Facing the Chimera and Winning...for Now... Post

Note:  Edited on 1/29/12 due to blathering.

Good grief I can write long posts! Of course that doesn't deter me from continuing on in the same lengthy fashion apparently...just a little warning...this is another long one.

After reading my last post, I still wasn't happy with what I wrote. Still too much ranting and fighting at  things I can't change. So I found myself reading my own post (Lol!) on miracles and letting go. When I wrote the "Special End Post", I still hadn't stopped trying to push away the fear.

I think there are two kinds of "fighting" in life, the kind where you rant, rave and shake your fist at the sky. Then there's the kind where you sit down, relax and realize that within a certain period of time all of what you are facing will be resolved. The later does not imply "giving in", being a martyr or a doormat, it simply means you see a problem in your path and realize that by not wasting energy fighting against a ghost, you allow simply allow it to sit there, looking at you and you, at it. You know in the end that you will overcome it.

Rather than ranting at thin air, you simply acknowledge it's existence and thus diffuse it of all power over you. That's the point at which you've won. No, you haven't won the battle you may face, but you now have the power to proceed not as the victim, rather as one who is aware of a chimera and looks through the fear it attempts to cast on you and control you with. Thus you sap it's power, you defeat it. This is not to say the path will be easy, but you will be the one taking each step forward, not running in hopes of hiding from it.
Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy,
for it means pushing back a boundary line
and adding to one's liberty.
Henri Frederic Amiel
I suppose I should fill you in on what I'm talking about in metaphors.

Okay, here goes...for a while my left knee has periodically caused me pain. In the last 8 months it has gotten worse and affected my day-to-day life. Finally, the doctor at the low cost clinic, ordered an MRI. The first Saturday in Jan. I saw the rheumatologist again, this time for the test results. He was quite frank and said three things:  "you shouldn't be able to walk", "you should be in a wheel chair" and "you need a complete knee replacement".

Let's just take a look at that special "bedside manner" shall we? (Author's note:  read that last statement with dripping sarcasm.) I'll let you fill in the rest.

My options are limited. (This is the section that was edited for too much babbling.)   :)

I joked to a friend (remember, I try to find humor) that if and when I go to the hospital, I'll have to write "this knee" and "not this knee" on my legs just to be safe. She said they actually do make you do that!!!!! That's just plain scary!

Okay, the chimera of fear I spoke of was in control as I contemplated my choices. Meanwhile, attempts to go out for the simplest things like food became an ordeal, often leaving me in a sad pile, once I got back into the car. Yes, pity party galore.

So that's it in a rather large nutshell. Now you know why I couldn't write. I would have just blathered and quacked on for days and it wouldn't have been pretty (I think this was bad enough!).

Looking back, I guess what I did on my little sabbatical was to re-screw my head on. In past posts I wrote about the ten-plus years of losses. Here was the latest "thing" to plop into my lap. Basically kind of a metaphorical boulder and it required some re-tuning of the psyche. (I really thought the losses had finally come to an end, but I was wrong, I know I have a quote somewhere that encapsulates that perfectly.)

Anyhow...while away, I once again just surrendered it all. No amount of worry will help in any way. I know the facts and fretting can't change them. A soft peace enveloped me, kind of like a well-worn quilt. No, I'm not thrilled about this and nothing is solved. I simply decided to go step by limping step (you can laugh here). First, I'll be getting a second opinion and possibly third opinion, using doctors in my health plan. I'm also going to sign up to be seen at County, I heard the wait list is very long (six to eight months).

Since that's all that can be done at the moment, I'm going to go about my daily business and not worry.

So there you have it. I won't "go gentle into that good night" but I'm not going to rage at phantoms of fear and the unknown. I started a limited bit of exercise. Doing leg lifts as instructed years ago by an ortho doctor, and several things to strengthen the arms and back. Nothing strenuous, just a small commitment to myself. There are a few other things I noted that would improve my general happiness so I've added them to the list.

