Tuesday Open Thread ~ Closer to Fine


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Darkness has a hunger that's insatiable and lightness has a call that's hard to hear
~ Indigo Girls
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For the last week I have been writing about the #BobcatFire and the effects of living near the containment line of that fire here in the San Gabriel Valley. As of this writing, I am still under the threat of an evacuation order and trying my best at "normalcy" while looking out the windows at the falling ash and smoky skies that have been a constant this past week. What I didn't write about was how this emergency triggered something of a more personal nature that left me grappling with the realization that I will probably never have the kind of relationship I have always wanted with my Sister. Which both grieves me, and in a way, liberates me.

For years I have wanted to have a better relationship with my Sister, and for years I've been held at arms length. Convinced I could improve the situation if I was only a little more understanding, a little more patient, a little more compassionate, I kept trying. Any sign we were getting closer raised my hopes until the set back that followed afterwards left me feeling emotionally beaten up and disheartened. It seemed the more I tried the less I was able to penetrate the wall she had put up around herself. But she was family so I continued to hope I’d find a way through that wall.

The breaking point of that hope came last week during the evacuation warning when she told me she would be unable to able help me and then asked me not communicate with her "for awhile" because she was very anxious and had to take care of her health. I couldn’t believe my ears. Here I was trying to prepare for a possible life and death emergency and the only family I had basically tells me I’m on my own? I was stunned. I was angry. I was hurt.

Eventually the anger subsided and a part of me saw things more clearly than I had before. It was not the first time my Sister had responded this way by requesting distance during difficult times. And by way of context, let me say that my Sister is not an unkind person. Less than two months ago she gifted me her 2005 Prius. When I moved out here from New York, she flew out there to help me carry the animals on the plane and then let me stay in the back house on her property. But she has also spent years dictating the terms of engagement between us and controlling the way we interact. I love her and yet I know I can't keep going back to an empty well looking for something she is unwilling or unable to give me. It saddens me, but it really has nothing to do with me. Knowing all of this allows me to finally let go, not in anger, but in love. She’ll always be family and she will always be a part of my life but now I can give myself permission to interact with her on my own terms and stop trying to “fix” things between us.

So, while it might tempting to let myself go to the dark side after the battles I fought this week, I think I'd rather celebrate the wonderful friends I have who showed up for me in my hour of need, offered me sanctuary, and let me know I was not alone. I think I'd rather take pleasure in the opportunities I capitalized on this week and give thanks to the people in my life who have been supportive with their advice and help. And finally, I think I'd rather savor the accomplishment of ghostwriting my first published article and the work that will bring me. All things considered, I'm actually closer to fine than one might think.

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Well, that about wraps things up for this week's edition.
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What’s on your mind today?
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Siblings are not always our best friends.
Sometimes a much more complicated relationship.

Good luck with the fuegos locos.

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Let's try to help each other
find a better way.

Anja Geitz's picture

@QMS

I feel like I'm in a helicopters right now battling heavy winds and trying my damnedest to keep from crashing. But I see the helipad and I know where I want to go. And if I was really honest with myself, the place that I want to go is love and understanding. People who are happy with their lives don't behave this way. It pains me to think of my Sister being unhappy. So, that is where I want to go, but right now I'm fighting some mighty strong headwinds to get to that landing place.

Thanks for stopping by Smile

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8 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Between brothers and sisters, my own research suggests a vast difference if the brother is older or younger.

As for brothers! I have none but my daughter had only boys, spaced two years apart. My close observation lead my often to the expression "Brothers. Like Cain and Abel."

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We are so screwed.

Anja Geitz's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

That's for sure. And yet, there is so much about those relationships that informs who we are and where we have been that can be very enlightening, and at times comforting.

Such are the challenges of those relationships.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Glad you are getting ready to publish something you have ghostwritten. I would love to hear more of that experience.
Yes, keep celebrating those that have been there for you. Family relationships can be rough. I have two sisters and one am close to and the other not so much. DO's relationship with his siblings was ups and downs and when he past away there was guilt that is still being worked out.

Your quote at the end of this thread pretty much sums it up. Have a good week and stay safe!

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Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

Anja Geitz's picture

@jakkalbessie

I'm very pleased about how that all unfolded. It's a trade publication in New York for property managers. My piece came about when I suggested to my client that she could take information from one of her recent webinars and create an "article". So, that's basically what I did. I took the transcripts from the video, cleaned it up, excerpted parts she wanted to talk about, sent it to her and she sent me back bullet points which I created into a 700 word article. She was so pleased she wants to do another article from a different webinar. I'm actually surprised I'm as good at this as I am! Lol!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Lookout's picture

good and bad. About all we can do is focus on the good (like your car), and let go of the bad. Based on her response I would suggest she is having her own struggles and can't handle more. We each muddle through life in the best way we can. Tolerance and understanding goes a long way.

I left my family at age 17 for 5-6 years. It was a good thing. When we re-established connections it was on my terms and we've had a reasonable relationship ever since. As I've aged I've become more accepting and tolerant of our differences.

