abertsquirrel

Thoughts for the Day

Figure Out Happiness July 27, 2011

Filed under: Coping with Everyday Life,Family — stormskyblue @ 10:20 pm

My dad figured out new ways to be happy in his life.  He explored various avenues for his creative talent.  He learned about lapidary and silversmithing before and after he retired from his career as a high school business teacher.  This creative portion of his lifetime spanned about 10 years.  He didn’t know anything about the subject when he started and in the end he had created works that will carry into future generations.  The struggle was in the learning process and even after he settled on this pursuit, he wasn’t sure it was the answer.

I remember him saying,  “What makes a happy life?”  I was a teenager at the time and I had no idea.  I was still trying to figure out where I fit into the world.  He would answer the question by saying,  “You have to figure out what makes you happy and then do that.”  Dad was right.  It takes some figuring to know what that is.

Two sides of my brain are at odds with each other.  The side that analyzes and reasons tries to figure out the details of whether my interests deserve or are worthy of enjoyment and appreciation.  The creative side feels happiness free of the challenge of details and obstacles.

Dad would examine his creations and determine whether it was made well.  Did he do a good job soldering?  Were there any rough edges?  He was his worst critic (as we often are) and sometimes would show a piece to Mom & I thinking it wasn’t very good.  We had different criteria for determining it’s value.  Did we like how it looked?  Would we want to wear it?

The real question is:  Was Dad happy creating jewelry?  He struggled with the process of learning.  He made mistakes and was frustrated.  He had success and was  pleased with his work.  Through it all, I never remember him judging himself.  He accepted his ability as he gained knowledge.

I believe the key to being happy is self acceptance and self love.  It is knowing with your heart and not your head when you are happy.

We go through our day making choices and feeling one way or another.  I think the key is to realize we deserve and are worthy of being happy no matter what the challenges or how much we achieve.  Self acceptance and love allows us to be natural and… happy.

I love having the jewelry my Dad made and it makes me happy to wear it.  Not because of the object, but because of the love that went into creating it.  My Dad never told me he loved me , it wasn’t in his nature to say those words.  I chose now to feel the love when I treasure his creations.  I also know he enjoyed making them.  The combination of the love he put into his art and the gifts he left for me communicate love.  I figured out that’s one important thing that makes me happy.

 

Beautiful AZ Sunset July 18, 2011

Filed under: Nature,Photo Opportunities — stormskyblue @ 3:44 am

Another outstanding Arizona Sunset.  July 17, 2011

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Woodpeckers! July 17, 2011

Filed under: Nature — stormskyblue @ 4:36 am

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Took the 10 mile drive up to the Hualapai Mountains and joined the Masons for a picnic.  I enjoyed the high pine experience.I went to the little tiny store near the lodge and talked with the gal who works there.  We sat on the porch and watched the woodpeckers come to the feeder.

 

Slow down and notice the wildflowers July 10, 2011

Filed under: Nature — stormskyblue @ 5:20 am

This is a Mariposa Lily.  There are between 40 and 70 species and this one is a protected native AZ plant.  The flowers are 2 inches in diameter and the plant 1-2 feet tall.  The bulbs were eaten by Native Americans and Mormon settlers.  I’m so happy I stopped to take this picture even though the people I was on the hike with passed them by without so much as a glance.  To me, this beauty should not be missed.  I feel sorry for those people who go through life so quickly.  They need to slow down and notice the wildflowers.

 

Shopping and Meals July 13, 2011

Filed under: Lessons from Mom — stormskyblue @ 10:03 pm

Mom was a teacher, so she was always learning and always teaching.  She taught me that pattern as well.  The school year from September to the end of May was defined from Monday through Friday and the weekends were divided up as well.  Saturday morning duties were always: change the sheets, do the laundry and clean the house.  We would eat lunch and by 1 PM we were on our way downtown.  The goal was to go grocery shopping, but there was another important task before that.  It was spending time together, looking in the 4 or 5 stores that made up our “downtown”.  These 4 stores were at the intersection of 4th & Beale Street and the two biggest stores:  J.C. Penneys and Central Commercial were diagonal from each other.  The other two stores:  Sprouse Ritz and Alex’s Toggery were on one of the other corners.  It was fun to see what was new and mom and I would try on clothes and look at everything else while talking and seeing who else was doing the same thing.

