Red Chair

2018-07-05 19.12.11b

An old chair. Fresh paint. Reds. Greens. A touch of blue. Nature. An invited moment of quiet and calm among the trees and by the water. Deep breath.

 

 

Photos: walk the goats
Worn of its color…
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Refreshed…
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Old and new…
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One chair and the boats…
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Red, grey and blue…
Photo: WTG
Life in red and green…a moment of mindful presence.

 

Photos: Walk the Goats


 

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Bits of Nature

These are bird photos my dad took last fall, when I was on the east coast helping navigate my mom’s last few weeks of life. I went back again this month, to celebrate dad’s 95th birthday and help with taxes. He was happy I was there for the taxes. I was happy I was there for his birthday. We both found our way to happy.

This trip was a lot colder. Snow. Ice. Few people. I forgot how beautiful winter can be, and how powerful nature is, with the cold and wind, especially when you’re in a rural place. My fingers only lasted a few minutes outside of my gloves, trying to take pictures.  I’m a wuss; I kept wondering how quickly frostbite can happen. My fingers got that painful numb feeling, but no frostbite. I was breathing into my gloves to warm them up.

I walked on the frozen lake; I stayed close to shore but felt brave, until I heard the ice crack. I know my face revealed my sudden panic. The ice cracks a lot; it sings and moans and sounds alive.  But it was solid.

First time I’ve made a snowman in decades. I felt like a kid; lost track of time; felt giddy. When I walked back to the house after being gone for 45 minutes, I found dad outside, peering down the road, wondering where I was, given I’d told him I was going out for a short walk.  Some things don’t change just because we grow up.

 

Photos: Dad and Walk the Goats


 

5 Sly Stuff-Taming Sneaks

102_stufftamingsneaks_1-31-19Everyone I know has too much stuff. People I don’t know must, too, given the success of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up Netflix reality series.

In the spirit of less-is-more, here are five sneaky ways to shrink your stuff:

Sneak #1 – The Most Effective Sneak

Don’t buy in the first-place; clutter avoided.  Bonus: Save 100%.

Sneak #2 – Apply Trump’s Regulatory Rule

When you buy one, get rid of two. Whether or not you’re a Trump fan, this two-for-one idea helps declutter.

Sneak #3 – Shrink the Pile

Tiny steps add up: purge one thing a day. At years’ end, that’s 365 fewer items in your home. This works well if you also diligently follow Sneaks #1 and #2.

Sneak #4 – Trick-Trash

Not quite sure you’re ready to get rid of something?  Trick-trash it. Box it up, label it with a date three-months out, then stick it on a shelf. When the date hits, do not open; do bring directly to the thrift store. You won’t even know what you’re getting rid of. No-regrets decluttering!

Sneak #5 – Pretend It’s Rented

It’s easy to return something you’ve rented. You can return a Redbox DVD or a rented car effortlessly, without suffering. But get rid of something you own? Ouch; that’s where the pain is.  Try and treat other stuff as if rented, especially when you’re initially buying; this primes you for an easier parting later.

 

What about you? Do you have stuff-taming sneaks that work for you? Share them in the comments!

 

Photo source: geralt on Pixabay


 

More Blue Screen Haiku

Pixabay: TheDigitalArtist. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

For those who remember computer blue screens and error messages that sent terror through your bones, here are some gentler error messages.

But they still deliver disaster.

A file that big?

It might be very useful.

But now it is gone.


Aborted effort: 

Close all that you have.

You ask way too much.


First snow, then silence.

This thousand-dollar screen dies

so beautifully.


Computer haiku.

Distills angst of those moments.

Our author unknown.

 

Photo source: TheDigitalArtist on Pixabay


 

My New Swear Word

Pixabay: ponce_photography. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

I have a new swear word.

Actually, it’s less a swear word and more a cheery way to acknowledge a minor mishap.

The word was born in the kitchen, while scooping quinoa out of a bag and into a pan. No matter how careful Bubba and I were, grains of quinoa always leapt from the measuring cup onto the counter.