Keep a good thought. I hope y'all get some rain soon.
https://weather.com/forecast/regional/news/2020-09-09-wildfire-relief-we...

Camouflaged
Kim McCrea

In all chaotic beauty lies a wounded work of art.
Beautiful but torn, wreaking havoc on my heart.
Camouflaged by insecurities, blinded by it all.
I love the way you sit there and barely notice me at all.

https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/camouflaged

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Anja Geitz's picture

@Lookout

In all chaotic beauty lies a wounded work of art.
Beautiful but torn, wreaking havoc on my heart.
Camouflaged by insecurities, blinded by it all.
I love the way you sit there and barely notice me at all.

Wow. That went straight to the heart. How fragile we all are sometimes in our pursuit to be loved and accepted.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Anja Geitz

How fragile we all are sometimes in our pursuit to be loved and accepted.

If you look behind the curtain of the velvet
in your mind there's a frame.
And the picture of a world,
sad virtues to fly in the rain.

And we see you in clouds,
and we see you in dreams,
and we curse you in color,
and we blanket your screams.

And the world is the reason
how fragile we are,
how fragile we are,
how fragile we are.

It's a group of beggars
dancing love and life
as though it's the last show.
And the picture of a rich man
who's poor from the things that he knows

And we see you in clouds,
and we see you in dreams,
and we curse you in color,
and we blanket your screams.

And the world is the reason
how fragile we are,
how fragile we are.

And we see you in clouds,
and we see you in dreams,
and we curse you in color,
and we blanket your screams.

And the world is the reason
how fragile we are,
how fragile we are.

How fragile we are,
how fragile we are......
,
How fragile we are.

Indeed, how fragile we are! Smile

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Anja Geitz's picture

@thanatokephaloides

Hope the little bird figures out he’s both fragile and strong once he gets up off the ground Smile

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

and closer to fine. (Great song that I haven't listened to recently, btw, thanks) Oscar Wilde once said that life was too important to take seriously, a statement no less true than strange, but nonetheless we do. In the end we have to find our joys and satisfactions in the moment, and it is the string of these moments that really matters, however sourced or derived. No less than the alleged archetypal pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer noted that:

It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.

So stay as close to fine as you can, as much as you can, as often as you can, take your joy and satisfaction in all the little things as well as the big ones and let all the rest go. You, after all, have stuff to do, your stuff, and that's what matters.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

and the lyrics rang so true I had to pull the car over and bawl my eyes out. It's been a difficult week, and yet, there have been victories; there have been gifts of friendship and solidarity given so freely I feel more an abundance in my life than an emptiness. Strange how the challenges of our life can sometimes bring into relief what is truly valuable.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

usefewersyllables's picture

hear that the writing gig is starting to bear some fruit, so to speak. And I'm extremely glad that you are still holding your own with the fires. My wife and I remember all too well being on pre-evacuation and having ash snowstorms and zero visibility from the Hayman fire, and we have friends who lost everything in that one, the Black Forest fire, and now all this out on the coast. Wildland fires truly change forever how you view the world, how you store your critical information, your meds, and basically force you to get used to living with a go bag at all times.

Being on the West Coast, you will also need to add a corkscrew and a couple bottles of nice red wine- then you can truly call it an earthquake kit, instead of just a go bag.

Family. Ouch, Can't contribute a thing there... So, with thoughts of happier times, instead let me contribute our favorite sourdough blueberry muffin recipe. Perhaps when there is time to cook and the air is cleaner, you can get a chance to enjoy these. We just made a triple batch this weekend, and they consistently bring me great joy (especially toasted, warm, and with a really good butter melted in)... Original recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour.

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably whole grain
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup sourdough starter, ripe or discard
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1/2 cup maple syrup, molasses, or honey (we always use maple syrup)
2 cups blueberries
Optionally, demerara or coarse sugar, for sprinkling tops (we always skip this)

Preheat to 425°F. Grease the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with papers and grease the inside of the papers.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a second bowl, beat together the starter, milk, egg, melted butter, and sweetener. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry, taking about 20 seconds. Gently stir in the blueberries just until blended.

Fill the cups of the prepared pan two-thirds full; sprinkle the tops of the muffins with sugar if you feel like it.

Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Don't let them cool in the pan, or they'll steam and the outside will become tough.

Melt more butter in, and nosh happy. Hang in there, and soon come!

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Anja Geitz's picture

@usefewersyllables

How brilliant. I'm abashed I didn't think of it before! Smile

Yeah, the fires. What a difficult time that has been. Especially last night when all the resources we have were thrown at saving Mt. Wilson. Have no idea what happened. Checked the news this morning and there is no new updates yet. I don't know if no news is good news in this situation, or if I will be breaking out into tears later today. Hope it's the former.

Thanks for the recipe! Keep 'em coming. Love baking with King Arthur flour!