Most Saturdays we would walk down to the corner of 4th & Andy Devine to Kingman Drug Store and while mom was getting what she needed (her face cream “Deep Magic”) or whatever she wanted to look at, I was allowed to look at what I wanted to. I would check out the glass encased counter with perfume, make-up and fingernail polish.  I would walk down every isle and end up at the kids section to look at games and puzzles.  There was a soda fountain in the back, a long counter with a silver metal- wrapped edge and bar stools evenly spaced and attached to the floor.  The mirrored wall behind the counter had shelves of glasses and various bottles of flavorings.  Occasionally (not often) we would get a drink while we were there, but only if we were really thirsty.

Mom & I didn’t spend too much time in one place, looking.  We would check out the new items, get what we needed and move on.  We had a comfortable routine and she always made it fun.  She would call my attention to “shady characters” and make sure I noticed “wild outfits” people were wearing.  We would always see someone we knew and stop for a few minutes and talk.  The conversations were always polite, asking each other how they were doing, and what they were doing.  People would say what they were shopping for, what was on sale at the grocery store, family that was sick, visiting and what was coming up in the garden.  These were quick connections that seemed so normal and expected yet frustrated me sometimes because they distracted mom and slowed us down.

The last shopping stop was Safeway and it was always busy on Saturday.  The gathering spot for the entire town, if we hadn’t seen anyone we knew downtown, we would see someone we did know at Safeway.  I loved grocery shopping and mom taught me so much.  Lessons like:  how to pick the best produce, like looking carefully for any bruising, molding or signs that it was “too old”.  We loved peanut butter at our house, really fresh peanut butter.  Skippy was the brand of choice.  These were the days of no expiration date, no safety seals, so the way WE knew to tell if peanut butter was fresh was to test the screw-on lid.  If it unscrewed easily: no sale; however if I tried with all my might to unscrew it and failed, into the basket it went.  We were always on the look-out for new products and mom was game for trying anything new.  I remember when Whip-N-Chill came out.  It was so fun and came in two flavors:  chocolate and strawberry and of course we tried them both.  The product was so much more fun than plain instant pudding because it “magically” formed into three layers when whipped with water and chilled… thus the unique name!  I was certain the top layer tasted like a cloud.

Sometimes we would plan several meals ahead of time and buy those products specifically, but often we decided after we looked around and saw what was on sale.  Mom always got the basic starch foods:  pasta, potatoes, rice.  She bought the standard canned vegetables:  green beans, corn and tomatoes.  We always had to get canned fruit: sliced peaches, pears, pineapple and fruit cocktail.  Those were the days when fresh fruits and vegetables meant they were “in season”.  Peaches, nectarines, grapes, cherries, strawberries & blueberries were to be enjoyed as special summertime delights.  August was for fresh corn and the best apples and hard squash didn’t arrive until after school started in the fall.  The produce section as well as other parts of the store defined the seasons.  It was not only correct, but expected to see signs about Christmas and Easter and traditional foods accompanied those holidays.

The frozen section held certain standards at our house.  We bought the rectangular boxes of frozen vegetables: corn, Italian green beans, spinach, brussel sprouts, Fordhook or baby lima beans and peas…always peas.  We would buy frozen French fries, O’Brien potatoes and when they came out: frozen waffles.  Every week we bought ice cream.  Mom let me pick out half gallons of the most delicious concoctions on earth.  Toppings too like chopped walnuts, Hershey’s syrup, butterscotch topping, marshmallow cream and RediWhip.  Heaven on earth! We would get popsicles and ice cream sandwiches in the summer making the freezer at home like a magnet:  I was drawn to its delights.

