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Posts Tagged ‘ECONOMY’

BACK HOME TO HESTIA

Seniors have plateaus just as growing children do, only in reverse. They grow smaller, blinder, deafer, more forgetful and then they begin walking not so well.

They have been depending on the Social Security system to keep them through the downward spiral and tuck them in at the end in some sort of respectable way— not a mass grave or dumpster.

That’s pretty blunt, isn’t it?

Well, blunt is the blow, I am telling you from my current viewpoint, being at the flat part of a new lower ledge of the series of plateaus.

When beautiful winter makes you stiff and exhausted and unable to keep your own fire stoked, it IS a blow. Instead of inviting folks to come by and warm themselves, you find yourself hunkering as close as you can to a frail little lightbulb, and if you are lucky, your grown children recognize that you need a REAL fire, since you have nearly totally lost your own.

Senior Solution; Hermes heading home to Hestia

My travels (the other side of the story–did you click the link in the title?) have taken me on journeys rewarding and then other journeys that were clearly designed to be instructional, often with a large discomfort factor.

“Well, it’s how I am,” I explain to the kids. “I just TRY things.”

The counterpart to Hestia , the stay-by- the-fire goddess, was Hermes the traveler-adventurer god, strikingly different from Hestia, but a very close friend and neighbor to her.they were a duo who were the best of friends who did not marry and likely would  never have been compatible mates, so different were they.

I think I’ve got some humanoid  (sub-godly) traits of each of these opposites and I am now traveling from Hermes-mode back into Hestia-mode for the preservation of body and soul.

I am not alone. The economy, you know has yanked the rug out from under many hard-working retirees. And the cruel winter just past, and the inability of this 74 year old body to spring back in the expected way it always has — it’s a rude surprise that happened in one winter’s time.

Mortality is a subject that comes into stunning focus maybe once or twice during most folks’ lives, especially when a “close call” happens or when a dear one dies. Most of the time we let the matter of death simmer quietly on the back burner to be dealt with “later.” It’s not number one on our list of favorite things to plan for.  Once we have the matter of soul settled, we relax.

A winter like the once we just had in 2011-2012 brings the motality matter into sharp focus. When one has no way out of the cabin but to stumble down the moutainside a quarter mile in ice covered snow up to the knee caps, and one has a trick knee that will not operate properly on the downhill slope. It’s cllimbing down a steep slope so you can get to your car parked in a plowed area below. Then you dig out your car, and go to the store and get supplies. Then you park your car where it was before and get to carry the packages of supplies back up the mountain, and you have to stop every five steps to catch your breath.

This is not ordinary outdoor fun, it’s a real test of your physical plant, and my body did not pass it well at all. I really did feel as if I might die. I actually imagined that the local mountain lion might be considering me likely prey (wounded small mammal), and be planning his attack. I tried to make myself look big while bending over to catch my breath. I dragged my groceries rather than carry them, and I said loud things in all kinds of voices, mostly gruff.  I tried to sound as big as God.

“Mom, we have to get you OUTTA there,” the kids said. And they were right.

So my primeval wonderland is standing out there looking in my big windows, looking at me with sad leaves and the birds are gone because I have weaned them away from regular feedings. The intimacy I have enjoyed with the forest spirits– plants and animals– is being stressed now with the reality that I am having to pack up my belongings and journey away from them.

I do remember that comforting hearth, and the groaning board, and the laughter and pranks of my dear ones around the room. And now my young are strong and seem to have endless energy to fix, and do, and make. Yes, I will, as they suggest, come there and stay a while.

The love has changed hands so often between me and my children, and has been so thoroughly tested by fire and has come through stronger because of it, that I am secure in the bond, and content to lay aside my traveling cases and rest at their hearth and learn their new foods and teach their new generation the old stories.

They can afford me, they say, and I can come and rest there until my strength returns so that I can at least do the things I do well. They will do the things that are too much for me now. And it is with honor that they receive me at their table.

“Mom, you did the same for us for such a long time. You taught us how.”

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Just finished reading a Delancey Place excerpt  about the effects of the economic times on Iceland.  It’s worth reading because it is a microcosm of the possibilities of any country or any individual making unsound decisions on how to handle wealth.

