Svaha Spirit Series ~ Dan’s Coffee Run

Every week, Dan Dewey loads up his Chevy Cavalier with beverages from Starbucks and passes them out at a nearby cancer treatment center.

It’s an act of kindness that began when Dan’s own father was a patient at the center. Now, “Dan’s Coffee Run” has become a Thursday tradition.

Video from KarmaTube

Want to help Dan? Visit danscoffeerun.net.   Thank you Dan for consistently being so kind.  Svaha!

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You’re Going To Be Ok

She sat at the bus stop right outside of the police station on Main and Cordova.  It was a rough part of town but she figured she would be safe here while she waited for her bus to take her home.  The sun was still hot that Sunday afternoon and there wasn’t anyone else out on the street. Good, she thought and relaxed against the back of the bench soaking up the sun on her face.  She watched little dirt dervishes swirl in the street in front of her after each vehicle past by.

She didn’t see or hear him approaching.

“I’m going to kill myself!” he slurred.

Startled, she sat upright and tightened her grip on her handbag.  She wanted to plug her nose with her fingers to block out the stink coming from him but that would be rude so she just turned her face away.

“Do you hear me?” he yelled.  “I’m going to kill myself!”

She slid to the far edge of the bench and kept her head turned away from him.  Go away, go away, go away, she silently prayed.  He staggered forward and stood, swaying in front of her.  The smell of alcohol mixed with his pungent body odour almost made her gag.

“Do you hear me?” he yelled again.

She looked up at him, “Yes, I heard you” she said quietly.  She was terrified.

He stared at her for a long moment, and then stepped backwards onto the road without taking his eyes off hers.  A car swerved to avoid him and honked.   She jumped to her feet.

“What are you doing?”

He stood in the road and faced the oncoming traffic.

“Hit me you sons of bitches!”  he yelled.

“Get off the road!” she cried out.

She looked around desperate now to see someone else on the street but there wasn’t a soul.  She was grateful the traffic was sporadic but he only needed one to hit.

“Please get off the road!” she tried again.  Every car that went by had to swerve suddenly to avoid him as he hurled himself in front of them.  He was too drunk to be able to move very fast and the cars were just able to avoid him in time.  So far.

This is insane, she thought.  We are right in front of a police station and there isn’t a cop to be seen.  The next break in traffic she would go in and get help. When the opportunity finally came she hurried to the entrance door and once inside ran up to the front desk.

“There is a drunk guy trying to kill himself by running in front of the traffic!”

The cop behind the desk took a minute to look up from his paper work.

“Has anything hit him yet?” he asked casually.

“No…uh…not yet…”

“Just ignore him” he said and looked back down at his papers.

“What…are you kidding me? He is throwing himself in front of every vehicle that goes by.  It’s just a matter of time before he’s hit, aren’t you going to do anything?”

The officer looked somewhere between bored and annoyed.  He sighed and put his pen down.

“Look. Just ignore him. He’ll be fine.”

She stared at him, incredulous, unable to think of what to say or able to move.  After a moment she turned and slowly made her way back to the door.  Just before she stepped outside she heard him say “Let me know if something hits him.”

She was afraid she’d find his body, bloody, in the middle of the road.  She prayed that he’d come to his senses and just gone away, but instead she found him slumped on the bus stop bench crying.

“They won’t let me see my son. I can’t work and they won’t let me see my boy anymore. There is nothing left for me. I want it to be over.  I just want to die.”

She stood watching him for a few minutes, unsure of what to do next.  Finally she sat beside him and turned to face him.  When he looked up at her she saw intense pain in his eyes.

“I don’t know you and I don’t know your whole situation. You probably don’t want to listen to a fifteen year old kid like me anyway, but if you have a little boy then I think you have that to live for.  If you can’t see him right now then you need to do whatever you need to do so that you can see him again one day.  I’m positive he doesn’t want his dad run over on the street.  I wish I could help you more but I don’t know what to do for you.  Please don’t run in front of a car. Please don’t hurt yourself. Please.”

He sobbed quietly with his face buried in his hands.  He sat and cried.  Cars came and went and he sat and cried.  Her bus pulled up then and the door swished open.  She got up and put her hand on his shoulder.  “You’re going to be ok.”

She watched him through the window as the bus pulled away.  She saw his shoulders move as he cried, but otherwise he was still.

He’s going to be ok, she thought, God I hope he’s going to be ok.  Please God, please let him be ok.

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Latest News

Scanning the internet for what’s new in the world can be a real eye opener.  My conclusion is that people are weird.  I was going to call this post “Only in America” but the more I looked around the web the more I realized that people are weird all over the world and it isn’t just an American thing at all. Phew?

The first story that caught my eye was about a man who had his electronic cigarette blow up in his face.  Just when you think you are doing the right thing…
This poor guy finally committed to quit smoking, bought an electronic cigarette to get him past the craving and boom! It blew up in his face, taking all his teeth out and leaving him with severe burns to his face. He lives in a place called “Niceville” for crying out loud, had been in the war in Vietnam, and still this is what gets him! Poor guy!

