It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. But once they're ruffled, I am never complacent.
Yesterday I got a bill from our Homes Association. In addition to the regular itemized dues and trash pickup, there was a $35.43 charge for "leaf removal". Huh? No way to opt out. Complacency out the window.
I made a call to the "Treasurer" whose name was on the top of the bill. I explained that I wasn't interested in leaf removal for several reasons: We have almost an acre of land, and if we were to rake all those leaves to the curb, we should have started a month ago. Besides, I explained, we mowed/mulched in one easy step. That decaying leaves are good for the lawn. And furthermore, I like fall. I like the colors of the leaves, I like scuffing through them as I walk to the end of the driveway to get the paper. I have fond memories of my kids in the front yard, bundled up in the chill of the autumn air scooping them up in their jacketed arms and throwing them up in the air and falling around them. And most importantly, in this economy, I thought it was fiscally irresponsible charging 137 families $35.43 apiece. (I work at a Free Clinic where $35.43 would buy a handful of meals) Undaunted, I went on to say that I considered a pristine leafless yard a luxury. Fluff. I told her that I thought that perhaps an online survey was in order, to poll the folks who were funding this insanity and get their thoughts.
Jeanne explained it to me this way. The Association thought it would be nice to have all the lawns clean. "After all," she explained, "It just makes the whole neighborhood look nice." (I wonder what the Homes Association thinks when our teenagers' friends tp the front yard???) She chastised me for not attending the Homes Association Meeting where I could have voiced my concerns. (That particular meeting fell on a night where Wood was out of town and I was at a volleyball game with Meghan) I did ask how many families attended the meeting and she told me that it was about 25. My math says that that was 18% representation. (Don't they have to have a quorum to spend 72% of peoples' money????)
It was clear that Jeanne was not hearing me. Oh, she got quiet in all the right places. As our conversation wound up, she told me that she was brand new at the Treasurer's job, and that she "was already sorry that she'd taken it on". I am sure that I am one of the reasons! She suggested that I write to the President of the Homes Association, as well. I did that, and will let you know what happens.
Andrew, freshman journalist at University of Nebraska/Lincoln and I had a text-exchange last night.
Me: 8:18:07 pm Fair warning: Tomorrow's email topic is "Kids who never email"
Andrew: 8:34:07 pm Well I'll make sure tonight that I can only be considered a "kid who doesn't email very often" instead of one that never emails!
I am not sure what I am supposed to do with that. In my naivete, I thought that cryptic message meant that before the night was over that he would email, thereby removing himself from the never category. Didn't happen.
This is the same kid that last Friday twittered "Didn't even realize it was the weekend until I got back to my room after classes. Yeah." And in an email to his sister Mary said he wasn't too sure when he was coming home for Thanksgiving, in fact he didn't really know when Thanksgiving Break was.
I think this kiddo is spending too much time behind the eyepiece of his school-issue Canon DSLR.
Kathleen is living in Chicago, interning at her second theatre gig, The Eclipse. She recently found a job at The North Face Store. Her Outward Bound experiences and her love for the outdoors landed her the job (and maybe the look of desperation on her face helped!!!). On Thursday, a "regular" came in. This is a homeless woman who the store sees on a regular basis. She has some mental deficiencies. No comprehension of basic addition or concept of money. She comes in and tries on clothes. She doesn't try on shoes/boots, though. Her feet are bloody from blisters and wet from the elements. While she was going through her try-on routine, another customer asked Anthony, one of the North Face employees about the woman. The customer listened and said he wanted to buy her a pair of shoes. Anthony said, "You know that these shoes are $150+ right?" He knew. So Kathleen and Anthony worked for the next half hour finding this homeless woman the perfect pair of shoes. North Face threw in a 25% discount and several pairs of nice warm socks. And the customer spent more on this stranger than he did on himself.
The woman left the store, stopping people as she walked toward the door to her life on the street, showing everyone her new shoes.