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

enhydra lutris's picture

@usefewersyllables

evacuate on foot. Hence, the ppk (permanent picnic kit) will already be in your vehicle, an insulated bag containing, among other things, small cutting board, bread knife, paring knife, packet of napkins, 2 wine glasses, corkscrew, vac-u-van with at least 2 cork replacement stoppers, some hand wipes, and two eating utensil kits (chopsticks, fork, spoon, butter/soft-cheese knife). That way you can just add wine and go

Being on the West Coast, you will also need to add a corkscrew and a couple bottles of nice red wine- then you can truly call it an earthquake kit, instead of just a go bag.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Anja Geitz's picture

@enhydra lutris

rattan-picnic-basket-for-2-1371668871.jpg
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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

usefewersyllables's picture

@enhydra lutris

in the Bay Area for about 10 years, mid-peninsula- we moved in about 6 months after Loma Prieta. I was working down in the valley, my wife was working up in The City on the 20th floor of some building. So we made our earthquake kits and made sure that we had wine in them, because we knew if there was another 7something during working hours that we weren't likely to see each other again for at least a couple of weeks. Too far to walk.

And the place we had was built on landfill with an elevation of about 5 feet above mean high tide (we had a tidal slough about 100yards away and watched it come and go twice a day), so we knew that the house would probably be underwater from liquefaction anyhow- so there was no real hurry to get there, either. We set up a plan to meet at one of several well-built favorite bars inshore a bit, whichever was left standing, once the wine ran out and something resembling transportation became available again...

We watched the Oakland Hills fire from the peninsula, and knew that it was only a matter of time before more, and worse. We finally got the opportunity to leave the state, and relocated to CO. And before long, we got to watch the Hayman fire crawl up within pre-evacuation distance of our place, and we got to go on pre-evac again for the Black Forest fire. I look at the overgrowth in some of the picturesque dry creekbed features in the acres of brand-new zero-lot-line McMansions and stick-built 4 story apartment complexes all over the south and west sides of metro Denver, and the kazillion dollar places up in Evergreen and Conifer, and know once again that it is only a matter of time before more, and worse. And our go bags are well and truly packed, and will remain so. With wine (and a small cheese board- great idea).

Hecate speaks of historic in a wonderful article today. I absolutely agree: We do not want anything to do with "historic" at this point. Unfortunately, I'm not certain where to go to avoid historic, or if it is even possible. The choice, it seems, isn't ours- as if it ever was...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

Granma's picture

In the family situation. One of my sisters phoned to make sure I knew I was in pre-evacuation zone and to volunteer that she couldn't have me at her house. Translation is that she did not want me to come there. We haven't ever been close. We saw a lot of each other and our kids were best friends, spent a lot of time at each other's homes, but we have very different values and perspectives on life. I have 3 living sisters, am close to none of them. But I've had some wonderful friends. I think that is better because we have a lot more in common than my sisters and I do.

My dad was one of 10 siblings and they were close all their lives. His brothers and a couple of his sisters were his best friends all their lives. When young, I thought that was the way it was with siblings, good friends always. I don't know what makes the difference, suspect it may be personality differences, people approaching life and relationships with people differently. Some people withdraw into themselves when they are stressed or have troubles; others reach out.

Try not to let it hurt you. It is more about the other person than about you when you have genuinely tried over time. Appreciate what relationship you do have, and cherish your friendships. Friends are a gift.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Granma

It helps to hear that others are finding themselves in the same situation. You're right about not being alone. My friends have really shown me who they are and I am very grateful. As for my Sister, I am at a place now where I can no longer being angry or assign blame. She's stressed and she's battling her own battles. In many ways we are very much alike, but in others, so very different. I wish I could help, but that is not my battle to fight for her. She's going to have to get through whatever she's working on by herself.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Anja Geitz's picture

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Granma's picture

@Anja Geitz It sounds like they are determined not to let it burn. They have thrown a lot of resources into saving it. And from what I've read, the observatory itself made preparations to stay safe several months ago. It may end up end surrounded by charred land, but it will be there.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Granma

Not to mention the Local TV And Radio Transmission Towers up there as well. As relieved as I am to hear Mt. Wilson has survived so far, I'm saddened at the likelihood that the 1893-built Sturtevant Camp did not. A 100 year old community with 80 historic cabins that you can only get to by foot, it was a throwback to the days when you really felt you were living in the wilderness.

camp site.jpg
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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

mhagle's picture

I sing a "Bless Anja" mantra during the day. Glad you are well and surviving.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Anja Geitz's picture

@mhagle

I am surrounded by friends right now and sometimes I even find myself laughing about silly things. That is the blessing.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

magiamma's picture

Just wanted to thank you andja for the daily reports on the fire. Stay safe. Love your ability to step back from your amygdala.:))

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

Anja Geitz's picture

@magiamma

Janis had a piece up the other day talking about that same thing. When I find myself teetering close to the rabbit hole, I like to do visualization techniques to try and switch the train tracks in my brain. So rather than thinking about the thing that is upsetting me, I’m thinking about lighting up another part of my brain. It’s been very helpful in keeping me sane these days. Thank you for your good wishes.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier