Keeping An Eye On The Ball

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Tomorrow I’m having cataract surgery. I’m a little nervous, which I didn’t think I’d be. It’s that same feeling—so maybe I can’t see perfectly, but I can see pretty well—I can see enough. Why the hell am I playing around with my sight? I really depend on my eyes—reading, writing and my grandkids are my life. Why take a chance I won’t be able to see any of them? I made the mistake of reading the whole consent form—I was bored and had nothing else to do. Geez, some bad stuff can happen. And having a very active imagination, I can imagine them all happening to me!

I just got up from the computer to put eye drops in my left eye. I’m supposed to put them in every two hours. The first two hours went slowly—I was hyper aware. But just now, it had been 2 and a half hours and I didn’t realize it. (Now, my sight is a little blurry. Oy vey!)

So, I’ll keep doing this until I go to bed. Then nothing to eat after midnight and get to the surgery center at 6:30 AM. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, I’m not very assertive about these kinds of things. I don’t know what kind of lens or what vision it will give me. I talked to the doctor and now I’m leaving it in his more educated hands. He’s a world-renowned ophthalmologist and has just returned from a week in India doing corneal implants. Also, my husband says he’s a great golfer.

A funny thing happened on my way to getting a cleared Pre-Op. My EKG was abnormal. It turns out my heart beats way too slowly. So the cardiologist adjusted my meds. Hopefully that will all turn out well too. I’m taking it as a gift—to know something was wrong before something happened is like getting a free-bee. I’ll wear a monitor and have some tests in August. A pacemaker may be in my future—I wouldn’t be surprised as it runs in the family. (no pun intended! HA)

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I’m grateful that modern science offers solutions to these glitches. But, I’m telling you—once you hit 70, it’s double time patch, patch patch.

 

 

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Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

via Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

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I don’t understand some sorts of destruction—destruction for destruction’s sake.

I get disaster—like in Montecito this winter. These houses were eaten by the mudslides after the rains after the fires. Mother Nature played her hand, and it’s the most powerful one.

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As far as I can tell by reading on-line, the fires were not deliberately set. Power lines, not properly cared for, seemed to have been the cause. It wasn’t an arsonist—someone who started the fire for their own pyschotic reason. It wasn’t even people being careless—Smokey the Bear’s warnings were heeded. But the fires were catastrophic and set up a scenario that could have come out of the diabolical mind of a Hollywood screenwriter. The destruction was horrible but it wasn’t on purpose.

I understand accidents. They happen. But they can be destructive in so many ways. As well as the behaviors that lead to them.

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But people going out intentionally to destroy things, that I don’t get.

The other day on my walk, I saw what could have only been a purposeful act of destruction. I love artichokes and I’d been watching  these lovely  plants develop since Spring.

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I loved the symmetry of the artichokes and the colorful blooming of the flower as they matured.

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But then one day, I came upon this—the smashed remains of part of the plant. It couldn’t have been an accident.

IMG_0713.jpgIt grows on an incline. There’s a wall. I don’t think an animal could gain purchase there—even the mountain lion that people see every once and awhile. No, I’m assuming this was wanton destruction by a human hand. Someone hacked it down.

Why?

Were people so angry, so hurt, so disturbed, that they had to take it out in some way? Does the violence of school shootings stem from this same kind of rage? Is the urge to destroy primal? Or does someone just not care about other people’s property? Or other people’s lives?

And what happens when something or someone is crushed? They wither and die, that’s what.

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We live in a huge, complex country. We’re no longer a melting pot but a stew with the ingredients of different races, religions, languages and ideas. To destroy one branch will lead to the destruction of the whole. History has taught us that. Nature displays it. Let’s learn from it.

 

As American As The Fourth of July

Last Saturday morning, we gave up our usual recreational pursuits to gather on a street corner with other families in Thousand Oaks, California. What a great American morning! We were there to protest children being separated from their parents as they tried to seek asylum in the United States. And also to celebrate the ideals of the Red, White and Blue.

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Over a 1000 of us were also there to support the sanctity of family and American values, the ideals of freedom and equality for all Americans, and for the humane treatment of all people and families.