Mom defined our meals by the meat.  A chicken dinner, meatloaf, pork chops, hot dogs, hamburgers or some kind of fish.  Those were the days of limited bottled sauces, so mom concocted different flavor sensations: some good, some forgettable and all without measuring anything.  Ketchup, worcestershire & soy sauce, mustard plus every kind of herb and seasoning mankind ever discovered was in mom’s kitchen. We used a lot of Campbels soup recipes as guidelines too. She was delighted when flavoring packets, bottled & jarred sauces came on the scene as it gave her even more options.

Evening meals at our house always had balance and variety with meat, vegetable, fruit, dessert.

There was always a tablecloth or placemats and the plates, silverware and drinks at each setting.  Every evening meal (dinner) included a little dish placed near the fork with some kind of fruit in it.  Meat was served on a platter with a large fork and the vegetables (already buttered) were in a pretty serving dish.  Everyone had a paper napkin and there was always salt and pepper in the center of the table.  This was a daily routine, not something special just for holidays.

I would set the table with the plates placed in front of every chair, approximately 1 inch from the edge of the table.  Knife next to the plate on the right side with the teaspoon lined up straight beside it.  Dinner fork was on the left side of the plate and sometimes we had a salad fork to the outside of that.  The water glass was always about 2-3 inches to the left from the tip of the knife.  I made sure the designs on the plates or glasses always faced the chair.  This may sound obsessive to detail today, but back then, it was just the way it was done.  It meant the table was set, ready and awaiting another meal together.  It mattered to mom and the consistency of this routine was comforting.

When the meal was over, the dishes were stacked to the right of the kitchen sinks and the left-over food secured in little plastic tubs, foil or plastic wrap.  Casserole left-overs were easy as the entire baking dish was covered with foil and refrigerated.  Mom was the dishwasher and I was the dryer.  She didn’t even have an automatic dishwasher until after

I was married.  Sometimes mom would get started washing the dishes and I would say I had to go to the bathroom (hey!  I really did have to go!)  I would return just as she was finishing up and she would say, “You sure timed that right!”  Most of the time we would use the dishwashing time to talk about what was going on or sing.  Two part harmony rang out over the soapy water and before we knew it, the dishes were done.  The dishcloth was used to wipe off the faucet, the counters and the stove top.  Damp towels were hung on the oven door handle to dry.

The daily and weekly routines were comforting to me and lessons were woven in without me being aware of them.  Mom taught me many things besides shopping and home economics.  She taught me how to be polite, patient, helpful and kind.  I also learned a lot about having fun and humor.  Lessons taught with love as only a mother could.  Thanks, Mom.

 

Curves Ahead July 9, 2011

Filed under: Coping with Everyday Life — stormskyblue @ 9:30 pm

Just when I thought I could handle the curves in life, one hit me I wasn’t prepared for. 

Prepared for.  That’s funny.  I even saw the sign and kept going anyway.

I couldn’t see what the curve was going to be, until I got there.  Guess I should have slowed down even more.

The events that threw me could have been in anyone’s life.  I was apprehensive about spending the weekend with some people I didn’t know.  Even though I had a family member with me, it still didn’t work out.

  The road, my journey, appeared so smooth.  I was in control of my travel.

  When will I learn the one thing I am  in control of:  myself.

  The people I was with irritated me.  I can’t stand when people don’t make  eye contact, interrupt me or bulldoze a conversation and then change the subject.

I realize it’s about control, but some people are just rude.

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So the weekend had cracks in it.  My road became quite rough.

I cried when I couldn’t handle it.  Was I weak?  Did I make poor choices?

I know I could have left.  Got in my car and drove away.  Somehow that seemed like the weaker choice to me.

So I stuck it out, but I was so happy to drive away.

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  Boundaries.  I am required to set my own boundaries.  It’s weird.  The one person was rude, yet I felt if I said something about it, or if I got up and walked away from the conversation, I would be rude.

Why do I feel I have to stay and take it?

Maybe it’s an old program in my head… to keep quiet and not disturb.

I don’t like that program and I’m the only one who can change it.

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Knowing I have a choice.  It’s a powerful thing.

I don’t have to agree with you.  You don’t have to agree with me.

I don’t have to approve of your choices, but it’s OK  to say what I believe in.

My truth may not be YOUR truth.

I suppose some people feel they must force their views onto others by being rude.

                 I don’t agree with that method of communication.

I say good-bye to those folks and I thank them for the lesson I learned.  I enjoy the polite dance of good conversation with eye contact and taking turns.  Thanks for reminding me how good I am at it and demonstrating the opposite.

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Hopefully, I’ll grip the wheel and handle my destiny stronger when I encounter the future curves ahead.

 

Information Arrives and Plans Change June 29, 2011

Filed under: Coping with Everyday Life — stormskyblue @ 6:08 pm

I have plans for this weekend.  Plans that include other people.  Last week, I was so certain how it all was going to unfold, but last night I heard things may not go that way.  It rocked my world and not in a good way.

I choose to look at events that push my buttons and study them.  I initially was upset and wanting to lash out, cry or scream.  None of those choices were going to help me to be happy.  I wrote down the facts and looked at them.  I thought, any rational person reading this would be upset also.  OK, then what?  Plans change, am I willing to change with them?  Am I going to stand in the middle of my road like a stubborn child with arms crossed saying,  “This isn’t fair!  I want MY way!” or am I willing to step back and look at the situation through another person’s eyes.

Time is passing and the weekend will be here soon.  New information will arrive and plans will change.  I choose to be happy along the journey.

 

My First Catch June 22, 2011

Filed under: Learning New Things — stormskyblue @ 2:16 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the fish I caught on my recent trip to Dogtown Lake near Williams, AZ.  I camped, alone for 3 nights and it was fantastic.  It was my first time to go fishing and I was determined to “Do it alone”.  I guess you could say I was stubborn or controlling but I really don’t see it that way.  It isn’t that I’m not a good pupil, but I wanted to have some experience to know how to ask better questions.  I found out very quickly how little I knew, but with the help of others in the campground I was able to get some great experience.  One of the park hosts stopped by my camp and showed me how to cast.  I practiced three times in the road while she was there.  She showed me how to hold my finger on the line prior to the cast, flipping the bail and performing a side cast.  So that’s all I know about casting now.  Oh wait, I do know how to get the line REALLY tangled too.  The first morning I went fishing I learned about that mess. 

 It was a quiet, peaceful morning and I really enjoyed the environment.  I was up at 4 AM and down to the lake by 4:45.  No one was there!  Hey!  I thought that’s how fishermen operated.  Up at the crack of dawn and down to the water’s edge early.  Oh, well.  I was glad no one was there to see me practice for the first time.  It didn’t take me long to get so much line tangled around my reel I had to cover it with my jacket to take the “walk of shame” back to my campsite.  I saw lots of wildlife while I was down there, though.  Even a deer came up over a rise and stood looking at me while I attempted to untangle the line.  “Do you know how to fish?” I ask the deer.  “‘Cause if you do, I could really use your help!”  The deer looked shocked at the question, turned and bounded off.  I didn’t take it as an antisocial behavior, but more a creature that was headed down to the water for a drink.  Sorry to interrupt your routine, deer.  I saw lots of birds:  a fat robin, woodpeckers, ducks and geese.  There were some kind of soaring birds with a black and white wing pattern:  maybe osprey or hawks.

Anyway, I made coffee and had breakfast back at my camp.  My neighbors were so kind and ask me how I did fishing.  A retired engineer ( a big, kind man named, Brian) patiently untangled my reel by taking it apart and restringing the pole.  OH!  So that’s how that thing works.  Perhaps I should have started with that lesson.  He gave me some hooks with short pieces of line attached and a loop tied on the other end.  The hooks and line were stuck in and wrapped around a 4 X 4 piece of cardboard with slits cut in it.  I was so grateful for what he taught me, as it proved vital the next time I went out and managed to get the line all tangled up again.

