Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Pause

I have been working on some pieces in the few minutes I have computer access in the early mornings.....but haven't had enough time to finish. I am exhausted by nighttime and since we are determined to regulate on line access for the kids, as much we can, I end up being in line and usually at the end. So writing is at a pause.

Running has also been on a pause for the past couple of weeks at the recommendation of suggestion of the MD. How the hell some indirect body parts can be negatively effected by running had me initially scratching my head. It also is frustrating when you are doing something that is good for you and you have to stop it.

But I hope to be able to get out there sometime this weekend, though I know I have lost some good momentum and getting back into the routine, especially with such cold will be difficult. For the next few days we are off to visit extended family, in- laws to me so perhaps some time on the hotel treadmill we be some help.

A good thanksgiving to all out there in blogland. It seems like finding things to be thankful for is more difficult this year, until you fine someone who has recently lost someone, or lost their job or is in poor health or just has it worse off than you. Then you realize that there is much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2008


23 degrees, the air is clear and crisp. The grass is dried *or freeze dried) and leaves and remaining greenery curled up for protection. It feels like November. Though we have had snow a few times it does not last, the ground is still warm enough to melt and absorb it. Not the constant cold. I’ve seen more deer out and about this week…more so than I have usually seen. Foraging for food already?

Hard to believe this is 4 tons of wood ( well actually it is only 2 tons inside) and we’ve already cut into some of it. The stove turns itself on more and more regularly with the dropping temperatures and I again become tuned in to the various sounds it makes to know that everything is working fine….or not By March I will be totally sick of this stuff. Hauling the daily or twice a day bag of pellets in, cleaning out the ash, moving these big pallets (what happened to the picture) little by little.

It’s been a dead week for being outside. My run last Saturday threw off a cascade of ailments lasting most of the week. It gets tough when your body punishes you for doing something good,

Life around town is quiet. On a few tourists so they aren’t really noticed much. This weekend 10 high schools take over the main theater of Shakespeare & Company. They have been working with directors, producer and costumers and set people from S&Co. to each produce one of Shakespeare’s works. The quality of course varies from ok to exceptional but the spirit is contagious and amazing. Our family of course will there most of the weekend in various numbers.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out of the Comfort Zone/ Disconnecting auto pilot

There are times when I have found myself at an intersection. Something stops me, confronts me, presents itself, metaphorically blows up in front of me. I have a choice. The choices are autopilot, which may say to do nothing (let the choice go away or take care of itself) or to take the familiar turn or to want to run away from the decision or in other words try to turn back or to try something completely different. Something not as familiar or comfortable and unorthodox.

I wrote last about being discouraged and being presented with people doing things that were not cool, what I didn’t write was about the force that they were doing it. As a relatively low key person I don’t always do well with pit bulls or people not afraid to be “in your face” (whether or not they wear lipstick ), especially when they are in a place that I don’t expect them. I don’t confuse being low key with being a wimp or passive as I can also be quite formidable and immovable when provoked. This can be quite surprising to those who don’t know me as it can be like stepping on a rattle-snake.

But to be in that place for me often requires stepping out of a comfort zone. I like being a nice guy, I like being friendly and helpful, I like to work cooperatively, I don’t like being taken advantage in any way or form because of this. Who does!

So this past two weeks, which can go down in the book of weeks I’d like to forget, had me in such a place. The difference from other experiences was that it was an explosion, and confrontation, something mean spirited that I was presented with and the players were either manipulative or with extremely strong egos and self opinions of themselves and they presented this with such intensity that it took me very much off guard. It had me looking back, questioning decisions, questioning myself.

So my choices were to do nothing and hope it will blow over and feel like shit for having been “abused”. I could explode and demonstrate the actual authority I had over the situation. I would have to clean up the mess later but I would feel great in the moment. I could be manipulative back and find an alternative way to change behavior or “seek revenge”, which is an exhausting game to play and one I rarely like to play. The options and issues seemed a total blur.

Or I could disconnect the auto-pilot stepping out of my comfort zone and find a different route; confronting these strong willed perpetrators head on, calling them on their abuse, laying out expectations, leaving little doubt that I had many more options that I could exercise and that I was clearly willing to go there if necessary and also making them wait for the reaction. Basically daring them not to back down and apologize and see a wiser path.

So as I am writing about this in better frame of mind you can deduce that I chose the latter path and while it was rough and the path to sorting out the options not easy I am at a different place. I moved very much out my comfort zone to effectively respond to something formidable and new. While I know that my path is still lined with challenges on this I have grown and in some small way will never be the same. I am curious to see how this new growth will play itself out.

Throughout my life there are key times that I can point to where I have turned off the auto-pilot and in a very significant way stepped out of my comfort zone and taken a less comfortable direction. Like changes in the ring pattern of a tree these are my growth spots.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Completely Discouraged

In these early hours of the morning as I sit down I look at the list of blogs in my "favorites" and randomly cruise others, landing on some for a second or two before I move on. I know how that is because the site counter here records many people who do the same thing. Bloggers like me put thoughts and ideas and reflections of experiences out there. Why, because it seems more concrete and useful than talking to trees.

In the spring I put up a post that rhetorically asked, does it matter. I was feeling at a low point having been mocked or dis'd for some of the things I do or have done. I left it up a few days and remarkably it got a few comments from some very kind folks but then I took it down because it was too raw too exposing. Well this morning I put it back up. Lost in the chronology of this blog, but our there.

Why did I? One of the joys and frustrations of a blog is you don't know who reads it. To me that sometimes matters as I get into personal stuff or stuff about other people. The tone of that earlier post hits a little like I am feeling, extremely discouraged. An absolutely horrendous week. I wish I could shut down email at work and in the world and insist that others get off their ass and talk to your face to face or pick up the dam phone and ask questions, validate information, inquire.....rather than lob bombs and walk away. While I am definitely an email junky there are many many times when at work I consciously pick up the phone or walk down the hall or to another floor to seek someone out. I am now working with some people whose preferred mode of communication is email and they complain about lack of communication and being out of the know. There are also people who go completely off the wall and you have to figure out that the real reason is not really the one they are yelling about or seem upset about, it is really something or things remotely related that have triggered the reaction.

The same can be said about groups I am involved with outside of work. People use emails too hastily. It is extremely rare that I will be angry in either a work or non work email. The written word is much more biting as there is no inflection and no body language and there is no immediate dialog. Often times when I need to communicate by email I will write drafts and check spelling and read it out loud to hear how it sounds. Enough times I have been stung by cutting comments and words that were out of line. Sometimes I will respond with one word "ouch" and that will get a reaction.

Managing people is difficult and I will never understand people who will never ask about something or give you the benefit of the doubt when something doesn't seem right or in character. Especially when it seems out of character or they don't even know someone to know if it is in character. They just complain and spout off to each other or to others and poison the atmosphere. I have enough very difficult work that I have to do that is frustrating and constantly throwing me curves without this.

I will also never understand people, in or out of work, who assume to know the depth of your reasons or thoughts on things. While I know this sounds arrogant (and since it is my blog I can be alittle arrogant) I am genuinely a good person and a good person to have as a boss, co-worker, friend, employee, colleague. While I have my foibles and quirks, I am very introspective, polite, considerate of others and thoughtful of the effect my actions have on others. I know that this is true because I am told that by many people unsolicited as employees, friends, people in the community.

So yesterday I threw in a five mile run at lunch to help deal with this and I have run 3-4 miles most days this week to deal with this and I still feel like crap and wishing I could throw my hands up and drop out of many things for a while. I can only imagine how I would feel without the running. Its much better than drinking or eating.

So we'll see how long this post stays up and there is no picture or image I could add to this except perhaps a picture of my winning lottery ticket (I wish). I may in a short while decide it too is too raw or reveling but again it is better than yelling at trees. I've also tried that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It is interesting working with people with different political views. I am most proudly and unashamed out there as the view and perspective from the left of the political and social scale. My views are really not really that radical or extreme but my tolerance for diversity of all types is quite high and thoughts on personal and societal responsibility give me that positioning. A few weeks ago I did an on-line survey of views and tolerance and I was clearly on the far left of the range with Barack and Hillary to the right. The Dali Lama was in my neighborhood, which IMO is cool and good company. Much of this is rooted in my own deep sense of spirituality.

I work with people who have opinions similar to mine but also some with perspectives that are clearly far right of center and who occasionally feel that their opinions are the only ones that can be correct. I have to hold my tongue allot because in a discussion where they get rolling and want to spout off further and further to the right, I absolutely can't resist moving even further and further to the left. It drives them crazy! Mean, yeah I know. But you gotta have some fun with people who take themselves way too seriously.

