be more the way I was when I entered this world? What if I actually marched to the beat of my own drummer and chose to be my really, truly, authentic self?

My authentic self:
  • Doesn't like cartoons (They're too over-the-top, too "ah-OOO-ga!" for me)
  • Loves Chocolate Almond ice cream
  • Doesn't like violent movies, car chases, explosions
  • Doesn't like 3D (it spoils the movie for me because the emphasis is on the snazzy special effects)
  • Loves a good story
  • Finds fireworks boring (explosions, bang-boom-pow - yawn ... tell me a good story instead)
  • Chooses non-violence - TV shows, books, movies - I'm more careful about what I consume and prefer peace and love over violence and fear
  • Doesn't drink alcohol (never really found a reason to; oddly to some, I don't like the way it makes me feel; I feel different, not me, not authentic)
  • LOVES yoga
  • Loves to take walks in the morning
  • Loves to lie in the sun in the afternoons
  • Loves to hug others with loving enthusiasm
  • Is completely content to be alone, puttering around my home, doing whatever I choose to do to make me happy
  • Laughs out loud at funny shows
  • Claps (alone in my home) at great performances on So You Think You Can Dance
  • Loves salads and veggies and quinoa
  • Doesn't like meat in general (exceptions: tacos and my special In 'n Out burger)
  • Gags when I see any animal meat on a bone (urp)
  • Digs in the dirt without gloves (with my diamond and ruby rings on)
  • Loves loving and being loved
OK, so some of these things are the same things others like, but some get me some weird looks. (The cartoons, alcohol and meat-on-a-bone ones mostly.) The point is, I choose these things for myself, authentically, not because others like/don't like them.

Periodically, I do a self-examination and ask myself: What is no longer serving my highest and greatest good? What do I choose to consume? Do I choose things that are kind, caring, loving, nourishing to my authentic self? Things that enrich myself and others? I try to choose wisely and with a kind heart.

Are there any things that your authentic self likes or doesn't like that go against the norm?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How quickly things change …

