The Diary of a Mad Blogger DAY 366

Madness

It has been 366 days since I published my first post and joined this wonderful world of the real and the surreal: the blogosphere. 

 I started this blog on a lark with no real idea or theme.  No organization or any kind of plan whatsoever. I was new to cyberspace and not technical in the least bit, fortunately, I can usually find some humor at my feeble attempts to do something, which can be often.  I still have trouble with the simplest things and the fact that I refer to these things as “things” is a testimony to my utter and complete lack of any technical knowledge whatsoever.  The road is long and strange but slowly I am learning.  Now after a year I am finally able to post a link without embarrassing myself ( I hope) 

On Being Fruity and Colorful

I did realise when I signed up to get a blog here at WordPress that I might be introducing myself to the strange and unusual world of cyberspace and I did have my reservations.  I considered many types of avatars and had decided on a purple nebula (really) and it was not until the last-minute I decided on using my real life image.   I am not one for pictures of myself. It takes some getting used to, but it’s me and it’s honest and that is what I try to adhere to.

I know what you are thinking:  How honest is someone who claims to be some weird name like Strawberryindigo?  It was a name I came up with for Trip Advisor and I just kept using it. If I knew then what I knew now I wouldn’t have picked something so…well, weird. In the beginning many people thought I had a food blog and kept searching my site for recipes.

But again I guess it’s me…and I like colors and fruit and so…what the hell, I could have done worse.

I feel free to write whatever I want. I feel I can expose my inner self by being somewhat anonymous. One day I may change my name, and my site.  Totally scrap the whole thing and start anew, but for now, I’m doing fine just being fruity and colorful.

A Community of Creatives

What I didn’t realise when I signed up to WordPress was the rich community of bloggers that I would become a part of.  It is refreshing to be around so many alive and creative people.   I value each comment and every “like” I have received. It does the heart good to see many of you returning again and again. I  look forward to our visits. I can imagine us as neighbors chatting over the back fence.  I am getting to know many of you through your blogs and comments and I have found you all to be some truly wonderful and amazing people. I have learned so much from you. This is a fantastic little community we are creating here.  I thank you for this!

  Typically, I am a  very shy and reserved person.  In the past I’ve mostly kept my thoughts to myself.   Through my writing here I feel connected to a whole world.  I am coming out of the shadows and into the light…..and it feels spectacular!

The Mad Blogging Part

I started this as a sort of online diary that quickly morphed into something else…just what that is, I do not know.  (If anyone has any thoughts on this please let me know because I am sort of all over the place.)   I guess what I’m attempting here is to train myself to be a writer.  A real writer.  Not just some hack with a laptop and a dream as I perceive myself to be now.  It is my life’s goal to succeed at this endeavor. I have found through trial and error that nothing makes me happier.  It is the air that I breathe and it is engrained in my very essence.  After many years of soul-searching;  it is what I believe I am meant to do.  I know this sounds grandiose and stupid and highly unlikely but I want to somehow make the world a little better because of my writing, if only in some small way…

I started this all as an experiment with the time period of one year. I wanted to see what a year of blogging would do and what I would become after all this….

…and I have found that I’m still in the act of becoming…

I will continue to blog. It’s in my blood now and I don’t want that to change. As my writing continues to evolve I will keep at it, I can’t stop anyway. Writing is essential to my existence. My plans are to eventually start submitting my work and see where that goes but I know that I still have some work to do–my journey continues.

Looking forward to day 367…

Strawberryindigo.

I want to let you know that I will probably never write so much about myself again in one post….I appreciate those of you who are still reading this and I commend you. Thanks. 🙂

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Diary of a Mad Blogger: the second attempt  

life’s little pleasures

 Right now

This very moment. This is just one out of a seemingly endless round of moments that make up your life.  How you fill these segments in time becomes your story.

It can be difficult sometimes to weed out the minutiae and  it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day trivialities and miss what is truly important.  This often happens with me.  Life in this modern world can get stressful especially during “interesting” times like these.

During my recent “bout of wicked overdoneness” I was forced to slow down.  This allowed me to catch my breath and really see what was truly going on.  I realised that little by little I was missing the small things.  Life’s little pleasures that I enjoyed so much.   I  didn’t notice they were disappearing until they were gone.

 I have been trying to appreciate the small things whenever and wherever I can find them. Sometimes it’s not easy, I’m a sensitive person and I have my share of bad news and bad days.   I find that it is after one of these bad days that I need  life’s little pleasures all the more.

About three weeks ago I made a plan of action. A basic outline of activities that I would try to incorporate into my daily life. These are very simple things.  They appeal to me personally. I have taken on each one of them.  Some are obviously easier than others. I am still working on the last one.

