Strengthening the crackling veneer

Have you ever felt broken? Like someone else is living in your body?   I have, and I think the other person's name is Meno Pause. Meno has more depressed days than I ever had, is less tolerant of others and is so fragile that little things crackle the veneer that holds her together, sending her into a room alone to get the shaking under control. She also has trouble thinking, would rather be alone and often avoids gatherings. She is the opposite of who I am in so many ways...   Meno Pause has been living in me for several years, but I think she is gradually moving out. A year ago, I was afraid she was becoming a permanent resident, but today I know different. I don't know if she will ever move out completely, but I am OK with that.   Over the last year I have become stronger, both physically and emotionally, strengthening the veneer that holds us both together. I am more like myself again, and have decided to embrace whatever comes each day. I mourn the loss of parts of me that Meno took away, but I have hope for the future, and I look forward to whatever it has to offer.   … [Read more...]

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New Year resolutions started a month ago

"Happy New Year!" conjures up memories of bubbles floating to the top of non-alcoholic wine in colored stemware, party hats, and noisemakers ushering in the new year while watching the ball drop in Time Square from the comfort of our living room. New Year's Day is spent curled up on a couch with a notebook rewriting our lives with resolutions to become better people in the coming months.   For me, this year was very different. When my supervisor told me our shift was working on New Year's Day I realized there was no reason for me not to work. Celebrations to usher in the new year with goals and plans to move ahead seemed counter productive since I basically started that over a month ago.   The changes began in October when I got back from Nigeria. I had decided my work schedule needed to change, as well as my pay grade. Weekends off were a rarity in retail, and weekends were when my husband was home. For a few weeks I tried to accomplish those goals through changing positions within Home Depot, but nothing worked. Drastic measures were in order.   I put in an application for a job that would give me longer shifts, the ability to work fewer days in a … [Read more...]

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Picnic in the woods

Working in the retail business, weekends off are few and far between. I've taken to requesting a weekend day here and there just to be able to see my husband. Some requests are granted, some denied. My husband surprised me recently on a Sunday off with a picnic in the woods by the river. With spring being so late, it was like walking in a black and white film, sometimes with sepia filters. Color was void. Even the sky was gray, but it was wonderful. We found a log to use as a bench near a small creek running into the river where we could watch the reflection of the trees ripple as the breeze made the surface breathe. The quiet calm was interrupted by a bicycle or two on the tar path about 100 yards away. Then a bird, or the wind whispering through the tree tops. The undergrowth was just a thought under the leaves covering the ground, creating the perfect environment for trekking through the woods, investigating things we observed while eating our lunch. The woods were full of interesting details, many of the decomposition process. White shelf mushrooms forming on fallen trees were common.     We also saw a few duck couples, some with their white … [Read more...]

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Senseless Act

As I hunched over the StarTribune, attempting to give my tired body a rest, a co-worker looked at the big-screen TV in horror and asked if that was a bomb. I turned to see "Terror at the Boston Marathon" above a photo as the news reporter was talking about the incident. The break room was noisy - someone speaking loudly on his cell phone, people punching in, others punching out, lots of greetings and conversations. I couldn't hear anything the news reporter was saying, so I stood next to the TV until the room cleared out as people went on their way. I was mortified and in shock. Two bombs had exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, injuring and killing spectators and runners. I hurt for those who were injured or killed, and for those who love them. I hurt for those who witnessed the carnage and will have those images imprinted on their minds forever. I hurt for our nation and the impact this will have on other events. It doesn't matter who did this, whether it was a locally born psychopath or a foreign terrorist, the fallout will be the same. Our way of life will continue to change. We stand and say we will be strong and will not let these acts of terror change … [Read more...]

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New writing haven

I have always wanted a roll-top desk. Not just any roll-top desk. A big one like the old post office desks with lots of small cubbies or drawers. Now I have one. When we set up our small office two years ago my desk was shoe-horned into the 50 inches between the side of the closet in the wall, and Ron spread out on the opposite wall. I chose that area because of the window. The small desk, which is the one Ron and his brother shared when they were children, fit nicely under the window and a tall bookcase filled the narrow space on the left, keeping my writing books, copies of my published articles, my creative journals and other important items nearby. I didn't care that there was barely enough room for my laptop, let alone a keyboard conducive to continuous writing on large projects. I could look over my laptop and out the window to my woodsy back yard, which is always food for the soul. That lasted a while, but I began to feel like a sardine every time I wanted to work. It was easier to remove myself to another space. That is when my in-laws ran across a small roll-top desk without the cover. Two drawers on one side and a pencil drawer were its only features beyond getting … [Read more...]

