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Anniversaries…

In the last year, I have been examining people and their motivations, including my own. It hasn’t been any easy process, but I’ve felt that I have needed to get more nuanced in the details of human behavior. I want to understand where things have gone wrong in my own relationships, and what I could do to not fall into that trap again.

Here are some things I have learned:

I have a hard time letting go.  I love hard and try hard.  I miss you a lot longer than I should.  Long after you show that you don’t deserve me.  Long after you walk away and replace me.  I’m working on this, but I’m not really sure how to stop caring about someone.

Your ego got in the way of a successful relationship.  I really just want to be treated well; with love and respect.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  I don’t want to be subjected to your narcissism, or your contempt.  I don’t want to have my boundaries belittled or trampled.  I don’t want to be raged at when I offer a suggestion or advice that you don’t agree with.  I’m not questioning your masculinity (although if this threatens you this much maybe I am); rather I just think a partnership includes a two way dialogue and input.

I want a man who acts like a man.  I don’t want to have to make all your appointments for you, or remind you 4,743 times to pick up something from the store before you actually get it.  I don’t want to have to worry about whether you filed your taxes or paid your bills or if you ever put money into savings.  I want you to take care of your shit, and do your share of taking care of the shared shit.  I want to let go of the reins sometimes, and leave things in your capable hands.

I want to be surprised sometimes.  I want a man who plans the weekend getaway, who gets the groceries for camping, who takes care of the arrangements so I don’t have to.  That’s been a rare thing in my life.  Too rare.

I need to trust.  That’s been the hardest part of this journey of mine; the disintegration of my ability to trust.  When your words don’t match your actions.  When you caused my tears yet you do nothing to try to make them better.  Trust issues are the death by a thousand cuts.  I sometimes wonder if I will ever trust a man again.

I want to hear the truth. And I want to hear the apology when it’s needed too.  I don’t accept you turning it back around on me and blaming me for your behavior.  I’m certainly not perfect, but I do apologize when I have been wrong or hurtful.

My therapist said that the best deceivers can keep up the facade for about six months.  That’s probably about right.  It’s so discouraging to think that by the time you even start to see someone for what they are, you may have wasted a half a year.  I don’t have a half a year to waste every time.  Every half a year I waste is a smattering of gray hairs and worry lines.

We always want to believe that the one who went away… still longs for us.  But chances are they don’t.  You may cross their mind in a season of unease.  Hard times always make us reflect.  But when they’re engrossed in a career, family, life in general, they aren’t thinking about the person they left.  Remember this when you find yourself wasting precious time on the ones who walked away.  They walked away.   — Alfa Holden

I’ll keep trying to get better at letting go.  It’s sad that of all the skills I thought I would need to know, this one is the one I need most.

 

 

 

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall has a secret.  She’s kept it for over 20 years, but finally it is time to return to Scotland and confront her past.  Dragonfly in Amber is the second in the Outlander series, but my friend assured me that you can read them out of order.

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2)

The story begins with Claire searching for historical records that will confirm her difficult to believe story.  20 years before, she went missing for months as a young, married woman, before arriving back at home malnourished and pregnant, as mysteriously as she vanished.  But where was she?

Now 20 years later, Claire’s husband has died and it is time to reveal to her daughter the truth about her father.

The book is a long saga weaving in the 1960s with the 1740s, in Claire’s attempt to stop the slaughter at Culloden during the Scottish Jacobite rebellion.  It weaves history into the novel’s story and is extremely detailed and painstakingly researched.  You will learn about the family connections of the clans in Scotland, the political motives of the various players, and some pretty gruesome medical treatments of the time.

I don’t want to give away the story, but highly recommend the book. The only challenge was that it took so long to get through (I admit I had to put it down to read other things in between), it was hard to remember the beginning once I got to the end.

5 stars

 

Choose Kindness

This year has been the holy hell of years.

