Things taken for granted…

…in no particular order.

  •  Seeing people regularly. We never bothered to get each other’s contact information because See you at work! See you at church! See you around!
  •  Restaurants. I’m surrounded by wonderful eateries,  all of which are closed. I hope they survive the shutdown.
  •  Cold medicine.
  •  Charity shops. With the arrival of warm weather, I put on last summer’s wardrobe. Everything is too big; I just have to deal with it for now.
  • The public library. E-books and online services are still available, but it’s not as satisfying as walking between the shelves and perusing titles.
  •  Walk-in hair salons.

Many Unhappy Returns

In a rare bout of impulsive shopping, I ordered a hoodie with a reindeer motif online. It ended up being a strangely off-black with gray patterns, not white as shown in the photos.

I hesitated to return it. First, because it’s still rather cute.

Second, it’s a hassle: I’d have to buy a return plastic envelope and drive it to the UPS store in a nearby town.

Third, it’s a light enough fabric that I can use it as a second layer between a T-shirt and a sweatshirt.

And today came the clincher: Returned Goods Get Sent to the Landfill

Good grief! Plus I learned a new term, bracket, which means “buy a medium, small and large…, and try them all on and then return the two that don’t fit.” That seems a waste of resources in and of itself.

I think the researcher’s solutions are sound, particularly buying secondhand.

And so I would encourage you to partake in [secondhand] and to look for brands that are actually part of the circular economy… repairing, refurbishing and fixing goods at the end of their life so that they can have a second life.

 

Eating the Decorations

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I don’t decorate for Thanksgiving* but I add a few autumnal touches close to Halloween. My friend Sissy gave me a silly squirrel tea towel last year, joined this year by her hand-made matching pillowcase for a travel-pillow. My favorite decoration is a bowl or two of squashes and small pumpkins from local farmers.**

Then I cook and eat them.

Last week I enjoyed butternut and acorn squashes. This week it was delicata, which I’d never had before. Verdict: very pretty and delicious. All that remains are a pumpkin and a spaghetti squash.

I highly recommend decorating with regional edibles. It’s a twofer: Nothing goes to waste and it supports local growers.


*Halloween decorations consist of a felt skeleton for the door and a fancy candy bowl for the trick-or-treaters.

**Note: Unlike suburban farm markets, rural markets really are cheaper than grocery stores. And the produce sometimes comes in odd shapes.

The passing of a bibliophile

Whenever I met with him, I learned quickly not to compliment or even comment on any of the books stacked around his shelf or his desk. This was hard, since we are both book lovers and we loved to discuss old books, new books, and whatever we were reading. But if I even said, “Oh, I heard great things about that book!” he would make me take it home. Even if I was able to keep my lips shut, he still sent me off with a handful of books. (…)

Fr. Ed was one of the most detached people I have ever met. He knew, with assurance, that his treasures were stored up in heaven and that his possessions on earth were only passing, and because of that, he was open-handed with everything—his books, his money, his meals, and especially his time. He was the embodiment of self-gift. His life was a lesson for us, to let go of our possessions and see them only as tools or gifts for others.

-Brandon Vogt’s eulogy for Fr. Ed Thompson

Don’t mind(ful) if I do: Cleaning like a Zen Buddhist monk

In my Sunday reading, I read a good article on Soji, a practice at some Zen Buddhist temples. I found it interesting that everyone must stop after 20 minutes, rather like the 15-minute sessions used for squalor-prone people overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning their homes.

If you’re wondering if I went searching for “How to live like a monk” – why no, I didn’t. As usual, I followed a link from another topic: mindfulness.

Several of my friends have gotten interested in it, including a teacher who taught squirmy elementary students ways to focus on the task at hand (especially tests).  I was even trieked talked into encouraged to join a “intuitive eating” class by Rodale Press. One of the first lessons involved Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindful Eating Exercise, otherwise known as the Raisin Meditation. If you’d like to try it for yourself, UC Berkeley’s Great Good in Action has the background, how to do it, and why it works.

(A list of Rodale’s 21-day Challenges is here. If anything looks interesting to you, save yourself 20% by typing MINDANDBODY as a coupon code. Rodale sent me the code after I enrolled and encouraged me to share, so help yourself!)