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Out on the Limb

The Coffee Shop

Monday, January 29, 2007

Today, I went to the coffee shop later than the norm. This has been happening more frequently lately, partly because I enjoy sitting and "talking" with Fred. Fred recently suffered his second stroke. His recovery is inspiring. He approaches his new life of re-learning with determination and gratitude. He knows.....today could be his last. His ability to embrace the moment makes for fascinating, albiet painfully slow, conversation.

If I arrive at the coffee shop at my usual time, I am generally leaving as Fred is arriving. But I linger...sitting with Fred and asking him questions, which forces him to practice his speech and handwriting skills. Sometimes when I don't understand his speech, he takes out his pen and paper and writes his thoughts. Two words could take five minutes, during which he laughs, frowns, raises his eyebrows, and apologizes needlessly. The whole process of conversation with Fred takes a patience I didn't know I possessed. I have apparently relaxed considerably since my office cubicle days of just seven short months ago. I help Fred with his speech; and Fred helps me with my patience. It's a rewarding experience. Sometimes I walk in to find Fred staring forlornly at the floor. Perhaps he is just lost in thought.

Fred did not arrive today, in spite of my later arrival. Most of the faces were unfamiliar to me. So I sat down in a secluded corner and, after realizing I had forgotten to bring my book, picked up a newspaper. Then Paul showed up.

Paul started out saying he had once heard me talking with Fred. He said he had heard me talking about Route 66. He told me he used to hitch-hike Route 66. He shuffled restlessly back and forth. He told one short story about himself after another, each falling short of being finished. He invited himself to sit. "Please", I said, waving him into the chair across from me. He rambled on. I couldn't figure out why a man so eager to talk didn't know what he wanted to talk about. So I just listened.

Before too long, Paul began to talk about his kids....about one of his children in particular. He told me how his oldest son was born premature and weighing not much more than two pounds. He told me how that son began having seizures at age 11, and how his health had deteriorated. He choked on his words and wiped his tears with a well-used handkerchief. He told me how his son died and how he was there when the day came to unplug him from life support. His son died at age 16 in his father's arms.

As I listened, I realized my first instinct was to pull away. I wanted to look away and down...anywhere but at the face of the suffering man across from me. But I didn't. I looked, and I cared. He was not ashamed to tell his story of grief, and so I was not ashamed to listen. When he was done, he thanked me for listening and said it had helped. Paul will need to retell his grief again, and someone will listen again. And this is good. Paul said sometimes people tell him it is time for him to "get over it" and move on. But I wonder how it is even possible to place a time limit on such a thing. It is what it is. His process is purely personal. All that the rest of us can do is witness and know that we, too, shall know grief. We are one.

Fred told me he wants to see Key West before he dies. I think I will ask him tomorrow what is stopping him.
posted by Deb, 8:32 PM | link | 2 comments |

100 Things About Me

1. I have many ways of defining myself. Philosophically, I'm currently an economad with Buddhist tendencies.

2. Usually, I prefer dogs to cats. A dull dog and bright cat could change that preference.

3. I had a blow-up inner tube slip (undergarment) when I was a kid. I cannot find either a picture or an article about this contraption!

4. I'm a deltiologist.

5. I love the smell of rotting seaweed (or is that salt air I smell?). No, it's the seaweed.

(5A - a freebee) I also love the smell of tomatoe leaves.

6. The recipe I am best at making is homemade ravioli (including making the egg noodles).

7. If I'm not in the mood to cook, you might want to have the fire department on standby because I get easily distracted.

8. I have always been able to bend my fingernails back and forth without damage.

9. I can type error-free faster than most (but who is counting).

10. My favorite color is blue...sky blue, to be specific.

11. I practice yoga. I'd like to say daily, but sometimes I hit a slump.

12. It is highly unlikely you will ever see me jogging or playing golf, except putt-putt golf which always causes me to double over with laughter.

13. Listening to crickets for hours on end is very relaxing for me.

14. I grew up in Florida but have never water skied.

15. Mahakala came to me in my dreams. The second night, I woke up screaming. I'm not sure what this means, but I feel honored anyway. Prior to the dreams, I knew nothing of him.

