Words ~ The Desiderata

There are words that stay with us. It is a gift to unwrap them carefully from time to time, hold them gently and breath them in deeply.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

max-ehrmann

Max Ehrmann

Author profile

Max Ehrmann (September 26, 1872 – September 9, 1945), an attorney from Indiana, was best known for writing the prose poem “Desiderata” (Latin: “things desired as essential”) in 1927.Ehrmann, who was of German descent, received a degree in English from DePauw University, followed by a degree in Philosophy from Harvard University. He then returned to his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana to practice law. Eventually this led him to work in his family’s meatpacking business and in the overalls manufacturing industry. Finally at the age of 41, Ehrmann decided to forget such work and become a writer. At the age of 55 he wrote Desiderata, which achieved fame only after his death.
(excerpted from Good Reads, 10.29.14)
Advertisements

Ready or Not, Life is Full of Surprises

It has been months since I posted anything here and though that’s not completely unexpected for me, I’m disappointed that I’ve let it lapse for so long. There have been reasons for this.

First off, my job changed drastically and quite unexpectedly. I’ve worked in the same library system for 13+ years, at the same location for five years and felt happy and content there. But my employer has a strategy of shuffling managerial staff around for various reasons. They do it periodically and it usually involves three or four people. Despite the fact that this is the way things work, I was taken completely off guard when I received a call on a Thursday afternoon in late March informing me I was being moved.

My first reaction was tears – couldn’t stop them. Several people who were there cried as well and we shared hugs and thoughts meant to focus on the bright side.

This was not the first transfer I’ve been part of, but it was the most poignant. Eight of us were relocated and I went from the most genteel location to one of the least. Not only was this unexpected, but it was precipitous. The move was effective a week from the following Monday.

That night my mother-in-law, Frances, had a stroke, though we didn’t realize it, yet. And on Friday she was hospitalized. The damage from the stroke was devastating and irreversible and she passed away on April 1st.

Frances was laid to rest in the same cemetery where Robert’s and my son, Joshua, was buried. We decided to have him moved to the same grave as his grandmother. It was something that had never been done there before, but they did a good job of it. They wrapped his tiny casket in a blanket and placed it on Frances’ casket as it was being lowered.

This delayed my start at the new location and added greater depth to the grief I was already feeling. I don’t want to make this move sound awful – or say that I don’t like it. The part of me that loves humanity and yearns to spend efforts on loving and helping others receives this with open arms and grateful heart. It’s the part who loved her previous coworkers and the part that’s a little anxious about rough social challenges that feels reticence.

So yes, this branch has some seriously rough spots. We have armed off-duty police officers on guard during the busiest parts of the day. And yes, we’ve made four 9-1-1 calls since I arrived – three with me the manager on duty, two involving knives…both of those were last week! This element is the reason I didn’t want to come. Several years ago – at a more tame branch – I was attacked by an autistic woman. She boxed my ears and ruptured one of my ear drums. So, I know that working in a nicer area doesn’t guarantee my safety, but psychologically, it feels like it.

This year my branch was one of three chosen as a site to extend the government subsidized free lunch program to children during the summer months. I can’t say enough about how wonderful this is and how it touches me, but I will say that it is a huge amount of work, especially for people who are used to dishing up novels and knowledge, rather than sandwiches and milk.

So, I’m learning a new location, a new community, a new staff, a new work partner – and it all takes mental and emotional energy. Did I mention that summers at the library are insanely busy? Plus, we’ve had the usual vacations, meetings, and training as well as some not-so-usual ones as we prepare for huge renovations in 2015.

In the end, what I’m saying is that I’ve been a little preoccupied and out of the spirit for blogging, but I’m working on rekindling the spark.

There is also the matter of the alternate identity I’ve been creating. She is known to only 3 or 4 people, so she gives me greater autonomy and anonymity for research and contacts related to my reading and writing projects. That ID has a blog, too, but she’s been subject to the same pressures as I have and she’s been silent as well, though she’s having some fun recently learning how to use instagram.

I wanted to attach a picture to this post, but can’t seem to manage it using this phone. That’s another skill to add to the growing list of things to learn. They say learning new things will keep you young, so I’ve got time.

Later…
I’m using a regular PC now and have a picture to attach. I hope it won’t seem to be in poor taste. It shows Frances and Joshua’s final resting place together. Frances doesn’t have a marker, yet, but Joshua’s is 18 years old and stands there for them both.

20140405_12191020140716_120633

Christmas – Part Deux 1.25.14

Image   Image

Between busy schedules and snow days, it took us a month past Christmas to finish our celebration. It was so nice to get together for a second time this evening. We had a simple sandwich and finger foods buffet, visited and opened some presents. I was really surprised to receive an iPod.  I had asked for one, but wasn’t expecting it at this point. Robert remembered.  AND he got me the blue one.  🙂

Image

Sonny showed me how to synch it with my iTunes and I’m all set to go.  I’m really excited to be able to bring my music with me when I exercise.