This story needs no conclusion or editorializing. No, this one stands on its own.
Sex, violence and sex combined with violence work the shock movie genre. Chain saws, razors and buckets of gore are designed for shock value. I read about these movies in articles such as "Shock and Yawn" by David Ansen. (Newsweek, October 26, 2009) I read about them, but I do not understand.
If the value is to shock then my question is "Why?". Shock for its own sake? Push the limits of obscenity for what purpose? To challenge complacency? For what end?
How does mutilation move an audience to change? Change what?
So someone wins the Ugly/Nasty Contest? What exactly have they won? A few minutes to relish the trophy while waiting for a new director to cut deeper, take sexual violence/performance to new levels of theater?
How about this? How about reading the papers for the shock value of child abuse? Why not be shocked into advocacy for children? Or read about domestic violence and step up to that need? Visit a military hospital. Look at those brave women and men who have seen and suffered the horrors.
If that is too difficult, too shocking, too much of that blood-stuff then we can start with the less visually messy.
Look long at the effects of the economic situation. People surviving, but only 'just'. Watch those desperate faces at library computers as they search for work. Follow the homeless as they struggle for food and shelter.
Go to a funeral of a member of the military and observe the obscenity of pickets claiming to speak in the voice of God.
Not ready for human abuse to be prime time? Animals suffer horribly from the perverted human need for gore. Maybe that can shock out of complacency and into action.
What is wrong here? Why do we need 'entertainment' that is designed to show us degradation? We are better than that, right? Why am I so consumed with sadness as I type this?
On Monday, October 26, progress is about to interrupt our communication. The expression that works here is "going dark". Seems that a cable hook-up might finally happen. Our dial-up connection will be sporadic at best until change over is completed by very early November....at least that is what I have been told.
I will miss you. Each time I write a blog, I know you are with us...with Four Ordinary Women...so please check every day to see if we are active. Consider rereading the newest blogs and adding your comments. Consider rereading older blogs that you might have missed.
Consider how we might meet you in person through your book clubs, church groups, organizations. Each time we are invited to speak with a group, we learn. We learn about the depth and power of communicating from the heart. We learn that our book has touched the hearts and spirits of our readers. We are touched by sharing the time with you, Gentle Readers. Our website gives contact information. fourordinarywomen.com So...talk to you soon.
My mother accepted the change from wife to widow with great grace. Within a year of Dad's death, Mom sold the home and moved into an apartment becoming the independent woman. Granted, the apartment was not far from the family home and from my sister who lived a few houses down the block. Mom created her card playing social circle, continued to sew and read, and became the unofficial 'ear' for the other women in the apartment. Mom listened and helped.
When Mom's car had more scraps and dents than Maaco wanted to tackle....when the concrete curbs and telephone poles were marked with red auto paint....when Pete, the mechanic, could no longer accept her business...the time had come. We had to sell her car.
Time isn't gentle and Mom's decline went far too quickly. She left the apartment for assisted living. Even after she was moved to the locked-door Alzheimer wing of the facility, Mom continued to enjoy going 'for a ride' often asking that we circle Wyandotte County Lake where she and Dad had enjoyed fishing. She loved the Fall colors. She loved the search for Bittersweet to decorate her night stand. Often, she wanted the window down so she could smell the dampness.
Eventually, the rides to the lake would end almost before they began. We would get to the Manor's parking lot exit ramp and Mom would say it was time to go home now...before it got to dark to see any more colors. Mom thought we had already looked at the spill-way where she always remembered the stories of Mark's climbing escapades. She thought we had looked at the beautiful oranges, yellows and reds that she called nature's best.
I miss her. I miss the way she was before dementia took her. And I miss the woman she became when she looked at me with uncomprehending eyes. Not that she didn't know me. She did. But she didn't know her place in this world. She seemed so sad and lost. I do miss her.
But Mom never lost nature's best colors. That might be why this time of year feels so soft and looks so glorious...and why my face is wet with memory.