Discover Prompts: Grateful

Sometimes it helps to stop to reflect on the good things in your life, to find something to be grateful for. Times are tough, there is no question about it. But there can almost always be some good thing and some benefits of a bad situation. So there are the things I’m grateful today.

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  1. That I am doing well healthwise.
  2. That no one in my extended family has fallen ill to Covid 19
  3. That I am able to self-quarantine at home and find ways to get the things I need.
  4. That my granddaughter was able to fly home from Texas where she is going to college. Because of the coronavirus, air fees are very low so getting home to Idaho was cheap and easy.
  5. That I have Internet access and my desktop computer, lap top and cell phone so I can stay in touch with friends and family.
  6. Having a good medical team and primary doctor who cares about my needs, even if she does push me to do somethings I really don’t want to do. But I wanted a good doctor, so I have to at least meet her halfway.
  7. The ability to do researching and studying to learn a whole variety of things and the time to do both. There are so many new (and old) things to learn about life, about the past and seeing ideas for the future.
  8. Wonderful music playlists to listen to as often as I want.
  9. My own movie collection to choose from when I want to watch a movie as well as all of the online options.
  10. A room full of craft supplies to explore my creative side.
  11. My beloved niece who checks up on me every day and sends me videos of what her children are doing to keep busy.
  12. Plenty of everything I need to survive, keep healthy and happy… a warm home, food to eat, things to entertain myself, things to educate myself and connections to others for my social life.

Discover Prompts: Tempo

The coronavirus, Covid 19, has changed our lives in very drastic ways. For some of us, we are adapting very well. For others, the slower tempo of life is devastating. These are the people who find themselves quarantined at home against their will.

Their reasons for fighting against the stay at home rules vary from person to person. Here is just one woman I talked to about being forced to stay at home.

“I am so bored.. I’m tired of staying home and just watching TV.”

“Why not try something else?”

“No!! You don’t understand. I want to go shopping. I want to go to church!!”

“You can shop online and most churches are doing online services.”

“NO!!! No! You don’t understand!!”

No, I didn’t but after talking to her further, it finally came out. She didn’t want to be around other people. She wanted the attention OF other people. She loved going shopping and being told by salespeople how wonderful she looked in this dress or that suit. She loved people at church making a big deal about how stylish she always looked when she attended church.

No, I didn’t understand at all. Not this need. But it was obvious that she was more concerned about getting attention and approval than worrying about herself or anyone else getting infected with this virus.

This was several days before the anti-quarantine protests started. People who only were thinking of themselves…. They wanted a hair cut, they want to go out for dinner and to a movie. Okay, I get that. People resent having to be stuck at home. They are bored. They don’t like being told what to do by someone else.

Their tempos slowed down so slow they just didn’t know what to do with themselves. They’ve never had to think of things to do for themselves, they have depended on just doing their job, something someone else told them to do (ironically) and for others to entertain them. Now left to their own devices, they are totally lost.

And bored!

I’m glad I’m more self resilient and adaptable. I grew up thinking of ways to entertain myself. I understand hating the feeling of boredom. I hate that too. But I don’t understand whining about it.

Find something to do!! There are thousands of ideas all over the place.

Because my life hasn’t changed much with the coronavirus, I’m pretty much doing the same things I’ve been doing for the 2 years. My tempo is staying steady.

I know things could get much worse before it gets better. So for know I will appreciate what I do have and not bitch because I can’t get a hair cut. Instead I try to see the other side and think…maybe it’s time to just let my hair grow out.

Discover Prompt: Instrument

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When I was a child, I was given a record about the different musical instruments in an orchestra. I didn’t have a lot of other records and I found this fascinating so I listen to it a lot. I became pretty good at identifying the instruments as I heard them play.

These memories have stayed with me my whole life and I still can tell which instrument is being played just by the sound. I have a strange ability of telling the difference in sounds and can also identify a person, such as an actor in a movie, simply by the sound of their voice.

I tend to like orchestral pieces that isolate the different instruments… such as this one done recently by an orchestra in the UK while in isolation.

And this classic flash mob rendition of Ravel’s Bolero

Discover Prompts: Music

Music is a topic I write about a lot, or so it seems. I love movies, but I don’t watch a lot of TV other than a few select shows. Books are my number one media love with music a close second.

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I love to categorize things and music isn’t any different. I have playlists for a variety of different topics, events and reasons.

I can pick a playlist depending on my mood. Sometimes it’s slow, relaxing instrumental music with a meditation type beat and others it’s blasting classic rock that I can sing along to at the top of my lungs. Sometimes the songs on a certain playlist remind me of someone who is no longer in my life.