For me, at first it was the the losses.  Losing my horse, relationship and friend within 6 weeks of each other in the middle of the worst part of the lockdown last spring.  It’s been the isolation.  The loneliness.

At the beginning of the pandemic, these were the things that were getting me down.

But lately, it is something else entirely.  We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  People should be filled with hope.  It is spring; the light is back and the weather is better.  But I’m struggling…  I’ve been thinking a lot, trying to figure out why.

Lately, it has been the absolute vitriol that emits from the mouths (and fingers) of people who once were (or at least seemed) kind and reasonable.  It’s the disregard for people’s feelings; it has turned into hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  It’s the not knowing anymore who you can trust; it’s best to say nothing rather than cross someone.  It’s the lies, the twisting of facts and the misrepresentation by meme…

I see some of my friends’ social media posts laced with profanity, name-calling anyone who might disagree with them.  I see other friends using an opposite tactic – the I’m so enlightened/morally superior and I just can’t understand those morally inferior peons that believe something different.  It’s tiring.  It’s draining.  The only thing I know is that opinions are like @s$h*l&s; everybody has one and they all stink…

I wonder if people think about the fact that you might someday need that person who has a different viewpoint than you.  Maybe they have an in at that job you really want.  Maybe they own that horse that your daughter really wants to ride.  Maybe they can pull a few strings to get your husband that oncology consult…  Why napalm the bridge?  Maybe kindness really is the best policy. It used to be that you helped your neighbor.  Now it seems like you first ask them to fill out a 5 page questionnaire to find out if their opinions align with yours… When did we stop being kind?

If it is draining for me to see so much hatred, I wonder how tiring it must be for them to carry it in their hearts.  And I tell you, I am exhausted.  Like about to go take a Vitamin D supplement and an Iron pill exhausted.

Please people.  What happened to lifting each other up?  What happened to straightening each others’ crowns?  What happened to the Golden Rule?  Listen to hear and learn, rather than to respond.  This world won’t last very long if we don’t stop trying to tear each other down.

As for me, I’ll keep trying to claw my way back to happy.  It hasn’t been easy.  I haven’t been ok.  There are days when I feel so let down by people that I want to give up and move to an off-grid cabin in the woods.  I’m not quite ready to give up though…

“She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.” ― Donald Miller

Circus Trip 2018: Boston Freedom Trail, Pt.2

Day 56, Sunday, September 9, 2018
Boston Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

Stop 5: King’s Chapel & King’s Chapel Burying Ground

The original King’s Chapel was built in 1688 on the town burying ground, when no one in Boston would sell the Royal Governor land to build a non-Puritan church.

By 1749, the congregation had grown too large for the church, and American architect Peter Harrison was hired to design a church that “would be the equal to any in England.”  The steeple that was part of the original design was never built, but it does contain a colonnade, which was completed after the Revolution.

The King’s Chapel Burying Ground remains next to the chapel and was Boston proper’s first burying ground. It contains the graves of many notables, including Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower.

Stop 6: Boston Latin School Site/Benjamin Franklin Statue

Boston Latin is America’s oldest public school, founded in April 1635.  Five signers of the Declaration of Independence attended here: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and William Hooper.  Interestingly though, Ben Franklin did not graduate; did you know that he was a high school dropout?

This building was torn down in 1745 in order to expand the King’s Chapel next door, but there is now a statue of Benjamin Franklin on the site as well as a historic plaque on the sidewalk.  The school has moved to the Fenway neighborhood and continues to this day.

Stop 7: The Old Corner Bookstore

The Old Corner Bookstore began in 1718 as an apothecary shop.  The bookstore and printing shop that occupied this site was opened 1828 and operated until 1903.  It first produced the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Wardo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and Louisa May Alcott.  Many of these notable authors visited the building.

The building has been preserved, but sadly there is no longer a bookstore here.  I believe it currently houses a Chipotle restaurant.

