A Dream of the Future

I came across a Buddhist quote this morning: “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Normally I would agree that this is a good philosophy (one, moreover, that worked well for me while I was dealing with grief), especially since all we have is the present moment, an eternal now. Though come to think of it, I’m not sure that’s true. By the time you’ve said or thought “now,” that particular now — that moment — is already in the past. I suppose the secret is to forget “now.” To just be. Though I wouldn’t know either the truth of that or how to do it now that I’m identifying as a gardener. Or landscaper. Or whatever.

For example, this morning when I was out digging up Bermuda grass and other weedy vegetation, I also tried to figure out what else I need to do now to prepare for the garden I hope to have next spring. Prepare the ground, of course, to extend a grassy area into the garden area so I can more easily get to the back of the garden to take care of those distant plants. Decide what to plant in areas denuded by the removal of dead annuals, or perhaps decide not to plant and simply wait until next spring and see if any of those annuals reseed themselves. Also decide where to move plants that need to be divided, such as the New England aster, which are growing rapidly this year. (I started out with one stalk three years ago. It grew to seven stalks last year, so I divided them and thought I was set for another couple of years, but now each of those seven stalks has spawned at least an additional seven stalks.) Since the asters won’t divide and replant themselves, I have to decide where to put them.

Admittedly, this transplanting won’t need to happen for another month or so, but meantime, I need to get an idea of where to put them and to prepare the ground if they are to be planted in what are now uncultivated areas.

All of this takes planning because all of this takes a lot of work, and I have to pace myself to make sure I can do the work despite an aging body and diminishing reserves.

So, is planning part of the present moment? Obviously, one can only think in the present moment because you can’t think today’s thoughts yesterday or yesterday’s thoughts tomorrow, but all that planning is for the future.

And a garden is, almost by definition, a dream of the future.

Dwelling on the past is also something that is necessary when it comes to a garden. You have to pay attention to what thrived and what didn’t, what you did that you might not want to do again, what you didn’t do that you should have done. (I’m still trying to figure out what I could have done differently to keep swaths of my newly sodded lawn from dying, because until I can figure that out, any reseeded grass would surely end up with the same fate.)

There are, of course, those times in the garden that one does what one does — planting, weeding, watering — without thinking of . . . well, without thinking of anything. Much of gardening is mindless work where nothing exists beyond the work itself. So that part might live up to the Buddhist ideal, but the rest of it? Not so much.

It’s a good thing, then, that I’m not Buddhist.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Thinking Things into Futility

I’ve spent an interesting hour or so online looking for a word to describe one who tends to think things into futility. I started with “fatalist,” which sounds like it should be a word for a “futilist,” but only the end result of the philosophy is the same. Fatalists believe all is fated, all is destined to happen, which can leave them feeling resigned about life since they believe they are powerless to change anything, and in the end, that powerless can lead to feelings of life being futile.

Fatalism led me to nihilism, because apparently, the two are intertwined on the internet if nowhere else.

Nihilists believe there is no underlying grand meaning (or grand being) behind life and human existence, and that belief, too, can lead to feeling of life being futile since many nihilists believe that in the absence of inherent meaning, human existence has no particular value.

So although both fatalism and nihilism can lead to a feeling of futility, they start from completely different points of view.

Mostly, a search for a name for someone who tends to think things into futility led me to a plethora of mental health sites, as if a person who tends to think about meaning and meaninglessness has a mental health issue when in fact, such people (according to a different plethora of sites) tend to be intelligent and realistic.

The best thing I found about a person thinking things into futility is a quote from Alan Watts, a writer and speaker who translated Asian wisdom into plain English. He said, “A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So, he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.”

He makes an interesting point, though I’m not sure if it fits the premise I’m developing for this blog post. In my case, I tend to think that by thinking about thoughts, I get pulled out of the world of illusions, and that by not thinking, I am lulled into a world of illusion.

But this isn’t supposed to be an essay about illusion; it’s about my tendency toward “futilism”.

I’ve recently mentioned that I’ve been trying to look at gardening as a game, which helps me keep on doing the best I can with my yard, otherwise, I tend to think to much about what I am doing, and the work begins to seem futile. Which, in the grand scheme of things, it is . . . futile, I mean. A hundred years from now (heck ten years from now!) who will even care? The land will be here no matter what is on it and how much work was done.

