Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Inner Musings.

Y'all are gonna get really bored with my thoughts, aren't you? Oh well. Just skip it if you don't wanna hear about my bad habits.

One of my bad habits, which I've only really started to notice, is how negative I am about other people's behaviors. If I see someone (even a complete stranger) do something that is contradictory to how I would do something, I negatively remark about it. Usually to myself. Although, if I'm in my car I'm likely to embellish said negative remark with colorful language I'll not reproduce here.

I do this a lot. Too much. I am negatively judging someone for actions without knowing their reasoning behind it. That isn't fair, to them or me. Usually their behavior isn't even impacting my life - it's just something I happen to notice. Why bother to send all that negativity out? What is the point? They certainly aren't doing whatever it is they are doing for my benefit. Why should I even care?

I know exactly where I get this habit from - my mother and to a lesser extent my aunt. I've noticed this habit on and off for years in my mother, but usually just dismissed it (okay, half the time I wasn't listening, but still). It was only in a recent conversation with my cousin that I've realized just how bad their habits had become. By listening to my own thoughts for once, I realized I was heading down that same path.

The bad habit stops with me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The key, during both life and death, is to recognize illusions as illusions, projections as projections, and fantasies as fantasies. In this way we become free.-Lama Thubten Yeshe, Introduction to Tantra

I find this interesting. Especially as this came directly after a email conversation I've been having with a friend regarding politeness. How many of us have been taught that politeness means subjugating your own needs over those of others, in order to not inconvenience them in any way? Is this not an illusion? Are we not projecting the illusion that all is well, when in fact it may not be?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for politeness. We certainly don't have enough of it these days. But you can be polite and stand up for your own needs at the same time. That is something I continually have to learn. I can say no, or maybe later, or even, I don't want to. I don't need a reason, I don't have to be rude about it. I'd just simply rather not. And that's okay.

And I'm totally on a tangent here because I'm fairly certain this isn't what Lama Yeshe meant when he wrote this. But it spoke to me at a more basic level too, as I often get caught up in illusions, and fantasies and projections, usually of my own making. I live all too much in my own head sometimes, and breaking free of that habit and becoming more aware of the here and now is something on which I need to work.

In Buddhism, just being Present is a goal. Be Aware of what you are doing, where you are going, be Aware of Being. Mindfulness, if you will. This too is something I need to work on, as my mind is seldom where my body is. By recognizing my illusions and fantasies as just that and nothing more, perhaps I can move forward. I don't know to where... just forward.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To illustrate

My brother apparently took a picture of the stuff he tore down at my mom's house this weekend. I'm going to try and c&p it in from his blog (ignore his finger in the upper left corner):

That was just the stuff on the outside. In my list in the last blog, I forgot to mention windmills. Several of them apparently. Mom could have been off the grid if they'd been real. You can also see the corner of the house and the neon turquoise/dark green trim that it was painted. The neighbors got a rush out of watching all this stuff being torn down.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The House that Taste Forgot.

This past week, my mom moved out of the house she was renting and into a new one she just bought. In doing so, she also moved back to the town I grew up in. Firstly, a moment about the house. She bought it from someone, bless her heart, who had no taste whatsoever. I'm sure she thought she had taste, but she was wrong. I took some pictures, then figured you'd want to gouge your eyes out after looking at them, so I'm going to refrain from posting them. Okay... it's probably not quite that bad, but it needs a complete cosmetic overhaul. Good bone structure, baaaad make-up. The kitchen does need to be completely redone. We won't talk about the color of the house. Okay, we will. A horrendous turquoise and a deep forest green. They don't even match! 

Apparently the last owner had a handyman smitten with her, so he'd come over and do "projects" for her, in order to stick around longer. These "projects" included birdhouses. Everywhere. I think my brother took down at least 15, along with three fake wishing wells, a covered bridge to nowhere, and a rabbit hutch. And those were just the easily movable things. and inside - shelves everywhere! Oh my god, there were shelves attached to shelves. I spent a good hour taking shelves down in just the dining room and office. Oh! And hunting themed paneling, on half of a wall. I took that down too.

On a side note, it really hit me as I was leaving town to come back home, that I am an outsider in my own home town. On some level, that should be really sad, but on another level, I left that town for a reason. The Northeast Kingdom, for all of its beauty, can be a insular, narrow, and sad place to live. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad I grew up where I did, and I'm glad my mom moved back, and I'm glad people love it enough to stay and thrive in the area. But I'm not one of them. At least, not anymore. Perhaps someday I'll move back... but not any time in the near future. I've learned in my life to never say never. But for now, my path lies along a very different route, and I'm happy for that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Review: Nickel and Dimed

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
(image c&p'd from Amazon. Feel free to click on it to bring yourself there)

I've been holding on to this book for nearly a year now. I bought it at the last American Sociological Association conference I attended (as in, last ever) back in August, for $4. I gotta say, it's a great place to buy books of this ilk because the discounts are usually massive. Even though they hit the trade market, these were published by University Presses and meant, at least in some small part, for the undergrad market. The fact that others are interested is just money in their coffer.

