What I am reading this week…and a couple things I can’t wait to read…

First I apologize for posting this a day late. No excuse, just an apology. As usual I am reading more than one book.

I am reading aloud a lifetime favorite, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle. Certain authors are my “go to” authors for reading aloud to patients depending on the patient’s age and taste; L’Engle, E. B. White, Dumas, Alcott, Frost, Twain, Dickens, Whitman. The authors language and chapter structure must lend themselves to “voices” and serialized presentation, and be music when spoken. The list has been fairly stable although a few new authors have joined the list this decade like James Owen with “Here There Be Dragons”  whose reveal at the end of this book rivals some of Vonnegut’s (who, however much I love him and his place on so many other of my literary lists, is not on the read aloud list.)

I am also reading “Homesteading” edited by Abigail Gehring. This is both research for my post-apocalyptic novel in process and research for my own desire to walk more softly and compassionately through this world. So far enjoyable. And my vote for best lines ever in a “you too can get green” introduction, “Before  buying chicks or any other animal to raise, be honest with yourself about the time you have for caring for them….. Homesteading is different for every individual or family. Sometimes being genuine means letting go – at least temporarily – of grandiose schemes for acres of land, a home completely off the grid, and a barn full of animals…….” And I know animal rescuers everwhere are equally impressed with the sentiment. I personally am starting (yet again) with plants and planting.

Reading “The Teachings of Buddha”, a free book put out by the Society for Buddhist Understanding. Don’t recommend it or “un”recommend it.  My problems with this translation and compilation is that it is to other compilations of Buddha’s life and teachings what “The Living Bible” is to the “King James Version”. All the reasons I don’t thoroughly like it are the very reasons others might just recommend it.  The language is very prosaic and couched in terms people familiar with western theism will embrace and understand. Words like “sin” and “omniscience” are not words I associate with Buddhism. However I understand why the translators/compilers went there, so to speak, and as the core Dhammapada is there for me I will finish it, but then probably just pass it on via coffee shop shelf. If you are an avid theist unfamiliar with any of Buddhist teachings who is interested in learning more, I would actually recommend Karen Armstrong’s biography of Buddha over this text as introduction.

Finally, I am about to start re-reading a “potato chip” book (just finished re-reading “March” which although more a nutritious meal was every bit as devour-able, addictive-ly tasty and enjoyable to read) called “Fuzzy Nation” by John Scalzi. The paperback comes out next month. Buy it, or be real supportive and buy a hardback this month. The author is worth it, his books are very much like my favorite organic, olive oil fried potato chips. They are delicious bits of questionable nutrition, but heart healthier than the usual science fiction, and you can’t just read one.

Which leads me to my very “un” peaceful NEED, CRAVING and desire for Scalzi’s next book “Red Shirts” due to come out in June

and on that same note is my attachment to reading the next book in James Owen’s dragon series due out in August.

I want……*sigh*

 

Valiant friends in a struggle ‘gainst impossible odds.

      "Aw, don’t give up hope,"  said Tummeler. "This is the part in stories where they gets real good–valiant friends in a struggle ‘gainst impossible odds."   (a quote from Here There Be Dragons, Book One in the Imaginarium Geographica by James Owen. A perfect audio book exercise companion as I walk and bike, etc this week).

"

"Melinda Mae" 
by Shel Silverstein

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.
 

And everyone said,"You’re much too small,"
But that didn’t bother Melinda at all,
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a little girl should…

…and eighty-nine years later she ate that whale

Because she said she would."

 

"I get by with a little help from my friends." The Beatles
 
I love Kaliedescopes, I guess because they are a physical representation of how  life is. I have a "make-your-own" Kaleidescope I purchased a few years ago at the Nelly Bly in Jerome, AZ.  The store is a destination in itself with Kaleidescope art selling for more than I make in a year. The one I bought was inexpensive and I actually fill it with found pieces of discarded "stuff" like chipped marbles, old earring sparkles, rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. I take different pieces of junk, shove a few in the end of a piece of PVC pipe outfitted with glass and mirrors and screw on the cap.  Nothing in the individual components accounts for the breathtaking beauty and variety my eye finds when I look. The cumulative effect is as magical to me as the 100,000$ ones.
 
Like that PVC pipe my life is pretty mundane, there is nothing remarkable about me.  If I look at my current set of life circumstances one way; individually scrutinizing the minutiae of the problems; the trashy health issues, the lacking skill sets, the scarcity of financial resources, time constraints, etc, the idea of becoming anything special, especially any kind of an athlete and most especially a triathlete is clearly and overwhelmingly preposterous.  
 
However, I, like everyone else, am a kaleidoscopic.  It is not the composition of the tube or individual value of the found items but how they are viewed together that makes the beauty. When I turn the kaleidescope of my life a bit to the right, let the challenges tumble together and let in a little more of gratitude’s light, all the pretty scraps of detritus collected between the lenses of hard work and faith become a laughing colored rainbow miracle.  
 
