Pivotal Moments

Pivotal moments are those which change our feelings, our thinking, our choices, our pathways in life. People can provide them, or experiences.

Think back. Who or what was pivotal in your life?

As a child, one person was my only grandmother, who rescued me again and again from an increasingly dysfunctional household. I had an aunt and a cousin who did the same. So right there, three people, who removed me from an unpleasant environment, nurtured me, and taught me that the world was composed of a lot more than a sad family situation.

As a teenager, the wife of my father’s business partner told me I had beautiful hair. From that time on, when life seemed tough, I could say to myself, “well at least I have beautiful hair”. Whether it was true or not was not the point; it was an asset noted by someone else and shared with me.

As an adult, a doctor suggested that I learn Transcendental Meditation. He said it had been helpful to him. I respected his opinion so I tried it. It was a turning point in my life in the most positive direction I could imagine. It was the baseline for so much of what was to come.

The day I saw my first Blue Heron was breathtakingly pivotal. From then on, I wanted to capture such experiences by camera in an attempt to share my own sense of wonder.

We all have certain times and people in our lives of extraordinary influence.

I am grateful for each of mine, and for having an awareness of their presence. These are the moments that propel our lives onto a different level of being and if we’re lucky, push us onto a higher spiritual platform.

There may be lots of highlights in our lives, like the day the dog had her puppies in my lap, or the sense of relief when the electricity is restored after days without it, or the wedding of a friend, the birth of a child or even the immersion in a really good book or movie.

While pivotal moments may be highlights, usually those moments are more subtle, coming to fruition with the consequences of that moment. Like discovering a perfume scent that suits you and you choose to use for the rest of your life.

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The Value of Complaint: Improvement, Compensation and the Flip Side

Whether pointing something out that is deficient in your opinion, or that might be relevant to others, there is value in complaining.

Constructive commentary is an asset. It can take work to phrase something in a way that will be heard, honored and accepted.

But constructive comments are not always possible and one has to aim at the problem, such as faulty equipment or product.

I am not qualified to make constructive comments on say, generic brands in the supermarket (what do I know about making, to use a benign example, a nice dusting powder, or baby oil?). But I can say that a company’s new brand of soap stinks. Literally. The new scent is awful. In my opinion.

When I opened a package to plant new day lilies, there was nothing but dust in the package. Turned out the market had put old stock on the shelves. The bulb company replaced the bulbs at no cost to me, which is how the process should work.

Companies need to hear from people like us. They are trying to sell a product. If it is deficient for whatever reasons, they need to know that. Who better to tell them?

The upside is that a reputable company will offer at least coupons for a replacement product, if not to replace the product itself and sometimes a full refund by cheque.

There has been, in my experience, one company which has never responded: Verizon. In this country, we sometimes have the option to change companies for the same product. Done.

And the flip side of complaint: after wading through the inevitable voice menu, continually pushing “O”, finally getting a live Comcast representative who was expecting a complaint or problem, and then telling her that Comcast’s support by providing an internet connection, of a live broadcast of an eagles’ nest, with chicks, is very much appreciated. http://hdontap.com/index.php/video/stream/bald-eagle-live-cam

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More Like Us

 

“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

Remember the song from My Fair Lady?

We are experiencing an historic time, when we have the opportunity to open portals of compassion and tolerance. Are we doing that?

Fanatics are using religion as an excuse to kill targeted populations with a goal of world domination and doing “it their way” from now on. (Frank Sinatra, are you listening?)

This is nothing new. The Crusades set an example long ago, and missionaries have been offering their versions of religion for literally ages.

The difference between ISIS/ISIL and missionaries is that missionaries (allegedly) give the individual a choice: they offer and convince, rather than kill and overrun.

So why can’t a woman be more like a man? Why can’t Christians be more like Muslims, and vice versa? Why can’t a bipolar person be more like the general population? Why can’t a black man be like a white man?

Within this historic time, we are witnessing a smudging of categorical divisions in society. Some women become more like men particularly as they age; some men and women feel they were born into the wrong physiological body structure.Perhaps tolerance to variations in gender identification might be the precursor to cross-overs of religious ideals, an understanding that everyone is different, that everyone has their own story, and that perceived mental imbalance may be a sign of genius. Many of humanity’s most brilliant contributors have been considered weird, and in mental health and insurance parlance would qualify for a DSM diagnosis.

In the face of global diversity on multiple levels, are we opening those portals of compassion, tolerance, and understanding?

The goal here is not to make everybody the same, or specifically categorized. Brave New World, here we come! Thank you, Aldous Huxley.

The goal is to honor our differences. They protect us from the monotony of sameness. They contribute to the evolution of cultures and maybe even humankind.

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The Insidious Internet

The Insidious Internet

“The Virologist”, an article by Andrew Marantz in The New Yorker magazine (January 5, 2015) about Emerson Spartz and memes highlights an insidious danger within the internet.

It seems that if you and I search on our own computers for, say CNN, we will come up with different results, based on what the algorithmic internet scavengers determine to be “our best interests”.

Downright scary.

While it may be helpful to the vendors and possibly to us, to tailor ads on, say Facebook, to our interests as expressed by our computer activity, in my opinion, it is not in our “best interests” to hone information to suit our individual tastes.

On the contrary, it narrows our field of information and is a restriction of freedom.

Such culling underscores how crucially important it is that (a) we talk with each other, (b) reading books is necessary, and (c) foreign travel is essential for a more rounded view of the world.

In this computer-driven information highway (to use a hackneyed term), I do not want my personal interests continually fed back to me, effectively reinforcing the idea that what I think is right, or useful, or the general trend.

