Observations

When the bottom dropped out, nobody knew how to free fall.
No leader could offer direction or directions. We had to find our ways alone.

Previous comforts were banned; hugs and hand holding weaponized.
We reluctantly released each other into separate bubbles of angst and anger. Even grief could not be shared.

The ether offered some connection, but a virtual tether cannot be touched.
Maps misled and compasses whirled, unable to settle on any cardinal point.

One day, driving aimless on a familiar road that no longer went anywhere, I passed a newly plowed and planted field.
The straight and even rows, previously ignored, became an anchor in the sea of uncertainty I was attempting to escape.

Tiny green shoots told a tale of hope for the future—despite the worst, things continue to grow. In sensible rows, farmers will organize the world.
My obscured parachute opened and I felt a quick tug of hope. I steer in the direction of clarity, still floating but hopeful I will land on my feet.

A Big Event

My second grandson graduated from high school on Friday, May 22, 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic. It was a virtual ceremony, with photographs instead of a procession, but they played Pomp and Circumstance, and afterward there was a vehicle parade through his town. I got to watch on Facebook and had given him his graduation present the day before. He almost didn’t graduate because of various situations with the regular high school but about a year and a half ago, he got into an alternative program that suited him much better. He started working part time, and after a few closes calls, he settled down and really started applying himself. He has a sweet girlfriend, too, who started off being his best friend, so I think that helps. In various talks, he has mentioned that he might want to be a barber, so in encouragement of that effort, this coming week, I am going to let him cut my hair. Why worry about a hair dresser when you have an ambitious grandson? Fortunately, if things go awry, I’ll just have him shave my head and then I won’t have to worry about a hair cut for at least 6 months! It’s a win/win.

There’s been so much going on in the last couple of months, or centuries, that I hardly know where to start. I’m just glad that I’ve had his progress and graduation to think about as well as a few other things going on, like trying to live through my job. More on that later in another post. Or not.

And now, a few pics of the proud graduate!

Note the neck decoration in the cap & gown photo. That’s a “lanyard” made out of a hundred one-dollar bills. Cool gift, no? And no, I didn’t make it, but definitely keeping it in mind for future events.

Creating a Chakra Shield

The last post was not even 2 weeks ago and it feels like a year has elapsed since then. The COVID crisis has honestly affected me much less than most people, as I have been isolating at home for the last 14 years and since I moved to Denver, I’m even less social, so hanging out here, going on walks in the neighborhood or local parks, is just kind of a normal thing for me. I have been babysitting more these last couple of weeks, as my granddaughter’s school and daycare are closed and up until this week, my daughter was still working pretty much full time at her large orthopedics practice, where she is a scheduler, back office person, etc.

However, since most of the surgeries they do are elective (knee and hip replacements, etc.) her office is basically shutting down and now she will mostly be at home. Her husband is still working, but they shifted his hours as well. Hopefully, she will be able to file for unemployment and the ridiculous “stimulus package” will go into effect and she will get a little money to help her get by. Twelve hundred dollars. Seriously? That’s barely even a month’s rent…about half of most places in Denver. It’s incredibly stupid that we can give literally billions away to people who’ve never done an honest day’s work in their entire worthless lives and yet the people who struggle and struggle and struggle just to keep their heads above the drowning waters of debt and job insecurity and the risk of one serious illness wiping everything out can’t get a month’s rent. I am really trying to maintain my equilibrium during this whole thing but that just makes me want to drive to Washington DC and slap some politicians.

And speaking of equilibrium, let’s talk about chakras. You probably know what they are, or at least have heard people talk about them. In a nutshell, chakras are energy centers in your body. You have seven of them, from the base of your spine to the crown of your head, and they also correspond with the colors of the spectrum, Roy G. Biv: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

I personally have worked with my chakras for over twenty years. I’ve reached a point where I can tell if there’s some kind of emotional or physical blockage in a particular area of my body. I’ve learned how to focus and meditate on the chakra and what it represents to try to discover the underlying energetic cause of whatever it is that’s bothering me. For me, it’s helped me grow in understanding of how I process things that are stressful to me, how I meet the challenges of this ever more complex world we live in, how I protect myself from emotional and physical situations that could potentially overwhelm me.

