I lived my life on automatic for a long time. I got up, got dressed, scraped the ice off the car, went to work (stopping for coffee along the route) and proceeded through my day. Stopping to think only as required. Usually that was when someone asked me a questions, like “Hey, we’re sending out for pizza, you want in?” and that wasn’t a very big think.


Between having done the same kind of work for a long time and perpetually racing against a deadline, thinking was a luxury. I wasn’t against it. I employed it when needed, but anything that I could do without engaging the frontal lobes made the day go more smoothly.

And then, everything changed.

An office

The industry decided that the work I did wasn’t necessary. Who needs a manual to tell them how to use equipment that costs a gazillion dollars and controls the operation of a steel mill? Or a missile tracking system? Or a space satellite grabber for use out in space? They can always call the help desk (especially in space where you can always find a good solid signal for your phone). Of course, those were the days when you actually could get help from people at the desk because everyone in the company was available to answer questions. From the CEO to the developers who designed each product module, we were all there to help. I was the one who organized all the chaotic information into a book with a table of contents, and index, chapters, and diagrams so you would not alway have to call someone.

empty equipment boxes

But the bottom line did me in. You can’t cut developers and you need a boss because someone has to say why you are all gathered here this morning. Also, the boss makes sure there’s coffee to fuel workers. That’s critical.

But a writer? They would only hire me when they were nearing the end of the cycle and realized the contract required they deliver documentation with the product. Sometimes, I got as little as three weeks to learn the product and produce a book that looked professional. At that point, no one much cared what was in the book or whether the information would be of any use to anyone. It just had to be big, thick, nicely designed, and weigh enough to use as a doorstop.

My days were numbered. Eventually, I was OUT.

They created “automatic documentation” generated by a program using “comments” left by developers. Many of whom speak English as a second or third language and in any case, do not understand how people work and what information they need to successfully navigate a complex product.

300-gibbs-sofa-dog-13122016_002It turns out, people were still willing to spend oodles of money and for an undocumented product. So I guess they were right.

Now, I live in the world of retirees where automatic is a word applied to machinery only. The boiler that heats the house. Electricity that powers everything. The pump which delivers water from the well. Supposedly the cable, telephone, and WiFi is also automatic, but not nearly as automatic as it should be.


Nothing I personally do is automatic anymore. I walk purposefully because I prefer to not fall and break something. I think before I get out of the chair or bed, making sure my feet are solidly planted on the floor and I’ve found my balance. I navigate stairs slowly and rough ground even slower. From living in the fast lane, we have moved over to the far right and follow the slow traffic.

We go to bed when we want to and get up (only) when we must. We do what we should, but not everything we ought. Good-bye automation!



We hadn’t been living here a week when I spotted the line of old farm tractors. Some of them had “For Sale” signs on them. Everyone has a weakness and mine is for old machinery. I love it. In another community, they’d probably already have been consigned to the junkyard, crushed for the metal content.

“Wow,” I said to Garry. “Wouldn’t that be cool? Kids could climb on it. We could build a garden around it.” And then, we went home.

A month later, on our tenth anniversary in September, a flatbed trailer backed down our driveway. It delivered my 1924 Fordson Tractor.  We gave it a Model-A Ford steering wheel, an old license plate — though with its seized engine, it wasn’t going anywhere under its own power — and a new seat. After Owen built the garden with the rocks repurposed from the wall in the woods which repurposed from them just being big rocks in a field that was not full of trees, the tractor moved next to the garden wall. It has a new life as garden decor. A Japanese maple tree is growing directly in front of it and there’s no way to extract the tractor, so as long as we are here to protect it, the tractor will have a home on our land.

Some people have asked us why we have that piece of junk in the garden. What can I tell them? How many women are lucky enough to have a husband who’d buy his wife an antique tractor for their 10th anniversary? What a guy!

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2017
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017


Martha Kennedy suggested I watch this video. Generally, I don’t watch videos and this isn’t my musical taste. You don’t need to like the music and I don’t think the group “Dead Kennedys” expected you to like it. This isn’t entertainment. It is eerily prescient … except that current reality exceeds my wildest, weirdest, worst fears.

When you finish watching that, you should read this piece from The New Yorker. The two go together like a horse and carriage, although I’m ready to believe that the cart is pulling the horse. I never believed I could be this personally upset by national politics. But I’ve never lived through anything like this before. I’m glad my mother didn’t live to see this.

Donald Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation. PHOTOGRAPH BY NINA BERMAN / NOOR / REDUX
Donald Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation.

I am now living my nightmare in a world rendered dystopian by one man and a lot of foolish voters and liberals too faint of heart to recognize a genuine threat when it was shouting in their faces. They still seem paralyzed. Maybe when the shock wears off? The Women’s March was, to date, the brightest spot in what has been only one week of Number 45’s reign of terror.

It feels longer, doesn’t it?


Does it show how much I love my husband that I gave him my cold? Maybe he gave me his cold and he didn’t know it because he was incubating. Maybe we both picked it up in the grocery store … or our doctor’s office. Did the Russians hack my sinuses?

These are the kinds of questions with which I struggle.

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: January 23, 2017

Do you prefer juice or fruit?

72-Bowl of cherries _12

I used to be so passionate about juice I actually couldn’t imagine life without it. But, I live without it. Funny what you can get used to when you have no choice. I do eat fruit.


Mostly, in season, One day, I will probably overdose on fresh cherries in season. Right now, I’m working on a tangerine overdose … but I tell myself that vitamin C can’t be bad for me, right?

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?


I grew up in a small town in a big city. Holliswood was sort of rural. We had farms. Chickens. Goats. Horses. And were walking distance (okay, a very long walking distance) from the subway. I thought it was the perfect place to grow up and I haven’t changed my mind.

If you were to paint a picture of your childhood, what colors would you use?


I wrote a book. If you really want to know, you are welcome to read it. The answer to this question is way too complicated for this post. The 12-Foot Teepee is available for Kindle and in paperback. From Amazon.

Ways to Relax List: Make a list of what relaxes you and helps you feel calm.

  • Reading.
  • Listening to an audiobook.
  • Taking pictures.
  • Processing pictures.
  • Watching movies.
  • Watching sports, sometimes.
  • Watching murder mysteries and guessing who done it before the credits have finished rolling.
  • Laughing. At anything for any reason.
  • The dogs. Because they are everything, all wrapped in furry little packages.

Have a great weekend everyone!