Then I discovered a story about a man who had a heart attack in a restaurant called…wait for it…Heart Attack Grill.  Yep, it’s a real place (in Vegas mind you) where the waitresses dress like nurses in a bad porno, anyone over 350 lbs eats for free and the owner sports a lab coat and stethoscope and calls himself Doctor Jon Basso.  Sigh. It was only a matter of time.

Further surfing dug up the story that Facebook has a new app that allows users to post a status update or video message to friends from beyond the grave. With the app If I Die, a person posts a written message, a video, or both, and then chooses three trustees who will confirm their death before the post goes up on their Facebook wall.  Is it just me or does that seem a little creepy?  I can imagine some really bad scenarios coming from this.  What if you post a video and say a bunch of stuff that you feel at the time but then years later you mature and your outlook on life changes but before you remember to update your If I Die video you get hit by a bus.  Awkward! Well not for you, cause you’d be dead, but for your friends and family it could be. What if you write a deep dark secret that you only want revealed after you are gone but those three “trustees” of yours get together and, as a joke, confirm that you are dead when you’re not and suddenly your secret is out?  Oops!

Digging deeper, I discovered that some stupid bar in Buffalo, New York was running a “beads for boobs” contest where whoever gets the most beads wins breast augmentation surgery. Not sure how you go about collecting said beads but judging by the level of tastelessness of the competition, I’m sure I don’t want to.

Next I read that a Swedish hospital is looking for nurses who are “TV-series hot.”  Yeah, cause that’s important to your health while you are in the hospital.  WTH?

A dead dog was offered a credit card, a man was snorting cocaine while driving on the highway and a spilled beer sparked a beating death.  Seriously?  What is going on out there?  That’s it; I’m going back to looking at pretty pictures on Pinterest.

 

 

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What Are You Addicted To?

Since the recent death of Whitney Houston there has been a lot of talk on the airwaves about addiction.  It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but most of us assume the root cause of her death was her addiction to drugs and alcohol.  Right or wrong it is an honest assumption when you look back on parts of her life.

I have also just finished reading Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg.  It is a raw memoir of Cleggs addiction to crack and how it cost him his home, his money, his career and very nearly his life. It was fascinating to me how his attraction to crack had him in its thrall and how he lived his paranoid nightmare of a secret life. I couldn’t put the book down.

And so as I sit sipping my glass of red wine and popping Dove almond dark chocolate silky smooth promises in my mouth every few minutes, I wonder what it is that makes someone addicted to something.  I mean, if I wanted to I could stop reaching for the bag of chocolates but then John would get more than me!…(Have you tried these chocolates by Dove? They are sooooo good!)

What is it about human beings that will keep them reaching for something that they know is very bad for them and could actually kill them?  Why do we continue our involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it?

Not all addictions are associated to substances like drugs or alcohol.  People may be addicted to all sorts of things like running/exercise, compulsive shopping, overeating, gambling etc.  This type of addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences.

According to medicalnewstoday.com:

The causes of addiction vary considerably, and are not often fully understood. They are generally caused by a combination of physical, mental, circumstantial and emotional factors.

Addiction, often referred to as dependency often leads to tolerance – the addicted person needs larger and more regular amounts of whatever they are addicted to in order to receive the same effect. Often, the initial reward is no longer felt, and the addiction continues because withdrawal is so unpleasant.

Ok, this scares me because I just realized that the first time we bought a bag of Dove almond dark chocolates we each had 5 or 7 at the most before putting the bag back in the fridge.  We would linger on each one, slowly sucking the chocolate and reading the inspiring message on the inside of each wrapper. Now we scarf down half a bag each without even thinking… or stopping to read any of the messages!

I don’t mean to make light of addiction at all.  It is a very serious problem and it is far too rampant in our society.  I do think that addiction or compulsions come in all shapes and sizes however, and that we should all be willing to hold the mirror up to ourselves before casting judgement on others.  Don’t ya think?

p.s.

Test yourself to see if you are addicted to alcohol

This is an alcohol test:

If you pass it, you can keep drinking,

If not, it’s time to stop.

Follow the simple instructions below:

1. Click on the man’s nose
             2. A new window will open – click on the man’s nose again

3. For each time you click on his nose, you can have another drink of your choice!!!

 

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Svaha Spirit Series ~ Inspiring Photo – Inspiring Woman


Rather than a video, I thought I would simply share this amazing and inspiring photo of Athlete (and so much more) Aimee Mullins.  Some pictures are worth a thousand words and this one also inspires me to get up and get moving.  If she can do it, then I really have no excuse not to.

“Born without fibulae in both legs, Aimee’s medical prognosis was discouraging; she was told she would never walk, and would likely spend the rest of her life using a wheelchair. In an attempt for an outside chance at independent mobility, doctors amputated both her legs below the knee on her first birthday. The decision paid off. By age two, she had learned to walk on prosthetic legs, and spent her childhood doing the usual athletic activities of her peers: swimming, biking, softball, soccer, and skiing, always alongside “able-body” kids.”

Happy Sunday everyone!

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Black Tie Preferred

Are you one of those people that love to get dressed up and go to fancy balls? Me? Not so much. I thought balls only existed in Cinderella’s world, but recently my husband and I were invited to go to one.  The “Presidents Ball” no less, but before you get excited for me, it was not to meet Obama.  No, this was a Presidents Ball to meet the president of a local golf club.  A golf club that we are not members of as neither of us actually play golf, and trust me, the world is better for it!

