Eavesdropping

Apparently, the word “eavesdrop” came about in the 17th century and described a noun, like dirt, but more specifically as “the ground on to which water drips from the eaves of a house.” Today, eavesdropping signifies a verb meaning “listening into a conversation without the knowledge of the people involved in it.”

Not too long ago, I had to make strategic efforts to eavesdrop. It required tiptoeing undercover, with inhaled breath, near a hushed conversation, to hopefully gather curious or pertinent information. Not anymore.

I can stand in the line at the grocery store and listen to, albeit one-sided, conversations about sold properties, other children’s behavior, and where they want to eat dinner that night.

Granted, most conversations aren’t pertinent and tend in this direction.

“Hey.”

“I’m at the grocery store.”

Louder. “I’m at the grocery store.”

Impatience kicks in. “Why can’t you hear me, where are you?”

“I’m at the grocery store.”

“I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

“I said, I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

Right. Those type of conversations happen so often that I now make efforts to ignore what I hear. I don’t want to know what I hear, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why do most people stuff earbuds in their ears?

Which brings me to riding the subway in New York City. Where I see ears chockfull of buds. As I did last week after traveling to Washington state. A grand trip it turned out.

My return flight to New York landed at JFK airport. I still had the Air-train, subway, bus, and car to navigate before reaching home. From the subway, I wanted to get to Port Authority and sort of knew to get off at 42nd Street, but when in doubt, I ask the person next to me.

I was told by a confident person, “Get off on 35th.”

I got off at 35th and started looking for signs to Port Authority. None.

I heard a calm but clear voice, “You want 42nd, get back on before the door closes.”

I did.

“Get off at 42nd and follow the signs,” he told me.

The voice came from a guy who was sitting in the subway car I just exited. He was seated at least seven people away from where I’d been standing. How did he hear my conversation through the track rattling and his hoodie covered head? I don’t know.

All I knew was, I could have made it to Port Authority from 35th but I was carrying a heavier than normal backpack and looking for the shortest distance to walk. Thankfully, someone eavesdropped. They listened. Or did they answer a call for pertinent information?

Society is a foolish juror, listening only to one side of the case. Justice often comes too late to secure a verdict. People with mental work before them have no time for gossip about false law or testimony. To reconstruct timid justice and place the fact above the falsehood, is the work of time.”–21st Century Science and Health

[Jesus said] “Are you listening to me? Really listening? 16-19 “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”–The Message

The puzzle of puzzles

In the corner of our living room stands a table. On top of the table is an unfinished jig-saw puzzle. When the mood hits me to slow down for a minute and quite worrying, I go to the corner of the room. I gaze and shuffle and attach puzzle pieces to watch come together the scene of ice-skaters in a park surrounded by leafless trees.

Experts say that solving puzzles helps reinforce existing brain connections.

I see how tackling a puzzle can reinforce the existing brain connection of mine that, say, puts together jig-saw puzzles. But I’d beg to differ it helps me connect 5 p.m. with making dinner.

For twenty years when the children were growing up, I had a strong brain connection that come 5 p.m., I’d put together some form of edible food for our family dinner. Now?

I’m too busy solving the jig-saw puzzles to remember putting together dinner. Apparently, the dinner brain connection was loosey-goosey. But not the puzzle connection.

For years, I was lucky enough to live near a guy who also loved jig-saw puzzles. We shared puzzles, saving us both a bundle in costs. I also would buy puzzles at garage sales or thrift stores, but usually a piece was missing, the piece I was always looking for.

Puzzle solving started when I was young. Mom brought home five puzzles, each with 100 pieces. “Here, turn off the TV and put these together,” she’d tell us five kids. It took about twenty minutes. “Take them apart, and swap puzzles with your sister or brother,” Mom said.

Five puzzles, five kids, five swaps, you get the picture. Less TV.

We noticed, however, that each time we re-solved the puzzles, we got quicker. So, we started racing one another. A puzzle was soon put together in less than 30-seconds, serving as top entertainment for weeks.

Over the ensuing years, Mom bumped us up to 500 then 750-piece puzzles. By time I married, I preferred 1000-piecers, thinking no more of numbers as I enjoyed the feeling of therapy when connecting puzzle pieces.