Last week, my hope was a mite shaky and my resolve a bit sorer than my thigh muscles. I was stuck on the fact that a gym membership is the most effective way to be able to continue my training for the triath, especially in Arizona in the summer. However my Quicken Books program was (and is) telling me that my outgo exceeds my current income by about 1500 dollars this month, and a gym membership, just like buying a bike right now, are luxuries, not necessities. To correctly tell this story I need to backtrack a little.

 
The beginning of May I was pretty pleased with myself and grateful to the abundance in the universe because I had just gotten constantly back to the black  (which I will again by the fall at current rate). (Not sure why, but it matters to me to mention that my debt is almost all medical and educational.) I was finally paying off a large tax debt (courtesy of delaying the end of a  previous marriage in a community property state) and I was planning a party to celebrate the awesomeness of life and dance and all that is good in the world. I wanted to throw the party in June as I had the means in my savings to do so, still meet all my bills and have necessary reserves.
 
 Then a glitch in the health of my awesome Beige Pearl(car),  in the health of my sweet little Lhasa Apso, in the health of my new big ol’ lovable lunk of a Golden Retriever and me all occurred at pretty much the same time.  Not only was the excess gone but my reserves were drained as well and lots of little gold triangles were showing up on my Quicken planning grid.(Gold triangles are indicative of negative balance)
 
Thanks to local business AZ Auto Repair’s honesty and efficiancy, my 11 yr old paid for car is still my ship of choice (at 30-35mpg). My longtime canine companions needs were met with a Viox prescription and a food change and my new Golden boy has his Thyroid levels and ears back in acceptable condition. I also still happily threw the party, just changed the food to "Stone Soup" which actually improved the party!
 
My personal health crisis pushed me to taking a little more responsibility for myself and effectively highlighted my need to have a clear cut fitness goal, as opposed to health issues to fight against. What we give energy to grows stronger. I toyed with the goal of completing a triathlon three years ago, ran a 5K and then quit. What I wanted to stop giving energy to could be considered big, so  I needed a nice bright whale to eat or the shadow of the illness might overwhelm me and  I just might stop chewing.
I knew revisiting the Triath goal was the right choice. I also knew I would need a few things I didn’t have, like swimming lessons and a pool to practice in, a bycicle and the ability to ride one, a place to use a "spin" bike, a place to run laps as temps topped 100 because unlike other places I’ve lived, Arizona stays hot 24/7 in the summer. I set the impossible goal and turned it over to the universe as I began talking about it and doing my research.
 
The universe showed up for me, as it always does, with bells on! A pool to practice in materialized when my son and daughter-in-law were my first true supporters. In fact, my daughter-in-law decided to join me in the training and despite a crazy professional and school schedule is up at the crack of Dawn (her actual name, LOL) and in the water training with me at their community pool. Rick held the back of his VERY EXPENSIVE bike while I took my first tentative rides and Dawn took me on a guest pass to her gym this week. They also donated (gifted?) me a smart phone that logs my miles, calories, etc as well as allowing me to end a bitter relationship with StraightTalk. (I think calls to their Customer Service count as actual purgatory for practicing Catholics.)
 
Support has come from other friends too, as Amie walked mall laps with me and my friend Pat allowing me to add in some stationary bike time,  treadmill and  elliptical with her coaching and encouragement on one of her guest passes. Its happening. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t even know all the right questions, tomorrow is a mystery. Today I will get my work done, go for laps at the mall, visit Costco and really read the details on the 3 month membership I saw on sale there to see if it is the best current option, do my swim practice, and put some gas in my car. I will relook at my budget and try to get ends to wave at each other so I can pay a very important 250$ past due bill, my rent, keep the lights on, eat, buy gas for my car and still train.
 
I am getting by with a little help (OK, a LOT of help) from my friends but I am also concentrating on the power of my own choices, so in the coming weeks I will take whatever extra shifts I can without working myself into being a less effective nurse, trim my budget to its bones. (Okay in the interest of complete honesty, I have a serious NEED for books and music and will admit to spending about 50$ between the two of them in the last month, but I take it out of my food budget to justify the variance from necessities! Bread and Roses, man, Bread and Roses)

So pretty much my life is like everyone else.  I am just at the part of the story where it gets good and I do have valiant friends. Some are the close"real" kind like my son Rick, his wife Dawn, Sara, Pat, Amie, Ann, Angela and some are outer circle friends like my Rennaisance friends, some are lifetime friends like "Donny" and Egon, and some are my "imaginary" friends like Tummeler, the Inklings, and Melinda Mae. Hope is restored, I cannot fail with this kind of army with me, so I better get back to the battle.

 
P.S. If you are reading my blog and have never read any the following books, forget my blog until you go read them. I am just a middle aged sojourner babbling about her struggles to keep on swimming, Everything important you need to know about life is found in these books, and they are simple to read due to intended audience. 
 
1.Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L’Engle (1st in series of 4)
2. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 
3. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
4. Here There Be Dragons by James Owen
5. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein