Category Archives: Life and Times

Not so bad after all

 

We were watching Storage Wars the other day. Lots of odd topics come up in the course of a show like that.

MOM: You just know that one smells to high heaven.

ME: Yeah, it was the last load and everything got chucked in in a hurry. And then mice got into everything.

You  know that smell, the scent of human sadness.

♠♣♥♦

There was supposed to be a graphic of a storage unit spilling out its pitiable contents and the last line was supposed to be the pithy end of this post.

The VAST majority of photos available are either rusted scrape metal and outdoor junk, or tidy units that don’t serve my purpose at all. *sigh* Maybe the human race isn’t as sad as I thought!

Here’s nice summer pic instead:

Have a good one, people!

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Regrets, I Have a Few

The 4th of July is a happy holiday. Picnics and fireworks. My life has been such that I haven’t noticed holidays much. It may change soon, it may not.

Anyway, the 4th is one of those days that has many meanings to many people. To me it’s about freedom and that always leads me to thinking of those who make it possible. I was in the Air Force from January 1977 to January 1981. Me and Jimmy Carter were serving together. My one regret in life is that I didn’t stay in for 20 or more years.

I’m not much on the big regrets. Hurting someone with my imprudent tongue is a biggie, but other than that, there aren’t many things to wish were different.

For those of you who served, thank you. For those serving now, my prayers for you and your families. For those who will serve in the future, you will be doing a great and noble thing.

Photo from the Gary Sinise Foundation. Support if you can.

 

 

Learning Curves

and Earning Curves.

Curves2 About a month ago, I decided that eating right and losing weight wasn’t enough to make me healthy, so I started doing something I haven’t done in at least twenty-five years.

I started working out regularly. Five days a week. Yes, you read that right. Robin, the queen of avoiding exercise, is paying to work out.Curves3

That’s one of my cute little coaches checking out my progress at the laptop. (Curves has machines that spy on you and report back to the coaches. Very 1984.) I want to look like her. Can they make me lose about forty years?

My workouts take between 45 and 50 minutes and consist of 30 seconds on each machine, 30 seconds of aerobic motion between machines, and stretches. I do the entire circle twice, and all the major muscle groups are involved. The final machine tells me my workout is over by flashing “END.” How’s that for propping up a weak short-term memory?

CurvesHere are my results from Thursday. Green dots are great, yellow dots are okay but not great, and red dots are BAD. (Sort of like the colors on traffic lights, but I digress.)

And now for the life lessons.

  1. I have to pay for workouts to be properly motivated to do them. It’s just like everything else. We don’t usually fully appreciate anything that has cost us nothing.
  2. Most of the time, lack of progress is my own fault. My first two weeks of working out, I made very little headway. I wasn’t sore afterwards, and I didn’t sweat. At first, I thought the machines were too easy, but then I realized maybe, just maybe, the problem was me. I started pushing harder for range of motion and more reps. Guess what? I had no trouble working up a sweat, and I was plenty sore. It wasn’t the machines. IT WAS ME. Just like in every other aspect of life, when I have a difficulty, I should examine myself first.
  3. The harder I work, the more I achieve. Though music is my strongest intelligence, I didn’t learn to play the piano really well until I began to practice regularly. (Props to Austen’s Lady Catherine on this one. She was right.) I don’t succeed at anything without putting effort into it.
  4. Sometimes, good intentions aren’t enough. I thought I was doing everything right at Curves, but all my muscle groups weren’t sore. My abdomen wasn’t sore at all. I started paying more attention to the muscles which were supposed to be worked at specific machines. I isolated them and focused on using them, adjusting my body until I felt them. Guess what? It worked. My sore abdomen can attest to it.
  5. Don’t jump to conclusions. A few days ago, I noticed a lump on my arm and nearly freaked out, thinking it was a tumor. Then I realized it was a muscle! I hadn’t seen a defined muscle anywhere on my body in years. I’m flexing now!

Here’s some encouragement for you, lovely readers. Set your goals and go for them.

You can do it!

Soul Corrosion

Sunday my husband and I stopped to make a purchase before delivering Easter baskets to our grandchildren. We came out to the car and I could hear a woman screaming obscenities. She was on the sidewalk we’d just left. I assumed the usual don’t look, don’t engage posture I learned living in the badbadbad part of Portland many years ago. I opened the truck door and got in only to lock eyes with the woman standing about 15 feet from me. She screamed at me, spit at me, and then swung her coat in anger and started stalking away. After a few steps she turned and spit again and then left. We watched her cross the parking lot into an empty field across from the store.

