Author Archives: ccorleyjd365

Random Acts of Kindness

Today, apropos of nothing, a woman gave me an antique hand-pieced, hand -stitched, patchwork quilt. I stood prepared to pay the price she asked for it, which was modest. She said, “No, you take this.” When I held out the cash, she said, “You will be insulting me if you try to give me that money.”

I took the quilt, thanked her, and went home.

I had been looking for a quilt almost  identical to this one for nearly a year. I have a small quilt which my mother made that I have put over the window on my front door. I thought that one similar to it on the daybed would make the house look cozy and coordinated. When I saw this quilt for sale, I felt happy.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days.

Imagine my increased Joy when I got it for free. It wasn’t just the fact that I didn’t have to give her the small sum on the price tag. No, I am not that shallow. Having this woman give me a lovely quilt out of the kindness of her heart has somehow persuaded me to give humanity another chance.

It’s the 20th day of the 64th month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.


 

 

Cross-Referencing Joy

To the followers of this blog:

For the last three days, I have spent an enormous amount of time writing an entry on my social-and-political commentary blog.  I just posted it.

I commend that entry to you.  I am too tired to write a lengthy entry here tonight.

But tonight’s essay at My Eyes Are Watching You tells the story of my personal triumph over challenging health issues. In a way, those issues eroded my life to such an extent that complaint became its discordant soundtrack.  Though slightly controversial in theme, my post “over there” might resonate with my followers here.

It’s fitting, then, for you to read about that leg in my journey to joy.

You can find it HERE.  I promise to resume my normal, mundane, accounts about the struggle towards acceptance tomorrow.

It’s the nineteenth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Taken on my recent trip to Tucson.

Perspective

Again and again, I tell myself:  Finding joy, learning to live without complaint — both goals require perspective.  I sit in an unfamiliar chair.  I look at my surroundings from an unusual angle.  From time to time, I fly halfway across the country to gain an understanding of the timelessness of this world and our responsibility to care for it.

Here, I share a glimpse of two days spent in Saguaro National Park.   On the day that we drove the loop through the East side, clouds hung low in the sky.  Occasional showers appeared on the distant ranges.  On the day that we drove the loop through the West side, barely a wispy film of white marred the wide blue expanse above us.

I shoot on auto-focus because the unique combination of my spastic hands and fading eyesight does not allow much else.  I adjusted some of these for light, color, or clarity but only with the rudimentary features of the Windows photo editor.  I did not add color or alter the landscape. 

Standing in the Park, gazing over these saguaros, I truly felt connected with life.  And yet, I also came away with a sense of humility.  Before we toured Saguaro West, we watched a short film which talked about the meaning of the saguaro to the Native Americans of that area.  This film contributed to my understanding of the vastness of nature.  I haven’t captured that feeling as well as I wanted, but perhaps some glimmer of what I experienced will find its way to your heart as you scan through this gallery. 

This is my first attempt to insert a basic slide-show Gallery using a plug-in. It should automatically scroll through the panoply.  To see in larger format, click on the first image that you see and then click through the series of 37 images.  Enjoy.

I dedicate today’s entry to my sister, Joyce Elizabeth Corley, on the sixty-ninth anniversary of her most fortunate entry into the world.  Happy Birthday, J-Bear.  I love you.

It’s the sixteenth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Driving Through Eternity

The cacti stood serene above us.  Their limbs and fronds and flowers rose into the tender blue of the sky.  Birds called across the depths below the roadway.

I grope to describe what I felt, there in the haunting depths of nature on our drive through eternity.  A finer poet than I will ever be captured my sentiment long before I came to this place of majesty.

It’s the twelfth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

There Will Come Soft Rains

Sara Teasdale, 18841933

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,

and swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

and frogs in the pool singing at night,

And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire

Whistling their whims on a low fence wire;

and not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree

If mankind perished utterly.

 



		
		

Taken at Saguaro National Park, East; 12 April 2019.

With special thanks to my tour guide, Pat Reynolds.

Mountain high

The mountains sit  east of us.  We are hoping for beauty as evening falls.  To the west the sun does not disappoint.  My friend orders another Martini.  I sip my Margarita and wonder why I haven’t taken more vacations.

Out on the patio, a woman in a green sweater raises her cell phone, straining to capture the rays playing across the hillside.  She speaks to me, but on my bad side and I don’t realize that she is talking to me until she has already turned away.  Critters rustle in the dry underbrush below the guard rail.  I feel like a grown-up.  I’ve packed a bag, parked my car in a gravel lot, and flown five hours to have this drink.  I spent six decades not making such casual decisions.  The tide has turned.

