Archive for the ‘Life Thoughts’ Category

When We Had Time

I believe the tragedy of our modern culture is how little time we have to amble and hang out with our neighbors, our families, our friends, and ourselves. The tragedy becomes more apparent as each passing year seems to race by faster than the one before. I wouldn’t even mind it if I understood what was so important that we were too busy to chat with our next door neighbor.

Grandma Mary lived across the street for 50 years and was living there when we moved in.  Grandma never hurried.  She woke up in the morning, made a cup of coffee, and watched a little morning network TV.  When my children were little they would call Grandma over every morning for coffee.  She would amble on over.

Then later in the afternoon we would put on the kettle once more and Grandma would be summoned, which she always accepted.  We had time then.  I had time to drive Grandma Mary to her doctor and she had time to take me to lunch.  I had time to take walks because Grandma Mary, at age 85 had time to romp with my small children.  And then she had time for yet another cup of coffee down at Minnie’s on the corner.

Minnie had time to bake cookies and make coffee.  Neighbors had time to walk over and sit around gossiping, sipping, chewing and just plain being neighborly.

As my kids got bigger, they got to run across the street and bring Grandma for coffee.  When they got bigger still they could walk all the way to the corner and have cookies with Minnie and Mary and Chuck and Laura and the Dotties .and Jerry and Margaret, Sonny and Marion; and Bill and Grace.  Virtually every one of these dear people passed away before my children became teenagers.  But the memory of people who had time for them is very much alive.

excerpts from Viv’s Journal 12/2/05

3 a.m.

Dear Sisters,

The time is 3:30 am and I’ve been awake over an hour.  This is not unusual; I’m getting used to it.  So I went to the New York Times headlines to read the latest news and was intrigued by this new and improved way homeland security  is handling perceived security risks.  Apparently airport security has unlimited license to go ahead and fondle, tweak and grope anyone they choose, right there in front of the gawking crowds -all in the name of protecting America from terrorists.  My advice to you, dear sisters, is when you go to the airport this holiday weekend, go ugly.  It seems that attractiveness might set off security alarms at some check points.

Here are some tips to help you look your worse.  Wear gray sweats one size too big if you’re on the svelte side and one size too small if you’ve got a few rolls.  You want to look appropriately unattractive, but not too revolting.  Wear a little makeup so you don’t look suspiciously depressed, but don’t overdo it or you may attract attention.

And if you prefer not to go ugly,  I have some  ideas to help preserve your dignity should you be selected for a fondle.  You know those cherry red  noses that honk when you squeeze them?  Why not  stuff a couple in your bra cups.  Or install a musical card to the butt of your pants that croons : “Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby” when touched.  Or (ooh, this is nasty) place a stink bomb where the sun simply  never shines- just in case.

Remember when  our mothers used to harp  about clean underwear in case of a hospital emergency?   Please remember her wisdom when  choosing your travel outfit.  Buy a brand new bra or wear a black one.  You don’t want everyone seeing your graying straps.  And if your breasts still hang above your naval, by all means, wear a push up.  It will save security a little time and you’ll look mahvelous.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Happy Travels!



From Viv’s Journal11/23/2004


Food is delicious when prepared well.  Unless you are a fat juicy summer peach tasting perfect just as you are.  It’s yummy to drink coffee at the bakery, biting in to a freshly made glazed donut or ruggulah.  Sirloin steak medium rare with garlicky mashed potatoes and asparagus, the thin kind with a squeeze of lemon, a pat of butter, and a dash of salt.  Oh my God.  This is best eaten when you are really hungry.  It is absolutely best when eaten during a diet when you take the time to really prepare it well and make it pretty on the plate with curls of parsley and carrots to brighten the plate.  Umm.  Everything tastes better when dieting.  You appreciate what you’re eating, fully conscious of the flavor, texture, smells and colors.

Food, yes, delicious.  And yet that isn’t the whole story.  There are moments that hang off the shrub of an hour perfectly ripened by the rays of time.  That precise juicy moment when you say YES.  YES, I’ll marry you.  YES, I’ll play with you.  YES I’ll accept your offer; your invitation; your generosity.  YES, I’ll pick up my roots and move to the other end of the country.  YES I’ll accept the job.  YES I’ll come to your poetry reading; take that photo; hold your little hand while you splash in the wading pool.  YES to walks in the park, laughing at the moon, the movies, at parties and picnics.  Fun time with you.   Spectacular moments savored in delicious memory sauce simmering on the back burner, ever changing flavors.  Made most delicious by making them with you.

From Viv’s Journal May 19, 2008

Collected Pearls

These collected pearls of wisdom come from random notes I jotted down one spring day in 2005 while perusing Fortune Magazine.

  • Don’t trust the common wisdom.  Base knowledge on facts and analysis and not on “what everybody knows.”
  • when things are chaotic and out of control, do your triage; stop the bleeding.  Then figure out what happened.  Then create a plan for it to never happen again.
  • You are the average of who you hang out with.  Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
  • Real power is in having ideas and the courage to write them down.
  • Efficiency is doing things right.  Effectiveness is doing the right thing.
  • The real discipline comes in saying no to the wrong opportunities.
  • the way to overcome fear is to face it and take constructive action.

Virtue in Yard Waste

Have you ever stood at the refrigerator, its shelves crammed full of opaque containers, squishy plastic bags, and mysterious-looking half-filled jars?  If your fridge is anything like mine, the melange includes covered bowls housing cuddly particles of biology and other flora and funghi.

Did you ever wonder why you waited so long to toss that last bite of frankfurter or cup of dressed green salad?  Why not simpy throw it out from the beginning?  I have an answer to that.  Guilt.  It is wasteful to throw away perfectly edible food,  but once it turns moldy and furry, you’re not only expected to throw it out, but now you are being virtuous cleaning and organizing your refrigerator.  Whereas you could have felt guilty and bad for throwing the edible stuff in the garbage after dinner.  Instead you waited a few weeks and feel good, clean, and wholesome.

Here in Seattle they’ve helped us out by developing an all-inclusive waste-managment system for all things organic.  We can throw virtually anything that ever breathed into the yard waste containers.  Not only can we toss that salad with impunity, but the frankfurter as well. It all goes to the yard waste place where they grind it up and mix it into compost for our gardens.  Does that mean my tomatoes and carrots are no longer considered purely vegetarian fare?