A couple of months ago, I was thinking about how nice and quiet my life is, no drama or Big Events, just a contented, happy life. Things can change so quickly, though, and so dramatically. In the last two months:
  • I left my job
  • My dad’s wife passed away
  • My daughter was in the hospital for tests related to her lupus
  • Dad’s dog had to be put down
  • A good friend/neighbor passed away
Worst of all, my dad is no longer speaking to his family.
When Dad’s late wife was in the hospital, my brother and I spent time with him each day there; my brother usually took him in the morning and then I went in the evening to sit with him and then take him home. In spite of the circumstances, it was wonderful to be with my Dad again and listen to his stories, talk with him, share conversation and jokes.
After my mom passed away in 1990, we spent a lot of time with Dad, but after he remarried 16 years ago, that changed. We’d invite him and his wife to get together and were told they already had plans with her family. We’d invite them to holiday gatherings; at first, they’d come for an hour or so, then leave to spend the afternoon and evening with her family. One Christmas, we pulled up to my brother and sister-in-law’s home just as Dad and his wife were leaving so we had to give them their Christmas presents through the car window, with the car engine running and his wife telling us to hurry. Eventually, they just stopped coming to our family’s holiday gatherings so they could spend the time with her family instead. It was sad for us and we missed our Dad tremendously, but there wasn’t much we could do.
(Eight years ago, my Dad and his wife became legal guardians of three of her grandchildren, who have been living with them. Two of them, an adult grandson and a minor granddaughter, still live with him. He’s no longer legal guardian of either. I’m very proud of my dad to have stepped up to help raise his wife’s grandchildren, even though he was already in his 70s at the time.)
When Dad’s late wife passed away in May, my brother and I spent each day with Dad, helping him with finding bills and other paperwork, getting things organized so he could handle things more easily. (Dad’s had some strokes and suffers from memory loss at times.) We also wanted to be sure the home was safe and healthy for Dad. It was a mess (a lot of hoarding): paper piles everywhere, medicines and medical equipment in multiples of multiples, multiple kitchen appliances, boxes of food on the floor, a lot of things on the floor, actually, instead of put away.
And the kitchen – when Dad and I checked the produce drawer, there was rotten, blackened, moldy food filling the drawer, with rotten tomatoes that had gone to liquid in the bottom. A container of flan had an inch of mold growing on it. The freezer was completely stuffed with freezer-burned food. You get the picture. Not a safe place for a man with memory loss. He could’ve eaten the rotten food or mistakenly taken the wrong medicine.
My brother and I worked at cleaning up the kitchen and the bills, etc. for over a month. We took him on errands, getting prescriptions, making appointments, having lunch, taking him grocery shopping for foods he wanted. We started looking at services who could come in to cook and clean for him. We had a wonderful time finally being able to be with Dad, gathering his stories as we worked together to have a safe kitchen area for him. Kitchen surfaces were greasy and dusty; we knocked down cobwebs from corners and walls. As we cleaned, I’d ask Dad “Do you want to keep this?” If he did, I’d say “OK, let’s wash it and honor it and display it nicely.”
I took him to my cousin’s retirement/birthday party one Saturday and he had a wonderful time seeing family he hadn’t seen in many years. He accepted our invitation to attend my granddaughter’s/his great-granddaughter’s birthday party on 6/16 and we made plans to go to the pier for breakfast on Father’s Day 6/17. He also accepted my daughter’s/his granddaughter’s invitation to join the family at an Angel game and he was looking forward to all of these.
On Friday, June 15, I brought a family album with me for Dad to enjoy. He asked my brother to please make copies for him because “I don’t have any pictures of my family in the house.”
One of the appointments we took him to a couple of weeks before was to see his trust attorney, who reviewed the trust with him. When Dad reviewed it, he protested and told the attorney that he wanted changes made to it, including giving my brother Power of Attorney and  making sure that his children and granddaughter were included in the trust. (Dad’s original trust was changed in 2009, after he’d had his strokes and memory loss. The previous trusts for each of them provided that his wife’s family received her estate and Dad’s family received his, including the home that he and Mom had bought and paid off. The 2009 trust gave everything to the three grandchildren, which Dad said he wasn’t aware of.) The attorney suggested that Dad think about the changes he wanted made and to come back to make all the changes at once. My brother later prepared a list of Dad’s wishes so Dad could review and make certain of what he wanted changed.
So on Friday, June 15, everything was wonderful with Dad and I again confirmed I’d pick up him at 1 for his great-granddaughter’s birthday party the next day. On Saturday, I went to pick him up; no answer. I called the house; no answer. I called his wife’s family members; no answer. I went to the neighbor’s house and she didn’t know where he was, either, but was finally able to contact another of his wife’s family who said that Dad was safe, but wouldn’t share where he was. The next day was Father’s Day and my brother planned to pick him up; called the house; no answer. On Monday, he came to pick up Dad for his doctor appointment; again, no answer.
I was extremely worried about him by this time. We hadn’t heard from him for three days and didn’t know if he was OK or missing or what. I called the police, who met me there. Dad was OK, but the grandson and granddaughter were yelling at me and saying that they didn’t have to answer our calls about my Dad, that we never visited Dad (they probably didn’t know their grandmother always had other plans so we couldn’t) and that Dad didn’t want to talk to us. I left in tears.
And so it’s been like that ever since. We thought we could finally have Dad back in our lives and after two months of joy with him, we’ve been robbed of that again. My daughter took Father’s Day gifts to him two days later and although he came to the door (his late wife’s family was there), he didn’t let her in or give her a hug or kiss. My daughter and my dad used to be like two peas in a pod, super close and loving; as a kid, she accompanied him everywhere; after Mom passed and we’d visit Dad, she and he would snuggle closely together, her little head tucked under his arms wrapped around her, watching TV.
I don’t know how my Dad is doing. I wake early each morning, praying for his well-being and for a safe home for him to live in, with . I send him loving thoughts through my prayers. I miss him and am broken-hearted that no one has a kind heart to let us know how he is. Our primary concern is for our Dad’s well-being, that the home is clean, that he’s eating good food, with no rotten food or things on the floor he could trip on. I know that deep down, my Dad still loves his family, each and every one of us. I pray that we can gather together again some day and share our family’s love again.