I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Taking a larger view

From Astronomy Picture of the Day
Since I wrote here last Sunday, more awful events have transpired in the world: first the horrific attack in Nice and then the bloody failed coup in Turkey, where I walked the streets a year ago and interacted with the wonderful people of Istanbul. As is probably true with many of my readers, I had just begun to pick myself up from despair and sadness of the previous week. Then I was cast down once again because of what we just went through.

It's time for me to take a longer view,and expand my horizons. That picture at the beginning of my post thrilled me, when I saw the moon, and behind it Jupiter and four of its moons. In order, you are seeing Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, and Europa, peeking out from behind the crescent of our  own moon. You can read more about it on the link from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Every morning, part of my routine is to read the blogs I follow that have popped up in my news reader, take a quick look at the news, visit Facebook if I have the time, read my emails, check the weather, and look at APOD. Only then do I close the laptop and get up to start my day. My friends smile at my need for routine, but they are all pretty used to it by now. As I sit here on Sunday morning, which is the only day that I actually write a post before I get up, my partner is sleeping soundly next to me, with a dim light on the end table next to me, which also holds my tea and the latest book I'm reading. It's very quiet, and it seems like I'm the only person stirring in the entire surrounding area. My fingers tapping the keys is the only sound I hear. This is my favorite time of the day, when I'm up and everybody else is still asleep.

For other people, like SG, his favorite time is at night when he's up and everybody else has gone to bed. Both of us enjoy these moments of solitude, because we also have each other and active lives the rest of the day. Sometimes I'm aware of when he comes to bed, but mostly I simply find him sleeping next to me when I get up to use the bathroom.

Yesterday morning when I met my lady friends for a couple of trips around Lake Padden, we were all feeling the need for companionship and sharing. I was relieved to find that I was not the only one in a fragile emotional state. Many of us came because we knew that exercise would help us get through our grief. And sure enough, when we were finished we all felt much better and were able to go into our day with a lighter heart. Our leader, Cindy, is traveling at the moment but she has still given us a schedule to follow on Saturday mornings while she is away. She's in Iceland right now, and when she returns from her travels she intends to get another spaniel puppy. It's been long enough since she lost her sweet Luna to old age and cancer that she's ready to begin again.

People who love animals always need to say goodbye to them long before they want to, even when they are long-lived, they don't have life spans that correspond to our own. My friend Gene still misses his parrot three years after it died. He had that parrot for 25 years. I remember watching Poopstain crawl inside his shirt and settle in for a nap on his chest, and I was amazed to watch how that parrot had trained Gene so well. We still gain so very much from our interaction with our pets, and I do occasionally miss having one these days. But the other side is the freedom from caring for them and not having to say goodbye way too soon. When I talk to my sister Norma Jean, she never fails to tell me of the latest antics of her dog Icarus. She got him as a puppy, and he's now five. How quickly that time passed!

Yesterday I decided to pick up a book that would be uplifting, and I was fortunate that several books had come from the library this week. After perusing them all, I started to read Bill Bryson's latest book, The Road to Little Dribbling. It's a sequel to "Notes from a Small Island," written in 1995, both about being an American in Britain. That link takes you to Goodreads, and several commenters seem to dislike the latest book because they are comparing it to the first one. Since I didn't read the first, I came to the book with little expectation. I've spent quite a lot of time laughing, sometimes out loud.

Bryson is 64 and has written several nonfiction book that have been very well received. I've only read A Walk in the Woods of his previous books, a story about his trek on the Appalachian Trail, and I enjoyed it very much. More than the movie, I must say. But in this current book, he comes across very much as a curmudgeon, a grumpy old man who finds fault with pretty much everything, but in a very humorous way. Here's an excerpt:
The worst part about aging is the realization that all your future is downhill. Bad as I am today, I am pretty much tiptop compared with what I am going to be next week or the week after. I recently realized with dismay that I am even too old now for early onset dementia. Any dementia I get will be right on time. The outlook generally is for infirmity, liver spots, baldness, senility, bladder dribble, purple blotches on the hands and head as if my wife had been beating me with a wooden spoon (always a possibility) and the conviction that no one in the world speaks loud enough.
I laughed out loud when I read that, because I can relate completely to what he's saying. And he's ten years younger than me. It's possible he is exaggerating, but then again, maybe not. His take on the world involves large doses of humor about things that are perhaps not to one's liking. It's a good way to approach the world today, in my opinion.

One of my blogging friends, Ronni of Time Goes By, posts on Saturday about things she calls "interesting stuff." Yesterday she posted a wonderful video about fireflies. I've never lived anywhere that has them, so I was really intrigued by this particular view of a rather magical creature. Not to mention that it's also very soothing and gives yet another view of this beautiful, wonderful world in which we live. It's just a little more than two minutes long. The music is lovely, too.

And with that, another post has been written. I hope that when you are finished, you will feel a little lighter in spirit than when you began. That was my intention, anyway. Please remember to look around at the beauty of the world and think of all that gives you pleasure. And when we meet again next week, I'm hopeful that many wonderful adventures will have taken place in our lives. Be well until then.


