Why Don’t We Wise Up?

Have you noticed the plethora of products being marketed to make you happy in the new year? Things that organize your life, journaling your mindfulness, grabbing for those goals that have eluded you all your life.

First of all, my life is a mess. No organizational planner, yours or mine, will clean me up. Only supernatural power can do that and the only person who is good at it is God. He proved it at the Red Sea. That’s what it would take to part with my clutter and disasters.minimal

Second, since when is journaling a verb? It’s never been a verb, it’s always been a noun, as in keeping a journal or diary. Diary is the old fashion word, but it’s too close to dairy. Since people don’t read anymore, marketers made the switch and sent consumers into bookstores for theirs instead of dairy farms where the cows live chewing the cud.

Mindfulness. Now there’s a mouthful. To be mindful means to be observant, alert, cognizant. But now it’s been turned on its head and it’s a meditation technique with breathing exercises. Think mindless therapy.

And what makes us think we’ll nail those goals this year when we haven’t succeeded thus far? That’s crazy. Those ads and inspirational books and podcasts are meant to do one thing only – buy the course of course! Knowing full well you’ll fail. Like going to the gym. Two sweaty sessions and you’re out.

So what do we do? Try harder? Flog ourselves? Ignore the mounting evidence of sloth that has overtaken our homes and lives?

Being cognizant of the steep hill we must climb, we make a date to walk the dog, eat more fruits and green things, and enjoy the many times we fall off the wagon. That’s part of the fun.

What? You want perfect?

Calvin says, “I like walking the dog part. Stick with me. I’ll take you places that’ll expand you…I mean shrink you.”  beagle

 

 

 

More Than Dirt

Alf and I got tired of the lunar look of our backyard, with its deep ruts and crevices and dead everything. We used to have steady visitors of cats and squirrels and noisy ravens, but lately even the butterflies do fly-overs instead of landing. So with the help of a longtime neighbor, who builds commercial nurseries for plants, we are working on a new garden together. photo (47)

I quickly sketched my idea of an English garden with pathways and gravel and flowering plants. Something that Alice in Wonderland would choose as she read and conversed with the Cheshire Cat.

I didn’t want a lawn. I was convinced of the versatility and beauty of drought-tolerant plants. I’m a survivor of too many droughts and didn’t want the demands of water guzzling green things anymore. They remind me of crying infants when they’re hungry. I don’t have time to invest in pruning, trimming and talking to them either. I hardly have time to do this with Alf.

I’ve been learning a few things about myself through this. I’m impatient. I thought the re-design would take a month. In my mind it was a simple idea without a lot of fuss. Dig up the dead lawn, and then stick some Woolly Bluecurls, Tree Anemones, and Sticky Monkey-flowers in there, and let them duke it out. I was wrong. I have no understanding of soil, bricks and greenery and what it takes to put all three together in an artful way. It’s taken all summer.

Another problem arose. My neighbor’s taste and mine are not in sync. It’s an act of high level diplomacy every time we disagree. We compromise. We change things. We discard stuff. Always smiling. It’s like a marriage. I’m sure he goes home muttering under his breath. But through it all, a glorious garden is coming into view, and the best part is we haven’t filed divorce papers. That’s the important thing. It may not be ready for the fall, and by winter it will be too cold for tea parties, but then there’s next year. The plants will be settled and feeling good about their new home. And maybe the squirrels and ravens will return chattering and cawing their approval.

When the project is complete, I expect my neighbor to be over many times, showcasing me as his still-friend and my garden to future drought-tolerant fans.

Calvin says, “I’m not so stinking happy. You took away my favorite pee spots.” beagle

SFO to JFK Not

 

As I prepared for my trip to New York, I received a text message notifying me my flight was cancelled the next morning. No explanations. No apologies. To call this 888 number. Which I did. Immediately.

After listening to computer prompts and squeaks and whistles I finally hear a human voice.

“My name is George. How can I help you?” George doesn’t sound like a robot or a foreigner.
“You canceled my flight, George,” I say.
“Only for your safety, ma’am,” he says.
“You mean New York tomorrow would have been hazardous to my health?”
“It’s for your protection,” he says. “May I have your last name?”
George pulls up my reservation. “I see you’re going to JFK.”
“Were going. Remember you canceled,” I said.
“We have another flight to JFK a bit later in the morning…oh wait, it’s full, no seats,” he says. “I can route you through LA and on a red eye.”
“I didn’t pay for all that suffering.”
“Let’s see San Francisco then. Oh, wait it has stops. You probably don’t want that. Too long for you.”
“This call is too long for me. Don’t you have other options?”
“Not if you want to land at JFK.”
“Try the Hamptons. I’d like that.”
“No Hamptons.”
“Martha’s Vineyard?”
“Martha’s on sabbatical.”
“Hey, how about New Jersey?” I say.
I hear the squeaks and whistles. George hangs up.

“Alaska’s running a third world airline,” I say to Alf. “I could have arrived at JFK by now.”
“What did you expect from an iceberg state? Their brains are frozen,” he says.
My phone rings. It’s George.
“George! How are you? I never expected to hear from you again. I thought I lost you for good. “
“No ma’am. You can’t lose me until we finish this reservation,” he says.
“Aw George. I didn’t know you cared,” I say.
“Yes ma’am. Alaska values your business. We want you to be happy with your experience.”
“Can you book me to Paris then?”
“We don’t fly there but some of our partners do, let me check…”
“No George! Just book me to New York.”
George recommends a flight into New Jersey. I take it. We say tearful farewells.

