Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yes, it snowed!

We got a share, happily not a humongous share of the big blizzard of the weekend.  It was pretty, it's becoming less pretty now, as happens -- a good thing, meaning it's melting.  The stuff came down only for for a few hours. I saw it begin about noon on Saturday and it had totally ended when I gazed out the window about 7:00.  Officially, I think we had a foot in Hyannis, other parts of the Cape (we have many mini-climates here) got as mjuch as 17 inches or as little as three.

To my surprise the NYTimes Sunday paper was delivered, a bit late, but I was surprised it was delivered at all. I walked the two blocks to my daughter's house for a family dinner, there was no place to park anyway and I always walk anyway.  I did not go out to clean off my car until the bright sun yesterday had entirely melted the snow from the south-facing side of the car. But it was heavy snow -- very heavy.  It slid in great chunks off the car.  Then I had to shovel just around the sides.  Not a big area at all but again, MY! it was heavy. I expected sore shoulders and stiff back for today but I'm just fine. Probably the therapy of a long soak in a very hot bath helped. So did the strengthening weight lifting exercises I've been doing ... oh, just little 3-pound weights, one in each hand, a simple routine.  But I think it paid off. 

Today the roads are all clear, the parking lot is too, although there are mountain ranges of snow piles around the sides.  But the temperature is predicted to reach 50 this afternoon and then rain will fall and snow will disappear.  This is the first of winter, of course. There will be more. Those of us who claim we want to live with four seasons cannot complain loudly about such a snow. Those farther south who got the brunt of the blizzard, yes, they have legitimate complaints.

Friday, January 22, 2016

On a lighter note -- our LOL Group

For about a year and  a half I've met with an informal group of women who write to a topic that is  chosen in a somewhat spontaneous way. Last meeting one of our members had just started reading a new book called The Monopolist which is about how the game Monopoly got started.  She reports that it is a fascinating book and the game was originally meant to be an anti-capitalist game, although it has evolved differently. So we decided our topic for this week would be  "games".  We left it  wide open to interpretation.

I should mention that we were nameless for some time but eventually became the LOL group, variously Laughing Out Loud, Literary Old Ladies and Ladies Of Laughter.  We do laugh a great deal, some of the writing is very funny and often our conversations are full of laughter for one reason or another. Some gatherings leave me feeling absolutely buoyant, as if I've been given a big whiff of laughing gas -- today was one.  Just about every game children play, most adult card games as well as most board games, were mentioned mostly glancingly but some in depth.  One woman was a child who mostly made up her own games (although she mentioned the infamous "doctor" game that most of us played as children).  It was a wonderfully rich topic, one that I think I will use for my writing class since almost every one has memories of childhood and may still be serious game players -- one woman plays three games of backgammon with her husband every day, others of us wrote of games we enjoy. Since most of us are fairly literary minded we were an unatheletic group.  Again and again we reminded one another of games we had forgotten.  And opinions, past incidents, quarrels about games and likes and dislikes ... nobody was neutral about games. The little hopscotch girl is in the illustration because, with mu mind awhirl in memories, I realize we didn't mention hopscotch or jump rope .. and probably many. many more.

I know of book groups and I know of writers' group where people try to help one another write better.  In fact one woman today voiced a desire to feed back about her "boring" piece -- the feed back in this case was that it was not boring at all, she was just self-conscious because it was longer than she usually writes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A cursed hand

The newspaper and the computer bring me terrible -- and sometimes wonderful, amusing, happy things to consider. I do not avoid the the bits that make my heart clutch as if it's been pieced with a icicle. But I turn to a poetry site or to beautiful photography for an antidote.

Just a small item in the condensed NYTimes  that comes online each morning.  An imam in Pakistan suddenly realized his preaching had gone too far and he rushed out of the mosque as if chased by Lucifer.

Earlier he had preached  his fundamental beliefs as usual and asked at one point if anyone disagreed with something he said.  On hand was raised.  "Blasphemer!" he screamed at the owner of the hand, a young man.  The young man ran out, ran to his home, found a sharp scythe and cut off his hand.

He returned to the mosque with the hand on a platter which he held out to the imam with his left hand. That's when the imam knew the meaning of fear and ran away.

The human species has attempted to become civilized for something like 15,000 years, out of perhaps 150,000 years of living on this planet like all the other beasts. We have learned to live together, we have concocted laws and gods and we have allowed some members of society to have enormous influence over others. Individuals have caused enormous evil, wars, famines, vast inequality among others. Some have learned to practice love and kindness, not just to their small family but toward all others .... those are far too few.