16. Oh, and I practice dream yoga, too.

17. I have three grown sons. They have enriched my life beyond words and I am incredibly fortunate to be their Mom.

18. I do not understand why some women scream during childbirth. I personally needed to conserve all available energy.

19. If I had testicles, I would give one to save tigers and the other to save polar bears...if it would help. At least, I think I would be willing to do that. We are talking about whole species here, right? I mean...how much could it hurt? wow. sorry. let's move on....

20. Severe weather fascinates me, and I desire to learn more weather science.

21. I'd like to take the "November course" at Kopan Monastery some year in the not-so-distant future. Want to go with me? (Kathmandu, Nepal)

22. I think I might have a mild case of "Central Auditory Processing Disorder", but I have no intention of seeking a diagnosis. I'm just glad CAPD wasn't invented when I was young, because someone somewhere likely would have over-medicated me.

23. Speaking of which, I don't drink and I don't smoke (been there, done that).

24. Africa is my favorite continent, perhaps because of Jean-Pierre Hallet, a gentle giant.

25. Margaret Mead is my hero.

26. I do all possible to eat organic.

27. I prefer to live near large bodies of water.

28. I think cows should be outlawed.

29. I realized the world was insane at age 7 when I was told to "duck and cover" under my desk for protection from being nuked during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was bad enough to learn that nuclear bombs existed...but then to learn that duck-and-cover was the best protection adults could suggest...? insane

30. My favorite gem is lapis lazuli and tiger's eye is a close second, but strip mining for anything has got to stop.

31. I love to read. NOT on my reading list is westerns, romance novels, porn, tabloids, women's magazines, the bible, and anything by Anne Coulter and her kind.

32. I believe reincarnation is a definite possibility; and if that is so then there is a scientific basis for it.

33. I miss viewing a night sky without space junk or wondering if the "star" I'm admiring is really a satellite.

34. Owls are the cat's meow.

35. I'm primarily a landlubber but enjoy boating and small plane rides.

36. I avoid all amusement rides that post warning signs (such as: "If you have a heart condition, do not take this ride.")

37. I have bowled three games over 200 in my life. The remainder of my games were usually under 140.

38. The best friend I ever had was my bowling coach and I miss her.

39. I used to have a parakeet named Maestro and a turtle named Clem Kadiddlehopper.

40. I have an autographed photo of Red Skelton. I don't find him nearly as funny now as I did when I was a kid.

41. I have collected a large amount of shells through the years and wouldn't mind being a professional beach comber.

42. I'm a Putumayo music junkie. I avoid heavy metal and jazz, and like country in small doses only.

43. I have had two 14 year marriages. My hero, Margaret Mead, was divorced three times. Two is enough for me. Mead firmly stated, "I don't consider my marriages as failures. Its idiotic to assume that because a marriage ends, its failed."

44. I was raised Methodist, but evolved to be non-religious. I believe religions suffer greatly from the same diseases as governments, i.e. corruption and propaganda.

45. I don't dance, and I don't apologize for not dancing. I think my Methodist upbringing may have something to do with this, but by now my reluctance has evolved to phobia status. Oh, wait!! I can still do the twist!

46. I love the sound of rain on a tin roof.

47. I was in Canada when man first landed on the moon.

48. A well ripened mango is better than ice cream any day.

49. As a small child, I used to hold my breath until I passed out. I am told I can still be quite stubborn.

50. Growing vegetables myself from seed is highly rewarding.

51. I haven't worn makeup since my teens, and I have a long-winded list of reasons.

52. I taught myself to weave Maori style (loomless).

53. Walking barefoot makes me happy; and I have a flipflop tan.

54. My eyes glaze over when I walk into a bead shop.

55. I think of cars in one of two ways: Point A to Point B ---or--- MPG

56. I took out a 2nd mortgage to buy a diesel engine car which is now running on 99.9% biodiesel. Thank you.

57. I believe pointy narrow high-heeled shoes are best suited for people with pointy narrow minds.

58. My favorite toy is a kaleidoscope.

59. When it is absolutely necessary to buy clothes, I buy them from 2nd hand shops.

60. I avoid traveling on interstates whenever possible, especially here in California. (It's true what they say!)

61. Newton's 3rd law of motion essentially states that for every action force there is an equal but opposite reaction force. I believe this scientific law directly applies to karma as well; and I do not believe that religion is a necessary ingredient to understanding and believing in the concept of karma.

