Saturday, April 28, 2007


I just came back from a place I frequently visit, Old Horsetail Snake, whenever I feel the need for a guaranteed laugh. He's been doing some remodeling over there, and darned if his blog isn't taking on a really classy look. As always, plenty to laugh and think about. I'd been intending to add a really humorous blog to my blogroll for some time, so I just figured, why wait? I'm gonna add that blog right now.

Influence of others occurs throughout our lives upon reflection...
here are a few from my youth.

There are people who make a difference in our lives at every age throughout our lifetime. Some we remember quite vividly. I strongly believe that we have some slight impact on just about everyone with whom we come in contact and they us.

I thought I'd take the time one of these days to list all the people I've met and recall as having made a difference in my life. Perhaps, given my belief about how we all impact each other in minor to major ways, an abbreviated list might be in order, in which I would simply include those who had the most profound impact on my life. Actually, as I think about important others, at any given time an individual might be having a significant impact, but then in the scheme of a whole life, the impact could ultimately become much less significant. I could not possibly list everyone who comes to mind. I do want to mention a few here from that well-known group called teachers, who dedicate their lives to trying to make a difference in the lives of others. They are generally quite successful in doing so, though they may not always know they have been, or receive the acknowledgement and recognition to which they are entitled.

Certainly, my life was impacted by teachers I encountered at various life stages. Some, I would say, even most teachers, were a very positive influence, but as with any group, there are always those few who, however unintentionally, are otherwise. I prefer to think of the more positive ones, those whose expectations and efforts to expose their students, including me, to new ideas, experiences and expression of thoughts come readily to mind.

Regrettably, I don't recall ever having an opportunity to express my appreciation to far too many people, including some of these teachers, who have crossed my path in a meaningful positive manner. For some, what would I say? I recall in the fifth grade Miss Barroway asking me one day, to take over from her reading the spelling words to the class. I felt very surprised and proud to have been selected, especially considering not too many days before that, I had received several whacks on the knuckles of each hand from a wooden ruler wielded unmercifully by her. I had been caught writing a note to my boy friend, Dwight.

I also had quite mixed feelings as to why I was being asked to stand before the class and read these spelling words, since I had been observing her closely when she had begun reading from the word list, and I knew something was wrong. I was distracted seeing the throbbing, blood flow pulsating in her neck's left artery that looked most unusual to me. I walked to the front of the class, began slowly reading one spelling word at a time as she left the room. Later our principal, Miss Broome, told us our teacher had a heart attack. After some days had passed, I learned she was safely recovering. The knuckle whacks she gave me were extremely painful and potentially injurious. They would not be tolerated today. On the other hand, my being selected to read the spelling words suggested to me I did have some redeeming qualities in her eyes.

What a contrast with a college instructor I had, with whom I exchanged annual holiday greeting letters each year as long as she was able, well into her nineties. Just before she finally had to relinquish living in the home she had shared first with her parents and then by herself, I indulged what I thought to be a selfish pleasure, when over some period of time, the impulse to do so simply would not go away -- I phoned Miss Harton. I kept remembering with pride for her that a few years earlier, a brand new theatre complex was built on campus which bore her name.

This call and the conversation which ensued turned out to be more than welcomed by her. I told her the reason for my call was simply to thank her for all she had contributed to my life. I described her now incidental actions which had so affected my life then, how I had been influenced, how she had been on the cutting edge of innovation with a new idea she brought us following her summer leave to work on her master's degree out of state. She responded that in all of her years of teaching there were individual students that stood out in her mind, but she had never had so many at one time as in our particular group of six, a small part of a much larger class. Our conversation ended with her saying to me, "You've made my day!" I could only respond, "You didn't just make my day, you made my life."

Another one of the individuals I so wanted to thank had departed this life by the time I made an effort many years ago to locate her. Mrs. Eastburn was without question the best teacher I had in high school, who truly made an effort to prepare each of us for life, death and especially to attend college for any of us who might so aspire. She was demanding of us, not without humor, but with high expectations for our performance in her English class. I'm sure our writing efforts must have contributed to humor in her life, too, such as can be read HERE.