Our tickets to the ball came from my bonus daughter and her boyfriend.  We had gone to their place for dinner a couple of weeks prior and someone casually asked us if we would like to go to this “dinner” at the club with them.  No big deal.  Well, anyone who knows me knows that after a couple of glasses of wine, I will agree to almost anything, the only problem is that I rarely remember exactly what I’ve agreed to.  And so that is why a couple of days before the event I was still completely unaware of it.  Luckily I had a reminder phone call late Thursday evening.  The ball was Saturday.

“How fancy is this thing?” I enquired.

“Oh, well…it’s no big deal, but you probably shouldn’t wear jeans,” was the first response.

Then she read out the invitation to me over the phone.  The honor of your presence is requested at the Belair Golf and Country Club, blah blah blah, meet the new President, blah blah blah, black tie preferred…

“WHAT?! Stop! Did you just say black tie preferred?”

“Oh…um, huh, I never saw that before…jeez good thing I read it out to you now.”

“I’ll say! There is quite a difference from “you probably shouldn’t wear jeans to black tie preferred!”

This is when I did a mental inventory of our (vacation home) bedroom closet.  One black dress that I haven’t worn in a year or two, but it might do.  Appropriate shoes? No, but there is time to get some. Ok, I might be ok.  Over to Johns side of the closet.  T-shirts, check.  Shorts, check. Jeans, check. Suit, nope. Tuxedo, definitely not.  This is going to be a problem.

The search for something appropriate for John to wear began.  Phone calls were made and suit jackets, dress pants and even one tuxedo were all on their way.  I tried on my little black dress only to discover that it was not so little and fit me like a potato sack.  I briefly considered adding some darts and taking it in along a seam or two when reality hit me and I remembered I’m not even that good at hemming pants let alone altering a whole dress.

No fairy godmother appeared with a new dress, so off I went to the closest discount clothing store to see what I could find.  I’m not going to go into great detail here but I will say that I found John a nice pair of black dress shoes for only $37…and my own new little black dress, high heels, clutch purse and fake diamond necklace and earrings, all came to about the same.  I rock!

I was feeling pretty stoked until I heard that one person in our party would be wearing a dress that cost $1000 and $350 shoes.  Instant deflate.  I’m going to look like little orphan Annie next to her, I thought.  I imagined that as soon as I walked into the golf club men and women would all stop talking and stare at me with pity.  Someone would whisper, “Oh, look at that poor woman in her $40 ensemble.  How sad.”

When we were finally ready to go, limousine idling in our driveway, my sweet husband told me I looked like a million bucks.  And after making sure all the tell tale price tags were snipped and gone, I relaxed into the evening feeling like I could pull it all off with ease.  What really mattered was that the handsome man next to me thought I looked great.

It turns out we blended right in to all the black and glitter and enjoyed a lovely evening.  I didn’t lose a shoe and even made it home by midnight, arm in arm with my prince.

The End.

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Very Pinteresting


Dear Blogoshere,

I know. It’s Friday.  It’s my day to write something, but here’s the thing.  I am deeply entrenched in another site at the moment.  Every time I sit down at my computer to tap on the keyboard I decide I better just take a quick look at Pinterest first.  You know, just to see what’s new out there, (and there is always something new) and then before I know it the day has whipped past me faster than a bee stung stallion.

If you have explored Pinterest then your head is nodding in agreement.  You too are familiar with how you can plan to have a “quick” look and then all of a sudden your spouse is locking the front door, turning out all the lights and going to bed without you while you sit, twelve hours later, bleary eyed in front of your computer with your pyjamas still on and your hair un-brushed from the morning.  Where did the day go?  Looking on the bright side, at least you don’t have to get into your pyjamas and take your make up off.

If you haven’t experienced Pinterest yet then let me tell you what you are missing! I’m only letting you in on this site so you too will fall into the grip of its addiction you will want to join and thereby learn all of its wonders and even share your own ingenuity with others.  The more the merrier! Mua ha ha! (– that’s how I write an evil laugh if you were unsure)

So what is it?

No, but seriously, direct from the site itself:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favourite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to (get distracted and lose multiple hours in a day) discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Who wouldn’t want to learn how to create a cool scarf out of a mans t-shirt (don’t laugh it’s your birthday and/or Christmas giftand you’re gonna love it!), discover different and interesting ways to arrange family photos on a wall, create beautiful center pieces with dollar store items, peruse photos of really amazing homes to steal decorating ideas from, find a humorous picture that you know all of your Facebook friends will want you to share (except you rarely visit Facebook anymore), be inspired by some very fit folks, learn amazing and simple new recipes and find clever Halloween costume ideas?  I haven’t even touched on fashion and beauty tips, or art, or books or design, music and gardening. Aaargh! There are so many categories to explore and boards to examine! I don’t have time for this blogging thing at the moment.  I’m sorry but I really have to go. By all means, come and join me on the other side site if you’d like.  Follow my pins and I’ll follow yours and we’ll all be the better for it.  Heh, heh, heh (that’s how I write crazy person laugh)

I may, or may not, be back next week.  “What’s that John? You want me to make you dinner, not just repin it?…”

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Are You Injured…Again?