My son had told me what to use for bait:  Rainbow Power Bait and corn.  The two stores in Williams were out of that particular kind of power bait, but that didn’t mean I didn’t get any.  Another neighbor, a young man who set up his tent trailer near my camp in anticipation of his wife and lots of other relatives coming, stopped by for a chat.  He was a very kind young man in his twenties and he spoke with a calm enthusiasm toward fishing and wishing me luck for my first catch.  I mentioned to him about the Rainbow Power Bait and he replied,  “Oh yeah, that’s the best stuff.”  I said I couldn’t find any and would have to get by with the salmon eggs and corn I brought.  He said, “Oh I have extra, I’ll get you some.”  I told him I had a small container he could put some in but he said his dad was always sending it to him and he had  more than he knew what to do with!  He went immediately to his camper and returned with a full container for me.  Sweet!

Saturday morning I was up early and tried it again without any success.  I practiced the untangle knowledge I learned the day before and got lots of good casting in.  I came back to camp feeling good about the experience.  Later in the afternoon, I knew it was going to be my last chance.  I got things ready at the camp to have my fish dinner: getting out an onion & a lemon and preparing a fire. The fire was out long ago from my morning coffee, but the ashes were still warm.   I laid two oak logs in the firepit about 10-12 inches apart and filled the space with charcoal.  Next I laid two hot logs (treated wood to light easily) cross-ways at the end of the oak.  I made a tee-pee of split shakes I had made with my K-Bar knife and added 3 twists of paper from the charcoal bag.  I lowered the grill over the whole affair and sat back with a glass of ice water and my book to wait for sundown.  I kept getting up to look how low the sun was getting in the sky and hoping the wind was going to die down.  I decided I should set up a basin to wash my fish in too and get the Coleman lantern all set to eat by.  As I was performing these tasks around the picnic table I heard a woosh behind me.  The kindling had caught fire and my campfire was starting to burn… TOO EARLY!  “Oh man, I better go catch my fish!” I said to myself and headed down to the lake.  I passed several little fishing parties,  two or three people at the lake’s edge quietly fishing.  I walked nearly half-way around the lake to get to the spot I had practiced that morning.  I had seen a heron standing at this spot, surely he knows a thing or two about fishing!  The sun was almost going down as I began casting.  I changed bait, sinkers and bobber several times trying different ideas.  I was feeling like a fisherman.  The wind died to a slight breeze and I noticed little bugs flying around.  Great!  Now bugs are going to eat me!  Whoa, wait.. bugs… that’s a good thing.  And sure enough, I saw little breaks in the water as fish came up to feed.  I cast way out and slowly reeled in.  So!  That’s what it feels like when a fish gets on the line!  I was sure I got caught up on some underwater branches or something as it seemed I couldn’t reel the line in at all.  Then it suddenly let loose.  He ate the bait right off the hook!  “Oh, so we’re playing that way, are we?”  I formed another ball of power bait and closed it over my hook.  Casting way out I reeled in again.  This time was different.  I caught one!  I could feel it!  I slowly reeled it in and then there it was, a fish on my line!  I got my camera and took pictures even though that was difficult because it kept wiggling so much!  I put the fish in a large zip-lock bag and got out my small pliers.  I held the fish down and easily got the hook out with the pliers.  I had caught my first fish and now I wanted more!  I started to seal the fish into the bag and thought I better add some lake water.  I had the fear he would swim right out of the bag as I leaned over to add water, but he didn’t.  Hurry!  I have to catch more!  I cast over and over as my surroundings grew dim in the twilight.  Yikes!  I didn’t bring a flashlight.  I packed my things and headed back.  As I walked past a family of four who were fishing I noticed the dad on the path standing right by a pine tree.  Only thinking of hurrying back I walked right past him as I realized he was peeing!  Surprised, he said, “Oh I’m sorry!” and continued to apologize as I kept walking, stifling a giggle.  How funny, I thought… HE was embarrassed!  I heard him telling his wife just that.  I made my way back to camp as Coleman lanterns illuminated the sites.  No one knows I have a fish in my pack, but if someone should ask, “How’d ya do?”  I’d have a good answer.

