Sunday, September 25, 2011

Only God Can Make a Tree

I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree. - Joyce Kilmer

I climbed a tree today. I'm 46 years old and I climbed a tree. I was walking my dog through this lovely wooded area in the park by my house, and admiring the old "climbing tree" that my kids used to climb when they were small. It looked inviting.... I thought about it but walked on. Then I turned around, walked back to the tree, and climbed up to the little V crook and sat down.  I held onto the branches next to me. The bark felt rough but nice. I looked around at the view. I looked up into the higher branches. I examined the leaves. And I just sat there for about 5 minutes, taking it all in, enjoying that same exact wonderful feeling that I used to have when I climbed trees as a kid. I felt part of nature and connected to the Earth.  I could feel my heart rate slowing down and my body relaxing. It was quiet and just so...peaceful.

I was only up there for about 5 minutes and I really wanted to stay longer,  but since I had my dog with me, I really couldn't.  I had hooked his leash on a branch, which, if you know anything about my dog,  was a very risky maneuver. If another dog or squirrel  or cat came by at any moment, he would rip that entire tree down to get to it.  I didn't want to test my luck by staying too long, so I reluctantly climbed down.  I will go back another day without the dog. Next time, I will stay a lot longer.

I've had trees on my mind all week. It started with some photos that my aunt put up on Face Book. She lives in Portland, OR in a high rise apartment building where there is a beautiful grove of trees in the front. She sent the photos because the trees are soon going to be cut down to make room for a new stretch of track for their city transit system. She is sad about the trees being cut down, even though the expansion of the transit system will be a good thing.  The people in her building had a little goodbye ceremony for the trees and that really touched me.

A few days later, I read an article on DailyOM about tree houses. The article was about the benefits of having your own tree house. A private sanctuary to go read or think or just be still. I thought to myself how lovely it would be to have a tree house in our yard, except we don't  have an appropriate tree so that isn't going to happen.  My teenage kids would totally balk at that idea anyhow, and if I told them the tree house was for me, that would only confirm in their minds that I truly am the weird,  tree-hugging hippie mom they claim that I am.

Oh well. A mom's gotta be herself. I feel good. I'm glad I did that and I can't wait to do it again. And next time, I'll climb even higher. I don't care who might see me.

When was the last time you climbed a tree?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Watch your language!

Hello friends. I've been so excited to share this with you. I won a writing contest!

There is a wonderful columnist who writes for our local newspaper, The Davis Enterprise. His name is Bob Dunning. He's lived here practically his whole life. He shares stories of Davis past and present, and provides commentary on everything from sports to local politics.

Every year Bob runs a contest to "replace the columnist." He invites anyone who is so inclined, to submit an article on any topic they like. His "large judging body" ahem...then chooses the winners. Each winner gets their day in the spotlight as Bob's replacement in the column space.

I look forward to reading these columns every year. This year, I decided to submit my own essay, and much to my delight, I am a winner!

So my column is in the paper today!! You can click HERE to see it. You can also check out the other winning essays. Or you can read my essay below. My blog here includes the usual music video (and it's a doozy)!

Watch your language!

Ok, big confession. I have a potty mouth. I do. I enjoy inserting a four-letter word here and there. It feels GOOD. It adds emphasis to the emotions. It puts the exclamation point on the exclamation! I's not very lady-like. I've been told this. But I just can't help myself. Besides, I never claimed to be a lady. I'm a woman -- with strong emotions.

This penchant for cursing goes back to my youth. Like most kids, I began to experiment and test the boundaries, and using foul language was part of that. I remember a time when I was playing outside with my friend Pam, who lived next door. I was only 9 years old. I don't remember why, but I started swearing, probably just to sound cool. Well, Pammy's mom heard my lovely little diatribe. The next day, when I called Pam to see if she could play, she said, "No, my mom doesn't want me to play with you anymore.” What? Why? A bad influence? Me? But I'm so sweet and nice! What mom wouldn't want her daughter to have a friend like me? Her mom had it all wrong.

I had a lot to learn. Language is one of the ways, perhaps the strongest, that we present ourselves to the world. Everything we say leaves an impression. This has always been true and will always be true.

So why have the rules of language become so lax over the years? Don't people care about making a good impression anymore? To hear the young people talk, you would think not, but it’s not just youngsters. I hear more four letter words coming from adult mouths than ever before. Our societal "no-no" on cursing seems to have been lifted. Did we just give up on the rules? It seems we have agreed this battle is just not worth fighting.

Is it a matter of rebellion? It's hard to live by the rules all the time! Maybe our society is going through a collective letting down of the hair. We have done this throughout history. We've gone through periods of conservatism that led to periods of wild abandon. Victorian prudishness to flappers and speakeasies. 1950s "Leave it to Beaver,” to 1960s sex, drugs and rock n' roll.