When I talk about a “chakra shield” I’m not talking about some kind of magical thing that’s going to stop a virus or a bacteria like Captain America’s shield. No. Let’s be clear. I believe in science. I am doing my best to follow the rules of self-isolation, washing my hands and clothing, disinfecting my house as needed, going out only for necessities, etc. This is what’s going to stop the spread of this thing and I fully believe we will start to see progress in another couple of weeks. If anyone with any kind of influence in DC can stop the idiot in chief from opening things back up on Easter and declaring himself in charge of the “resurrection of America” and we can stay on basic lockdown till the end of April, we might be in decent shape from all this.

What I’m talking about is a tool for your mental/spiritual well-being, your energetic self, if you will. I’ve been using this shield technique for over twenty years, and I honestly can’t remember where I learned it or read it. But it works. I started when I was in a rather toxic work environment and I had pretty much given up trying to change anything and I only wanted to protect myself from the negativity and nastiness that was flying around the office. I did this for about a week and was so surprised at how much better I felt at the end of each day. Then, I didn’t do it and boy, what a difference. These days, I don’t do it every day, but I have this boss that really gets to me, so if I know I’m going to have to interact with her, I most definitely put up a shield.

To start, sit quietly, either cross-legged on the floor or a cushion or in a firm chair that supports your back. Hands in your lap or on your thighs. You can play soft music if you like but a quiet room is good the first couple of times to minimize distractions. Close your eyes and breathe easy, just deep regular breaths. Imagine the base of your spine and the crown of your head opening up, little trap doors or blooming flowers or whatever image works for you. You want to think of a hollow tube running along your spine from your butt to the top of your head, an energy conduit.

Once you can feel or imagine this conduit, starting at the bottom, see the colors of each chakra start to bloom in your body: Red at the base of your spine, orange in your belly/womb area, yellow at the solar plexus, green at your heart, blue at your throat, indigo at your third eye on your forehead and finally, violet at the crown of your head. As you see each color, think about sending it out as a layer over you, wrapping you in a warm colorful bubble, each layer encompassing the last. The image at the bottom is a good one but the bubble will be multi-colored, not just purple.

Once you have done that with all the chakras and you’re inside your lovely bubble, just allow the energy from all the chakras to flow up and down the conduit you opened first. You might feel some warmth or even tingling at the various chakra points (and yes, it’s possible that your feet might fall asleep if you’re not used to sitting cross-legged). Think about a potentially stressful situation you might find yourself in and see any negative energy either bouncing off your shield or being absorbed and transformed by it. Either way, it’s not going to reach you. You are safe inside your glowing energy bubble.

After you have sat for a bit, just feeling the energy move around, you can begin to retract the flows. Working from top down, imagine letting each color sink back into the chakra site, but still flowing in the conduit. Once each color is back at its site, allow the flower or the trap door or whatever image you used to open up the crown and root chakras to close, keeping the shield intact. It has retreated inside, but it is still strong around you.

As you move through your day, take note of how you respond to the various situations you find yourself in. See if you feel a difference. It may take a time or two to get the hang of it, but I can promise if you practice this, you will notice a big difference in your stress levels after a couple of weeks.

Good luck and happy shielding!

7 Chakras & Frequency Hz | shawnohurley1

#Deucember – Day 10 – Why I Didn’t Like Knives Out

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Warning:  This post contains a slight spoiler that probably isn’t a spoiler anymore since the movie has been out for a month now, but I’m posting this little disclaimer anyway.  If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know anything about it beyond the trailers, stop reading now.

Something you should know about me:  I HATE throwing up.  I mean, I guess no one really likes to throw up, but I seriously hate it.  In addition, one of the recent trends I’ve noticed in film and television is that for some reason when anyone throws up, it has to be SHOWN.  Not that someone getting “that look” and starting to heave and then running down the hall doesn’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen.  Not that those particular noises behind a closed door doesn’t tell you exactly what’s going on.  No.  We HAVE to see the person bent over and vegetable soup or whatever the props department uses exploding out of their mouths and pseudo vomit on their lips or in their hair or whatever.  It’s gross and disgusting and I hate it.  There, I said it.

So you can imagine my disappointment when, all excited to see this movie and enthralled by the entire cast, and just DYING to hear Daniel Craig do another Southern accent (if you haven’t seen Logan Lucky, you are seriously missing out), I am treated to an entire fucking movie based on the quirk of one character (not Craig) throwing up on cue.  Yuck.  YuckYuckYuck.  Seriously, it ruined the entire thing for me.  I just couldn’t enjoy the movie very much after that first reveal.  Why couldn’t she have farted or something instead?

