Monday, August 10, 2020

HELLO!! Hello? helloooo....hellooo (echoing)

My little blog has been feeling neglected. I have not been inspired to write much. But I am still here! The pandemic and the self-quarantine have really messed with my interests. You know I love to read, but guess what? I have barely been able to read a thing for the last couple of months! For some reason I cannot settle down and give my full attention to a book! I'm perplexed and hope it will correct itself soon. Right now I am managing to listen to a book on the podcast, "Phoebe Reads a Mystery." She is reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. I have never read it in my life, so decided to listen to broaden my knowledge of classics. It has been a little creepy and then a little interesting in ways other than creepy. We're not done yet. She reads one chapter per day. I have been sewing. Here are some examples: Oh, wait! Blogger has changed its format! Where do I find the insert for sharing photos??? Sheesh... it's not even honoring my desire for paragraphs. I'm lost!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Why I Don't Drink

I started listening to a new (to me) podcast: Inappropriate Questions. It is produced by CBC (Canada). So far I am enjoying it. Some of the questions they have discussed include "Have you had the surgery yet?" (transgender issues), "Are you able to have sex?" (disability issues), and the most recent that I listened to, "Why don't you drink?".

This question about drinking is a little less obviously inappropriate. It depends a lot on context, who asks and how they ask, and the non-drinker him or herself and what they feel comfortable with. Several people were interviewed and had a few different takes on how it can feel to be asked that question. It prompted me to think about myself, and how I feel about that question.

I say I don't drink, but technically, if even a drop counts, I do drink very rarely and infrequently. For example, I will sometimes have a Mike's Hard Lemonade (have had two or three in my life, I believe), or an occasional Mimosa (again, maybe 2 or 3 times in my life). And when I happen to imbibe, it is usually because I am getting it free.

I grew up in a Methodist household. My dad was a Methodist minister, and Methodism was and is strong in my family heritage. Methodism, in its history, took a strong stance against drinking alcohol. Officially it is still in favor of abstinence, although it is less strict now and encourages people who choose to drink to do so responsibly. My childhood household was wholly in favor of abstinence, and that is how I grew up. The act of drinking was seen in judgmental light. So, that was the attitude around which I grew up.

The first time I ever tried any alcohol was (guess when) during college. I had a drink once at an event; I think I was 19. Then I didn't drink anything again until my 21st birthday. I went to a bar and got the bar tender to give me a free drink.

After that I continued to drink very rarely. A couple of times as an adult (in my 30s), on two different occasions, I drank maybe two drinks, enough to get light-headed and silly. But I never liked that feeling and later was embarrassed at my silly behavior.

The final straw took place when I traveled with my husband. We were at an event. They had a table at which people were encouraged to sign a sober pledge - pledging not to drink at all from that point on, for the rest of one's life. As a person who drank so rarely I could almost call it never, I glibly signed the pledge, and went merrily on about my business. That evening we attended a dinner which was paid for by the company with which my husband was affiliated. Since it was free, I decided to order a drink. I took a couple of sips, and then suddenly remembered the pledge I had signed earlier that day. How glibly I had signed it, when others who struggle were being encouraged to sign the pledge, and maybe had to do some real soul searching before they could take that big step. I felt guilty that I had made a pledge and then had immediately broken it. For people who really had the problem, signing the pledge that day would have and should have held some great importance in their lives.. a turning point, one hopes.

After that I promised myself that I would never drink again, and in so doing I was honoring the pledge I had signed and attempting to be in solidarity with those who signed it with a lot more difficulty than I had. I did abstain from any alcohol for a long time after that.. many years. But in the last five years or so is when I have occasionally had a Mike's Hard Lemonade or a Mimosa. And to be honest, even those drinks were probably taken due to peer pressure (even at my age).

I'm still a Methodist (now called United Methodist), and I am proud of the Methodist tradition of encouraging abstinence. We still will never have a Methodist event at which alcohol will be served. We take that stance seriously, though as I stated above, it is more open to individual decisions these days. I admit I like the fact that I don't ever have to question whether I'll be in the presence of alcohol consumption at a Methodist event. I am not comfortable in drinking situations, and would hate to have to juggle my way through a church event with drinking being part of it. I'm happier without it being an issue at church.

As for being asked, "why don't you drink?" , I do feel a little uncomfortable with that question. The reason is because of the judgmental attitude in which I grew up. Drinking was just seen as wrong and bad. I enjoy a 99% alcohol-free life. I'm happy that I don't drink (for the most part). But when being completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I still do feel some of those judgmental feelings that I was taught. I try hard to separate the drinking from the person, so that I'm not being judgmental about the person but only about the habit. But it is hard. When trying to explain why I don't drink, I find myself sounding judgey, and I don't like that. I don't want to be that. So in my case, it is an uncomfortable question, though I wouldn't go so far as calling it inappropriate.

There. Just thought I'd share. It was on my mind, so I wrote.

Happy middle of summer! Hope you are enjoying some beautiful days. Read any good books lately?

Monday, July 13, 2020

Short Story Review - Recitatif

Levar Burton has a cool podcast called "Levar Burton Reads." Remember back when he did Reading Rainbow? Well, he truly loves books and loves to read. So now he does this podcast. Recently I listened to his reading of Recitatif by Toni Morrison. First he waxed eloquent about his admiration for Morrison. (He's right; she's a great writer.) Then he read the story. It is about two girls who were close friends in childhood. One girl is white, one is black. After their lives take them on separate paths, they bump into each other on a couple different occasions as the years go by. They are growing up and into adulthood as the 1960s Civil Rights movement is going full swing in the USA.

