I’m A Weed!

I am a weed and I match all the weeds in my yard. Yes, my yard has weeds. I am also a flower. Weeds are an imperfect popup in the midst of the flowers. There is room in our yards and gardens for both, letting them balance each other out. If there isn’t a balance to the weeds growth they choke the life out of the living plants and the same thing can be said in our lives. If we let ourselves be overtaken by the weeds, society changes.

I suspect lately we have more weeds that don’t have that flower to balance them out in our society, popping up to remind us of our imperfections.

My mom had a green thumb. Our yard was full of flowers and our garden was a proliferation of planted vegetables, flowers, strawberries and yes, we had weeds. Our yard had the pretty weeds such as dandelions, violets and other things I would pick as a bouquet for my mom. My mom did not believe in pesticides so she let the weeds grow. The flowers weren’t planted in perfect flower beds but would pop up all over the yard wherever she decided she needed a pop of color. She loved the butterflies, bunnies and birds plus the squirrels that played in our yard. So did my cats, I might add. I remember sitting on the steps or looking out the window and loving the way the yard looked, flowers mixed with weeds. The imperfect lawn. I was naive. I thought that was the way yards were supposed to look, a mixture of flowers and weeds. I have no idea what everyone thought of our yard but I don’t remember my friends yards being much different. We had bare spots in our yard too. So did my friends. We played hard in those yards and the bare spots became bases for our ball games. We accepted all the imperfections of our gardens and our yards.

I have tried not to be a weed . I have tried not to have a yard with weeds and I found both very unsatisfying. Trying to live up to expectations of others wears one out. It is a cruel world out there and if you don’t measure up you are plucked and stripped very fast by a human weed killer. Those weed killers don’t understand there is room for both if both are responsible to not trample on each other.

I have found a balance in my yard. My friend who is a perfectionist gave me one flower bed that is well planned and neatly arranged. I love that she did that for me and I love that flower bed. But thinking back to my childhood I knew I wanted a yard also of random flowering wildflowers and weeds and so I took a page out of my mother’s book of planting, without the green thumb unfortunately. I threw wildflower seeds in one flower bed and I love the surprises popping up. There are weeds but I can’t tell what is what right now until they are up and blooming

I have sunflowers growing by my bird feeder and my yard is full of birds, rabbits and yes, squirrels. My shysters love the squirrels that climb our bird feeder in search of food. They turn around and there is a stare down between the squirrel and my cats. I suspect they both find it fun.

Some prefer manicured yards and make sure the bunnies and the squirrels stay away. I respect that if the manicured yard reflects their personality and values. There is room for both the manicured and the throw it together yard.

There is a fine line though while I am in weed mode. If it isn’t hurting anyone or breaking any laws while I am being a weed I can enjoy the feeling. Yet, if my weeds hurt my neighbors then I need to compromise. In fact we did that last year. We took down some bushes that caused too many shooters in my neighbors lawn. Our neighbors didn’t complain and were very nice about it but…it made me feel uncomfortable that my bushes were ruining their yard and causing them more work. Taking the bushes down was the right thing to do.

I am very lucky I to not live in a neighborhood with a covenant that tells me what I can or cannot do in my yard. Would that infringe on my right to be a weed? Yes it would, but I would have chose to live there and to compromise. Compromise is a hard word for some. Though I am a weed much of the time, I like to compromise with the flower as we need both to live.

Is my right as a weed more important than the right of my friend that is more flower than weed? Lately I’ve been trying to decide.

I don’t mind wearing a mask. Is it uncomfortable? Sometimes it is. I like to also think of it as a fashion statement. Some colorful masks rock. I could complain that it is violating my weed rights, but it is a given we have to wear clothes in public too. Doesn’t that violate our rights that we need to wear clothes in public or in stores? No one seems to be taking a stand on that? How is that different? Now remember that is the weed thinking, popping up and causing trouble.. I wear clothes to protect others. My skin wrinkles and rolls. Just as clothes protect you from seeing my wrinkles and my rolls, a mask protects you from seeing my jowls, my wrinkles and the puckery lined lips and possibly will keep you well.

There is a mixture of flowers and weeds in most of us. We learn to live with one another but in living with one another there has to be compassion, caring and compromise. If as a weed we don’t have the softness of a flower to balance us out we can become cruel, judgmental, unbending and destructive. Yes, I can be all of that.

The flower part of me says I need to compromise and think of my neighbor and how what I do may benefit or hurt them. The flower part of me says along with the right to be free comes the responsibility to see that others are free too and my choices might take their freedom away.

The weed part says it is my lawn and I can do what I want no matter who it harms. The weed part of me says I don’t need to worry if my neighbor has enough food, I worry only about my household. The weed part of me says I don’t have to wear a mask. As long as I’m not sick it doesn’t matter. The weed part of me says laws are for everyone else and not for me because I have the right to not follow the law. Throw that speed limit out.