Life’s little pleasures plan of action master list.

Greet the day: Soon after waking I will greet the day by going out to the back porch for a breath of fresh morning air and a much-needed intake of some urban  nature in the backyard. 

Stretch:  I will stretch my body and my mind. I will explore new horizons and grow.

Walk:  I will walk, to move my body,no matter the weather. To get out into the community and out into the world. I will seek out natural areas.  I will go off the beaten path. I will explore.

Stop:  I will stop and notice the simple beauty that surrounds me everyday.  A bird, the sky. A smile from a child, the laugh of a loved one.  I will take it all in and try to find the goodness in everything I see.

Dance:  And sing and let it all out. I will embrace my inner child and go with those eccentric urges and just have fun.

Let go I will learn to let go of that which I cannot control and just simply Enjoy Life as it comes.

Wishing You an Amazing Day! 

Strawberryindigo.

Busyness

Tanakawho - Busy busy...(by)
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 What’s the rush?

It seems most people are in a hurry these days, always on the run. A blur of activity. Many practically live out of their cars.  Ferrying themselves and their children from here to there, from work to home, to school, to activities. What’s for dinner is decided in the drive thru of a fast food joint and eaten in the backseat by sleepy children after a much too long day filled to the brim with busy.

Sleeping with no deadlines...There is literally no time. No time for this or that.  No time to talk..”gotta’ go”.  No time to eat, let alone cook a healthy meal. No time to say hello, or good-bye. No time for family or friends, no time to read a book or take a walk.  No time for improvement or creativity. Or fun?  No time for love. No time to stop and smell the roses or appreciate a beautiful sunset.

No time to think, or reason or ask why. No time to see the man behind the curtain.

Time ticks by and every moment; every second is a miracle. It is a gift and most of us, myself included, just plow right through it.  Always in a hurry.   Always a full agenda.  It can’t be helped, you know..I’ve said this to myself.  People have responsibilities.  I’m swimming in them and my life is full.   Sound familiar?

Busyness

How many times have you asked someone how they’ve been doing and your query was answered with “busy”  How many times have you said that?  I know I’ve said that.

It is the correct answer, most of us are busy. With jobs and families and everything else in this ever-changing ever evolving world.  Our society becomes faster paced and more complex.  The bar is set higher and higher and you better run faster and jump higher than the next guy because it’s a jungle out there.

BusynessEven when we are not busy, most of us say we are. Idleness is looked down upon. Busyness is related with importance.  An important man is a busy one and his time is more valuable than yours, so you wait.  The poor and insignificant spend a lot of time waiting.

Busy people are needed and wanted.  Busy people are in high demand. It is those that are the movers and the shakers in this world. It is the busy ones that get things done. The busier you are the more important you are and the more valuable your time is.

In Praise of Slowness

There is much to be said for slowness in our fast-paced society.  The fact that  the very concept of “slow” is seen in a negative light shows our need for the benefits that slowness brings.  It’s difficult to see clearly when your life in always in motion. Growth can only come with examination and reflection.

Life is not a road race or a competition. It’s the journey not the destination. Life is meant to be savored. The people in our lives are important, our children are important. You can do more for your child’s development and future success by talking and spending time with them rather than dragging them to a million activities and “enrichment” classes. Time spent together is essential.   Years from now when we are old and running out of it time will any of us look back with rue and regret about how we didn’t spend enough of it at Busyness?

 

Strawberryindigo.

Winter garden devastation

Winter: the season that tries many a gardener.  And what devastation it can bring.   We in The Pacific Northwest are fortunate enough to live in a rather mild climate, but winter does pay us a visit to varying degrees every year.  Some years an early cold snap strikes and kills off a few stunned victims. Last winter it was a beloved lavender and two pineapple sages.  Other forgotten plants in lost memory haunt the cold shadows and depths of the winter garden.

I must confess: my interest in gardening does wane this time of year.  Nothing much grows and its damn cold so I spend more time inside.  This leads me to feel guilty as the harsh season proceeds with itself and ravages the garden. I see pictures upon pictures of regal well-appointed winter gardens with  an amazing structure of tidy Evergreens dusted with sparkling snow. Everything is so cozy, so tidy….

I always plan to prepare for winter but… well,  those plans usually don’t pan out as more pressing matters arrive and thus my garden enters winter unkempt and wild. I watch as autumn’s tender leftovers; the jeweled nasturtiums and snapdragons turn to frozen flower pops after the first round of freezes.