Signs were everywhere. “We Welcome The Hungry and Poor,” one sign said, referencing Emma Lazarus’s poem about the teeming masses yearning to be free, and to the fact that we are proud to be a sanctuary city. “I Care. We should all Care,” said another sign.

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We ran the gamut of Americans from the youngest to the oldest. For a lot of us, it wasn’t the first time we’d sung “We shall Overcome Some Day” and I think we’ll be singing it again. Cars driving by honked in solidarity, raising our weary spirits.

 

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It was a patriotic event with many American flags waving. It reminded me of a 4th of July celebrations we’ve been attending for years. Below was Westlake Village in 2003.

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People milled around, exchanging greetings and actually smiling.

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Congresswoman Julia Brownley gave an impromptu and impassioned speech that came from her heart.

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She held back tears as she said that our being there gave her so much hope. Once, her voice filled with anger and tears as she talked about the plight of the little children, and that we must do something about it!

As the morning wore on, more people streamed to Thousand Oaks Blvd. We congregated on the sidewalks and the grass. It was the first time I had a sense of peace in days.

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Standing between my son and my husband, I couldn’t help beaming from ear to ear. I kissed first Dave’s cheek, then Moe’s. (I know, I know. I’m so mushy. It just happens.)

Will our public stand together make a difference? I don’t know. I’ve already been challenged on my Facebook page: “Did you march for homeless Americans or just non-Americans?” someone asked. I wrote back: “Yes. We were marching for all in need. We were marching for vets who are homeless, for people with illnesses without health insurance who lost their homes, for people who lost their jobs and have no way out. We marched for people who are our neighbors and who aren’t our neighbors. We marched against injustice and cruelty. We marched for helping those who need help. Do unto to others …” and I add, we marched for the best of what is in America’s heart.

I certainly didn’t think this would be my third “March” of the year. I’m a babyboomer senior citizen…I should be on a porch somewhere rocking in a chair. Yet none of us can just sit by while children, all children, are being harmed. My children and grandchildren are safe right now, but we’ve all read history. There are no guarantees.When will we get the knock on the door?

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Letters, emails, tweets and phone calls to our Congress people are essential. But there is power in the visual image. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder on a sunny June morning, we proved we were willing to show up. And gave notice that we’ll do it again. And the world knows it.

Happy Fourth of July to all. Enjoy the parties and the fireworks and let’s remember what the holiday is about.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

 

 

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From Russia With Malice

via From Russia With Malice

From Russia With Malice

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I’ve just read a sobering article about Russia’s plans to disrupt the November 18 elections. And it brought me up short. One of their main goals is to pit American against American—to have us go at each others’ throats. To turn neighbor against neighbor—family members against family members. And they are succeeding. We can’t let that happen. We need to remember we are all Americans. We might disagree on many things, but fundamentally, UNITED WE STAND. However, this isn’t our reality now.

“In the coming months, (cyber security) experts told [the writer}, Russian operatives will likely start creating fake Facebook groups (if they haven’t already)—some that slam to the left, others that lean as far right as humanly possible—that will argue with one another, and help us do the same; there will be accounts on social media that use Cambridge Analytica-style targeting to serve up ads, and a barrage of cleverly designed and perfectly disguised bots on Twitter.” (Nick Bilton, Vanity Fair, June 22, 2018)

The goal: to set American against American and confuse us to the point we can’t see a fact from an alternative fact or outright lie. And it’s working well as demonstrated by my conversation yesterday with my daughter before I read the article.

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“I can’t believe what my cousin’s neighbor said,” she told me as we discussed the families separated at our southern border. “It was so heartless. And you know what, she’s really a nice person. But I don’t want to be with her again.”

“I totally understand,” I said. “Someone I know who is really a good person, asked me yesterday why I only care about immigrants, not Americans. I was so outraged I could barely say, ‘I don’t only care about immigrants. I care about all people. Of course, I care about Americans!’ But then I sounded so defensive! Why am I on the defensive! I love America—and I love American values. I just don’t want them to be destroyed…along with America.”

“Did you tell them that?” my daughter asked.

“No, I was too mad. And what good would it do? These people won’t believe me. Anything I try to explain, they say it’s fake news.”