Stop 8: The Old South Meeting House

This building was built in 1729 as a Puritan meeting house, and was at one time the largest building in Boston.  It was also the site where some of the most dramatic discussions and decisions leading up to the Revolution occurred.  A meeting on December 16, 1773, set the stage for a historic event that every school child in the United States studies.  Over 5,000 colonists met to discuss the fate of 30 tons of tea that was waiting to be unloaded from the holds of three ships in Boston Harbor.  If the tea was unloaded, the colonists would owe the tea tax, when did not had a representative in the British government.  The colonists had attempted to have the tea sent back to England but the attempt failed.  So what to do?

Samuel Adams addressed the crowd, saying, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country.”  Some believe these words were code to the Sons of Liberty to begin the Tea Party.  Men dressed as Mohawk Indians then went down to the wharf and dumped 340 crates of tea into Boston Harbor.  The rest, they say, is history…

As we were still on the tour, I apologize for the poor quality of my photos.  We didn’t stop directly in front of many of these buildings, so I was shooting from a distance with scores of people around!  I hope you get the gist…  One thing I found very interesting was seeing these historic sites from hundreds of years ago juxtaposed with modern construction and a bustling city life!  There is a Walgreens just out of frame of this last photo!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Boston Freedom Trail, Pt.1

Day 56, Sunday, September 9, 2018
Boston Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

One of the places that I most wanted to see on my trip was Boston.  There is so much history there, and I had never been!  Well maybe I went once with my family when I was really little, but I don’t remember it… But I was also nervous about driving in this big city that is notorious for its bad traffic.  I decided to give it a go, and woke up early on a Sunday morning to head in.  I set my GPS for Boston Common, which has a visitor’s center where I could get my bearings.  The first parking garage where I had planned to park was full, due to a race that morning, so I found another in the area – $25 for the whole day – that’s not bad for a big city.

I found the Visitor’s Center and purchased a guidebook to the Boston Freedom Trail for $7 and a walking tour for $13 or $14.  I had a bit of time before the walking tour started, so it was finally time to settle my big city nerves.  Dunkin Donuts was the perfect place for a bagel breakfast sandwich and a coffee!

The tour guide was a older gentleman in period costume (and in character!) as a British Officer.  The tour did the first 11 stops of the Freedom Trail, and it was so informative and interesting!  We got to see some of Boston’s oldest cemeteries, the churches where many of our founding fathers worshiped, the site of the Boston Massacre, and more!

Follow along with me!

Stop 1 – Boston Common

Boston Common is America’s oldest park; established in 1634, it long predates the independence of the United States.  It is also probably one of America’s first public projects, with each homeowner paying six shillings to fund the 30 pounds required to buy the Common’s 44 acres from the first settler in the area, William Blackstone.  Until 1830, the common was used to graze local livestock, with livestock owners chipping in to collectively pay a town shepherd.

In 1775, Boston Common was the camp of the Redcoats during the British occupation of Boston.

More recently, in addition to it still being a public park, it has been the site of rallies and celebrations, including hosting speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr, and Charles Lindbergh, as well as civil rights and anti-war rallies.  For Boston’s large Catholic population, Boston Common was the site of a mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in 1979.

Strangely, I didn’t take any real pictures of Boston Common.

Stop 2 – Massachusetts State House

This impressive building with a golden dome was designed by Charles Bulfinch, and completed on January 11, 1798.  The land with the state house is situated was once John Hancock’s cow pasture.  Initially the dome was made of wood, but was covered with copper by Paul Revere; the gold leaf wasn’t added until 1874.  At the very top of the dome is a gilded pine cone, honoring the state’s reliance on logging in the 18th century.  Interestingly, during World War II the dome was painted gray, due to blackout orders.

