Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ah, Wilderness!

Yes, home again, home again, jiggety jig! It's already Wednesday and we have been back since late Saturday night.

Sunday, I TOTALLY had to sleep to recover from the long trip home. Monday, I TOTALLY wanted to spend several hours helping my sister work through her garage full of stuff in preparation for their move Saturday. Tuesday, I TOTALLY was busy with Thing A in the morning hours, Thing B in the afternoon, and Thing C in the evening.

Finally, today I am here to tell you I am here!

Back to work at the store last evening. I enjoyed my five hours working. At one point, though, a store manager asked me to take on the responsibility of selling something (for a good cause) to at least four people during the evening.

And that reminded me ...

While we were on vacation on the Island of Intermittent Internet, I had a realization ...

The wilderness isn't trying to sell me anything. It's not trying to get my attention with more choices, louder commercials, or faster images.

 The wilderness is made up of many parts that all just do their own thing. Although there are some male birds who do try to get the attention of their female counterparts, the colors and sounds there are peaceful and unobtrusive.

No signs advertising anything. No evident government intrusion into my experience of the wilderness. Small notices -- two buoys signaling "no wake."

I realize not everyone loves the wilderness like I do! I wonder where others get this kind of quiet, this being apart from the noise and chaos of the city.

While I sat writing this post, on the bank of the channel, I saw:

Trees leaning out over the water;
Tangles of lilypads on the water surface;
Partially submerged branches;
The reflection of the trees in the water;
Slow-moving clouds;
Water skimmers;
Concentric circles appearing in the water, then dissipating;
Towering white pines;
The shimmering reflection of the water scurrying along the underside of overhanging branches like natural chaser lights;
Everything swaying gently in the breeze.

Even the canoes full of campers would make very little sound if the campers were listening instead of talking. "Let's play the quiet game," I heard one of them say. "OK," says another, "I lose!"

There is a reality that we can damage our natural resources; the oceans, the waterways, forests, and I wonder what difference it would make if we considered that it is beyond humanity's capability to create an ocean or build a mountain range or do anything more than observe or possibly explain how such ecosystems work.

One cannot find a person or government agency that put these lilypads in this lake (although one can believe in Someone who did). No one who decided where the actual lilies would float. No one who engineered the coasts, riverbanks, lakefronts.

Being in the wilderness always reminds me of the vastness of the universe. The quiet refreshes and calms me. I come away from such a journey with a peaceful heart.

Where do YOU find such refreshment?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On the road again

Is "intermittent reinforcement" a thing? I remember something from my Intro to Psych class about how that kind of reinforcement kept the rats coming back for more. I'm happy to report that I am smarter than those rats.

The Internet at our undisclosed location this week was frustratingly intermittent, and although I persevered the first few days, there wasn't enough sand for me to stare at my phone more than I already was. Hence, my silent blog for the past few days.

I didn't even realize how much I needed a vacation. It probably took a good three days before I began to unwind. Guess I was the proverbial frog in the water near boiling. Smarter than a rat, but denser than a frog. Going on vacation to a beloved spot turned the burner off and I could stop fighting once the boiling had subsided.

A week later, I am transformed. To be continued ...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A short post to tide ME over

My last post is dated today but I'm in central time so it actually went up last night. I am doing a lot of writing but the sketchy Internet makes it very hard to post long posts. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Just to tide you over

Am out of Internet range for all but the most rudimentary tasks. Will be in touch soon. Happy 50th birthday to my dear sister.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's all in your point of view

Years ago, when Kepler was a baby, the neighbors who live behind us were up to their normal July 4th BIG, LOUD fireworks. I can't remember now whether we called them directly or called the police, but I'm pretty sure we called them directly. They had no idea we were trying to put a baby down for the night, and apologized for the noise.

In the years following, they have kept up, and even increased the spectacle on the 4th. Although fireworks are illegal, I think our local police kind of give everyone a pass for that one day because there have been plenty of fireworks shot off in their yard. This year, their fireworks were so loud that Kepler would run into the house during prolonged explosions. I ran with him. I'm not the biggest fan of fireworks

My dear husband and son do love fireworks and had gotten some small ones to set off. I just had to laugh at the contrast between the huge booms taking place in the yard behind us, and the tiny little boomlets happening as our bottle rockets zipped skyward. Neighbor's booms were bold72-point font with sixteen exclamation points after them. Ours were 6-point light, in parentheses.