But enough about the academic publishing industry. This book was a very easy read - I read it in just two evening at home, not even staying up late to finish it. The basic premise was that the author was interested in finding out if those pulling in the smallest hourly rate could actually afford to live on what they earned. 

Written in the late 1990's, the majority of the numbers are out of date, but I think the idea remains valid, especially in today's economic slump and constantly rising gas rates. She chose three cities, and tried to live one month off just what she could earn as a waitress, Wal-Mart associate, Merry Maid, etc etc. By living that included gas, rent, and food. She allowed herself certain things, such as a car and $1,200 in "start up" cash, but if the money ran out and she couldn't swing it, that was the end of that month's experiment.

There were plusses and minuses to this book. On the positive end, it brings home just how hard these wage earners work, and just how poorly they are treated by just about everyone else. These people struggle. And this was nearly 10 years ago, before food prices sky-rocketed, housing became even more unaffordable and gas became out of reach of the middle class, let alone the low-income crowd. You feel for them as they struggle to find some sort of personal satisfaction in a job well-done, even when their own supervisors are working against them. 

However, I was frustrated by her decision not to totally throw herself into this experiment. Going to a city for one month, knowing you can leave if you have to, does not give us, the reader, the true insights into just how much low wager earners struggle. I am sure while she was there, she gave it her all. But, as she frequently pointed out, she has the luxury of having had adequate medical care and health care. What would have happened to her if she'd thrown herself into this experiment for 6 months straight? How would she have fared? What insights could she have given us then? 

To sum this up (as it seems to be getting longer by the minute), I think this was a good peek and is perfectly situated for those frosh undergrads at an ivy league school who've never had to work at a low-wage job and need their eyes opened a bit. However, I would have liked this upper-middle class professor to have left her comfort zone a bit further and dug a little deeper.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Ahem. The sky just shouldn't be that color:

I think this is supposed to be our sunset. But it just turned everything yellow. Really freaky.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What I did on my Sunday and Monday.

Busy, busy days. Sunday, Mary and I headed up to Mount Mansfield. We drove to the semi-summit, then hiked a mile and a half in. Gorgeous views! It was a little hazy so we couldn't see as far as we might have otherwise, but still was pretty far. After that, Mary said she wanted to see the Northeast Kingdom, so I drove her up to Newport and showed her all of my old haunts. Then we drove down to Lyndonville to have dinner with my mum. Today, we went to the Shelburne Museum and wandered around for a few hours before having lunch at a lovely restaurant called Sauce. Check it out if you're ever in the area. Highlights below:

Mary and I at the top of Mt. Mansfield

The view from the summit

Me hamming it up in the jail at the Shelburne Museum

The gardens and one of the houses in the Shelburne Museum.

All in all, I'm exhausted. I think I spent more time outside in the last three days than I have in the last three months. But I had so much fun! I loved showing Mary and around. We really lucked out with the weather - we couldn't have asked for better. 

I'm going to go collapse now...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What I Did on My Saturday

So, friend Mary is up for a long weekend in Vermont. Hello Mary! Mary was up last fall, and has previously visited in Mud Season (aka March), but this is her first taste of Vermont in it's full spring/summer glory. And what a weekend she picked! It's finally cleared out. Yesterday was sunny, warm and perfect. We couldn't have asked for a better day (although I think most native Vermonters had been praying for it for at least two weeks). 

We started the morning out with yoga, then after a brief return to the house, we headed down to Church Street. Jazzfest is going on, so we thought we'd go down and see what's what. I ended up going into a great store called Old Gold and bought myself a cool new belly dancing scarf. We checked out the farmer's market had lunch at the Pacific Rim, a wonderful restaurant with South Asian food. Wandered around Burlington, wandered down to the waterfront, came home for some tea, then headed off to Oakledge Park to hang out by the water for a few hours. Ended the night playing Trivial Pursuit. At which I suck. Here are some snapshots:

My spring veggies and curried tofu at Pacific Rim. If you're ever in Burlington and craving a good meal of cheap South Asian food, go here!

Mary overlooking the lake

Mary in the lake

Bet you didn't know I could do a backbend, eh?

This is the kind of day we had yesterday. Beautiful!

Today we're planning on going up Mount Mansfield. We aren't hiking. We're both too lazy. We'll drive up, then hike in the one-mile to the summit. If it remains clear, we'll have spectacular views. Of which, of course, I shall post.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I was just going to update this with something and I've completely forgotten what it was.

Oh yeah! I remember now. How freakin' busy my week is this week. I've got plans every evening but one. That one evening I need to spend cleaning, doing laundry and grocery shopping for my friend Mary's arrival in Vermont Friday afternoon. Yay, Mary! Not sure what we're going to do yet, as she's here until Monday evening. But needless to say, wine will be involved.

Will someone teach me how to make pizza dough? Better yet, will someone make it for me?

This is Two.

Monday the 21st was our 2-year wedding anniversary. We build the Matrimonial Pizza, with my brother officiating and my Chick of Honor wat...