Have you ever found yourself muttering under your breath about being clumsy, careless, stupid over something minor? Over something you’d never criticize a child for?

Well, when the quinoa fell, our voices muttered.

Some things are habitual; tracks laid down years ago and reaffirmed so often they’re solidly etched into being automatic.  Bubba and I have a few of those tracks; we work at counterbalancing their automaticity with more intentional responses. Sometimes we find something that works and is fun.

It was in the kitchen, with quinoa falling and voices muttering, that we found our counterbalancing tool: the quinoa itself.

Quinoa, when spoken, sounds like keen-wa. Which is quite fun to say, especially if you elongate the vowels.

Now when the quinoa falls, we call out keeeen-waaaa! with a cheery voice; it’s so much easier to feel upbeat when the music is soaring. It’s become our way of simply recognizing what is—the quinoa is going to leap—rather than responding as if it shouldn’t be doing what it’s doing.

It’s been so effective at quieting our spilled-quinoa-muttering-minds, we now use it regularly, in all sorts of situations. Because, at least in our house, life serves up plenty of spills, drops, tumbles and minor mishaps.

Spilled milk?

 Keeeen-waaaa!!!!!!!

 

Photo source: ponce_photography on Pixabay


 

Meditating with Headspace

98_headspace-meditation6_1-27-19In my last post, I wrote about a decision I made years ago that helped me navigate the self-critical voices in my head and challenge their disapproving chatter. As a result, my inner-landscape-thoughts turned in a new direction. The directional change was slow, but that decision led me to experience myself and the world as kinder and gentler. The outside world hasn’t gotten any kinder; but my inside world has.

A few years ago, I made another good decision: I started meditating on a regular basis. Meditation takes the learning from that earlier decision and deepens it. It helps me tap into greater equanimity and contentment. I feel more balanced, less tilted toward finding things wrong and getting upset.

Andy Puddicombe is my meditation guide, his lessons delivered via the Headspace app.

Bubba discovered Headspace after coming across a talk Andy did at Google in 2014. Andy is the voice and experience of Headspace, having spent ten-years studying meditation before being ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Continue reading “Meditating with Headspace”

Blue Screen of Death

Pixabay: Clker-Free-Vector-Images; Free for commercial us; no attribution required

I was going through files from a decade ago and found a collection of haiku poems that took computer problems—something that seems like a modern, human/technological issue—and transformed them into poems about the human condition. Given how frequently computer tragedies happened, the haiku writer was prolific.

I’ve no idea who wrote these, but for anyone who ever experienced a computer crash or got an error message about a missing file, you’ll relate.  I’ll serve up more later. Enjoy!

You step in the stream,

but the water has moved on.

This page is not here.


Serious error.

All shortcuts have disappeared.

Screen. Mind. Both are blank.


Windows NT crashed.

I am the Blue Screen of Death.

No one hears your screams.

 

Photo source: Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay


 

Tug-of-Wars Within

Pixabay: Dark Cordial. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Have you ever felt a tug-of-war taking place inside you?

Not just a tug-of-war between two teams, but between multiple teams. Two teams tug on the smart/stupid assessment rope, each at opposite ends. The stupid team pulls furiously, dragging you slowly to their side.

Two other teams tug on the attractive/ugly rope; the ugly team manages to find enough “evidence” to give them the win.

Other teams tug on more self-images: kind/unkind; generous/stingy; strong/weak; on-and-on, dragging your esteem through the mud. The teams that pull on the dark traits seem to win more battles. Their voices are loud; insistent; convincing. The Judge stands over the games, hears the critical voices, and declares the winners. The Judge’s scales tilt in favor of the demons; somehow those voices are easier to believe.

Those battles went on in my head for years. They were torturous and painful and left me feeling at times as if a dark, wet blanket were draped over me.  Battles still occur—they always will—but I have more tools available when they arise; light exists to counterbalance the dark.

