Tupperware Treachery

I had a hankering for banana pudding with Vanilla Wafers in it. It is one of favorite desserts, but I only eat it about once a year.

My daughter was coming up tonight to celebrate her birthday, so I thought maybe I would fancy it up some and add fresh strawberries to it. When I went to get a bowl to put it all together, my assistant chef suggested I use a Tupperware container so that I could put a lid on it. At first I thought that would look kind of tacky, but I saw the logic in it.

After dinner, we gathered around the table, sang Happy Birthday to my daughter, and my assistant chef brought out my Tupperware pudding and then next to it, she sat a little something she had planned for dessert…lesson learned. No more, “Let’s put it in Tupperware.”

Popeye

Mighty Mouse, Popeye, Looney Tunes, and all the cartoons associated with Rocky and Bulwinkle were my favorite shows as a young child. Eventually, I grew to appreciate any Hanna-Barbera cartoon, with a deep appreciation for the humor of Yogi Bear and Boo Boo along with the lessons of Fred Flinstone. Truth be known, I thought Barney’s wife, Mrs. Rubble was kind of hot. But, I share too much now.

Perhaps, Popeye was my very first hero. I couldn’t understand how Olive Oyl would keep falling for Bluto time and again.  I believed, I mean I really believed, in the supernatural restorative power of a can of spinach. One day, I finally convinced my grandfather to let me eat my own can of spinach. I was probably about three years old. He said that I wouldn’t like it. He proved to be a wise man. I took the can, and tried to throw the spinach back in my throat, the same way Popeye did when he got tired of getting his ass kicked by Bluto. I spit it all back out quicker than I threw it down the hatch. Outside of that puff of cigarette I tried when no one was looking, it was the worse thing I had ever tasted. I swore off canned spinach, and tobacco, for life. I was very disappointed in Popeye’s taste buds. I did, however, develop a fondness for Whimpy’s favorite food choice…the hamburger he would “Gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

There was one phrase Popeye would use consistently at the end of an episode, “I y’am what I y’am.” Like the taste of canned spinach, it has stayed with me. I wish I had understood its true meaning sooner because it’s as  powerful as his can of spinach. If I were to create my own church, it would be called The Church of the I Y’am What I Y’am.  You can spend so much of your life running away from your natural state, who you really are, in an attempt at impressing others or in an attempt to improve your self-esteem – impressing yourself.

I have spent the last couple of years thinking a lot about religion, God, spirituality,  and authenticity. I read many books by believers and non-believers.  I explored a lot of intellectual threads.  My grand conclusuion is that God, whatever name or title you want to use for the Great Mystery,… loves me. There is nothing I can do to earn that love. It is just there and I can recognize it now or at the moment of my death, but I will finally recognize it. And, perhaps more importantly, everyone around me is loved too. So, so simple and yet it has taken me a lifetime to begin to understand it. Why? Well, my traditional religious upbringing did not make it easy to believe in such a simple idea. That is not the only reason though. I think I spent too much time defending an ego. Important and as necessary as that might be at times, too much of a defensive nature can hide your true nature.

So Mr. Popeye, I salute you, sir. Not only are you a great father for swee’ pea, or the boy-kid as you  call him, but you gifted me with words of wisdom which I first heard, probably from my crib, “I y’am what I y’am” and “You are what You are” and that is simple and good, natural and mystical, sacred and holy.

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A good friend, who is not religious at all, felt an urge to record a cover of the old song. For me he captures much of what I just shared, in this blog, with the honesty of his vocals. He is not trying to be anything close to religious, pious, just sharing an idea, the wonderful possibilty of.. an Amazing Grace.

Quiet

When I was a little boy, one of my most comforting, secure moments in my life was when I was told it was time for bed AND then my parents and grandparents would sit around the kitchen table and play cards, usually pinochle.  I would lie in bed (it is lie not lay, right?) and listen to the most important adults in my life as they talked, laughed, and occassionally explained their unsuccessful card strategy to their partners.  There is something wonderful about resting knowing that people wiser, stronger were in charge of the night now. I could just close my eyes and listen and gently fall in sleep. I would surrender to the day’s anxieties and problems.

I am enrolled in a little online course through the Center for Action and Contemplation with what is really like a large book club and the book we are reading is The Immortal Diamond.  This is a nice fit as I continue to try to meditate for a few minutes everyday. Also, although based on the work of a Catholic priest, the book’s concepts are accessible to many faiths and at times for those without any religious belief.

With my meditation, of course, I can’t keep the squirrel quiet in my brain for very long, but I am learning to be more gentle with myself. (I have a theory that if I continue doing that… I will eventually end up being more gentle to those around me and I am certain they will declare, “Hallelujah” to the heavens for that!)

I do seem to have two minds, one which I call the squirrel (for now) and one that I am not totally familiar with but I experience it briefly, usually in a nature setting, and it is accompanied with a sense of awe. Beginning with meditation, and then slowing, quietly, simply, adding a reverent contemplation, I am hoping to add that sense of awe in other settings besides the Great Outdoors. Perhaps, there is also a Great Indoors?

