God Girl: Underwater and In the Pasture

When I go swimming, my favorite thing to do it to dive under the water and glide. It is quiet under there. The water feels good and I stay under until my lungs are ready to burst. I come up, grab some air and just look around for a moment and most usually I do it at least once more if not a few more times.

The immersion takes my whole self and envelopes me in the same comfort all over. The sounds from above are gone and there is only the water rushing past my ears. The water keeps me buoyant yet allows me to be in it with my whole self.

There are not too many times when a person is enveloped with the same thing all at once. I suppose for me the closest thing to that is a thought. Those thoughts that take up a person’s whole self. I carry around a bit of that underwater experience all the time. I think it is my soul.

When I get quiet like I am when I am underwater I hear God in there. He has always been with me. I do believe he has been there since I was thought of by God for me to be created. A ritual and tradition and even a belief of my life with God is baptism. Water was poured over me on Good Friday fifty-nine years ago when I was a tiny baby. I don’t remember it. I do have a picture of it, but it blesses me.

That water is God reminding me that I belong to him and anyone else that was there and those that saw the picture….me too. Of course I always belonged to him as everyone has their life and breath and being from God, but there was a sign to say it publicly. Some don’t do it at all, some wait until they are older, some do it sort of like me.

I don’t enjoy boats. I would rather be in the water. If I am in a boat, I usually have had one hand trailing in the water. It is soothing. When other thoughts that come from my own chatter in my head, you know the ones that second guess decisions, intentions, and abilities. The ones that I always seem to remember from others that sting, hurt and question my…everything. Well, those are the ones that are drowning out the voice of God.

How do I get rid of the chit chattering voices that are not from God? Either I will have to dive deep and stay under longer or I’m going to have to get really quiet. The times that seems to work best are when I am in nature, the times I get calm and pray. Sometimes that means just sitting to let the chit chattering of the voices from my self or others melt away, like in water. What does God want?

I used to talk to the cows out in the pasture and ask them if they knew Jesus. I had mini sermons for them as they stared chewing their cud and wondering with their big soft eyes who this little human was talking about how they fit into the universe. I knew they did fit into the universe because god made them. You see, I was a God Girl since before I was born.

A lot has happened to me to form the person I am today, but gratefully, despite all the chit chatter that was needful to turn ideas and truths around to sift the good from the bad, I remain that little girl in the pasture. Sorting out who God is in my life and in the lives of those around me. I let many question go unasked over time and not quiet accepting answers I did get because I thought I didn’t know better. I even passed some of those mis-formed ideas onto others, but that is growth. You do better when you know better. I hope I will be better next year than I am now.

That Good Friday 59 years ago was part of my history and it reminds me to dive more often and be free of the things that get in the way of what God is saying to me. Right now it is trying to find a new house of the Lord and quiet my heart and soul.

Water and pastures have been a staple in my life to grow me into the God Girl I am. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. We makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters. He restores my soul…. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The Life Tracks…and sometimes you get stuck

We have gone out socially now THREE TIMES THIS YEAR!!!!! To me that means…with other people our age….not just a concert where we don’t talk…or we watch a movie….(not that there is anything wrong with those as I enjoy them0, but where actual long great conversations happen. WHAT? I know!!!

Working a lot keeps us in a rut that shows the wear of the tires. Working the jobs makes it possible to pay the bills and gives some structure that make a person accountable, but working the jobs keeps many of us stuck because we are too ding dang tired to pull it together to have people over. Then something or some people throw out a lifeline or hook on the winch to pull us out of the rut we may be stuck in.

That is where the hubs and I have found ourselves so far this year. Around here the after holidays rut is often imposed by more than the tiredness, but also for the cold and dangerous weather. When we were young we went to our friends houses and they came to ours as we all had little kids at the same time. Then something happened..at least to us.

We got in this path where we just did things with the kids. Took them places, stayed with them because they were sick and lots of time they were sick. Sick, not in the life changing sick, but the colds and flu type sick. We got them involved in things and those things required practice time and driving, driving, driving. Lot of time it was taking them to their friends houses and picking up their friends to come here. It was great, but the social interaction was just peripheral on the sidelines, at the concerts or waiting in a hallway.