Among them, will be to continue to write this blog. Including what challenges I face as I progress through this chapter of life. Who knows, maybe someone will learn something (I know I sure will) that will help them in a similar circumstance which would be great. Even if that doesn't happen, I will not just crawl back into bed and carry on with my own little pity party (well, there may be a small detour there, now and then but I think my current mind-set will help limit that).
I can be changed by what happens to me.
But I refuse to be reduced by it.
Maya Angelou
In closing, I want to thank you if you got this far! You are indeed a brave soul! I think what "rage against the dying of the light" means to me is to live out loud and this blog is my way of doing that. It was, after all, my way of getting through life and all its sorrows and joys when I began it. Over the last few years I've changed as have my posts but I still write primarily for me. If anyone finds something worth reading, that's the icing on the cake as I've said in the past. The people and friends I meet along the way are the cherries and candles that dot the top and help me celebrate the whole crazy thing and I thank and treasure them for it!!!
Every person passing through this life
will unknowingly leave something and
take something away.
Most of this “something” cannot be seen or heard or
numbered or scientifically detected or counted.
It’s what we leave in the minds of other people
and what they leave in ours.
The census doesn’t count it.
Nothing counts without it.
Robert Fulghum

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Out of the Mire and From the Heart Post

Hello again and thank you for your kind patience. I truly appreciate it!

Now for the *"critically important news":  on the weather front...it sprinkled Sunday evening, most of  Monday and on into the evening. Very nice, quite refreshing. *Sorry, I couldn't resist! Lol!
Just to the left of center is the silhouette of a tiny little finch drying out on Monday evening.
While on my little mental holiday, I had lots of time to think, read and surf the internet. Funny what one can come away with after a little silence of the brain...stopping ceaseless output and just quietly absorbing...quite amazing. I ran across some quotes that gave me pause...such as:

To live is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Written over a century ago....

(Note:  two other quotes have been added to the right-hand side column.)

Let me see if I can explain a bit better. It seems to me, life is so over-sensationalized, so hyped up, so oriented to the next best/biggest thing...what can top that event, this story, that person and so on. And, I should add, always in a negative context.

Even the poor old weather, going about it's daily, seasonal business cannot escape the glittering generalities, but instead becomes "the worst (insert impending disaster and/or doom here) of the decade or century or all recorded history". There is no pause, no escape from the bombardment. In fact one recent weather headline made me think of "Chicken Little" and "the sky is falling" from ages ago.

It's not like I didn't write any posts while away, there are, in fact, about thirty-something of them. Just none "good enough". There was my post (which you'll never see) about the events leading to my post on the oblivious and rude manner in which most people go through life. No sense of common courtesy (or even common sense for that matter), personal responsibility for one's actions or thought of others...only self-involvement. Take Twitter and Facebook, what are they (for the most part) other than electronic billboards for what "you're" doing, following and liking (or not liking). Someone "un-friends" you and you die of mortification. Really? Seriously?

Is life so very tiny? It almost seems that existence has just turned into a glorified pile of superfluous nothingness. I don't want to sound preachy because I hate that kind of thing (yes, I said hate, a real feeling requires a real word, not a polite cover up) plus, I am the very last person to tell someone how to live. Really, I am! The absolute last! But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try in whatever small way I can, to make the world better and hopefully myself with it.

By the way, this is the reason that the list of favorite blogs on my site is so small...I'm very picky. Someone's writing has to speak on a deeper level. These blogs may have the elements I'm bemoaning above, but they also are written with heart.

When I went on hiatus it was because I felt I was a "bad" blogger. My posts were (and always have been) about things that I encountered as my life went on, starting with the hideous five year divorce. I thought I was getting better and personally, I think I was, until, the beginning of the second week in January, when life just kind of started sneaking in, again (serves me right for talking about miracles). I was faced with events that were less than positive (ha!) and would affect the quality of my life. So yes, this is/was all quite selfish.

Important thing was that my "vacation" started making me pay attention to articles, posts, and information that addressed life as it is not as defined by the world mass media. I found blogs on aging, poverty, on the disenfranchisement of large sections of our population by all the classics:  government, big business and of course the media. Segue:  One article I ran across was this...Link here...it disturbed me a great deal and illustrated the cold callousness of today's society.

Very few blogs address real life issues (IMHO). What one finds are diversions such as how to make a better blog for income, crafts and recycling materials into art, sites whose sole purpose is to show "pretty" photos they found and so on.

The heart will turn to a prune if love is always by the numbers.
How will you know if someone really loves you 
if they only meet your expectations and not your needs?
Robert Fulghum

It's not that such information is in any way bad, in fact if we didn't have something uplifting out there, we'd all just wither from some of life's uphill battles. There simply seemed to be a lack of people really talking about real life with any depth and without fear of their blog being unpopular. Sites I did come across that at first seemed to do this, were about subjects addressing political, religious or personal agendas. But they weren't offering thoughts about changing things other than for you to, in some way, agree or join in with whatever they were currently embracing.

Again, this isn't bad, it just seems to be a limited perspective. The more I thought about it, the more I felt compelled to speak. Not just about what was going good in my life but what wasn't. Things that are facing or probably will face everyone at some point in time. So rather than just crawl back into the shadows and stay on hiatus, I decided to be true to my feelings, thoughts and experiences.

I'm not saying this is going to turn into some sort of ranting platform, rather, as I run across bumps in the road, I am going to write about them and how I feel. I learned in my twenties that holding negative energy ("stuff") in, eats one up inside. Maybe something I find on my path to making my life better will help someone else. Who can say? I just know that I love writing and in order to be popular, I'm not going to pretend that life is a bowl of cherries, well...maybe it is, but cherries have pits.

Life is messy, forgot who said that but I couldn't have put it better. And the sooner we show up for life*, acknowledging it's not always a cakewalk, the sooner we may find a way out of the mire we're currently in.  (*someone else said that too, but I forgot who)

Lines from the Dylan Thomas piece that I read at my dad's funeral were floating through my mind before, during and after writing this..."Do not go gentle into that good night". Here is a link to a beautiful essay explaining Thomas' poem. I hope you'll read his poem (below) and then take a look at the essay.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

P.S. I've loved and been moved by this piece ever since I first read it in grade school. Even then it struck me as a powerful statement on living fully and not just fading away in the face of life's battles.

To be continued in a day or four.

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Special "End" Post

I've had a number of setbacks in my life since my last post. I'm not happy with the tone of my last few posts so I'm killing it off. It may return or not. You see, after rereading them, I decided no one needs to hear my woes, so I am going on hiatus until I am comfortable posting once again. I don't think one's problems need to be shared with the world, tho' I thought of it as letting my feelings out and letting go.

Thank you for your kind patronage, views and especially comments. They meant the world to me!

But for now, I am facing more than you all deserve to have dumped upon you, as it were. So it is a sabbatical of sorts. Hopefully I'll come out in the end on a better side.

Again, thank you for your love. It's meant soooooooo much to me.

With love and thanks,



Really? Post

Really? Senf Gherkins. Nobody?? They cannot be totally gone from this earth. Extinct. Someone, somewhere out there must still have an ancient recipe, possibly their grandmother's?? I promise I'll share the end result with everyone on this blog.

You can bet if I get my hands on a recipe, I will be making/pickling them for sure!

The frustration is killing me. In my mind I can see them, I remember their taste and texture so well. I just wish I had more "kitchen knowledge" back then when I still had access to these little wonders!

One thing I remember is that they had no seeds the way pickles do. Does that help?

Maybe I should visit some food blogs or pickling forums, though I thought I did that a few years ago and found nothing.

Well, I still hold out hope!

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The Quest for Senf Gherkins Post

Growing up, we'd visit my Great Grandma (who was born and grew up in Denmark in the late 1800's), Aunt and Uncle in their three story brownstone in a large Midwestern city, quite often in the summer when we were off from school.

The house had to have been built prior to the turn of the century with all the amazing, Victorian woodwork and built-in breakfronts so typical of that period when there was an abundance of true craftsmen using everyday materials, ones that today are considered expensive.

