Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The other day I was having a casual conversation with a neighbor, a guy who's worked on the county roads for close to forty years. He confirmed something I'd noticed awhile back: there a a lot fewer raccoons dead on the roads than there used to be. He insisted that it isn't that they pick them up more quickly - and with the current budget cuts, it's more likely to be less often - but that fewer are being struck and killed. There are just as many raccoons around as there were, probably more, too, but they seem to be better at crossing the roads.
This makes sense - the ones that couldn't figure out not to be killed didn't reproduce, so overall the raccoon population starts to select for ones that can either perceive the danger better, know how to deal with it, or in some mysterious raccoon way, avoid the problem altogether. Given the number of raccoons around, forty years is a reasonable amount of time for this sort of process to begin to be noticeable. (Pretend it's a raccoon - it's the right idea.)
That was the introduction. Here's the question part:
We've all noticed and laughed about how cats hear the sound of the electric can opener and run for the kitchen. This happens at my house, too. The only thing is, I rarely feed canned cat food and when I do, it's from a pull-top can. They don't run when they hear the sound of a pull-top can - only when the scent becomes airborne.
I don't use a lot of canned food in general - it's only the occasional non-cat-enticing thing like tomatoes. My tuna comes in packets. There are no fish or meat products from cans. It isn't that the sound of the can opener heralds good smells from the kitchen, either, since first, my cats don't eat on the same schedule as the humans and second, most of my food is vegetarian or vegan - nothing there to appeal to obligate carnivores. And they can't have learned the siren song of the can opener from their mothers, because their mothers are barn cats, largely feral.
So how do the little beggars know about can openers? How. Do. They. Know.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
In my previous journal entry, I wasn't referring to any humans, specific or general. I was just griping generally about radio stations that start the Christmas songs before Halloween (Oct. 10th, here, was the first one), and the stores that start pushing their wares - generally unnecessary and frequently unwanted - on us earlier and earlier each year, often with a subtext of guilt and one-upsmanship.
Anyone who thought I was referring to people I knew personally, am related to, or even to people in general, I sincerely apologize to you. I guess I was unclear. I'm not someone who takes pot shots at people (well, I might, but if I do there'll be no question about it) or is generally negative about humanity as a whole. If I come across as a negative person, I'd better learn to do some serious editing.
As a Philadelphia native, there's a certain amount of snark in my genetic make-up - hell, Veteran's Stadium (no longer in existence) was the most dreaded stadium in the NFL, for both the field conditions and the, um, well-known sentiments of the crowd. It, and the new replacement stadium both feature on-site jails, which ought to tell you something. We tend to live and write in a sort of iron-fist-velvet-glove way, and that's when we're being polite. When the gloves come off, it's Katy bar the door.
Anyone who thought I was referring to you, I wasn't. Everyone who read that piece as being about a negative person surrounded by greedy, grasping relatives and friends, I'm not. I apologize for any hurt feelings or misunderstandings, and I promise to be nicer in the future. Nice...it's a tall order, but I'll try. I ought to work on my communication skills, too. It's hard to see how someone can read something entirely different in your words when in your own mind, you were perfectly clear.
Nice person. Unequivocal writing. No promises, but I will give it my best shot.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
No, it's not the basic concept of gratitude - in fact, I try very hard to maintain an awareness of my many, many blessings often during my day. I believe that:
"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."
- Meister Eckhart
And I love the food. Over many years, some dieting and some merely health-conscious, I've changed many recipes and weeded out the unchangeable. We have turkey, of course sweet potato fries (baked with seasonings only) instead of mashed white with gravy (and my gravy is so dreadful that it isn't missed), sautéed swiss chard or brussels sprouts instead of a creamed vegetable, lightened up sausage stuffing and cranberries w/ cherries for a side. Often, I also make the wild rice stuffing with the dried fruit in it- from the Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving book -also, as an alternative for the non-meat eaters.
I bake the pumpkin as a custard rather than as a pie, although the mince pie is still in a crust and both get a dollop of real whipped cream (the kind you get from whipping heavy cream, not the stuff in the can.) A good gewurtztraminer with dinner and black coffee after to help settle the desserts (yes, a small helping of each.) For grown-ups who want to sit and talk, there is always a bowl of mixed nuts in the shells, with nut crackers and picks, to nibble on. Prying a nut out of its shell and clearing away the extra bits is so labor intensive that very little diet damage is done.
It was always a rule (much to my late husband's dismay) that football could be recorded or watched before and after, but we never, ever had the tv on during dinner. And we always dressed for dinner, even if it was only family.
No, all that stuff is great, as is the getting together with family and maybe friends. We go around the table and say the things we're grateful for - and most of it is the love of relatives and companions.
What bugs me, more and more each year, is this: for at least the week coming up to Thanksgiving and frequently longer, we're told to recognize out blessings and be grateful for all that we have been given. Our loved ones are our most important treasures. We have so much, and we can demonstrate our thankfulness and gratitude by helping distribute turkeys or dinners to the less fortunate in our communities. Be aware of all that you have! Be grateful! Be kind - that's the greatest gift of all!