Then we got used to that and the driving, waiting, running came to an end as the kids moved away and here we are. Thankfully, people have invited us and we have invited them this year so we get to talk to someone other than ourselves. I think we are reinventing ourselves or finding in ourselves those people we used to know. Us. Changed, but still us.

The problem is that we don’t have the stamina that we once had in our youth to have people over because we are still working. We are delighted though that some of our friends got to retire. We sort of look at them as idols. How is it on the other side?

We discover that while we don’t want to get older too quickly, we also would like to enjoy our lives free from the work that is no longer bringing us happiness and want to retire. So many people really are dissatisfied with their jobs. They like the work, but the pressure, the paperwork, the stretching stretching stretching of one person to do the work of 3 is actually killing many.

We would like to travel, walk around outside when it is light, try new things, or even sit and stare at the grand kids. We would like to make our own decisions on how the day will go. We got to talk about that with our friends last night.

Did most of our parents wish to retire as eagerly as we do? I don’t remember many of them talking about that. Why? Was is because they didn’t complain? Did they love what they were doing that much? Did the people we know just have different jobs than we do? Did we just not listen? Did life expectancy have anything to do with it? Were they not as worried about healthcare expenses when they retired?

I know it is rather different now than when we were younger too. Our kids, for the most part, will have children still at home later than we did. Our kids traveled, hung out, went to festivals, marathons, protests, more bars than we did and lived with different friends for lots of years. We had a tiny bit of that then got married and had children. That was what people did then. Does this mean that our lives are just tipping the pyramid upside down. Our time to hang out is soon and theirs was early?

 

 

Dreams of Stupidity

My mom always said that when you have a dream and someone is in it that usually you don’t dream about it is probably a good idea to pray for them. So I do.

Last night I had a dream that I returned to one of the places I used to work. They were having some sort of upcoming show and there was chaos everywhere. There were really good dancers practicing out in the spare spaces, folks setting up chairs, and huddles of people making plans.

There was this kid that used to get on my nerves and he was laying on the floor. I had a 12 foot cloth tape measure in my hand and let it roll out. It dangled over him until it gently reached his face and then I let go of my end and it softly fell on his face. He said, “Hey! What?” I kept walking. Then I saw her.

There was one person who I haven’t seen in 34 years. I called out to her and she came over. I could not figure out why she would be there as she hates crowds, doesn’t live here and well, she was at this show practice. I asked her why and she said she was there to replace her mother who was supposed to do something for this show. Her mom couldn’t come and she herself was on Spring break and thought she could fill in.

Her mom has been gone for a while and would never have been there ever and would certainly not have been on a committee as she hated crowds. It must be genetic. The conversation stalled and I went on to be distracted by two people who were smoking. I told them they could not smoke in there. Of course they gave me trouble about it. One said the head person said it was ok and the other person said it didn’t count as it was vaping. Since this whole thing was not even my rodeo I walked off thinking how off the rails this chaos had gone. Not soon I was to see that not everything was horrible.

There was going to be a tornado scene and somehow this interesting crew made a pink tornado out of wall insulation and had spun it on a huge semi-invisible stick so it would spin like cotton candy except it was HUGE like two trucks. The light would be so wacky that this tornado’s color would be perfect. They were trying to get it to all go verticle and miss the dancers.

The clouds they were using were huge fake stones jutting out of the wall. This wall of rock turned into a dance hall where those dancers would be performing. The dancers had on clothes from the 30’s. The guys in mustard colored baggy legged pants nipped in at the top with suspenders while they had slicked back hair. The women dancers had on  floral print dresses that spun out wildly.  The print on the black background of the dresses had tiny floral bouquets on them. Their shoes had block heals and ankle straps. They were really good dancers, precise and confident. “Take the A-Train” was playing in the background yet they were dancing to “Fascinating Rhythm”.

