Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mama, unplugged

My Mom has Alzheimer's disease. This disease has received so much attention in the last few years that I don't need to elaborate. It's awful...enough said.

Mom and I have never been close and I'm not sure why. In past years, I would have rattled on about the why. But, as I age, I'm content to let the past lie quietly, a little bit of personal history that is what it is. I doubt there is further benefit from further examination.

Mom was often in emotional turmoil and that frustrated me. In my mid-30s, I saw the futility in trying to change her. I clearly saw a better way to a better relationship that involved nothing more than offering peace, compassion and love. Instead of frustration at what I perceived as her lack, I felt compassion for what I saw she was missing. It changed everything for me.

These days, Mom is sweet, agreeable and eager to please. She tries her best (and does an amazing job) to say the right thing. I realize that what I am seeing is Mom...unplugged. Unplugged from the striving, the distress, the uncertainty that this crappy world can elicit in each of us. Just like the musical artists that perform with acoustic guitars in an intimate setting, this is the best of Mom.

Simple circle

Yesterday, I cooked one of the spaghetti squash Paul raised this summer. While scraping out the seeds and strings, I heard his voice in my head, reminding me to save the seeds. Of course!

I almost followed a life-long habit of discarding such things. Realizing my near mistake took my thoughts to the simple rewards of growing your own food. We are far removed in this country from the days when saving seed was critical to next year's harvest and sustenance. If we want a vegetable, we go to the store. The process is repeated over and over, multiplied by the millions in the developed world.

Now, I clearly see the value of raising your own food, saving the seed for next year's planting and for sharing with others. Paul is planning a class this spring to share with neighbors what he has learned about gardening in our challenging climate. A seed exchange will be included in the class. It's a wonderful idea and I wish him much success. If no one else is touched by his love of gardening, it's enough that I have been transformed.

Harvest (and share)
Eat (and share)

Each seed planted is a drop of water. As the drops grow into a puddle, each new drop forms concentric circles that reach further and further, as more and more people reap the benefits of those planted seeds. What a beautiful, simple circle.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What we owe, part 2

Speaking of what we owe, I found this chart, which shows our U.S. household debt.

The small text below the graph reads as follows:

Aggregate consumer debt continued to decline in the second quarter, continuing its trend of the previous six quarters. As of June 30, 2010, total consumer indebtedness was $11.7 trillion, a reduction of $812 billion (6.5%) from its peak level at the close of 2008Q3, and $178 billion (1.5%) below its March 31, 2010 level. Household mortgage indebtedness has declined 6.4%, and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) have fallen 4.4% since their respective peaks in 2008Q3 and 2009Q1. Excluding mortgage and HELOC balances, consumer indebtedness fell 1.5% in the quarter and, after having fallen for six consecutive quarters, stands at $2.31 trillion, 8.4% below its 2008Q4 peak.

I like the Debt Clock, which pulls it all together, though there is a discrepancy between the figure above and the clock figure for total personal debt. Regardless, it does give the big picture.

What we owe

I've heard concern about the national debt and decisions by the present governing party that are causing an alarming increase. I wonder - how does today's rate of increase compare to the past several decades? I wonder - is some of today's attitude the inevitable generational fear that things are getting worse when, in fact, they are "business as usual" if one compares historical data. Then, cynically, I wonder - is the current level of concern a reaction to opposing party rhetoric? I struggle to sort through the hubbub and find unbiased data on this or any other important subject.

I searched the web for a time line of the national debt. (Disclaimer: You can't believe everything you find on the web so there are no guarantees to accuracy or impartiality.) I found several graphs that present the data in different ways.

I'm not saying I feel better or worse after seeing the information but I welcome comments. What's your view on the subject?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Simple Prosperity

These days, Paul and I are reading the book by the same title as this post. He thoughtfully purchased it for me at a summer Master Gardener conference he attended solo. How did he know I would enjoy it so? (Must be love!) You can read more about the author here

It was hard to get excited about the first few chapters since we are intimately familiar with the sustainable lifestyle principles laid out. Now, we've reached his discussion of sustainable neighborhoods and find it both interesting and exciting.

I'm enchanted by his description of vibrant neighborhoods close to shops with a short work commute by public transportation, foot or bike, and abundant, nearby free-time options. We know the day will come when life in the county might not be the best option for us and we will consider such a neighborhood environment then.

When I lived in the Dallas area, I admired the stylish homes that permeate the landscape. Now, my dream home would have thick, adobe or straw-bale walls for insulation, plenty of natural lighting and simple furnishings.

I like to think that I may be changing into someone who better understands what is important as it relates to how I spend my money and time. I have a long way to go (gotta stop buying stuff just cause it's a bargain!) but I'm on a joyful journey and it's easy to be patient with myself.

A start

I'm gonna try my hand at this!

I have a Facebook account, on which I sometimes post . I have an ITouch that is like a best friend, always standing by to play with me. Why not a blog?

It will be an exercise in putting thoughts to words in a coherent fashion and will very likely be something to look back on and either blush or chuckle. Here goes something!