Cold Snapdragon survivors

 Leaves litter the grass and the beds, never raked up.  Potted plants remain lining the driveway. Discarded yard art sits barren. The tiny Buddha statue looks cold and all alone, standing in a patch of frozen Sedum. Its companions, the colorful sprays of Viola and Marigold have gone, so have the stately Susans, leaving behind only Black- eyed seed heads sitting atop willowy stems, half eaten by birds and standing like sentinels along the rocky outline of the empty flower bed.

Black Eyed Susan in December
Black eyed Susans last August

I enter by the side gate crunching on frozen grass, surveying  the wreckage with dreams of last seasons color in my head. Unlike last season, so far, this has been one of the milder ones.  Lots of sun and with little rain, it is mid December but I see some flowers still in bloom:  A hardy fuchsia reigns supreme here, its smallish pink and purple blooms still attracting the odd hummingbird in this late season.

The Fuchsia

Despite my neglect, life goes on.  Nature is in command here, not me.  I am but a caretaker that’s fallen down on the job, but as I said, life goes on.  It is what we make of it as it does.  I survey the skeletons and ghosts of last summer.  All this empty space allows me to envision to plan for next years garden.  I smile as I pass the empty spot near the deck where two rose bushes will go, I can smell them already.

Old summer guilt is replaced with the hope for the future.   A cold wind blows across my path reminding me that winter has yet to officially arrive.  I step inside with my plans, my dreams and my little schemes, vowing to enjoy the winter and all of its glorious devastation knowing that it is out of this which brings the promise of spring.

I am reminded of a favorite quote:

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”

John Muir

Wishing you a Beautiful Season.

Strawberryindigo.

Happiness is a warm teacher

School

I am fresh from a round of parent teacher conferences, between my two wonderful teenagers, I have now attended 19 of them during my continuing career as involved parent.  The last few have been “arena style”.  This style has come into vogue as of the last few years and I believe it adds to the surrealism of the event.

Imagine a large space, perhaps a cafeteria or gymnasium.  You are in the middle, surrounded by rows and rows of tiny desks.  At each one is seated a teacher.  Most are engaged in discussions with worry-faced parents.  There is an air or solemn soberness.  Most voices are hushed and not a wisp of laughter or small talk that usually accompanies large groups.  No, this is not a social event, like Back to School Night.  Like war, this is serious business and like war it is filled with short bursts of excitement mixed with long stretches of anxiety and boredom.

Every conference is unique unto itself and as the years pile on I have come to expect one thing; the unexpected. It is interesting to see your child, your beloved “perfect” child through the eyes of another.  It can surprise you and as one who has been surprised a number of times, I can attest to that wholeheartedly.

These surprise have been varied and thankfully never life-threatening.  Some in fact, a good number of them have been pleasant surprises.  I am blessed with  fantastic kids who have  given me many occasions to swell with parental pride.  However, I have experienced a time or two when I wanted to just sink right through the chair and  disappear into the  freshly polished checkerboard floor.

 It is on these occasions that the past gets the bite on me and I am transported back to the 80’s, back to the days of big hair and bad taste.  Back when I was a punky teen with an attitude and poor grades.  It feels like I am getting “busted” for something and all I want to do is run.

But I cannot run, I am a “responsible” adult and I must face the fire.  The fire being a stressed teacher with legitimate gripes about my child.  I smile.   I say all the right things, seemingly passing an untold test on the proper reaction to the given circumstances.  I have always been cooperative and I have tried to not take any of this too personally but, at times I have felt the sting of the hot lights of interrogation which upon reflection, seemed a bit much.

I try to put things in perspective but it is at these worst of times that stick in my worried mind and anxiety tends to creep in every year at conference time.  I have tried many methods to calm my nerves but really, all I can do at this point is to hold my breath, cross my fingers and hope for the best, and help pick up the pieces later.

 I vowed to make this year different.  I have found myself a bit more reflective since I have been writing in this blog these last few months and I’m realising that perhaps I have been projecting my old latent fears and struggles with school and authority figures from the past into now.  This is coloring my attitudes with regard to my role in these conferences.

Usually one’s unfounded fears never materialise they way they are expected and this current round of conferences proved to be no exception to that.   I took them for what they were, which was not so bad, really.  I guess that holding my breath and crossing my fingers paid off, not to mention the hard work by my kids with a lot of nagging by me.

 Number 18 went as smooth as can be.  No interrogation or hot lights.  The arena  had been abandoned for a more intimate setting in indivdual classrooms.  The report went well with progress made and hope for the future with an actual “A” mixed in….I was walking on air all the way to the next school and my date with number 19.