62. If I were to re-define the Holy Trinity concept of my brainwashed childhood, I would substitute Father-Son-HolyGhost for Science-Math-Art.

63. I now have 2 or 3 gray hairs!! I have never dyed my hair, for the same reasons I don't wear makeup.

64. I would like to learn origami...

65. ...and shadow puppetry...

66. ...and the art of indigenous and folklore story telling.

67. In theory, I would have been a good gypsy. In practice...who knows?

68. Almost all of my ancestors hail from New Jersey....and go waaaaaaaaaaayy back.

69. I'm a person of extremes. For example: It's city or country (not the burbs).

70. My hair has been long for many years, but I fantasize about shaving my head.

71. I believe there is a poet in everyone; and Buddha Nature in everyone, too (Mahayana interpretation).

72. If I were another type of animal, perhaps I would be a beaver. I have an endless need to make things with my hands, and an endless desire to plug leaks. (yeah, yeah...I know beavers don't have hands!)

73. I have hope that computers will help save us from ourselves.

74. I want to purchase some land and go off-grid.

75. Extreme isolation tempts me, but ultimately too much isolation is detrimental. I seek balance.

76. I am 95% vegetarian. I was a vegan for several months once and still aspire towards that goal. Raw foods and juicing interest me.

77. I have a birthmark located on the third eye. Because of this, some cultures would have killed me at birth, and others would have worshiped me. I have escaped both of these undesirable fates.

78. I'm convinced meditation is an extremely beneficial non-activity.

79. I consider myself a futurist, but don't know how to market my skills...nor do I want to.

80. Travel is one of my passions.

81. When I was three, I dropped a large can on my little toe and chopped half of it off. I am told it rolled behind the trash can. My remaining half-toe grew back....with nail. It's not the prettiest toe in the world, but things could have been a lot worse.

82. I believe that if more people would fly kites, there would be less war. :)

83. I used to stress-out about and argue over politics. Now I try to change the world simply by setting example. I've noticed that this is a much healthier and productive approach to life.

84. I might also define myself as pragmatic and socially challenged. The older I become, the more at ease I am in social situations.

85. One of my prize possessions is a singing bowl. I aspire someday to own, and know how to play, a complete set of seven.

86. Although I do not consider myself very materialistic, I can be a real packrat. I am particularly attracted to bits of metal and found objects and am loathe to toss away anything potentially useful. Again...I seek balance.

87. I think wall-to-wall carpets are a bad idea. They are too hard to clean, and tend to end up in landfills when worn.

88. I think the life of both Ran Prieur and Hobopoet are good examples of how the universe provides for those who follow their true nature. (It does not matter how long it takes to reach our goals; intent is everything.)

89. I have a couple of 2-yr college degrees (AA and AS) for office procedure. An additional two years was spent in college studying what I wanted rather than what someone else wanted or thought I should study.

90. I like looking at clock structures, but resist being enslaved by man-made time segments. Nevertheless, I prefer to be "on time" so as not to inconvenience others. sigh

91. Although not religious, I believe in prayer. Perhaps by prayer, I mean "positive thinking". And I think neutrinos may be carriers. (I just wanted to put that thought on record.)

92. I have a natural downward curve to my mouth which makes me look grumpy. I have smiled excessively since childhood to encourage smile wrinkles in my older years...to no avail. Me, my sister, my mother, and my grandmother all look like sour pusses. Oh, well.

93. One of my regrets is that I had all my wisdom teeth removed when I was about 45 years old. I should have known better.

94. For the most part, TV bores me. So I don't own one.

95. Top ten places I would like to visit:
96. I can't remember the last time I played a game of marbles. (note to self - add to list of things to do).

97. Being outside is energizing for me. On the other hand, I don't tolerate cold too well but believe I can work on this handicap with proper breathing techniques (pranayama).