Even on a daily basis, gardening seems futile (if I think about it). Life so often does what it wants. Some plants that shouldn’t live in this climate do well; others that should do well don’t. Sometimes watering is the right thing; sometimes, it isn’t. Which means, that if I want to keep up with my yard, to continue my creative endeavors on such a large scale, I have to stop thinking so much about what I am doing and why I am doing it, and just play the “game.” Thinking about what works and doesn’t work in the garden — strategy — is all part of the game. Wondering about the purpose of it all is not part of the game, and in fact, is an unnecessary complication because a game is its own reason for being.

This tendency of mine to think things into futility is not just about gardening, but about almost anything. To keep up with this blog and to write a blog post a day, I have to focus on what I am going to say and then say it, because when I start thinking too much about what I am doing here on this blog and why I’m doing it — other than as a writing discipline — the concept of blogging turns to dust in my hands, and it seems futile to continue.

I read the same way I breathe — I just do it without thinking. But when an author makes a serious mistake, it thrusts me out of the story and makes me think, which is not a good thing. In the book I just started reading, for example, the character got a phone call from a call box, the last old-fashioned coin-operated phone left in town. Okay, as unrealistic as that may be, I can accept it. But when the author goes on to explain that the phone booth is outside the drugstore, in the alley by the dumpster — that did me in. For decades that phone has been hanging on a wall in an alley, and no one ever vandalized it? How am I supposed to believe that? So, since there can’t be a phone, there can’t be a call, and if there can’t be a call, there can be no story and continuing to read the book becomes futile.

Yep — thinking my way into futility again.

It does make me wonder, though: if “not thinking” seems to give me a sense of meaningfulness and “thinking” seems to give me a sense of meaninglessness, of futility, what does that say about me? Or thinking? Or meaning? Or anything, for that matter.

Hmmm. I think I just proved my point.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Before and After

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of before and after pictures in advertisements for diet aids that will melt away the fat practically overnight. This sort of ad has been around my whole life, but now they seem extreme. The before picture is always a very large ordinary-looking person, and the after picture is a skinny, sloe-eyed sexy creature dressed to advertise (apparently) their new wares.

There are so many things wrong with these ads, that I have a hard time finding any the truth in what I am seeing. It seems impossible that a single gummy supplement taken every night would get rid of so much fat so quickly. I can understand wanting to lose weight, wanting to show off one’s new figure and lifestyle, but it seems impossible that beneath every hefty woman is a streetwalker (movie-version) waiting to get out.

Even more, it seems impossible that anyone who drops a lot of weight that quickly doesn’t have skin issues. I remember reading an expose once about an obese woman who fell for such an ad, though from what I remember, the ad she fell for was for bariatric surgery. She did lose the fat, but not the excess skin. Rolls and rolls of skin remained (perhaps ten pounds worth) that she had to tuck under ace bandages and girdles and shapewear. Although her insurance company paid for the initial surgery, they refused to pay for body sculpting surgery to remove the excess skin because they deemed all those folds not life threatening. But apparently, when one takes a “keto” gummy, the skin adjusts immediately.

Or maybe the before and after photos are of different people? Sometimes it seems so, though I suppose it’s possible that extreme weight loss can also affect the bone structure as well as the muscle composition and distribution.

If the before and after photos from the ads are of the same people, how did they get to be part of the ad? Were they chosen beforehand by the ad agency? Or did they choose themselves simply by taking the before photo, and then, when things worked out as the ad said, took the after photo and submitted them to . . . well, whoever they submitted them to.

I suppose it is possible that some people can lose huge amounts of weight with only those gummies and no change to diet or activity, can completely change their look and demeanor, can shrink their skin while the fat melts away. I even suppose it’s possible that all those people were so convinced of the efficacy of the pills that not only did they take a before picture, but they saved their fat clothes to dress up in for the after photo. Well, one of the after photos. The main after photo is always the pseudo sexy one.

All that is just nitpicking. My real question about all of this, the question that prompted this post, is what about all those women who took the before photo with such hope (and a tinge of desperation), paid the extortion rates for the gummies, ingested them as directed, but nothing happened.

On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know. I’ve dealt with my own diet failures too often to want to dwell on the subject, but apparently, since the question niggles at me, the subject wants to dwell on me.

On a lighter note: the first New England aster bloomed today. Apparently, it’s been cool enough the plant thinks (to the extent a plant can think) that it’s fall.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Cosquer Caves

In a book I’m reading, the prehistoric art in the Cosquer Caves plays a major part, which is fun since I’d never heard of them, though in my defense, my last research into cave paintings preceded the discovery of the caves.

The Cosquer Caves are an underground — and undersea — treasure of cave art. Carbon dating shows two distinct timeframes for the art — around 19,000 BP and 27,000 BP.

[I looked up the definition of BP so you don’t have to. It means “Before the Present,” but since the date of the “present” changes every year, they have chosen the rather arbitrary-seeming date of 1950 to mean the present, which seems silly to me because they exchanged one rather arbitrary date for another. I understand why people don’t like the previous designation of BC because of the mention of Christ, but since he was not born in the year 0, the year itself didn’t mean anything. “They” did try to change the BC to BCE — Before the Common Era — but apparently, 1950 makes better sense to them for a starting date, even though it doesn’t to me.]

The caves weren’t discovered until 1985 when Henri Cosquer, a diver who was exploring the Calanques (a series of cliffs and bays not far from Marseilles), happened to notice a hole in the side of a cliff wall, 36 meters (118 feet) below the surface. And so he discovered the caves, which soon bore his name. Although the caves were made known almost immediately, the first mention of the cave art (all sorts of animals as well as hand tracings) came in 1991 when three divers got lost in the cave and subsequently died.

Before the sea began to rise after the last ice age ended, the Cosquer Caves were located several miles inland. The waters are still rising, slowly submerging the caves, and now the entrance to the caves has been closed off. If you wish to experience the caves, you don’t need to make the dangerous journey under water and through perilous tunnels (even if they were still open) — a replica of the caves has been recreated. Oddly, they have been recreated as they were found — underwater — rather than on land where they originated.

I find this story interesting for several reasons.

One: that such an important discovery wasn’t made public until the three divers died. I’m not exactly sure what that says about us as a species, but it does seem rather true to form.

Two: That the cave paintings came from two such distant eras. Generally, the art found in paleolithic sites seems to be done all in the same era and then is forgotten or just left alone as people move on. It’s been postulated that this was a site visited by nomadic peoples or world travelers, which could be true or just a guess to explain the diversity.

Three: Proof of how climates always change.

There are many terms that really get on my nerves: veggies, 110%, intestinal fortitude, to name a few. But my current most unfavorite is “climate change” because it’s redundant. Climate is change. Climate is always changing. We tend to think we live in a bubble, where what is always was, but this long period of rather temperate weather we’ve been experiencing since the little ice age, is a rather a rarity in the vast history of the earth. (The little ice age was a cold interval from the mid-fourteenth century through the mid nineteenth century. There were even colder intervals of cold between the main interval, the final one from 1840 to 1880.)

Although I am not disagreeing that humans have an effect of the climate, and in a bubble where outside things don’t affect what is in the bubble and where the bubble itself never changes, what we are seeing would definitely be human-caused. But other factors could be at work — sun spots and solar discharges are one hypothesis to account for some of the current climate. Others hypothesize that we are still coming out of the last ice age, and that our activities may or may not be aggravating that warming trend. Or it could be something completely different, perhaps even another planet in our solar system as the Sumerians believed (a belief I made use of in my novel Light Bringer), and the planet’s return from its remote journey into space is playing havoc with our climate.

We tend to think we know all there is to know about the earth and climate and human history, but the rather recent discovery of these caves and the art that was so important to humans back in those far distant days, shows us that we don’t know everything, shows us that we don’t live in a bubble, shows us that there are still surprises.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Ice Cold Blog

On hot days, an “ice cold” anything sounds good, so how about an ice-cold blog? Not that this blog itself will be ice cold, because the blog can only be as cool as the running temperature of whatever device you are using to read this, but the topic is, for certain, “ice cold.”

In a book I skimmed through, the woman character ordered an ice-cold beer, which always seemed silly to me. Wouldn’t an ice-cold beer be a frozen one? As I found out, after wasting way too much time googling various “ice cold” themes, beer can be ice cold without being frozen.

The temperature of ice is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Water freezes at thirty-two degrees, but the temperature of the ice cools to the ambient temperature of wherever it is stored, so it can get down to 0 degrees or minus twenty, or whatever temperature at which the freezer is set.

Beer, on the other hand, freezes at 28 degrees Fahrenheit, so technically, you can have an ice-cold beer at 32 degrees, but why would you want to? If you like beer, that is. The colder the temperature, the less the flavor — good or bad — of beer is discerned, which is why it is suggested that lite beers be served ice cold. The optimum temperature for good beers to be poured at a bar or restaurant is 38 degrees, so that when it gets to the imbiber’s table, it will have reached its optimum drinking temperature of 48 degrees — cold enough to be refreshing, warm enough so that all the flavor (and the odor, which is a part of what we discern as flavor) is apparent.

