Monday, August 10, 2020

The Woman in the Forest

She stands in the forest. Her feet firmly planted

on the ground like the trees surrounding her.

Translucent she seems to be, as the bright sun

shines through the leaves with its dappled light.

The trees acknowledge her if only through the

awareness of their own firmly planted roots.

When it rains the soft rains of spring, nurturing

the flowers as they bloom, she stands there.

When the summer sun burns the leaf tops and parches 

the ground beneath her feet, she stands so steadfastly.

When the autumn winds blow and rustle the leaves, 

encouraging them towards the ground, she stands there.

When the winter winds blow through the branches

and limbs whistling and singing, she stands there.

What is it about her that is so bright, so aware, so magical, 

so encouraging; firmly standing like the trees around her?

Perhaps it is that she is the magic of a wood nymph, 

with a light emanating love and truth from within?



Thursday, July 30, 2020

We Can Eliminate Covid-19

We Can Eliminate Covid-19

We are always four to six weeks from being able to do what countries around the world have done

Image for post

https://coronavirus.medium.com/we-can-eliminate-covid-19-if-we-want-to-64abc91ccc1c

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Until We Are All Free

My friend Kate, who lives in Australia, wrote the following:

I will only feel like I’ve achieved my advocacy goals when we are all FREE.

Free:

– from stigma for having dementia

– from discrimination due to dementia

– from confinement in nursing homes

– from segregation in secure dementia units

– from chemical restraint

– from physical restraint

– from Prescribed Disengagement®️

– from neglect in nursing homes

– from abuse in nursing homes

– from any form of Institutional ‘Care’

– from negative and demeaning labels

– from the harmful and false construct known as BPSD

https://kateswaffer.com/2020/07/29/freedom/comment-page-1/?unapproved=98004&moderation-hash=5cfb00940e5c47a5ed55238e366d5393



My reply to Kate, 

You know I respect you and your beliefs and am behind you in your fight on behalf of people living with Dementia. 

I find, however, that I still have to react to your post. To realize your list of needs for freedom for people with dementia, we need to change a lot on many fronts. Individuals, families, and communities need to change how they interact with all of those in need. We need to help all people to be loving, compassionate, and kind. We need to choose to be good to each other.

We need to work towards governments and big businesses moving away from power struggles and greed. We need to do away with religious and racial persecution. We need to leave behind police brutality. We need to change the way medical needs are met, how we provide better education to the masses and change how we feed our people.

In summary, we need to change most of what people on this earth have been, maybe since the beginning of time. How long will that take and when do we hope to accomplish the absolutely important freedoms which you list? For those of us involved with Dementia, living it, or loving those who live it, soon is not soon enough. 

Where do you think we should begin to make the most differences for people living with Dementia? I know that NOW is not soon enough, and one or two areas is not good enough, but we also know that change is so slow that maybe we will not see much change in our lifetime. So my question is where do we begin to help success be the rule in these changes and not frustration, anger, and fear? And how do we continue?

You have done so much to bring awareness to so many issues affecting those close to Dementia. You have described, listed, given sound-bites to, clarified so many of those issues. Now we will do what we can and continue the fight. And it is a fight. 

Don't lose faith in your ability to make change Kate, just be a little easier on yourself in the timing and the amount! Maybe not in your lifetime. Too late for Gregory, my husband's lifetime. Maybe not in my lifetime. We need to keep on taking small steps, sometimes a few forward and sometimes a few backward, and we need to feel good that there is progress, but this might take more time than you or I have! 

Kate, I believe in you. I believe you have more than met your advocacy goals. More than most others fighting the fight!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Five Levels of Vulnerability


I experienced my first level of vulnerability in March of 2020 during COVID 19 while turning 75 years old. It was a Personal Vulnerability. Not only was 75 years old a difficult milestone, but 75 years old during a pandemic, in which I chose self-quarantine to protect myself from the virus made it more difficult. I felt my age, I felt young of mind but old of body, my mortality became more apparent.