Then, my preference for 1000-piece puzzles joggled when yakking with our new son-in-law. He was working on a 15,000-piece puzzle. Fifteen thousand?

He still works on it, and that was ten years ago. But at the time, I couldn’t resist getting a 3,000-piece puzzle to challenge myself. It was torture and I’ll not do that again.

In the meantime, our son-in-law explains, “My puzzle pieces came in four bags. Each bag represents a quarter of the 15,000 pieces. After finishing the first bag and starting the second bag, I wondered if each quarter was really the same puzzle cut.”

Huh? I had absolutely no brain connection here.

But he orders a piece of clear, four-foot plexiglass, lays it on top of the first finished quarter of the puzzle, and slides the second quarter of the puzzle on top. Sure enough, each quarter was made from the same cut.

When it comes to the sky, he puts the pieces together according to shape, shown to him below the plexiglass.

Some year, I’ll see on the wall, an eight-foot by four-foot finished puzzle of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, hands touching.

“You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight—and be blessed!”–Proverbs 3:13-18, The Message

 

Gardening already?

flower getting sunflower seedsBundled in a coat, mittens, and scarf, I walk to the mailbox to receive a garden seed magazine. I think, “Oh, come on. A bit early for gardening already.”

Then our jovial grandchildren visit.

We’re sitting around the kitchen table. Our three-year old grandson tells us about a recent gift. “I got a wheelbarrow like your garden one, Grandma, so we can garden the same.”

Each year I plant a garden. Our six-year old granddaughter is savvy to the routine.

At the table, we listen patiently as she verbally makes a list, “This year I want to plant carrot seeds, uum, peas, beans, oh, raspberries, arugula of course.”

We adults see garden-excitement escalating. The grandson stands on his chair ready to add to the list and says, “I want to plant bacon.”

It’s never too early to plan your next garden.

While farming potatoes, grapes, apples, and cherries in Washington state for more than four decades, gardening was part of my life. I didn’t know any different from careful cultivation and eating a bounty of vegetables and fruits grown right outside our door.

Garden magazines and seeds lay around the Washington house like socks.

After settling in New York, and no longer farming, my life model took on a new look. Much less food grown outside my door.

But I buy produce from local farmers and still plant a garden, mainly for the grandchildren. Which is translated to mean, I plant a garden for dumping seed in one place and accidently trampling the carrot seedlings while looking for peas.

The trick is planting enough seed.

After planting two packets of pea and carrot seeds, sure enough, satisfaction. It only takes thirty pea pods and twelve carrots to thrill children. And their parents.

“Check this out. I just pulled a carrot out of the ground. I can eat this? Look at this, honey. I can’t believe it. This is so great. Can I pull another?” asks the parent of a six-year old friend of the grandchildren.

Ah, the magic of gardening.

We learn where food comes from, the value of caring for the soil, the importance of water, and the advantage of removing weeds.

And yes, I’m the “weed puller” and I use my wheelbarrow to haul weeds to compost. In time, the grandchildren will catch on but for now, I watch our grandchildren haul magnet-tiles and toy train cars in their miniature wheelbarrow.

The happiness of choosing good memories

I define good memories as images of innocence, comfort and joy, all embracing. Such as my childhood memory of getting a parakeet for a pet. It was a nice bird. My buddy.

Which brings me to our grandchildren’s dog, Hammish. A miniature Dachshund who has challenged many intrepid dog whisperers and trainers. Hammish isn’t dangerous. All bark, bark, bark. He watches the grandchildren diligently, or rather watches their food because the instant food can be reached with Hammish’s long nose, gone, disappeared. Oftentimes causing tears of anguish from children. Oh sure, progress has been made over the last seven years but Hammish can bark it away in nanoseconds.

When the family comes to visit on the weekends, I roll my eyes as Hammish bullets into the house, running from corner to corner, ready to terrorize my cats. My cats know a fraud when they see it, and they don’t have to sit to high to be taller than Hammish and watch him loose his bananas.