We won't go into homehouse-building "craftsmanship" of today (choke, gag). Sorry, just couldn't resist a little editorializing. Anyway, it was truly a cozy nest and had all the nooks, crannies and hidden staircases you'd imagine finding in a house of that period. Parts of it still appear in my dreams, such as the dark, utilitarian back staircase that was walled off from the house. Each floor had a small access door to it but it was rarely used in my time. Perfect for children and their imaginations.

But I digress, which is always a risk when I stroll down memory lane.

On the holidays, all through my childhood, my Grandma and after her, my Aunt would have special "treats", aka appetizers, on the dinner table. One of them, which my brother and I seriously "inhaled" (much to my mother's embarrassment and dismay) was Senf Gherkins. OMG! We loved those things!

Little yellow pickled slices of heaven. Not dill, not gerkins, not watermelon pickles but totally different. The color reminded me of tumeric and they had slight sweet, savory flavor that I've never been able to pin down. Then, in the mid-sixties, they vanished from existence as did all references to them!

For years I've searched for recipes and sources but to no avail. Even my two Danish community cookbooks from the 60's and 70's had nothing! Yesterday, out of the blue, I found a few links...I almost fainted with excitement! It appears they might be of Eastern European or Russian origin. Having these in my Danish Gandma's home was no surprise because for years she took in boarders to make ends meet.

Since I appear to have readers from around the globe (which still amazes me, thank you all), I'm wondering if anyone else has ever heard of Senf Gherkins. I've seen the name spelled a few different ways but essentially it all comes down to the same thing.

There's no picture of them for me to post. The image lives only in my memory. (Oh for Dr. Spock's mind-meld technique.) I would love to learn more about them, find out if anyone still makes them or learn of any recipes you may have. Remember, if English isn't your cup of tea, the internet has an abundance of translation options available to us. I would be so delighted to hear from any of you!
Please help my mommy, she's started calling me "her little Senf Gherkin" and says "thank you for the food" in Danish to me which kind of worries me. I know I'm small, but she looks at me like she could just pop me in her mouth! She even wrote "canning jars" on her grocery list!! I need this search to end successfully or I may be dyed yellow and pickled!
Just kidding............................I think....

I know I have quite a few visitors from Slovenia, Latvia, Ukraine and Russia, just to name a few Eastern European countries (and in no particular order) so I hope to be hearing from some of you too. Any information, history, family stories, links, recipes, etc. may be left in the comment section*.
This appeals to my lifelong love of pen pals and learning about other cultures. I've never tried talking directly through my blog with anyone reading it, (except those dear people who leave comments, again, thank you) and especially not worldwide!!! So I'm so excited and ever-hopeful to hear from you.

*Please, no spam or other nastiness. I really appreciate it! xo



The Presence of Miracles Post

Was having a bit of a hard time today. Even though my knee looks like a basketball, I tackled cleaning out the fridge, freezer and vegetable bin. Was quite proud of myself. 

In the interest of being more positive, I'm stopping at this point. Let's just call it garbage can problem-week three. I'd accomplished something I've wanted to do for some time which was to clean out the freezer, something I haven't done for over two years. It had become the great wall of icy unknowns. The rest goes sort of downhill after that, but as I said, we won't go there today.

Funny, after a little meltdown and pity party, it dawned on me as I wrote this, that it will all work out in the end. Why get all worked up over something I have no control over? 

This is an amazing realization for me. You know how "you can know something" but until you internalize it, the meaning stays "on the surface" so to speak? (Does that make any sense?) Well, I had finally unconsciously embraced the meaning of my dad's words after many years.

In the past I would have been having hissy-fits, which in the end only hurt me and for what purpose? It wouldn't have made me happier. Life happens. Just go with it. Somehow, a month or so from now, it will all be resolved so why fight it? 

This thought took me down memory lane...back to when my father was alive. I loved talking to him about business. He was so brilliant and had experienced so much in his life. Once I called him in the late 80's when I was having a horrid time at work. We talked about solutions and how to look at things. He used stories from his life to illustrate how experience taught him what he was relaying to me.