I managed to get through the entire thing, including the, ahem, explosive, ending.  But I wasn’t much interested in who really dunnit by then, and I honestly didn’t care what happened to any of the characters.  I just wanted my stomach to settle and get out of the theater.

And that, for this die-hard movie lover, was really sad.

#Deucember – Day 8 – Monet

Today I went to the Denver Art Museum to see the Monet exhibit that will be there till March. A friend and I joined the museum just so we could get tickets to this one at a good rate. Twelve years ago, when I was on my way to Spain, I visited the Tate Modern and they had ONE Monet at the time. Before that, I had never seen one of the actual paintings, only prints and other reproductions. I was astonished at how large the piece was and that it was basically given its own room in the museum. Today there were over one hundred works, including a couple of pastels and caricatures that he drew when he was a teenager.

The thing about Monet for me is when you look at his paintings, you see the world the way I do without my glasses. Nothing is sharp or well-defined, there are only the impressions of shapes and people.

I didn’t get glasses until I was seven but probably needed them a few years sooner. It wasn’t until I put on my first pair that I realized trees has individual leaves and not just amorphous masses of green. It was quite a revelation.

The beauty of his colors has not faded. The magic he was able to evoke with his brushstrokes continues to amaze. To study the paintings up close is interesting but there were several times I passed a painting then looked back from across the room and the same paint on canvas suddenly seemed to shimmer like a portal into a new dimension.

He was truly a genius and and alchemist of creation.

The sad thing was I didn’t think you could take photos so I left phone & camera at home, only to see everyone snapping away.

The good thing is…I’ll be going back.

#Deucember – Day 6 – Sundays

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If it’s Sunday, then it must be football and if it’s football, then it has to be the Broncos.  My roommate, Val, is a native Denverite (Denverian?) and so a die-hard Broncos fan.  I sort of became a Broncos fan when I was raising the grandson, who played football and was also a fan.  Watching the games on Sunday and making something to eat became kind of a thing with us, wings, tacos, etc.  I usually couldn’t watch the entire game because of work, but it was still fun, and then he would pop in and out of my room to keep me updated.  It was a nice way to bond, but to be honest, I wouldn’t feel the loss if I never watched another game.  I don’t hate it, it’s just not my thing.

Here’s Bronco Sundays involve what I call our usual suspects.  Val, in her element, cooking whatever she’s decided on for the week (today it’s biscuits and gravy, bacon and apple pie), her brother, one of our neighbors here in the complex that she’s adopted and her friend B from work and her husband (today, just B as hubby is on a trip with his brother).  And me.  Today is an early game, but I managed to get in about 4 hours of sleep before everyone got here.  V’s brother is quite deaf but he won’t get hearing aids because they’re “too expensive” although he owns about 100 guns (I’m not kidding).  Anyway.  The TV is up.

She’s cooking away and I’m enjoying a cup of coffee.  In a lot of ways, V is like my mom.  The best thing to do is just stay out of her way in the kitchen and if she wants or needs help, she’ll holler.  That’s fine with me.  I stopped hovering around in the kitchen a while back.  Shortly, we’ll eat and keep watching the game.  Brother will pontificate about sports or politics or relationships or whatever.  I just tune him out because it’s not worth engaging.  And Val keeps him from going on too much. Thanks, older sister!

Her sibling order is same as mine.  We’re both the oldest, and have 3 siblings, us, then brother, sister, brother.  That might be one of the reasons we’re so compatible.

I’m kind of glad it’s an early game because things will wind down most likely in time for me to have another nap before work.  I’ve figure out that if I keep my fan by the bed and turn it on high, it blocks out most of the outside noise.  Val would still prefer that I didn’t work on weekends, but for now, that’s just how it is.

And now the house smells like breakfast and the Broncos are winning (for the moment) and so I shall go and enjoy the ambiance.

Happy Sunday!

#Deucember – Day 4 – Road Trip

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Yesterday, I went to Pueblo.  It was a wonderful visit.  My main purpose was to get a haircut from the only woman who cut my hair for 25 years.  She had just moved into a new space and I had missed seeing her the last couple of times I was in town, so it was great to catch up with her, see her new digs and get a wonderful cut that was exactly what I wanted and will probably last me two to three months.  I particularly love her haircuts because they grow out really well, so they last.

I also managed to get in a visit to my favorite coffee shop and catch up with one of the owners.  He and I became fast friends the moment I first stepped in the door and put in my first order.  Ever have a meeting like that?  You start talking to someone and you just KNOW they’re going to be a part of your life in some way from now on.  That’s Dave.