Today's paper also wrote of the quilt seller in Dehli who sells (or rents) quilts to homesless men, and to those whose "homes" are their three-wheeled tiny taxis. These men make barely enough to feed themselves (and often a family somewhere) but have no bed and no blankets for the cold foggy nights that make up winter in Dehli. The seller drives a hard bargain and some must do without warmth.
I read that and remembered an hour ago in my warm bed, thinking how lovely I felt especially as the first morning news told me  it is only 16 degrees outside.  What inequality we have attained in our few short years of civilization!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Waiting and wondering

What are these sea shells doing here?  I am waiting for whatever weather is coming. It's mid-January and we have no snow.  Last year this time we also had no snow.  And then it came with a true fury. 

This morning I sit looking out my window watching a collection of raindrops just hanging on there, going nowhere while a few of their more ambitious brothers rush down the window pane gathering those they bump into so they can grow larger and run faster.  This sounds something like an allegory, doesn't it?  Most things in nature can be molded into allegory by those of us who sometimes (or often) write poems or stories. That's one of our delights that we are happy to share with others.

January is an interim month in the way my life runs these days, between semesters at the Academy for Lifelong Learning.  I have more time than usual to stare at rainy window panes and watch the raindrops. I've written only one poem so far this month but two short stories so I'm not wasting my time. And I'm making two quilts and finished one started on December.  I'm not hanging out on the sand like those little shells just waiting to be washed back in by the next tide. Actually every rainy window pane is the next tide; so are sunrises and LLBs (little brown birds) that hop around on the shrubs outside the window.

No apologies for contemplating the raindrops and leaving the allegory up to you. But the thought that started this post was about waiting for snow, wondering what the next six weeks will bring. No matter how good the climatologists and meteorologists get, we won't know what's going to fall out of the sky until it does -- I'm okay with that.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sundays are Unsettling

The fat NYTimes arrives Sunday at my door. I love it! I'm addicted to it. But I get very unsettled by it. This week it was very disturbing: A favorite columnist, Nicholas Kirstof, has an item about Myanmar where Aung San Sun Kyi has just become president in a democratic election -- with a good bit of support, public and, I think, possibly covert -- from Barack Obama.  Thus we have two Nobel Peace Prize winners helping a country shrug off a terrible period of repression. But, Kristoff says, in the north of the country 10,000 Rohengia (possibly misspelled) citizens of the country are in concentration camps where they have been for a long time and neither Kyi or Obama seem interested in freeing them. They are all Muslims -- in a predominantly Buddhist country. Their interment predates the whole ISIS business; they are simply persona no grata in their own country. I don't need to refer to other situations we have seen like this.

There's another corporation-too-big-to-care story in the magazine about DuPont knowing for at least 20 years that a chemical used for the Teflon coating (and other things) is highly toxic, yet they dump sludge into rural creeks, let the stuff leach into water tables that are used by thousands.They know it causes all kinds of cancers in people and animals (and they've known it and done nothing about it).  It seems almost by chance that a pricipled lawyer finally took them on.  And it's not over yet.

A bit closer to home,there's an article about women over 50 being almost ignorned, or otherwise condescended to by the entire fashion industry. And asking when do we say "furgedaboutit" and do whatever we want with our appearance, our weight, our clothes, our lives?  Well it seems that paragon of dieting, Oprha Winfrey, whose dress size has changed dramatically for the last 25 years, has recently made a one minute advertisement for Weight Watchers. And, yes, once again, she will publicly diet and weigh herself and prove how effecitve the program is.  I'm convinced she will -- after all she recently bought a 10% share of their stock and almost immediately realized a $70 million dollar profit -- as if one of American's richest business women needs that extra money. Meanwhile it is well known that people DO lose weight on the WW program, they get to their goal, go off the program and 95% of them gain it back -- then they go on the program again because, hey, it did work! 

Believe me there was much else --starving refugees, a movie star with an exclusive interview with El Chapo. the Mexican  drug load, while he was still officially on the run from an escape, North Korea's young premier doing a bully move with is bombs and so on and on.  And countries all over the world digging up their minerals and fossil fuels for China's consumption, but China is pulling back (high time!) and leaving the others with no where to sell their goods

Maybe it was an extra serious downer yesterday because heavy gray rain poured down the entire day. But I don't think so. After all its January and it was not even freezing rain when it could have been snow.  People have suggested I should stop reading the paper but that's not an option. I live in this cockeyed world and I am curious about what's going on in other parts of it. I can mostly ignore the verbal sparring of the crazy Republican candidates, only one of them can become the candidate. None of them have the qualifications to run a used car dealership let alone this country. But I don't need to think about that until later in the year.

And there's always the Sunday crossword puzzle to take my mind off the news. For me it's an anti-anxiolytic.