I loved his stories. He told me to have a picture in my mind of a month or two or three down the road when it was all over. It wasn't an eternity. No matter what I faced in the present, he said to keep that vision in mind because by then, the problems would most likely be resolved. It wasn't easy to do but he was right.

It's something I've tried to remember throughout my life, not always successfully. At least, not until today. Once I'd calmed down and accepted the problem, I called the property manager, explained the gardeners used both cans so I had nowhere to put the trash and it had been like this for three weeks. She said she'd take care of it. 

You'll recall P and A who live in the back house? Because of my knee problem, P's been kind enough to take the cans out to the curb for me over the last few months. I called and left him a message not to bother, that the problem would be solved. In spite of that, he managed to jam several bags into the loaded cans and was rolling them out. 

Seeing this, I ran (more like hobbled) out to tell him not to worry about it and he told me not to worry about it! The cans went out to the curb and he took the bags he couldn't fit in, back to their own garbage bin. I was stunned and thanked him profusely. 

As a result of letting go, a wonderful little blessing dropped into my lap. If I were a church going soul, this is what I would say qualifies for the monicker "let go and let God". But even though I'm not, I think it illustrates the quality of grace.

When you let grace into your life and try to extend it to others, wondrous things can happen... we just need to stay in a place of quiet acceptance in order to see these marvels, thus allowing them to manifest.

When you give up trying to fight and control life, all on your own, it just magically becomes easier. When we fight life, we miss all the invisible grace that surrounds us on this earth. Maybe that's what's meant by surrendering the ego. 

By acknowledging that we're vulnerable and can't do it all, we're embracing the concept of grace which allows a certain serenity to surround us. When we fight things with an attitude of "I can do it all myself" we block grace and keep it from entering our lives.

I have no idea where all of this came from today, but this evening I feel so much better not having put myself through the ringer of anger.  Miracles are around us every second of every day, just waiting to be seen, waiting to be allowed "in". This year, regardless of your religious or non-religious beliefs, let them find you. They're waiting.

There are two ways to live,
you can live as if nothing is a miracle 
or you can live as if everything is a miracle. 
Albert Einstein

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It's 2012 and a Leap Year Post

Happy New Year! May this coming leap year (thanks for the reminder Laurie and Camrun!) bring you more happiness and love than you can imagine! Hey, we get one extra day this year! It's a gift! How bad can a year be if it brings you a present?!

In the last few days, after visiting the assorted blogs I follow, I've gotten a feeling that there's more gratitude and love out there than I've noticed in a while. I'm not sure if it's because people have lost and seen others lose so much over the last year that everyone is more attuned to the tiny joys of life or if we're all just glad to get rid of 2011!

Andrea at Under the Blue Moon had a wonderful post yesterday. She photographed her hand-written "To Do List" for 2012. In her words " I don't think of them as resolutions so much as the way I would like things to be.  I just decided, to paraphrase a quote, to design the sort of life I want to live"I love this idea! Personally, I've never been one for resolutions, they always struck me as silly, well-intentioned but still...silly. Just couldn't get with the program so to speak.

I can totally get behind Andrea's concept. It's gracious, less punitive. You're striving to make your life happier, more beautiful, not to change yourself from night to day or bad to good. It's a much more positive way to look at things IMHO.

A resolution seems more pass or fail...at least in my eyes. Don't reach your goals? You've failed. Not a very positive alternate outcome. And since one of my wishes for the new year is to continue trying to be more positive and not so negative (the result of the five year long divorce among other things), an idea of a list like Andrea's appeals to me.

If you get everything on your list done, great. If not, you don't have the same incentive to punish yourself when you "fail". If you fall short of your wishes it's your loss and that's enough "punishment" in my book. If, on the other hand you succeed, you've given yourself a better life, one you truly deserve.

To that end, I'm going to start thinking about what I want, what would make my life better and design my own "to do" list. I'm actually kind of excited about it, something I never felt when contemplating going with resolutions; they always felt like I was telling myself "you've been bad and so your disciplinary actions are as follows". No, not something I want to participate in.

So with this positive note I'm kicking off 2012, may we all be better for it and find love, peace and happiness!

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