Technologically Challenged

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You’d probably never guess that someone who is all over social media and has two blogs is technologically challenged, right?  Guess again.  I really try to stay up with technology, but hey, I learned to type on a manual typewriter.  I grew up with 45 rpm records — you know, those little plastic things that produced music when you put them in a machine with a needle.

I’m not THAT old.  I grew up with vacuum cleaners.  They had an on/off switch.  They had bags and belts that needed to be changed.  It was a simple little machine that sucked up everything, made life easier, and never gave one any trouble.  Technology has ruined the vacuum cleaning experience!

The last three vacuum cleaners I’ve had have been the bane of my existence.  Number one was such a “super sucker” that I was afraid to let the kids use it because it loved to eat electrical cords.  I paid extra bucks for number two because it had a filter that was supposed to make it easier on our allergies — except the slightest bump against a wall sent the filter flying across the room and all that dust flying with it.  It also had a green light and a red light to indicate whether my carpet was clean or still needed work.  NEVER AGAIN!  I have kids, grandkids, and a dog.  I could vacuum until the cows come home and never see that green light!  What a downer!  That red light always made me feel like I didn’t cut it as a housekeeper, completely eliminating my self-esteem!

So now we come to number three, our current vacuum cleaner.  I did the research.  This is a “bag less” machine — which I hate — but it was supposed to clean well for the price I could afford.  I’ve yet to figure out how to contain the dust from flying through the room when I empty the “bag less” container.  I’m just grateful to have a dog who doesn’t attract the fleas that a previous dog did, because I can’t imagine sucking up fleas and watching them jump out of the garbage can after I empty out the “bag less” container.

Having brought vacuum number three into my home, I plugged it in, turned it on, and began to clean.  It had taken nearly two weeks from the demise of number two for me to complete the research and purchase number three, so I didn’t want to waste another minute.  Why would I need to read the instruction book?  It’s a vacuum cleaner, for crying out loud. You turn it on, and it sucks.  I’ve had it a few months now, and it does a pretty good job on the carpets.  I wasn’t too pleased with it’s ability on my hardwood floors or linoleum, but what the heck, I own a broom and a dust mop so no big deal.

Two days ago I was vacuuming and the brush stopped moving.  I assumed I’d broken a belt, though there wasn’t the usual burning rubber smell.  I didn’t have time to deal with it, so I put the vacuum away until I had time to worry about it.  This morning I got out the instruction manual to figure out what kind of belt I needed to buy.  It turns out that there is a lever on the vacuum that will stop the brush from rolling.  Who knew?!  I must have accidentally hit the lever on the edge of the couch and the brush stopped rolling.  What’s the purpose of that little bit of technology?  I’m sure some MAN designed this piece of junk.

I am a little disgusted with myself, however.  I’ve spent the last two days with half clean and half dirty carpets because I hadn’t read the instruction manual prior to using the machine. Now that I know I can turn off the brush — it does a much better job on the hardwood floors and linoleum.  Who knew?  When all else fails, read the directions!

Five Favorite Possessions

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In a class recently at church, we were asked to write down a list of our five favorite possessions.  It was explained that family could not be on the list because our family is not our “possession.”  Looking around the room, I realized I was the first person to complete the list — long before anyone else.  That decision had been made many years ago, so all I had to do was write them down.

My five favorite possessions:

1) My temple recommend (a slip of paper signed by two lay clergy members of my church, which says I am worthy to enter the LDS temples).

2) My Dad’s little Bible that he carried through World War II and throughout his life.

3) My mother’s wedding ring (which was cut off her finger because it was old and thin enough to cut into her skin).

4) My paternal grandmother’s watch (which hasn’t worked since long before it was given to me).

5) Family photographs.

Many years ago I thought about what I would take with me if I had 15 minutes to evacuate my home in case of fire, flood, or earth quake, and those are the things I listed (after my 72-hour emergency kit).  So when asked last week in Sunday School to write my favorite possessions, it was easy for me.  I didn’t even have to think about it.