Homelessness and mental illness were obvious. It was a sad to see a person so corroded by a harsh life. Especially on Resurrection Day.

Fast forward to this morning.

Saturday I was kneecapped by a couple of family members. (Metaphorically. Not that we are such a high-class bunch, but there was no physical violence.) I live with one of the people and had tried to think rationally and keep my powder dry on this. Particularly since this person is in the early stages of dementia. (We are one step away from being that commercial where the guy’s father forgets how to brush his teeth.)

Anyway, today was the day to try and work things out. The person will not even acknowledge the actions of Saturday, and brought up a topic that she circles whenever things get tense.

And then she said, “And you’re always bragging about your writing.”

HA! Again I say, HA!

My writing career is pretty much a dried up husk. I published two books a million years ago and she thinks because I come upstairs to get some time alone to think, I’m bragging.   I can feel the corrosion of my soul in the midst of this. Pretty soon, my soul will look just like my writing career. Or the lady screaming and spitting in the parking lot.

My point in all this is to ask, do you go for the knees when you’re arguing? My natural tendency is to try and hit a clever, snotty tone without looking cheap and low-class. Most of the time I can’t accomplish that so just walk away from confrontation.

What do you do when goaded?

BTB, I acted like a jerk and screamed at this person in my home. But only after she screamed at me. Yeah, that’s no justification. I think I need one of these:

Image courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

We Don’t Usually …

do winter like this:

snosm

To those of you who live in places where snow it a fact-of-life, I apologize if I sound whiny. I’m not. I grew up in North Idaho where feet of snow is the norm. Here in western Oregon. we have snow every few years. But it melts quickly and we return to rain. Not so this year. I’ve had snow for over two weeks now. It’s snowing heavily now.

A rare treat.

I don’t appreciate it.

Fingers crossed that my husband’s boss cancels his shift.

Shameless self promotion: I just got a comment from Robin Helm that I should use a raging snowstorm as a plot device. Well, I have. I’m currently writing my way through THE WENTWORTH GUIDE TO ROMANCE AND TRAVEL on Beyond Austen.  (BA is a members-only site, but registration is simple and no SPAM, ever.) There’s snow, longing looks across the room, snow, a carriage accident, snow, and a bit of a growing mystery about Mr Elliot’s late wife. If you’re snowed in like me, please give it a try.

 

Giving Thanks

thanksgivingIn 1621, the Pilgrims, Puritans, and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the American colonies. After that initial celebration, for more than two hundred years, thanksgiving days were celebrated separately by individual colonies and states. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln’s presidential proclamation.

Lincoln’s aim appears to have been to reunify the Northern and Southern states in the wake of the Civil War. I feel that our country has been through another civil war of sorts in the past couple of decades.

Perhaps we need to reflect on all the ways in which we have been blessed.

I have been virtually absent for many weeks on this blog, Beyond Austen, and social media. My sister, Gayle, was diagnosed with cancer in early summer. She has had three months of treatments, sickness, and pain. Last week, she underwent a scan to see whether or not the treatment was working. Frankly, her doctors didn’t give her much hope. Had the scan revealed the cancer had spread, or had not been significantly reduced in her lymph system and colon, they were ready to advise her to discontinue treatment and enjoy the time she had left on this earth. She is strong. I am not. I was not in any way ready to face a world which my sister had left. Selfish, I know.

However, God is good, and He answers prayer. Thousands of prayers were offered on her behalf. Her students and fellow teachers supported her. Our church loved her through the process. Our family prayed continuously.

three-sisters

I’m in the middle. To the left is my sister Layne, a breast cancer survivor, and to the right is Gayle. I’m holding my younger granddaughter, and Gayle is cuddling the elder. This picture was made while my daughter was home from overseas a couple of weeks ago.

A few days ago, she received good news for a change. The results of the scan showed not the cancer had spread, but that it was all gone. All of it. None in her colon, lymph system, or liver. She is the first survivor of this type of cancer in stage 4. Only ten cases of it have been reported since the 1920’s. There was no treatment protocol, so her team of doctors established one.

Gayle will likely have another chemo treatment and radiation to be on the safe side, but she will bear it with grace, beauty, and dignity, just as she has borne everything else in her sixty-six years.

Gayle is a person who makes the world a better place by living in it. We are very blessed to have her with us for however many more years the Lord sees fit to leave her here.

We all have much for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Jane Started It.