Morning Pages - Reflections                     


Early in the morning, first thing, before the duties of the day begin to call, is the time when my creative energy is at it's highest peak.  Sometimes, left over vignettes of wisdom from my dreaming time linger long enough to transform into a concrete thought.   

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June 21, 2008

Mourning the Departure of a Way of Life

My husband and I shared a bit of a long conversation this morning.  As our nation and world conditions continue to change, and seemingly not for the better, our personal lives are evolving to reflect or catch up with the changes.  No, not catch up, our hope is really more to stay afloat, tredding water and ride out the storm. 

Climate warming, oil crisis with peak oil and rising gas prices ($4.50 a gallon now where we live), food shortages, energy crisis with gas, electric and oil (we just paid $453.00 to have our propane tank topped), the very nature of our way of life  and our national identity tied up with 'our way of life' simply cannot continue unchanged.  We don't think we can wait while the masses that are still in a sort of denial continue living what has clearly become an unsustainable lifestyle. 

While we both know we don't know the answers, the place to be standing in as it comes tumbling down, we know enough to know that we don't know what we need to know and aren't even sure what it is that we do need to know. (Sounds like twisted Rumsfeld logic, doesn't it? -- there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.)

Perhaps, exactly because of our intense 5 year immersion into the activism world, we've as well been exposed (or even over-exposed) to all the peripheral issues attached to the Iraq war, that we now know more than we want to know.  What we don't want to be doing is reacting as my husband is fond of saying 'like a deer frozen in the headlights'.  And we take what steps we can towards asserting control of what we have left to control.  But we both somehow know it will not be enough.  At best, we hope we will be able to weather the coming changes. 

In the footnote of history, we will be but one or two generations at the crest of sweeping changes affecting our planet.  Over the tide of history, we will be of little significance - how a generation or two survived the shifts.  But the shifts, and the shifting way of life will be historic and memorable.  Our concern is for ourselves, of course, but more largely for our children and grandchildren and their children who have so much life left to live. 

I feel like we have been out on a 'vision quest' and seen what lies ahead, returned to the village and tried to share the vision - warn the tribe, so to speak, only to find few interested or believing.  Or perhaps it is too numbing and unbelieveable to believe all in one chunk, so reactions are not necessarily negative but perhaps normal at such times.  How could, for example, the Native Americans, embrace the encroaching reality that their way of life was being surplanted by European whites intent on owning this country, perhaps even this continent.  The NA survived, and they do keep their culture, their way of life, as best they can given the catastrophic upside down shift once the white culture obliterated the Native Americans, their way of life, and their culture.

I look to that example as a reason to hold steady and hope - not so much for avoidance, but for wisdom and stength to stand firm against the tides of coming changes.  As well, I look to the African-American's imported to this country as slaves and their long history of surviving outrageous conditions at the hands of white culture.  Today, Barack Obama, an African-American is the Democratic nominee to run for the office of President of the United States.   I look to the survival mechanism of the African-American culture, even as I continue to hear and read about horrendous atrocities committed by African-Americans to their own peoples in the land of Africa. 

It seems, that in my lifetime, I have been most fortunate to have enjoyed the American way of life when it included what seemed abundance and unending opportunity.  I grew up in the 1950s, where road travel was different on 2 lane highways, with road signs and families took vacations by driving their families to destination sites across the land.  I grew up with the 1950's ideals, hopes and aspirations.  Perhaps it was a bubble, an illusion, but it was the reality I was raised with and had no sense that it would have an end point, ie, peak oil crisis. 

I grew up with the ideal that a family could keep their nose to the grindstone, save enough dollars and buy a home, with an affordable monthly mortgage.  The principle being that your mortgage should not be more than about 30% of your gross income, and if your finances didn't fit this formulaic equation, banks would not be too willing to loan you money to buy into a house you could not afford to keep.  30 year mortgage and all.  I grew up with the idea that you worked for a company pretty much until you retired.  And that you retired around age 55, with a comfortable level of income via your retirement pension and social security. 

You could then travel, golf, relax, enjoy your later years, grandchildren and be a solid support to your adult children.   And that is what my husband grew up with too, and so that is how we mapped out how our later years  would look for us, and planned accordingly.But  retirement age now is about 67, and even though we did account for some inflation, there will not be enough in pension and social security to begin to cover daily living costs.  We learned within the last month or so that the medical premiums we would need to pay at retirement will be $900 - and in five years that cost is likely to increase. 