Of course the story is interesting; but one aspect is VERY interesting. Morrison purposely doesn't tell us which character in the story is white and which character is black. At the end, Burton talks a bit about the story and questions us, the listeners: do you feel that you know which is which? Why did you come to those conclusions? What pre-conceived notions led us to decide in our minds which girl is white and which girl is black?

This was mind blowing. I thought about that for a long time. To me, I barely gave it any thought while listening. It was "obvious" to me which was white and which was black. But I didn't realize until Burton challenged me -- why was that "obvious?" I'm continuing to ponder that question. What does it say about me, or about the story, or about American culture, or about Morrison's talents, or even about Burton's reading? Very thought-provoking.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

A Whole Month Later -- Catching Up

It has been a MONTH since I posted?? I guess I didn't feel I had anything newsworthy, which never stopped me in the past, as my readers well know. These are such strange times... continuing quarantine at home, plus all the unrest which started here in Minnesota after the death of George Floyd. I didn't know how to address it all. (Also, my depression reared its ugly head for a while, so I wasn't enthused about writing.) I'm all in favor of radical change. It's about time we finally address our racist habits here in the USA. I think having the conversations is a great start. So many of us white people, definitely including me, have had easy and oblivious lives, unaware of how truly difficult it has been all along for people of color. I thought I was "woke" but I see I was not. So.. I'm trying to read and learn all I can. This will be an ongoing goal of mine.

Meanwhile, my sister got married!! She was divorced many years ago (which is sad no matter what, and each situation contains its own unique story of sadness). And then a year ago she attended a 50th school reunion in the town where we used to live as kids; we moved away from there when I was 12 and she was 13. She has always been good at keeping in touch with people from the past. Me, not so much. I would never have attended that reunion. Anyway, while there she re-connected with a family friend/classmate. His family had attended our church where our dad was the pastor. And we used to go out to their farm fairly often to have dinner and play around. You know, for a town kid to go visit a farm, it's always memorable and there's so much to do. We have good memories of that family.

So when my sister re-connected with R., we thought it was quite cool. And he is a very nice man. His wife of many years died of cancer 3-4 years ago. Sis and R. were both in the right position to be open to a new relationship. And this one went fast. They felt close immediately and a year later - Boom! - they got married. They figured at age 69, why waste any time? And R's mother is still alive; she is now 97, understandably getting frail. So they wanted to hurry on her behalf as well.

The wedding was small - a crowd of 10 - and we practiced social distancing. It felt quite odd to not be able to hug and be close at a wedding. I did sneak in one quick hug with my sister, but kept my distance from my new brother-in-law. It was a fun, happy day. I must say that I have not seen my sister this happy in a LONG time. I am thankful that she and R. found each other.

They got married at the chapel on the campus of the senior residence where R's mother lives. My son was videographer. Here he is shown interviewing R's mother. He intended to get taped comments from all ten people, but ended up getting only that one. And the final pic is Sis and R opening the gift we gave them.. it's something they have to choose, so it's just a written description.

I am happy to report that my depression went back into hiding. I'm feeling quite good again and am interested in my fun hobbies again. I have been mostly sewing, because oddly, I have not been able to concentrate on reading! During this time when I could be reading up a storm! What's up with that? I figure it'll come back to me eventually. I hope you, my lovely readers, are healthy and happy. Keep safe, everyone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Book Review: The End of the Ocean

Novel: The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde

An audio book I got at a bargain price as a new user of the Chirp audio books app, I really enjoyed this book! The writing was great; several times I was struck by excellent metaphors and other language devices that make a book so rich. The narrators were also very good. I liked the fact that a woman read the female character's part and a man read the male character's part. The story takes place in the future, after humans have caused such destruction via global warming. People are living in crisis, running from fires and facing severe water shortages. There's a woman and her story from the past (probably around our current time), and there's a man and his young daughter trying to survive in the future, year 2041. It all seemed terrifyingly possible and realistic. A serious issue, but I kept a glimmer of hope throughout the book. I suppose that's because the lead characters had to rely on hope as well.

somewhere in Norway -- I hope we never need to worry about where to find water as they did in this book! (part of it took place in Norway)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

My H2H Challenge Quilts

This year I made two quilts for the Hands2Help Challenge. This first one went to Quilts of Compassion:

Another option was their idea to send a quilt to a local caregiver. I decided to give one to my friend who works in the mental health field. I'm sure it is quite a challenging job, and I'm betting that her patience and quiet approach are helpful to her clients and to herself. Still, no matter how well suited she is to the task, I'm sure it sometimes gets to be difficult. So I sent this one in the mail, and I will post her response below the pictures.

From my friend:
"Thank you so much for the wonderful gift that arrived today! You will never know how much that means to me. After a challenging week at work, this made my day. The quilt is so perfect in every way. I love that the animal print came from Panama."

The give-one-locally idea was fun as I got to experience her reaction. I'm very pleased that it was a hit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Book Review: Disappearing Earth

a novel: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

This book takes place on a peninsula in north-eastern Russia very near and/or in the arctic - a peninsula that I never knew existed! However, I have recently learned some things about the Russian arctic, so some of the life styles in this book were a little familiar due to my recently-gained knowledge. It's always fun when my worlds of learning collide.

This one starts out with the disappearance of two young girls from a community in the southern part of this peninsula. The story then expands to include other families and groups within that same community. It also includes communities north of this one, hence the closer proximity to the arctic region where reindeer herding is a way of life.

The chapters bounce around between groups of people. It wasn't too jarring other than wishing to know the outcome of some of the previous situations; but then the reader gets caught up in the new chapter and new situations. It's a captivating book and good story that involves a lot of human emotion, struggles, joys, and sorrows. I give it 5 of 5 stars.