Happy Birthday

I just marked a birthday and the cards, calls and emails rec’d from scattered places, wishing me a happy coming year were great. And so, as this past year was wonderful, I choose to thank those who made life so, and who will make the coming year just as great.

Beginning with life’s basics, my mother Nettie Ohlin taught me to need and enjoy a clean house, but ‘how she did it’, just didn’t ‘take’ on me, and so Crystal comes to my rescue. And we’ve both laughed as I’ve told her that she first came to my home as an infant in blankets and napped in a cozy warm kitchen corner while her father, Ron, shoveled snow. She’s known my place from birth.

And then there’s my lawn, which if more than seven days pass, looks as if no one lives here. A few years back, in rebellion, I put my front yard in BIG rocks and mulch, but that still left the back, and that’s why Steve and Chris, arrive every Wednesday afternoon to cut, trim, and sweep that green stuff. Pure bliss.

They make my outside yard as tidy as Crystal does the inside. Yes, and they’re all members of their exended family group.

But as winter puts a ‘damper’ on the growth of the lawn,  with no break, snow takes over and again, others of that same family are here to keep the white stuff in its place. What more can I ask??? In fact, as time has passed, Ron, the father of the clan, no longer wants the “killer’ job of snow, is the one who started it all. He is the father of Crystal who first slept in my home as he worked and is father-in-law to Jed, who is now Crystal’s husband, and is standing ‘in the wings’ to take over this coming winter’s snow.

So what allows my happiness? We never give it a thought, but I can’t even begin to list ‘all the things I’d have to go without, if the electricity went OFF. Just sitting here at my computer, without moving, I can list this machine I’m typing on to begin with, and the printer that does the next step. The lamp that gives me light, and from the kitchen I hear dinner cooking away. There’s the clock on the wall, Classic County Music from TV Channel 934, the doorbell telling me I have a caller, a timer to tell me when I’m needed in the kitchen, and on and on.

What would I (and you) do without water at the twist of our hands. Just for starters, today’s kitchen would close shop, the bathroom would retreat to the back yard, and baths revert again to once week in a wash tub. Oh, I’m not going into that, but give a thought from the garbage disposal in our kitchens, to the bathroom, and we quickly change the subject. Yeah sewers are unmentionables, but without them, our lives would be unmentionable.

What else? What else makes my days joyous and wonderful? How about cars? Think about them, because we seldom do. We just use them. 24-7, too. Yeah, so what else makes my life Happy? Joyous? Worth living????

I could go on and on, but again getting down to the nitty gritty, my life, in any circumstance is centered around my family. And, as such goes back to a long time ago when my Ohlin parents and siblings formed the foundation for this life I love.

And I thank Gram, who, by being a Bradford ancestor, gave me my home and the land it sits upon. And next there was Brad, who with my help brought those two stalwarts of my life, John and Bill, And they opened the doors to Carol, NIna, Mike, Eric, Rachael, Zaden and Asher. A veritable cushion of loved ones without whom, I would have no life.

Yes, I could name people, household utilities, things, but then I am taken deeper, to the world . . . the Universe . . . and I bow in gratitude as I’m taken from the selfish wants of my physical comforts, to my family, and still deeper, my gratitude keeps going and gets to The Source.

And call It by any of the thousands of names people have given IT, my thanks must go back to That Beginning. And Knowing that from the most trivial to the most sublime, all thanks go to That Source. And also for birthdays that sometimes wake us up to the  blessings given us.   So, ultimately, as we ever do,  Thank You God for birthdays, the eye-openers we all need,  and hopefuly use.  .

Too Good To Throw Away

“One man’s meat is another man’s poison,” and it’s never more true than when it comes to our garbage.

And right now, the Spring Season, is when most of us get the urge to clean out the garage, closets, drawers, etc. of stuff we’ve kept for years because it’s all Too Good To Throw Away. or TGTTA.

But sooner or later, we realize “something’s got to go”, and begin putting those TGTTA’s out on the ‘other’ side of sidewalk, side-by-side with our mail box, knowing those passing by will also know that it’s our way of saying ‘Here is some still usable stuff, but I’m through with it, and if you can use it, take it. It’s free.”  We all know the game.

My kids, (when they really were kids), and their pals were experts and I cringed at what they sometimes brought home, but the evening before Garbage Pickup, they would head straight for Three Fountain condos. which they considered a Gold Mine and they all tried to be first there for the best pickings.