Not to go on and on about how difficult it is for us as a couple (we are not alone in this boat!), more though to leave an imprint of how we are trying to embrace what is becoming a fast reality before we have much time to catch our breath and change course.  Many find themselves in this same boat, on what I call the slippery slope, at a time in our country when what used to be a 'middle class' is quickly evaporating.   The culture and definitions of the American Dream handed to us in our growing up years in the 1950s, and by which we guided our adult lives, has ceased to exist. 

Mourning the departure of a way of life.

posted by Lietta Ruger


Feb 21, 2007

Adding 'balance' to our lifestyle - after four years of activism on Iraq occupation

I've been wanting to get back to this blog to figure out how I want to use it. Originally, I had thought I would use it to reflect my thoughts on my 'serious side', but I've been 'serious' now for so many years in the intense level of activism I have put into trying to end Iraq occupation, get our troops out of there. I am imposing upon myself some time out and away from activism and with that in mind have been playing around with my more creative and fun side. I've been working on couple other blogs - Everything Old is New Again and Bundelz.

We are tackling some lifestyle changes for ourselves and I tend to want to 'research' a thing before I actually start 'doing' a thing. We both have quit smoking - he after 13 years, me after (I'm embarrassed to say) 40 years. Okay that is done. I'm giving attention to our food lifestyle, and shifting it to vegetarian. That is not new for me and I'm using the Bundelz blog to give that area of our life attention. We are both giving attention to some 'exercise' so to speak, just gentle stuff, nothing too heavy duty, so walking, gardening, that sort of thing.

For me, I find it's true that what I've lost in breathing capacity from smoking all these years has done harm. I don't have the capacity for much enthusiastic movement and need to build up what I do have via re-introduction to exercise regimen. It' hard to believe I used to teach aerobics and was a trained dancer. If I were to gauge my capacity to dance, move, do aerobic exercises now....well, let's just say smoking has taken it's toll over the years. And it is far more noticeable to me now post menopause than it was during and before. Something about post-menopause has really thrown me out of whack. I should write to that someday.

Now that sustainable living is gaining popularity, I'm feeling enthusiasm about returning to the idea of 'frugal', 'meaningful living', 'off the grid', self-sustaining kind of homesteading type lifestyle. Oh, no, we aren't anywhere close to self sustaining, homesteading or otherwise, but I am fascinated with thinking we can head in that direction and have made many lifestyle changes since I began that project for us back in 2003.


My attention and activism to the military invasion and occupation of Iraq has consumed huge quantities of my time over the past 4 years. I am so disappointed that four years later we are still in Iraq - that is not something I anticipated and was most willing to give everything those first three years to do what I could to help bring it to a quick end. But four years later, and I recognize I will have to give balance to my life to sustain over the long haul as it seems our military will be in Iraq for years, if not decades to come -- according to the very words of this President and Commander-in-Chief.

I think, then, this blog will be sprinkled with thoughts from our every day life, sometimes serious, sometimes political, sometimes light, sometimes simple, sometimes just the thoughts of a silly old woman



 Feb 20, 2007

Womens' Club; Me and Jake; An Abandoned Lake Cottage

Made the Tomato Zucchini Frittada last night. Okay, so-so, not exciting and not quite boring. Primary ingredients are tofu for bulk, zucchini for crust. I could tell while I was making it that it was not going to have any flavor snap, so I did add mozzerella cheese on top which is not in the recipe. I liken the taste to those Bisquick Impossible Pie dinner recipes.
Kind of a disappointment after making the zesty, spicy Thai peanut noodles the night before.

Yesterday was the BC Women's Club Meeting. I really cannot believe I even go to these, and I don't go regularly. It still puts me in mind of women in their full skirted 1950s dresses, white gloves, handbag and hat. But it's not that at all...just my imagination at work. The women are mostly elderly and dress comfortably and warm for the winter weather. It's entirely a social club and just not my thing at all, but it does help me to be a bit connected to the people in my little village town. They meet once a month, and there is this little decorated gift basket full of small, inexpensive gift items that is given out at the end of the meeting. Name drawn from a hat kind of thing. When you 'win' it, you are responsible to fill it with new items and return it for the next meeting.

