Thinking about Opposition

Kind of crazy since I don’t like opposition. Does anybody? I want my way, what I want, without regarding anyone else’s wants. Pause. Long pause. Realization sifts into awareness.

Because I also want to be at peace with those I love. And their wants, their needs sift into my wants, my needs. When I get to be part of bringing comfort, success or simple rest to someone else, that act gives me comfort, success or simple rest.

What I want is important to me. Sometimes.

Like this morning.

I hate yard work, the sweating, bending, weeding, hair in my eyes, grit under my nails yard work. My husband likes it, finds it satisfying, reassuring, peaceful. Husband’s cataract surgery two days ago meant no bending or picking up heavy objects for a week or more.

Yesterday, on cue, two dozen dandelions erupted in the front yard.

Those brilliant yellow faces taunted him. Each little flower means thousands more in a couple of weeks. Before surgery he cut down and pulled the stump of an errant tree in the side yard, making sure that section was ready for a new cover of grass. But dandelions pounced while he slept, eye patch taped in place.

So, this morning (this is me so it wasn’t before 10 or my coffee) when he asked for help, I pulled on garden gloves, took up my bucket and followed him outside. My grumbling stayed inside, mostly, and we got every dandelion we could find. I even pointed out a couple he didn’t see at first.

I still hate yard work, but I love that man. And in this instance, it’s his desire for a dandelion free yard that matters. His comfort matters more than my wants.

And setting my want aside for a moment gives me comfort. Crazy, huh?

Now if I could translate that small window of peace into strength for the bigger opposition in harder battles with people who matter much less. Still chewing on that.



‘cause I am the grandma

A few posts back I started talking about the distinction between reward and pleasure. BORING.

I heard that, or rather sensed the disruption in the force. Truth is, words and assumptions get all snarled up together. Result? That crazy tangled web Shakespeare mentioned in a sonnet, or a play, can’t remember which.

Pleasure is not reward and reward is not pleasure, although both of them smush together a lot. Both feel good. And I love to feel good. Oh, you too? Okay then, we are on the same page.

The big deal between pleasure and reward? Lasting impact. In my not so humble opinion. Both are positive, good results. No problem with pleasure or reward. That warm fuzzy that fills your brain when you smell your favorite perfume, being snuggy after a hot bath while you listen to great music, relishing the quiet after a busy day.

Or for extroverts in the world, that wonderful camaraderie surrounded by a dozen of your best friends, watching your favorite team win the Super Bowl. Sitting in the stands at NASCAR, whooping with everyone as the cars scream past you. Great conversations going on around you at a fun party, where everyone is laughing, as you bring in more food and drinks.

Pleasure. Pure and simple. Good. And it’s fantastic while it happens.

Reward? It is rewarding to feel that sensation, while it lasts. But simple pleasure is momentary. It dissipates, fading to a pleasant memory.

The thing we call reward has much longer threads, more legs to journey into the future. Reward is something earned, a return on action. I must do something to achieve it. The crazy thing about it? Reward causes me to feel good about myself. I did something that rewarded me with the pleasure of my own company. And I want to feel good about myself much more than enjoy a fleeting moment of a-a-a-h-h.

Pleasure occurs. Reward results.

Why in the world am I talking about this? Rhetorical question, but a good one.

My grandkids. The three older ones perch in mid-teen years, and our conversations tell me they have the tiniest sense of self-awareness. And of course, like any good grandma, I want them strong in who they really are, what they are and how to achieve their own sense of value.

Yeah, the let-me-leave-a-legacy thing. Which is a reward I want. And a pleasure to see it begin at the incremental level. ( I do so love big honkin’ words. As if you didn’t know.)

This whole reward thing came about when I began developing a character for a manuscript. He needed depth, pathos, resolution in the middle of a run of the mill mystery adventure. Wound up scraping the story, but kept the character because he became more fun as he dug into what made him feel good about himself as opposed to what made him feel good. It turned the story into something stronger and I realized this element of reward versus pleasure worked in real people too. Especially me.

When I find an acorn in the forest, I tell absolutely everyone. Ad nauseam.

Lucky you.

The cool thing is, when I say Pleasure? Reward? to one grandchild, he raises an eyebrow. The other two, not so sure they get it. Yet.

But I will keep talking, ‘cause I am the grandma.

This obedience thing is getting out of hand!