While he was helping with the iPod, Sonny was able to get my old crashed computer files transferred across our network.  That also makes me very happy, because I will be able to access my pictures now. And that’s a gift that makes me really happy, too. It will take about 5 or 6 hours for all the files to transfer.  Good grief!  I guess I need to do a little weeding in the files.  There is stuff in there from the past 8 or 10 years. Lots of it is school assignments and things I haven’t thought about, much less looked at in all this time.  The thought of cleaning these out is a little daunting. How should I do it?  …one long marathon of deletions or one folder a day for the next couple of years?

And that just makes me think about other items on other to do lists that need doing… must keep those thoughts at bay… they have the power to kill the joy.

Must keep the joy alive.  What I need is a little music…and I know just where to find some.

Below is a link to a new song by Petula Clark, who has been around since I was a kid. She was known back then for songs such as “Downtown” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_m4Qb0iW-o, retrieved 1.26.14)  and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvKj8lTuVtk, retrieved 1.26.14).

But here’s the new one. It’s entitled “Cut Copy Me”. I would love to describe it, but really don’t know how…seriously can’t do it justice. What I can say is that the music ebbs and flows from gently sweet to full and rich around a steady drum beat, while Petula sings melody and harmony with careful emotion that infuses the lyrics with meaning.To fully appreciate the depth of the music, listen with headphones. And remember to watch the video; it’s really cute – an old-time computer turns itself on and displays ascii graphics of the lyrics and pictures that go along with the song.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iM48qNM8xI, retrieved 1.26.14)

Music Plays Me

Image

My kitty, Mei-Mei, is never far away and especially loves to help me with the computer late at night. Honestly, she has this thing about playing with the cord on the earphones.  Sigh…

I’ve been thinking a lot about music lately. Thinking about how I push the button to start it up, but the reality is –> the music plays me…especially listening through headphones.  It pushes deep and satisfying  places in my brain. It plugs directly into my nervous system through my ears overwhelming my entire consciousness. Not only does it shut out the auditory world and distractions around me, but it focuses my attention. It pushes on places in my brain that have the power to make me move and steers my emotions. Sometimes in the silence afterwards, there is even a transitory effect of calm and serenity that feels like brain chemicals moving more synchronously and shoving hard against depression.

I keep listening to this Skrillex song, “Make It Bun Dem” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGpzGu9Yp6Y, retrieved 1.14.14). There is something about it that keeps me listening to it over and over. Am I the only one who does this?  When I feel strong attraction to a song, I can’t get enough of it. Only the presence of others who can hear me playing it is enough to make me stop. That is one of the appealing things about headphones…and cars…and being home alone.

If anyone could see the counts in my iTunes lists, they might be appalled.  A quick check just now reveals these high players on my recent favorites list: Too Close by Alex Clare,  Hayling by FC Kahuma, I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry, Superman by Five for Fighing, Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N Roses,  When the Night Kills the Day by Monochrome Hearts,  Waste by Smashmouth and  Satellite by Smashmouth… but I won’t continue…and just so you know I skipped a few in there, too.  And I have to further qualify the list by saying that this is only since I had to move exclusively onto my laptop after a serious crash on my PC. Only a small portion of my music actually showed up here when I reauthorized iTunes. This short list is just where I’ve been sticking lately.

Can’t remember ever not loving music. Mainly I listen, but I used to play piano and guitar. Even wrote some of my own music when I was in highschool. Had a gorgeous Alvarez Yairi 12-string.  It eventually fell on the sacrificial fire of practical need and once it was gone, the making-music part of me went with it… down for the count. I was also in choirs and groups in the earlier parts of my life…could sing first soprano, though my voice has much less range and is quite unpracticed these days.  Ultimately, the listening has been an affirming richness in my life.  Music is waaaay up there with things that I would have trouble living without.

I will leave you with a song that is high on my list of true favorites. Every night Robert and I fall asleep listening to the same album. It is a Windham Hill anthology called Celtic Christmas III.  We started the fall-asleep-to-music thing early in our marriage. We started out listening to Windham Hill’s Bach Variations album and graduated from there to Celtic Christmas II. When III came out, we switched to that and have been listening to it ever since…probably 16 or 18 years….every night, sometimes playing it more than once if one of us is having trouble sleeping….that’s a really big count right there!