98. I play a good game of cribbage.

99. My favorite online interactive map is here.

100. We are the creators of our own lives. Personally, I have trouble deciding which colors and brushes to use each day. Other than that, I am extremely grateful to have been given a canvas!
posted by Deb, 6:38 PM | link | 0 comments |


Monday, January 22, 2007

Lion Sculpture

My son, Greg, took me down to Ensenada, Baja, Mexico, last weekend. We did a lot of walking and took in the sights, sounds, and smells. Today is a low-energy day as I recuperate.

I purchased a solar shower and solar lighter recently. Those items arrived in the mail today. My survival kit is progressing.

Other than resting, today was spent reading a good portion of The Computer Nomad, a link suggested by Limb reader called Dreamer-of-the-day. It appears I've already taken a few key steps towards freeing myself from the apartment-box to office-box routine. For those of you who have yet to part with large amounts of material possessions, I can tell you that I hardly miss a thing and the whole process has been very beneficial. What to do next is still a mystery for me, but Computer Nomad has many helpful suggestions. Thanks for that great link, Dreamer.

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posted by Deb, 4:58 PM | link | 4 comments |

Slave Wages

Friday, January 19, 2007

Grandmom & Mom
circa 1940 sand dragon.
In her later years, my grandmother needed help with her shopping. My mother would take her to the grocery store once a week, and I sometimes tagged along. Invariably, my grandmother would pick an unfamiliar product off the shelves and read the ingredients. She would complain about the additives and put it back on the shelf, unless she couldn't find "her" brand. As it turned out, "her" brands were also cause for complaint. The prices kept going up. Sometimes the sticker price remained the same, but the package got smaller. Grandmom never failed to notice these things, and never failed to voice her complaint.

The weekly shopping excursion drove my mother a bit battier than the norm. [is "battier" a word?] Anyway, Mom would snap "Of course the price went up. Nothing ever stays the same. That's just the way it is."

Both women participated in this same verbal ritual for as long as I saw them together. In my younger years, I accepted the fact that prices do indeed continue to rise. Recently, I've noticed that I have begun to act more like dear old Grandmom as I look at the co-op shelves and shake my head with a troubled frown and a dejected feeling of resignation. Something just ain't right. Now, at first, I thought my changed attitude was because....well....I'm not getting any younger. I could hear my mother's voice in my head saying "That's just the way it is" and I would feel guilt about my unwillingness to accept things as they are.

Wait a minute. Maybe accepting things as they are has been programmed into us (me) just a tad too long. Maybe at some point the price tag will get ridiculously too big and those of us who are not glazed over by endless hours of TV programming will stand up and say "STOP IT". Of course, those of us who reach the indignation stage do so at different times and at different levels. Therefore, our pitiful cries of "foul" tend to go unheard.

Times are changing. Not so much in the matter-of-fact way my mother noted; but in a way that will at some point cause a groundswell of voices simultaneously shouting "FOUL".

If my wages had kept up with inflation, maybe I would still be chasing that worn-out American dream of being upwardly mobile with a secure retirement fund (sustainability being a whole other topic). I'm not talking about one year of falling behind through no fault of my own. I'm talking about several years. I'm talking about a system of often corrupt and/or compassionless CEO's who pay slave wages because they can....and do. (I know that sentence was redundant, but sometimes redundancy pleases me.)

I googled "slave wages" to see if I could find a good rant. Sure enough, it didn't take me long. In fact, I found a couple of good posts on the topic of slave wages. The first post points out a way that the Big Guys cheat the Little Guys out of some bucks in a sneaky condescending way. [I also note that the phrase Big/Little Guys might imply winners/losers in our big-is-better culture. That's interesting, because I tend to think the Little Guys are more likely to have kept their souls intact].

Where was I? Oh yeah, the second "slave wages" post I found paints a picture with a much broader stroke, and the subject is recreation fees on public lands.

The point I want to make is that we are getting squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and sooner or later it becomes impossible to stretch that penny any further. It's no secret that the middle class is disappearing. Guess which direction.