The bartender brings another round.  We talk about the one day of rain which we expect.  We rearrange our plans.  This woman, my friend Pat, has talked me through some terrible times.  I’m so glad that I came.  I delayed this trip for several months and then, one day, just bought a ticket.  I felt emboldened by some ripple of the universe caused by the passage of time.  What else should I do with my money?

The light dances across the far horizon.  I raise my camera.  I press the button, and hope for the best.

It’s the eleventh day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Yesterday’s Grounds

In the next 25 hours, I have to work an eight-hour shift, drive into Lodi to get my prescriptions,  haul a suitcase out of the back storage cubby, pack, secure the valuables, manage a little paper work and bill-paying, drive to Sacramento, and board a jet.  When I step off the plane from the second leg of my journey, the smiling face of my biggest fan Pat Reynolds will greet me.  I can barely contain my excitement!

I slept poorly last night though.  I dreamed about broken dreams.  A crash startled me into a rigid consciousness with the house still dark.  The ancient thermostat from my old home had fallen off the wall and clobbered the radio.  I stood in the chilly gloom holding the heavy brass gadget, staring at its rusty clock which forever announces twenty minutes past the hour of four.

This morning, I made coffee from yesterday’s grounds.  I scrambled the last two eggs in creamy butter and slid the fluffy loveliness onto a toasted gluten-free muffin.  I ignored the news and scrolled through social media.  I have no time for the awkwardness of our broken political climate.

Fair warning:  I might not blog much for the next five days.  Be assured that for once, radio silence does not mean the absence of joy, but an overflowing cup which cannot contain itself, much less sit still long enough to record each giddy moment.  When I return, I’ll bring pictures.

It’s the ninth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Finding Joy

I awakened at two, then at four.  I realized by 4:15 that I would not fall back asleep.  We know when we can and when we can’t.  Our bodies tell us.  I got out of bed at 4:45 and headed for the stove and a cup of instant espresso, the kind you buy in a pack of five at Family General.  Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

I once asked my son if he thought I might be a little obsessive-compulsive.  Luckily this conversation occurred over the telephone so I couldn’t see the look on his face.

“Mom, I’ve watched you spend fifteen minutes re-arranging the pillows on the couch,” he replied.  “And then scold  me for sitting down.”

I have to co-host an event which starts just five hours from now.  Ten residents of the tiny house community in which I live will open their homes for tours.  I spent two days cleaning my house, which includes an intervening four-day work week that produced a resurgence of tiny house clutter.  I’ve checked on the other folks as well as I could.  I experienced a silly sojourn testing Facebook live.  I checked on the layout of the community room.  I made mental notes about where to place the chairs for the panel discussion.

I should be sleeping.

Luckily, I don’t have any obligations tomorrow.  I know from experience that a full day of chatting about #mytinylife while standing in my tiny kitchen smiling at the #tinycurious and the #goingtinyoneday people will exhaust me.  Tomorrow my spastic muscles will clench and my asthmatic lungs will heave.  My fluttering heart will skew wonky.  My arthritic toes will curl inside my slippers.  It will not be pretty.

I should be sleeping.

Instead, I’m wondering about the new doctors whom I’m scheduled to see in the next few months.  I’m changing from the Stanford wizards to closer though perhaps lesser angels on this side of the Bay.  I’m scrolling through Facebook counting the likes on the video from yesterday’s inaugural deployment of my new tripod.  I’m getting current on Josh Pray and his hysterical, often painfully accurate view of life.  I’m crying a little about the death of my cousin Jim’s wife Anne’s mother.  I’m thinking that sometimes, just sometimes, I wish that everybody whom I loved could live both forever and closer to California, so that they could come sit on my porch and drink dollar store espresso from my chipped mugs.

It’s the sixth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

I took this photo yesterday while I was fooling around with my cell phone and the auto-clicker that my son gave me. So many symbols of my life here: My mother-in-law’s ring; the spoon ring that I got by sending 12 Minute-Maid pull-tabs fifty years ago; my niece’s ring; a pen from my law firm; a Chicago coaster. So much joy in my journey.

Josh Pray:  “Five Things  I’ve learned About Chronic Illness”

Without Complaint

I have a co-worker who rushes to help me if she hears me sigh from down the hallway.  We’re nearly the same age; she’s a few years older but substantially more capable.  I’m getting quite spoiled.