The person that I hadn’t seen lately asked me how I could have ever worked in this chaos. She was shocked and appalled. I told her that it was just normal at the time and that perhaps she remembered the story about the frog in the hot water. I was a bit embarrassed that she had called me out on this, but at the same time I knew it was a dream, I didn’t work there anymore and know one knows why another does anything or puts up with something. Besides it wasn’t always that wild when I was there, some days is was awesome someday it was close to horrible, just like this whole dream. I walked out of that place and woke up.

 

Joy

Well, happily it seems that my enemy, the Banshee, aka Light Deprived-Hate the Cold-Depression, has moved on. I know she comes and settles in and thankfully I know from years of experience, that she will ultimately move on. When she is here I have to remember that every day, several times a day. It is hard to dig up gratitude in the midst of this and I am generally on the outside a pretty happy person, I cannot even imagine someone who is not a bit wired to look for the sun. I know people who are not wired to look for the sun and it seems painful.

There is no joy without gratitude. We have to work on being joyful because we often think that joy will be taken away, so we steel ourselves to not being vulnerable. We may not want to get too excited about a joyful experience because we think that the other shoe is sure to drop. Don’t expect too much or you will be disappointed. Don’t get too excited or it will turn soon and go south.

It is like wearing armor or wearing your sunglasses when you are trying to text…you….just…can’t…get it. Examples are when I see how good and kind my hubs is and how patient he is and then I think that he would be better off if he would have met someone less wooo wooo  or when I am with my grand babies and  the thought in my mind is that I hope nothing horrible happens for them on the way home. Those thoughts just steal my joy.

My hubs is sometimes like that and in certain things he is often right. Just the other day I was contemplating calling a family member for advice on something that we are all emotionally invested in. Since I am a hopeful person for about 9 months a year and the banshee had mostly left I thought I would call. The hubs said, “Are you sure you want to do that? Do what you want, but you know it won’t go well.” Did I listen? Ah…no. Was I disappointed? Yes, mam. The thought still remains that I decided to be vulnerable and it had a chance of going well.

If we are not hopeful and are not vulnerable we may miss out on when it is wonderful or dare I say, joyful. Yes, I have also been reading Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”. She helps. If we don’t look for the little times to be grateful and practice being grateful, not just what they call an attitude of gratitude, but a more pointed way. When I feel that shutter of terror that is just hovering there, I will just lean into the grateful and stay with it for as long as I can. This practice, that I am going to use, will bring me more joy.

George Clooney is that You?

Ever walk into a public restroom in a Mexican restaurant and see a framed photo of two, more than middle aged guys relaxing in lawn chairs with beverages? You know the kind of picture that makes you stop and stare because it is, A. Weirdly high up on the wall, at the height that your art prof in college would have said, ‘That is not eye level. That has to be moved.” B. A picture of guys up on the wall, in there? C. Maybe the owners of the establishment and they are really proud of this restroom? D. Just a picture of some guys like the pictures of models they used to put in the picture keeper of wallets or picture frames or E Me saying, “That is not eye level. That has to be moved.”

Then I really looked at it and it was a picture of George Clooney and one of the friends from his former tequila making business called Casamigos.  As most of you know I am filthy with random and worthless information. Just. Like. This. I did feel pretty good that I made this whole connection really fast.

Gdog and I went to this restaurant for lunch today that was my favorite Mexican Restaurant for more than 40 years under one owner. In the last year it had changed hands and names and I hadn’t gone there yet for a look see and taste see. I am open to change and willing to be their biggest fan. It was not to be.

The waitress could not even pronounce the name of the restaurant correctly that is part of an entree name or the name of another side item. How difficult is it really to say relleno? That is saying something as I was not a stellar Spanish student in high school, but I know my Spanish vowels sounds. COME ON!!!

I was not expecting that the terrace seating would be TAKEN OUT and that the furniture was replaced by garish super varnishy (is that a word?) items that were only eclipsed by the plastic wall decor. I was very disappointed and was not revived by the bland food. Gdog thought that the salsa had a Campbell Tomato Soup aftertaste. An all around boo.