Author Jon Katz, in his book, Talking to Animals, says dogs aren’t bad, they just need to be understood. They’re a blend of wild and domesticated. They understand through images. Use fewer human words. Katz teaches how to communicate mystically, by picturing images in your head of how you want the dog to behave.

I get what Katz is saying, and I’ve more often than not actually experienced what Katz calls mystical or spiritual relationships with pets and animals. But not with Hammish. His wild side just can’t shut up enough.

Then the other day, our granddaughter and I are finishing lunch. Hammish is sitting in a sunbeam, on alert, but not enough to come steal food. Our granddaughter is calm and happy, and we talk about snow skiing, school, and her latest bracelet making.

She scoots down from the chair and walks over to Hammish. Sits next to him and pets his head. Hammish lets her. No commotion. Peaceful petting continues as Hammish gazes into her eyes.

She says quietly, “Hammish is such a good dog.”

I mentally choke, snort, and stifle myself before saying something that would probably banish this good image or memory.

It wasn’t easy, basically, to shut up myself, but I managed to agree, “Yes, you’re both good.”

A few days later I figured that image was one of the better gifts I received, and gave, this holiday.

Wonders

Dark cold winter nights lack humid-heavy atmospheres and allow sharp sightings of the cosmos. Expert and amateur astronomers giddily set up telescopes to peer through to chart the skies. For hours. Seemingly unaware of their freezing fannies. And this gazing has been occurring for centuries, starting with the naked eye.

I get it. But I don’t freeze or chart. And the naked eye suits me fine for staring into the night sky. But did you know, smartphone apps can tell you what’s in the night sky?

With the app, you can aim your phone at the sky and your screen-view will match the sky. On the screen you can read about thousands of catalogued stars, galaxies, planets, and more, along with tidbits of information such as their travel route and speed. The phone app also tracks artificial satellites and the International Space Station. It’s simply amazing.

In 1997, I couldn’t sleep, one cold night in Washington state.

I layered coats over my pjs, plopped a hat on my head, and strapped farm boots on my feet before sneaking outside. Shep, our dog, was waiting for me.

Shep probably heard me tossing in bed and was wondering what took me so long to get outside. But off we went for a walk around the orchard.

Head down, I began trekking the forty-acre orchard border. Diligently watching the ground so I wouldn’t trip and fall while walking over tree shadows created by the moon.

On a knoll, the ground shadows disappeared, and I looked up. To see Hale-Bopp comet.

Now, an unforgotten experience of wonder and awe.

I’d read about the comet. It was discovered independently by two amateur astronomers, Alan Hale in New Mexico and Thomas Bopp in Arizona in 1995.

But what moved me so wonderfully?

The fact I quit stewing in bed and got into a better physical and mental mode? Our faithful dog? Or, that I could see something more than 120 million miles away? Or, the unimaginable stream of dust and gas released from the atmosphere around the comet affected by the sun’s radiation pressure? Nah.

Its wonder and awe itself. Moving us.

 

From Luke 2: 1-18

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

Floodtides and snowstorms

The recent snowstorm invited many of us to stay home. But, thanks, to the brave souls who weathered the snow and ice to keep emergencies to a minimum.

Watching snow accumulation has always been a favorite pastime for me. I don’t dread snow. I can’t. It strikes me with an awe that wants more.

The snow motivates my consciousness with peace, when I see whiteness cover everything and shine with purity. Snow makes lawns, houses, cars, litter, unseen. Equal.

Even when I get my shovel and start moving the snow. I find it’s heavy. Real heavy. But still motivating me.

To think further along the line of peaceful awe and equality.

Snow is one form of H2O, along with ice, sleet, water, steam. If I wait long enough for the snow to melt, I won’t have to shovel it. But I don’t.

Working with what I have, the snow is moved where useful (sidewalk), and I move on. Only accomplishing the necessary tasks of feeding the chickens and catching up with paperwork, while stopping to enjoy staring at the snow falling and listening to the silence.

What I call the physical existence has many forms, solid, fluid, vaporous, and I can work with what I have, to move on, even if it feels like heavy work. For example, a couple of days before the storm, my head was achy.