Sure...speak out, become an activist, write your senators, write editorials...all of that is good stuff. In my day-to-day life, I have been motivated to get creative and think outside the box before I'm forced by circumstance to go into unmanageable debt all the while daydreaming that I can somehow work myself out of debt with the low-end 9-5 slave wage.

So here I am...exploring options. In my previous post, Dreamer-of-the-Day suggested I diversify as I'm working towards self-sufficiency. I think I'll put up a survey along those lines on this blog soon-ish. One of my earlier plans when I first set myself free from the office cubicle was to show others how to be a modern day nomad, living as lightly as possible and ready on short notice to move to another location. I'm still in the process of lightening my load with material possessions, but I must admit that moving was a lot more involved than I remembered from years past. I'm starting to ramble, so I'm going to call it a day. Thanks for stopping by.
word of the day from my dictionary of the vulgar tongue:

AMBASSADOR - A trick to duck some ignorant fellow or landsman, frequently played on board ships in the warm latitudes. It is thus managed: A large tub is filled with water, and two stools placed on each side of it. Over the whole is thrown a tarpaulin, or old sail; this is kept tight by two persons, who are to represent the kind and queen of a foreign country, and are seated on the stools. The person intended to be ducked plays the Ambassador, and after repeating a ridiculous speech dictated to him, is led in great form up to the throne, and seated between the king and queen, who rising suddenly as soon as he is seated, he falls backwards into the tub of water.

(man...the things people did to entertain themselves before high-tech toys!)
posted by Deb, 3:54 PM | link | 5 comments |

Flip Flop Tic Toc

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's been six short months since my grand exit from Washington State where I left my dog, my home, my husband, and my job. Here's a brief analysis of how I've since spent my time in San Diego.

* July 2006 was entirely occupied with moving.

* August I began exploring the San Diego neighborhoods, and took a whirlwind trip to Arizona. To my amazement, I absolutely love that state...even in August!

* September I found my own apartment and was again preoccupied with moving and unpacking.

* October I dug into my craft studies, as planned. I explored various options; worked on learning software; taught myself Taaniko Maori loomless weaving; and tried to fix my printer problems.

* November was a continuation of October's efforts with Thanksgiving and Xmas shopping thrown in.

* December I registered my fictitious business name, Sand Dragon, with the county. Then I gave in to the holiday non-spirit, and my sails went listless. Oh...and I took a trip to Durango, Colorado, for the 1st time ever. Very nice.

And now it is January.
I'm lost...and angry. I feel trapped. And, no, I will not seek a therapist. I trust them as much as lawyers and I'm not tossing good money their way. period.

I compared several budget scenarios today. It is obvious to me that I will not be able to create enough hand-crafted products to pay the bills. And I cringe at the thought of wasting my good brain and healthy energies at some crappy, boring office job just to make rent. so....

I looked into going off-grid with a small RV. I did the budget estimates today. I might save a few hundred going off-grid, if I'm careful and have no major breakdowns. I thought the money saved would enable me to exist on craft work. However, the time spent on the inevitable learning curve those 1st few months off-grid would translate to very little time to craft. And...still...my savings would be slipping away while I fret. Also, one big set-back or lack of attention to detail, and my off-grid expenses match my current rental situation.

Last option is what I call the Ran Plan. (see link to Ran Prieur). Ditch the apartment and vehicle and all other luxuries, and that budget starts looking reasonable. So here are my current options as I see them:

* find an intentional community that isn't a cult and doesn't want all my worldly possessions and isn't religious or tyrannical or male dominated or just plain sick in some other undefined way; or...

* go back to conventional slave labor and sink into misery while I wait for the world-as-we-know-it to end; or...

* become voluntarily homeless thereby increasing my risks of insanity, victimization by violent crime, and/or institutional interference in my life in the form of forced drugging and forced brainwashing by gov and religious do-gooders.

What to do....what to do....the lady or the tigers.

Anybody want to buy a chunk of land in Central America and build straw bale houses with me?
I'm not insane; but I am feeling hopelessly lost right now. I haven't a clue and I need help.

