June 22, 2017

Laundry Liquid Workout

Laundry Liquid Workout Jane French
The cap to my laundry soap just fell behind the washing machine. You know how they make caps that snap on to soap containers? Similar to a lemonade or iced tea or vodka dispenser that is meant to lay on its side and you pull off the cap to press a button so liquid pours into the cup up to a designated line. These cappy cups click securely into place after use. I sometimes miss the connection and they fall off. This time, the cap bounced off the dryer just right – flying as if on purpose behind the washing machine to make time with linty socks and whatever else is back there I don’t want to know about.

Unfortunately, I need the cap to fit back on so the soap doesn’t drip and so I can measure the next load. I suppose I could pull the washer out a bit.

But, it’s too heavy. And I’m nervous about goofing up the water connection hoses.

It’s been a while since I’ve been back there with my eyeballs. I can’t really get back there with my body because it’s a tight space with a wall in back, a dryer to the left, another wall to the right, and our laundry shelf above full of cleaning supplies.

I put my cell phone in my pocket, in case of emergency…

June 10, 2017

Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing TED

All are spot-on. Regarding writing (which is not to be confused with being published), I love number six:

"Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair. That's the secret of life. That's probably the main difference between you and them. They just do it. They do it by prearrangement with themselves. They do it as a debt of honor. They tell stories that come through them one day at a time, little by little. When my older brother was in fourth grade, he had a term paper on birds due the next day, and he hadn't started. So my dad sat down with him with an Audubon book, paper, pencils and brads — for those of you who have gotten a little less young and remember brads — and he said to my brother, "Just take it bird by bird, buddy. Just read about pelicans and then write about pelicans in your own voice. And then find out about chickadees, and tell us about them in your own voice. And then geese." So the two most important things about writing are: bird by bird and really god-awful first drafts. If you don't know where to start, remember that every single thing that happened to you is yours, and you get to tell it. If people wanted you to write more warmly about them, they should've behaved better. You're going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions and songs — your truth, your version of things — in your own voice. That's really all you have to offer us, and that's also why you were born."

May 4, 2017

The Color of Law

Institutional, government-backed housing segregation has and continues to have devastating ramifications for African Americans. For all of us who either don't grasp the magnitude or don't believe institutional racism exists, this podcast is a must-listen. Please share with your children so they may understand how we, as a nation, got here.

From NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross on April 3, 2017, an interview with Richard Rothstein:

"A Forgotten History Of How Our Government Segregated America: Author Richard Rothstein says the housing programs begun under the New Deal were tantamount to a "state-sponsored system of segregation," in which people of color were purposely excluded from suburbs. His new book is 'The Color of Law.'" (segment is approximately 30 minutes in length)

April 29, 2017

Retirement and the New Normal: Millennials to Baby Boomers

This is about doing the math. It's about educating ourselves and conducting a gut-check. By default, it's about how we live during the years before retirement age, too. I recommend "Fifty-Five, Unemployed, and Faking Normal" by Elizabeth White. Below are two videos from PBS NewHour's Making Sen$e series. White's extensive research, first-person experience, and thoughtful commentary is both timely and necessary:

1. 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day: "Every eight seconds another American turns sixty-five - ten thousand people per day. By 2030, nearly 20 percent of the population will be sixty-five or older, the largest senior population in the history of the United States." (U.S. Census)

2. Regardless of your political ideology, we're all in this together: "According to a May 2015 study by the Government Accountability Office on retirement preparedness, half of all American households have no retirement savings at all." And, "According to the GAO, around 29 percent of households aged fifty-five and older have neither retirement savings nor pensions."

3. How did we get here? For starters, stop blaming the victim: "The truth is, if you're a boomer-aged American, you've spent your last three or more decades dealing with flat or falling wages, disappearing pensions, and steeply rising costs in housing, health care, and education. If that pummeling wasn't bad enough, in 2008 you were hit by the largest economic downturn in decades."

4. "You are going to hear a lot about how it's all your fault that you underfunded your retirement; you'll hear about all of that money you wasted on lattes and bottled water. You're going to be accused of being irresponsible and fiscally promiscuous - yes, promiscuous. Don't buy it."

All age groups should watch this and read her book. Ultimately, hers is a message of hope and resilience in the face of inescapable change. She plots a course worth examining.

"Fifty-Five, unemployed and faking normal: One women's story of barely scraping by"
aired January 19, 2017 on PBS NewsHour. The follow-up video (embedded above) aired January 26, 2017.

January 28, 2017

Between the World and Me: Recommended

A little late to the party, I know. I can't recommend this book enough. It IS a classic. What Coates delivers in 150 short pages is, literally, breathtaking. Written as a letter to his (real life) son, he imparts history, his own youth, family, a must-read examination of the "Dream" world (the one I was born into and keep thinking everyone else experiences), foreign travel, grief, humor. His terrific talent as a writer: my eyes kept racing forward through the words, even though I wanted to savor the delivery and needed more time to digest the message. I hope you favorite this link and read it yourself. Know a young person? Get them a copy. If only this existed when I was younger...

More at goodreads:

January 17, 2017

Don’t wait till your dying words to say what’s most important: PBS NewsHour's In My Humble Opinion

Hospice Chaplain Kerry Egan: "Here’s the thing. When people ask me about dying words, what they’re really asking is, what is so important in this life that it should be the very last thing we talk about? So, instead of asking, what do other people talk about, ask yourself, what do I really want to talk about now? And that’s a really good question. That’s a really good thing to ponder."