Television must certainly play a role. If you watch one episode of “Family Guy” you’ll see what I mean. What about the Internet? With email and Face Book and Twitter, the goal is to be pithy and clever, and swear words are a quick way to make a point. Sarcasm is too. Politeness flies out the window. We get into bad habits and they translate into real life.

Well, I am happy to speculate on the subject, but we could take a more scientific approach. Did you know there is an academic discipline that studies such things? It's called Linguistic Anthropology. I Googled "curse words and society" and found it on Wikipedia, so it must be true. Wikipedia defines it as such: "Linguistic anthropology explores how language shapes communication, forms social identity and group membership, organizes large-scale cultural beliefs and ideologies, and develops a common cultural representation of natural and social worlds." If you prefer a more credible source, I found another definition on Oregon State University's website that says this:

"linguistic anthropology - study of how language is used in various social contexts. Anthropological linguistics focuses more on the interplay of language and culture."

There is even a Society for Linguistic Anthropology (SLA). So if you want to delve into this fascinating subject further, you know who to turn to.

Language, and what is acceptable, is changing in so many ways. Including curse words in everyday conversation is just part of it. It will be interesting to see how that boundary either stretches or bounces back.

Oh, and in case you were wondering.... there is a happy ending to my earlier story. I apologized to Pam’s mother for my behavior. I told her that the girl hurling swear words in the backyard wasn't the real me. I'm really a very nice girl, honest. I would make an effort to watch my mouth. Like any mom would do, she took the opportunity to lecture me, and I actually listened. For years I did not use foul language, even though it went against my natural emotive tendencies. Then, slowly but surely, the curse words crept back into my vocabulary. However...I try not to use them around my kids (does "crap" count?) or in public. I save them for special occasions and for the privileged few in my inner circle. Lucky them!

If swear words offend you, you may want to avoid listening to this video. It's really no worse than George Carlin's famous "Cuss words you can't say on t.v." routine. I thought it was hilarious, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm for such things. Proceed with caution!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Showered with Love

Oh my! I am so blessed.  I've been bestowed  with not one, but TWO more blogging awards.  Thank you, thank you! I am truly honored.

I'm not certain what the rules for winning the Blogger on Fire award are, but I do know the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award.  So.... I think I will just sort of make up my own rules (I know, so what's new?) It's good to be a rebel.

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award

1) Thank the blogger who awarded you and link back to them.

2)  Share 7 things about yourself.

3) Pass the award along to 15 other newly discovered blogs.

I will do the first two and part of the second. I like the number seven, and since rule #2  has a seven in it, I'll change rule number 3 and pass the award on to 7 newly discovered blogs. Is that confusing? :-)

The woman I get to thank for these illustrious awards is um..... um... I haven't got a clue!  And don't you love a good mystery? Her blog is called Mommy Bags and it's one of my favorites. She writes about first time parenthood and anything else that pops into her head. She's a straight-shooter who tells it like it is. My kind of woman! A popular feature of hers is WTF Friday, which will have you laughing out loud for sure. Don't miss it!

Seven things about me that I'm sure you are just dying to know.

1. I am Italian and my maiden name is Pedone. 

2. I am very short (barely 5 ft. 1") and petite.

3. I love animals but am especially fond of cats. Love their independence! 

4. I love to sing and play guitar and am in a little folk-ish band called Vocal Karma. We may change the name but I don't want to. Just sayin'.

5. I am a military brat. Some people might remove the word military from that sentence.

6. I love baseball and  enjoy score keeping. I teach a score keeping class for Little League. I know...this surprises even me. 

7. I love to bake! Shameless plug for my recipe blog The Big Green Bowl.

Now for the good part.  Here are the 7 blogs that are so deserving of these two awards. I hope you will pay them a visit!!
A Memorable Time of My Life 
Books and Bowel Movements
Crazy Lady with a Pen
  Of Woods and Words
  Ramblings of a Diva
Scribble Flowers
  The Neurosis Files


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Speak or Hold Your Peace

I'm a big one for talking. I don't like to keep things inside. Just ask my family. I'm sure I drive them crazy, always wanting to talk about things, tell them how I feel, figure things out. It's just who I am.  I don't really know any other way to process life, besides writing, which is a form of talking too, just quieter.  I've been told I'm an "external processor."   Sounds about right. I do process in my head, but usually things just gets confused in there so I have to get it out somehow to make better sense of it.

Some people don't like to talk about stuff. They keep it all inside. They figure it out on their own, or maybe they just don't worry about things too much.   For whatever reason, they don't share.  But feelings have a way of coming out eventually, and when you stuff them, they usually come out in not so good ways.  They might come out all at once in some giant gesture or verbal storm.  Or worse.

I definitely think, overall, it is better to express our feelings than to hold them in. However, expressing feelings can get us into trouble  if we aren't careful. There are good ways to do it and bad ways to do it, and unless you are a professional communicator, you've probably made a few mistakes with the whole communication thing. I know I have.  And I've been the victim of some not so good communication as well.