After the woman in the book drank her ice-cold beer, she went home to her ice-cold apartment, because supposedly, that was the temperature that her ancient dog preferred. Really? That old dog who was near to dying preferred the house temperature to be set at 32 degrees? I think not. The ideal inside summer temperature for dogs is between 75 and 78 degrees, but for small dogs (as the story dog was) such a temperature is too cold, so for them, between 78 and 80 degrees is a better temperature. A comfortable winter temperature for most dogs is 68 to 72 degrees. So that gives us a comfort range for dogs from 68 to 80 degrees. That is a far cry from an ice-cold 32 degrees.

Such ridiculousness from authors who should know better leaves me cold (though not ice cold), so I skimmed through the rest book to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and tossed it aside.

I did learn something, though it wasn’t from the book but from my research into optimum temperatures. Unlike what I used to believe, it is possible to drink an ice-cold beer, and has been possible as long as ice has been a commercial product. In fact, the term “ice-cold beer” has been around since 1887 when the Wild White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth apparently coined the phrase.

So now, after reading this ice-cold blog, do you feel a bit cooler?

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Science Says

A physicist at École Centrale Paris posted a detailed photo of a distant world that had supposedly been captured through the world’s most powerful space telescope. After the image got thousands of likes and oohs and aahs, he admitted the image was not a celestial body but a slice of chorizo sausage. He claims he perpetrated this hoax to make a point about fake news and how easily things were misinterpreted. He wanted people to proceed with caution and to be wary of studies and experts that support a particular point of view.

It seems to me that if he really wanted people to be wary, it would have made more sense to simply tell people to be wary, but where’s the fun in that? This fellow seems to like practical jokes — apparently, he’d posted the same photo online four years ago, claiming it was the blood moon as seen in Spain. (It makes sense in a whimsical sort of way since a slice of chorizo is a full-moon shaped, blood-colored product from Spain.)

Whether this particular usage of the photo was an actual hoax that he tried to backtrack from, a joke, or a timely warning as he claims, what I found interesting was not that people fell for his trickery (because truly, there’s no way we ordinary folk can tell if a photo is of a distant world or is simply a piece of pork) but that people want to believe in something bigger than they are. Even more, they want to be awed.

According to the dictionary, science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” More simply, science is “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena,” and “the discovery of general laws or truths that can be tested systematically.”

Despite science being a discipline of shared knowledge that is changed or refined as more observations are made and more experiments are done, many people look to “Science” (with a capital “S”) as an immutable authority, a secular replacement for religion as something both to believe in and to be awed about. Even worse, “Science Says” is often used as an excuse, a not-to-be-argued-with dogmatism, or a justification of one’s beliefs or actions, when in fact, “Science” says nothing. It has no voice. Scientists say things, and as shown above, what scientists say may not be the truth.

We certainly don’t need to turn our attention to scientists for something to believe in or something to “awe” over. We can go outside, look around, and see what we can see. After all, that’s how science as a discipline started, with people simply looking. Admittedly, we won’t see a piece of photo-shopped sausage, but we might see something even more intriguing.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

New and Improved

I’d been buying a seltzer water at a nearby store for the past few months. It was simply carbonated water with natural flavorings — no sugar or salt or chemicals — but it hit the spot on those days when just plain water didn’t seem refreshing enough.

Unfortunately, it was a short-lived product for that store, and now it’s gone from the shelves. The manager told me they have a store brand of the same product, but like most so-called sparkling waters, theirs are nothing more than a clear soft drink, with most of the same ingredients (lots of chemicals!) as a diet soda.

This reminded me of all the other things I liked that were discontinued over the years, as if my liking a product sounded the death knell for it. One example that immediately comes to mind is Space Food Sticks. I really liked those things — they were the first energy and meal replacement bar, and helped keep my appetite — and weight — in check. And then one day, with no explanation, they were gone.

Other products, like Rely tampons had been misused, and girls who had no idea what they were doing died of toxic shock syndrome. The product, of course, was removed, leaving those of us who “relied” on them out of luck. The same thing happened with the original Sensodyne toothpaste, where the pain deadening ingredient was strontium chloride. Used as directed — only as needed — it was perfectly safe, but people used it every day, which caused problems. Now, there is no sensitive-tooth toothpaste that works for me, and to get a modicum of comfort, I have to use the products available every day.