I won it back in November, and was to return it filled with new items for December meeting. I missed December meeting so added a couple more items to it for January meeting. I missed January meeting, and maybe the women are getting annoyed, because in the minutes is a sentence about how I missed the meeting, so no basket to give out. Well I was at February meeting, basket returned chock full of gifty items and this month basket winner was most pleased with the goodies. After all, I had two months worth of goodies to stuff into the basket, having missed two meetings and all.

Jake (my dog = Australian Shepherd) and I went for a walk to the park afterwards. I dug up some spring bluebells from an abandoned old house and will plant them in my yard. I didn't take much, just a few tufts, and it didn't hurt the abandoned house landscaping, let me assure you. I hope they will take in my yard and naturalize. I don't mind where they take hold, I rather like them untrained and popping up where they will.

On our walk, I went down the dead end road that I usually avoid. There are 2 old houses on the bank with spectacular view of the bay. Neither house is much to speak of, but the views they command are what developers would pay top dollar to get their hands on to develop. A former dwelling that has fallen in on itself is along the dead end driveway. The driveway isn't really, more a primitive sort of drive that cars have driven forming the shape of a dirt road. At the end of what is the road, sits an abandoned lake cottage. Hmmm, I didn't know that was there, and wonder who owns the property. It is obvious that once some family did come out here to enjoy some summer time at their cottage on the bay, but it looks like the weather and rain has had some years to get to it and it definitely looks abandoned.
It would make such a GREAT painting studio.

I yearn for my painting studio to be located where I can look directly at the bay but I'm not complaining much as I have peek a book views now and enough space to have a painting studio in the house we are buying. Speaking of which - it's been a long while since I painted, and I need to visit my studio and get those juices going again.

Jan 27, 2007

Converting back to Vegetarian diet = lifestyle change

We have done the Ornish diet a few years back, which is primarily vegetarian. Not vegan, though - there is a dramatic difference as I learned from my daughter - see her blog Veganville. When we did the conversion to Ornish, I had to completely rework my kitchen pantry, learn to cook in a completely different way, and I came to have an appreciation for the amount of time it can take to prepare food the vegetarian way.

I'm still enamoured with the 1970's 'Earth Mother' imagery; growing a garden, putting up food, drying herbs and produce, cooking vegetarian, long dresses, getting back and closer to nature. Times have changed since the 70's, and now it is more about sustainable living; organic produce; vegan; intentional living; home-schooling; family values - but it still much resembles much of those efforts of the 1960's into 1970's. No, I never was into the drug culture at any decade of my 55 years, and no I am not a left over hippie by any means. I was a young military wife to a young husband, drafted and sent to Vietnam - I wasn't sure then what to think of the 60's hippies protests and lifestyles. I just knew drugs wasn't part of what I wanted, so I was one who observed from the sidelines, rather then one who lived the lifestyle.

Somehow, I think I wanted to participate in the sanitized version - drug free and in possession of my mental faculties. I look back now at some of those 1970s era cookbooks with the few vegetarian recipes which seem pretty boring now. I'm not new to lifestyle changes. Not sure I can do what my daughter did and go completely vegan = no animal products at all; no dairy, (no eggs, no butter, no milk) and no meats whatsoever. But I took the self-test at and had my husband take the self test too. It measures chronological age against life habits to come up with your 'healthy' age. My husband and I lost years and while our heads knew some of our unhealthy lifestyle habits, a wake up call is helpful. We are over the hill now and losing years is not a welcome concept.

Not without hope though, along with the test results, RealAge also provides a fairly comprehensive personalized regimen of lifestyle changes we can make now to influence having more, not less years. And interestingly, for both of us, our regimen indicated a reduction of red meat to 4 oz. a week. As we convert to that standard, it makes sense to begin overall reduction of meat in our diets(carnivore eating).

Hat's off to my daughter then, for her dedicated effort to completely convert her family to vegan - not easily done when she has a husband who is a serious meat eater.
She took it steps further than I was able to take it and has taught me much about today's standards for animal farming. I tend to think of that image of a farm with a couple of cows for milk, cutter, roasts, and steaks; some chickens for eggs; a pig to butcher for family's winter supply of meat; a farm dog; a produce garden; kids running around; a keeping room; canning preserves and such like images. Nice safe images of yesteryear. My daughter's wake up call is unsettling in that yesteryear is no more with animal farming and husbandry. Steroids, animal cruelty beyond inhumane, killer chickens, exhausted cows dying from producing milk 24/7, slaughterhouses which are far from humane, animal testing.... yes, it's enough to make us flinch from contributing to the misuse of our animal friends.

