Mid-Month Marvels: Lions Recycle for Sight

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’m calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

Check out my new glasses! Woo hoo!

The fact that I can always get new glasses when I need them is basically because I was born in this country and happen to have a job that actually has vision insurance. In other words, dumb luck on my part. Not everyone is that lucky.

According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 120 million people are visually impaired because of uncorrected far and near sightedness. I know that I am practically rendered helpless without my glasses. I can’t imagine going through life like that. It’s a particular problem for children who are going to school and can’t even see what the teacher is writing on the board. How do you learn to read if you can’t see the words?

All my life I have been donating my old pairs of glasses to the Lions Club Recycle for Sight Program, because when the Lions Club saw this need, they wanted to fill it, and so do I. But the other day it occurred to me that I’ve never known what happens next with the glasses I donate. So I decided to find out.

According to the Lions Club, most eyeglass places will accept old glasses, including sunglasses and reading glasses, for the Lions Club. You can also contact the Lions to ask for a donation drop box that you can put at your place of business or your community gathering place. The Lions will pick these glasses up on a regular basis.

Once they have them, they ship them to the nearest Lions Eyeglass Recycling center. Volunteers there will sort the broken ones from the intact ones, clean them, and determine the prescription strengths. The broken ones are recycled for scrap, and the money they get from that goes to support local Lions Club Projects. This also helps keep things out of the landfills, and reduces the amount of stuff you have lying around and taking up space, which is nothing but a good thing.  None of the funds from Lions club donations go for administrative expenses. All are for charity.

The usable glasses are packaged and stored for when they have eyeglass dispensing missions around the world, where vision screenings are performed and the glasses are provided free of charge.

I encourage you to contact the Lions Club to obtain a collection box if you have the space, or donate your old specs at the nearest collection box, and if you can, please support the club financially so they can continue their efforts to bring sight to the wider world.

Personally, I love the idea of some kid discovering the pure joy of reading while wearing my glasses. So, thanks for your support!

Isn’t it great to be able to see? And have your read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

On Losing Friends

There are very few things on earth that make you feel more lonely than having to say goodbye to a beloved friend. I’ve had to do that twice in the midst of this already isolating pandemic, and not a day goes by when I don’t have tears in my eyes at some point because of it.

What? Oh, no, they didn’t die. That would be infinitely more tragic. But they both broke my heart, making me feel like I was dying. Either way, it’s a mourning process, and one I barely have the strength for.

There just comes a point when you have to stop tolerating bad behavior from the people you love. You have a right to set boundaries. You have a right to put your foot down. You have a right to say, “No, you don’t get to do this.”

You should always be your own best friend. You need to put a stop to things that hurt your heart, even when they come from people with whom you have had decades of happy memories as well as a mountain of emotional investment. If you’ve tried to communicate and/or work things out and gotten no results, you have to say, “This far and no further.”

So for future reference, here are a few boundaries that I have set:

  • You don’t get to insult people you don’t even know on my Facebook page. Respect me, respect my friends. You don’t have to agree with them, but you don’t get to attack them.
  • If you espouse hate speech or try to encourage violent behavior, I don’t want you in my universe.
  • If you’re going to stand me up, blow me off, or take advantage of me, you better have a stellar excuse. And if you never return my calls and then accuse me of not being a good enough friend, you’ve made my choice for me.
  • If you make promises and then don’t keep them, I will lose trust in you. It’s hard to maintain a friendship under those circumstances.
  • You don’t get to exaggerate other dear friend’s behavior to the point of damaging their reputation, simply so you can win an argument. If you tell me that a friend I have known for decades, who has a reputation of never saying an unkind word to anyone, has suddenly verbally attacked you without any discernible motivation and with no proof whatsoever provided by you, I have to call foul. Not only are you insulting my friend, but you’re insulting my judgment.
  • You don’t have to like all the things I like, but if something is extremely important to me, the least you can do is be supportive of that thing. My blog, for example, is me on a page. When you continually reject my invites to my Facebook group, that’s painful enough. But when I offer to send you a link to one of my blog posts and you say, essentially, “Please don’t,” that’s like a rejection of me. How hard would it be to just say thanks and fake it?
  • If you know you’ve been hurtful, set aside your pride and apologize. If you choose your pride over our friendship, then the friendship must never have had much value to you in the first place.

For what it’s worth, I tried to salvage the wreckage of one of these friendships. I tried really hard. He just bent the truth more and more to prop up his stance, until finally I was the one who felt broken.