This stunning building still houses the senators, state representatives and governor who conduct the daily business of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Stop 3 – Park Street Church

Built in 1809, the Park Street Church is the home of the Trinitarian Congregational church.  The church became known for its support of abolitionist causes after William Lloyd Garrison delivered his first anti-slavery speech on July 4, 1829.  Another fun fact – the song America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee) was first sung from the steps of the Park Street Church.  The church continues to hold weekly congregational services today.

Stop 4 – Granary Burying Ground

The Granary Burying Ground was established in 1660, named for the huge grain storage building that was once next door, and it is Boston proper’s third oldest burying ground.  Although there are 2,345 markers, it is estimated that about 5,000 people were buried here.  There are many notables buried here, including three singers of the Declaration on Independence; Robert Treat Paine, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock.  Paul Revere is buried towards the rear of the cemetery, and Benjamin Franklin’s parents have a centrally located obelisk.  There is an infants tomb, where hundreds of children have been interred.  And last but not least, the five victims of the Boston Massacre are buried here: Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell and Patrick Carr.

You will notice that the stones are neatly placed in lines.  This was not how the cemetery was originally arranged.  In fact, many of the headstones have been rearranged in order to make it easier for the lawnmower to get through.  So take the actual gravesites with a grain of salt here!

The Puritans made up a large part of Boston’s population in the days when the Granary Burying Ground was actively being used, and they didn’t mark their gravestones with religious icons.  Instead, skulls and crossbones and other imagery is popular here.  I liked Captain John Decoster’s stone; he died in 1770 at the age of 26.  In addition to the skull with wings, his stone was engraved with this interesting quote, “Stop here my Friend & Cast an Eye; as you are now so Once was i; as i am now so you must be; Prepare for Death & Follow me.”  He has a point!

It was here as we were milling around looking at headstones, when I was approached by a young woman who was also on the tour alone.  She introduced herself as Clara, and she was in Boston from Singapore for a training for her new job.  She asked if I was going to be touristing after the end of the tour, and if so, would I mind if she tagged along!  Absolutely!  It was nice to meet a friend who was interested in history, and have someone to chat with and share the day!

 

COVID Diaries: Day 374

The weekend has arrived again!  I had to work yesterday on my day off, as one of my employees had a family emergency, so it was nice when the workday was finally over! 

I had a friends dinner date on Thursday night at a new pho restaurant in town.  So simple and so delicious!  It’s so nice to be able to eat in a restaurant again.  We followed it up with a walk to the University, since it is now light out later in the evening. 

Friday night I took a long walk in the Arboretum, and then back down through the University.  It’s so nice to have this wooded park just a few blocks from my front door. Afterwards, I tried a new Raspberry Lemonade canned wine.  It was ok; not great, not terrible.

Today I had to do the unpleasant task of buying a new washer.  Why are these things so expensive and why oh why can they not make quality things the way they used to?  In my first house, the dishwasher was 42 years old and still worked fine.  You are lucky if you get 7 years out of an appliance these days.  But I am now the proud owner of a brand new Speed Queen top loading washing machine with exactly no bells and whistles, which is exactly how I think it ought to be.  Hopefully it will last… 

To reward myself for getting this chore done, I went to the Lost Giants cidery and got a 6-pack of their new Passionfruit Guava cider.  It is soooo good! 

I hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!

 

COVID Diaries: Day 370

We launched into spring last weekend with a gorgeous sunny day!  Haha – just kidding – I wish.  It rained.  Pretty much all weekend.

That didn’t stop me from taking a long walk in the rain on Saturday, but I must admit that the rest of the weekend I was lazy.  I made chili with bratwurst meat, which seemed to fit the still-wintery gloom.

A year ago (shortly before COVID) I found a rock polisher at Goodwill and snatched it up for $12.99.  However, there it sat, unused, because I couldn’t figure out how to get the lid to seal when you put the rocks, grit and water in it.  The instructions I found online weren’t very helpful.  A few weeks ago though, a friend showed me how it works, and now I’m on a roll, happily tumbling the few rocks I had collected.  I swapped them out to change the grit this last weekend and they are definitely starting to shine up!  I can’t wait to see how this batch turns out!  Of course, this means I need to find some more rocks, so next time I have a complete batch to polish.

