I just could not be too serious on such a gorgeous day:
ljg (c) 2017
I just could not be too serious on such a gorgeous day:
ljg (c) 2017
First let me provide some historical context regarding my process of making resolutions:
Over the years, I have made resolutions only to discard them shortly– if not immediately–after I made them. In other years, I declared that I wouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions because I have such a dismal track record in keeping them. And once I even made a declaration that I would not be bound to making resolutions just on New Year’s Day but rather to make resolutions throughout the year.
None of these strategies were quite satisfactory because I kept forgetting this important fact: Life is unpredictable and is always throwing up detour signs along my way. Sometimes the universe will say “Aha, you want to go that way but I want you to go to that way.”
Sometimes those derailments are painful. This year I had a family crisis that consumed so much of my time and emotional energy that I did not get to all of the activities that I had planned. In fact they seemed stupid and shallow. Contrarily, some derailments have been pleasant. I had resolved to buy a new camera and spend more time engaged in photography. I never got around to it because of the aforementioned crisis. Instead, Providence recently dropped a drum in my lap and I have been exploring and enjoying this mode of expression much to my benefit.
Therefore, since life loves to throw wrenches into my plans, I have decided that this year I will incorporate broader boundaries to allow for the tangents my resolutions will inevitably follow.
So here it is: I resolve for 2017:
I will let you know at the end of the year how this all worked out.
Happy New Year.
ljgloyd (c) 2017
Last year about this time I acquired a small djembe, a type of West African hand drum. I also have a darbuka, another kind of drum from the Middle East and North Africa. I have been messing around with these drums for quite a while, playing with other musicians on an informal basis since I really don’t know what I’m doing. I taught myself some basic rhythms by watching YouTube videos and live percussionaists.
A few days ago the cords that bind my djembe began to unravel, and I needed to find someone to repair it. This brought me to a store in a neighboring community that specializes in these types of drums. I never knew such a place existed– it is filled with all manner of hand percussion instruments and provides a place for the drumming community to gather, play and dance.
Besides getting my drum repaired, I had the opportunity to learn more about drumming from the people who work there. Since I have never taken a drumming lesson in my life, I already suspected that I had a lot to learn. But I had no idea just how much I did not know. For example, i learned that one does not usually play a djembe in the same way as one would plays a darbuka— different cultures, different rhythms, different ways of playing the instruments. They were polite about it though.
When I returned home, I enthusiastically started googling the topic of drums and eventually fell into a study of the therapeutic effects of drumming. Apparently, there is evidence that supports beneficial effects ranging from stress reduction to improving compromised immunity systems. There are social benefits as well. People do not become closer through their electronic devices and social media; they become closer by gathering over food, talk, music and dance.
You can see what I mean here:
Daily Post prompt: “Enthusiasm”
I originally wrote this in 2008 but it seems appropriate for the Daily Post’s prompt Eerie……
Over the Hill with Grandpa
My grandpa told me this story when I was a kid. Most of his adult life, my grandpa worked for the movie studios– MGM, RKO, Warner Brothers. At various times he worked for them as a horse wrangler, grip, and greensman. Sometimes he just did whatever needed doing on the set.
One day, back in the 1930’s, he was asked to pick up a truck in Hollywood and deliver it over the hill to the WB facilities in the Valley. Now Grandpa had a grandfather named James who frequently visited him. On this particular day, James joined Grandpa for the ride over the hill. Back in 1930’s there were no freeways as there are today, and travel to and from the Valley required negotiating narrow, twisting canyon roads. The route they took that day was one of the canyon roads — either Laurel Canyon or Cold Water Canyon Road–I don’t know which. Anyway, as James sat in the passenger side of the truck, my grandpa began the ascent up the road. James was quiet, as was his nature, but just before the truck reached the top of the grade, James turned to Grandpa and said “You need to check the brakes before you start that downhill grade. You won’t make it if you don’t.”
Grandpa had always followed his grandfather’s advice so he pulled over to the side of the road. He got out and slid under the truck for a look. Sure enough, there was a problem with the brakes, and had he proceeded down the grade more than likely they would have failed and he would have careened out of control.
I don’t remember what Grandpa said about how he got the truck down the hill. I don’t remember because I got stuck on what Grandpa said next about James riding along with him. You see, Great-Grandpa James was dead and had been for many, many years.
ljgloyd 2008, 2016
Living a “second-degree” life can be deadly — so goes the hype posited by those in our culture who have decided that it is imperative to live what they may see as a “first-degree life,” or the “good life” if you will. The purpose of such a life is in striving to reach certain personal or career goals in a particular length of time while consuming much, becoming influential, staying young, fit and beautiful, and amassing great wealth. Much has already been written about the folly of pursuing a version of life that has the individual at the center of his or her own universe with every need and want gratified and their engagements with others reduced to the depth of an oil slick.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that such individuals are “bad” or any worse they any other person on this planet. In fact, when many who have pursued such a life finally become satiated with all the things they have achieved and are mourning the lack of meaningful relationships, they may actually turn altruistic and start giving back.