During my brief mediation today, I tried to softy, gently, and lovingly tuck the “little boy” to sleep and let the wiser, deeper spirit have its time. But, as one of my favorite poets once wrote I have “miles to go before I sleep.” 

It Took Some Time

It has taken over 3 years of constant internal battles of self-judgement, but I might have finally found a peace about writing songs, singing, and recording them. My dragon was fierce and his fire has not been extinguished entirely, but I don’t need to have my sword drawn constantly right now.  The biggest reasons for my growth in this area has been the constant support of a very small group of friends on Soundcloud and my family’s willingness to allow me to take on a different role, singer-songwriter.  You know, it can be kind of embarrassing when our dearest ones try on radically different artistic clothing.  Thank you all very much.

I have written close to 50 songs, put 30 of them on two different cd’s, “Another Picture on the Wall” and “Songs from the Shed” and I am kicking around the idea of a 3rd cd, in which case I have recorded 4 songs already and it has the working title of “Squirrel Creek Road.”

This is the latest song that I’ve written and recorded with the help of some really good musicians from Chico, California, Nashville, and Brazil. It just amazes me how I can now work with people from all over this great big wonderful world.

This one is just me being a silly old romantic.

This one is based upon my father’s childhood as he was born at the start of the Great Depression. The family left Iowa in search of a better life in California. It was a struggle for many years. Poverty can leave scars.

Sometimes I like to write songs through other people’s eyes, even if I have to make those people up.

 

Meditating with the Squirrel

I have been trying, always trying, to improve my well-being, especially my health. Being overweight  doesn’t seem to bother my self esteem much anymore, but it does bother me in regards to nearly everything else. I kept most of the weight off that I lost in 2017, but didn’t lose anymore in 2018 … so far. As my physician told me once, “You aren’t going to win the swimming suit contest.”

I have been reading a book (always reading three books at a time) titled “The Healing Self” and just finished another book on meditation, “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book” and I thought maybe I would give the practice of meditation a go as part of a holistic approach to my eating-ism.

I have enjoyed the practice so far, first using guided meditations concentrating on the breath and now considering the possibility of adding a contemplative prayer to it as I also continue to seek a genuine faith.  At work (I work at a university), I try to take a break and sit by a little creek that runs through our campus. The trees and other vegatation provides semi-secluded areas to sit. I have worked on this campus for quite awhile now, so a lot of people know me, or of me, and I feel a little self conscious sometimes just closing my eyes while sitting by the creek.

Today, I decided to keep my eyes softly focused upon the running water as it ran over and by the rocks in the middle of the stream. It was really easy to just focus on the water as it passed by, a constant flow, and I found it to be  a good example of just letting the thoughts drift by without attaching anything to them and then returning to the quiet, calmer places in the stream. It was nice…and then I saw a squirel on the opposing bank.

The squirrel was doing what squirrels do. It was gathering, scurrying, darting, climbing, digging. I thought, “Wow, look at the other me.” My thoughts always in motion – ideas, fears, plans. Usually I would be a little negative on myself when I see such a gap in where I am and where I want to be, but not this time. The squirrel was actually fun to watch and I admired its dedication in preparing for a long winter.

Just then a bluejay flew by and landed in a bush close to me. It had an acorn in its beak and looked to be hiding it in the bush, kind of an acorn bank I guess. It kind of reinforced the actions of the squirrel. It is ok to be a squirrel, it is ok to act like a bluejay, just don’t forget about the lessons of the creek either.

With that I went ahead and closed my eyes and spent a few more minutes by the creek, not caring if anyone saw me or not… and I just breathed. When I opened my eyes, the squirrel was gone, the bird was gone, and the tightness in my shoulders was gone too.

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Golf Partners

At my job, there is a lot of conversations along with quite a few opinions about – well, about anything. It is a great place to work, but sometimes I don’t mind a little solitude during my day and that is why I enjoy playing golf by myself sometimes.

This afternoon I decided to go out and play 18 holes and also decided that I would walk and not rent a cart. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to today’s weather forecast as  I found myself in 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4444 Celsius) It was hot and I did question the wisdom of an overweight old guy walking in that heat.

However, at one point I stopped huffing and puffing and checking my pulse and just looked around me. What did I see? I saw geese, turkeys, and deer all around me and thought, “God, what a wonderful life I am living. Look at these creatures.”

Please ignore my heavy breathing on this short video, I was really warm. Oh, yeah, I quit after nine holes.

Song Explanation: Rochelle

I am going to tell where the ideas came from for my songs on Soundcloud. Actually, not all that interesting-but wanted to share them for a few friends in different parts of the world. To be honest with you, I can’t even recommend that you watch these videos-but what the heck, it is my blog, huh? I hope everyone is doing well!