Both parts of me fight all the time because I have so much selfishness inside of me, but I hope the flower in me isn’t choked out by my weeds so caring about others overrides the want or the need inside of myself to only think of how something benefits me. These past few weeks I have been surprised by the reactions of some I know both online and in person. I came to the conclusion we really don’t know who someone is until we are tested by diverse circumstances. True character sometimes is well hidden until it isn’t and it comes out in selfishness, hatred or racial divisiveness.

What is winning in your life, the flowers or the weeds or are you a perfect mix. allowing for a balance?

To Mask or Not To Mask That Is The Question

That really wasn’t what I wanted to title this post but I thought it was nicer and kinder than what I wanted to name it. There are days I get tired of trying to be nice and tolerant and…see both sides of the coin and I can feel my angst getting there.

Social media is a hotbed of discussion on the wearing of masks and also whether we should open up again in the midst of this pandemic. We will get to some of those views later.

First I want to state I so feel for those without jobs right now. I do think we need to reopen but I feel to be safe we need to have some guidelines in place, and that is where the crux of the heated discussions come in.

Let’s tackle the death count first. There are those of you that think this is all a conspiracy. I have heard and seen the posts that the majority of those dying are in nursing homes so the rest of us are safe, and it is no worse then the flu. Nursing homes always have high death rates from the flu.

I wanted to title this column “Save the Babies, Kill the Old People” because some of the same people that are saying it’s ok to let the old people die are the same ones who would go to any lengths to save the babies. I think they both should be saved.

Does the normal flu kill those in nursing homes at a higher rate. I don’t know, but this pandemic does. When is the last time you heard of 47 people in one nursing home dying within days of each other and with some staff dying too? My mother died in 2002 in a nursing home. She caught a virus or bug. Probably Pneumonia. We sat with her the first few days and then we became sick, staying that way for weeks. My son took over the bedside holding of hands but in the actual time of her death, she was alone. When they called me to come at the final moments I was too sick to get out of bed. Not only did she die, days later her roommate died. But in no way did high numbers die.

The nursing home did an excellent job of taking care of her but nursing homes are not equipped for outbreaks of the flu or viruses. With Covid-19 if the same patients were in a hospital the people attending to them would be suited up with heavy safety measures. Nursing homes do not have this safety equipment and the aides and nurses that work there aren’t provided with the protection either. But those people that all of you are giving excuses as good reasons why they are dying from this virus in their homes, in an congregate living facility, are someones mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother or friend. Some are there because they are in their 80’s and 90’s and can no longer take care of themselves. Some are there because they have a disabling disease and are young and need care. Others are recuperating for a short time until they are well enough to go home. To dismiss this as being acceptable that their life can be ended because of their age is disgraceful. How do you think they caught that virus? Someone from the outside came in and gave it to them. That could have been you.

Now let’s get to the masks. I am coming to the conclusion that we may be a selfish society born of wealth and good living because we don’t want to take the time to do something that may or may not protect someone else. “I am not going to do it because it doesn’t benefit me. I am not going to do it because it doesn’t help. I am not going to do it because it makes me uncomfortable.” I get some of this. I am still that selfish person that may hide a cookie from you if it is the only one left or maybe want to hide my toilet paper. I get that because in my younger days it was more about me than anyone else, but hopefully age has brought to me the bigger picture.

The discussion I have been a part of is about businesses requiring customers and personnel to wear masks. It seems in small communities that have little confirmed cases, people and businesses are ignoring the safety of masks, maybe getting too comfortable in the “it can’t happen here” thinking. There is so much blah, blah, blah out there about it, some fabricated by self appointed guru’s that do not have any credible facts. Other facts come out of places like clinics and government agencies, but people are not believing the doctors and nurses on the front lines. Maybe we just can’t handle the actual truth or it would be too horrifying so we deem it as fake news.

Myself, I don’t like the masks but I will wear one. I learned the value of masks when I had friends who were ill and were going through cancer treatment. We wore masks to protect them. To me it is small thing to wear a mask. If it works to protect one person it is worth it. If I owned a small business I would have my employees wear masks, not only to protect them, but to protect my business from a lawsuit if an employee would get sick or a customer would get infected in my store. It is a small thing in the scheme of life to do. I don’t do it because the government orders me to. I do it because of my friends who are on the front lines in New York City, or my doctor friend in Sioux Falls, or my friend in British Columbia who is in quarantine from being exposed, or my American friends in China who know the value of masks and want to come home to the states to visit their family one day ,or my grandchildren that work in food service and are still working.

I will choose to shop in those stores that protect their workers or try to protect their workers. At least they are trying and the more we do that, the more people will get back to work. To me it is not acceptable to have so many food plant workers sick and dying because of this virus. To me it is not acceptable to have the elderly dismissed because they no longer seem to be a productive part of our society. Remember someday that might be you.

