Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Greetings from Technology Hell!

During their Thanksgiving visit, my daughter and her husband (both of them technology wizards) convinced me that I simply could not go on without an I-Phone. To the best of my knowledge, neither of them gets a kickback from Apple, but I trust their advice explicitly. So, yesterday, off I went to the Tucson Apple Store for an appointment at the Genius Bar...which might cause one to think that Apple has a monumental ego -- and why shouldn't they? (In the extreme mob scene, I was the only one with a Dell Laptop!) But I digress.

Some 2 hours later, the problem I have had with my I-Tunes account was too much for the genius and I was told I had to call APPLE! The "system" even disputed my birthday! The first half of the day was spent on the phone  ("There are nine calls ahead of you...") and finally got to speak to a specialist, who just re-directed me back to emailing yet another specialist who will be able to fix the problem when he/she emails me within 24 hours. As you might imagine, I am beginning to suspect that the problem is unfixable.

You might also infer that I am angry with Apple or disillusioned with their products. Not at all. I am already falling in love with my phone and downloading tons of free apps. I can't buy any apps until my account mess is straightened out. But the capabilities of this phone are mind boggling. I'm beginning to develop a nice relationship with Siri, though she has failed to do a few of the things I have requested. I just don't understand why it takes so many layers of smart people to fix one account. Steve Jobs would not be happy...but then he often was not, according to his biographer.

I can't help thinking how relatively savvy I was technologically 5 years ago, which was an ice age ago. I had a Palm Pilot, used it constantly and rarely had a problem with setting it up or using it. That device was only slightly more sophisticated than a sharp rock as a tool compared to the power in my new phone. I'm pretty sure I'm smarter than a 5th grader, but maybe not a smart phone! I'm going to be visiting the aforementioned daughter and son-in-law at Christmas and you can be sure I am taking my laptop and phone. They got me into this -- they will have to get me out of it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

In the midst of pre-Thanksgiving dinner prep, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who have been such faithful readers of my blog. It amazes me that hits come from all around the world, and all I know about the reader is the country or the U.S. city. I always wish to know did you find my blog? what do you like about it? what could you do without? why do you return again and again? I would love to know the answers to those questions, but because I don't I just want you to know that it means a great deal to me that you 'follow' me. It makes me feel connected to a much larger place than Sonoita when I see that someone in Finland, or Egypt, or the U.K. has visited my little blog! To them, and to all of you, many thanks!
For my U.S. friends, may your Thanksgiving Day, no matter how you celebrate it, connect you to your blessings and help you feel an attitude of gratitude. I shared this short poem last year and it seemed to resonate with some of you, so once again here is my Thanksgiving wish for you all.

Look Around the Room

The day is full, food and laughter,
music and games, richly laden tables
and flowing wine.

Before the day is gone, blessings
retired to the back of mind,
look around the room.

It is in the faces you see, hands
you grasp in love, that happiness
resides in the completeness of life.

Touch tenderly those who gather
this day, remind yourself that it is all
you need, you are rich

beyond your dreams.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Reflection

Thanksgiving, perhaps more than any other holiday, triggers memories from all periods of our lives. In my early childhood, I remember Thanksgiving as the time when I got to see aunts and uncles I never saw any other time. My two uncles, Lucian and Bernie, were rotund and jovial, with pockets full of balloons and other advertising specialties, their joint business. That is the sum total of my knowledge about who my mother's brothers were. Their wives are just vague shadows in my memory. We weren't a close family, as you may have gathered. I searched out a quiet corner to read until dinner was served, returning to my book immediately after.

Another Thanksgiving I remember with some angst, my first as a newly separated single Mom. It even generated a brief reflection, with tongue somewhat in cheek. Seems like someone else's life, some 30 years later.

Holiday Angst

He left days before Thanksgiving and I,
wanting to pretend for the children,
did the usual turkey and pumpkin pie.

I held it together until I made the gravy
and discovered I had lost custody
of the gravy boat.


May you and yours enjoy each other's love and companionship in gratitude for all our many blessings

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When it’s not the life you had in mind...

It was with tear-filled eyes I watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly on 20/20. All the usual adjectives have been used to describe her struggle to recover from the terrible trauma caused by the bullet that sliced through her brain last January...valiant, brave, fighter. Yes, she is all that. But what occurred to me as the videos of her progress played is that she is now a teacher and a role model for all that the human being can be.

Will she ever totally be the person she was. Probably not. She will most assuredly continue to improve, fighting tough battles to do the small things we all take so for granted and beating odds that would have defeated most people – stopped them from dreaming of what they could still accomplish. But Gabby Giffords still has much to offer. Her smile and her spirit are glorious to behold! It is obvious that the poignant dedication and love that Mark brings her every day has been an enormous part of her recovery. But she will not be living the life she had in mind. She is not the same person she was when she married her astronaut husband four years ago. Whether she returns to Congress as Arizona’s representative still remains to be seen. It may seem like too easy a goal, after all she has been through. She may have something even more ambitious in mind. She knows she still has much work to do in her therapy and recovery.