Yesterday, I fell in the office.  My co-worker dashed to my side.  I couldn’t breathe; I had smacked the floor with such force that my lungs had compressed.  My litany of self-talk kicked into high gear as I tried to calm my mind and take control of my functions.  Karen’s steady voice flooded through my mind.  just tell me what I can do, she intoned, her hand lightly resting on my shoulder.

Eventually, I got to my feet with assistance from the lawyer in whose office I work.  The activity subsided back to normal.   Neither woman had yet seen one of my falls.  They handled it with more grace than many people.  I’m used to being scolded for being slow.  I worry about inconveniencing people walking down the street.  I get chided for delaying progress.  But these two ladies took the incident in stride, by all appearances.  They helped; then they didn’t make a fuss.  They gave me what I needed without complaint, without focus on themselves or undue emphasis on the interruption.

I saw a clip on YouTube about a day of “silly walking” in some Eastern European nation.  A sort of parade took place where people adopted exaggerated gaits, limping, twisting, twirling, staggering.  As I lay in bed, unable to sleep because of pain made worse by my tumble, incredulity rose in my belly, acrid and stinging.  I can’t  imagine finding any sort of joy in standing out as one traverses the streets and sidewalks.  I’ve spent my life averting my eyes from the looks of staring strangers — from fingers pointed by children; the murmurs of their fearful mothers; the taunts of bullies and unbridled inquisition disguised as good intention.  I crave normalcy.  I just want to disappear in the rippling wave of the able-bodied.

But:  My grandmother always told me to put my best foot forward.So I study my lily-white spastic feet each morning, straining to decide which one should take the lead.  I struggle into my socks and shoes, and hoist myself to an upright position.  Then I take the first step into the new day, hoping against hope that I can get through the day without breaking something or calling too much attention to myself.

It’s the   third day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

 

Taken from the car

Disabilities  tend to inspire the sort of coping mechanisms that people like to admire from afar.  I have been disabled since before that word become fashionable.   The encoding of my compensatory adjustment  dwells at the cellular level.  I need this process to keep mobile, but occasionally difficulties follow.  One hip degenerated because I learned to favor the more spastic of my legs.  My other hip, once crushed beneath the wheel of an Oldsmobile and the door  of a Gremlin, has developed a permanent twist to offset its weakness and the pull of the failed knee replacement.  It happens.  One deals.

I spent most of 2018 flying to and from Kansas City to close out guardian ad litem cases.   Between trips, I sent out resumes and drove around the Delta taking pictures with my cell phone.  Eventually, I bought a rudimentary Canon.

Able-bodied photographers climb, crawl, hike, and scramble to get shots.  I can’t do that.  My car becomes an extension of my body.  I hang from the window.  I brace myself against the fender.  I prop the camera on the door frame.  My RAV4 serves as a piece of equipment.

My photos need a lot of adjustment.   For various reasons, I’m unsuitable for this craft.  I’ve got cataracts that no one desires to chance removing.  One side lists.  My hands tremble.  Every few weeks, the weight of the camera challenges me.

But I enjoy taking pictures.  I like to study the digital images, amazed by nuances that I didn’t notice, fixtures which my blurred eyes didn’t perceive, a fluttering wing that I hadn’t realized I managed to catch.  I’ve got thousands of these photos.  Without expectation, making no excuses, and claiming no grandeur, I offer a few for your enjoyment.

It’s the thirty-first day of the sixty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Week’s End

In 1987, my first husband and I moved to Arkansas. Within a year, we changed from urban dwelling in Little Rock to the wilds of Newton County.  During our first weeks there, I scoured the Newton County Times to learn about the area.

I read a story that I’ve not forgotten in three decades.  In a round-up of news of the prior week, the author recounted how the local high school principal had been out in his field, stepped into a depression, and sprained his ankle.

I stepped into a depression myself this week.  I won’t try to explain why, because I couldn’t without complaining.  Take my word for it.  Events piled onto my skinny shoulders and bowed my decrepit back.  I fled into the solitude of YouTube DIY and cooking videos, too tired to read or clean my tiny house and its cluttered cupboards.  From The Sorry Girls to Worth-It, I immersed myself in the rowdy vlogs of my son’s generation, from Canada to Tokyo, from IKEA hacks to a thousand dollar cup of coffee.

I owe those people a lot.  Because of them, nothing got broken, nobody was hurt, and I made it through my four-day work week.  *Heavy Sigh*  All those chores await, but my attitude has vastly improved — not to mention, I have some new ideas for cooking eggs and decorating my four-foot kitchen.

It’s the twenty-eighth day of the sixty-third month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

 

Winter sky on Andrus Island.