And in the other situation, it suddenly occurred to me that this person has made me feel bad more than once, and never has apologized, not once, in all the decades I’ve known him. I’m tired of begging to be treated decently. I shouldn’t have to ask for an apology. It should be a natural process once you know you’ve hurt someone. I realized that if I just swallowed my pain yet again and accepted my second class status in his world one more time, it would rot away my soul. This person could still apologize, and we could move on, but I’m pretty sure he never will. I suspect he is sorry, but I don’t think I’ve ever meant enough to him to merit an apology. And that crushes me.

That all of this is happening during a pandemic is bad enough, but then add on top of it the fact that I moved to the Pacific Northwest 6 years ago, and, with one or two wonderful exceptions, I’m struggling to make friends out here like I made the other 5 decades of my life.

It’s hard to make new friends after a certain age. Older adults have well established lives and obligations, so the opportunity to bond is just not there as much. That, and people are a lot more standoffish out here than I’m used to. I’m pretty sure I’ll never quite fit in. I can’t remember the last time someone took the initiative to do anything with me. Out here, I do all the asking, with very mixed sucess.

Oh, and I just remembered that one woman out here accused me of killing my cat and making a joke out of it, and called me a sick, sick person. When I pointed out that I haven’t owned a cat in nearly 40 years, and that I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about, she stopped talking to me. Who could even think that I could do something like that? So yeah, another boundary I’ve set is that I can only take so much crazy.

What I’m finding is that as my self-confidence and self-awareness grows, I’m less willing to put up with bad behavior. But the humiliating truth is that, my whole adult life, no one has ever called me their best friend. What does that say? I don’t know. But it hurts like hell, and it makes it hard for me to remember that quality is more important than quantity.

So, if you see me enforcing boundaries, or speaking my truth (not yours) don’t assume I’m being insecure. Instead, congratulate me for my own agency. Cheer me on for standing my ground. Think of me as strong, not defensive or paranoid. View me as healing, not broken. Is that too much to ask?

It’s just… I’m just really sad and lonely today. I’m struggling. (For what it’s worth, I wrote this more than a week ago, so I’m probably doing much better now.)

I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Thank GOD I have a wonderful husband and awesome dogs. It’s amazing how couch snuggles can make you feel that everything is right with the world.

Bleh. Thanks for listening. I need a hug.

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! I promise it isn’t as depressing as this post was! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Body Talk

Your body is speaking to you all the time.

Feeling tightness in the neck and shoulders? “Girl, you’re stressed out.”

Grinding your teeth in your sleep? “Um… I told you you were stressed out. When are you going to do something about it?”

Stomach issues? “Stop eating that crap. I don’t like it.”

Hungover? “Less is more, idiot.”

I’d call this “body language”, but the phrase has already been taken. Nevertheless, there’s communication going on, whether you choose to listen or not. But ignore it at your own peril.

I’ve known a lot of people (usually guys but not always), who like to ignore their bodies. They’ll power through. They won’t go to the doctor. They’ll ignore pain for as long as they can, until the damage is irreversible. “Oh, I have a tumor the size of a basketball? No wonder I’ve been feeling funny. I guess I have a week to live now. Pity.”

Nine times out of ten, it’s guys who sport those melon-sized cysts on the Dr. Pimple Popper videos. What woman would willingly walk around with a second head growing out of her neck unless she was forced to due to lack of health insurance? I mean, come on, guys. Why would you let anything get so out of control?

But to be fair, for the life of me, I never can understand those women who don’t know they are pregnant until the baby pops out. Talk about denial. I mean… how… Oh, I could go off on a tangent here, but you can already imagine.

Not only should you listen to what your body is trying to tell you, but you should also take the time to initiate the conversation. Meditate. Sit alone and be still and open to hearing what is being said. Because let’s face it, without our bodies, we’re done. And it’s not like you can trade it in for a new model.

I’m guessing there were a whole bunch of red flags flying for this one.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Moray and Maras

I have always wanted to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. But I’m hesitant because it would kind of suck to be kidnapped by Sendero Luminoso and forced to live in a jungle for months on end while they attempt to get a ransom that wouldn’t be forthcoming. This is one of the few sacrifices I’m just not willing to make for travel.

Having said that, though, if I did get to go, it would be a dream come true. Of course I’d love to go to Machu Picchu. Those ruins perched up so high that it’s hard to breathe have always captured my imagination. But I would also like to visit some of the lesser known sites that also highlight the Inca’s supreme intelligence and innovation. Case in point: the Moray Inca Ruins and the Maras Salt Ponds.

The Moray Inca Ruins are terraced fields high in the mountains that show that the Incas took agriculture very seriously, to the point of conducting scientific experiments. The terraces go so deep that the temperature from top to bottom can be as much as 59 degrees different. And they’re in a circular bowl, so the terraces get differing amounts of sun depending upon if they’re facing North, South, East, or West.

What this means is that the Incas could simulate just about any climate to be found in Peru, and they could move crops from one “climate” to another to see which plants preferred various conditions. I think that’s absolutely brilliant. I’d love to spend an hour or two there, just marinating in the Nerddom of it all. Check out this blog post by the Exploration Junkie for more details, including a stunning panoramic virtual tour.

From there, I’d go to check out the Maras Salt Ponds. This is yet another example of the Inca’s amazing ability to exploit all the natural resources that they encountered. It seems that even the people who once lived here before the Incas came along knew about the amazing spring that flows here. The truly amazing thing about this spring is that even though it’s 3380 meters above sea level, what comes out of it is salt water. Imagine.

When the Incas came along, they decided to really exploit this resource by making terraced ponds. Each pond flows into the next, and when they evaporate, they leave behind salt, which is vital for life. Rows upon rows of these ponds are still maintained and harvested by the locals to this day. And it’s a gorgeous sight to see. Exploration Junkie has not only a panoramic virtual tour, but also a short video of this stunning place.

Perhaps someday I’ll be able to visit and share with you some photos of my very own. Until then, I’ll content myself with traveling vicariously.

The best way to travel vicariously is through books. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Mason Bee Rentals

A friend of mine crowed on Facebook that she just received her mason bees in the mail. Naturally, I had to learn more. It turns out that you can rent them from rentmasonbees.com. They come to you in early spring with a bee house, a nesting block, 50-60 mason bee cocoons and a box with return postage for when you send them back in the fall. What a nifty idea!

Why mason bees? They pollinate your garden for you. They aren’t aggressive. (You really have to mess with a mason bee a lot to get stung because they’re naturally gentle creatures.) They’re super low maintenance, since you’re not dealing with honey. Just hang the box and let them do their thing. They’re also a great learning experience, and a great way to help the planet.

Why rent them? Well, each mason bee does the work of 100 honeybees. And at the end of the season, 50 mason bees can produce 500 eggs. When you send them back free of charge, the company will clean each cocoon and sterilize each nesting block to free them of predators and then safely keep them in hibernation under just the right conditions. The next season, they send these healthy bees to farmers, who need 1000 bees per acre to pollinate their crops, which, in turn, feed all of us.

What’s not to love about this program? If you’re interested, you better hurry, though, because they ship the last mason bees of the season on April 26th. So get your bee on!

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude! Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Seattle’s Weird Cold War Relic

58 years ago, the City of Seattle completed a project that is unique to this city, as so many things tend to be. It was a nuclear fallout shelter beneath Interstate 5 in the Ravenna neighborhood. It was pretty much obsolete from the minute it was finished, as people had by then realized that surviving a large scale nuclear attack was highly unlikely. Rather than let it sit empty and admit what a massive waste of money the shelter was, it became a Department of Licensing office from 1963-1977.

The room was 3000 square feet, and designed to hold 200 people. The bathrooms and decontamination showers had such narrow doors that only the most svelte of citizens could enter, and for such a large crowd there were only 3 toilets. The showers for that same crowd were serviced by one 40 gallon hot water tank. No kitchen was provided, and the instructions for the shelter suggested that people should warm canned food (which they were expected to provide themselves), in their armpits.

There were books, games and recreational equipment provided by the Red Cross. The space was also equipped with folding metal chairs, collapsible bunks and insulated paper blankets. In addition, there were escape hatches, an escape tunnel, a generator, and an air filtration system.

In case of emergency, the first 200 people to arrive would be allowed in. Everyone else would be locked out. (What could possibly go wrong?) There were additional plans, which would have been impossible to execute, to evacuate the rest of the residents of Seattle east of the Cascade Mountains.

After 1977, this place became a storage facility for WSDOT records and used furniture. Eventually it was all but abandoned except for the occasional homeless person. But even the homeless didn’t favor it, because the room is freezing cold most of the time. (Every Department of Licensing employee had to huddle around a space heater, which meant the electricity bills when it was an office were obscene.)