Then, of course, I had to head to my favorite quilt shop to catch up with the folks there AND to see if they still had a particular fabric that I had been keeping in the back of my mind for a certain type of quilt I want to try.  Turns out they did, and I got it, and got to see all the new and cool stuff in the store AND came away with a free pattern for a little quilted box I want to try.  If it turns out well, I may make a few and try to sell them.

After that, it was time for my haircut, and then I met another friend who I had not seen in a while to catch up at the café at Barnes & Noble.  She’s a wonderful local pastel artist and she and her ex because friends with me and my ex shortly after we got together.  We even had our commitment ceremony in their large backyard out in Beulah, CO.  Now the exes and the house are long gone, but Jill and I are still fast friends, which is a real gift.

Then, I headed home as I wanted to get at least most of the way before dark.  I’m not crazy about driving at night anymore, although I can do it.  Plus, there’s a long stretch of highway between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock that’s a construction nightmare, and driving it at night is even worse.  Managed to get into Denver proper before getting stuck in the inevitable rush-hour traffic, but I was home by 7 and in my PJ’s for the rest of the night.

I miss my Pueblo peeps and I miss the place itself, but it’s always a treat to go back and visit.  Here’s to more road trips in the future.

Oh, and I also managed to fulfill one of my 2019 goals and ended up with new tires on my car.  Here’s to safer driving, as well!

#Deucember – Day 2 – Plasma

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It’s about 5:20 a.m. here and I just got done with work.  It’s officially my Saturday.  And in about an hour, I’ll drive a couple of miles and park myself on a contoured couch, where, after waiting in line and getting screened for blood pressure, temperature, hematocrit and serum protein, someone will swab my antecubital fossa with iodine and then insert a rather large needle into a vein and I’ll be hooked up to a machine for about an hour while I donate about a liter of plasma.  I’ll be in a large room with about 16 of these couches in a “bay” with 3 bays in the room.  Since this will be my first donation this week, I’ll receive $32, deposited on a debit card.  My next donation, probably on Saturday morning, will garner me $45.

There are a lot of jokes and comments made about people who donate plasma.  Usually they imply that people who do that are poor, somewhat derelict and probably more than a little dirty.  Well, that’s just wrong.  When you realize just how many donations of plasma ONE person with a primary immunodeficiency disease (PID) needs, then it makes sense that plasma companies would have to pay for it.

Here are the rules: You can donate plasma twice in a 7-day period, but those donations must be at least 48 hours apart.  So, in an ideal world, I could donate 104 times a year.  That’s me, one person.  A person with PID needs the equivalent of 1300 donations a year to get their medication that’s made with plasma, so more than TEN people would have to donate twice a week for a year to make that happen.  And of course, life intervenes.  You get a cold, you can’t donate.  You get a tattoo, you can’t donate.  If your BP is too high, or your serum protein is too low, you can’t donate.  So it takes a LOT of people all over the country to give plasma to make these medications.  And that doesn’t take into account the plasma used in hospitals and ambulances and other places for just “regular” medical emergencies, surgeries and replenishing folks.

I consider donating plasma a second job.  It does take some time out of my week to do it.  And the money I’ve received for donating has helped me get my grandson through high school.  It helped buy groceries and pay for football camp.  It let us go to the movies and have popcorn instead of waiting for the Netflix version.  It put gas in the car and helped pay for some of my quilting and helped me build up some savings.  I have absolutely no shame about donating plasma and getting paid for it, and the people who show up to do it on the regular shouldn’t be the butt of jokes, because they are truly saving lives.

Thank you for listening to (or reading) my TED talk.

#BuckFifty – Day 20 – Looks

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From a very early age, I was made to know that I wasn’t “pretty.”  When I look back at photos of my young self, I think I was pretty cute when I was little, but I was never the conventional type.   Thanks to genetics, I was always taller and bigger than most of my counterparts.  This translated into being told I was “fat.”  Again, looking at early photos, it’s clear that I was NOT fat, but I certainly took those comments to heart and completely believed that I was the fat, ugly girl that no one would want to hang around with.  Add that to the moving around and also being quite smart, I was always the new kid, the geek or the nerd, and the too-tall girl who had to stand in the back row with the boys for the photos.  That was fun.  Over the course of those years, I often cried and complained about the unfairness of it all.  My mother tried to sympathize but mostly she told me to ignore it, and later, “If you would JUST wear a little make up…” or “If you would JUST flirt a little…”  I swear, I must have been the ONLY teenaged girl in the universe whose mother begged her to WEAR make up and flirt!

