Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I just got back from a trip to my hometown. I'm trying to contemplate the whole thing. I may have more to say about the whole of it later. But right now, here's a list of this and that.

 An employee was offering samples of wine to shoppers in the morning in a supermarket. I've been in Utah too long.

Why does my back instantly ache just by sitting in the car? Does it have a memory of long hours of driving?

The Missouri River was amazingly high. There were lakes in people's yards in the Green Bay area. The Mississippi was high too but not as bad as the Missouri.

I saw a boy about age 10 dressed perfectly in the style of a 1960's dad. He had the glasses, madras shorts, polo shirt and the HAT that was just perfect. My friend says I'm behind the times. I think this is old fashioned. She said it's now the real cool look for kids. Must be the influence of "Mad Men." Do 10 year boys watch and like "Mad Men?"

Woman taking a photo at a rest stop in South Dakota .... a very tall & skinny guy next to a sign that says "Watch for Rattlesnakes".

In Wisconsin weather forecast speak, there were supposedly "scattered showers" which I experienced as "hurricane style deluge." I wonder if this has anything to do with state government austerity measures.

There were signs on the rest stop doors in Minnesota warning that if the state government would shut down at the end of June, the facilities would be closed and "sorry for the inconvienience."

I prefer the way TV shows get scheduled in the Mountain time zone as compared to the Central one.

In general purpose restaurants in the midwest, vegetarian pretty much = pasta with an all vegetable sauce.

Sometimes you just have to buy something that comes in a beautiful package.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Silver and Gold: Two Good Friends

I want to tell you about some friends of mine who I admire a great deal. I won't tell you the names or show pictures because I'm think there are possibilities that what my friends have told me might of might not be known by their employers.

First is my friend "Dee" who calls me her sister. If you saw us together, you would know that is impossible, but I also consider Dee to be my sister. We have moved to different parts of the country since we first met, and we don't talk that often. But when we do, time and space are of no consequence. We're still sisters and always will be.

Dee works in health care and has a very good job that pays pretty well. She loves working in our field and is so good at it. I was impressed with her skills  from the very first time I ever saw her. But she is thinking about quitting her present job because in many ways she is no longer happy doing what she is doing. She said over and over again as we talked, "I just want to be happy with what I am doing."

She has taken the initiative and enrolled in a  school near to where she lives to study something that she has wanted to do for a long time. I imagine it is expensive because this is a private school that gives advanced degrees. And probably she won't make any money as a result of her studies. But she just wants to learn about the things she is learning about which makes her happy.

Dee always has lived very simply. She shops regularly at the Salvation Army and the like. She lives in a small apartment with just the basic furnishings. She has enough money to live "better" but she chooses to give a lot of money away to something that is very important to her.  (Something that I also think is a "good cause;" she's not giving her money to some guru or anything but to a legitimate organization that does good work in the world. Her family also benefits from her largess)

Now she is probably going to give up her apartment and move into student housing at her school which will be less expensive and simpler even than her little apartment. I have a feeling that giving up her job may come next. How will she support herself? Not sure, but I know she will manage somehow.

Dee wants to use her new education to help her change careers somewhat. She says she thinks that she should change directions at this stage of her life and work directly with youth who have problems. This might be more like social work that direct health care, but that's ok, she'll be able to do it.

I admire her so much because of how she lives her life. Her life is one of the purest expression of values that I have ever seen. I admire her ability to figure out the minimum amount of money she needs for herself and then to give the rest away. I admire her to figure out what her dreams really are and then to do something actual about them. I admire her courage to follow her dreams. I admire her wonderful sense of humor. I admire her loyalty. I love her so much and feel so blessed that she is a part of my life, now and forever.

Next is my friend "Sue" whom I met only a few years ago where I live now. She was a friend or a friend of a friend at first but now she is my friend directly. She also works in health care, but I do not know her from work. She talks about her work a little from time to time, but I don't know too much about it.

Sue is married to someone who seems like her soulmate. They fit together so well and think alike on so many things. They are, like me, getting close to where they can retire, and are making plans for that.

Sue and her husband are planning on retiring someplace abroad, probably in Central or South America. Husband is aggressively learning Spanish. They want to move someplace where they will be able to be of service to their new neighbors.

They live very simply here in the US. They have a small home that is simple but very nicely furnished (thanks IKEA!). They eat vegetarian, don't drink any longer and have a spiritual practice. They are saving up money for annual travel and for when they will move finally.

I admire Sue because of the way she lives her values. She is clear about what's important to her, but never imposes them upon anyone else.  She has a terrific sense of humor and fun. She is joy to be around. She knows how to make and keep close friends. I trust that even after we both move in different directions, that she will be my friend forever.

Now that I have written this, I know I have many other people whom I need to write about. I'll keep doing this. It makes me smile a whole lot.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Deciding What to Keep

I'm now in my permanent home, a beautiful converted school room in an old school building. I only live here part of the year now. It's my intention that I will keep this place for a long time. It's only 700 square feet which is plenty. I keep things here that I intend to hang onto for a long time.

I think of this place as being a simple living space, but it is not minimal. It would make a minimalist blanche. I wouldn't say you were wrong if you said it was all cluttered.

Every time I arrive here for awhile I go at it, moving things around, cleaning out spaces, deciding about things to keep and things to give away. Today I went crazy with the books.

I have a lot of books. Hundreds. I love books. But I have been constantly acquiring and getting rid of books ever since I was a kid. If I still had all the books I have ever owned, I would need a whole library building for them.

I am buying a whole lot fewer physical books now since I got my iPad. This is a miracle for me. I can still have tons of books, but they take up no space.

I decided, however, that as long as I do have the shelf space for them, I can keep as many books as I have room for. I still have some books in Salt Lake, most of which will probably end up here, so I was keeping this in mind today. I know I will have to do this task again, probably more than once. That's ok. I got a pretty good start today.

I also selected out several other things to give away too. I have the biggest problem with gifts. I hate to get rid of gifts because they were gifts. But I decided that I just can't let myself be burdened long term with gifts. Everything I'm giving away now I have kept for a respectable amount of time. People probably don't even remember they gave me these things. So I am lightening my burden a bit. Here's my pile of stuff to giveaway ... so far. I will keep going all summer with the assessment of what to keep.

Today I had to catch up with reading my favorite blogs. One writer, a radical minimalist, wrote about how giving up art is a good way to go which made me wonder about my attachment to art. But then two others said things like

"If you look to the lives of others, you will always find yourself lacking. Look instead at what you have and be grateful. Reduce your needs and be content." Leo Babauta:

"I realize it's not about having as little as possible, at least not for me, it's more about owing the things that truly matter." Henri:

I know I am content here, in my cluttered place. It's full of things I find beautiful and useful. I'm just not a minimal kind of gal.