Please tell me what you think...whatever that may be.
posted by Deb, 6:07 PM | link | 6 comments |


Thursday, January 11, 2007

In that time before sleep
when the wall between conscious and sub thins,
my breath wearily rises
as would the gait of an elephant
who has traveled the dusty path
countless times before.

The fall is swift
and lands with a gentle thud
in the dry soil
stirring particles into the still air
swirling above the scene
higher still
until able to witness
the lumbering determination
of all such paths
into one.
posted by Deb, 5:48 AM | link | 0 comments |

White Chalk

If our imaginery
great creator
were a sidewalk chalk artist,
some lives would be sketched
white chalk on white sidewalk.

Such lives would entail
the same joys and sorrows
as do the colorfuls;
but who would see?
who would know?
except for
the white-on-white soul
to remain
forever alone.
posted by Deb, 5:39 AM | link | 0 comments |


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

OMG, these night-time crickets are putting me to sleep. I've been listening for 3 hours already. For me, these are the most relaxing sounds I've heard in a long time.

Upper left corner of webpage.... Nkorho Stream

The thing I like about crickets is that a person can totally relax knowing the crickets will abruptly stop chirping when danger is near. I sleep deepest amongst crickets.

Best watering hole viewing times are dawn and dusk.

In response to HBI - yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes
posted by Deb, 11:37 AM | link | 0 comments |

drunk...my ass

meanwhile, in Australia...
Reports of birds dropping dead in people's yards around Esperance, on the southern coast of Western Australia, began to come in three weeks ago, well before last week's freak storm that caused devastating floods in the region.

The reports stopped this week as the skies became clear of birdlife.

The main casualties are wattle birds, yellow-throated miners, new holland honeyeaters and singing honeyeaters, although some dead crows, hawks and pigeons have also been found.
I've been watching the signposts of our pending collective demise for a long time, and this particularly signpost makes me want to sell the remainder of my belongings, jump into my veggie-oil casket called a car, and rush to see the remains of a world most take for granted.

Repeat: "...the skies became clear of birdlife."
How ominous is THAT???

The article continues:
"Authorities are asking people to bring more birds in the hope one may have enough food in its stomach to identify a common deadly toxin."

It appears to me that, in contrast to the Australian authority's quest for answers, the U.S. reaction is to suggest the birds drank themselves to death on fermented berries.


If that were the case, birds would have been dropping dead in large numbers each and every year of years gone by. Probably more so, in years past, because there would have been more wild fermented berries to be had.

Why am I wasting my breath?

Our Earth...our environment...our livelihoods
and rest-time
dream time
joy to be alive
love of Earth
is as respectful as
the way the men I have chosen
in days gone by
have treated me.

translation: woefully lacking
posted by Deb, 5:24 AM | link | 0 comments |

when I was alive

When I was alive
I closed my eyes and filled my lungs
with the sweet thick salt air
while my tippty-toes maintained
the barest of connections
with Earth's rounded surface
posted by Deb, 5:16 AM | link | 0 comments |

Where were you?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Where were you?
when the children cried
and the dog cowered
in the shadow of your anger.

Where were you?
as the floorboards rotted
under the lumpy mattress
of your past.

Where were you?
when the broken window
gazed back at me
for a decade of shattered silence.

Where were you?
I looked
but I failed to see.
posted by Deb, 10:48 PM | link | 0 comments |


It wouldn't be the first time
the Light of Reason failed to appear
just when I thought I needed it most.

and then
my thoughts withered
and the Light arose
from slumber
posted by Deb, 10:47 PM | link | 0 comments |

I Forget

Setting about to forget
is not the best of plans.

Setting about not to forget
is not a plan.

Setting out a plan for forgetfulness
is unkind;
as is blaming others
for their unplanned forgetfulness

Let us not forget
there is no plan
other than that which has been laid out before us
long ago.
posted by Deb, 9:51 PM | link | 0 comments |

Your Name

Your name on my cellphone
is a squiggly line;
a black-and-white billboard;
a distant chime
posted by Deb, 9:44 PM | link | 0 comments |

Love is a Four Letter Word

without tenderness,
genuine affection,
respect and compassion,
is a four letter word
posted by Deb, 9:43 PM | link | 0 comments |