The next level of vulnerability arrived recently in the form of Species Vulnerability. With so many people, especially health compromised and older people becoming ill, ending up with life-threatening difficulties for the rest of their life, or dying based on viral droplets that could be spread by someone infected and ill or by an infected asymptomatic carrier, was frightening.

The fact that this interloper was doing its work around the world was frightening. Hearing of hospitals running out of tens of thousands of beds for those infected and hearing of thousands of people dying from it in a day was frightening. Hearing about approximately 16 million COVID 19 cases around the world and close to 700 thousand deaths is mind-boggling!

Then came the next level, Cultural Vulnerability. Many people could not go to work or had to figure out how to do so from home. Parents had nowhere to send their children while they worked. Kids no longer had schools to attend or summer activities in which to partake, like swimming pools or day camps.

Funerals and religious services could no longer be attended. Visiting ill or dying relatives in the hospital longer no longer permitted. No longer could I visit with friends, stop for a friendly chat in the condo elevator lobby, go out to dinner with a group. No longer was I able to comfortably shop for groceries. Birthdays, weddings, and funerals could no longer be celebrated with family.

Theater and entertainment as we knew it ended: legitimate theater and musicals were closed, concerts and meetings were canceled. Travel and vacations were curtailed then canceled. I did not mind the isolation of my condo, it felt more like personal solitude, but my heart was heavy for those less fortunate than I, those suffering job loss, those who had to work anyway through these dangerous times, and those who did not have homes in which to shelter,

Societal Vulnerability struck when so many poor, homeless, Latinx, and Black people seemed to be carrying more than their share of COVID 19 and because I was a White, Male, Older Citizen I was "entitled" and part of the problem! Rioting over police brutality towards Blacks and Latinx increased and took place not only in the US but across the world.

Most recently, in the last few days actually, for me it seems that Democracy Vulnerability has struck. While the Trump Administration has been horrible in so many ways from day one of the president's inauguration, he slowly has undermined all the progress the U.S. had made over the years in so many areas. His lies, cheating, misogyny, racism, homophobia, greed, vanity, etc became the new norm. His approach to government has led to violence, hatred towards others, and stirring up antiblack and antisemitism and antiimmigration.

Anything that does not report him in a good light is "Fake News." His approach to leadership is one of "Gaslighting" and confusing issues. He seemed to appoint people to each important government post, who in the past opposed the very work that the post demands. In fact, many of these appointees are in effect dismantling the office of which they are in charge.

Now he is sending government troops to cities to quell rioting in ways that resemble the "Secret Police" of Hitler. The result of this action has caused more disturbances which will necessitate sending more troops. The use of war type tactics against the people who are demonstrating is unforgivable. The blurring of the roles of police from protection to suppressing freedom of speech is frightening.

His supporting voter suppression, fighting against voting by mail, and saying he will not leave office if not elected adds to anarchy. Will he attempt to cancel elections "due to COVID 19?" Is he taking advantage of the disturbances to create a police state, a military state?

While most of this horrible situation is blamed on Trump, it is bigger than the man. There are so many others who are behind his frightening leadership. We know that Black, poverty, and diversity issues have been with us for a long time. Perhaps the one thing the Trump Administration has done is made the actions of government and not caring about these issues, more transparent. It seems to have divided the population in their beliefs.

It seems that the U.S. in reality is based on power and greed and does not exist for the well being of its citizens. We are also seeing many other countries in the world in this new light of power, control, and greed. The US is no longer and hasn't been for a while, the idyllic country leading the way for the world.

