Photo by Prairiekittin

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to give my list of things I am grateful for.

  1. My husband. Without him life would be so much more difficult and a lot less about laughing.
  2. My daughter. She has taught me to look at things differently and how to be close to another.
  3. My cat. Always unconditional love.
  4. My space. The house where I live, and the bits of it that are mine alone.
  5. My job. Challenging enough, interesting enough, pays enough, without absorbing every minute of my life.
  6. My friends. They are teaching me how to accept help.
  7. My spiritual community. The folks from my church who have been there for years.
  8. My music director. He is pushing me into ways I only dreamed of being.
  9. The trees. The one I park under, the one that shades my gazebo, the crabapple in the front yard that feeds the raccoons.
  10. My extended family. There aren’t so many of us anymore, but those that are left are connected in a way that is impossible to define.
  11. My family of choice. The people who celebrate and mourn with me, whom I choose to share myself and my life with.
  12. Books. The ideas of the world, accessible to everyone.
  13. My phone. Bringing me information when and where I need.
  14. Music. The soundtrack of my life.
  15. Coffee. The comfort, the warmth, the boost of energy.
  16. Those things that bring me joy. My new shower, my comfy bathrobe, doing yoga with my cat.
  17. My technology. Connecting me in ways that I never could have dreamed of.
  18. Creature comforts. My bed, warm sweaters, comfy chairs, heat, air conditioning…
  19. Freedom. Freedom to be who I am.
  20. My talents. They are being stretched and exercised and I am all the better for it.

Photo by Prairiekittin


I Get To Be Tonks

My current team takes the prize for nerdiness. There are five of us consultants (all from the same company) and our client manager. The work we are doing is complicated, and we are on the bleeding edge of technology, so we spend a lot of time talking geek.

The new company project office asked us to pick a team name and characters to represent ourselves. After rejecting several movie themes, we settled on Harry Potter.

For the most part, people picked their own characters. The client manager became Dumbledore (of course). The largest member of the team picked Hagrid. The one who is on site two days a week became a ghost – Nearly Headless Nick. The dark guy became Sirius. The one who really doesn’t know Harry Potter at all (and is conincidentally the smallest member of the team) was assigned Dobbie.

But what about me? As the only female on the team, they were throwing out McGonagall (nope, not severe enough). Hermione (nope, not enough of a know-it-all, and definitely not the smartest on the team). Sybill Trewlawney (are you kidding?) Mrs. Weasley (as if I want to be known as a mom to this group) And then it hit…Tonks.

So I chose Tonks. The guys think it’s a good fit because of my current teal-colored hair.

I know it’s a good fit because like Tonks, I get to go in, do what needs to be done, without caring to prove my worth to anyone, and move on.

So Tonks it is.

Don’t you dare call me Nymphadora.

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

I Want A Celtic War Chicken

Photo by protohiro

I was listening to a Celtic Music podcast at work the other day (because who doesn’t love bagpipes and need more of them in their life?)

The song was called “The Chicken Raid of Cymru” (pronounced come-ree) and it’s kind of a bluesy song by the band Emerald Rose. Talking about stealing chickens and such.

But then they start talking about how Celtic War Chickens helped win a historical battle (which is in the history books if you know where to look). Celtic War Chickens are apparently fierce creatures (not grocery store shake-n-bake chickens) that get launched at the enemy. And that’s how you win the war.

I think I want a Celtic War Chicken. There are many situations where I would love to pull a chicken out from behind my back, swing it around and then launch it to vanquish an enemy.

Anyone know where I can get one?

Photo by protohiro

Autumn At Last. Or Maybe Not?

Photo by Ian SaneI like autumn. I especially yearn for it during September, when the calendar tells us we should be cooling down, and yet the shorts are still on and the AC still running.

And then October hits, and it cools.

It’s the end of October here, and the start of autumn. The temps are mostly cooled, and the leaves are starting to consider turning color and hurling themselves to the ground. The deciduous trees are always later than the pines, who have been flinging pine straw everywhere for the past three weeks.

This is much different than it was where I grew up on the frozen tundra. I remember having to buy Halloween costumes big so that they would fit over winter jackets. Here it is still warm enough to cause the pumpkins to rot if they are carved too soon, and it is not unusual to have shorts on the trick or treaters.

Sometimes I need to get a dose of fall vicariously. Thankfully I belong to a Facebook group from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and they post beautiful autumn photos starting in early October.

But as we head into November, this area will switch to autumn. The weather will cool, the air will be scented with decaying leaves, and every now and then you will smell wood burning. The light will be softer, and the skies bluer. And the fall will linger until December when winter will begin.