So obedience can get out of control? Is that even possible? In any good discussion, lots of talk rolls around the room, knocking over tables or firm convictions, willy-nilly, until one side or the other gets tired, lands a good blow or with one mighty leap, bounds out of the room, claiming victory from a safe distance. Then the spectators get the not so fun job of sorting out the debris. If any survive.

I opened this topic last time with a tiny attempt to make sense of what obedience is actually good for. I know, I know. That sentence is not good grammar, according to Latin, (a dead language by the by) but it works in American just fine, thank you very much.

Turns out obedience is one of those topics used to start fights or flatten the opposition, not actually committing discussion. A major missed point is the question: Obedience to whom?

Sounds very grammarian doesn’t it? The question still stands. Who wants to talk about obedience in the first place. Usually someone who feels dis-obeyed and Wants His Voice Heard. Not generally one interested in discussion. The issue of listening, comprehending is a big part of obedience. The action of agreement comes after the decision to obey.

And 1 Corinthians 15:24 infers something very different about the result of obedience. Power. As in the power to destroy opposition. How’s that for shocking? But ya know, in 1 Samuel 15:23 rebellion is equated with witchcraft and stubbornness with iniquity. Strong words for things we think of as small, regular emotions.

Power is in this whole thing, as well as control.

And I thought this would be an easy weekend mental jog. Yeah, right.


Obey? Are you serious?

Been chewing on something. What? Me, do that? Apparently. It sort of happens when I’m left alone with my thoughts. The toys get all jumbled together and stuff falls out. Go figure.

Back to the thought or more exactly, the word. Obedience. A tricky concept all gnarled up with emotional baggage. And yes, I can hear the strangled yelp inside myself. You too, if you’re brave enough to admit it. Obedience. What is it anyway?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, obedience is the quality or condition of being obedient, to obey. Here where it get’s fun, I promise. Okay for word geeks it’s fun. ‘Cause we speak English. Okay, truth is we speak American English. More specifically Texas American English. Not the same thing, but close enough.

To obey is to carry out, fulfill a command, order, instruction or request. The word obey comes from Old French from Old Latin. It involves perception, specifically hearing. In other words, you gotta hear it, then you gotta do it. Obey. The act is called obedience.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. What’s that got to do with the price of eggs?

As Americans we pride ourselves on our fabled Independence, freedom from interference in our pursuit of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Quoting now from something Tom Jefferson whipped up years ago. Which involves  obeying somebody or something to actually acquire the freedom to access those three items. And the ultimate independence hinges on individuals working together for more of the same.

And funny enough, this whole debate started long ago. In the beginning of the beginning, there was order, structure and the need for obedience to continue that order, that structure. Adam was placed in the Garden to tend and keep it. Because God said so. Yeah, I know, quoting a much older document.

So what’s this thing the Bible calls obedience? In Hebrew, it means to hear intelligently, understand, regard, receive; in Greek, attentive listening, compliance, conform to advice. So, pretty much the same thing. To obey is to hear, understand and do what is required. Most of the time to God.

Simple to say, until that old Me First voice starts yapping. Which is the problem. Oddly enough, obedience ties closely to power. As in the use of.

1 Corinthians 15:24 is the verse that started this particular trip for me.

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

Jesus, that guy who obeyed even to the point of death, gained the power to destroy all the work of the enemy.

Now that paints a completely different picture of what obedience is and what it does. Have to think about all that. A lot. ‘Cause, apparently, there is more to dig into.


To slug or not slug?

Ever wake up with the demands of the day whipping around in your head? No? Honestly, no? Egad, then once again, I’m in the minority. Wait, no. I see that timid hand barely below shoulder level.

Go ahead, admit to it. We are those who think. All the time. About everything. Heavy sigh.

Doesn’t mean I don’t sleep. As a point of order, I sleep very well. Most of the time. Unless the thought herd gets restless, meandering in and out of the files I keep in my brain. Which of course goes into another file.

And yes, at some point, I will have to organize those files. A bit.

Oh, all right, I confess. Organizing is not one of my stronger abilities. I tell the children they will get it later. When they have to back up the truck to dump the contents of my office. Or simply strike a match. But that means notifying the fire department before hand. So they can cordon off the neighborhood.

Or not. But I have warned them. Or was that in another file?

To get back to the point (because I noticed several of you slipping off for more coffee) the word slug came to my attention. Mostly because of editing an essay. Notice I am resisting the temptation to chase yet another rabbit. Back to slug. I wrote that outloud?

Back to point, how did that word develop so many meanings in English? As in, to slug or hit someone. Take a slug, a stiff drink. A slug nickel isn’t worth much, while a garden slug means disaster in roses. In the railroad industry, before they used pushers in rail yards, they used slugs to maneuver empty cars. When I am a slug, I lay around all day, goofing off.

Which I am not doing. Really.

The sense of the word hinges on context, because the root word for slug came from lots of places. Old English, old Norse, in the blacksmith trade in reverence to small bits of metal snipped or flung off, to another older German word for strong liquor, the slimy critter in the garden from old French referring to a specific fish, all the way to old Irish for a hard or killing blow. In newspaper lingo, a slug was a first line in a print article. And we do understand what’s being said by the context.

Unless the speaker has a lisp, which throws a monkey wrench into the process. I know that from personal experience. Don’t ask. S words give me fits when I’m tired.

Which I Am Not.


Most of the time, what we say relates to what we do. Describing those actions take words. Those little blasts of air explain, confuse, attract, repel, create images in our brains and muddy intentions all over the place. Which is why I think about them. And tell y’all all about it.

Tossed in that little plural singular for fun. ‘Cause I do talk that way.

One of these years the first part of some words will drop off, because of use or misuse (referencing that colloquial ‘cause I just did) and no one will be the wiser. Except for word geeks. Small sigh.





You’re not the Boss of Me!

Remember saying this to your sibs, or if you have kids, hearing them say this to each other? I do, both ways. Been thinking about what triggers the statement and the emotion behind it. Knowing that another person is not superior but acts like it, has no real power to make you do anything, but boy howdy, do they try.

This is a verbal standing up when slapped down, speaking when yelled at to be quiet! Feels good, sort of, and stirs up all kinds of anger, resistance, out-right rebellion, righteous as well as self-righteous indignation. ‘Cause some people set themselves up as An Authority, A Power. But what is authority? Seriously. What does that even mean?

According to my favorite dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, the word authority means the right and power to command, enforce laws and exact obedience or a public agency with administrative powers limited to a specific field, as well as an accepted source of information or advice in a given field, or arena of influence.

Kind of a mouthful, or more exacting, a mindful.

So an authority has the right and strength to make you do what is commanded, because they know stuff about the subject at hand? In kid talk (where most of us actually operate) if they are bigger and know more stuff, you gotta do what they say. Yucko.

In the classic television show, the Honeymooners, this situation is laid out crystal clear. The husband yells at the wife, “I’m the boss and you’re nothin’!”

“Yeah. Then you’re the boss of nothin’.”

Audience laughs.

Everybody wins that round. Everybody loses that round.

But there is another source to the meaning of Authority. The word authority (in English) is used over 30 times in the Bible, with 9 different definitions. Some refer to given authority, concerning positions, political and emotional, and in one case it really means to dominate. As in we aren’t permitted to do so. Most of the meanings have to do with strength, firmness and mastery.

So it sounds like the one in authority has a greater responsibility to help everyone else deal with life for everyone’s benefit. Hmmm. None of this, I’m the Boss and you’re Nothing, because when I do that, I actually prove I am nothing to speak of.

Ouch. Both ways.

What is a reward anyway?

I bet no one else experiences mental rumbles caused by all the stuff surrounding holidays. Reheard an old saying from my errant (lazy?) youth: Hard work is its own reward. Hmmm. I do not like sweating, or boredom. Hard work sounds like both.

One thought emerged from the morass, What is Reward/What is Pleasure? Are they the same, dressed in different clothes? I choose to ignore Work. For the moment.

Turns out Reward is rooted in old German meaning to regard or look at, watch over. Kind of like the word, tend; as in to tend a house or garden. Modern usage refers to Reward as a return or result from some behavior or action. It often infers monetary compensation for special services.

Let’s put all that in the word cauldron. Stir, while heating to a low boil. Simmer until a coherent idea glosses the top of the liquid. Pour into a shallow container and let sit until it congeals.

Wait, no, I’m mixing up images, again. One of these days, cooking will stay in cooking, knitting will stay in knitting and words, well, let’s just say, mental and oral vocalizations will Know Their Place. Or not. Rather like well rested toddlers, they imagine their place to be Out Here. See how they hijacked a perfectly reasonable discussion? Heavy, heavy sigh.