It's something we have to just learn as we go along, I guess. With each person we interact with and with each of our relationships, we learn and grow and hopefully, develop better communication skills. We learn when to listen and when to speak.  We learn when it's important to express ourselves and when it might be better to hold our tongue.

Ok, that's totally in an ideal world, I realize! There is crazy, awful, messy communication going on all over the place, all the time. You only have to watch a minute of reality t.v. to witness that. It seems the general rule of thumb is just say whatever you feel like saying at any time, to anyone, and damn the consequences!  It's ok if you hurt someone's feelings, break someone's heart, or mess with their psyche. As long as you get to vent and get it all off your chest, that's all that matters. At least YOU feel better.

Emotions are tricky things. They can take over and make you say and do things you might not otherwise say or do when you are calm. When you are upset it is NOT easy to think before you speak.  I know first hand how this works!

To share your feelings or not, should be a decision not a reaction. It takes some of us a long time to learn this. Think about the consequences of what you are about to say. What is the goal? Is it to improve your relationship or circumstances? Or is it simply to vent?  Venting is ok--sometimes we really need to do that. But if venting comes with a cost you aren't prepared to accept, you might want to rethink things. Is it worth it to share? Maybe this is something you should process on your own. Think about it, write about it, pray about it, talk about it with a friend.  You might even realize it's YOUR issue and not something the other person needs to hear about at all.

We all know our words are powerful.  Say what you need to say--but with respect, kindness and purpose.

Here's the song that was in my head while I was writing this. LOVE him. Love this song.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Little Liebster

The other day, I was very excited to get the news from my friend
Laura of Catharsis, that I am the recipient of the Liebster Award! The
word Liebster means beloved in German--and a show of love and support is what this award is all about.
The idea is to bring attention  to new blogs with less
than 200 followers.

The rules of winning this award are the following:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award
by linking back to them.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know
by leaving a comment at their blog.

3. Post the Award on your blog.

4. Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people on the Internet!

So first, I would like to thank Laura for choosing me.
As an admirer of her blog, Catharsis, I was honored to receive this
award from her. Laura is bold, outspoken and witty and will always make you think!

And without further ado, I would like to present the Liebster Award
to these 5 blogs

Wouldn't THAT Rip the Fork Out of Your Nightie?

I hope you will all take some time in your day to go visit
these wonderful blogs.

Congratulations to all!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ten Years Later

The editor of the on-line new source that I blog for ( asked me to reflect on the 10 year anniversary of 9-11, and perhaps write about it. If I wanted to. This was a few weeks ago and I had a lot on my mind, and honestly hadn't even thought ahead to this. Guess I don't have quite the journalistic mind that he does. That's why he's the editor! (You can see my essay on Davis Patch at this link.)

So, just this fact alone, that I hadn't thought about it, is a good place to start. It's not that I've forgotten it -- never that. But it has fallen into the background of my mind and my life. I imagine I am not alone in that. Unless your own life was directly affected, I suppose that is what happens. Horrible things take place, and depending on how close it was to you,  it eventually fades to the back of your mind as you go on with your life.

At the time, I couldn't imagine that life would ever be the same again. That day affected all of us to the extent that our safety was in question. Most of us had not really thought about that before. Ten years ago, my children were very young, and like most parents (I imagine) I was fearful for them, not myself. What kind of future would they have? How was life in America going to change? 

We have seen changes--some subtle, some not. Not to the degree I imagined it.  Certainly on the larger scale, security has been tighter. Homeland Security was created and all the practices and laws that have come about because of it. Most of that is behind-the-scenes. We experience it ourselves at airports, sports venues, and concerts. Cultural relations and racial profiling have become issues of more concern. On a smaller scale, we might approach life just a bit differently--being more aware of our surroundings and our habits.   But even with these changes, most of us probably go about our lives as we did before

That's a good thing.  I think. That was our goal as a country, right?  Political leaders stressed that we should not live our lives in fear, rather we should continue to live as we always had. If we chose to live in fear and changed our habits, then the terrorists would win. We could not let them scare us into changing all the values that we hold dear as a country -- freedom, independence, the pursuit of happiness.

But, the consequence of trying to live our lives as before, is that it's easy to forget that we are still vulnerable.  Something like 9-11 could happen again at any time. How many of us worry about this? I think about it sometimes, but I don't dwell on it.  I personally feel that our government is doing an overall good job with security, but I realize that others do not.

How will 9-11 be reflected in history? Major events like this, while affecting the lives of people living at the time, don't have the same impact on future generations.  They can maybe appreciate their significance, but in a detached way, like Pearl Harbor or the assassination of JFK. Those who lived through those events can recall them vividly, but those of us who did not, can only view them objectively.  Children who were young when 9-11 happened, won't feel it emotionally like we do.  It will be just another lesson in history.  It's up to us to keep talking about it. To help them remember its importance. This year on 9-11, we will read again about the tragedy. We will see photo montages and hear personal accounts. We will watch again, the newsreels on television from that day.  And then on 9-12, we will go back to business as usual.

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