Check out this interesting article to see some oddly fascinating photos of this cold, lifeless, uncomfortable looking space, and reflect upon the fact that at one time in our history we were so completely terrified of utter annihilation that this silly plan seemed like a viable option.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Questions for a Conspiracy Theorist

The other day I was chatting with an acquaintance of mine. He’s very gregarious and therefore quick to start up conversations. He’s a pleasant man, the kind of person that makes you grin, but in truth we don’t have that much in common. Mostly we stick to safe topics, such as the weather.

But on this day, it turned out that the weather wasn’t as safe a topic as one would hope. He said, “Well, you know that all those tornadoes that are being kicked up out East are because they’re seeding the clouds over California to make it rain, don’t you?”

True confession: I’m not particularly quick on the uptake. I kind of blinked at him for a few seconds. I mean, what does one say when hit with such a loony concept? It’s probably best that I am a little slow in these instances, because the first thing out of my mouth would otherwise be, “You don’t really believe that, do you?”

I could easily disabuse him of this belief if he were willing to listen, which I’m sure he wouldn’t be, and if I had the energy, which I’m sure I don’t possess. I could just pepper him with the following statements and questions until he was left realizing he didn’t have a retort.

  • What are they seeding the clouds with? Because it sure isn’t working. California is dry as a freakin’ bone.
  • California consists of 163,696 square miles. How much of that stuff do they use, where do they store it, who supplies it, and how have we overlooked the hundreds of planes flying back and forth in a grid pattern to distribute the stuff?
  • If you are referring to “chemtrails”, see, also, my blog post entitled, “Debunking Chemtrails.” And besides, contrails are in sloppy, messy patterns over well-established flight paths, so these wouldn’t equally distribute this substance, whatever it’s supposed to be, and it would interfere with commercial flights, so private passengers would get awfully cranky.
  • The whole problem with having a drought is that there are very few clouds to be had, so where are the clouds coming from that they are seeding?
  • And who is “they”?
  • How do the chemicals in the West wake up the tornadoes in the East? Do they use Twitter?
  • And how are the hundreds of people it would take to pull off this little caper, the pilots, the materials producers, the distributors, the logistics personnel, the air traffic control people, the accountants, the support staff, and so on and so forth, able to keep it a secret when three people can’t keep most secrets?
  • Where are the Smart Phone pictures?
  • And if this project is causing so many weather disasters and not producing rain for California, why don’t they just stop?
  • And why is it a secret?
  • Isn’t it much more likely that it’s all of us doing our own horrible part with our disastrous carbon footprints trampling the planet (especially the major industries who are the very ones paying a great deal of money to prop up your conspiracy theory), who are the cause of the weather problems? Hmmm?
  • And even if global climate change caused by man didn’t exist, despite the fact that 95 percent of the world’s scientists say it does, why would you resist the urge to take care of the only planet we have, just in case?

But you know, while I was blinking at this guy, I suddenly felt tired. Nope. Nope. I couldn’t. I just didn’t have the energy. Because some people, as nice as they may be, just have no grounding in science, education, and critical thinking to grasp reality.

So instead, I just stammered and said, “Erm… well… California could certainly use the rain…”

And we both went on our merry ways, his way comprised of utter fantasy, and mine, at that moment, full of frustration and disappointment and shock.

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

What Will the New Normal Look Like?

I’ve heard much chatter of late as to what the world will be like once we’ve finally developed herd immunity from COVID-19. Some people seem to think everything will revert back to the way it was when we were all more naïve about viruses, their transmission, and their impact. I don’t see that as a possibility. First of all, sorry to say, but COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. And other pandemics are sure to follow sooner or later.

So this gives me the opportunity to make some predictions about our new normal. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post someday and either laugh at my foolishness or think, “Dang, you’re good!” (That’s one of the drawbacks of blogging. There’s nowhere to hide from your past idiocy. But sometimes you also get to say “I told you so!”)

The reason I’m fairly certain that we will not return to days of yore is that when my boss suggested that we’ll all probably be vaccinated by the end of the month and should therefore be able to revert back to our old shift-change-in-a-teeny-tiny-little-room habit, I had a visceral reaction. Panic, if I’m honest.

First of all, due to HIPAA, we’ll never know for sure if everyone has been vaccinated. Second, as of this writing, the scientists are not yet certain that vaccinated people cannot still be carriers of COVID, and even they say that these vaccines are not 100% effective. The news changes daily, but until I have more reassurance than that, I don’t feel like marinating in my coworkers aerosol, thankyouverymuch.

The smallest lesson from this is that a lot of us are going to find it hard to unmask. I’m struggling with the concept, and I HATE wearing a mask. I’m tired of my glasses fogging, and I feel claustrophobic. But I do it because I know that it has been the safest, most responsible thing to do. It will be difficult for me to gauge when that safety and responsibility is no longer needed.