So you can imagine our surprise when the police car stopped in front of our house and walked to our backyard to ask us about the fireworks we were setting off. Greg motioned to the yard behind us as the source of the giant booms, but the police still told us we had to stop as someone had complained, and once someone complains, they have to take action. We stopped immediately, and went inside.

Meanwhile, the giant booms continued.

We have our own Gladys Kravitz (character from Bewitched -- very "observant" neighbor) living nearby and we suspected they called the police, owing to another time when the the city sent us a letter checking out something that was brought to their attention by one of our neighbors, something which was unfounded. I also suspected them because their front window would give them a view of the big booms, and they could have conceivably thought we were doing it since we were in direct line with our neighbors behind us.

I hate it that our neighbors would call the police on us. ESPECIALLY since our teeny little fireworks were both fairly quiet and unobtrusive. As we went inside, and I sat reading, I just reflected on the irony that with all the huge fireworks being set off before, during and after our miniature display, WE  were the ones the police visited.

I'd like to think that next July 4, maybe we will be living somewhere where we do not have loud fireworkers living directly behind us, and police-callers directly in front of us! If we are, well, I'm sure I don't know how that bottle rocket ended up in your yard, sir!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Cloak of Invisibility

6:30am GMT

Dear Blogger Customer Service,

It has come to my attention that you may have inadvertently invoked the "Cloak of Invisibility" clause and applied it to my blog. I say this because although I have checked Facebook and email religiously the past few days, it seems no one is reading my blog. I can only conclude that this is due to your mistaken idea that I had asked for the COI to be applied herein. Please advise.

Thank you.

6:37am PST

Dear Souisxie,

We have received your request to invoke the "Cloak of Invisibility" on your blog. Although we do not advise this, as it will make your posts unavailable to all readers except your mother, we are here to serve.

Customer (dis)Service

6:38am GST

Dear Blogger Customer Service,

No, No, No, No! I do not WANT the COI to be applied to my blog. Please reverse this immediately. My readership is small and faithful, and will be discouraged if they cannot read whatever Siouxsie is Miouxsing about.

Thank you in advance.
Siouxsie's Musings

7:45am CST

Dear Mouiouoxsie,

In order to reverse your request to invoke the Cloak of Invisibility on your account, which we do NOT advise invoking, as it significantly reduces your already tiny readership, please forward by certified mail, three notarized affidavits by readers who are willing to vouch for your actual humanity. We have had a great deal of trouble with "bots" writing blogs, and our computer programs have detected a high level of material on your blog that could have been written by a "bot." We await your response, Mr. Muoiuosie.

Customer (dis)Service

7:45:10am Turkish Time


I didn't ask for this Cloak of Invisibility thing in the first place, and I'll be derned if I'm going to fabricate three letters from my readers, although as many times as I check to see if anyone has visited my blog, I could certainly qualify for that. Take it off. NOW.

Git it done, eh.
Siouxsie's Musings

9:39pm MST

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please check your computer to see if it has been taken over by "bots." We have been receiving communication from this ISP address which indicates that you want to have the Cloak of Invisibility invoked on your blog. We simply do not recommend this. Please see our FAK page at The Cloak of Invisibility will significantly cut down your readership. What do you NOT understand here?

Always at your service,

9:40am Aussie Time

Yeah, ok. Please invoke the Cloak of Invisibility. I will continue to write, but now I will be sure that no one is getting to see it. That will reduce the sharp disappointment I feel every time I write a post and receive no comments whatsoever. I know yesterday was the 4th of July, and people were out running 5k races, marching in parades, setting off fireworks, and generally celebrating with their good friends and families, but wouldn't at least one of them have had time to check Facebook and click on my link? I'm so confused.

Siouxsie's Musings

9:45gm GMT Greenwich

Dear Siouxsie,

We have received your request to remove the Cloak of Invisibility and have done so. All you had to do was ask! As you know, we do not recommend the Cloak of Invisibility to our bloggers.