But of all the songs on that album, my absolute favorite is – “Black is the Color” by James McNally. It begins with wavering, chirring sounds like night creatures and the plaintive calling of a flute that mellows to rich and sultry low flute. There is a gradual gathering of more musical accompaniment and drums, at first like heart beats, until it builds to this gorgeous, sensuous presence. It can bring tears to my eyes. And it is gentle. And it is soothing. And it could hold you in the steadfastness of its measures.

“Black is the Color” by James McNally (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjoI0QTKcg4, retrieved 1.15.14)

Sweet Dreams…

Image

Seasons

Seasons in the Potter's Field

Tucked incongruously amongst hotels, service stations and fast food restaurants, an impoverished memorial park waits in patient resignation as it falls slow victim to neglect and decay.

In spring, it wears a hopeful look, not so different from the rest of the world awakening from winter slumbers. The kindness of new life, slight and nascent, has the same optimistic feel whether in a well-tended garden or embracing a marker that tilts disconsolately in a cold field.

But then summer brings with it a cruel vitality that speeds the rate of decay with every thriving leaf and limb. Each burgeoning bit of flora, hastening the decrepitude of the place.

When autumn days shorten, they slow time and kindly paint the field in warm sepia and earthy tones of umber and ocher. Though still there is the look of abandonment, it is a look more in keeping with its somber station.

Though I have driven past this place uncountable times, not once have I stopped to take more than a passing look. But today it called and I could not turn my back. I grabbed my camera and began a slow perambulation of the fields, taking pictures as I went.

What a different look the place wears in snow! All the edges smoothed and the ground evened out, only the smallest glimpses of collapse and erosion. And the brilliant glint and glitter of sun on crystal hint at the beauty lost beneath the surface.

As I walked a circuit of the place, I thought about the lives that had been and the lives that continue and about the unfathomable dimensions of time and space, but the cold was so bitter, it kept me firmly tethered to my body at my camera hand. I gained no wisdom, no serenity, only the bracing air in my lungs and the brilliant clarity of sun shining on snow.

When I had, at long last, circled back around to where I had started, the dry, cold gusts blowing snow across the fields had obliterated any trace of my passing. No prints remained to show where I’d begun, yet when I looked behind me, there was the evidence. I HAD been there.

What I Have are Grandcats

Image

This is Autumn. She is 14 and is a tiny, tiny kitty. She’s very affectionate, loving to snuggle as much as possible. As cats go she is not that old, but has been having some problems of old age. ❤

Image

Here’s Harry. He’s a beautiful, big part Maine Coon boy.  He’s around 5 years old and very special; he was a wedding present from Sonny to Wendy. ❤

Image

This is little sister, Sammie Woo. She’s a 4-yr-old Siamese crazy kitty – laid back and cool one day and wild and crazy the next.  ❤

Image

And this is 2-yr-old Rosie. She doesn’t live at home with the other kitties. She is a shop cat, just like my Miss Kitty used to be.  Rosie lives at Rose’s Bookhouse in O’Fallon. She’s a big, friendly, gorgeous girl who loves visitors and hanging around books.

Image

She has toys at the book store.

Image

And she can sometimes be seen walking upside-down under the book shelves. ~ check out that cute tongue and those action paws pulling her along under the shelf! ❤

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siamese_(cat)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_Coon

Gratuitous Kittens – Mei-Mei

Mei-Mei was born April 9, 2008. She was the kitten of a coworker’s cat. I had tried to help him out with spaying and neutering for his cats, but somehow I think the funding was diverted to other things and his cat, Spike, had yet another litter of kittens.

Meimei Adoption Day

In June, I tried to help him place them. I took Mei-Mei and one of her brothers to show to someone else – who ended up NOT taking her. She clung to me like I was a lifeline and she was so crawling with fleas, I did not even consider giving her back to my coworker.

Meimei Kitten 1            Meimei Kitten 5

I put her in a little box and took her straight to the vet for a check-up. She had fleas and worms.

Meimei Sling

She also was not a good eater. I was up with her every 3 or 4 hours to try to get nutrition into her. She was a lot of work and she was very attached to me. She wanted to be held constantly. I even made a sling like mothers have for newborns so she could stay with me while I was home.

Meimei Kitten 2Meimei Kitten 4Meimei Kitten 3Meimei kitten 6Ducklings 016

She continued to grow and thrive and she continued to cling to me. Most nights she sleeps on the pillow next to my head – if not actually draped over my head. She uses one of her paws to move my head and if I’m feeling cooperative, I let her…though she is very stubborn and persistent.

Meimei sleep

She has grown into a really, really big cat. She is likely part Abyssinian. Last check-up she weighed 14 lbs. She is unusual, not having to sniff anyone before they pet her and she isn’t picky about where she is petted either. She loves small dark places and sometimes crawls into the covers to sleep.

Regal MeimeiMei-Mei 12.7.13Meimei Face

She is a very sweet girl and it is wonderful having her in our family.