Even something as simple as sassafras tea disappeared, or at least became uncommon, because of harmful side effects. But oh, I did so like sassafras tea and the root-beer-like flavor.

Some products that disappeared are available under the same name, but the product is completely different, such as Dreamsicles. The Dreamsicle of my youth was a creamy concoction, with a soft sherbet outer layer, melding into an ice cream center. Truly a dreamy treat!

Even something as ubiquitous as Dawn changed. The blue-colored Dawn advertises itself as the original scent, but it isn’t. The original scent had no floral undertones. But then, that’s just one of the thousands of products that have been “new and improved” to make more money for the manufacturers and less bang for the buck for consumers.

And on and on. Dozens of products gone or morphed into something completely different. That’s the problem of my having lived during a time of great population growth and growing corporate greed, though that may not be a fair assessment. The past several decades have also been a time of unprecedented product development, so there have been way more products available at any one time than ever before.

Still, it is tiresome always having to find and break in new items only to have them disappear on me a short time later. But maybe that’s a good thing? Who knows. Certainly not me.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Apprenticeship

Sometimes I feel as if I am serving an alchemical apprenticeship as I continue my transformation into an old woman. You notice I said “old woman” rather than a “wise old woman,” because I’m not sure wisdom is something that can be apprenticed. Neither can old age, actually — we get there or we don’t — and yet there are things we can do to make aging easier.

My apprenticeship is about learning the art of living when it doesn’t seem as if life is worth living anymore. So many frail elders are beset by an existential crisis, especially when they are the last ones left of their family. (Or even if it only feels as if they are the last ones left.) It is a valid point — is life worth living when everyone you have loved has died? When you have little control over your life and yourself? When your body continually fails you? When it’s hard to see, hear, feel? When your days extent too far behind you and —even though you know you have an expiration date — seem to extend too far ahead? When all anyone cares about is how old you are, not about you and how you are dealing with your great age?

A vast old age (or even a frail younger old age) leaves elderly people feeling as if they have outlived their usefulness, as if there is nothing left to live for, as if they don’t belong here. I’m hoping, in this apprenticeship I have apparently taken on, that the lessons I learn now will become habit, so if (when?) I go through my own age-prompted existential crisis, the tools for continuing to live as full a life as possible will be at hand.

I have no idea what I will be feeling in those hopefully still-distant years. My experience with grief has taught me that we cannot imagine how we will feel about anything until we get there. I do look to the elderly people I know and have known in recent years, see how they are feeling and acting (or not acting), and try to extrapolate from them what I might need to know. One advantage I have is that existential crises are not uncommon for me, the big ones being when I hit adolescence, when allergies (and the prescribed allergy medication) tossed me into a black hole of depression, and when Jeff died. Too often, people sail along fine their entire life until they become physically incapacitated in some way, and then . . . wham! Along come all problems and thoughts that were held at bay by activity.

To this end, I celebrate the small beauties of the day — a flower, a pretty stone, a smile. I look for something to care about and to focus on — for now, it’s my yard, but when that becomes too much for me, I hope something else will come along to give my life focus. I look for something to be grateful about every day. Admittedly, it’s hard to think about one’s life here (especially if that life feels insignificant) when a person is focused on what comes next after this life. So along with the gratitude, I look for something to ground me, to connect me to life and to Earth. Right now, as with so much else, that grounding comes from my garden, from dealing with the literal ground rather than a mental one.

I am also paying attention to the ways my body works and doesn’t work to try to figure out what muscles I might need to exercise to make sure I can do for as long as possible the simple things we take for granted — stand, sit, walk, swallow. Yep, swallow. About a month ago, I was downing a vitamin when it slipped straight past my esophagus into my lungs. Yikes! Scared the heck out of me. So I researched the mechanisms of swallowing and learned that in order for the windpipe to be blocked off, it’s necessary to swallow with the tongue pressed onto the roof of the mouth. The only thing I can think of is that day I forgot how to swallow and relaxed my tongue and throat, and then . . . oops. I’m very lucky that it wasn’t worse. The pill (a capsule) was innocuous and eventually, it dissolved with no lasting effects. Now I am mindful of where my tongue is when I swallow anything. And if I don’t feel like taking the vitamins, I don’t. Even though I do feel as if they are helping me, they can’t help if I can’t swallow them.