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I like to explore different genres of music and again, pick genres to reflect my mood and emotional needs.

If I had a music soundtrack about my life, it would include the following songs.

1. Windy by The Association
2. Let Go from Frozen
3. Landslide by Dixie Chicks
4. Never Had a Dream Come True by S Club 7
5. Burn It Down by Linkin Park
6. Runaway by The Corrs
7. Mama by The Spice Girls
8. Impulsive by Wilson Philips
9. Memory from Cats
10. Holding On To Yesterday by Ambrosia
11. In a Lifetime by Clannad and Bono
12. Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
13. Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses
14. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
15. Lights by Journey
16. Heartache Tonight by The Eagles
17. Live to Tell by Madonna
18. Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd
19. I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserable
20. Shot in the Dark by Ozzy Osbourne
21. Turn the Page by Bob Seger
22. Holding Back the Years by Simply Red
23. When Doves Cry by Prince
24. Touch of Grey by Grateful Dead
25. Crystal Ship by the Doors
26. You Belong to the City by Glenn Frey

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Discover Prompts: Slow

Slow.

Slow and steady wins the race, like in the story about the tortoise and the hare. My take-away from that story was slow was also methodical, focused, complete. The hare’s fast was chaotic and disjointed.

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Slow cooking vs fast food. Slow cooking tends to be a better quality of food while fast food is in the same category as junk food.

The song “Slow Hand” by the Pointer Sisters:

“I want a man with a slow hand
I want a lover with an easy touch
I want somebody who will spend some time
Not come and go in a heated rush”

Slow indicates a caring, loving lover while a sex partner with the attitude of “wham bam thank you mam” only cares with himself getting off, with their orgasm and then they are on their way.

Slowing down means taking the time to smell the roses, not just running over the tops of them, trampling them to the ground.

A slow day maybe considered slightly boring but at least it’s not full of drama and trauma.

 

 

Discover Prompts: Light

As soon as I saw this prompt, I thought of “Lights”… the song by Journey. I triggers a lot of wonderful memories for me… most people think of San Francisco when it mentions “on the bay” and I do too… especially one spectacular birthday that I spent in San Francisco the year I turned 19. Sitting on the beach right by Hyde Street Pier, at dawn “when the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on the bay…. after trying to get to Altamont for the Rock Festival, but we got lost, so we spent the evening at Filmore listening to The Grateful Dead.

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I’ve also seen many sunrises over Golden Gardens Park in Seattle… Although technically not a bay, Puget Sound is a body of water and that’s close enough. In my late teens and early 20’s, Golden Gardens was “kid central” where we all hung out… kids from multiple high schools around the north end of the city. We stayed up all night and the lyrics of a song by the Eagles comes to mind, “Heartache Tonight”… “This night is gonna last forever. Last all, last all summer long Some time before the sun comes up the radio is gonna play that song!” We cruised the parking lot, made out in the woods (called ‘watching the submarine races’, flirted with cute boys and we often had drag races in the parking lot.

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And lastly, it reminds me of where I live now, facing Discovery Bay just off of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Because I am a night owl, I often watch the sun come up.

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Discover Prompts: Book; Cloud Atlas

If there is a movie that I have watched over and over again and have recommended over and over, it’s Cloud Atlas, which features Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon.

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While a lot people will not be interested in this because it seems too sci-fi or who don’t believe in past lives, I were blown away by this movie as well as the book.

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This is one case where I suggest people watch the movie first, and then pick up the book to study. And it really is more of a study than a read. I found myself stopping to do research on places, times and events in the story that I wasn’t familiar with, and there is nothing wrong with that. It makes it a learning experience.

Several times while reading the book, I stopped and watched the movie again and something in the book suddenly made sense for me.

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It’s pretty involved, and you really need to pay attention in order to follow it since it jumps quickly between six different time periods. But after awhile, you start to notice the connection between stories and characters and events. Even using the Wikipedia as a cheat sheet, it still was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who and what all was going on, until towards the end it all started to blend and merge and make sense. The ending was amazing and showed how we all are connected, in this time period as well as other times, dimensions and places, and everything we do affects others and the future and the past affects the events in our present.

I think this is why I study both history and science… the past and the future and why I spend so much time tracing my family history and recording my life and current events. Maybe no one right now will find them interesting, but some day, someone will.

This is a movie that I’m going to be watching over and over again and each time come away with a new revelation.