Back to the issue. It was here a moment ago, right in the middle of my desk. Once I move the Christmas cookies/candy/gift list…ah, ha. There it is.

Reward. A result of action. And most people see reward as a good thing. It gratifies, satisfies deeper than a momentary impulse. So the satisfaction I get from knitting a cap for a grandchild is a reward for me. Seeing the yarn go from a simple ball to something the kid desires is fun for both of us. And I get the pleasure of seeing him wear the cap.

Painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling had to be the biggest pain, physically and mentally for Michelangelo. But the end result, gratifying in a huge way. So even grand art, or composing or any of the art forms requires work. Hmmm.

What I think of as mundane, boring actions are only mundane in the moment or the result? I know that in knitting, reading, the stuff I enjoy but I learned to enjoy those things because I wanted the sweater or how the story ended or the information on how to do something.

Hmmm. There’s a funny little conflict arising. Sort of like raisins you thought were chocolate chips, in a cookie. Why does no one warn me of this? My tongue was set for chocolate and this was, aaauuuugggghhhhh, not chocolate!

So, work Can be its own reward? But, wait a minute, everything in my culture argues not so! Live for the weekend, do as little as possible, if it’s not fun, don’t do it. That other stuff isn’t my job anyway. I don’t do dishes or windows or vacuum. It’s boring.

Sorry. That last rant was a replay of an overheard conversation. Somewhere. Will have to chew on the Reward thing. Buried in this idea is how a Reward works internally so I feel good about myself. It nourishes rather than demands feeding. I feel a good bit of contemplation and experimentation coming on.

Or a nap. Whichever comes first.


New day, new way. EEEEEKKKK

There ought to be a different word than anxious about the crazy discomfort of wonderful, desired new things. That feeling just before you finish your driving test, and you know you passed, you’ll have that license and you’ll be free to go where you want, when you want and yet…And yet, it’s kind of nice to relax in the passenger seat, not have to watch for traffic, other drivers, approaching weather conditions, that looney insisting on texting while driving on the freeway ahead of me, now beside me, now speeding to catch a slot to exit, but wait, no. Not exiting, simply charging along, texting.

Could I just have a chauffeur? A professional driver to take me on errands on my schedule? Is that too much to ask? Actually, yes. And expensive. Cabs are not cheap either plus you have wait for them.

Already had all that drama about driving, years ago. And survived. But at different junctures of life, new stuff emerges. New pathways into foreign unknowns. Heavy sigh. And still, no really good descriptor of that uggy, excited, wonderful, scary awareness of new levels in life.

I did use my handy-dandy on-line thesaurus (spell checker is not always helpful. Took me several letters erased, repeated, erased to get anything close of correct on how to spell thesaurus) and it had suggestions. None of which I liked.

As a kid, I loved the excitement of Christmas morning, but I really loved the warm quiet of settling in with that long-wanted-new-smell book, surrounded by new clothes and other stuff I’ve long forgotten but so enjoyed then. The hustle, hustle was over and quiet appreciation covered everyone.

Quiet. Peace. Awareness and time to savor. That part I still love. And new routines usually work into good methods. Even as I write about how my insides wriggle and twist at new levels of life, I know the after time will slip in and it will be good. Writing about it works for me. And honestly, holds the anxiety at bay.

So new stuff on the horizon, I salute you. Welcome you. Anticipate the freshness you carry and look forward to a long and worthy partnership. It will be Good. After I stuff that last remaining fretting quiver back down in the back of the cabinet. Under the stairs. In the basement.


Horns of a Dilemma or Dilemma Horns?

The crazy thing about wanting to do something and having the time, so it’s less attractive to do, as opposed to wanting to do something and having absolutely no time to do it. Horns of a Dilemma.

Hmmm. Sounds like some dime novel title. Except it’s been used before and dime novels now cost $5.

Is this some kind of psychological mind game?

Naw, merely the realization that time, inclination and motivation don’t do algebra or even geometry very well.

Did you say Euclidian geometry?

Nope, simply geometry. Most of which is Euclidian. I repeated that word ‘cause it’s fun to say. And write. Actually, this runs into the field of psychology. Happily, with ribbons and streamers dancing in the sunlight of a quiet Sunday afternoon. And yes, I know full well that Monday will come charging up at sunrise, demanding I Get to Work.

Oh, so you anthropomorphize your inclinations?

Yes, I do. They are much more fun that way.