All of this saddens me, makes me feel vulnerable on so many levels, and causes me to wonder what will be the future of life in the U.S., in the world.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Heteronormativity vs Homonormativity

I have a relatively new long-distance, internet relationship with youth who lives in Brasil. He is studying theater, is quite talented, and thinks thoughts that are well ahead of his young years!
I see in him that which I wish I had been in my youth as a Gay Man, but remind myself that those were different times and different parts of the world. It still takes a certain amount of bravery to stand up for that which you believe, and speak out against that which you feel is unjust, especially when living in a country that is not too LGBTQ friendly! Currently, Brasil's culture seems to take one step forward on gay issues and then two backward. Willian is in the middle of all of this!
He recently posted on Facebook: "Heteronormativity is unfair to us, it forbids us from so many things, before any experience we have to deal with feelings of humiliation and disapproval, several barriers are created and imposed on us. And everything is so unfair. Our development phase was unfair, our adolescence was unfair, the loves denied to us were unfair."
I responded, saying: So well said my friend Willian Lansten. Reading your comments in some ways brought back all the sorrows of my youth, the agonies, the fears, the regrets, the feelings of being different, and possibly "ill," and times I suffered being discriminated against, if not physically attacked once or twice.
But I would have to add that being outside of the norm helped me to create the strong, thoughtful, compassionate person I was as a young adult, a successful educator, adult, and now as an "old man." Every step of the way informed me as I became who I am, as I witnessed and experienced my relationship with and immense love for my dear Gregory, and continues to inform my everyday actions.
Keep up the battle, it is now up to your generation to fine-tune the work that has come before you to help define and gain acceptance for the LGBTQ Community. 
I wish I was there to give you a birthday hug:
Sincerely,
Michael

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Fiction: Seeing Fit to Shop for Antiques



One of my hobbies is "collecting" and that is often best done at antique malls. Based on my long history of antiquing and collecting, I can tell if an antique mall will be worth the time, merely by looking in the windows or through the front door.

After that cursory evaluation, entering the shop and the potential success of the visit is confirmed based on the overall smell of the antiques, the visible number of dealers, and whether there is a balance between treasures being locked up in glass-front cabinets or freely displayed on shelves.

I have a technique for perusing such malls. Usually, I go clockwise in a room by running the first aisle, looking only at the booths on the left, and then returning down the same aisle visiting those on the right. Then I move clockwise to the second aisle and so on.

It is easy if the aisles back up to each other but sometimes it gets complicated if the cross aisles have booths on the cross-aisle itself. I make those decisions as necessary. Another logistics problem is when another room branches off the main one in no particular order. One can get disoriented in finding one's way back to the main room of the mall without having to visit any one booth more than once as well as making sure to not miss anything.

I can tell from standing in the aisle whether it will be worthwhile entering the booth itself. I stand at the head of the booth and scan the contents. If things catch my eye, I enter and spend some time looking around. If the items in the booth are mostly those which do not interest me, I do not even enter and move to the next booth.

If all of the items are locked up in neatly arranged in glass-front cabinets, I usually avoid that booth. I hate not being able to touch the items, especially if I am interested in them. It is a pain to have to call an employee over, tell them what you want to see, they go back to the front to get the cabinet keys, they return to unlock the cabinet. The rule of thumb is that you tell them what you want to look at and they get it out of the cabinet. Shoppers are not allowed to reach into the cabinet for fear of clumsily starting an avalanche.

If the booth is so loaded that it looks like it will be easy to knock things over or fall over myself, I avoid it. If the booth is already occupied by another shopper, I hold back. If it is being spruced up by the owner, I keep going as I do not like confrontation or after a lovely exchange feeling obligated to make a purchase.

On one Antique Mall adventure, the one over by the river which consists of "over 40 dealers," I came across a box of glass eyes somewhere in the middle of the shop. As I picked up the box, I assumed that they were for animal taxidermy purposes but on closer examination, I realized that they were replacement eyes, glass eyes, for people who had lost an eye and after medical examination would be fitted with an eye that they could "pop" into their empty eye socket so they would look more socially acceptable to others (and maybe to themselves.)

This particular booth was on the left middle of the third aisle. As I was coming back down the aisle, visiting the right booths, I notice an older man in the glass eye booth holding the box of glass eyes that I had just looked at. He was studying the box intently. Then he held it close to his face, mumbling to himself as he looked.