Do not be too sad as there is always something to be happy about. They would be, the company, leaving and seeing George Clooney in the bathroom. Adios or if you were them today it would be pronounced, AYE-DIE-OOS.

I Think We Got Dissed by the Junk Man

My friend came in from out of town and we went over to a place that I have been a few times in the last year to rummage around in his huge piles of junk. When I say junk I mean serious junk and a few treasures. They are mostly buried and you have to come with an open mind. It is like American Pickers. On steroids. Outside. Now that I say that it isn’t like Hippie Tom’s which is really on some sort of hoarding frenzy. It is more of a mess than Hippie Tom’s. I think that Hippie Tom is…. well…. organized and spread over a wider acreage.

The open mind needs to shut it down a bit as it is so much junk. My mind looks at EVERYTHING and thinks about what I can do with it. That is, after I decide what it is. Oh, look! It is a headless Samuri! Oh, wow! It is that serpentine weird thing that I used to make go wadda wadda with at the farm with the same thing when I was a kid and have no idea what it was then either. Hey! It is a cooker. No, it is really a waffle maker. Did it use coals? What? See these? I think that these might be the roundest rocks ever!!

The owner is a character, really chatty and full up with vinegar. When we were winding down our purchases, he was saying how he never can tell what might interest people, like when women come and they look like they would never ever come to such a place…and you are telling us that because?  I believe he was suggesting that they seemed too well dressed and spiffed up for such a stop. I think he wasn’t talking about us. That amuses me to no end.

Magnets on Your Eyelashes

So, when did magnetic eyelashes become a thing? Today at Job 2 my friend was looking at a box and told me that what she was looking at was something she hadn’t seen before. When one of the younger set sees makeup that she has never seen before you know you are on to something unusual. I pay attention as what they find out might be useful for me one day. I am thinking that this might not be the thing that is useful.

There was a box for 17 dollars filled with eyelashes that had magnets on them. It took me a bit for my friend to get it through my thick head how that even would work, but she is always patient. We talk stuff out and she doesn’t make me feel stupid.

One part goes about the lashes and the other part goes under those same lashes magnetizing themselves in place to make you look like you have butterflies on your eyes. At first I thought that one set goes on the top of the top lashes and the other goes on the bottom of the bottom lashes. See, that would not work as it would make your eyes close and then stick together. Did you see there that I used “see”… haha. Anywho….there they are for your convenience in a box ready for you to add it to your magnetic personality.

I told one of the make-up icons of the store to check that out and then she told another make-up icon. I was thinking that now we would get a more clear picture of how these might work in the real world of glam. The second icon said that she was scared of them as they might fall in her eye. These people know things. When I have a makeup question I ask them. They know everything about makeup. The funny thing is that they don’t even need to correct anything as they are all naturally beautiful, fresh faced and young.

The first friend that had originally showed them to me and I discussed it some more. We thought that we would rub our eyes or do something where they would be off in about two seconds as we have not really experimented with fake eye lashes in the first place. What a concept though. Eyelashes that don’t have chemicals in them, just magnets. My mascara probably has lots of chems in it. Remember how they used to say that mascara was made from bat guano? Ewww. Maybe it could be the next “thing”. Maybe it could morph into something else that is useful. Just think, you might have learned about its origins here!

 

 

4 Weird Things Today

Weird Thing One I had to do Math at Job 2.  When a customer decides to try on clothes, they are only allowed a certain number of them in the fitting room at one time. There are many reasons for this and I can usually work it out for the customer so they are not annoyed if they have a few more than allowed. I have that kind of power. haha It usually goes like this. When a train leaves the station at 3 AM and goes 45 miles an hour for 20 minutes and then spends the last 3.6 miles going 12,000 miles an hour, how much do 14 pandas eat before the pterodactyls and what is your return policy?

Weird Thing Two When I was driving home today I saw an owl or a hawk…I know…I was just that tired and wondered if that was Harry Potter and did Harry even do that?

Weird Thing Three When I go to a heath care professional and they feel so comfortable with me and end up telling me about all the stuff going on with them that I am now feeling as though I should bill them.