She went to great lengths to make arrangements for us to travel from our suburban rural setting school into the nearby city to see Lawrence Oliver in a special showing re-release of the 1948 black and white movie Hamlet which he directed long before he was knighted "Sir Lawrence." We had been reading some of Shakespeare's works in class. I was young and impressionable as Shakespeare's words penetrated the stillness of the darkened theater auditorium, coming alive for me as I viewed the movie. I became unabashedly enamoured with Shakespeare, "Hamlet," Lawrence Oliver, acting. My love of language was reinforced.

Mrs. Eastburn also required us to read, explain, memorize, and recite the last verse of William Cullen Bryant's poem "Thanatopsis." We even had to write a paper about the value of memorization. There were many plays with memorable lines as a student/amateur, in which I have acted, directed, or judged. They included high school's relatively unknown "Drums of Death," through obligatory one to three act perpetually performed college plays, a live local TV drama, and subsequent little theatre productions in which memorization has been crucial.

In college there was "Don Juan In Hell" inviting the audience upon their entrance to "Give up all hope, ye who enter here" (here and here) in which our cast's production included our soon-to-be Dean of Students, the son of a well-known actor of his time, Guy Kibbee. Then there were Portia's often repeated Shakespearean lines from The Merchant of Venice: "The quality of mercy is not strain'd, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath..."

All these words, but through the years those that periodically always come to mind are in the last verse of the one repeated here in tribute to Mrs. Eastburn. The thoughts expressed in this poem's verse contributed to the formulation of my perception of death. I believe our culture could benefit immensely by more freely embracing comfortable discussion of death throughout our lifetimes without avoidance of the topic, becoming afraid, or resorting to denial, but instead accepting that, indeed, life and death are parts of a connected circle. Whenever, at whatever age dying becomes our life experience, we will have long since made our preparation by embracing these words:

"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams. "

Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant 1794-1878

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Nightmare of Simplicity

Taxing Trivia

Render unto Caesar -- well, I did on the afternoon of April 17th. I wrote those checks, hopped into the car, drove them to the post office, made certain those paper packed envelopes were weighed, then had the proper amount of postage affixed. We actually had a couple of extra days to file income tax this year for 2006. I needed every one of those days for the federal, state tax preparation and filings.

I fully intended to have an accountant take over this task which my husband had always done himself. I even made a point of adjusting my work schedule after Jan. 1st this year so I would have more time to gradually gather and organize all the records that would be needed. Somehow, something else always seemed to take precedence. Then, at some point I made a determined effort to get started, cleared off the table and proceeded to put anything that might seem even remotely related to taxes there for my perusal.

After my initial flurry of preparation, I came to a screeching halt. Everyday, more than once, I would pass that table, glance at it, make a mental note that I needed to begin my effort. However, there always seemed to be something of much more pressing need, or I concluded I needed to cater to myself abit with some pleasurable activities, which I allowed to always take precedence over this tax task. I even cut back on my work activities from three locations to two about mid-February so I would have more time.

During that time I did have some rather heavy emotional challenges with which to address in my work, so I did feel I needed to be certain to take care I nourished myself, which, of course, lent itself well to my avoiding starting the personal work needed here at home. So, the days, weeks went. Then, finally, work slowed so that I needed to go to only one facility and when that finally was completed, I announced I wouldn't be available for more work until after the tax filing date.

When March slipped by I recognized the time crunch would not permit my being able to submit this task to the accountant, that the responsibility would be mine. Somehow this did not distress me. I hadn't been completely out of the loop, so to speak, through the forty plus years my husband had always prepared our taxes, since I provided information for portions of necessary sections anyway. So, on a Monday morning of the final week, I brewed a pot of regular coffee, thinking this more closely approximated my working environment for many years of my life, though I had switched to green tea here at home some years ago.

I began the methodical sorting through and organizing of papers. None of them had been kept in much semblance of order for the past year. I soon found a need to reference my previous year's calendar on a day to day, monthly basis for mileage computations, other information. Once I began that task I realized later, that I experienced some sort of release from what I have come to think was an unconscious mental block about the whole activity. I had to read entries of various medical appts./tests, special responsibilities associated with my husband that had required my presence, so had notations about reasons for not working those days. Then, on other papers there was information in my husband's handwriting, that he had prepared at my request those many months ago, that triggered even more memories.