Bonnie: “Did you just hurt yourself?”

John:  “No…a little bit.”

Bonnie:  “Are you bleeding?

John:  “No.”

Bonnie:  “Why is there blood dripping off of your hand?”

John:  “What? Oh…nothing.”

Bonnie:  “Do you want me to get you a bandage or a towel or something?”

John:  “No, I’m fine.”

The above conversation has happened more than once.  The end result can range anywhere from a sliver in his finger to a hospital emergency room visit.  I never know which way it is going to go in the beginning.  I have to become a stealth spy.  I can’t rush right over to look because he gets annoyed and tries to hide the injury even more.  He once hid a swollen infected thumb from me for days before I dragged him, kicking and screaming, to a doctor’s office.  (That injury resulted in a hospital stay…while we were on vacation in Mexico)  True, there have been some false alarms, like the time the white of one of his eyes went entirely red because a blood vessel burst and I rushed him to see the doctor who said “A blood vessel has burst. Leave it alone, it will heal on its own.” Still, it was his eye! Some things should have a professional opinion!

Anyway, back to the scene of the injury.  I have to be sly and sneaky in my approach.  I let him think he is walking past me without being noticed.  I pretend to be studying something in my hand.  I have learned to scan his whole body for evidence of injury without lifting my head and actually looking in his direction.  Then, when I can’t discern anything out of the ordinary, I go into full Nancy Drew mode and start looking for clues at the site of his last job.  What tools was he using?  Which tool looks as though it’s been dropped in mid use?  Are those droplets of blood or just wood stain?

I should also admit that I’m always mad at this point.  I’m mad at him for not being honest about what he has done to himself, I’m mad that he’s gone and hurt himself again, and I’m mad that I’m imagining the worse when it could be nothing at all or I’m imagining it’s nothing too serious when he could be passed out on the floor of the bathroom from loss of blood.  I’m mad because I just don’t know what’s really happened and I’m mad because I don’t really want to know.  I get queasy at the sight of blood and for some reason when someone I love hurts themselves…I feel it…physically.  I take it on.  If they stub their toe, my toe throbs for them, if they bang their thumb with a hammer, my thumb will ache all the way to my shoulder.  All of this just makes me cranky and, come to think of it, snarly.  What happened to sympathetic you ask?  Well that comes a little later, after I have a handle on the extent of the injury and I know what I’m dealing with.

So it’s:

  1. Accusing
  2. Sly and sneaky
  3. Angry
  4. Queasy
  5. Cranky
  6. Snarly
  7. Sympathetic

In that order.

Ok, so I’m starting to understand why he isn’t as forthcoming as I’d like him to be when he first hurts himself.   I imagine his thought process probably goes something like this:

  1. Ouch! I’ve hurt myself. (I’m keeping it G rated)
  2. Damn, I’m bleeding.
  3. Don’t let her see.
  4. Deny. Deny. Deny
  5. You can’t see my injury if I sneak by you.
  6. Oh, oh. I’m in trouble now.
  7. Why, sure you can rub my back and fetch me things because you feel sorry that I hurt myself.

So there you have it.  This is what happens in our house when John hurts himself; which, by the way, happens too frequently in my opinion.   C’mon man! I love the skin you’re in.  Please stop carving puncturing burning ripping slashing breaking hurting yourself.  What’s yours is mine remember.  :)

 

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Nature versus Nurture

Here’s a little narrative about my “biological” father; someone I’ve never given much thought to let alone write about before.  It’s important that I put “biological” in front of the word father because I don’t want to confuse one with the other.  I was raised and adopted by a man I call my father, or more commonly – dad.  I never met my biological father.  The opportunity has passed since he himself recently passed.  What do I feel about that?    Nothing.

Is it strange to feel nothing at all for someone you have never met and never had any desire to meet?  Or is it stranger still to never have had any desire to meet the co-creator of ones physical self?

Here are the few things that I have been told about him.

  1. He was very good looking.  Ridiculously so.
  2. He used to hit my mother.  He usually hit her in places that would not show any marks. The last time was when I was a month old.  He hit her so hard she fell backwards into the bathtub.  Then she took me and left and never went back.
  3. His mother was an alcoholic which, not surprisingly, seems to have had a deep negative effect on him.
  4. He had no respect for women and the more they swooned over him, the more he was repulsed by them.
  5. He had been married once before he met my mother and had two small children from that marriage.  They both lived with him and my mother when I was born.
  6. He had many more relationships with many more women and many more children resulted.
  7. He was a sports photographer.
  8. He also took pictures of young girls and went to jail for it.
  9. He refused to sign off for my adoption until the lawyer suggested he would have to pay all the child support he owed, and then he quickly signed.
  10. His first name was Doug.  I’ve been told his last name dozens of times but I can never remember it.

Of course, all of what I have been told has come from my mother.  The part about him going to jail came from my mothers sister (not the most reliable source but I’ve never doubted the story), who told my mother who then told me.  I have never had any feelings, good or bad, regarding anything I was ever told about him.  He was a stranger and obviously not a very nice man.  I have always felt like he was just a character in a story…not real.  Not real to me.  There would be no romantic fantasies about meeting him one day.  When I was angriest at my parents, mostly as a teenager, I never once imagined that I should run off and live with him instead.

