Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall walks, spiders, trash, and construction workers

Again today, I took my unruly dogs walking in the neighborhood. I love to walk at this time of year because of the color and the many feasts for my eyes, also for the cooler weather and still not having to wear any kind of a coat. This last benefit will be over soon. Another of the wonders of walking in the neighborhood at this time of year are the beautiful displays of spider webs. Today is foggy, and when there is fog in the Fall, the spider webs are visible in abundance. These webs are master creations of skill and exquisiteness that I love to see. Not far into our walk there is a row of juniper hedge that features about 20 plants. In between each plant there are two to three magnificent spider webs. It would be my pleasure to stay and feast my eyes on this bounty of artwork, and feel like I am cheating myself by needing to walk by. I do wonder what the owners of the house would think if I were to station myself outside their dwelling and gaze upon the webs to my heart's content. I suspect that they would not be appreciative. Another major treat at this time of year is a house on our walk route that has three magnificent maple trees that bloom bright crimson. It is my practice to walk/drive by there as often as possible during their morph from green leaves to red, and then their ultimate fall to the ground. At present, this annual spectacle is almost entire crimson, but with one section that is still greenish and a little behind the other leaves. The contrast is magnificent. All too soon, this display will be gone until next year. Again, I wonder if the inhabitants of the house would mind if I stood and admired for a period of time, rather than walking briskly by.

Today was our first day walking since last Friday. Over the weekend, and many if not every weekend, trash begins to accumulate at bus stops, in the park that we pass, and everywhere else. The bane of trash collectors like me is that once an area has been picked up, a few days later it needs to be done again. While this does not keep me from making my rounds to pick up trash, it does make me wonder about the thought process that is, or is not, taking place when humans drop trash. Suspecting that I will never know how such decisions are made, or not, it does keep me busy. By the end of our walks, I almost always have a full plastic bag of trash to sort and dispose of. At this time of year when Halloween candy is being sold and consumed everywhere, a plethora of 'fun size' candy wrappers are in evidence. Following Halloween, we will move on to the next variety of seasonal trash. That makes it sound like there are seasons of trash, and perhaps there are. Here's to feeling compelled to pick up trash!

Another feature of our walks, is meeting construction workers. Our maniacal dogs gave up spending energy barking and lunging at construction workers long ago. We meet many of the same flaggers while a construction job is in progress, and many of them are confirmed dog-lovers. Perhaps that is a prerequisite (unspoken and unacknowledged) for the job. I find it a pleasure to meet others who love dogs, and are happy to share a few words and smiles. There is something of a community when people can interact, pet dogs, and share a few minutes with each other. For someone who used to be very shy indeed, it is a pleasure to meet others who want to connect in this way.

Who would have thought that walking dogs in my neighborhood could be so rewarding; I would not have, until it happened to me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

From News Reporting to Fall Roses

Two days ago, I ended a long hiatus from listening to NPR while I am working at home. I had unplugged due to increasing frustration with the inability of the press, public or otherwise, to report actual news, rather than the topic du jour, or science that is not really new, but becoming more and more important and relevant while not spurring action. I do support public radio, and will continue to do so because at least there, there is a desire to report fully and objectively whatever is going on locally, nationally, regionally, and globally.

Having said all that, I turned to my local NPR station only to find that endless time slots appear to be devoted to the lapse of security that is the Secret Service. I think we can all agree (most of us surely), that our President, his family, and those who work with and for him/them, need to be protected from those that would seek to do them harm. However, does that mean that most, if not all, business has to grind to a halt to analyze the issue/lapse down to its minutiae? I think not. Is bold action called for? Yes, the head of that service resigned amid calls for her to do so. A shake-up, or at least a review of procedures and policies for securing the First Family, and their entourage is reasonable. Now that that has been undertaken, may we get back to the real business of the American people? I saw/heard at least as many reports about the Secret Service debacle, as compared to the Ebola epidemic that is building on itself. Surely, there are many other issues needing to be considered and/or acted upon now that a security lapse has been discovered, and a serious one at that, and the remedy begun.