My opinion is that this movie is going to take a level of commitment that a lot of people are not going to be willing to give it. My recommendation to anyone who is going to watch this is to first read the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia:

Cloud Atlas book

Then read the the movie synopsis:

Cloud Atlas (movie) 

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While the book differs somewhat from the movie in presentation, it will give you an idea of the basic storyline and the characters, which is why I recommend reading the book AFTER watching the movie several times.

That way you will see the interweaving of the characters and the actors who play them… each actor plays a different character in each time frame, although you might not even recognize some the actors. The make up done in the movie is extraordinary and the movie won several awards for makeup (and some criticism).

Then watch the movie. The WHOLE movie, even if you feel bored or confused at the beginning. If you only are willing to give it 15 minutes to grab you, don’t bother watching it. Because it will take watching it all, really watching it and concentrating on what is going on… letting it gel and then letting it finally come together and make sense at the ending.

Roger Ebert said the same thing I did, that this is a movie that you need to watch a second time and then a third time and a fourth time, because it will take all those times to understand the intricate interweavings of the story.

This is why I say this story, both the movie and the book, will require some commitment. But it’s one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever seen.

What Dreams May Come is one of my favorites too… I have both the book and the movie. Cloud Atlas is much more complicated than Dreams.

What Dreams May Come is more about life after death, what people call Heaven, or the Summerlands, or Nirvana. And that the afterlife is like life, we create our own realities.

Cloud Atlas is more about life, and how the past lives influence us in the present and our present is influenced by the past and both influence the future.

In one point, one of the characters is asked if she believes in Heaven and what she thinks that is.. She says that she believes it to be one door closing and another opening. Many people who believe in reincarnation believe that too, that there is no afterlife, that we just go from one lifetime immediately into another. While What Dreams May Come suggests that we die, go to an afterlife and then can choose to reincarnate again.

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Discover Prompts, Day 5: Dish

Many of us have powerful memories of a specific dish from our past. What’s yours?

When I was in high school, a friend planned a midnight dinner for after a school dance. She served French Dip Sandwiches, Fruit Salad and Chocolate Layer Cake. I’ve used this same menu whenever I’ve made French Dips, for the past 50 years, but I’ve added broccoli salad and a tossed green salad to the menu.

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French Dip Sandwiches

1 Sirloin Tip or Top Sirloin Roast
1 package of dry onion soup mix
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet

(Method 1): Place roast into a crock pot early in the day (about 10 AM). Mix water and Kitchen Bouquet together and pour over the roast. Sprinkle onion soup over the top. Cover and cook on “high” for 6-8 hours.

(Method 2): Place roast in a roasting pan and follow the directions above for the liquids and the dry soup. Fold a piece of foil in a tent shape and place on top of the roast. Cook in a 300 degree oven set at bake for 2 hours for rare beef, or 2-3 hours for well-done.

Remove roast from cooking pan onto a wooden cutting board and let “rest” for 20 minutes. Prepare a package of Au Jus mix according to package directions. Slice the roast into thin slices and serve on French rolls cut in half. Serve Au Jus in small bowls to dip the sandwich into.

Serve with tossed green salad, broccoli salad and fruit salad, and chocolate cake for dessert.

Broccoli Salad

2-3 brunches of fresh broccoli
1/2 sweet onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup bacon, crumbled
Dressing:
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Make the dressing first, whisk the sugar into the mayo and then add the vinegar. Refrigerate while you make the salad.

Cut up the broccoli into small flowers. I usually discard the stems, but if you like that part, cut those up too. Chop the onion, either thick or fine. Mix the broccoli flowers, onion, cheese, bacon bits, and sunflowers. Add the dressing and mix together. This salad actually takes better the next day, so I usually make it ahead of time. You can also add raisins or green grapes. Some people add Mandarin orange slices or chopped apple.

Easy Fruit Salad

1 can drained mixed tropical fruit
1 or 2 sliced bananas
1 or 2 peeled or unpeeled red apples, chopped
1 can drained mandarin oranges
1 can pineapple chunks
1/2 cup whipping cream, shipped and sweetened

Mix drained fruit and fold in whipped cream. This can also be served without cream and substituted with about 1/3 cup carbonated soda water, such as 7-Up or Sprite.

Tossed Green Salad

Your choice of salad greens
Sliced raw tomatoes marinated in Italian dressing and then chopped
Thinly sliced red onion slices, mushrooms, and radishes
Chopped green onions, white and green parts
Chopped black and green olives

Mix together and served with your favorite dressing or a variety of dressings both cream based and oil based.