I now put my stuff out on any day of the week, and it works. People know what ‘stuff on the street side of the sidewalk’ means, and it’s become an established way of moving a lot of TGTTA, and, if you’re on that ‘other’ side, you get rare bargains and are busy giving your still good stuff, a new life.

It’s not just kid stuff either, but items that accumulates in all homes, but which, dang it, we finally admit will never again will be used, and so with a sigh and fond farewell, we haul it from the garage, basement, closet, to a place right next to the Mail Box, give it a ‘farewell pat’, wish it well, and that’s that.

My garbage pickup day is Monday, but I put most of my TGTTA out on Saturday or Sunday.

Why? Do I like to see my mail box flanked by discarded stuff?  Well, No AND Yes. It turns out to be fun, for as you quietly watch, people pause, go round the block and are back again for a second look. And then, with almost guilty demeanor, some item goes into their car, and whoooosh, it’s gone. Some times they come to the door to ask, but it’s now such a common-place happening that if it’s on the ‘other’ side of the sidewalk, it’s up for grabs.

Often your TGTTA’s disappear within hours, and the garbage man, finds slim pickings for him to put to one side for his personal ‘find’. Which I’ve seen happen more than once. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing a good deal.

I’ve done this several times, and yes, to me it’s Garbage, and one day I saw a well used old lawn mower being pushed up the sidewalk, by two young boys, and I only hoped their Dad was handy with the pliers, wrenches and oil cans.

A hamper lasted but an hour, and an old bulky TV was still there at dusk, but had disappeared by midnite. I’ve found that most heavy TGTTA does disappear, after dark. I suppose the ‘taker’ needs help in moving whatever it is, into the car or truck. Who knows?

Yup, ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’, and if you pass my way and see some odd objects sitting out by my mailbox . . . take your choice. I call it my Mail Box give away.

But, be careful and not spoil a good thing, so stay on the Street side of the sidewalk, because the stuff on the House side might look like TGTTA to you, but is still wanted by that home-owner. So you keep on the Public side of the sidewalk, I’ll stay on mine, we’ll all stay friends, and have a bit of fun, along the way. Thanx.

Thank You Dad

My son, Bill, gifted me with a book a week or two ago, and it was as if I had been given an introduction to parts of Ethel I hadn’t even known existed. Yeah, almost every page had some thought that opened new doors, and very few pages didn’t spark my mind into new ways of thinking.  I understood only about one-tenth of it, and yet that tenth, was so compelling, so thought provoking, that here I am, trying to share it with you. Sometimes I think I should stop reading. But, it’s a habit I inherited from my Dad, Carl Ohlin, and couldn’t shake it, even if I ever got foolish enough to want to. Thanks, Dad.

The book is: Living The Secular Life, by Phil Zuckerman and the following words are from his book.

Life, this world, and our very existence—are all surreal, awesome, scary, yet pleasantly mind-blowing mysteries.

The depths and breadth of the Infinite, the Source of all Being, the Causes of the Universe, and the Beginnings or Ends of Time and Space – — when it comes right down to such matters, we don’t   have a shred of a clue, And   perhaps we never will.

What a funny and strange situation we find ourselves in.

We’re the only ‘animals’ in existence with the simultaneous awareness and knowing, that one day we won’t exist. The only creatures that ponder and argue about the nature of our very own essence and purposes.

We’re the only carbon-based life-form with the ability to produce Abstract Art and then hang it in a large building that also contains a cafe that offers hot dogs, colas, sweet rolls and a gift shop that sells cute little books, if you can imagine, on the Philosophy of Abstract Art.

And with all our admirable scientific advances that save lives, and ease suffering, and improve communication, and increase mobility, and able to harness energy, and also expand knowledge, and yet, with that scope of our attainments, we still have no sense of what it is all about.

We don’t know if there was anything, or, if so, what was here to begin with. Or how it is all actually possible. And, we never will. “Humanity’s Destiny”, by philosopher Andre Comte Sponville, acknowledges that all the imponderables are “irreducible unknowingness.”

Sure, we still can hear the reverberating echoes of the Big Bang. Yet that cosmic vibration tells us nothing about what was here before the Big Bang, or what was before that, or how or why there even was a Bang to be Binged.

