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Posts Tagged ‘experience’

There is no such thing as the Queen’s English. The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares! (Mark Twain)

A wet snow falls as a man outside the post office asks about our day.

My husband smiles and answers, “Fair to middlin.”

“You know where that expression came from?” the man says.

We don’t. I have never thought about it because it isn’t an expression I would likely use. However, the gentleman’s friendliness intrigues me. Mother Nature is in one of her icier moods. He doesn’t seem to care.

“I’m a country boy.” He grins displaying a huge gap where at least five teeth are missing.

I guessed he has a southern background by his accent.

“Well,” he begins at a slow, mellow pace, as if this were a gentle April afternoon. He must peg us as city folk because he gives a full explanation about where the bacon is found on the pig, the loins, the better cuts versus the less choice. “The middlin is up from the end, not the best quality. It’s still mighty fine though, the part that’s not bad at all. So, fair to middlin is good stuff. Makes up a great breakfast.”

I am not a big meat fan, but I listen anyway. No thanks to slaughter stories.

We wish him a fair to middlin day, better if possible, and move on. The next day I ask Google. The pig story does not appear. It is neither verified nor proven untrue.

The Urban Dictionary refers to the phrase as a term coming from the deep south. It describes cotton that fits the definition but lacks quality.

Later I find a closer explanation to this man’s tale. In America somewhere in the mid 1800’s fair to middling, often pronounced without the g, referred to the quality of livestock. The term did mean better than average.

Perhaps the friendly grown-up country boy with the optimistic, good-enough definition comes with another point of view. One that morphed over time. And gave him strength to ignore bitter circumstances, like ice and snow.

Today I walk in sun that has quickly melted the white. Same month. Same city. The cold continues. For now. Today is all I can experience.

The historian tells only part of any one story, and it contains bias. The future is made up of speculation.

Now, I celebrate the gift of life.

 

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If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. (James Herriot)

My friend is holding back her dog Hosea as I enter her house for a meeting. Hosea knew I was arriving as soon as I parked my car across the street. I am his playmate. At one time I would not have considered petting a dog or cat—not unless I wanted to wheeze, sneeze, or itch.

Sometimes I envy Bobby, another friend’s dog. Bobby is a gentle giant. He has a head the size of the average bear and a heart that is even larger. Time to play, time to play, his tail announces. And I wish I could translate dog barks.

Hahvey and Oui, my sister’s cats, have different personalities. Hahvey greets and expects the first pet. Oui waits it out and makes sure each human is safe first. Yet, the two felines understand one another. They rule the house, exactly as cat-rule demands.

As I’ve gained years my allergies have changed. Furs carry less of a threat. Atmospheric conditions? Well, they will cause even larger problems, for everyone, eventually. My days of allergic reaction are only a fraction of what global instability will eventually trigger. The atmosphere can’t hold much more carbon dioxide.

The animal world didn’t create the imbalance. It didn’t leak oil into the ocean or pollute the air.

Perhaps I focus on animal intelligence because human intelligence has been less responsible. Global warming. Yes, it exists.

In the time the earth has left, I choose to fight for what can be done to extend her life, and at the same time to love with the simplicity of the pets we know. The two can be compatible. And, hopefully worthwhile.

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It gets really tricky giving advice. The older I get, the less advice I give. ( Anne Heche.)

My father taught me to consider the source. I find that easier now than I could as a teenager, before I knew who I was. Strange that I recall being berated because my eyebrows weren’t penciled dark enough. My hair was the color of spun gold, with eyebrows that disappeared into a fair, freckled face.

The advice-giver. Why are there so many of them? And why do they have voices that match the average street preacher?

And—does it need to bother me?

My brother-in-law has an MD. When he said I was losing weight too quickly after surgery and was risking metabolic damage, I listened. Advertisement come-ons could be another matter. An invitation to skydive because it jump starts adrenaline? Probably not.

What is the best and worst advice someone has ever given you? My dad’s fits somewhere at the top. Any advice that told me I shouldn’t try because I wasn’t good enough. Definitely. In the don’t-think-so category.

 

 

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The wisest mind has something yet to learn. (George Santayana)

 I’m trying to understand that nitty-gritty inside place most people have experienced but don’t define. Oh, I suspect vague words come up: tired, not-up-to-it, lack of energy. A glass of water waits on the TV stand four steps away and yet it takes me fifteen minutes to rise and grab it.

I’m referring to lost, static moments of staring into space. Not in a depressive way, more in a state of physical weakness. Recovery takes time.