Weird Thing Four Not that I don’t think this about every other day, but I am really pretty sure that there is a huge long line of more mentally ill people in my family than me. No, I don’t think this is funny as I certainly am familiar with mental illness forms, but if I don’t laugh about it I will certainly cry. It is good to acknowledge that publicly from time to time.

 

Whistling Past the Graveyard

When I was little I used to go to the cemeteries with my Grandma and Grandpa Knutzen and my Uncle Billy to put flowers on graves or water the flowers as the little weeds were pulled and the bird droppings were washed away. There was a pump or a spigot at the cemeteries for folks to get water to care for the flowers planted on the plots. They would pack up some rags for wiping, tools of gardening, the light blue plaid car blanket and the all important snacks with their little me.

Grandma would have a quart jar of apple juice or water and gingersnaps to  pacified me though I remember her indulging too. She and I would sit in the backseat together and Grandpa and Billy would be in the front. It seemed like we drove such a long way to these plots and now discover I can easily get there in 30 minutes. I don’t think I was ever allowed to ask, “Are we there yet?” I always thought it was strange that Grandma rode in the back always, but sometimes I would wiggle up and sit on the arm rest for a different look, but soon returned to the more comfortable and calm grandma. She looked too alone back there and besides, she was so good to me.

As we drove they pointed out the farms where they were raised and told stories about how the train would stop to pick up my grandma to take her to parochial school. We drove on the marsh road that ran along the “Rat River”. They were used to the name and chuckled when I thought it was a horrible name for a river. They soon explained that it referred to muskrats not the rats that I had imagined. I still thought that something more non-rodent like would have been a better choice, but then again we are surrounded by the Fox and the Wolf Rivers, all names that clearly define the animals that were once very plentiful in this area.

Sometimes we would stop at the farm of my grandma’s best friend Nina and her husband Ed. They were delightful. Nina was tiny, even smaller than Grandma and Ed towered over all of us, though his way was what Grandma referred to a jolly. They would welcome me and Ed would come and sit so close that he sat on the hem of my dress. I would scoot over and he would do it again until he got everyone’s attention to my reaction. They were always kind and would ask me about my mother. Grandma said they didn’t have any children of their own and how sad that was as they would have made wonderful parents. She seemed to be right as I looked forward to seeing them.

When we went visiting like that there was the initial attention and then after that is when my job was to sit still and listen to the grown-ups talk. After many such listens I came to hear the same sir names and first names over and over. That is what I made up for myself to listen for while I was to be seen and not heard. Minckler, Relien, Seager, Hackett, Morrow, Ella, Pauline, Donald and Carl.

When we got to the cemetery we would get out and the grownups would dead head the geraniums, water them and pull the weeds. They picked the lichen from the stones where they had grown while I tried not to step in front or the back of the stones as I knew that my dead relatives were under there somewhere. Sitting on other tombstones was not done, but tracing my finger on the dates and the foreign words was something I could do. Grandma would tell the story of her little brothers that died of diphtheria long before she was born. Then I noticed other families graves with stones that had baby angels on them. My young mind could not think that a child would have died. At that time I was not aware of a friend or neighbor child that had passed. Ah, youth.

This cemetery visiting is something that comes up in conversations frequently with my friend. She is a hospice nurse and stands with others on the cusp of death all the time. I cannot think of anyone better to have them be with.

Just yesterday she talked about her family’s plot and where her remains would go. I drove her passed where we were considering being planted. We talked about funeral homes and cremation, how many generations it takes until there is no one to bother with where we are, and how much land is used for placements. This talk comes naturally to us as we have gone to many cemeteries and have buried out dads and grandparents. Are we whistling in the graveyard, meaning that we have a casualness while confronting fear?

I don’t think that either one of us is fearful of what comes after life here. Maybe we are like my dad who said, “I am not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be here when it happens.” That life draining out is most likely the hard part as sometimes it is painful and we will be sad to see the worried faces of those that remain. For those of us who remain we don’t want to see our loved ones in pain. Plus we know we will miss them.  Talking about it is good. Planning for it is better. Dwelling on it is a waste of time as we have some living to do, but it is never far from our thoughts and seems to be creeping into more of our conversations. It is like a whisper of a whistle now pretty much all of the time.