What does one do when, in a heartbeat, life changes. One minute your dreams are on a fast track to being realized and a second later you are powerless to live the life you planned. That fast. It would leave many people devastated and defeated. Most of us have lived lives of privilege and ease, no matter what we believe our problems to be. We’ve perhaps never been asked to show such incredible strength. But when that moment comes when our dreams are suddenly shattered and we must discover what we’re made of, that is when the human spirit is it’s most noble and inspiring. We are capable of so much more than we know! So much more.

Gabby has accomplished as much as she has through sheer determination and hard work...really hard work. That’s the secret word. It’s HARD. Whatever has changed our lives from what we had in mind to what we have requires the effort to find new dreams, to discover what is now possible. It is clearly far more than we could have imagined.

Gabby, you are teaching us about strength and courage and how worthwhile is the struggle. Our hearts continue to be with you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To All the Dogs We Have Loved

Macho, Forrest and Jenny

Scott and JoAnn lost their beloved Whippet, Forrest, last night. He was part of their lives for 13 years, a long life for a big dog, but not nearly enough. He will leave a hole that nothing will ever quite fill. That’s just the way it is when you give your heart to an animal. People who choose not to have pets never quite understand the heartbreak or the way in which we choose to give them such a huge piece of our lives.

It’s not just sentimentality or emotion run amok. There just isn’t any way to explain how much love there is in the relationship between us and our dogs. Cats, I know, are dearly loved as well, but they don’t go on trips with us, camp out in tents or take long walks. It’s just not their thing. Our dogs learn to fit in with whatever our life is at the moment. They thrive on adapting just to please us. We are more than master (and some of us never get the hang of being alpha). They don’t ask us to quit our jobs. They just wait patiently at the window for a sign that you are returning and then rev up the welcome so that by the time you reach the front door there will be no doubt in your mind how much they missed you. The same is true if you just walk to the mailbox and back. No one in your life is ever as glad to see you, no matter what they say.

No relationship in your life will ever ask as little and give as much. My thoughts, of course, have gone straight to the grief we felt, and still feel, over losing our dear Macho. He was with us for ten years, far short of the 17-18 year life expectancy for a Havanese. But he gave us everything he had. When he was so sick, and we were living in a trailer awaiting the completion of our house, he valiantly jumped up the high steps and adapted to our tiny living space – to be with us was all he wanted. Each morning he would walk through the construction with me, checking on what was new, even the doggy door that was being installed. He never got to use it. He died three weeks before we moved in. No dog, no matter how appealing will ever fill that space or show us more love.

Why do we put ourselves through this experience that is bound to end badly? Well, why do we love our human companions? Why our children? Loss is part of life. Every living thing has an ending. But few things in our lives are really as uncomplicated as this. Our dear dogs are pure love, forgiving us when we forget to fill their water dishes, sensing when we are upset or ill, patient when we leave them for hours, and always, always believing in their hearts that we are the most noble, most excellent, most deserving creatures that ever walked on two legs. If they know our flaws, they just don’t care. Unconditional love, indeed.

Rest in peace, dear Forrest.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Perfect Moments

I’m not a perfectionist. Believe me. I’ve often regretted that, feeling that I am sometimes entirely too casual about the details of things. Actually, most of the true perfectionists I have known would give almost anything to be a bit looser – a little less anal, shall we say? I also believe that the perpetual search for perfection is the road to disappointment, though when it occurs it is a joy indeed.

What I now pursue are perfect moments. It can happen anywhere. And a moment is an inexact measure of can be a few seconds or a few hours, or more. The length of time neither enhances nor diminishes its perfection.

A few mornings ago, the season abruptly changed from late fall to early winter. Feeling a chill in the house, I grabbed my sunglasses and my Kindle and headed for the front porch where the morning sun was strong and bright. The metal chair was warm and as I sat down it seemed to envelope me in heat. It was completely quiet but for the thrum of a hummingbird and a light breeze ruffling the bushes. I drew in a deep breath and realized that I was living a perfect moment. From inside the house I could hear Vivaldi playing softly, and I felt all my senses sharpened. I noticed things I might have simply brushed by. In the modest garden, the plants were pulling back to prepare for winter, the summer’s vibrant colors now gone to drab. The butterfly bush now vacant and dry will be back in the spring. Those pink flowers whose name I can never remember are gone too, but I know they are still there, resting as they deserve to do. Gracie and Alfie sat quietly by me, content for a while to let the birds fly and the bugs crawl without feeling the need to chase or bark. I wanted to freeze the moment.

To be sure, there are life’s perfect dramas, such as the birth of a child, a wedding, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, a family reconciliation -- precious and welcome when they occur, but rare. The perfect moments can be as mundane as finishing a long put off project, baking a pie that, for once, looks like the picture in the cookbook, as deeply moving as an intimate conversation with a dearly loved friend or sitting in a darkened concert hall listening to a sublime performance of a favorite work.
Perhaps it has to do with adjusting one’s expectations. To live more consciously is to find many more moments to appreciate fully, or as someone put it “it’s not about having what you want; it’s about wanting what you have.” Tom is a good example of that. His always cheerful spirit makes the best of every day, happy with the small world he inhabits. I am learning much from him. He seems to be unbothered by his lack of memory for the past, and focused instead on the pleasures of the moment.   
I say to life “surprise me!” (And I mean that in a good way!)  In the meantime, I think life wants me to find the perfect, sacred moments that are all around just waiting to be fully embraced. I don’t want to miss a single one.