If you should ever want to reinstate the COI, simply email us and we will be glad to help. For now, keep on blogging and enjoy your day.

Mostly sincerely,
Blogger Customer Service Extraordinaire.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I may have spoken too soon

"If you will recall," the reason I decided to look for a job outside our home is because I am just a LITTLE too good at solitude, and I thought this particular job would meet several needs:

1. Sounded like fun. As my friend called it, "the zen of shelf stocking."

2. Money could change hands. Me doing work in exchange for a few pennies every so often.

3. Gives me a reason to go somewhere and see people. Talk to them. Listen to them. Ask questions. Be seen by people outside my home, so they know I still exist.

Then came the bandaids, which are something I don't want to have to pay a lot of attention to, because there's NOT ENOUGH SAND.

But, please refer back to #3.

See, I realized a couple of things. At home, there are also mundane things that I do. Pick up the toys. A hundred times. Handle the extra packets that come with takeout food. (There's an important job!) Figure out if we need more tissues. Flatten and roll the plastic grocery bags. You know what? Those are mundane things, but I do them because they need to be done. And, not that I need to get paid for everything, but I don't get paid for any of those things. That's ok.

I didn't take this job because of the money. And everything I said the other day was true! If I had to deal with those bandaids all day long, I would definitely run screaming the other way. But, that's not all I do. While I am doing these mundane tasks, some of which are quite zen-like, I am also being in relationship with the people I work with and for, the customers who shop at our store, and my co-workers. None of those people and I will have a relationship if I am at home.

Many of these relationships may be just a small step more personal than online relationships I have with people, but they are a small step more personal. I need people. People need me. So, I'm staying for now. And I'll bring my kindness and joy to my work and to the people I work with, and I will be the recipient of the grace and poetry that is people in all shapes and sizes.

My boss was happy when I called and asked her to tear up my resignation letter. And so was I.

What do you find satisfying in your work?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Before Midnight

That's the title of the film I went to see today with my husband of 28.5 years, at our favorite theater.

Before Midnight is the third in a series of three films. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight; they came out in 1995, 2004, and 2013.

In 1995 I was busy with a two-year-old, a one-year-old and a new baby, so I missed that one. In 2004, I was ... I don't know, but I missed that one as well. A friend posted on Facebook that she was excited about this new one coming out, so I took notice. I thought it might be important to watch the first two before we went to the theater (it was), and Amazon Prime came to the rescue last night. We rented both of them and watched them one after the other.

Each film is about a period of time in the lives of Jesse (American) and Celine (French). The first film covers their initial meeting and the subsequent twenty-four hours they spend together in Vienna; the second is nine years later in Paris; the latest one took place in Greece.

Before Midnight captures my life exactly, except for the glamorous Greek scenery. Celine and Jesse are parents now and are vacationing in the Lower Peloponnese mountains. Tres magnifique.

Celine and Jesse got into an argument, and when she said she had not yet recovered from the birth of her twins four years prior, my tears started flowing and continued for the remainder of the film, the 20-minute trip home, and for awhile at home. I know a lot of things about a lot of things. Before Midnight bypassed my busy monkey brain and delved down into the deepest parts of me.

Sometimes we laugh at our younger selves -- those bold, confident, optimistic selves who have the world at their feet but don't know it. My younger self was sure about a hell of a lot of things.

Life is fragile. Love is wonderful, but it is hard work, n'est pas? I highly recommend this movie, especially for long-together couples who are still intentional about continuing to kindle the flames of their love.

Jesse and Celine are beautiful, and I am in awe of the truth and wisdom in this film. I want to travel, to speak what is true for me, and to banish fear from my life. Before Midnight spoke to my deepest heart.

Here is a very good review of Before Midnight.

Have you seen it? What films have spoken to your deepest heart?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On my Further Adventures in Retail

I gave my notice yesterday.

As it turned out, I didn't need to give my NOT ENOUGH SAND speech, which I think is a good thing, considering how the folks who are working there are also spending their sand, and might not have taken too kindly to my pithy phrase.