But as time went on, I learned a few things.  I learned that not depending on your looks to get you places is a good thing.  Looks will go.  No matter how many boob jobs, Botox injections or tummy tucks anyone has (and of course, everyone has the right to modify their bodies however they see fit and can afford) at some point, you will just look your age.  You will be old–if you’re lucky enough to get there.

I always got my strokes for being smart.  I was the straight-A student and I loved it.  I loved learning things.  I loved being curious.  I loved reading the World Book encyclopedias that my mom sold (yes, she was actually an encyclopedia saleswoman).  And guess what?  Your smarts and your love of learning and your curiosity do NOT dim with age, unless you let them.  I still love learning new things, which is one of the main things I like about my job.  Every night at work, I come across a new procedure or a new part of the body that I wasn’t aware of or even a new disease or syndrome.  It’s fascinating what all the human body can get up to.

Not relying on your looks is an act of independence.  It’s also not easy.  There are so many things about our current standards of “beauty” that I hate.  I hate makeup.  I hate long fingernails.  I hate high heels and for GOD’S sake don’t get me started on pantyhose.

Yesterday, on Twitter, I came across this little speech by Mona Eltahawy.  I had never heard of her before, but now I am trying to find everything she’s written so I can educate myself.  I’m tired of being nice.  I’m tired of being looked at as less than because I don’t smear color on my face or pack my body into clothes that are uncomfortable and impractical or jack my back out or mess up my feet wearing shoes that are actually instruments of torture equal to Chinese foot binding.

It’s not easy for me, because, like most women, I was raised to be “nice,” to not be rude, to keep my voice down, don’t be loud, don’t be messy, don’t be hairy, don’t BE.  I’m just fucking tired of all that.

Perhaps my exhaustion will outweigh my indoctrination and I will finally learn how to be exactly who I am.

 

My Contribution to Christmas

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this recipe on Twitter from @ontysplate.  I was immediately entranced because it mixed two of my favorite things…pound cake and sweet potatoes.  Since I was already going to my nephew’s for Christmas dinner, and he was going to be doing the heavy cooking, I decided to make this to bring.  Following is my pound cake adventure.  First the entire recipe:

  • 3 c all purpose flour unbleached
  • 2 c butter
  • 1 1/2 c sweet potato cooked and mashed
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar packed
  • 6 eggs
  • 14 oz sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 1/3 c pecans chopped
  • 1/3 c brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
As I normally do for baking recipes, I followed this to the letter with a couple of exceptions.  First, Ty made this in a bundt pan, and put the praline topping in first to bake along with the cake.  I don’t own a bundt pan, so I used my traditional pound cake pan and since the topping wouldn’t cook with the cake, I toasted the pecans in a dry skillet, then added the butter, brown sugar and syrup, brought it to a boil then let it simmer for a few minutes and poured it over the cooled cake.  It hardened to a yummy praline topping and was perfect.  So, regardless of what type pan you have, this recipe will work.
The second deviation was when I was mixing the dry ingredients into the wet for the final batter.  I was using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and it did fine for the first go-round, but this recipe makes a LOT of batter, and I could tell that the mixing bowl was going to be FULL.  So, in the end, I took the bowl off the mixer stand and used my dough whisk:
Danish Dough Hand Whisk / Mixer 11"
to finish mixing the batter.  It worked like a charm.  This is a thick, heavy batter and a regular whisk would be defeated, but the above tool is used for making bread dough, so it was up to the challenge.
I also had to monitor my oven, which tends to run a little hot AND it’s slanted.  Gotta love apartment living, right?  So, I turned the cake around at 20 minutes (very carefully) and checked it at 55 minutes, still wet in the middle.  Seventy minutes in my oven was perfect.
cakedone1 (800x697)
This is after cooling a bit and removing from the pan, and below is after the topping and in the container ready to head out to Christmas dinner:
topping (800x600)
It was a complete hit and I loved it.  The texture is smooth and moist, it’s not a terribly sweet cake, which I like, so the topping really adds a punch.  In addition, you can taste all the elements of the sweet potatoes, the spices and the tang of the sour cream.  This is definitely going to be a go-to recipe for holiday time–or just when I want to indulge in something yummy!  Many thanks to Ms. Ty for sharing this.  Go check out her blog for more wonderful things to make and savor!