I realized during that process of examining my life's activities those first four and a half months of the year, before I was alone, that probably reliving these experiences and that time was what, on some unconscious level, I had been avoiding. Strangely to me, I felt somewhat relieved knowing my irresponsible behavior of irrationally delaying tax preparation could somehow be explained in this manner. For whatever the reasons, that I do not fully understand, the rest of the process of tax preparation that necessitated my reading notes, deciphering figures in my husband's handwriting, became much easier from an emotional standpoint.

With my work tools in place, necessary forms and figures needed compilation, then the next most important step was to figure out which forms to use and which ones not from the many choices. This was no small task and not for the feint at heart, not only for federal tax, but was true for my California state tax, too, maybe even more so. As I progressed using the selected few forms I needed, reading, re-reading instructions, making entries, computing totals, entering them on the designated lines, the question then arose -- take the standard deduction or itemize? I knew what itemization meant which was more figuring, but I knew the comparison was important.

I worked at my leisure, became absorbed in what I was doing, just followed my inclinations that sometimes found me working into the wee hours. For a few days, my days and nights partially traded places, but then just straightened themselves out as the week and my efforts came closer to being completed. I found myself able to devote longer and longer periods of time without needing a break.

A lot of reading was required. So was a lot of re-reading. Determining what went where on the forms could be a bit confusing at times. There was much to be said for checking, double-checking, triple-checking, quadruple-checking and I don't know how to write the numbers for more checking. Actually, come to think of it, the process was a bit like writing, where you write, then you edit, and every time you re-read the piece you keep finding something you either need or want to change. At some point, usually because of a time deadline, you stop, and let the product go as is. That's what I did with my income tax forms. I really am pretty confident they're right, that I put everything in the area it was supposed to go; that I took every deduction I could, that I declared everything I should, that my computations are accurate, that I attached everything I should, that I put the paperwork in the correct order, that I signed and dated every form as required.

I was grateful my husband had kept such methodical records so I could reference the previous year's return, though there were some significant differences from the past year's with what I was now preparing. More than once I found I had overlooked something and had to go back and change a lot of figures and totals. Sometimes I found what I thought was an error he had made that previous year, only to find later the error was mine. Even this did not upset my demeanor. Several times I made phone calls to various places to clarify questions I had. I must say that in every instance, I found everyone very pleasant and accommodating, some doing more than they would have had to do. I found this especially pleasing since state govt. employees were involved and such workers are often maligned as being otherwise.

The only complaint I had about the phone calls applies in other situations, too, so this was just a continuation of an ongoing annoyance for me. I all to often find automated telephone answering services a frustration -- they take longer than if someone just answered the phone in the first place. Too often the choices I want are never on the menu. When I finally get to a point where I can access a person, the line is generally busy, so I must hold. That's not so bad, if it's not too long, but what goes on while I'm holding really annoys me. I am often subjected to repetitive promotions about the establishment's services, when once is enough, or poor quality audio music vocals batter my eardrums when an instrumental would be far more welcomed.

As a young single woman entering the workforce in the 1950s, at minimum wage of what I believe was a dollar an hour with a forty hour work week, all I had to do was complete a small approximately 4"x11" card for income tax declaration. Each successive year as officials "simplified" the tax code, reporting forms grew in size, increased in number to become the nightmare of simplicity we live with today. I can only wonder what the process would be like if it was complex, not simplified for us as the officials keep telling us they're doing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Thank you to "oldoldlady of the hills" for this link to "pearlies of wisdom" whose April 15th post is of special significance to what I've written here, including a video with audio of the song I described below, "Ani Ma'amin."

And now Los Angeles KNX Radio reports a tragic shooting in Houston at NASA; also, a young man in LaVerne, Calif. USA is reportedly missing from his home with weapons. Does this never end?
Friday, April 20, 2006 4:30P.M. PDT

By way of updating: The young man mentioned above has been located, with those same radio news reporters saying authorities indicate the boy "was never a danger."
Sunday, April 22, 2006 1 P.M. PDT

lives forever altered

In sympathy and remembrance for the lives lost
and in tribute to those who remain
following the April 16th
tragedy at Virginia Tech.

I wanted to add a brief summary of my experience when I attended the Sunday evening "Remembrance" Yom HaShoah service about which I initially wrote. (Scroll down here to the previous April 15th piece.) Then the Virginia Tech events occurred Monday and I added the above. Subsequently, I have learned on the news that one of the casualties at Virginia Tech was a Holocaust survivor. What a tragic loss of his life, that of others, as are the injuries which additional instructors and students received.