As it further turned out, I realized that all the nifty box opening and box breaking down and whatnot has been making my poor little hands hurt -- inside and out. Inside, I think I have some arthritis lurking in there, and some tendon issues as well. Outside, the cardboard keeps on biting me, giving me paper cuts (cardboard cuts?), ripping my fingernails below the quick (and THAT is jolly good fun, let me tell you), and generally just drying out my skin, and leaving me filthy to boot. The filth washes off, but the pain from the tendons and joints doesn't go away so easily. So, I had the perfect reason to give for why this job is not a good fit for me.

I DO remember there are many people in the world who would love to have this job, who would be glad to be in such a well-lit, well-stocked place, and who would find my pay to be simply fabulous. May they find their way to my store and apply for the job!

Yesterday, on my second-to-last day, I had to face down the bandaids again. They were ornery as ever.

Yesterday, on my second-to-last day, I had a big aha moment. My passion is about simplifying life. Retail is most definitively, definitely, confoundedly NOT about simplifying life. Advertisers want us to buy MORE, MORE, MORE! Merchandisers set things just so in order to capitalize on our impulse buying, our attention span, our desires for gratification. Those are all honest jobs; I do not fault the people who do these jobs.

Even in such a short time, I got a very interesting glimpse into a job and a business that I was only familiar with from the outside. I am grateful for the opportunity to have tried this. And I am keen to discover what is going to come next.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Not Enough Sand

Did you ever play store when you were a kid? We did. We would climb up onto the stovetop and pull canned goods, oatmeal, teabags, cereal, and more out of that upper cabinet. Then we would go get some paper bags out of the closet, and carry it all into the living room to set up our store. There were three of us kids so we had a bagger, a cashier, and a customer. Sometimes we would strain the cashier's capabilities and have TWO customers in line. Ah, it made for hours of fun.

I remember how fun it was to set up the store. When I started mulling over the possibility of getting a job in retail, my local grocery clerk actually asked me out of the blue if I would like a job, so I pursued it. There are some fun things about stocking shelves. Making everything look nice, filling in empty spots. The best part is being able to direct a customer to the product they are seeking.

And then the band aids happened.

Let's just look at Johnson&Johnson, a popular brand of bandaid. The line that my local store carries includes comfort-flex plastic (60 count), medium comfort-flex adhesive pads (10 count), large comfort-flex adhesive pads (10 count), comfort-flex sheer (40 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (40 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (60 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (80 count), comfort-flex extra large (10count), comfort-flex clear (30 count). And so on to the tune of over 40 varieties of type, size, and use.

Ah, but we would be remiss if we only offered 40 types of one company's product. So we also offer another 40 or so similar products of the generic house brand.

Even if you skipped those last two paragraphs, that means EIGHTY types and varieties of band aids. And band aids don't come in those sturdy metal canisters anymore. No, indeed. They come in paper boxes.

Paper bandaid boxes fall over at the whisper of a touch. So, the poor sod who gets the job of restocking the bandaid shelves -- it's like playing that children's game "Operation" where the buzzer sounds if you touch the sides of the "incision." But in this case, the boxes fall over, mix themselves up, turn their backs on me, slide, fall off the shelf, stand on their head, and turn on an angle. Anything but stay where they are PUT.

Of course people need band aids. And no doubt the magic Market Research has shown that people need band aids to come in all one size, and assorted, and waterproof, and extra large, and medium, and sheer, and clear, and flexible, and sport, and pre-treated with antibiotic ointment, and shaped for fingers, and shaped for toes, and extra-sticky, and less sticky, and the all-important travel pack.

But I don't need to be the one who messes with the incredibly tedious job of straightening and
restocking the bandaid shelves. I felt the sand of my life descending into the bottom of the hourglass as I conscientiously did this job. NOT enough sand in the top to make this job worth me doing.

Not only band-aids, but allergy medicine, shaving cream, lotions, shampoos, vitamins, diapers, chocolate bars, hairspray, feminine products, toothpaste. They all come in MULTIPLE multiple sizes.

Not enough sand, my friends, NOT ENOUGH SAND.