Poor little Iceland is now really poor, after having had a time of wealth spawned by the boom times past.  Making hay while the sun shines is a good idea, but not when you lose all sight of other things like the notion that the hay might spoil and all your feverish labor will be gone gone gone– wasted and now you have nothing to show for it, and no back-up for your cattle.

The article points out that Iceland is a sizeable continent, but it has the population of Peoria, IL.  These 300,000 people are in a terrible state now, with winter coming on and their nest eggs spoiled.  I happen to know that Icelanders like to go south in winter to some warm spot, like Spain or Portugal, to bask in some sunlight until the light comes back to the fjord-lands.  This costs some money.  Iceland will be digging out their front doors this winter.  And boiling fishbones in their melted snow.

How will they pay for the gas to run their ships, I am asking?  The ships they need to harvest fish to eat?  Will they go to the Chinese and indebt themselves like the rest of us to keep afloat all winter and into the next years?

Iceland’s dollar tripled in value fairly recently, and now it’s shrunk to miniscule levels… like living in a $300K mansion that suddenly is worth less than $100K.  Sound familiar?  Try that in a land that is isolated from the rest of the world by water and north winds.  Likely the booze budget will be the last to get cut up there, where booze is more than a happy hour indidental.  I think they are one of the most alcoholic cultures in the world, from what I glean, and how will that change now?– not for the better, likely.

The human race has, with all too human hubris, boosted itself into such an inflated state (pride, power,possessions and puffed-up-ness) that we can only explode and fizzle down like a popped balloon.  If we take that a little further, let us look at ourselves lying on the ground in a depressed state, wrinkled and spent, with a coating of dust.  What does one do with a dead balloon?

Well, we need a new life.   Start from scratch?  You bet!  This seems to be the part of the cycle that seems impossible.  It is like the miracle that happens in spring, actually, when somehow the debris from old deaths springs forth and with an enormous amount of energy expended, a new sprout comes forth and begins a journey.

We knew we would eventually, like the Romans, be brought to our knees.  Now it’s time to kill off the detrius from our untidy demise and make new stuff out of it.  New ideas, simple and based on immutable principle.  Seed, light, water, heat, tending.  One cell turning into two.  Basic.

old swimmer

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PEPPERS IN A BOWL

At the foot of the mountain, just across from the post office, there is a white canopy.  From early morning until people go inside for the day there are two young adults who are peddling fruit and vegetables from that stand.   I got to know them at the local fair where they were testing the market.

FRESH PRODUCE  signs are on all the corners pointing to this single stand.  They told me the woman whose lawn they set up on was willing to have them there because it might draw in customers for her wood furniture which is also sitting on the property.

At the fair I learned that these folks are living with Mom… up from southern California because they lost their jobs.  The produce venture depends on bringing in food from across the mountains.  They pick wonderful stuff, and display it well.

I’ve been taking them my hand made wood bowls.  The fruit looks terrific in them, and they have already sold a couple.  I’ll keep taking them bowls and splitting the proceeds with them.   They sell out nearly every day, they say.  This is entrepreneurial problem solving.  It took a humble attitude and a lot of energy to do this.   They are working their way into solvency and with a cheerful attitude.  I love this couple.  He has got a piercing or two on his face, and she looks young.  But they both are gracious, polite, well-spoken, and very glad for a chance to “make it”.

My mind goes back to a man who worked in the same corner of a building where I was an advertising manager for a business, years ago.  I was young (like the young girl at the fruit stand), and he was a loving Dad to seven children.  He told me how his father got the family through the Great Depression.  Apples.  Apples on a push cart in New York City!   My co-worker was proud of his Dad’s strength of character and his hard work to feed a family in New York during those awful years of bread lines and homelessness.  The Apple Man’s family was not homeless.  They had food.  And pride.

I am hoping I can watch a wonderful thing happen with these two young people from California.  If I can be a part of it, it will do me a lot of good.  Not for the sold bowls (it’s not all that munificent to wholesale bits and pieces.)  But for the richness of seeing strong, decent people hitting the hard times by staring it down with smiles on their faces..standing for customers at their little 10 x 10 booth.

Old Swimmer

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