It was the end of a long morning, the sun shone through the cafeteria window drawing a bright beam of light across the stained linoleum.  The teacher smiles and offers me a seat.  We  exchange pleasantries. He tells me that my daughter is self-directed and motivated and that she too, has shown  progress.  We spent the rest of the time having a pleasant conversation about books.  Just two people; an energetic enthusiastic teacher and an involved parent having a talk about a mutually beloved subject.

  It will be these conferences I will endevor to remember  when it’s time for the next round.   (with some finger crossing too.)

 Wishing you blue skies and a happy day!

Strawberryindigo.

Sick

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S I C K... A RANT By Strawberryindigo…

This is usually the magical time of the year when one or both of my kids bring home from school something they did not take there; this comes as the form of a virus that if not carefully contained infects the entire household.

It all starts with a cough, just one, then another and another. The coughs get deeper and deeper.  I know, MM knows, we look at each other..”Oh no, not again.”  We know the drill, It happens every year, flu shot or not.

We are lucky enough to work at home so it is no problem keeping our kids in when they are sick.    This year it was my daughter who first fell victim.  I kept her home for 4 days.  She rested, took in lots of fluids and basically sat around waiting to get better.

On the morning of her last sick day I received a phone call from the school. To my surprise it was the school psychologist. She inquired about my daughter’s state of health.  I told her that my she had been ill but that she was “getting better and that she would be returning the next school day”.  The psychologist then, in a breezy offhand manner told me that “something was going around”… and then she became way too serious when she said that my daughter had stayed out longer than anyone else.

I was a bit surprised.  4 days?  This warrants a call from the school psychologist?

I said what she wanted to hear and  somehow I felt that I had barely passed some test of hers.  We said our goodbyes and the next day I sent my still coughing daughter to school.

The words of the psychologist echoed in my mind and the more I thought about it the angrier I became.  I thought back to the beginning of the year to a speech given by the Principal during Back to School Night.  She was bragging up the school’s achievements from last year and justifiably so. My daughter’s school is fantastic, it is one of the best  in the city and we are lucky to be able to have our daughter attend it.

It was something she said specifically about the school’s attendance record…”which was and still is…award-winning”?

Did I hear correctly?  The schools compete with attendance records, the ones with the fewest absences “win”.  What do they win?  The winning school and apparently the winning principal get bragging rights, which I say are well deserved… but in hindsight I can’t help but wonder if the school is a bit over-zealous in their commitment to achieve perfect attendance.

I thought of my daughter and all the make up work she must do just to catch up.  I think of all the valuable school days missed.  School is important and the quality of her education suffers when she must miss school because of illness.  However, I think my daughter’s health and the health of all the people in the school are more important than an attendance record.  It seems that this prevalent attitude among the schools fosters a climate that encourages families to send their sick children to school where they infect others…and the cycle continues.

It is amazing how one small seemingly insignificant action or non-action can affect so many.  One properly sick child can infect a roomful of people and through that action can affect so many more.  We are all connected, even in sickness.

I realise that many people have to work and have no choice but to send their sick kids to school as well as coming to work with obvious illness themselves.   Maybe an attitude adjustment would be appropriate for bosses and the bosses of bosses as well. Maybe an attitude adjustment for everyone, public school systems too.

We all know firsthand that sick people are not at their best and do not perform well, at school or on the job.  Sick people make more sick people.  This seems to have a snowball effect; making more people perform at sub par. It also turns people off.  When the teller at the bank sneezes on my money or the grocery clerk coughs all over my celery, I’m turned off.

What I’m trying to say, in a long-winded round-about way, trying not to offend anyone but I need to say, really plead….You. (you know who you are) If you are sick and you are able to, please stay home. If your child is sick, try to keep him or her at home, If you can’t do that please wash your hands and do what you can not to infect everyone.

And in a personal note to one school psychologist; keeping my daughter home when she is ill is a consideration to you as well as everyone else.

And so to everyone: Have a great and healthy day!  Strawberryindigo.

Sign of the Times

Great Depression: man dressed in worn coat lyi...
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Here I am sitting at this cheap plastic ash ridden table in front of my local chain supermarket.  I am writing in one of my famous spiral notebooks and drinking a grande black coffee while people watching.  This is, believe it or not, the perfect place for such an endeavor.

This is not my usual hangout, nor is it likely I will return. I’m growing fond of going to such strange but typical places to write.  At these places I can soak up the atmosphere and get a taste of a new perspective I wouldn’t have had otherwise. 

All sorts of people have been passing through the double doors to my right; a cross-section of humankind.  We are all different but we have much in common, like our need for food, and food shopping and how this damn economy is screwing us.