Marie Smith said...

I don't listen to much of the news beyond the headlines these days. Finding the incredible beauty in the world around us is a great way to deal with the tragedy.

Barb said...

I rarely turn the tv on anymore. What's happening in the world is bad enough, but the sensationalism of the news is even worse. Also, who cares about what the latest Hollywood star or pro player is doing? Taking a larger view is often so life-affirming.

Carole said...

You brought a smile to my face :-) I think I will have to read that book! I had to look up APOD. Just beautiful! I think I'll enjoy these photos every morning too. Thanks for writing DJan.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. I do indeed feel lighter. And more hopeful.

Arkansas Patti said...

Thank you, I am on my way to find that book by Bill Bryson for a news respite. That is some funny stuff. Humor and friends will get us through.

Linda Reeder said...

I am ignoring much of the rest of the world today. we are on Whidbey island, at the beach, in sunshine. It's late afternoon, the kids are playing in the water now that the tide is in, and Tom, Jill and I are lounging inside, reading, with a breeze wafting through the open doors and windows.
Lazy. My birthday gift to myself.
We'll get back to the real world later.

Red said...

These days with the catastrophes we keep saying it will get better but it gets worse. I brought two books home this week and one was Bryson's road to dribbling. I started reading the other book A Youth wasted climbing by David Chaundy-Smart. I'll finish the one I'm reading and then go to Bryson's book. The Appalachian walk was a little draggy at times.

Anonymous said...

I remember your trip to Turkey, too, and felt sad about the violence there. Why do so many people have to base their lives on violence? I dread any of that coming here to Hawaii.

That quote from Bryson's book made me laugh.

Rita said...

Love the firefly video! They are quite homely bugs when not lit up--LOL!

The excerpt was very funny to me. Wrote the book and author down on my endless library list--LOL!

As you know, I don't watch the news. Things must be getting worse because I am not even hearing about shootings and attacks after the fact. People don't even want to talk about them, I guess. That's how it got in the 60s when we saw graphic Vietnam and riots every day. It got so nobody wanted to talk about it in normal conversation anymore. The daily bombardment was enough. We survived that. I pray we survive all of this, too.

The Furry Gnome said...

I just might have to get that book, he seems to be describing me so well! Loved the Firely video; they're one reason I keep our meadow with it's long grass and 'weeds' - Firefly habitat. Those tiny moons of Jupiter were pretty neat too.

Gigi said...

LOVED the firefly video! I didn't realize that were parts of the world that didn't have them. We have them here and I usually spend a few moments every evening letting their light soothe my soul and put a smile on my face.

The world we live in today can be a very scary place so I find it helps to find these little spots of beauty.

Have a wonderful week, D'Jan.

C-ingspots said...

Loved that firefly video!! And the music is just beautiful...so soothing. Yes, the headlines are tragic and the sensationalizing of those events by the media is worse. I find it disheartening of course, but I also know that the Bible says this is how the world will play out, and when these events happen, we are not to let ourselves get discouraged, but instead look up and at all things lovely, all things peaceful, joyful and good. The bad will end some day and I for one, look forward to that day, all the while knowing that our world will continue to get worse until that time of the end. It reaffirms my faith to see the events unfolding as they have been foretold and causes me to do what I can to spread love and kindness while I can. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Far Side of Fifty said...

The news is discouraging, all the shootings and the deaths in Turkey...so very sad.
We have magical fireflies here. I love to see them on the edges of the woods:)

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I, too, have a routine, er, things I do each day. I just don't do them in any specific order or time. Does that still count as a routine?

I have been enjoying the night sky. Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter. Will look for the moons now that you have informed me. I understand your significant's other love of the night. My husband is the early to bed and I'm the one he finds next to him in the morning having arrived any time between 11 and 3.

Stella Jones said...

Like you I have despaired at the news lately. It's so awful it's hard to watch, but watch I must because I feel for all these people. Here in England we are so close to it and we just hope it won't be us next. I can't believe that people can be so evil.
On a lighter note, Larry has read 'dribbling' by Bill Bryson and enjoyed it very much. I'm currently reading the one he wrote about Australia. He is so funny to read and so light hearted, it does you good, doesn't it! We do need to keep a sense of perspective about life otherwise depression sets in and that's no good to anybody.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, It's funny ... every week after reading Eye I'm sitting here asking myself what to write in a comment ... It seems I always want to start with: Hi DJan, Another excellent post here. Ha ha. I know, however, you don't want to just hear the same thing over and over and yet your consistent quality is one of the things I love about your blog. In this post I especially enjoyed the Firefly Experience. Not only did I enjoy the video but also the link back to Time Goes By and having an having an opportunity to take a look at a new (to me) blog. Ronni does have an interesting blog. I can't close this comment without mentioning APOD. I love it that you check APOD daily! I wonder if your interest in astronomy has ever led you to purchase and use a telescope? I do consider astronomy to be one of my interests, but I know just enough to be dangerous. :-) Have an excellent weekend!