On another, and totally unrelated topic, Fall has moved in, in a big way in our neck of the woods. Walking dogs through the neighborhood not only promotes health, tired dogs, and the prevention of insomnia, but also fills my eyes with boutiful color and beautifully shaped leaves. What would we do without this yearly smorgasbord of color and shape that is uniquely autumnal? So soothing to see the inexorable transition from warm summer days and nights, to the cooler and reminiscent days of autumn. Another benefit, for me, to fall is that I bring budding roses into the house when cooler temperatures begin to prevail. Generally speaking, I prefer to see my flowers in bloom in the yard, but there is something about salvaging a rose that might not be able to bloom fully due to damp and cooler temperatures. It is a ritual that I look forward to that brings in the color of summer along with its fragrance. Just another benefit of changing seasons that is so pleasing to the senses, giving an opportunity to stop and smell the roses along the way.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Does anyone else need a pensive?

Thank heaven for J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books. Not only are they so entertaining and engaging, so many words and situations are now very familiar to me. An example: the 'pensive', which represents a place to put excess thoughts when you are feeling mentally stretched. How I would benefit from such a device/process! I have a plethora of memories that I would love to offload. Or, how about having a house elf? Never do housework again! Wouldn't that be wonderful? Or, how about entering a dark room and murmuring 'lumose'? So many applications that I am forever thinking about them.

The most important analogy for me is the wish for a pensive in which to unload my overloaded brain. As an educator, a full-time student, along with the very heartbreaking need to help aged and dying parents, I need to clear my mind in order to be productive. I chose to begin a degree program in the midst of everything else because I need to have assurance of employment, or at least have a better chance of it. The last few years have proven that during an economic downturn, and slow recovery, that college instructors like me are a dime a dozen, and the work can stop, dry up, and/or cease, over night. I am a person who enjoys college, its courses, and rewards, but have been unable to immerse myself in the enjoyment that should go along with learning something new, as it has in the past. I find myself having difficulty concentrating on my coursework which then leads to panic. I have to get this done, and there is only one way to accomplish it; just do it! Other advice that works here is that offered by Douglas Adams in the "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", that features a book of the same title, and which offers readers the advice to "...DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.". Perhaps I should take that advice, and also the advice that I give others who are currently overwhelmed as I am, which is to "breathe deeply", and that chocolate can only help (in the Harry Potter books, chocolate is a restorative). I could also use the advice given somewhere in the Bible wherein a sage person comforts a reader with: "this too shall pass". While there is no stopping in sight, it may be time to come up for air, smell some roses. and endeavor to 'not panic'.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

In a Coffee Shop

I am in a coffee shop waiting for an appointment time to draw near, and am watching a situation. As usual, when I have the need to hang out where there is wireless connectivity, to make the best use of my time in between engagements, I marvel at all of the life occurring around me. A job interview has just occurred to my left, and there are a few business meetings all around. This particular coffee shop is abuzz with activity. It is loud in here! The situation that draws my interest the most, is that of a window washer, who in this cold weather is dressed in a skirt with tights and a sweater. No coat. It's cold outside. They have just moved in to clean the inside windows, so no coat necessary here. This person, appears to me to be a transgender individual who is emaciated (all the more reason for needing a coat). While they are working their way across the windows, they pass close to where I am sitting. I am one of those people who takes any opportunity to talk with strangers, but this individual does not meet my eye. I don't want to push, and I am reluctant to shout over the noise of the shop.

This situation causes me to reflect on why the window washer will not look around them. Is it because they are intent on their task, or because they are used to being ignored, or because they are too fragile in their transition from one gender to the one in which they are most comfortable to acknowledge and meet the eye of someone else? If it is the latter reason, it strikes me as true loneliness, and there is such sadness there. The song "One is the loneliest number" comes to mind, because we as humans are meant to live in groups and provide society for each other. How is it that we still isolate our fellow man. Is it " us vs. them", or does the window washer just want to finish up and move on to their next job, or perhaps home from here? I wonder.