I do want to share a few words about that earlier memorable Sunday evening Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration service as I had originally intended.

There were some performances of heartrending
music compositions created many years ago by artists, not all of whom survived concentration camps. There was a song "Ani Ma'amin" (I Believe) reportedly sung by some on their final walk before perishing in the gas chambers.

Especially meaningful was a poem "Each of Us Has a Name" written by Ukranian-born Israeli Poet Zelda Schneersohn-Mishkovsky, better known as "Zelda."

Numerous Holocaust survivors were present including these whose personal histories were presented by younger people during a candle lighting ceremony:
Mrs. Paulette (Amariglio) Sevi
(Isaac Sevi)
Dr. Joseph Rebhun
Gabriele Silten
Jeanne Fisher
Eva Stricks
Nina Morecki

As I recall and relate only one of the experiences from many described by these survivors, a woman of small stature, I think of the wet snowy bitter cold weather currently occurring along the U.S. east coast which we refer to as a Nor'easter. This survivor as a twelve year old girl in Europe, realized the risk at which she was placing a family who had offered her refuge. She left their home to reside in a foxhole in a nearby woods where she lived for a year and a half, including through fierce winters of long duration with weather much as described here and worse.

We must always remember those from the past and now the present, who didn't survive, or whose days have since ended.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


April 15th through April 22nd

"Days of Remembrance"

Proclamation for commemoration in California, U.S.A.
by our Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Yom HaShoah

"Holocaust Remembrance Day"

"A Community Commemoration
In Words and Music Honoring
and Remembering Those Who
Survived and Those Who Perished"

This is a commemoration being held at Temple Beth Israel in my community later this evening. Perhaps there will be such commemorations in other communities, too.

Whenever I think about the Holocaust, World War II, my thoughts are immediately flooded with memories deeply engraved into my consciousness. I remember black and white newsreels shown at my local movie theater with vivid pictures of those who survived and some of those who did not. Some visuals similar to what I saw that so impacted this small elementary age child can be seen HERE.

I believe it's important that we adults make certain our children are capable of discerning prejudicial language from harmless thought expression whether in words, pictures i.e. cartoons, or simply by facial expression. The Broadway show "South Pacific" made a significant impression on me. The lyrics of one song in particular, "You Have To Be Carefully Taught," addressed far more than just racism by simply saying:

"You've got to be taught before it's too late,
before you are six or seven or eight,
to hate all the people your relatives hate,
you have to be carefully taught."

There are lessons I have learned from these and other experiences, as I grew older and formulated my personal beliefs and views of this world. I feel a sense of responsibility to share what I have learned with others who are willing to listen. One of the lessons resulted in my realization that contrary to what we all believed after World War II, that such could never ever happen again, this is sadly tragically not true. I've also come to realize and believe the truth in a quote often heard and generally attributed to Edmund Burke in various forms similar to this: "All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

This is my personal commemoration to those no longer with us, a promise to never forget, a reminder for all the rest of us today, and for all those of future generations of our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


... continue to be added on this blog's right sidebar with links that will take you there with a simple click of the mouse. Perhaps there are some that are of special interest to you.

May Your 2007 Easter or Passover Be Special
... as a religious celebration
... as a family day for gathering together
... as a day when the Easter Bunny often prompts egg hunts

The Elder Storytelling Place
by Ronni Bennett has just been launched. After visiting there, I hasten to add it to this previously prepared post. She describes the act of storytelling as having a far greater significance in our lives than most may realize. Stories from bloggers and non-bloggers will be published there. I highly recommend reading her introduction HERE, the guidelines HERE,
and the very first story by Norm Jenson HERE.

Pure Land Mountain by Robert Brady in Japan is a blog that captured my attention the moment I first started reading there a year ago. His writing fully engages my thoughts whatever the topic he presents, from commentary about the U.S., his observations about the current state of Japanese social and political issues to descriptions of the countryside surrounding his mountain home, some of the creature inhabitants there with whom he has periodic tests of will over his produce -- especially the monkeys. His facility with words provides great reading pleasure.