He put the box back on the shelf and proceed to touch each eye. There were large ones and smaller ones; brown, blue, green, and various shades in between. It was almost like he was having a conversation or a love affair with the box of glass eyes.

I continued my journey up and down the aisles, left and right, a brief stop at a cross-aisle booth then back to the up, down, left, and right. I found a few items to purchase and headed to the checkout counter towards the front of the mall. I paid for my items. They wrapped them carefully and handed me a small shopping bag with my purchased contents.

As I turned to go, I realized that the man I had observed earlier was behind me ready to make his purchase. Sure enough, he had the box of glass eyes, lid firmly in place, under his arm. What I had failed to notice the first time is that in his right hand he clutched a white cane. I will leave the rest to your imagination as it has been in mine.




Saturday, July 11, 2020

Have You Ever?

Have you ever wanted to walk out the door of your home with just a few items in a duffle bag, lock the door, and never return ... at least for an indefinite, extended period of time?

We become so used to our lives, our routines, being with the people we care for, petting our dog or cat, owning the things we have. Then something like COVID 19 comes along and all of a sudden everything we know changes, the future is no longer what one hoped for, and the idea of impermanence becomes more of a reality than it ever has been. Maybe that accounts for my current feelings of wanderlust?

As we get older we get more secure in who we are, more comfortable with what we have, and dependent on those possessions; the more difficult it becomes to make big changes. We hold on for "dear life" to what we have for fear that if we let go, we may never be secure or comfortable again. Also, as we get older the feeling of time's running out gets stronger. If you are going to do something, better do it now!

I am grateful that financially I am comfortable and with my retirement pension, help from Gregory's life insurance, and with successful planning in my investments I do not have to worry about how I will pay for my life expenses.

I was thinking that it would be wonderful if I could pack a change or two of clothing, my medications, my cell phone with charger, and perhaps my iPad Pro. I would not have to let anyone know the details or whereabouts of my decision just that I was doing it, so they would not worry. I would have to make sure that my pets were cared for and that my bills would get paid. I would call my loved ones now and then to let them know how I was doing and that they should not worry about me.

With duffle bag in one hand and credit card in the other, I could take on the world. Fly to where I wanted to be, rent a room, eat out, buy whatever I might need when I might need it. For example, instead of having a medicine chest full of all kinds of remedies, if I had a cold I could go to the nearest pharmacy and buy a small box of Mucinex. If I wanted to read the next book, I could download it to my iPhone.

I could spend my days in my room away from home, thinking. Or I could go to a local museum, a library, a botanic garden, or take a hike to see natural wonders like a mountain or a waterfall. My iPhone would document what I saw and my iPad would tell my stories.

Moving on to the next site or adventure would be no problem. Whenever I felt like it, on a moment's notice to no one but myself, I would pack up the duffle bag, leave any surplus behind for whoever moved into the room after me, and after a train ride or an airplane flight, begin my next adventure.

Granted with COVID most of the above would not currently be possible but I can fantasize anyway. Will I be brave enough to embark on an unplanned, directionless adventure after COVID? Not sure. Then again I have also thought about buying or renting a "small house," deciding exactly how much would be enough to live in it and take that as my adventure in basic living.

The hope for these changes in me lies in how pared down my life currently is because of the pandemic. While I have so many luxuries around me, for which I am so grateful, my life certainly has changed in ways I never could have imagined, I continue to fill my days meaningfully, and I am happy and content.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Another Ovation for An Oven

I have been cooking on a Brava Smart Oven since July 2019. To see what it is all about I direct you to their web site: www.brava.com

The Brava lives on my cooktop which I have not used for months. The extra trays and pans live in the oven. Sometimes I use the microwave in conjunction with the Brava meals.

Here is a second compilation of what I have been cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a few baked goods. Done with easy management and easy cleanup. A standing ovation to my Brava for keeping me happy and healthy and well-fed.









































































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