There was one time, and I believe I was already well into my 30’s when this happened: During an argument, my mother accused me of giving her a cold look the way “he” used to.  I had never before heard anyone suggest that I resembled him in any way.  I’ve always looked a lot like my mother.  Angrily, she blurted out that I was like him in that I could shut down emotionally and become very cold.  Well that comment stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking.  And probably not the way she had hoped.  I wondered if there may have been a whole different side to all of the stories I’d heard about him.  I had always felt that my mother was overly dramatic and extravagant, even reckless in the way she expressed her emotions; lots of tears and yelling etc.; it always made me uncomfortable.  I don’t believe I’m cold but I guess compared to her and from her perspective I could appear so at times.  I may look like my mother but we are very different in many ways.

It dawned on me then that all the information I’d ever learned about this man had come from only one person.  From someone who sees the world very differently than I do.  And so, for a minute or two, I wondered if there was perhaps a little more to this stranger, perhaps there were some ways in which he and I may have been alike.  But then I also realized that it didn’t really matter to me either way.  As Popeye would say “I yam what I yam”. He was still a stranger and I still had no desire to know him.  Does that make me cold? Or realistic?  I’d like a second opinion please.

As I’ve grown older I have wondered whether there may have been any important medical history I should have been aware of but then really, what good would that do?  If there is or if there isn’t heart disease on his side for example, I’m still striving to live a good clean healthy life either way.

So I guess in my case, score one for nurture over nature.  All of my life’s experience, including never meeting this man, has made me into who I am today and I think I’ve turned out ok.  Even my mother would agree…I think.  ;)

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Children

James and his mom.

I’m reading Joan Didion’s new book Blue Nights right now.  In it she examines her thoughts, fears and doubts about having children, illness and growing old.  Didion lost her only child, her daughter Quintana, in 2005.  In her book The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion addressed the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.  That book was published only months before her daughter passed away at 39 years old. In The Year of Magical Thinking she talks about her daughter who was in the hospital, very ill, on the night Joan’s husband died from heart failure.  I remember the lump in my throat when I read that Joan had to break the terrible news to Quintana more than once that her father had died.  She was slipping in and out of a coma and when she awoke she wanted to know where her father was.  She was devastated by the news of course, but then would slip back out of consciousness and not remember any of it when she awoke the next time, so poor Joan had to explain it all to her again…and again.

When I finished reading The Year of Magical Thinking I so hoped that her daughter would recover and mother and daughter could be there for each other to lean on and for support.  So, when I was finished reading the book, I Googled “Quintana Roo Dunne” and there it was.  Real life doesn’t always offer a happy ending and sometimes it kicks you hard when you’re down.

I’m still reading Blue Nights and so far it has really got me thinking about my own son, James, and also my step children and their relationship with their father.

I want to share some lines from Blue Nights that really struck a chord with me:

When I began writing these pages I believed their subject to be children, the ones we have and the ones we wish we had, the ways in which we depend on our children to depend on us, the ways in which we encourage them to remain children, the ways in which they remain more unknown to us than they do to their most casual acquaintances; the ways in which we remain equally opaque to them.
The ways in which our investments in each other remain too freighted ever to see the other clear.
The ways in which neither we nor they can bear to contemplate the death or the illness or even the aging of the other.
As the pages progressed it occurred to me that their actual subject was not children after all, at least not children per se, at least not children qua children; their actual subject was this refusal even to engage in such contemplation, this failure to confront the certainties of aging, illness, death.
This fear.
Only as the pages progressed further did I understand that the two subjects were the same.
When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.
Once she was born I was never not afraid.
I was afraid of swimming pools, high tension wires, lye under the sink, aspirin in the medicine cabinet.  I was afraid of rattlesnakes, riptides, landslides, strangers who appeared at the door, unexplained fevers, elevators without operators and empty hotel corridors.  The source of fear was obvious: it was harm that could come to her.  A question: if we and our children could in fact see the other clear would the fear go away? Would the fear go away for both of us, or would the fear go away only for me?

Every time I read those lines I cry. I’m not sure why, but I do.  I think it may be the truth in them.  The truth that we cannot see the other clear and that we remain so unknown to each other.  I am also a daughter and know from that perspective that this is true.  And the fear.  The fear never goes away. I guess I cry too because when my own son was small I knew him so well…but that time was fleeting and has long since passed by.  My husband feels the same way about all of his children.

You are joy, looking for a way to express.  It’s not just that your purpose is joy; it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing. Energy—frolicking and eager—that’s who you are. – Abraham

That’s how we remember our children – when they were small; that’s who they really were and indeed still are deep down, in fact that is who we all are …deep inside.  Fear pushes it back and then we forget entirely who we truly are anymore. I feel the loss of those early days and I suppose that is also what makes me cry when I read those perfect lines written by Joan Didion.