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Date night

I had a date last night! Actually, it was yesterday afternoon. Since I get off work early in the day, my husband, Ron, met me at work and took me to the IMax theater at the Minnesota Zoo to see Born to be Wild. It's a movie about Daphne Sheldrick and her lifetime of saving orphaned elephants in Kenya, and Birute Galdikas and her work with orphaned orangutans. I was so excited that I spent the day at work telling everyone about the date! I love elephants and orangutans, but part of the excitement came from going to see a continuation of a book I read - "Walking with the Great Apes" by Sy Montgomery. The book, published in 1991, is a triple biography about three women who dedicated their lives to research and care for a single primate species - Dian Fossey, mountain gorillas; Jane Goodall, champanzees; and Galdikas, orangutans. I was going to see some of what Galdikas has done since 1991! Orangutans are an amazing animal. They look a bit awkward as they lumber along the ground, but their is a slow, patient gracefulness as they move about in the trees. They also appear to have a sense of humor. One orphan who was rescued and kept as a pet tore the kitchen up, dumping flour … [Read more...]

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Morning work

The sky is dark as the balcony door creaks open letting the cool breath of morning air filter into the bedroom. It is early, earlier than I should get up considering I closed the store last night and didn't get much sleep. I'm not one of those who can come home from work and go directly to bed. Anyway, my mind would not let me sleep as it tossed around the projects I could do on my day off like stones in polisher. A smile crossed my face as the breeze brushed my skin while I dressed in the dark. Moving down to the kitchen, the plan was to make zucchini bread and then work on a writing project due today. Alas, the zucchini bread is done, but the writing project has just begun, with this being a warm up to the story I need to write. Taking the fruits of my labor from the gardens and turning them into foods that can last has been a weekly event lately. For a few weeks in a row, I have been canning tomatoes, four to six pints one morning a week. That's not a lot, but it helps over the winter, both financially and in knowing what is in our food. So far, I have jars of plain tomatoes, tomatoes with basil, and salsa made from my garden produce, with the exception of the garlic. I … [Read more...]

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Live every moment

We had a death in the family last week. A suicide. Unexpected deaths are always difficult for those left behind, but suicide takes on a whole new dimension. It is not accidental, nor is it unavoidable. It is a conscious choice that is often a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I believe suicide is very selfish, not taking into account how it will affect others. Even when someone feels others would be better off without him, moving away rather than killing himself would be better. Suicide affects others forever. No one knows exactly why this person made the decision to end his life, or what pain he was enduring that cemented the decision. That is what makes it so difficult for family and friends. Questions move from "why" to "what could I have done?" "If only" becomes part of the vocabulary, and a variety of scenarios fill the mind trying to make sense of it all. I am angry! Angry that he chose to put our families through this. And at the same time I am sad that he was in such pain that he felt death was the only solution. No one can truly understand the pain, physical or emotional, that someone else is enduring. We can empathize, sympathize and even have been in … [Read more...]

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Rambling

As I sit here writing, working on articles for a newspaper, the sun is beckoning me outside, teasing me with its perceived warmth, taunting me to abandon my current quest for the adventure of soul food. To further draw me away, I look above my computer, out the window, and see a magnificent cardinal perched on a branch in my backyard maple tree. I began talking with him, praising his beautiful colors and announcing the blessing of his visit. Though I'm sure he couldn't hear me, he turned to face me, nodding his head as if in conversation with me. This is February in Minnesota? Yes, I meant to add the question mark! The ground is brown and littered with leaves. There are spotty splashes of snow that light up the shadows behind trees and buildings. It seems more like spring than winter. February is supposed to be frigid with a foot of snow. Either that or warming, with water seeping out from under the snow. I was talking with someone at work about the snow blowers recently and I said I wish it would snow. "You like snow?" he said. "I could do without." "We need the snow," I said. "The ground needs the moisture." "It could rain instead," he said. To show how far removed from … [Read more...]

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New Year’s Resolutions

This is February already! What am I doing writing about New Year's resolutions? I've been so busy, I haven't even made any resolutions yet. This year, I've decided to start a new system: Since most of us break our resolutions within the first three weeks of January, I decided to wait until February to begin work on the new year! What are New Year resolutions anyway? When I was younger, they were a thoughtful look at the past year to choose new and better goals for the next. As the years rolled by, I found I chose many of the same goals for the next year, building on what I already accomplished. The problem is life gets in the way. Often personal goals are relegated to the back burner as other needs fill the pots in the front. Maybe instead of annually looking at goals, or resolutions, we should break them into smaller segments and look at them monthly. That would help keep us focused and moving forward. But the first thing I need to do is spend more time on personal goals and let some of the other needs go. What are you doing this year? Are you still on track for your resolutions? If you are, I applaud you! … [Read more...]

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