Imagination. Come on. I know you are in there. Let’s play a simple game. How many gratitude connections can I celebrate in this room? From this beige square of couch.

First, I see a photo of my grandson. He raked leaves in our driveway before the predicted snow, but he had wanted me with him. He is eager to help but only seven-years old. He set up a chair in the garage and asked if I needed a blanket, too. My shoulders may have needed one; my heart did not. And the warmth lingers.

Among a stack of magazines are gifts. My brother sends me a subscription to the New Yorker. A long-time friend blesses me with Guideposts. Food for the mind. Food for the spirit. This same spiritual friend sends quotes I save and use often in my blogs.

My son scrubbed the rug and daughter-in-law helped with organization too heavy for me until my stitches heal. Steve and Cece’s love appears fresh, spontaneous. It remains in the air.

A sunburst. It doesn’t last long. They never do. However, it reminds me that aches don’t remain forever either. I haven’t reached a state of wisdom to be grateful for pain yet. I am up, with more strength than expected.

 

 

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I can be pretty dense about my own basic needs, when my focus is getting through the many small tasks of a day’s work and a day’s caretaking. (Lydia Millet)

I suspect that if I still were smoking, drinking, or using chocolate as a dietary staple, my New Year’s self-promise would be a rhetorical question. The word resolution has developed a seasonal flavor, worn-out by February, lost before the first green of spring. I’m trying a side door.

A spiritual group that has kept me reasonably sane for the past forty plus years, has developed a new approach to the New Year’s Resolution. We each choose a word that represents something in our everyday lives that needs development, improvement, or downright realignment.

The name of our group, as the illustration suggests, is Apple. When we named ourselves, our bellies resembled the round fruit. We were in our fertile stage of life. (Fertile now refers to composting.)

Yet life continues to call for change no matter how much we age. Development. New seeds within our understanding. How can we become better individuals? Never perfect. Perfection remains a definition in the dictionary, like utopia. After all, we choose only one area of change. Encompassed within one word.

The word—It must:

  1. Express a need that appears often enough to set a person back as often as daily.
  2. Be intrinsic to our own flaws, not someone else’s.
  3. Yet, not allow self-loathing.
  4. And include a sense of humor and forgiveness.
  5. The same word can be repeated the next year.
  6. Provided effort is honest.

Examples of words are: judgmental attitude, self-criticism, resentment…

The next question is how can we take a notion and act on it? Lifelong bad habits don’t disappear with a decision. They take observation, study, sometimes even outside help. Therefore, we listen to one another’s experience. And make minor thought moves, followed by small actions.

For now, I try to get through the day. So much to do and no doctor’s okay to do it. No, I can’t choose patience. That asks too much. Then again, maybe patience is a side effect of any journey’s choice. As unavoidable as conflict, pain, and another sunrise.

Peace upon all, and a blessed year all the way through.

 

 

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Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost. (Kahlil Gibran)

My grandmother died when she was almost

a decade younger than I am now,

old enough for us to trade places across the centuries…

If time could allow a trespasser to

break its borders. I recall how she spoke of hurts

while I remained mute. In those days

generations separated more than years,

free-speaking limited. Peers only.

 

My aunt put Grandma in her wheel chair.

She took her to the kitchen to wash her hair.

I crawled over the bed rails,

and lay next to the smells

of my grandmother’s presence.

 

The parts of her a stroke couldn’t steal.

 

 

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We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days. (Jane Austen)

Sure, anyone who has stepped beyond kindergarten knows the kiddie pool closes when summer ends. I suspect most of us cherish the daydream about an escape route, a charmed life—long after planned recesses end. Bullies, putdowns, and early traumas. They unsettle the water early and intensify a longing for a smoother ride ahead.

When I grow up…

I’ll tell the kids who called me Ziggy the niggy

they need a good eye doctor and some listening ears as well.

Ziegler, my family name, is German and means tile mason.

Hardly aristocracy. As if that mattered.

And my skin is pale to match

eyelashes and hair color common in Ireland.

A connection unknown if connected at all.

The insult you intended is learned ignorance.

You see, human refers to a wholeness.

Of body and spirit.

Dark and pale outsides can hold spirits made of sun.

And I revel in the possible housing color of spirits:

Chestnut, cinnamon, charcoal, peach, olive.

Perhaps I speak only to my own written word.

To a long-gone past.

You are busy with your own agenda.

Yet, I speak to you with respect.

Only love can make churning water

a place possible to maneuver.

Peace.

 

 

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