The brain is one form of matter, along with the arms, mouth, and ears. Working with what I have, I sit in the big chair, wrap my arms around our grandchildren and read books to them. I move on while enjoying listening to the children’s quiet listening. My consciousness feel peace and I begin to see the ache melt.

“Understanding comes through spiritual logic and revelation. Following the signposts of divine law, we comprehend the Truth that is changing the world for the better. In this path we find progress attended by life and peace.

“We do not need to learn our life lessons the hard way. We can stop stumbling around in drunkenness. We can stop being consumed by disease. We can stop being shocked at the evil in the world and gain an understanding that leads to productive improvement.

“This metaphysical system of healing through truth relinquishes the errors of self-serving obsessions, misleading appetites, hatred, fear, lust, superstition, etc. The progression makes a new creation.[1] The way to uncover and abandon error is to saturate the mind with floodtides of Truth and Love.

“As we discover there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded. We experience a relationship with all the attributes of Truth and Love, including wisdom. We become conscious of the existence of Spirit as the source of supply.”from science & religion to God

 

 

[1] II Cor. 5:17

New Book: A Study Guide for Christian Science

I am thoroughly pleased and intrigued with this study guide for Christian Science. And now I am thrilled to announce, A Study Guide for Christian Science is published and available for the public online at Amazon.

This study guide roots in the Bible and includes twenty-four exercises that follow the pattern of instruction through questions and answers as presented by 19th-century spiritual leader, Mary Baker Eddy and found in the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, both, the old version and new.

Eddy revised her Science and Health until she died in 1910 and Cheryl Petersen modernizes Science and Health today, titled 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.

The Study Guide for Christian Science brings clarity to the application of spirituality, as it stays one step ahead of changing human history, language and technology.

newestcover

 

Roadkill Collectors

I’ve never met a Roadkill Collector, but I know these workers exist in this world. I know all too well, and yet not well enough. It’s a weekly, if not daily, event for me to drive the roads and pass the carcasses of racoons, possums, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, and cats, recently hit by traveling vehicles. But soon cleaned up.

I’ll never forget the day I discovered my cat on the road, dead, after being run over by a car. I picked up and carried our cat home for a personal burial. Then I cried for three days. It was unfortunate, awkward.

Death and accidents are part of the human condition and I thank the individuals who treat them with care and realism. Your work pushes my mind into curiosity and wonder.

Curiously, while treating death, birth happens. Birthing occurs in the trees, under bushes, and in places around the world. I may not see or feel the births especially when avoiding or dealing with death, but my interest eventually piques, and I wonder, is it life and death, or birth and death? While life goes on?

I sometimes want to smack the adage, life goes on, especially when daily circumstances stink, are boring, or irritating. But, as my husband points out, I’m too easily irritated and should cultivate more patience. Of course, his “pointing out,” irritates me, but after more than thirty-five years of hanging with the guy I see tads of progress in patience. Like last week after the high winds.

Well, high winds, is relative. When we lived in southeastern Washington state, winds came rolling over the Horse Heaven Hills at twenty to forty miles per hour, bringing tons of dirt, for three days. So, a day of fifteen to thirty miles per hour of winds here is a breeze. But I wake up and go outside to flipped over patio furniture, thank goodness the glass didn’t shatter, and a damaged chicken shelter.

Irritation bubbles inside me.

“Come on, Cheryl, I’ll get a rope and we’ll flip the chicken roof back into place,” said Mr. Patience.

“That won’t work,” I retort, like an unfortunate accident.

He says nothing and we mosey out to the chicken residence, which by the way is luxurious because I demanded a commodious insulated hen house with double-paned windows, secure locking doors, and an outside roofed shelter with fenced in acreage for free-range. It took weeks for my husband to construct.

Anyway, working together after the wind, it didn’t take long before we flipped the cover back into place for my husband to re-secure. He also put away the patio furniture while I tried patiently to wonder. I wondered about life and death.

I used to think life and death were counterparts. But I don’t anymore. I think, birth and death are counterparts, and neither have bearing on the life that goes on. The life of patience, care, and realism. So, I’ll be more patient when driving and take care to watch for passing animals.