We’ve all been changed in various negative and positive ways by this past year. We’ve slowed down. We’ve isolated ourselves a lot more. Many of us have worked from home. We’ve all learned that it is possible to do these things. Some of us have liked it, and some of us have not. I suspect that a certain percentage of those who don’t like it will find that they like it a lot more when it becomes voluntary, and they’ll adopt a sort of hybrid lifestyle.

I suspect a lot of people who have been telecommuting will resist going back to the office 5 days a week. That, and businesses will have learned that there’s a lot less overhead to pay when you don’t have to maintain as much office space. And, surprise! The work still seems to be getting done.

On the real estate front, many people who have been allowed to telecommute have sold their houses in the big cities and have moved… well, anywhere they’ve wanted to move. A lot of people have gone rural. It’s going to be really hard to persuade them to come back. (It’s sort of the opposite of, “How will you keep them down on the farm, now that they’ve seen ‘Paree’?”)

And now that I’m more aware of virus vectors, I don’t see myself ever being as comfortable going to large concert venues again. Don’t get me wrong. I miss live performances. I just don’t miss sharing my airspace with a thousand strangers.

I’ll never get used to being crammed into a crowded elevator or subway again. When people cough, I’ll feel a flashing red alert inside my head. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy long air flights again. (But then, they’ve been going down hill since the 80’s, anyway.)

Now, when I forget my mask, I don’t get very far. I feel naked and exposed and vulnerable. I’m horrified. I turn right back around and I get it. I think it will take more than a minute for me to get past that feeling.

I suspect that this virus has changed us in ways that we have yet to see. Personally, I’ve enjoyed not having a single solitary cold all year long. I wouldn’t mind continuing to wear a mask in more crowded places if I could stay on that path.

I suspect, at a bare minimum, a certain percentage of us will continue to wear masks, at least some of the time. I also suspect that those of us who do are going to get bullied for it by various factions. But we are living in a different world now, and that’s just a hard fact.

These are my predictions. What do you think? In any event, time will tell.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Do Animals Have a Sense of Humor?

The other day I was lying in bed, giggling helplessly at the memory of something funny my husband had said hours earlier. It still makes me laugh. Giggling is the best feeling in the world. I looked at my dachshund, who was eyeing me curiously, and I thought about the fact that he doesn’t get to laugh. He’s really missing out.

Do dogs have a sense of humor? I’ve had a few that definitely showed subtle signs of it. One liked to run his cold wet nose down my spine at moments when I’d least expect it, causing me to screech. Another hopped up on the bed while I was taking a nap and sat on my face. And refused to move. That’s a heck of a way to wake up. I could picture both of those dogs laughing inwardly.

Primates can laugh in their own way. And now that we all have video capabilities on our phones, we are capturing more and more evidence that animals like to play. Even the grown ups. There’s a crow here on my drawbridge that enjoys riding the bridge up and down, and spinning on the weather vane. If animals can play, they have a sense of fun. If they have a sense of fun, a sense of humor must not be that far away.

I cannot imagine going through life without being able to laugh. I’d feel like something really significant was missing. It’s a quality of life thing.

We all have that one friend…

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Hoarding Inner Peace

Recently, I had the experience of entering a house that was so crowded with stuff that not a single flat surface was free. It was really hard to move in there. I don’t know if these people are hoarders, necessarily, or a family with small children living in a space much too small for them, but nevertheless, it was my worst nightmare. I didn’t get a feeling of home sweet home in that place as much as I felt overwhelmed and stressed out.

Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but my brain seems to interpret clutter as the physical equivalent of noise. This place made me feel like I was in a heavy metal concert, seated right in front of the speakers. My instinct was to get out as quickly as possible.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m the neatest, most organized person in the world. No, I have my fair share of clutter. But this place made my home seem minimalist by comparison. My home is functional. There are tables where one can actually sit down and eat a meal. There are counters where vegetables are chopped. There are floors that are visible and walkable. One doesn’t have to climb over things to navigate the space. When I get home at the end of the day, it feels like a sanctuary, not a prison.

I would not be able to rest with so much stuff around me. I would feel no inner peace. I wouldn’t be able to think, let alone feel comfortable. I’d feel as if I had no opportunity to unplug from the world. I need that.

I’m doing my best to get rid of stuff. My husband and I rarely exchange gifts, even at Christmas. We’d much rather have experiences and create memories.

If I’m going to hoard something, I’d much rather hoard inner peace.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5