Carson and Jim

When I was a girl there was a shack down the road from where I grew up. We lived in the country so there were just fields around us and this place and one other farm were the only homes that could fully be seen from our windows. My parents said that the neighbors just let them have that place on their property. This tiny house was never painted and was on a bit of space under a few oak trees. There were some small LP tanks up along the house. This little place had another smaller structure near it that I knew to be an outhouse.

I only knew about it being an outhouse as my grandma had one for when they were out gardening and I thought it was such a novelty.  Another family that we visited in the neighborhood also had one for their daily use. Since most people I knew had indoor plumbing this was always a curiosity and my parent’s generation was all too familiar with that when they were children.

There was an old car in the yard. It was big, having rounded hood, roof and fenders. It looked as tired as the men that lived in the shack. About every week or so, the two men that lived in that shack and owned that car drove the 1/8 of a mile to our house and got water. They put them in big metal cans hauled out from their backseat. The cans were silver colored and were long with lids and a handle to help boost them back into the car after filling. They swung easily out of the car either their way to the milk house or the water pump in the center of the yard. They didn’t come to the house for water.

They were just part of the neighborhood. I would sometimes ask my parents about them either when they drove in and the dogs would bark and someone would call out, “Carson and Jim are here!” or when we drove by the shack on the way to town. Sometimes I would just gaxe at the house on the way past and think about how life was like for them. I didn’t question so much then, things were as they were.

When we drove by at night I could see the light from what I could see was a small TV and then I noticed the antenna fastened on the roof. I guess they did have a bit of what we did too. I was glad of it as my girl imagination could not imagine what they did all day besides use water. I had asked my parents if they had things to read or a radio and Dad thought they most likely had a radio after awhile. I think they had mail delivery much later. I do remember that when we heard there were tornadoes, Dad would go down to let them know and I worried where they would go as there was not a basement under that shack. Mom thought they might drive over to Carson’s brother’s house if needed.

If they ever did come to the house it was when my dad was home and he called them over to get some food my mom had prepared for them. Sometimes she would have leftovers from a church function and would carefully wrap it up in some wrapping that needn’t be returned. Sometimes she would make something extra and send Dad down to give it to them.

I don’t remember Carson coming into the house. Dad would talk to them outside. I got the message they were very dirty and smelled bad. It was on the empty side of the water cans so when we saw them they were not their freshest selves. They both always had a course stubble and bad teeth. Carson was always nice and waved. Jim talked very loudly and took over the driving later. When Carson was gone, Jim lived there alone for a while and would come to the house and enter the backroom area where my Dad mentioned that he could possibly use a wash up and gingerly got him out of the house before the smell would come in farther. I remember having to leave the door open for a while to air the backroom out.

I am sure it happened more than I was aware, but my dad stopped in to check on those men as he hadn’t seen them for awhile getting water. He found Carson not being able to get up and Jim not knowing well enough what to do. Dad told us that he carried the then elderly Carson to the truck and drove him to get medical help.

They said that Carson made money as a carpenter and had a house that was what we know in the neighborhood as the woods and piece of land that is now a 4-H wayside. His wife had died and the house was no longer there. Maybe this is all incorrect, but I am just remembering what a kid knows.

Carson liked dogs and I think he even had a hound on that little property when I was a kid. He used to pet and give a scratch to our dogs, Duke, Chrissy and Topper. They would bark and howl with delight when they drove in. Once we had a batch of puppies that were being their puppy selves. Though I tried to get the puppies away from the wheels of that old car, Carson rolled over one of them and it died. I remember him wiping his eyes with his old dirty hand on his scruffy face as he grieved with us on the death of the puppy.

Today Dollie and I walked passed where the shack used to stand. I remembered all I knew about those two men. All that is left is the oaks and an empty space where the shack was, but the thought of people in our neighborhood still is there.