Hudson Valley apples

One of many jewels found in Warwick Valley is apples. The gem comes in assorted colors and varieties. And because 2019 is a bumper crop year, we can enjoy and invite others to enjoy apples. A local farmer recently told me, “Apple picking will go into November.”

While living in southeastern Washington state, my husband and I grew Granny Smith and Gala apples. Tart to sweet. Couldn’t be beat. Just ask the horses that lived with us on the orchard.

We brushed, saddled, and mounted our horses for afternoon walks that took us through the orchard and up into the Horse Heaven Hills. I know, it all sounds like I’m making this up, but I’m not.

If you have a minute, search online Wikipedia, Horse Heaven Hills. Skip the site linked to American Viticultural Area, unless you’re interested in todays booming wine grape business in the northwest.

But Horse Heaven Hills stretches through three counties in Washington (we lived in Benton county). The hill range is a ridge that folded upward a gazillion years ago (give or take a few years).

Notice on Wikipedia, the photo mentioning Wallula Gap? Those Horse Heaven Hills is the view from the cemetery where we buried my mother and father-in law. We also had an orchard in Wallula.

The history of Horse Heaven Hills has it that early pioneer, James Gordon Kinney was romping around the hills in 1881, and while admiring the native grass that fed large herds of feral horses, he said, “This is surely a horse heaven.”

But that version of history daggers me. Like Columbus Day.

Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492, however, up against the facts, conscience calls out the blindness associated with this holiday. Blind to the poor behavior toward humanity on the part of Columbus and the fact that native Americans were settled here long before the Italian-born explorer plodded the ground.

I’d like to know what the native Americans called the hills, that I call Horse Heaven Hills. For centuries, probably millenniums, before others came from afar, native Americans used the land as hunting ground and boundaries between tribes. Maybe they called the hills Pantry.

“Your shelf in the pantry is looking pretty good.”

“Ah, yes, but if need be, I’ll rustle up some of the food for your shelf.”

Either way, I understand why some cities and states in the United States replace Columbus Day with alternative days of remembrance, such as, Indigenous Peoples Day.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11.

So back to our valley rich in apples. Eat up. Tell your friends from the City, or wherever, to bring their families, buy a bag and pick apples for eating fresh or using in applesauce, crisps, cakes, pies. Heck, it’s worth the bucks to just enjoy visiting an orchard, walking outdoors through rows of trees, reaching out to nab and munch on a natural delicious snack. Right there on the spot. That’s what our horses did.

The friend of contentment

Last month, I ventured a business in Florida, New York, that provides ample opportunities to cross paths with individuals I wouldn’t otherwise meet. The crossings last about ten minutes or thirty and usually spark conversations.

It reminds me of family reunions, when finally meeting spouses or children of distant, but known, relatives. Conversations begin with a mission to acknowledge parallels and oftentimes, similarities click, and fun ensues.

At the business, I cross paths with people on a quest to find a specific item. As if we’re on a treasure hunt together. We start yakking it up and before we know it, we’re practicing friendliness.

When it comes time to parting ways, I blurt, “Come back again and bring you friends.”

Naturally, many reply “I will.” But a few reply “I don’t have any friends.”

The statement, I don’t have any friends, may sound funny,  but I don’t laugh. I don’t doubt them. I don’t call them back to probe their psyche. I don’t argue with them.

I nod at the revealing implication. It carries a tone of contentment, as if contentment is their friend.

To have the friend of contentment with one’s self and purpose at hand, goes against today’s definition of friend as broadcast by social media, which imposes the burden of numbering or trying to keep others happy.

Whereas, friends of contentment appear content with working and discovering, rather than with numbers or persons. This appearance begs the question, how do contentment and being solo connect?

Now, I’m not an etymologist but I feel as though the word solo is related to the word solitude. And when I think of solitude, I think of loneliness, however the statement, “I don’t have any friends,” can rebuke the lonely image of solitude.

I can feel lonely in a jam-packed audience of Elton John or at a family reunion where I feel misunderstood.

So, at and after these crossings, I continue mulling the statement, “I don’t have any friends,” as a sign, pointing to the friend of contentment with good-old fashion work and discovery. Whether I’m solo or surrounded by people.

 

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