The Russians are winning as they destroy our faith in each other. We no longer listen, trying to grasp the other person’s point of view. We no longer search for compromise. We just turn away. That’s a sad truth…and it’s dangerous.

The article continues as Bilton says: “And then there will be new tactics. More than one expert told me that Russia will try to go after actual voting booths in smaller, more contentious districts across the country. The world we live in so intertwined with technology that you could imagine Russian hackers disrupting how we even get to the polls on Election Day. Ride-sharing services could be hacked. We’ve already seen instances of hackers faking transit problems on mapping apps, like Waze, to send people in the wrong direction, or away from a certain street. Perhaps most terrifying of all, one former official told me, are the possibilities arising from Russia’s alleged 2015 cyber-attack on Kiev’s power grid, which plunged the city into darkness.”

I’m a grandmother of five. What do I know about technical internet mechanics? Or about the threat of cyber attacks? I’m just praying that our government has a strike force of some kind that is working to counter these assaults on our country.

All I know is that despite our differences, despite our myriad problems, we need to work together to keep America safe. To keep America strong. To keep the American values of freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness constant for ourselves and our future generations. Let’s see what we can agree on. Let’s stop polarizing one way or the other. Let’s not let the propaganda machines win.

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No Mercy, No Empathy

Let me start out by saying that I am not for open borders. I am not for porous borders. I want strong borders and for people to have to go through the correct process to be able to come into the United States.

That said, I want my America back!! It wasn’t a perfect America — there was a lot of prejudice and wrong doing by many. But at least America stood for a humane attitude towards human beings. Lady Liberty was our ideal, even if we didn’t measure up to her standards.

I thought I didn’t need to pay attention to what was happening in Washington, D.C. I thought our elected officials were people of conscience who cared about the welfare of our country over politics or personal gain. I thought I could count on our leaders to do the right thing. No more.

I sent Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, a letter asking him to stand against children being separated from their parents at our southern border. I didn’t have to ask about our northern border — yet. I got the following letter back.

This cold, unfeeling letter gave me the chills when I read it.  It was like reading a statement from the government in “ANIMAL FARM”. Or words that a robot would repeat.

These little children at the Mexican border, some who are coming from frightening conditions in Central America, do not look like “radical Islamist terrorists”. Neither do their parents, who have been arrested as criminals. Their crime: they came to the United States looking for asylum. These are not the people who are trying to slip across the border. Double Speak is being used to call them criminals. They are accused of smuggling their own children! The law is being twisted! Please do not try to convince me this is the moral thing to do. Please do not try to convince me that I am safer because these children are being housed in cages.

You won’t succeed. I have not been brainwashed yet.

Update: Faith in Humanity

I thought you might like an update on the orphaned gosling I met on May 16. This is how he looked then:

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And this is how he looks now!

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Quite a difference, isn’t it? I couldn’t believe it when I ran into Kodak and his rescuer. I actually looked around for the scrawny runt who I guessed hadn’t survived. But no, there he was!

He still likes to stick close to his mentor:

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As he did a month ago:

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But the plan is to get him used to other goslings and get him repatriated into a clutch. To do this, his human “dad” brings feed to entice the other geese to come get to know Kodak.

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With patience, it seems to be working. “If there is a threat from outside of them, like a dog, Kodak will follow them into the water,” the man tells me. “He joins the group.”

He’s been concerned that Kodak has imprinted with him and also their dogs. Kodak is very comfortable around all of them, but is beginning to be more comfortable with other goslings, as well.

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Stay tuned for the next installment in the continuing saga of Kodak, the Wonder Goose!

An Ode to Spring!

 

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In my infatuation with autumn, I’d forgotten my old love: Spring. I was so into Fall colors that I left Spring in the dirt. (Pardon my capitalizing the seasons. I just can’t help it. I start thinking of things like “I get a spring in my step when it’s spring” or “I can fall when I slip on fall leaves” and I end up capitalizing Spring and Fall because it just seems right to me.)

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I do love autumn: the cooler days after a long, hot summer. I love the brilliance of the leaves and the signs that although the days are shorter, we’re getting ready for cozy evenings at home.

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(You’ll notice no mention of football in my Fall loves. I know this is heresy, but football is not high on my list of priorities. Sorry.)