It’s all part of the apprenticeship. There is no grade to this apprenticeship, nor is there any reward except that I get to live another day. When I feel more as if I “have to” live rather than I “get to” live, I remind myself that today is not given to everyone, and I find a way to mark the occasion. I hope I can continue to do so. If nothing else, having such a tool at my disposal will help make all the coming years worth living.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Monsoon Season Flowers

I was surprised, many years ago, to learn that Colorado had a monsoon season. “Monsoon” always made me think of places like Thailand and Singapore with their afternoon deluges that brought traffic to a standstill, and Colorado seldom gets that sort of rain, which makes “monsoon” seem a strong word for the weak rains we sometimes get in July and August.

Although most people associate “monsoon” with deluges, a monsoon is actually a shift in the wind. In the case of Colorado, that wind shift brings moisture from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico into the state. According to the Colorado Climate Center, the monsoon “usually happens when a strategically centered high pressure (with clockwise flow around it) and low pressure (with counterclockwise flow around it) settle in over the region.”

The erratic and unpredictable nature of this North American monsoon is why the forecasters seem unable to tell us when or where or how much it’s going to rain. There have been days recently when they predicted 10% chance of rain, and we ended up with a steady downpour. Other days they have predicted a 90% chance of rain, and we ended up with nary a drop. And some days the forecast changed so frequently, no one and nothing had any idea what was going to happen, not even the weather itself.

This week, rain or no, we seem to be centered solidly in the monsoon wind pattern. The days are still and dry, but most evenings we have at least a splattering of rain. A couple of nights ago it rained for several hours, the longest rain we’ve had all year. It rained a bit last night, and after a respite of — perhaps — no precipitation tonight, there’s a chance of rain every evening for the rest of the week.

I have learned a couple of things during this monsoon week: 1) the browning of certain areas of my lawn isn’t due to lack of moisture, and 2) this is not a good time of year for hanging baskets. I’ve had to settle those hanging plants firmly on the ground so they don’t take flight in the late-night winds. By the time the winds are gone and I hang up my plants again, it will probably be too late in the season for flowers. Still, plants are nice, wherever they are.

Well, some plants. The rain sure is making the weeds spring up! And it’s making the already sprung-up weeds grow horrendously fast. I’ve cleared out the tallest weeds, though my garden patches have been neglected. Luckily, as you can see, I still managed to find a few flowers to photograph.

Incidentally, all the white flowers pictured are volunteers, planting themselves where they’ve been assured a warm (and wet) welcome.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Wish Box

A character in the book I’m currently reading was given three wishes. She ended up giving two of the wishes away, which I didn’t know was possible in wish culture, but it was a smart thing for her to do since both those people became staunch allies when she needed them.

Any mention of wishes, of course, makes me wonder what I would wish for. I used to wish for enough money so that I didn’t have to worry about my financial situation, but that was easily taken care of. I decided not to worry. It doesn’t help my precarious situation, but at least I’m not worrying about it, and in the end, that’s what the wish was about.

Other than that, I’m not sure what I would want. I certainly wouldn’t waste a wish on world peace since politicians and other self-serving individuals would screw that up with their own wishes for dominance.

Then I remembered my wish box.

It’s been a while since I added to the box, though I should have been including any cards people sent me with wishes, such as wishes for a happy new year. Maybe I’ll remember to include such wishes later in the year. Meantime, I checked to see what my wish box included besides a couple of greeting cards.

The red origami envelope includes a wish for “something that I can be but haven’t thought of yet.” Hmm. Interesting wish. And a realistic one. Some of my best come-true wishes were wishes I never knew I had, such as taking dance classes, performing on stage, and owning a house. Limiting myself to what I know is simply too . . . limiting.

The other origami envelope contains a wish for me to sell thousands of copies of Bob, The Right Hand of God. Oops. That one sure went nowhere! But maybe . . . someday . . .

In the background of the photo is a copy of Neil Gaiman’s wish that a friend sent me: “I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” Some of that has come true, at least the part about reading, living as only I can, and surprising myself. I could do with more surprises, though. I wouldn’t like knowing that I know all there is to know about me.

I’m not sure where the stone heart came from, but “heart” certainly belongs in a wish box.

My favorite item at the moment is printed on the gray card with trees: small joys, simple goodness, hope renewed. It might not be worth wasting three wishes on those things (especially since I wouldn’t have any left to give away to people who desperately need wishes, as the character in the book did), but for sure, they are things for me to strive for.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.