However, the reality is that most of us have lives where we don’t achieve some — or even most– of these life goals. Many do not receive fortune, power, health, glory, love, or even a roof over their heads — no matter how much they strive. Many are constantly being disappointed by situations and people and wonder if they will ever achieve anything worthwhile in their whole lives ever. (I have actually thought this myself a few times). Such is the second-degree life.
But that life is not all dark clouds and rain. Many of us are simply called to persevere through the disappointments and trials of life and hope for the best. The burdens we carry during our trek enables us to be compassionate and kind towards others who carry the same burdens. Yes, there are times when I want to forego the character-development lessons that life tosses me and just not have to worry that I will have enough money to pay the bills. However, most times I see that my disappointments with circumstances and people are for the best in the long run (“dodged a bullet” is an expression that comes to mind) and that my life’s purpose is simply to strive towards contentment.
There are even some who come to terms with such a life and actually achieve joy in it. This is especially true for those who have a faith-tradition that urges them to focus not on the “whats” in life, but on the “Who”. They walk through life with a peace and contentment that is sometimes beyond understanding.
Sometimes our purpose is simply being able to get out bed in the morning, put on our poker faces and play the hands we are dealt. The goal is to do this with as much grace and dignity as possible and find joy and fulfillment along the path.
For me, that truly is a first degree life worthy of striving.
ljgloyd (c) 2016
Today’s Daily Post prompt: “Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?”
I have not blogged for about a month because I have been caught up with living life. Most of this “living life” has been dealing with work issues, annoying car problems, family obligations, practices to bolster my inner life and spirituality, reading, and cooking. It is this latter activity that dovetails with today’s prompt.
You might expect me to tell you about a novel that has changed my life or a book of poetry that inspires me. No, I am going to answer today’s question with telling you about a single essay, the introduction of a 40-year-old cookbook.
I cannot find the essay online or I would share it with you. And, unfortunately, the revised edition of this book does not have this particular essay. But if you are a vegetarian cook of a certain age you will know this book.
Laurel’s Kitchen: A Handbook of Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition
by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey. (This is not to be confused with The NEW Laurel’s Kitchen which has a different introduction. )
The essay to which I refer is the introduction to the book. Its author, Carol Flinders, describes her shift from being a person who subsisted on the standard American diet (at least in the 1970’s) of meat, over-refined grains, over-cooked vegetables and junk food (AKA “S.A.D.”) to a person of deep spirituality, committed to cooking vegetarian, and focusing her life to caring for her family.
I am not a vegetarian and 40 years later, I find the recipes in this book too labor-intensive and time-consuming. What appeals to me is not her views on vegetarianism or even her particular spirituality. No, it is that one essay at the beginning of this book that has made me see that it is the ordinary things in life — like cooking and caring for one’s family– that should be done intentionally, with great mindfulness and deliberateness.
The author of the introduction describes this mindful living in lovely, vibrant detail. Images of haiku quality abound: a dusting of bread flour on a black cat, the color a wool coat likened to a San Francisco sunset, egg salad spiked with red and green peppers, and the visual image of Laurel cooking akin to a Vermeer painting. She describes the intentional acts of the simple life with such grace and luminosity that I feel drawn to want to live that life too. When I feel like I am racing through life and not giving heed to the simpler things, I find myself drawn back to this book. It is like being drawn into a haiku or a Vermeer painting. So often have I read this essay that my 1970’s paperback copy of this book has disintegrated. It is being held together with clear packing tape.
This original issue of Laurel’s Kitchen is out of print, but if you have it on your shelves, I encourage you to read the introduction.
ljg (c) 2016
The Daily Post prompts “We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.”
I really don’t mean to be an annoying know-it-all. As I had mentioned in earlier posts, I like to refer to myself as a polymath. I would not call myself a Renaissance person since that term really ought to be reserved for geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci. But I do know a little bit about a lot of things and I love to share that knowledge. A lot of people don’t like that for some reason.
Since I am not about to change, I might as well share my program for becoming the best pain-in-the-butt possible.
There is some preparation required: first, you visit as many museums as possible, take classes for fun, read books far into the night, become a news-junkie, and find some kind access to cable shows like Ancient Aliens and Pawn Stars — great resources for a variety of factoids. Next, you organize your knowledge. This means you will have multiple journals devoted to different themes or interests. You also calendar your daily study tasks (Monday: astronomy, Tuesday: how to make pasta, Wednesday: history of Greenland, et cetera.)