..and as a certain Mr. Dylan said…”..the times they are a-changin’…” 

 They see it, I see it.  It’s all around.  It’s the sign of the times and the signs are showing…more trash in the streets and buildings and streets in disrepair, the forlorn empty businesses, the foreclosed homes…..the homeless.  The face of homelessness is changing in our country. 

Before this economic doom and gloom, the homeless were usually people with severe emotional problems such as mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse.  Now there are families under the proverbial bridge, children, elderly.  People like you and I.  It seems wave after wave of hardships hit the beach.  All you can do is hang on and hope for the best.

I see the signs of high unemployment in the streets, in the parks, the railway station.  Everywhere.  Groups of young men in their twenties roaming around with backpacks and bedrolls.  They are short on opportunity and short on money, everything but time.

I see people with suitcases, your average American, huddled in corners with looks of bewilderment.  Some fall asleep sitting up at bus stops, all their belongings held tight against them, sheltering them from the chill night air.

This is the new face of homelessness. 

I see them, all these poor people trying to blend in, trying to not look homeless.   And what about the people two steps away from it?  

I could easily be one of them and it scares the hell out of me.

I intended this post to be a rant type post because when I started writing it, I was mad as hell.  Angry with our government, with corporate greed and just plain old-fashioned human stupidity.  I still am just as angry, but now upon reflection, I find that I am more afraid than anything else.

Afraid of what the future may bring, afraid of the dark unknown.  I think many people are afraid of the same things and this economy and the state of this crazy world have people white-knuckled terrified.

We were all brought up on tales of “The Great Depression.”  Pictures of Dust-bowl Oakies with dirty faces and vacant stares haunt the pages of old schoolbooks in my memory. We were taught to fear depressions, recessions and bank collapses…..

….It’s the sign of the times and here we are again and how it can ever get back to “normal” is beyond me. 

..so for now I’ll sit awhile and enjoy my coffee. Then appreciate the hell out of everything I can and hold on for dear life.

Wishing you blue skies

Strawberryindigo.

I speak for the trees

A book sits on a shelf in my daughter’s room.  It is age worn and obviously “loved”  to almost tatters.  A name is written in childish scrawl inside the front cover. The name is my name. When I gave this treasured book to my daughter, I warned her not to follow my bad example and mark up books like I did.  I was four years old when I wrote that.  I was inspired by the words contained the book and I still am today.

The book is “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.  It was my very favorite book as a child.  It remains that today.  Dr. Seuss inspired me to be a writer. He challenged  how I saw the world and delighted me with his rhyme and imagination. It was Seuss who sparked a lifelong love of the written word and in wordplay.   I feel his influence in everything I write.

    The Lorax is a brilliant children’s book written in rhyme by a master of the art. It’s message rings just as true today as when it was written in 1971.

For those who haven’t heard the story, I’ll brief you a bit; The Lorax is a cautionary tale on what happens when greed destroys the environment.  The Lorax is the title character and of course, my ultimate favorite literary hero of all time.

The Lorax is described as “shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy…..”  

He appears on a stump and never lets up.

…..I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues….”

 The Lorax speaks and speaks but no one listens.  The story does not seem to end well as the last tree is cut down and the Lorax gets lifted away.

I would almost cry as I would reach the end and then…a ray of hope in the form of a seed on the last page. A promise for tomorrow and a chance to start again!  My hopes would surge with a jolt of electricity every time I read that part.

I read that book probably hundreds of times.  It shaped my thoughts about the environment and taught me how precious our national resources are.   I learned a great lesson from that book. I taught this same lesson to my children. This love and respect for nature and all life.

This book is a classic but it is only a book.  It is, however, based on a true story.  

 It is our story.  Humankind: our stupid greed and our folly and our plain bad luck and maybe our eventual self-destruction. 

Being a collector of quotes I stumbled upon this gem today and it is this quote that rekindled the flame that burns red-hot.

“America was once a paradise of timberland and stream but it is dying because of the greed and money lust of a thousand little kings who slashed the timber all to hell and would not be controlled and changed the climate and stole the rainfall from posterity.”

Don Marquis (1935)

For it is not my world or your world that is being threatened.  The true consequences of our actions will not truly be felt until after we are gone.  It is our children and their descendants that will inherit the mess we leave.

Some say that it is already too late to save the world. I beg to differ.  It is up to all of us to speak for the trees. To speak for Mother Earth herself and all the wonderous life and abundance that remains.   We cannot afford to be silent. Every voice added makes the cry louder and louder until one day it will be so loud that it will shake up the world.

Sometimes a great idea can start like a tiny seed.  If it’s nourished and cared for and all the conditions are right, it can sprout and take form and grow into a mighty wonderous thing….it all starts with a seed.

Have a good day!  Strawberryindigo.