As if the distinctive writings of one Brady are not enough, I was delighted to be introduced to richly flavored stories from "The Blog Brothers" that Mick writes with nostalgic personal reminisces of active young boys growing up in the eastern U.S. Bob contributes to these colorful lively, often humorous accounts of experiences unique to them, yet some in common with readers. Later as a young man, Mick’s efforts to support himself in his artistic endeavors in NYC have provided fodder for colorful stories including some suspenseful sometimes life-threatening events. The language used in both blogs is an unparalleled delight to read.

For a long time I've been enjoying the surprises I find, often in the form of unusual artistic flower arrangements pictured by creative florist Kenju at the recent reincarnation of her blog "Imagine What I'm Leaving Out." With a blog title like that, we are left to read intriguing words between the lines of her posts along with some inviting accounts of her travels, other events and experiences.

Most recently, I've found myself visiting Mother Pie whose writings about the media, current news, the digital world and other topics have been of special interest to me. Her recent focus on communication, as well as sharing some data she gathered about blogs, then published there from her master's thesis garners my interest.

Then there is Alaska's Maya's Granny who provides comment and insight on numerous topics, pertinent news items, some especially fascinating information about one of the two states to join our country's union in my lifetime. She has an interesting series in which she provides successively different questions that add more history to her life with each answer for her family and readers.

I find some pretty sharp political commentary from Amba at AmbivaBlog with links to a multitude of equally informative references on an eclectic number of subjects. This professional writer does not hesitate to introduce pertinent controversial topics of our time for reasonable discussion. She also occasionally provides insight on some of the challenges caregivers and their loved ones encounter.

Journey To A New Life written by Suzann, who faced loss of a loved one that for some of us can be unexpected and sudden, writes of daily life and the adjustments that follow, also, additional timely topics. She shares her travel experiences on this road many may be destined to traverse at any age, any time in their life. Her trip is of special significance to me.

While all of the above bloggers are geographically scattered from coast to coast, and in one instance outside the U.S., there are some additional bloggers writing from the west coast in addition to Mick Brady who I enjoy stopping by to visit.

Always Question has written some strong commentary of topical interest, also addressing concerns for those of us here in the west, especially southern California and Los Angeles. Currently I have found his individual tributes to U.S. military hospital corpsmen whose lives have been taken from them in their prime, extremely poignant.

Rain at Rainy Day Thoughts shares some of her innermost thoughts as she journeys both figuratively and literally through her days. I became quite enthralled with some of her more recent posts and pictures of the landscape between Oregon and southern Arizona on an all too familiar to her, driving trip through spectacular scenery, some of which like her, I, too, find embedded in my soul from travels in the past.

I like to visit Here In The Hills with a lady who has had quite a professional theatrical background, often utilizing her musical talents, that can be most appreciated by a visit to her busy blog where virtual parties occur on special occasions. She shares much of herself, with stories, pictures of friends, many who just happen to be celebrities in the entertainment world. Her pace may be slowed at times due to respiratory problems, but her vital enthusiastic zest for life permeates her storytelling. I especially appreciate the many photographs of the exterior around her home -- in the natural environmental landscape of our Los Angeles area -- some beautiful, rare cacti in glorious bloom that remind me of the Botanical Garden in Phoenix next to their Zoo where I spent much time when we lived in the area. She often features colorful pictures of unusual and interesting creatures in residence in her yard, or surprising first time visitors such as a recent bobcat she was able to photograph.

I do now want to make note of one blog I added to my sidebar days ago without mentioning doing so at the time. The blog is listed by its original title "All About Olive" that is still a viable link, but now the blog is called "Life of Riley" reflecting the blogger's last name. Olive's age is 107 years. She is physically active, has a sharp wit, and lives in Australia. She "blobs" (as she calls it) through interviews with "helper Mike." He also posts a fascinating currently unfolding historical view with pictures of Olive and the Australia of both her current and her younger days. Australians know her well as she has previously been seen in Mike's earlier movie, has been featured in print. She receives comments on her blog from all over the world. As all writing converges with the Internet, Olive is on the cutting edge of evolving media changes.

By way of giving credit where credit is due, Olive’s blog first came to my attention with a post about her at "Time Goes By" by Ronni Bennett. Of course, the reality is, that many if not all these bloggers above have come to my attention one way or another, at one time or another, from that TGB blog -- most are Elderbloggers aged 50 years and up. What's an "Elderblogger"? You can read about why the use of the term "elder" and explore there the reasons why those as young as age 50 years are included in that term by accessing that blog’s category on "Aging.”

