Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The "New" Frugality

A hot topic in the news lately is America's new frugality. All of a sudden, people are shopping in thrift stores, eating out less often, paying attention to their thermostats, and growing their own vegetables.

Do you know what this means? It means for the first time in my life I've become a trend-setter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Conversation

"It doesn't seem fair," I said this morning as I lopped the root off a perfectly formed beet. "You put on all this beautiful growth, and then I come along and eat you."

I cut the tops off and picked through them, setting aside the younger ones. Then I reached again for the knife. "But then, if I didn't eat you, what would you do anyway?"

"I would grow new roots," the beet said. "Long ones. Lateral ones. I would explore new avenues in the soil. You have no idea what's under there. I would become larger and even more beautiful. I would reach my full potential. And then I would produce seed. Seed! You should know what that's like. I would have the pleasure of watching my seeds sprout and grow. Eventually I would turn woody and stiff, but at the end I would be surrounded by the new generation I produced."

My hand, which had paused in mid-air from surprise, came down again from force of habit.

"Do you realize you just cut me in half?" the beet asked a little disjointedly.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Matters of Death and Life

A few months ago I almost choked to death. Really, it was serious. I was alone,and I had the full realization that I was about to die. I still marvel that I was able to save myself (quite by accident).

You'd think that one would have some sort of epiphany after an experience like that. It would suddenly become clear that death can come at any time, and therefore all of us have a finite and unknown number of years (or months, or minutes) to go. In other words, Holy Moly! Life can turn on a dime, so I'd better get moving.

However, nothing like that happened for me. I think it's because I've realized since I was nine years old that life can turn on a dime. When you've known that much unexpected loss—my mom when I was a child, my daughter almost eight years ago, my husband's ten-year decline before his death three years ago, my healthiest cousin last year—you live with this knowledge all the time. It hangs over you . . . somewhat like following a path at the base of a mountain, passing sign after sign that read FALLING ROCK ZONE.

Well, that certainly sounds negative! Really, it isn't quite like that because most of the knowledge is internal. It's not something I allow to come to the surface every day. But it's always there.

So choking didn't shake me awake, but something did. I don't know what it was exactly, but recently I became aware that I've been stalled for some time. I've been going through the motions, but not making any progress in life. I don't think I've reached the point where I'm too old to progress. My dad at my age bought himself a boat, took up the bicycle, and had himself a good time. His daughter seems to have turned into a screensucker. No TV for me, but I've been spending way too much time with my chin propped on my hand, staring at my computer monitor. (Two monitors, actually. At this computer, I have 44 inches of screen to suck.)

Again, for whatever reason, I was moved to take stock of this situation. It happened just before sleep one night, and I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find and wrote down four things worthy of my time and energy.

That's why on my night table right now sits a pink While You Were Out slip that reads,

Further at least one of these goals every day:

Home Improvement
Write a Book
Edit HCL's (my dad) Photos
Have Fun

I'm workin' on it.