This mostly wet Ball we call Earth, full of TV commercials, freeways, hamburgers, ponytails, oceans filled with our own plastic garbage, and poverty, is floating in Space among a billion other Balls, and there are galaxies swirling and there is a universe expanding, which itself may actually just be an undulating freckle on the cusp of something we can’t even conceive of, amid an endless soup of ever more unfamiliarities.

And we find such a situation to be utterly, manifestly, psychedelically amazing–and far more spine-tingling and awe-inspiring than any story I’ve ever read in the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, the Upanishads, Dianetcs, the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

So, why not take time to smell and taste your sack of tangerines, or nimbly hammer away on your dulcimer, or pluck a chicken, or listen to your conscience, or master a new algorithm, or walk to work, go biking in the park, or hitch a ride to the next town.

Might just as well, because we’re here. And we will never, never know who or exactly how all this came about. Like it or not, that’s the situation we’re in. Deal with it. Accept it. And marvel over it, but the mystery remains.

The Unknowable.  Some call it God,  or Allah,  or Buddha, others The Force.  Still it remains and so do we.

Four Rest Rooms

Or will it be five, another for Questioning . . .

It won’t be soon, but a plan is being ‘talked about’, and if it keeps going, inevitably there will be Four Rest Rooms, instead of the standard Men and Women duo.

You know what they’ll be. Yeah, in addition to the usual two, there will be one for those who claim to be Female, but their Birth Certificate says Male; and another for those whose Birth Certificate says Female, but grew up feeling Male.

They’ve long been known as Lesbians and Gays, and no doubt those will be the names used on the added Rest Rooms. And for those who want, or need them, the change is legitimate and overdue.

Two questions have been asked. First: If you are Female, would you be comfortable making use of the Male facilities? Followed, of course, by the opposite: If you are Male, would you be comfortable in the Female rooms?  Of no importance for most of us, but well known in the Locker Rooms of all Sports, and more and more often in our schools.

Of course the first line of confrontation has been and continues, (in fine print, but in all contracts), is that “You play well and we want you on our team. We pay well, but you must sign that you’ll be content with the Locker Rooms as they now are”. Period.

And that’s what men and women, (Yes, it goes both ways), have been doing for many years, and while there’s been many a hullabaloo over the unfairness of it. There is no solution, and the problem grows.

It’s unfair that a person whose Birth Certificate says Female, but grows up to be Male in feeling and strength, and so can (and many do)  perform in some Women’s sport in a stronger manner than the ‘regular’ females and because of that added strength, gives that team an unfair advantage. Like it or not,  it ends up with ‘men’ on  women’s teams.

 And it works the other way with some person whose Birth Certificate says Male, but grows up being Female, will not be able to perform with the expected muscle, vigor or strength.

It’s a long, long recognized problem. In the earliest day of National Baseball, there were hints in the newspapers, and the majority didn’t know what they were talking about. But we learned.

That was the era when Gays and Lesbians were known, but never publicly spoken about. Every Player or Owner knew about it, but separate Rest Rooms and Locker Rooms were never even thought of, and they are discussed today only because those so affected have grown in numbers, giving them more voices, and ergo, more power.

It gets confusing. We hear hints for Sexuality Cards (as any Charge Card) that would slide through some machine to open the doors, and like it or not, such Cards, would be a protection from Sexual crimes by the wily ones who could profess to be Gay or Lesbian and so get into the ‘wrong’ facilities.  The ramifications are endless,

It won’t be easy, and ‘big money’ will fight it tooth and nail, for, if this ever becomes a law, it will require major remodeling of every public building, and many businesses will not have the needed space, nor the money, to pay for it. It will probably be solved, as in many European cities, (still only Men and Women) but where large public-owned Rest Room structures are on every block and thusly, are paid with Tax money.

There are hints that our dependence on what our Birth Certificates say is coming to an end.  And on all ident cards, the Sex question will have four squares, M.F.L.G. And we will check the Real choice, and not the one on our Birth Certificates.

My son Bill who is far more into today’s world than I am, says that the current ‘politically correct’ categories are: LGBTQ, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning. And how all that would fit on Door Signs is beyond me. So, for simple folks it just boils down to: does the person have a penis or a vagina. And with that, we’re back to the Rest Room signs we’re using right now and I’ll stick with that, and leave well enough alone.