Oh, dear. The whips and chains have come out. And dogs. And torches. Which means I really have to get this blog started. The idea was a fun one, but I think it got left in the swamp of an interrupted afternoon nap, followed by a lack of caffeine.

You see what I have to work with, all these voices chittering away like squirrels too high in the tree to chase them away? And I did have a point with starting this thing. I’m dithering between 6 different projects, two of which are book length adventure/mystery, one non-fiction piece and a couple of short stories dangling in edit purgatory. That leaves the lone blog, defenseless  unable to run away from me. It limps and whimpers, afraid I’ll do something before it is prepared to face the world.

But I won’t. Once I get going, words will flow, images will gel into some kind of coherent structure and I’ll have a lovely, intelligent essay ready. It’s just that getting going part is rougher than usual today.

I’m attempting to get myself into a routine of writing Sunday afternoon, editing Monday morning while I do laundry, set some bread to rise, and seek out a few raging dust bunnies. Except by now they are more like treacherous tangled tigers, ravaging the chair legs in the kitchen. What? Too many T’s?

Whew! Almost lost my train of thought there, caught up with the disaster of the kitchen. I was talking about establishing a routine for writing while allowing for life to continue. Because I do write, a lot. And I do have goals, which every honest writer needs.

Don’t get me started on being dis-honest. I put the hyphen in there on purpose, to call attention to my own conflicts. Am I a writer or a dilettante? A teller of meaningful tales or a useless hack, beating my fingers bloody to feed the gaping maw of a demanding public?

Sorry, the purple prose police arrested me for over-use of adjectives. Had to pay the fine or no writing for a week. Stupid rules. Not like it’s a felony offense or anyth…Oh, did I write in my outside voice? Again? Sorry.

And I do sincerely apologize for saying the public is demanding or has a gaping maw. You, Gentle Reader, are the reason I  keep going. I want to writer for you. It’s simply that I’m a tiny, ittsy bit stuck. And Facebook is telling me to Write More of Something.

And I did. So there, Facebook, you and your snippy, rat-me-out Results page. Your 500 words, in your face.

Oh, sorry, must run now. I see the glow of torches, the clash of pitchforks and the high pitched caterwauling of critics. We will continue our lovely discussion of Writer Ethics at a later date. After I come out of hiding. Next week or perhaps Tuesday afternoon. After the battle of the vacuum cleaner and the window smucher. Ah, paper towels, ethics be damned.

When I am not so warm and fuzzy

You know how sometimes a specific event triggers a realization in your head? Had one of those things. I want to install a peephole in my front door. The realization was not about installing a peephole but more that I don’t have to open the door to anyone, if I don’t want to.

This matches the moment I realized I don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings. I’m not a doctor on call, nor do I hold office hours in my home. My front door is for my convenience, just like my phone. Nor do I need to sneak around, pretending I’m not home when the random person demands my attention.

Yeah, I know, it sounds and feels rude to ignore the bing-bong, the jangle or the snippet from a song bursting forth. The conversation or game, or fun moment I’m enjoying with my grandkids, husband or anyone I actually invited over is worth more than the imperious demand of whoever wonders by my house. And yet.

And yet, I fall for it most of the time. Did the other day and it still rankles me. Am I such a slave to other people I don’t even know that I let them jump into my life, hold my attention, and interrupt moments I will never regain? Apparently so.

It feels like I’m ignoring, dishonoring, thumbing my nose at that person on the other side of the door who just Might Need My Help. Ah ha. Not so much about them but more about me and that crazy savior button getting pushed, again. And again. And again.

Once upon a time, in the not so long ago, people did not lock their front doors. Ever. Neighbors knew who lived around them, making note of strangers walking around. Kids played in (gasp)the front yard. Along with drinking from the hose, climbing trees and generally running from yard to yard in a pack.

Now we mow our lawns for looks, not use, decorate the front path to impress instead of invite, ignoring the front porch wavers. And the idea is great, romantic and homey. Since I grew up in the country, outside of town my images of town life included all the stuff I watched on Leave It to Beaver. And other forgotten shows. But you know, the Cleavers were not front porch people either.


Have to re-examine my childhood images more. June Cleaver did open her front door from time to time and she never seemed to be in the middle of anything important, family related or otherwise. Come to think of it, she probably ignored the front door bell all the time. It simply never made it into the script for us to see. And I just bet Ward installed a security camera right after Wally and the Beaver went off to college. In case Eddie Haskell dropped by.