My campfire had burned down to red hot coals, perfect for grilling a fish and now I had one.  I just had to clean it.  I lit my lantern and set out my tools as if to perform surgery.  I heard the fish wiggling in the plastic bag.  What?  That fish is still alive?  I had watched over a dozen YouTube videos before I left on how to clean a fish and one showed a young boy stabbing a fish in the head to kill it.  Ok, I’ll try that.  I held the fish in a washcloth and covering it’s eyes (don’t look at me while I do this!) I stuck my little Buck knife down through the top of it’s head in between the eyes.  It’s mouth opened wide and a little blood came out.  Ok, good, that’s done.  I turned it over to begin the splitting it open and taking out the guts.  As I started to stick the knife in at the back end, the fish wiggled.  I grabbed him in the washcloth and looked at his head.  “I killed you once!” I said to his open mouth.  This time I stabbed him into the gills and that did it.  The slicing open, gutting and cleaning went smoothly from there.  Before long the headless, tailless Crappie was laying on a piece of buttered foil with slices of lemon and onion inside.  I sliced a potato onto another piece of buttered foil and seasoned both.  I had both packets wrapped and on the grill by 9 PM.  I was so excited!  I was doing this all myself!  I took the victory pictures I share with you here and in about 25 minutes I was enjoying my fish dinner.  I had hoped it was going to be a trout, a bigger fish, but I had to start somewhere.  There are more fish in the sea, so they say, usually making a dating reference.   I do hope I catch a good man someday, but until then, another fish will do.

 

Clearing for the Flow June 13, 2011

Filed under: Coping with Everyday Life — stormskyblue @ 4:54 pm

A clogged drain flows with a sluggish slowness.  Water pools and doesn’t move as it should.  This morning I unscrewed the decorative cap on my bathroom drain and used long tweezers to pull out gunky-looking hair.  Maybe you didn’t want to read that, but it needed to happen to help the drain.  It wasn’t glamorous or pleasant in any way; but the concentration of impeding material had to be removed for the good of the flow.

My life can get clogged up too.  It becomes necessary to clear out some of the junk to make my life flow easier.  Stopping  to do that isn’t always pleasant; for I’d much rather be doing other things.  I desire to just keep going, but if I don’t stop and realize I even HAVE entanglements, then I can’t make the changes.

The hair got in my drain a little bit at a time.  Hair by hair.  I even thought I was being careful not to let them go down the drain, but they did anyway.  I think I’m being careful to not get bogged down in my thinking, but I do.  I must clear out the negativity, on purpose, for my life to flow the way it should.

Taking the time to clear out the minor junk in our lives can help the day run more smoothly.  We might even be amazed how much junk we had accumulated.

 

Deserving Happiness, I’m Worth it.

Filed under: Coping with Everyday Life — stormskyblue @ 7:13 am

I’m finally worth more than I’ve been led to in the past.  I finally get that.  I don’t have to be more or do more to win someone’s approval.  I don’t have to give up a part of myself.  I don’t have to sacrifice my morals, dignity or most of all my self worth just to be with someone.  No, I deserve more than that, finally.
I’ve waited a long time.  I’ve thought the other person would come around and BE.  Be happy.  Be kind.  Be honest.  Be forthright.  Be brave.  I couldn’t change any of them.  God knows I tried.  I tried to help.  I thought being me would be enough for them to be happy, kind, honest, forthright and brave.  But I couldn’t give them what they were lacking.  I cried over the effort and the responses.  I cried for the hurt.  Then I found happiness and kindness.  Friends showed me love and compassion.  I gained confidence and became forthright and brave.  I realize I could not find those things in others when I lacked them in myself.  Now there is no one looking at me.  No one calling me and making plans.  No one wanting to take me somewhere.  I look at myself in the mirror and I think positive things.  I talk to myself and make my own plans.  I decide when I want to go and where.  All my life I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me about myself when all along I’m the only one that knew.  Hello me, it’s nice to meet you.  Maybe someday there will be a man who knows himself and would like to meet the true me.  In the meantime, I’m going to just be the best me I can be.  Happiness:  I desire and deserve it.  Finally.