For several days I thought about this list.  There is absolutely nothing of monetary value on that list.  I have some things in my home that are worth something, though I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.  Yet, I did not list anything of monetary value.  Yes, there are diamonds in my mother’s wedding ring, but since the band is cut, it can’t be worn as is, and I’ve been told by a reputable jeweler that if I were to take the diamonds out of this particular setting, the diamonds would most likely break.  My grandmother’s watch is old, but it would cost a small fortune to repair, making any value it has a wash.  My Dad’s Bible is so fragile that I keep it in a zip lock bag to protect it from further damage.  My temple recommend and my family photographs (like everything else on the list) mean nothing to anyone but me.

This exercise was designed to make the class question whether we could give up our valuable possessions for the greater good of others if we were asked to do so.  I’m sure for many others in the room, valuable possessions were listed, and they probably had to think about that for a moment.  Obviously, if the valuable things I possess didn’t even make the list of “favorites,” that decision is a no-brainer and one that was made long ago.

Things are just that; things.  So often we place so much value in “things” that we forget about what is really important.  The last couple of days, I stopped to think about the “things” in my home that do have a little monetary value, and wondered what will happen to them when I die.  I certainly hope that my children and their spouses won’t argue over who gets these “things,” because obviously, they don’t have that much meaning to me.  I have my “toys” and enjoy them.  They bless my life with joyful moments, but I would give them up in a second if I thought selling them would benefit someone I love who is hurting.  What matters most in your life?

The Wave

I sit in the chair enjoying the stillness of the night,

A gentle breeze blowing through the open doors and windows.

It’s been a good day, and all is well.

 

A wave hits, and I feel heat from the top of my head to my toes.

I begin to curse middle age — but this isn’t a flash; it’s a wave.

I force a smile and voice aloud that no wave can get me tonight,

It’s been a great day, and nothing can destroy it.

 

The second wave hits with the force of a Tsunami

Destroying every good memory in it’s path.

If I just go to bed, I know it will be better in the morning,

But my hindquarters are paralyzed and glued to the chair.

 

My hand sits on the TV remote.

I force my fingers to punch in a “happy” channel,

But my eyes and brain can’t process happy

And I stare blindly at the screen.

 

Earlier I penned blessings for which I have gratitude.

I try to recall those blessings,

But they were washed away with the wave.

 

Prayer will help, I think, and I try to pray.

No thoughts or words are formed.

Doubt, fear, and gloom continue to linger.

Paralysis persists, and I can’t move my body.

 

At long last muscles in my legs begin to twitch

And beg to be moved.

I’m able to stand.

If I can just go to bed, all will be well.

 

I lay on my pillow, but melancholy hangs in the air,

And sleep is nonexistent.

Words still won’t form a prayer.

Darkness looms.

Silent tears fall with no emotion.

And finally sleep.

Dandelions of My Life

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Recently, the two dandelions above were placed on my kitchen table by two of my grandchildren.  They were plucked from my backyard for their mother.  My daughter never knew about it, because they forgot to take them home with them, but I’m sure she has received other dandelions from them before.  As I looked at these little treasures (the dandelions and my grandchildren), it made me think of all the dandelions in my life.

I remember picking dandelions for my own mother, as well as wild flowers from the meadow where my grandfather had his one-room cabin in the mountains.  Those dandelions were the most beautiful things on earth to me.  I picked them with love, presented them with love, and had no clue that adults consider them “weeds.”   What is not to love about a dandelion?  Just look at the beauty above!

One summer in my teen years, my Dad paid my sister and me a nickle for each dandelion we picked out of his yard because he was too busy with business and family to weed them properly and didn’t want the neighbors to think he didn’t care about his yard (which was normally his oasis).  I think it would have been cheaper for him that summer to hire a gardener.

My children picked dandelions for me when they were small, and I loved every one of them.  I knew that just like the dandelions of my own childhood, they were picked and presented with love.  Now I have grandchildren.  I made the mistake when grandchildren began to arrive of telling them that they could pick all the flowers at my house they wanted.  I suspect that’s why my husband’s little lemon tree has only produced about three lemons in its first four or five years.  I think the tree is finally beginning to grow faster than the grandchildren, so hopefully, he’ll have some lemons next year.  Flowers have been picked for Granny, and for their moms.  Sometimes they go home, and sometimes they are forgotten.