While it may be convenient and time saving not to be fed gruel that is of no use or interest to me, I crave exposure to new and different ideas, to conversation, to open answers to open ended questions.

Maybe I should start searching for bizarre subjects so as to vary the ad content on websites I visit.

In the meantime, my cynical thanks to the internet gods who think they know what to feed me, who stifle critical thinking, and who make my life so much easier.

Let me out!  Let me graze on the other side of the fence.

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Wallpaper

The saga of the wallpaper begins with a house painter, Joe, who was not well. He was planning for a job at my house, so I asked him how I could help. He said, “You could remove the wallpaper.” Clearly, wallpaper was not his favorite thing. Something I had never done before and had put into the “too hard basket” in the past now lurched into my future.

Procrastination can be your friend. I got a lot of housework and odds and ends done before I settled into tackling a project that was entirely foreign to me.

I need to organize a project mentally before I am able to tackle it. I was always the kid who asked “why?” and I do need to have my why’s answered before I can feel confident about proceeding.

At the paint store, the clerk knew about DIF which Joe had advised getting. Joe also stipulated that I would need two buckets of water, for a sponge and for Scotch-brite. He said it was important not to leave any paste on the walls. Consultation with an accomplished house-fixing friend added a wallpaper scoring tool, a plastic (not metal) putty knife, a spray bottle and drop cloths to the list.

The first wall was trial and a little error (not enough DIF). The peeling was tentative and patchy but the scrub down after removal, with Scotch-brite to remove any leftover paper and paste, and the wet sponging left a surprisingly shiny clean wall.

After the first wall, I had it down to a routine of scoring the paper, soaking every inch with DIF solution via spray bottle, allowing 15-20 minutes for the DIF to work, and then peeling off the paper. Joe had suggested doing one patch about 3 feet square, and letting it sit while I prepared another patch, and to start at the top. By the end of the project I went whole hog and scored, soaked and stripped an entire panel at one time.

There was one moment of pure joy, as I went through the scoring and soaking, and on a whim, gently pulled from the bottom of the paper and was able to get the entire single panel off, all the way up and across the top at the ceiling, in one piece. I felt like I should frame it.

It took days to do this, a few hours at a time. 12-24 hours after each stripping, I went back to check for residual paper or paste. I found it, and removed it with more DIF solution. The lighting in the room changed during the day, and had to be just so in order to see the bits and pieces that had been left.

It feels good (to me) to take on a job I have never done before, to understand it, work with it, and be successful. By the time I had finished the three formerly wallpapered walls, I was ready to take on more. I’ll have to save that impulse for another time, maybe another place.

Photos: procrastination time –> first wall progress –> last wall, done!

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Truisms

Communication is the key to any relationship, casual or otherwise.

Listening is an important factor; hearing is another.

Never assume you understand what you are hearing: if there is any question in your mind, ask if what you think you heard is correct (or not), and/or ask for clarification.

If what you think you heard feels like criticism or anger, take a breath and look at the information, the facts. Is it valid? Is it a topic for further discussion? Is it best left in the agree-to-disagree department?

Always listen to your partner: (s)he may know more than you might realize, regardless of the topic.

Say what you mean. You may need to say it a different way, to be heard.

Sometimes it takes a lot of courage for someone to express an opinion or to ask for something, or to set a boundary. Honor that. Listen. Clarify if necessary.

Know that true love is based on respect, consideration, and support…

Your partner’s opinion matters.

The two most common precipitators for divorce are finances, and how to raise the children. Both never stop; they are lifelong processes.

At the top of the list of major stressors are: moving house, changing jobs, a health crisis, having a child, losing a job, losing a family member especially a spouse or a child… not necessarily in that order.

When in doubt, breathe. Step back; look at the situation from a different perspective; try to see a bigger picture.

Most of life’s crises can be managed. You may need help: ask.

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Incident # 21-14-001893 Nicki in the Night

The dog woke me. 12:30 a.m. It was her “there’s something outside” bark. When she didn’t stop barking, I, two hours into a good sleep, staggered out of bed. Groggy, I failed to pick up my eyeglasses, but went to the window anyway (implants are wonderful things).

There was a cow in my driveway.

“911 – what is the location of your emergency?”
Me: Township, road and number given…
There’s a cow in my driveway.
Pause at the 911 end.
Me: Cow, as in Bovine…
“Sending an officer now…”

The cow was next to my car, snuffling in the recycle bin, moving things around.

A few minutes later, I in bathrobe, slippers, no eyeglasses and having forgotten the “golden” rule – always have your cell ‘phone with you – greeted the officer who arrived.

By then, the cow had moved on, but where? We speculated, perhaps on up the road. The officer went a short distance in pursuit while I wandered around the shed, noted the clothesline poles knocked to the ground, the security light triggered by the back woodpile, and the back terrace. Two of the outside cats came towards the terrace at full gallop, proof that the cow was in that area.

The officer pulled into the neighbor’s driveway. Only when he got out of the car did I realize he was a young man I’d known since he was about ten years old. I found that comforting. I said I hoped this was the most exciting thing for him on this Saturday night.

The cow was nearby and did I have the neighbor’s phone number? Old brain couldn’t sift through the immensity of information available. Went inside to get the Rolodex card with the name and phone numbers; handed it to the officer, “I don’t have my glasses – you read it”. He called, the neighbor came, and collected the cow.

The next morning, the evidence was there: hoof prints in the gravel, collapsed cardboard carton pulled out of the recycle bin, and contributions for the compost pile (Yay!).

Turns out the cow, Nicki, who is 16, likes cardboard.

9-7-14 Nicki

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