Sharing your knowledge: this is how you really become annoying. First, steer dinner conversations to your current favorite area of interest (doesn’t everyone want to know that fire turns blue when you throw arsenic into it?). Give a history lesson to the passengers in your car when you drive by an old building. Like or share dozens of posts on a variety of topics on Facebook. (I have cut back on this since I discovered that most of my friends are not following me anymore). Finally, start blogging — about everything.
Like I said, I don’t want to be a know-it-all exactly; it is just that I so marvel and revel in the glorious world created for us to live in that I want other people to feel the same wonderment that I do. Someday I will find people who can appreciate that — and me.
Consider this: Who do you think would make a better role model for young women? Who would you rather have as your friend?: Bella from the Twilight series or Hermoine from Harry Potter?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
The Daily Post prompt for yesterday was “Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.”
So, I never used to think that Californians had accents. I mean, I don’t hear it. What accent?
I read the we’re supposed to sound a bit like we’re from the mid-west — sorta boring and bland (sorry, mid-westerners). We don’t have the twang of Texas or the slow drawl of the South. And, tsk, we sure don’t sound like “New eYOHRkers.” That would be, like, so weird.
I was really bummed thinking I didn’t have an accent so I thought I would check out Youtube to see if maybe there might be a video of California accents. And, guess what? There’s plenty of samples out there. Here are a couple:
Now in this first sample, I totally disagree with how she pronounces “herb” and “jacquar”. It’s “erb” in California, not “h-erb”. And it sure isn’t “Jag-wire”. It’s “jagwahr”. But, the girl herself is SO totally California that I had to share the clip. She isn’t faking it.
This next one is kinda fun, but the speaker’s southern accent about sent me into a sugar coma– at least the parts I could understand. The clip does serve to show the differences in regional dialects including West Coast Californian.
Okay, you guys. So I do have an accent. I mean there has to be a reason why Siri says she doesn’t understand what I’m saying. Maybe someday she’ll get reprogrammed to understand Californians. That would be so totally awesome.
Today’s Daily Post’s prompt “You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?”
The curriculum I would create would not include courses that I actually hated when I was in school.
-I hated math. No math unless the student tested high in this area or has a love of Sudoku.
-I hated physical education because I had to deal with gang members who bullied and intimidated other students in group sports. Physical Education should involve the use of a personal trainer and a security team. Students should have the option of selecting a solitary sport like a martial art or swimming.
What did I like in school:
-I loved learning German, but I came at it in high school which is way too late so it did not “stick”. Foreign language should be a requirement, but students should be counseled not to take languages like German, Bantu, Algonguin, or any other languages not useful in their geographic area. Spanish, Mandarin or Valley-Speak would have been more useful for me.
Other courses I would include
-Writing….. lots and lots of writing, both scholarly and creative, on any subject of interest.
-Biology where students don’t have to work with lab partners who do no work but still get credit.
-Astronomy ala Neil DeGrasse Tyson with an emphasis on Martian Studies
-History when one could study cultural implications and trends rather than the lives of stuffy old dead guys.
-Literature, graphic novels excluded.
-Mythology, for an excuse to watch old Xena and Hercules episodes.
-Group Dynamics, Sensitivity Training and Conflict Resolution (in light of the previous statement regarding bullying in phys ed)
-Ethics, with a focus on Judeo-Christian values.
-Environmental Studies, with an emphasis on undoing the ways we have jacked up the planet.
Oh, and Drumming to fulfill a music requirement.
Today’s prompt from the Daily Post: “It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?”
I had to think about this prompt for a few minutes, and concluded that some people would say I was an extroverted person because I will chat it up with complete strangers. Others would think I am an introvert, guarded and a bit stand-offish because I don’t readily engage those people. How can one be both?
I have been labeled with empathic and intuitive qualities. I don’t know if I altogether believe those labels, but I would say that I do pick the “vibes” of certain people and gauge my social interaction to them accordingly. With some individuals, I will feel an immediate connection. Those are the people with warm and honest with a positive energy. Even as a stranger, that person will draw me forth and I will have interaction with them. These are individuals who have a healthy respect for personal boundaries. They will engage me, but won’t press too much.
However, there are others who may seem open and positive, but they have an erratic energy that tells me to guard myself and don’t give away too much information. I don’t inherently trust those people. Typically, such individuals are without filters and without the proper respect for boundaries. They will press for personal details and may even harangue in order to get me to engage. My “Spidey-sense” forces me to shut down even to the point of being seemingly rude to them. These individuals are what many experts in social interaction call “Energy Vampires”. They will suck the energy right out of me. In the case of the plane or coffee shop scenario, I would definitely try to find another seat. I don’t blame them for this. They are who they are.
I try not to be an energy vampire. (We always think it is the other person, never ourselves). I try to assess other people on an intuitive level and if I feel that someone else needs to have their space, I will back away. I will respect their boundaries.
I don’t want to be the person that drives others to change their seats.