I have been told many times that my interests are those of much older people.  History, battlefields, antiques, rocks, etc.  I suppose they are right.  I don’t care though.  I’ll retire early and travel, visit battlefields and collect rocks, and be happy.

Yesterday I was rummaging through a box of old postcards that were sent to my grandparents and aunts between the 1960s and the 1980s.  I found one from Nebraska, three days after my parents’ wedding in 1968.  They drove from Michigan to California, where my Dad was already working.  Mom was unimpressed with Nebraska, per her postcard narrative.  She doesn’t remember this, but it made me smile.  I still haven’t made it to Nebraska – I wonder if I will be more impressed.

Last night I finished a Thomas Kinkade puzzle that I had gotten at Goodwill a few years ago.  It was hard!  But thankfully it had all its pieces, and the English cottage scene makes me want to jet off to the real English countryside.  It’s either that or bake myself in the Arizona sun, to try to tan away the nearly translucent skin I acquire each winter.  Some hiking in Sedona sounds really good about now, but of course, it is still far colder there than it is here in the Pacific Northwest.

This coming weekend marks my two-year anniversary at my job, and my raise!  Woot woot!

Happy Tuesday, Peeps.  I hope you are well.

Circus Trip 2018: Lowell Part 2

Day 55, Saturday, September 8, 2018
Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell, Massachusetts

After I visited the Boott Cotton Mill and Museum, I headed back outside to find a folk music festival happening on the grass outside. I stopped to listen for a while and was impressed by the talent of the musicians!  There was a banjo and fiddle competition and a musical duet.  It was nice just sitting outside and enjoying the music.

Next I headed over to the Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit, just across the square from the Mill.  The exhibit is housed in what used to be one of the Boott Cotton Mill’s boardinghouses.  The boardinghouse was built in 1835, and housed 20-40 mill girls in a communal setting.  About $1.25 per week would have paid for three meals per day, limited laundry and a shared bedroom.

The boardinghouses were owned and operated by the mills and had strict rules for the residents.  Girls had curfews, were not allowed to consort with men, were not permitted to drink and had to attend church services on Sundays.  If they broke the rules, their job could be at risk.  Times were different then…

It was interesting to see the parlors, communal dining room, and bedrooms in the boardinghouse.  Even though the girls wouldn’t have had any privacy, it did give them ready access to friends and a support system in a city and job that was unlike anything they had experienced.

After I left the boardinghouse, I took a walk back through the town along the canal and its walking path.  It was interesting to imagine what these workers experienced almost 200 years ago.  I’m so glad that Lowell had the foresight to save these old buildings and their history.

COVID Diaries: Day 365

That’s it…  We’ve hit a whole year.  A whole year of disrupted life; isolation, worry, and all the other things that have gone along with COVID.

On this day last year, we were sitting in my employees’ office, making last-minute plans to work from home.  Sending telecommute agreements to managers to have their employees sign, assigning cables and peripherals for Surface computers.  Testing Microsoft Teams for videoconferencing.  St. Patrick’s Day was the last day that I was in the office on a regular basis.  The official lockdown in Washington was announced on March 23.  Although I have been in to work since then, it is for a day at a time, once a week at most, but generally a day every couple of weeks. 

I mourn everything that has been lost since then, and I have struggled mightily at times.  I haven’t had a real vacation in that time, as I am not a fan of staycations.  I’ve had a few days off here and there, but it isn’t the same as getting out and fully decompressing.  I long for a flight to a far away town.  I long for a road trip to a National Park.  I think I just need to book something soon. 