Finding beauty in a simple dandelion is such an easy thing to do, yet only children seem to be able to do it.  Why is that?  Beauty is where you find it; not necessarily where it is planted. Beautiful happens when you least expect it.  It happened to me this morning.  I was deep in sleep and was awakened by a gentle kiss on my cheek letting me know that my better half was off with our daughter and our niece.  He was walking a 5K, and they were walking a 1/2 marathon.  Beauty was rolling over, looking up at him with one eye open, and thinking how much I still love his lips on my cheek after 36 years of marriage.

There was beauty in the breeze coming through my bedroom window, and in the birds singing in the trees.  There was beauty in the stillness as read a good book and enjoyed the peaceful morning.  There was beauty in the squirrel spanking it’s tail against the fence post while I ate my breakfast.  There was beauty in the front door banging as the tired, dirty 1/2 marathon and 5K walkers returned this afternoon.

I don’t always stop to appreciate the beauty around me, but when I do, it sure makes life a little more worth living.  I am blessed.

Lessons from My Parents

What’s in a name?  My parents drilled into my head that I represented the family name in everything that I did, and everywhere I went.  As a writer, I’ve tried hard to be the kind of person who didn’t have to be ashamed of sullying my good name (whether my real name, or my pen name).  While some may not like what I write, my writing is honest and from my heart.

Twice I’ve submitted essays for a collection by various authors to be published in a book (once under my real name, and once under my pen name, Tudie Rose).  Twice I have anxiously waited for publication in hopes that the book didn’t somehow tarnish my name.  Twice I’ve been more than elated at the end result and proud to associate my name with the project.

I have just finished reading Lessons from My Parents  by Michele Robbins from cover to cover, and I am THRILLED that my essay was chosen for publication in this book.  Far from tarnishing my name by being associated with this book, I feel I’ve been lifted on higher ground.  I laughed, and I cried.  I had thoughtful moments after reading certain stories. Some stories reminded me of moments in my own past.  Some stories made me think about how I can be a better parent and grandparent.  I had moments of deep gratitude and moments of epiphany.

Whether you are a parent, or you have just been parented, do yourself a favor and click on the link above and order this book.  You will find yourself lifted, find gratitude in your heart, and find peace in your soul.

Move Over and/or Slow Down; It’s the Law

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Each year at this time my family attends a memorial service at the California State Capitol for Caltrans Workers who have died in the line of duty.  It is a difficult day, as my stepson, Matthew White, was killed on December 14, 2007, while filling a pothole at the Elk Grove Boulevard exit on Interstate 5 in the Sacramento area.

A week or so ago as I was preparing my mind for the event, I realized that I had not heard of any Caltrans deaths this year.  Just a couple of days later, Shawn Baker and Joseph “Robert” Jones were killed in a rock slide.  My heart skipped a beat, and I prepared myself to watch the honor guard place two more orange cones bearing their names placed in the diamond of orange cones representing fallen workers.  This morning, a Caltrans worker was killed in an accident on his way to the memorial ceremony.  I don’t yet know his name.  UPDATE:  His name is Dean Patton.  He leaves behind a wife, three children, and three grandchildren.  He was 51 years old.  Our hearts go out to the families of these three people.  Ironically, one of the funerals is today, and another tomorrow, so the Baker and Jones families won’t join us at the memorial until next year.

Families are changed forever when someone doesn’t come home.  20,000 highway workers are injured nationwide each year.  We heard today from two men who were hit a couple of years ago.  One of the men says he owes his life to the other.

Part of my family were able to attend the memorial today, and I looked around and realized how many “little” members of my family never knew Matt.  My second daughter’s husband never met Matt.  My youngest daughter’s future family will never meet Matt.

Highway workers, private construction workers, highway patrol officers, emergency vehicle technicians, and tow truck drivers put themselves in the line of fire of speeding vehicles everyday.  They all have families who love them and want them to come home at the end of the day.

PLEASE SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE.  It is the law in California and many other states to MOVE OVER for flashing lights if safe to do so, and if not, to SLOW DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY. It’s the law.  More importantly, IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

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