Continue reading “Tug-of-Wars Within”

When Things Go Awry, Agitation & Self-Talk

Pixabay: johnhain Free for commercial use; No attribution required

Sometimes small things agitate me; today it was forgetting to bring my health insurance card to a medical appointment.

As soon as I walked in to the lab, I realized my new insurance card was at home. The sign in the receptionist’s window said cards were required for service. I hoped they’d let me email them a copy when I got home; I feared they’d tell me no card, no service, and I’d have to go home and get it.

This would be an unexpected change in my plans; a change I didn’t want. Unmet expectations are not uncommon in life; they are what they are. But sometimes those unmet expectations—things not going the way I want them to go—can trigger an inner reaction.

When that happens, I’m trying to pay attention to how my body reacts; because my body usually sends me signals before anything else.

Continue reading “When Things Go Awry, Agitation & Self-Talk”

Mom’s Last Week

Dad photo

Mom arrived around noon to the room she would live in until she died. She knew the facility, although this was a new room. She expressed appreciation for the photos and flowers I had decorated it with. She thanked the two young men who had transported her by ambulance from the hospital.  She was weak, but knew how to be polite.  It was Friday, September 21.

Her arrival marked the beginning of the end. An end that came nine days later.

Continue reading “Mom’s Last Week”

To My Blog Followers Using WordPress Reader: Yes or No

Pixabay: geralt. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

Hi followers of Walk the Goats, especially those who find my new posts through WordPress Reader. Thanks for following me and…I need your help.

I posted a new post this morning (1/17/19) at 9 am Eastern Time entitled I Have 340 Separate Account Log-Ons.

My question to you is: did that post come through your WordPress Reader?

  • YES=Yes, it was there! Wahooo!
  • NO=Nope. It didn’t show up.

I’m asking because I follow myself and it didn’t come through mine. Not on my phone; not on my iPad; not on my browser.

Fandango, on his blog This, That and, and The Otherhas posted recently that he’s had lots of problems with blogs he’s following not coming through his Reader.  Right after reading today’s post from him about this, my post vaporized in Reader.

I’m a small blog with a small list of followers. Not appearing in Reader impacts the engagement I have, which is already…small.

I’m trying to do some data-gathering and would love it if you would post in the comments if you saw my above-referenced blog in your WordPress Reader. And if you’ve had any issues with Reader, feel free to note that, too. I’ve already reached out to WordPress about my missing post, but if I have more problems to tell them about, I’ll pass that on.

Thanks for your help. And for reading!  After this has been up for a while, I’ll tally the results.

And keep my fingers crossed that THIS post appears in Reader.

 

Photo source: geralt on Pixabay


 

I Have 340 Separate Account Log-Ons

Pixabay: Pixelkult. Free for commercial Use. No attribution required.

There’s a reason people use the same log-on name and password on every friggin’ site on the internet; they do it because every friggin’ site requires we establish an account in order to interact with them beyond looking at their offerings through the internet-window.

You want to come in and browse? Set up an account, create a user name and unique password, give us your personal data, and then—and only then—will we let you in to see our wares.

Imagine if that happened at retail stores? They would have collapsed sooner than their apparent, imminent collapse.

I have 340 web sites that required me to set up an account with them in order to engage.  Really? Did all 340 of them really need me to set up an account? I don’t even know if some of the accounts I have exist anymore. I’m pretty sure my MySpace account is defunct, but who knows, it could still be sitting there.

Continue reading “I Have 340 Separate Account Log-Ons”

WordPress Design and Content Tweak Suggestions

Pixabay: pixelcreatures Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Cheri Lucas Rowlands, with WordPress, recently published two posts to help us improve our blogs.  In case you missed them, here are five design and content tweaks she recommended. The posts themselves serve up narrative and visual guidance to implement each change, so if one of them catches your eye, click through and tweak away!