Before the last dish is even washed, the tone changes: Yeah, yeah, sure - gratitude is fine but you need MORE! You need to show your family and friends how much you love them by GIVING THEM STUFF! That tv you watched the game on is too small! And where's the built in DRV/split screen/whatever-the-hell-else-is-built-in-
And that great dinner must have been a fluke, because the cook obviously needs ALL THESE KITCHEN THINGS! And those well-dressed children need $150 shoes! And the gaming set they've been playing on after dinner is woefully inadequate - look at this NEW ONE! (Non-backwards compatible, naturally.)
You remember those so-pitiful holiday lights you put up last year? BUY NEW ONES! LOTS OF NEW ONES! And don't forget the rotating deer! The heck with all that Thanksgiving goodwill - outdo your neighbors in the decorating wars! Even better if YOUR display has sound and motion!
After days of being reminded of all that we have and that lovingkindness is the greatest gift, the Great Reversal comes and suddenly we have virtually nothing adequate, nor can we demonstrate good will with anything less than a massive expenditure. The message turns on the proverbial dime.
Now the only way to demonstrate fondness is a shower of unnecessary gifts that you can't afford and that the recipient probably has no use for. The things we really could use, like a new chain saw or weatherstripping for the deck door, make "poor gifts" ("You're giving *that* for Christmas?" *snort*), not to mention what we *really* need: someone's time and effort to do some large, unpleasant task like installing the new water heater or to drive us to and from our colonoscopy. No, we'll wind up hiring strangers to do those things, because our friends gave us electronics we can't understand let alone use or beautiful crystal vases...that we can put in the cabinet next to our other beautiful crystal vases.
And now Black Friday is starting on Thursday. That's Thanksgiving, when we're still thinking of all we have etc., etc., instead of, OOPS!, all we don't have. No more companionably sitting over the bowl of nuts - now we have to rush away from the table to SHOP! SHOP! THE SALES ARE STARTING! THE CROWDS!
Instead of ease and contentment, I'm feeling pressure, manipulation and a sense of emotional whiplash. And that's something for which I am not grateful, all you little - actually not little, more like multinational - greedy merchants, you. Bah. Humbug, Leave me alone for a couple days - once the turkey has been reduced to leftover turkey soup, then we can talk about Christmas.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
is absolutely worth the time it takes you to read it.
I can vouch for a few of the point personally.
When I was a professional gardener/landscaper, I was outside for 6-8 hours every day and worked darned hard physically, and it was the happiest I've ever been in my life. I'm sure it was the combination of outside and taxing physical work.
Sophie Tucker said, "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better." I found, also having been in both situations, that it doesn't make a bit of difference. Rich, up to a point, may be *easier*, but it's not better and doesn't contribute to overall happiness.
Meditation helps. A lot.
And one final note about their suggestion that you plan a trip but don't take it: many years ago I discovered that the fun of buying things from a catalog (or online) was more the fun of choosing than having the actual purchases. I'd go through the Victoria's Secret catalog (I told you it was a lot of years ago ) and choose everything I wanted and make up the order, then throw it out. Now I go through my favorite online sites and make thousand dollar shopping carts, then close the window before the order page. It sounds silly, but it's really fun.
And fun contributes a lot to happiness.
Speaking of fun, take a look at these. Amazing stuff:
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
...the more they stay the same.
Or so it seems, anyway.
I was reading over some of my blog posts from here and from mumsananarchist.livejournal.com, and I see that I just keep retreading the same set of tires. It's been years, and I'm still too fat, my house is still a vast network of storage areas for myself and my relatives (many of whom are no longer on this side of The Veil), I still don't have enough money and a few other things. While I have a much greater understanding of these issues, I haven't made a whole heck of a lot of progress on them.
Or rather I do make progress, then I do some major backsliding. Not sure if this is some disguised fear or just that as soon as I see progress, I let off the gas. I suspect the latter. I'm always a little suspicious of pop-psych explanations like Fear of Failure and Fear of Success - for me, I think it's just that I see progress and think, "Yay! Got this one. Next?" and then stop paying attention.
I was trying to figure out what I was doing differently now, from when I was actively losing weight. So let's look, shall we?
- made a bit of money, so I could afford to buy "extras" like butter and mayo.
- writing was going well, and the agricultural year is over, so I stopped working outside and began working while sitting down
- since I'm not working outside, I can wear comfortable stretchy stuff, instead of unforgiving jeans
- without a "regular" job to go to, I can sleep (and get up) whenever I want - so half the time I get an hour or two, and the other half, like 16 hours.
- and since I'm working from home, no one sees if my socks don't match or I haven't brushed my hair - my self-care is *cough* a little slipshod.
- I don't notice the mess my house is in when I'm in it all the time - not nearly as much as when I walk in the door after a long day and there's no place to flop down.
I can roll this whole blog into one big ball of Fail. But I can fix it, too. It's always tempting to do the analysis and then just let it go (hey, I understand that! It'll take care of itself now! ) but I think I can do better - I can fix these things.
I can get up at a regular hour, spend a certain amount of time each day cleaning up around the homestead, another certain amount exercising. I can lay off the butter and mayo. I suppose I can wear restrictive clothing, but I'd rather just pay attention to what I eat and how much I move. Maybe I can keep the comfy clothes (I do so love comfy clothing.)
And now that it's written out, it doesn't feel as huge as it did in my head. Maybe there's something to this blogging business.
Wishing all my Spark Buddies the very best.
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