These are all blogs that I have found to be of interest on any given day. Based on visitors I encounter there, they clearly are of interest to others, too. My interests are eclectic, and I don't limit myself to reading solely Elderbloggers. Also, I do not restrict myself to a limited few blogs I read regularly to the exclusion of others. Yes, that does mean I may not visit the same blog as frequently, but when I do visit I enjoy catching up on what my friend has been doing while I was away -- much like my everyday life in the community where I live. If there is some matter of time significance for either of us, I would hope we could bring it to each other's attention via email so that we could arrange a visit.

I have come to believe our lives are enriched from getting to know each other through our blogs. I know my life is richer from such contact around the world on this planet Earth.

Saturday, April 07, 2007



B I R T H D A Y ! ! !




Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The real adjustments to a loved ones loss come not during the first 8 or 9 months following their death, but afterward, or so it seems to me presently. I expect the adjustments are different for each of us with many situational factors resulting in each individual’s experience being quite unique. Even for me in another situation the loss experience was different -- losing parents, close friends, other relatives -- from loss of a spouse.

Typically, as I realized had been true with me, I was solicitous of others who had experienced a trauma event, including loss, during that early time frame of months. I've come to wonder if perhaps during that time period there evolves for the bereaved an unrecognized gradual acceptance of that solicitousness that develops into a degree of dependence. Perhaps it would be better to not have so much attention then, as inner resources are often rallied to take us through the briers and thorns along that rugged path when we may automatically have been able to muster the inner resources to navigate successfully on our own. Perhaps the solicitousness would be of greater benefit later.

I always rally well in a time of crisis, quickly erecting my temporarily less-than-substantial fortress with thick tall walls of whatever materials are readily available. But then, if I reach out through any windows in the fortress others are most likely to respond. Not all who offer solace can be postponed to provide it for a later time, nor would most understand that was the sole intent to have them in reserve. There seems to be a qualitative and quantitative element and time limit, as I, too, have likely followed, on providing immediate comfort versus that reserved for later, that can result in abundant resources that are inadvertently squandered before a time when they may be more desired. Perhaps, that, too, is unique to each individual -- both the mourner and the comforter.

I've come to think, I had been running on emotional high gear, or even overdrive, most of these past months. But, something happened following fast-paced Christmas holidays joyfully spent with family, though I'm not sure what -- giving way to another life adjustment phase, I suppose. I realized after the first of the year that I needed to slow down and allow life to catch up. After denying my son's suggestion that might be the case, I began to reassess my perception and could only conclude I did, indeed, need to anchor at one spot for a time.
My pace became more measured -- more like a vehicle moving at a steady speed in drive, though with an unsteady foot on the accelerator, occasionally resulting in sudden high rates of movement, or including even periods of being on cruise control. The early roller coaster ride became more like a boat ride skimming across the smooth slick calm of ocean waters in balmy weather conditions with fluffy white clouds floating in the blue skies above me. However, there was not one speck of land in sight, not even a sand bar, an atoll with a tropical palm tree, or a northern hemisphere evergreen waving welcomingly in the distance.

In January I began making a more successful concentrated effort to follow a regular early sleep time routine. This was haphazard at best as I like writing in the night, also being up and about in the day, but with such a life, when is there time for sleep? I had no difficulty sleeping, if I just stopped long enough. I began concentrating on an even more scaled-back part time work schedule, having eliminated completely for now one work location to which I had previously gone. I've found it is the actual going out to work each day that is vital for me, otherwise I could easily fritter away every wakeful minute with nothing accomplished. I have the utmost respect for anyone who is able to prioritize their activities at home for constructive gain when they don't have to leave the premises for work. This had not been an issue for me in past years, but for some reason seemed to become an issue with which I have had the most difficulty.

I ceased trying to work-in an afternoon adult education class around my work, instead taking only one night class. That seemed to feel more realistic. I limited all other commitments as much as possible though some unexpected events still arose. I lessened activities that I experienced as being obligations as best I could. I had mixed feelings about whether or not that was wise. Ordinarily, my experience is that the more I have to do, the more I get done; that I work well under pressure and time deadlines; that I thrive on situations with potential for the unexpected happening; that with not enough to do I procrastinate, not even accomplishing a meager task until the last minute. So the choices sometimes seemed like a Catch-22 – would I or wouldn’t I get more done?. Obligations might have had little or nothing to do with what I was experiencing, as I really couldn’t tell, but I just felt I must change some things and see what happened.