The next morning I emerge from security ready for my flight. The other passengers show up. We take up the entire gate area. My seat mate on my left was also on the canceled flight. I suspect there are many bumped passengers on this plane going to New Jersey even when we really wanted JFK. I’m suspicious, this is a clever way of filling the New Jersey flights because nobody wants to go there.

We anxiously wait for the boarding announcement. Suddenly a woman behind me says, “Oh no!”
I whip around. “What’s the matter?”
“Look at the board. Our flight isn’t leaving for another two hours.”
A collective groan goes up.
They tell us at first it’s thunderstorms. We check the weather map on our phones. You can’t fool the public anymore. Clear skies and bright sun. Then they tell us it’s finding a crew problem. A few minutes later two pilots show up and board. We sit there for another hour. Then the flight attendants show up and board. We continue to sit there. By now my seat mate to the right and I are becoming best friends. I hear her whole life story. Then another announcement. It’s the limited airspace over three airports that’s causing the delay. Flight control is delaying all flights to the East Coast. I’m suspicious again. I bet they have Millennials working things who don’t know how to stack planes in the right order yet.

Another announcement. “We’re having a paper plane contest. Anyone who wants to participate come to the counter for a sheet of paper,” the agent says. “At the time you should have taken off we’ll launch them. That way at least something gets off the ground this morning. The plane that flies the farthest gets a $25 voucher from us.” IMG_2999

I don’t know how to make a paper airplane but I want to play. “Will you build it and I’ll fly it?” I ask my seat mate to my left. He agrees and within minutes he hands me a beautiful paper plane that looks like the Concorde. Another passenger, clearly an engineer, builds an elaborate one that looks like the stealth bomber. He decides to test it. He launches it out by the corridor. It flies straight into a woman’s forehead with a vengeance. He apologizes and crawls back to his seat. The teenagers in the waiting area are furiously making theirs. One of them checks Google for directions. I embellish mine with the logo and Alaskan face on one wing. “New Jersey or bust!” on the other wing. The agent calls the race. We line up in a row. She puts the young kids in front. At her command she says, “Go!” Waiting passengers stand to watch. We launch our creations. A 10-year old wins. Everyone applauds. I hand my plane to the agent.

We go back to waiting. Even our captain can’t convince flight control to leave earlier. Finally, they call the flight. As I walk past the counter, my plane is displayed for all to see.

Calvin says, “That’s what you get for not taking me. They would have taken one look at me, fallen in love, given me treats, and escorted us straight to first class. Or maybe just me. You they would have kept in the squeeze section.

beagle

 

 

 

 

Am I Really Me?

The latest craze is DNA testing to know where you came from. There are a slew of online companies happy to do it for a swab of spit and a fee. Several of my colleagues at work have done it.

Some have been delighted with the results, others not so much. For them their family tree didn’t match who they thought they were. Image result for dna tests

“I think I’m adopted,” one of them said to me this week. He’s now making inquiries with relatives to see if they had lied to him to all his life. This is a family disruption on the grandest scale.

My question is, are the results accurate? I can just imagine the warehouses of desks, testing equipment and computers for workers making minimum wage who have been entrusted with your spit. I think your relatives are more trustworthy, that is if they can be counted on to speak the truth.

I haven’t succumbed yet. I’m happy to stay oblivious and believe I am who I am. Besides, what if I found out I’ve been living a fake identity? That I have more Inuit blood in me than I could ever imagine and that my love of Indian food is because…you guessed it.

Calvin says, “Who cares? It’s another form of entertainment to get you off course from your real purpose in life.”

beagle

 

No Giants Here

The Giants pulled it off last night – barely. It seems they thrive under pressure like our two presidential candidates. But unlike the Giants, we have to live with one of these people for the next four years. I wish we had a probationary period of a year, then we re-evaluate if the new president is doing his job or not. I like how the British handle their politicians. If there is a loss of confidence and support, they step down and call for a new election. I’m always amazed how many are waiting in the wings to fill the vacancy. You’d think the British would need a few months to ask for resumes to find someone who was a good fit to lead the country. Instead, you wake up the next day to see a new prime minister move into 10 Downing Street.  img_4349

This year American politics has succumbed to an all-time low. It reminds me of a bull fight, except instead of a bull and a matador, we have two bulls locking horns and skewering each other. The issue of character, composure, and class has been trampled. Neither one has given us their plan for the country except in sound bites. If you’re interested, Hillary says to go read her book. I saw it in Costco last week. It’s a paperback that looks like it’s been culled together overnight by a team of star-struck high schoolers in a stuffy basement somewhere. It’s written for an eight-year old reader. That shows you what she thinks of us, or is the book for the non-American and non-citizen who is going to vote this year?

The Giants play again tonight. They must win if they’re going to stay in the game. As for Donald and Hillary, I’m hoping neither wins. Their VP candidates would make better presidents.

Calvin says, “Stick to baseball. At least there’s a ball to play instead of dirty laundry.”

beagle