So you can imagine the day after an election of the first African American President, whom I consider a complete centrist and some consider a socialist. Behaviors are acted out in ways that have nothing to do with the real issues of work, some are just totally quiet or some just go on and on. I had a conversation this afternoon with a co-worker who is quite bright and seems to try and research everything under the sun yet he was so poorly informed on Obama's positions and opinions. I could tell that he probably had listened intently to one or two similar sources of information and perspective not the dozen or so that are available. So it becomes a teaching moment. The others I just stay away from and let them simmer in their anger.

It is fascinating to me how our varied upbringings and life experiences and basic brain chemistry make us who we are and how I can so very clearly see something in one way or be totally fine with something while another person sees it 180 degrees differently or is offended by something that I can't even understand.

Its one of those many things that makes us human and interesting and frustrating to one another, all at the same time.

YES WE CAN!!!!!!!

Barack Obama Logo

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Relatives you don't know

I got a telephone call today from the wife of my grandfather's grand nephew. Get that one for a genealogical tongue twister. My grandfather's father is the great grandfather of the husband of this person. I had never really heard of the "great grandmother" in this story because my grandmother always spoke of his step mother.

So what do you say to a person who technically is a relative but I really haven't a clue about and besides the curiosity of ancestry don't have much motivation to connect. It is always fun and interesting to meet new people but it is difficult to be familiar to someone you don't know, even if they are a relative.

Genealogy is one of those things that can be a confusing puzzle. While each of us has a straight line back in history it is the intersection of these straight lines and subsequent off shoots which there are many people.

Like many people in New England some of my family lines are traceable for many many generations going back. There are a couple of lines that are traced back to the 1500s and 1600s; have some interesting names added in along the way. There are others for which I have information and photos and and some possessions going back to the late 1700s. The names in this group are so familiar to me as they are my mother's and grandmother's line and they often spoke of the people who are now just photographs and names on a chart. They all tended to live in the same area so the roots are deep.

But the line that the person has been seeking out is one which I have little information on. My grandfather didn't speak much about his family to me and I guess didn't to my Mom, who is the source of any information I have and he died when I was in my late teens (more than a few years back).

I have heard from this person before and she has sent me some information that she and others who are also researching this line have found. She actually tracked me down from my grandmother's obituary of 25 years ago and then through my mothers of 5 years ago. I was the one on the survivor list who answered the phone.

It is interesting, my reaction when they share some of this information. The story goes that my great-grandfather took my grandfather and left his wife at the time to travel out west. From all the recounts of that these people have from the wife, my great-grandfather wasn't a nice guy, to say it mildly. I have had decades to remember the pieces yet during this phone call I was lost all over again. I had heard about my grandfather traveling out west with his Dad and having a very interesting childhood but not that great-granddad deserted great-grandma. I heard more about the person he later married and became my grandfather's step mother and who was fondly recalled by my mother for her cooking and running a boarding house. One thing I inherited was her cookbook from the 1800s. An interesting read but not easy to follow as it assumes you are cooking off a wood stove. What they didn't have thermostats back then? Some of the ingredients are hard to find now and they sure did use lard a lot.

What I have found interesting in hearing about the "bad things" my great-grandfather did in leaving his first wife is that I felt the need to question "was there another side to this? "was it perhaps not as cut and dry?" Perhaps I am adding the lenses and perspective of a 21st century person who has seen many people have failed relationships and it was not always one sided. My grandfather was married to my grandmother for 60 years, so wouldn't that be true of his father? Of course perhaps why my grandfather was married so long is because of his experience as a kid. What is interesting is why it would really matter. Or is it that I don't like people maligned who aren't around to defend themselves.

So I had a nice chat with this person and sent her some photos that I did have from way back and will look for the few letters that I can recall passed down to me from many decades past. Perhaps we will chat again. She is eager to solve the puzzles of who each person is and where they fit in. I guess I am more concerned with the immediate at this time. History is fun but the mold in the bathroom and the reason behind it is what I have further up on the list. [though I suspect it is the marathon showers common to teenagers.

So why did I write this? I guess because it is interesting that you never know who you are related to. As the family tree extends itself it gets wider and wider and the possible numbers of people you can be related to is staggering.