Uncharacteristically, I experienced some sense of accomplishment when a number of annual medical and professional requirements were completed in January, though some remain. These once seemed all quite routine to be worked-in throughout just the normal course of events, not meriting special recognition for their completion. I look forward to approaching them in that manner once again.

I relinquished a self-imposed idea of blog obligation. Instead, I was satisfied with just writing about ... whatever ... whenever ... seeing where my mind and heart took me. I had all sorts of ideas, even a few drafts written on pertinent serious topics of the day about which I had genuine interest and concern, but seemed unable to complete them in a manner I found acceptable for publishing here. I hoped that would change in time.

I indulged in a couple of DVD movie marathons as the mood struck me, but found I did not become personally invested in most movie comedies or drama plots and characters. Laugh lines, stories, just passed through my eyes and ears barely registering, much less taking up residence for any meaningful recall at a later time. Did I enjoy them? I think so, but am inclined to think they merely filled my mind, absorbed my attention.

I wasn’t drawn to recreational reading, as I was unwilling to focus intently on the words, much less relish their meanings, nor did I wish to concentrate to a degree necessary to mentally store all that information to access later. That said, I also purchased more books to read during that time. I am fairly confident, their content was not going to be absorbed by placing them under my pillow at night, so what was I doing?

I made little or no effort to attend the free Sun. afternoon jazz concerts on a regular basis in which I initially took refuge. That regular attendance pattern was broken when rare rain-predicted weather conditions cancelled one group. When I did resume going, I often arrived late or didn’t stay the full time though that is acceptable in that informal setting.

I restricted my Internet use of the computer. I still found I was unable to resist writing some notes to myself in notebooks in my purse, car and on paper pads scattered about the house. Finally, I wrote many of these words (in the present tense which I have changed) as a draft that I might or might not post. I felt strangely relieved to have them out of my mind -- I hoped -- but wondered if that peace of mind would continue, or how long before new thoughts would come to once again begin the cycle of distraction.

A few days later unexpected storm clouds blew which sent me to depths I had mostly been able to avoid, but there was nothing to do but take the soaking from the rain, while in the process the thoughts traversed the wrinkled brain eventually releasing those cortex kinks, a different variety from those about which I previously wrote HERE.

I found myself thinking that instead of my trying to relate to others, a distancing and detachment would be much more desirable including jettisoning this blog. Memories of times past with loved ones no longer present often intruded. The questions, insecure feelings, self-doubts, loss of confidence in trusting my own perceptions arose. Recriminations those few times in past years, for being so open, so trusting, for risking, muddled my thoughts. The most innocent comment or observation by others could set off waves of thoughts, even concerns, affecting my feelings and attitude when I was alone at home.

I was aware that for some time I did not always relish spending time in this house. I did not consciously feel a cloud descend upon me when I passed through the doorway, but I was aware of a decidedly differing atmospheric change that often slowly seemed to envelope me. Perhaps it's simply that there was time to think, that there was the once longed for, but now uncharacteristic quiet, this household had not known in over forty years. I had forgotten the pleasures of quiet inside a house, and now it seemed strangely out of place. I refused to regularly turn on a radio or television just for company. I wanted to readjust and once again take comfort in stillness that previously I could only seek out by staying up after everyone else had gone to bed, often into the wee hours.

I relished the quiet as I wrote those thoughts above with only occasional outside sounds penetrating my awareness – short quick high-pitched clicking notes emitted from an iridescent green-throated hummingbird hovering over a bird of paradise in full colorful bloom outside my window, the low muffled distant sound of an occasional environmentally polluting vehicle – a long standing nemesis which I ignored for the moment.

A number of weeks, maybe even a month later, I’m now skimming along the surface of a calmed ocean, the skies are blue, the house is quiet except for the sound of soothing orchestral melodies uncluttered with lyrics, the throbbing pounding of drum beats, the metallic twang and screech of guitars, or the toy piano artificial sounds of a keyboard. I’ll save all that loud raucous music for another time when I’m in a different mood.