Five Design Tweaks for a Fresh Start in 2019

  1. Set the tone with a new header
  2. Clean out the cobwebs and remove your background
  3. Get stylish with a fresh font
  4. Build your site’s visual identity with a custom logo
  5. Use your photography game with high-quality images

Five Content Tweaks for a Fresh Start in 2019

  1. Update your site title and tagline
  2. Reorder and reword your menu tabs
  3. Clean up your categories
  4. Revisit your sidebar and footer
  5. Audit all of your pages

There’s lots more WordPress blogging guidance and reading suggestions on WordPress.com-Blog and WordPress-Discover. If you aren’t following them, sign up to get plugged into more resources!

 

Photo source: pixelcreatures on Pixabay


 

My Costco Greatest Hits

Pixabay: Geralt, free for commercial use, no attribution required

I asked a friend once why she didn’t shop at Costco.  “Because when I do, I buy stuff I don’t need.”

With another friend, I joked that it was hard to get out of Costco for under $100. “Under $100?” he quipped. “More like $200!”

I’m of two minds about Costco; I’m drawn toward it, and have resistance to it.

There was my misfortune a few years ago with Costco’s red, medium sticker on my sweater, worn at a memorial service; no, it wasn’t Costco’s fault, but it remains a well-seared-in, unpleasant memory.

Costco is to blame, though, for being a place with too much tempting stuff; I’ve admitted to having a love/hate affair with stuff; Costco takes those feelings and gins ‘em up.  So, yeah, I have some Costco…baggage.

But there are also things I love about Costco; things that keep my membership alive and active.

Here are 5 things I really like about Costco. They’re my Costco Greatest Hits.

Continue reading “My Costco Greatest Hits”

Mom’s Final Hospital Discharge

Walk the Goats Photog

My mother died September 30th, one week and two days after being discharged from the hospital, terminal cancer her final diagnosis.

In early September we were talking about her possible discharge home at the end of that month; she was making great progress with her hip replacement rehab, despite continued pain.

We thought we had time ahead of us. She thought she had time.

Then, with a September 15th phone call, our world changed. The resident calling reported mom had terminal cancer.  A day-and-a-half later, I’m back east, meeting with dad, mom, doctors, nurses.

Continue reading “Mom’s Final Hospital Discharge”

I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.

Pixabay: 999theone, Free for commercial use; no attribution required

I have a love/hate relationship with stuff.   I own too many things.  Not all of it sparks joy, that Marie Kondo test to decide whether to keep something or eliminate it.

I’ve gotten rid of things along the way, but unless I move and have to do a major purge, things flow into my house at a faster rate than they flow out. Having lived in the same place for nearly 20 years, stuff has accumulated.

The percentage of stuff I use regularly is…small.

Some of the stuff is seasonal, stored until the season rolls around again.

Some is aspirational: those pants I’ll fit into once I’ve dropped 10-pounds.

Some is, if I’m brutally honest, fantastical: am I really going to read Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human or George Lakoff’s Moral Politics?

Continue reading “I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.”

Postage Stamps are Little Marvels

Pixabay: AngelaT Free for commercial use; no attribution required

The price of a U.S. first-class stamp goes up January 27, 2019 from $0.50 to $0.55.

If you’re of a certain generation you might ask, “What’s a stamp?”

If you were alive 50-years-ago, when stamps were $0.06, you might grumble about the higher price.

But focusing on the price misses something bigger: the marvel of what you get for the price of that stamp; that stamp affixed to an envelope you can send to a friend 3,000 miles away.

Continue reading “Postage Stamps are Little Marvels”

Road Intersection Lesson #2

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos / 19628 images CC0 Creative Commons

Have you ever thought you’d squeezed every morsel of learning out of some lesson, only to have it say, wait! there’s more!

My Road Rage story was like that. I dubbed the location where I learned to reduce my road rage, mindfulness intersection. After blogging about it I thought, ok, that intersection is dry; I’ve learned all there is.

But life continued. And I realized so much depends on perspective. When I first wrote about taming my road rage, I wrote about it from my perspective: the one pissed off that another car cut in front of me.

My second lesson had me being the cutter.

Continue reading “Road Intersection Lesson #2”