But this Spring has been different. Perhaps it’s because of the rainy days of winter, but I don’t think so. By slowing my life down, I’ve been more aware of what’s happening in the moment. (It’s been quality versus quantity.) Along the way, I’ve remembered how much I love the awakening of nature around me. It has been a pleasure.

It started in my own backyard. I watched as the trees began to leaf out.

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By the way, here’s that same tree last Fall.

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Then I began to see Spring wildflowers peek up their heads.IMG_0379.jpg

 

I’m fortunate to walk most days so it wasn’t difficult to see the progress of renewal in the season. I was in awe of the colors of the flowers and plants. Being cognizant that theirs’ was a short season, I knew I had to focus on their beauty or I’d miss it. They’d be gone soon and only a memory.

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In other neighborhoods, I saw fruit trees put out their blossoms.

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When I walked by the lake in early Spring, I  watched the geese follow their mating rituals.

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and then, later, how they raised their young.

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In late April, I  went to Seattle to visit and was treated to a cornucopia of visual Spring delights. I think I drove my daughter crazy because I had to stop every few minutes to click another shot. But I just couldn’t get over the special beauty of the season.

Every tree and plant was bursting with new life:

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Fruit trees were decked out in their finery.

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Bluebells flocked to greet me in the woods.

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Back in California, I continued on my Spring Quest, aware of quickly the season was passing.

“It’s the middle of May,” I said to my daughter one day.

“Mom, it’s only May 11. Don’t push us ahead,” she said.

“I’m not, but you know, in a moment it will be Memorial Day.”

And it was.

The swans have had their babies now.

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The irises are still blooming but are losing a little of their freshness.

Time continues to march on even if we don’t want it to.

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All Spring as I walked outside, I kept hearing the phrase, Hope Springs Eternal, in my head. Even when we and our family and friends were having health issues, I saw with my own eyes that nature’s message was one of hope and renewal. Maybe everyone could get well–we shouldn’t give up hope.

But Spring also personifies the impermanence of life; its ephemeral qualities. Nothing is permanent and I should know that by now. I need to cherish what I have now–not look back, not look forward. My autumn years may be waning, but I’m not into winter yet. And I’m going to enjoy the last days of Spring without bemoaning how fleeting it was.

My plan is to gorge on peonies while they’re still is season. Short as it is.

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Regaining Faith in Humanity

Another school shooting. More people’s lives ripped away. More acts of religious and ethnic hatred. You see so much meanness coming from people nowadays, sometimes you begin to lose faith in humanity. Mine was restored a little today.

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As I rounded the bend on my walk, I saw a man standing on the grass, looking at the lake. Then I saw a tiny naked bird running around near him.

“Oh my goodness,” I said.

The man turned and smiled at me.

“He’s got to be brand new,” I said.

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“Actually, he’s a couple of weeks old,” he said. “He’s an orphan we found down by the weeds. He must have been the runt. You can see he also has a problem with his feathers, so they must have abandoned him.”

I shook my head. “That’s so sad.”

“I know. We picked him up and took him home, hoping we could save him.”

At that moment, the gosling started running away from us, flapping its wings. It looked like a wind up toy.

“Hey, where you going? Come back over here,” the man called. He looked at me. “This is the first time he’s ever left my side.”

The gosling came running back, stopping to peck at the grass for a moment before he returned close to the man.

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“He comes when you call?” I asked.

The man nodded. “Yeah, and he likes to cuddle under your chin.”

The man explained that they were raising him to get strong enough so they could to try to introduce him to a clutch that has goslings his age. They’d tried once already but he was rejected. “We’re hoping when he’s older it will work.”

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In the mean time, they have a set up a crate for him. “We’ve got stuffed animal geese in there and a mirror,” he explained. “The vet told us a special feed to get. He’s skinny, but eating and active.”

“He’s so cute,” I said.

“And look,” the man said. He pointed to the little guy’s chest where soft golden feathers were beginning to appear.

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The man’s smile was wide, filled with pride and compassion. “I think he’s going to make it,” he said.

What an inspiration, I thought as I continued on my walk. It goes to show that you should never give up. And that it’s not always the survival of the fittest if there’s a helping hand.

We need more of this in the world. Acts of kindness just because you can.