Jan 6, 2007

Everything old is new again.... a phrase from a song

Introductions and getting started: I'm a child of the Pleasantville 1950s, a teen during the turbulent 1960s, a wife and mother during the 'earth mother' 1970s, a career mom in the 1980s, a grandmother in the 1990s, and now an empty nester in 2007.

Spent the past 4 years immersed in activism efforts trying to end war in Iraq and bring the troops home. So immersed, that I let go of a lot of pleasures I used to enjoy before the Iraq war and it's time to yank my life back into balance.

So what did I used to do that I don't do now, what did I used to like that I don't get to do as much of now and what were all those projects I was going to do when I had more time.... ??

I like collectibles, and have collected items from different eras.
I like vintage things that aren't exactly 'antiques' or collectibles.
I like trash to treasures kind of things and projects.
I like historical perspective of how families managed in different eras.
I am looking at sustainable living, simplistic living, meaningful living, frugal living, 'green' living.
I like learning about diy projects.
I like learning about and doing my kitchen vegetable gardening, putting up the produce.
I like crocheting, simple sewing projects.
I like 'decorating' my home. We bought a house built in 1892, in a fishing village - Bay Tower House, we call it - visit our blog at HouseBlogs.
I like my dog = Jake, an australian shepherd.
I liked the cat, inherited from my daughter, when I didn't think I liked cats.
I like the idea of new recipes, although I don't love cooking - been doing it for decades, so like to spice things up.
I like thrift stores, sales, collectible shops, antique shops, off the beaten path kind of shops. I don't like 'box stores'
I like oil painting.
I like reading for leisure and learning.

I'm a homebody by nature and prefer to find treasures and pleasures exploring things I can do in my home.
I'm also an explorer, wanting to explore new places, new ideas, new trails, knowing I have a home to come back to.

So what's the purpose of this blog? It's a place for me to collect ideas from others who are more creative than I in thinking how to repurpose, refashion, re-use, re-new, re-utilize old into new.

As I wander in my internet travels, I am so often finding happy discoveries amongst the many who share on the internet and today I was so excited when I found Wardrobe Refashion blog, I just knew when I finished looking it over I was going to make a new blog for myself. I recently was involved in trying to purge my closets and storage of decades old clothing I've saved and managed to complete the project. So several bags to go out to thrift store and several other bags remain to be used in sewing/crafting/quilting projects. Then today when I found Wardrobe Refashion blog, well those bags set to go out to the thrift stores will get another looking over for what might be useable in 'refashioning' projects. I'm excited and animated about some great new ideas for using the 'stash' I've saved over the past decades.

My family and friends find it humorous that I save stuff like I do, and my kids (adults now) like to laugh at some of the things I have saved - like some of their clothing from when they were kids. Some have said I need an 'intervention' to get rid of clothing, shoes, and purses that date back to 1980s. Of course I do - need an intervention, and I'm delighted with the new ideas being shared by so many people who are interested in retro fashioning old into new..... I have a whole new world stretching out before me.

Sept 24, 2006

40 Years Smoking and I did it - Quit - cold turkey

40 year smoker at a pack a day. My husband, smoker for 12 years cared enough to quit first and lead the way for me. I know better than to become the 'reformed smoker' who nags other smokers to quit. All I can do is share what helped me get to the place of being able to mentally embrace the concept of quitting smoking. I'm only 9 days 'clean and free of nicotine' so I'm still vulnerable and susceptible to a relapse - but I don't think that is going to happen. I don't sense or feel a relapse in the cards for me. And the why of that is another blog entry.

I have read all the 'ills' of smoking over the decades, but rarely come across reading that tells me what is good about smoking. Yes, that's right, I said what's 'good' about smoking. I don't see myself as a bad person and need to know that beyond addiction what is that cigarettes do for me that makes it so hard to quit.

Might then I recommend some reading that helped me because it actually indicates what is good about smoking; not why one should continue but what the brain/body rewards one gets out of smoking. The reading also helps break down what one can expect in quitting hour by hour! Going in better prepared, I am able to outlast my brain signals of cravings as those cravings go from the discomfort of intensely fierce to nagging reminder to those longer periods of time of what is actual comfort.

So let me recommend;

Nicotine Withdrawal and Recovery Symptoms
The Effects of Nicotine Cessation
by John R Polito
(a former smoker - takes one to know one, eh?)