Photo by Ian Sane

Speak from Experience

Photo by franzkohlerI’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately because I seem to have hit a pocket of time where most of what I read is telling me to do something. And that would be fine, except that most of the people telling me what to do haven’t a bit of experience in the field they are giving advice.

They say that those that can’t do teach, but I’ve never believed that. The most successful teachers I know are the ones who can relate their subjects to real life. Look at the rocks in earth science. Apply the math. Work with real statistics. Explain the process in detail. Relate the history to what is going on in the world now. Link the book to individual experience.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the person is an official teacher: those that have the real-world applications are always going to be more successful in teaching because they can teach from a practical point.

And then there is the flip side. So much untested and unwarranted advice out there. Productivity bloggers telling us how to manage working hours in an office when they are self-employed. Mothers telling us how to manage busy schedules and household chores who stay at home while their kids are in school. Authors telling us how to write best-sellers when they haven’t even been published.

The funny thing is that with this last case at least, people who buy books on writing best-sellers expect to see the credentials of those writing the books. And if you don’t have the chops, the book doesn’t get bought. Why are people so willing to take advice without understanding if the person knows the subject?

I am very lucky that I work in a practical field. When people in IT are writing blog articles, they show their code, and they know it works. If it doesn’t, they will be castigated. (Doesn’t happen very often, I might add.)

It seems to me that the world would be much better off, and the information out there of better quality, if those who were teaching were qualified to teach.

Photo by franzkohler



Photo by jonkeeltyOne of the things that amazes me is that people will latch onto excuses for why others are acting as they are, and it has no bearing on reality.

I have heard this several times recently. I have overheard, or had said to me “you just don’t like me because I’m…” fill in the blank here: gay, straight, white, black, female, male, younger than you, older than you, a Republican, a Democrat…you get the idea.

Let me tell you a story.

When I was teaching, I had a student who was a nice kid. He asked intelligent questions, and often ate lunch in my room. He was out of school for several months with an injury, and when he came back he was in my repeater class. During the intervening months he had decided to come out as gay. This is a difficult thing, and he struggled. But he had also turned into a mouthy, obnoxious, whiny kid. He was failing my class because he refused to do the work, even in class. He argued with everyone, including me. And at one point, he looked me in the eye and said, “you just don’t like me because I’m gay.” And I walked to the other side of the room and bit my lip to stop from saying, “no, I don’t like you because you’re an asshole.”

So someone said to me the other day, “you just won’t listen to me because I’m a republican.” Nope, I won’t listen to him because he starts every conversation with me telling me how I’m wrong.

It’s fairly simple, and has nothing to do with gender, skin color, sexual orientation, political party or anything else. Those who believe that no one likes them or is willing to listen to them need to ask if maybe there is a common denominator: their own behavior is turning people away.

Photo by jonkeelty

Warning Labels on Books

Photo by Silly DeityBack in the 1980’s, there was a movement to put warning labels on music so that parents could tell if the the content was objectionable. There was a big outcry at the time, and I know some of my friends bought music just because it had the label. Ivnever really minded because the music I listened to fell into the “safe” category.

Today I found myself wishing for the same sort of label: one that would be applied to books and that would warn me of god talk.

I recently bought a book aimed at helping me find more time. But instead of helping, I find myself being lectured that not doing regular self-care is driving a wedge in my intimacy with god.

I am not looking for more guilt in a chapter ironically about ditching guilt. And I’m certainly not looking for guidance on establishing a relationship with a deity I don’t care to be in contact with — one who is ready to punish me at every turn.

Yes, I get that the author is a woman of strong faith. But surely one can find more time in one’s schedule without involving a vengeful and jealous deity?

I run into this quite a bit in my blogging reading. Many of the women-authored blogs I stumble across are jam-packed with references to their god, their faith and their practice. This is great – and I respect their rights to believe as they wish, and put their faith into practice. Although I don’t see why one would have to incorporate prayer into making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Maybe in case the peanut butter had gone bad?

Yes, I want recipes for school lunches or bullet journal ideas or organizational tips. Apparently I then have to be dosed with unrelated spiritual practices as well. Yes, I understand the concept of integrating spiritual practice with daily life. I do it myself. The difference is that I don’t dish it out to everyone else in my writing.

I really wish that books would come with a warning label that would allow me to steer clear of god-jamming when dealing with a subject that is not spiritual. It would set the context, and I wouldn’t be so annoyed at having to work through the god talk to get to the message underneath.

And as far as the business book on finding more time…I skimmed the rest of the book. Apparently her god has buckets of time up there and we just need to ask for it on our knees.

Silly me, I thought time wasn’t a commodity that could be bought and sold.

Photo by Silly Deity