These are my thoughts, my opinion and any derogatory comments will be deleted. I value an opinion if it is provided respectfully and I will respect it too.

By the way, I have no credentials except that of being a writer and that is what I do, I write. So take my opinion or leave it. Your life and your opinion is in your hands.

Panic Attack! It’s Only Coffee…But

I almost had a panic attack Tuesday evening. I have this routine before I go to bed. I make my coffee so all I have to do when I am bleary-eyed in the morning is to punch the button. I knew I had finished my one container of coffee the day before, but I also knew I had another full container in the cupboard. However, now I am questioning everything I thought I knew.

I went to the cupboard. I found the can. It seemed awfully light. I pulled off the cover and it was…wait…for…it, EMPTY. My can of coffee was empty. There was no coffee. Did I put that empty can in the cupboard? Was I sleepwalking when I did it? I quickly dismissed the thought and blamed it on my Natasha, my crafty kitty who haunts my cupboards or tries to. Let’s pass the blame because I could not handle doing that to myself when it came to coffee.

Immediately I could feel the panic fill my body. There would be no coffee at 6:00 a.m. as I leisurely took my time waking and getting out of bed. Usually, I wallow and read in bed with my coffee at least for an hour. It is my routine. I could handle the not wallowing, but NO COFFEE? Tea wasn’t going to cut it.

Then came the what-ifs.  Would the grocery store let me do the curbside pickup for only coffee as I was stocked up on everything else I needed? And…I am leary about this old person going into a store where no one is wearing masks, That in itself brings panic because I know people in other areas mired in virus problems, and as much as we think we are safe in a low virus county, you never know. Still, even if I did do that in the morning there would be no coffee when I woke up.

It seems like a small thing and it is, but coffee helps because it is a routine and something stable in my life when all else seems to be upended.

Did I have anything stuffed in the freezer that I forgot about? I quickly dug in my freezer and pulled out an old bag of leftover beans that were hidden in the bottom of the freezer, enough to make a pot. But where was my coffee grinder? Did I even have one anymore?

That led to another foraging at night looking for my coffee grinder. I was a madwoman rummaging through cupboards where I stored that which does not get used often. I found it stuffed in the back under some other appliances I haven’t used in years.  I rushed it to the cupboard and put the old coffee beans, as in years and years old, in the grinder. I couldn’t get it to work. I dinged around for a short time and I found success, and ground my beans, dropping them into my Cuisinart, ready for the morning.

I didn’t sleep well that night wondering if I would be able to even drink the coffee. Would it be horrible because the beans were so old?  As I pried my sleepy eyes open and pondered the headache I had, I staggered to the kitchen and pushed the button. The coffee maker sprung to life. I pondered how to get some coffee without visiting the grocery store for one item. I know it seems silly, but did I also mention anxiety is my middle name and I like to avoid it at all costs? There was my neighbors, Brian and Tammy who I knew would go to the store for me, but they do so much for me I hated to ask them for just the coffee, and I feel though they are young and out and about, it is hard to ask for something so silly.

I decided that just once until I needed the next big grocery order to buy from my local grocery, because I believe in buying the things I need that are available in town, to order coffee online.  I thought I had enough beans for maybe two days although the taste wasn’t the best.  Buying online wasn’t an option if I needed it within the next day or so as shipping was two weeks out. I could feel the panic set in again along with my migraine pounding my head, so I gave it up and called my neighbor and he immediately brought my coffee.

As I ponder what I normally wouldn’t have gotten anxious about, which is going to the grocery store, I know I was overreacting. Everyone is going to the grocery store on their own in my community. Masks still haven’t been the norm and we don’t even know if they protect us, but they make some of us feel protected. Part of my anxiety is knowing my friends from all over the states and other countries who have the virus, lost loved ones or have medical conditions, and tell me this could come here easily and all it takes is one person out and about who infects others. We don’t have it in such numbers here but those friends are always in the back of my mind.

And then the thought came to me as I called my neighbor…what if there is no coffee? What if there is a shortage? There is no toilet paper but will we add coffee to the list? Coffee seems to be my security blanket in this time of fear. In the time of not knowing when we will be able to hug our children and grandchildren again. I can’t even go there thinking about how our interaction with other people is going to change. I can’t imagine never hugging anyone on a spur of the moment meeting again. So I choose coffee to panic about. I can’t go to the other possibilities in my mind. But I can do coffee. I can’t think about the hugs shortage that would go far beyond panic.

Let me panic about coffee. It is a small thing to obsess about because it doesn’t let me think about all the other places my mind could go. Let yourself have your feelings in this time about whatever insignificant thing is causing you to freak out. If it gets you through the bigger things then you have got this. Stay safe.

Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.

Martha Beck