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As The Sun Sets on 2011

Christmas is over.  Are you breathing a big sigh of relief like I am?  All the weeks of preparation and shopping are behind us now.  The bank account has shrunk but the waistline has grown.  We have one son who left yesterday to go to New York to celebrate the New Year with his friends and one who left to go back home to Canada this morning.  Our daughter is back to her own routine in her own home. All of this leaves our house quiet.  Peaceful.  Serene.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my family and enjoyed the time we all spent together but it does feel really good to get back to normal again.  Traditionally, in our family, we I put all the Christmas decorations away on January 1st.  I have to tell you though, it is killing me to have to wait that long.  To me, when it’s over, it’s over.  I like a clean cut ending.  If I had my way I would have the tree down and all the decorations put away on midnight of the 25th of December.

Now that all the rush and craziness is over I’ve been reflecting on this Christmas and some of my fondest holiday memories. This year I loved driving through a few neighbourhoods here in Florida that featured some over-the-top decorations.  Wow, some people really get into decorating their homes!  These extremely decorated neighbourhoods made our three little lit deer and one lit angel look very sad in comparison.  In fact we don’t refer to them as deer anymore but call them our Christmas mice now. Still, I can’t imagine going that far…but I sure appreciate those who do so that we can ooh and ahh.  One home even had real bubbles coming out of a blow up ginger bread house on their front lawn.

Another memory I’ll cherish is when my husband and I walked to the beach to watch the sun go down on Christmas day.  There were quite a few people out walking and enjoying a “beverage” on the beach.  The atmosphere was lovely with everyone wishing each other an exuberant “Merry Christmas!”  Two guys played their guitars while the sun sank into the horizon.  It was beautiful; a perfect end to a special day.

Sun setting on Christmas day

Now that the sun is setting on 2011, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers for stopping by Tara Cronica and checking in with us despite your own busy lives.  We appreciate your visits and your comments.  I wish you all the very best for the New Year and look forward to seeing you here again in 2012!

Svaha (May a Blessing Rest on You)
xo

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Clam Shell or Sea Anemone?


I’m writing about bathrooms today.  This post has been bubbling up in my subconscious ever since I went to use the restroom in a restaurant recently.  I was faced with two doors.  One had a picture of a rooster on it and the other a picture of a hen.  My first thought was:

Chickens? Why are there pictures of chickens on the bathroom doors?

Then I realized I had to pick a door that best matched my anatomy.  Really? So I stood there for a split second wondering if I were more like a hen or a rooster.

I’m a hen! That’s it; they want me to relate to the hen! Phew!

I walked into the hen door confidently.

I have been to other restaurants or bars where the signs were less obvious.  Why do they do that?  Perhaps it’s their way of finding lyrical beauty in everyday happenings, but I have to say that when I have to go the last thing I want is to have to stop and ponder whether I’m a clam shell or a sea anemone!

Then there is this new trend of not having to touch anything in a public restroom? What a great invention. I prefer the bathrooms where there is no door at all to touch just a curved entry.  There is still the stall door itself to deal with however and I am a little frustrated when the automated toilet flushes at all the wrong times.

Wait, I’m not finished! I accidentally leaned to the left slightly and suddenly SWOOSH!

Ok, now I’m finished.  Take it away.  Well, go on! Flush now!! No?

So I sway back and forth, move in, move back, flap my arms (ah, now I get the chicken analogy) and still nothing.  Aargh!

Next are the auto soap dispensers and the auto on/ off taps to deal with.  The soap dispenser usually works just fine, and may even spit out a blob of strong smelling soap but the tap…

I eye the sink nervously then I move my hands back and forth under the tap.

Come on, come on, please, please, please COME ON!  Nothing.

Move to the next sink and pray for water.  If successful there is still the towel dispenser to conquer.  That is if there is a towel dispenser.  Don’t you hate hand blowers?  They never really dry your hands.  You always have to resort to wiping your hands on your clothes. However, I was in an airport bathroom recently which had these hand blowers that were amazing.  You dipped your hands into them and within a few seconds every drop of moisture was gone.  I was a little alarmed by how impressed I was.

One recent public bathroom I visited had the seat wrapped in plastic.  You pressed a button and the plastic was rotated so you had a fresh section of plastic on your seat.  How the heck does that work? Where does the old plastic go? How do I know my new plastic is really new? Inquiring minds want to know!

I’ve only scratched the surface of public bathroom talk.  I haven’t covered out houses, the European experience, or port-a-potties yet.  Another time perhaps. (I’m not sure how much more of this Jacquie can take.)   ;)

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Svaha Spirit Series ~ Say Something Nice

A few folks at Improv Everywhere constructed a custom wooden lectern with a megaphone holster and an attached sign that read: “Say Something Nice.” The lectern was placed in public spaces around New York and then left alone. What would happen when passerby’s were given the opportunity to amplify their voices to “say something nice”?

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Four Year Old Wisdom

I think four is the perfect age.  You are still innocent, full of energy, life is simple and of course you believe in magic.  I watched a four year old playing recently and I allowed myself the luxury of slipping into her world for a few moments…

It was hot.  Especially hot on the playground full of white, dry, dusty sand but the two black tire swings looked like fun.  The tire swings were each cleverly cut out to resemble horses. She jumped on the nearest one and started swinging as high as she could go.  She was hoping to catch a cool breeze but the air that pushed the hair off her face was still warm.  A bigger boy approached, he looked like he might be in grade one.  He wore glasses and looked smart.

“Mind if I ride?” he asked.

Weird, what kind of kid talks like that, she wondered and frowned at him. She didn’t say anything, just watched him climb up on the other horse. She didn’t like boys much and she definitely did not want to play with this one.  After a silent moment she allowed the swing to slow down and then she jumped, leaving her tire horse rearing from side to side. The weird boy was forgotten before she hit the ground.

She liked how her dress floated all around her for the brief second that she was airborne.  Her feet sank in the sand a little.  She liked feeling the hot sand seep in through slats in her sandals and settle around her toes.  It was fun to flick the sand ahead of her while she walked. She was looking down at her feet until she reached the edge of the playground.  She was so hot.

“MEGAN!” her mom was calling.

The second she looked up, it caught her eye.  A sprinkler!  It was on the grass just a few feet past the playground.  The sprinkler was on a long metal spike that stuck in the ground and its sprayer was exactly her height.  She ran to it while her mother’s calls got more and more frantic.

“Stay OUT of the water! DO NOT GET YOUR DRESS WET!”

She reached the sprinkler in seconds and put her hands around the top of it, spraying water through her fingers so it shot out at her in every direction. It felt wonderful.  Her mother stayed at a safe, dry distance and continued screeching at her to get away from the sprinkler.  She blocked it all out. She dropped her hands and let the water splash and mist all over her.  She looked down and watched droplets stream down the wet strands of her hair.  It dripped down her arms and legs and washed the sand out of her sandals. It tickled. It was perfect.

A moment later she skipped over to her mother, smiling, still enjoying the cool water on her skin.  Her mother grabbed her hand and continued lecturing her while pulling her away.

As she passed by me, she looked up and we caught eyes.  I smiled at her.  My eyes told her – Good for you! Enjoy the simple pleasures life offers you. Seize those moments whenever you can. Run through every sprinkler.

She smiled back at me and her eyes replied – Oh, I plan on it… but why don’t you anymore?

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The Pied Piper of CNN – Piers Morgan

Disclaimer and Warning:

The following post may or may not shatter any previous conceptions you may or may not have held that I am a nice, kind, gentle, at times even spiritual person. The following post will dispel all notions of those adjectives from your mind when you think of me after reading what follows. Be warned before going any further in your reading that I am about to take the leap down, down, down, into the darkness of full rant and name calling.

_____________________________

At precisely 9 pm every evening I turn into someone else.  My face contorts; my voice becomes gravel-ly and my language down right raunchy.  Yes, I’m watching Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN…again.  Why? Why do I do it to myself night in and night out? Am I addicted to some perverse adrenaline rush when my dislike for the man boils my blood every time I watch him on TV? I don’t know, but in case you are feeling sorry for my husband at this point, don’t bother.  He is exactly the same on this one. He too can’t seem to pull himself away. I’d like to suggest it’s because of the guests Morgan miraculously gets to appear with him, but I’m not sure about that.  I almost sat through an entire interview he once did with Hulk Hogan’s ex wife, so that can’t be it.

I know I’m not the only one who dislikes Piers Morgan, there is also James Wolcott who wrote a few scathing paragraphs about him for Vanity Fair.  I pumped my fist and yelled “YES!” so loud I’m sure you could have heard me across the “pond”.  (Where I often fantasize that Moron Morgan will soon return to.)

Finally someone voiced what I had been thinking all along. “How did we get stuck with Piers Morgan? Who is he, why is he here, is he returnable?”  Bravo Mr. Wolcott, bravo.  (I’m standing and applauding at this point.)

VF's caption reads: UNCLE SHAM Piers Morgan, host of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. (giggle)

The man irks me like no other.  He actually raises my blood pressure.  What’s up with that? How can I get so worked up over a mere “canned ham”? (Wolcott’s words, but I love the description so I’m using it too)

Maybe it’s because I’m astonished that so many celebrities agree to be interviewed by this arrogant blow hard and then, after he has rudely interrupted them through the entire interview, they thank him and say what a pleasure it’s been.  Really?  What’s he got on you? C’mon, have you been phone tapped? Nah, he would never do anything as low as that…just because he worked as editor of the tabloid Daily Mirror…and just because he bought shares in a company just before that papers financial column pitched it… and just because he was canned from that gig for using fake photos of Iraqi soldiers being tortured by British soldiers…he wouldn’t do anything like that.

No, I think it’s more likely that he has just puffed himself up so much and social media-ed his “brand” down everyone’s throats so far that his guests have started to actually believe in his pompous self-centred importance. He has a sort of magical pied piper effect on them.  They don’t seem to notice that he is only concerned with his own point of view and that after he has talked over them he does this thing with his face where he actually lifts his nose in the air and looks down it at them. That always gets the colourful language flying in our household.  Oh relax; there are usually no minors within earshot!

“Hello, my name is Bonnie Johnson, and I’m addicted to watching a pretentious Englishman on a silly American network when I know it’s not good for me personally or good for society in general.”

I need help.  Sigh.

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Snap Out Of It!


Some days you wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  Something just feels off.  You get out of bed and stub your toe.  You sit down on the toilet and discover you are out of paper.  You’re not sure what sparks all of this negativity but you know it when it’s there.  The air feels heavy around you and even the birds singing outside your window sound more annoying than sweet.  When your husband affectionately smacks your butt as you pass you have to fight the temptation to take a swing at his chin with your fist.  Oh-oh.  Not a great way to start the day.

Maybe I just need to eat something, you think, so you go to the fridge and discover you are out of _______.  Of course you are.  As you prepare breakfast anyway, you are thinking about how it’s always you that prepares breakfast and cleans up after.  And lunch…and dinner, come to think of it. Now you are feeling the venom in your veins heat up.  It’s usually about this time that the love of your life suggests you finish doing that task you started last week and you stop and stare at them. Awe struck.  Really?  Do you think I need to be told by you that I still need to get ______ done?, you think, but you find their bad timing so incredulous that instead you just glare and shoot death daggers out of your eyes at them.

Well this was the kind of day I was having recently. Ok, exactly this day.  My husband and I had to travel to another town to make a delivery.  Before heading back we decided to stop at Tim Horton’s to grab some lunch and caffeine for the ride home.  We ordered three chicken snackers, one with caesar dressing and two with ranch. When we got to the pick up window there were only two chicken snackers in the bag…and no napkins.  My husband politely asked for the missing snacker while I huffed at the girl that we also needed napkins. Hello? How hard is it to include a couple of napkins in the bag?  Pht! Three hot snackers in hand, we were off.  But as we drove away I realized they weren’t marked.  So which one was the caesar snacker? I had to unroll them all only to discover that the caesar dressing and the ranch dressing look identical and making matters worse some pieces of the chicken were rolling off the wrap and disappearing between the seats in the car.  “Aargh! Oh for @$#% sake! This is ridiculous! It wasn’t a difficult order, why can’t they get it right?!” I yelled.  Well I had to yell to be heard because the cars air conditioning had stopped working and it was thirty five degrees out and we needed all the windows down and my hair was whipping my face and getting tangled up with my tongue.  And then it hit me…

I suddenly had an image of Somalian parents walking hundreds of miles in the African heat to try and find food for their starving, dying children.  They would have been so grateful for this car with or without air conditioning.  And the small snackers would be a glorious feast for them.  This realization was a well needed slap in the face.  I immediately snapped out of my mood and felt an overwhelming wave of gratitude wash over me.  Sometimes it is necessary to look at the contrast of your life to another life to remember what is important and what is trivial.  It was also a great reminder that it’s just that easy to change your thoughts and thereby change your mood and thereby change your experience.  From that moment on I enjoyed every aspect of my day.  The scenery was spectacular and I was grateful for it.  I reached over and kissed my husbands cheek which made him flinch at first until he saw that my face had softened and he knew I didn’t want to hurt him anymore.

What is happening in Somalia is heart breaking.  I grabbed this from CBC’s web site.

The famine in East Africa has killed tens of thousands, and more people are dying every day.

A devastating drought across the region, plus war, neglect and spiraling prices have all contributed to what is now the worst hunger emergency in a generation.

In some areas of Somalia more than half the children are severely malnourished – and one-in-three could die.

You Can Help

Donations to registered Canadian charities will help to provide food, clean water, shelter and health services that will save lives.

For every dollar Canadians contribute to a registered Canadian charity responding to the East Africa drought, the Government of Canada will set aside one dollar for the East Africa Drought Relief Fund. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will allocate these funds to established Canadian and international humanitarian organizations for humanitarian assistance efforts that benefit the people most affected by the drought. The government will match eligible donations made from July 6 until September 16 2011. If you would like more information about the Fund, donating and fund raising criteria please visit East Africa Drought Relief Fund

For a complete list of experienced humanitarian organizations working in the region visit http://www.cbc.ca/eastafricarelief/


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Secret to Happiness


The world seems ripe with things that can get you down.  If you are crazy enough to watch the news lately you will see children starving in Africa, teenagers being shot down in Norway, politicians unable to agree…on anything, young talents dying too soon, airplanes crashing, rich men raping, newspapers spying, the list goes on and on.

There may be people close to you that are letting you down or disappointing you.  Your finances may be squeezing you too tight, you may feel overwhelmed by family responsibilities, perhaps you are out of work and unsure of your future, maybe you found a lump, maybe you are worried about a family member being addicted to something, maybe you were elected to give that speech in front of hundreds and you’re terrified, or you lost the contract you had been counting on, or the markets have dropped and there goes your retirement money, or…

Sometimes life feels heavy.  Thanks, you’re thinking.  Thanks for reminding me of all the darkness surrounding me, ya, really inspiring Bonnie! But wait, I have a solution. It’s  the answer to how to beat the doldrums. It’s a cheap, quick fix to get you to forget all the bad news and get you laughing and smiling again.  And the best part…it tastes good too!

The answer is simple; a watermelon eating contest.  You don’t even have to go in one (but it works way better if you do), just watching other people snort and slurp watermelon without using their hands is giggle inducing.  It’s fun on a level that you just can’t beat.  I wish I’d discovered this secret to happiness years ago.  Better late than never and now I’m excited to share this discovery with all of you.  When its all over and you’ve blown the watermelon chunks out of your nostrils and wiped up the juice that’s collected in your belly button you are guaranteed to have a new bounce in your step. Life will look bright and shiny again.  I swear by it.

Here’s to summer fun everyone!

A seriously good sport!

 

And the winner is...Lorellei!

 

…and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACQUIE!!

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