I continue to believe that COVID has been a huge boost for the early retirement plan.  With nothing to spend money on, I have saved so much!  But I have had a hard time feeling motivated to tackle all the home projects that I ought to do.  Purging all the random crap that I know I should get rid of?  Still not done.  Selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace?  Nope.  COVID has not been the shot in the arm I need to take on these tasks…  See what I did there?  Clearly this lockdown has not made me more witty either! 

Anyway…  15 days to bend the curve and all.  Maybe year two will finally start looking up.

COVID Words of Wisdom: They said I changed a lot.  I said a lot changed me.

How are the rest of you all feeling on this one year anniversary? 

Circus Trip 2018: Lowell NHP

Day 55, Saturday, September 8, 2018
Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell, Massachusetts

I was in Massachusetts!  A new state!  I spent several days in the Boston area and the first day that I was there, I spent the day in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Lowell is a city with an important part of our national history, but it may not be a name that you recognize.

How Lowell got its start is a fascinating story.  Francis Cabot Lowell was already a successful merchant when he and his family traveled to England from the United States in 1810.  He became interested in the operation of power looms, but was not able to buy blueprints or a model of any of the looms the English had developed, as they were closely guarded trade secrets.  So he watched the looms operate and memorized how they worked.  In 1812, Lowell and his family sailed once again for the United States.  Since the War of 1812 was underway, all of Lowell’s baggage and belongings were searched for contraband when they left England; but Lowell had committed the information to memory and did not have any written material.

Back in the U.S., Lowell partnered with a machinist named Paul Moody, and the two were able to successfully create the first American power loom. Lowell began the first textile mill using a power loom in Lowell in 1814, and sadly, he died only three years after it began operations.

Lowell is currently the fifth largest city in Massachusetts, starting out as a mill town incorporated in 1826.  Built along the confluence of the Merrimack and the Concord Rivers, Lowell had the water power to sustain a large industrial complex.  The canals and mills were built by immigrant men fleeing the famines of Ireland, and the female mill workers generally came from the farming families of New England. By the 1850s, Lowell was the largest industrial complex in the United States, with several huge textile mills weaving raw cotton from the South into fabric.  Much of the fabric made its way back to the south to clothe the slaves; Lowell was the name given to the coarse cotton fabric that this clothing was made from.

The mills continued to thrive after the war, with later mill workers being comprised of German Catholics and French Canadians.  The mills finally began to close in the 1920s, when new mills were built in the south, taking advantage of cheaper labor.

After many years of decline, Lowell began to see a turnaround, when Wang Laboratories based its headquarters there.  Revitalization occurred, focusing on culture and history, and the Lowell National Historical Park was created on June 5, 1978.  The historical park focuses on the history of Lowell as a mill town, with the Boott Cotton Mills and Museum, the Mill Girls and Immigrants Boardinghouse, and a Visitor’s Center among several other sites.  The sites are spread out among the downtown area, but it is easily walkable, and a great way to spend the day!

I started at the Visitor’s Center to get a map of the sites, and watched their 19 minute introductory video.  It was very interesting!

When I left the Visitor’s Center, it was close to lunchtime, so I stopped in at the Lowell Burger Company, where I had a salmon burger with a handmade patty. It was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture!

Next I headed over to the Boott Cotton Mills and Museum, which has been renovated to its original state, with fully operating machinery.  They give you earplugs before entering and recommend using them, because the looms are loud!  The first floor shows the full operation of a working textile mill, and you can wander though seeing the machines.

Upstairs is the museum area, which goes through the history of the mill, as well as how the various machines worked to create fabric from raw cotton.  It was so fascinating!  It also has exhibits on the mill workers who worked in Lowell, mostly young women from farm families.

What was particularly interesting was an exhibit that gives visitors a chance to weave your own piece of fabric on a small loom.  You could choose colors and different patterns to use.  Then after you were done, they mailed it to you!  It was tough to get it right and I definitely made quite a few mistakes on mine!

I really enjoyed this museum, and there was so much more at Lowell to see!