Dark Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cup flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat for two minutes at medium speed. Stir in the boiling water. The Batter Will Be Thin. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter (1 cube)
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine chocolate and butter. Slowly melt, stirring gently. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add chocolate/butter mixture. Set pan in bowl of ice. Beat until thick. Spread one layer, top with second cake layer and spread frosting evenly over entire cake.

 

 

 

 

 

Discover Prompts, Day 4: Street

From memory, describe in as much detail as possible the street you grew up on.

If your window overlooks a street, snap a photo of it, and post it.

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I’m going to write about four streets. Two from my childhood, one from my children’s childhoods and where I live now.

I was born and raised in Seattle, and grew up in two houses in the north end of the city…one just north of the “U District” where the University of Washington resides and a house a little further north close to Lake City. My children lived their entire childhood in a house north of Lynnwood which is about 25 miles north of Seattle. I now live about 100 miles north of that.

The first house was a 1908 1 bedroom, 1 bath cottage with an attic. The attic is where we three kids slept. This was at the height of the baby boomer in the early 50’s and the entire neighborhood was full of kids. It was a great place and time to grow up. As kids we had lots of freedom and roamed the neighborhood in a pack… from one end to the other. To the south they were building a new “shopping mall” and the construction site was a goldmine for kids looking for cool treasures… rusty old nails, odd pieces of wood, odd and ends, whatnots and whoseits. A big park was there to explore. The library was to the north and in between it was kid central. We made up games and played well known ones like tag and hide ‘n seek. We rode our bikes all over, often dragging handmade toy hydroplane boats behind us. Hydroplanes were big in Seattle. We played fly up in the middle of the street with someone designed to call out “car” when we had move out of the way.

When I was 11, we moved to a bigger house and now I only had to share a bedroom with my sister. There were pros and cons to moving. I was starting the six grade and at my old school finally achieved the 6th grade privileges that didn’t exist at the new school… a locker, the chance to work in the school kitchen, flying up in Campfire. The only advantage of the new school was that it was a lot closer, just a two block walk.

We made new friends and again rode our bikes all over, could walk down the hill to the beach and hung out on the school playground to play kickball. Now we also had skateboards. At our old house, we had sidewalks and regular concrete streets. At the new house, there almost no sidewalks and basically a packed gravel road. At the old house the mailman walked up to porch to leave the mail. At the new house we had an old fashioned mailbox.

I lived in that house until a graduated from high school and move back again a few times after getting my own place.

In 1979 I married and bought a brand new house in Lynnwood. We lived there for 20 years. Both of my children were “born” there and lived their entire childhoods there. My daughter died in that house in 2000 at the age of 16 and I moved away shortly after that.

While my children had a lot of friends around the neighborhood and we were considered pretty rural at the time, these kids didn’t have the freedom I had when I was a kid. Kidnappings and stranger danger had taken over their lives. Now, of course, we had stranger danger when I was a kid and we were cautioned to never talk to strangers. Girls were taught that strangers would rape you. The irony of that was that I was raped four times and all by known trusted family friends.

I think for our kids, us adults kind of went overboard with the fear mongering. So I tried to provide as much entertainment as I could for my kids and for my daycare kids, for a business I ran out my basement for 11 years. I had blocks and cars and art supplies and dolls and dress up clothes and puppets and a puppet theater, and much more to keep them busy inside and outside a cement court for riding bikes, a big dirt area for digging, a swingset and a climbing toy and a basketball hoop. The state demanded that I keep my kids locked inside and other kids locked out. If they had to be prisoners at least they would have fun doing it.

My son grew up and went away to college and my daughter died and I moved away to a tiny town up north. Now I was really living in the sticks. But I have a beautiful view of the bay, it’s quiet and secluded and quite frankly, I’m bored stiff of it. It’s too far from town to go in for any entertainment or night out, so it only happens during special occasions, which is rare. I was planning on downsizing and buying a much smaller house IN town and was in the midst of house hunting when Covid 19 shut everything down. At least it’s spring and summer so being here won’t be all that painful. But I hope I can move this fall. I don’t want to spend another winter with power outages way out here.

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Discover Prompts, Day 2: Open

I selected two of the suggestions this time:

Write a haiku (or several) in which “open” is the final word.

Post a photo that invokes a feeling of openness (for you, at least) and tell us when, where, and why you took it.

Last one first…

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The sparkle of the sunshine bouncing off of the water at Dungeness Beach caught my eye so I zeroed into it for a close up. But the beach and the entire Dungeness Beach is very much a wide opened space… it’s a five mile walk from the trailhead to the end of the spit where the lighthouse is.

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And how my Haiku poem:

Closed stores, minds

Closed, limited, but air

Is still free and open