Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Day Out with Mom #29: 68th Wedding Anniversary

"Hi, Mom. Happy 68th wedding anniversary!"

"Thank you. I don't have my hearing aid in, so I'm not hearing so good."

"That's OK. I just wanted to call."

"I vacuumed the rug today. It's your dad's and my wedding anniversary, but the house still has to be clean."

"That's one thing you and Dad taught me--to be clean."

"Remember that floor buffer for the hardwood floor we had out on Plumas Avenue? Your dad got that for one of our wedding anniversaries. He was always so happy when he could do something like that for me. He got us what we needed. Do you remember the time I buffed the floor and you sat on top of the buffer? Back and forth, back and forth you went!"

"I remember how shiny the floors always were. It was a long time ago."

"Over fifty years. We only did it for a bit so we wouldn't burn out the motor. We had many wonderful anniversaries together, your dad and me. I liked your card. Dad never had a Thunderbird for a car, but he had a friend who had one."

"I liked how the couple were kissing--actually how the wife was leaning over and kissing the husband."

"Everybody deserves a kiss now and then. We should appreciate the times we've had. I'm lucky. I've had good men in my life. My dad was a good man. My brother was, too, although his health isn't good now. Your dad was a good man, and now you two boys help me and your dad."

"We're lucky to have you."

"We're going to see Dad tomorrow. He weighs just 116 pounds. I don't know how much longer he's going to be with us."

"Give him a kiss for me."

"I will. He forgets a lot--but he doesn't forget me and I don't forget him."

"You've both had a good life."

"Yes, we have, many good times. When I'm sad, I'm sad, but I can still remember the good times. We all have many reasons for being happy. We have to remember that. Now, you go and kiss your wife and let her kiss you back."

"Just like in the card I sent."

"Just like that! We make ourselves happy by making someone else happy. It's better than sunshine. It's like the song: 'You are my sunshine . . .'"

"'You make me happy, we skies are grey . . .' That's what I want, Mom. When the lights go out, I want to remember the sunshine."

"And those you love."

"All those who bring the sunshine."

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Leave Retirement and Return to Maharishi School

Yes, I made the decision to return to a full-time job.

I won't be teaching though; rather, I'll be writing press releases and working with social media for Maharishi School. The work will be  something I've done before, yet not to the level of focus that I'll have in the Development Office at the school.

The question, of course, is why I decided to leave retirement for full-time work. After all, I was really enjoying retirement. Well, the answer is that I did it for my wife in order for it to be easier for her to leave her current position, to have more time for family, and to also help provide the opportunity for her to work for herself.

I decided that working at Maharishi School would be a lot easier on me than her current work load and environment is currently for her. It wasn't too difficult to make that decision, though. After one week of work, everybody at school has been very positive and supportive.

Years ago, before I decided to enter education, I really wanted to be a journalist. Now I have the opportunity to research, write, and publish articles daily. I had fun last week and also learned a lot.

The world has progressed too much over the years for me to enter the printing room and shout, "Stop the presses!" I might be able to shout into the copy room, though, "Pause the printer!" It doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but I'm comfortable with the decision I've made. I suppose I've just "paused" my retirement for a good cause. 'Nuf said.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Day Out with Mom #28: Family Time Meditation

1948, Mom, 23 years old
It's a heat wave here in California on the last day of July, temperatures in the triple digits. My mom, my brother, and I have been dealing with the heat by taking an afternoon siesta.

I wake up at 4:30 on the living room sofa and realize I need to do my afternoon TM technique right away before everyone wakes up. I'm a little late!

My parents' mobile home is set up in the "shotgun" pattern--one long, linear layout, the kitchen and living room in the center with bedrooms on both ends. The sofa in the living room is my "bedroom."

About five minutes into meditation my brother walks through the living room on his way to the kitchen. He sees me sitting up on the sofa with my eyes closed. "Oh, man," he says, seeing me. I know he's focused on getting supper for Mom. He has no problem with the fact that I practice TM; in fact, I taught him the technique almost 40 years ago. He told me just the other day he still remembers his mantra, in case he ever needs to meditate. I told him that was great.

"Just ignore me and do what you need to do," I say. After all, I've meditated on planes/buses/trains and in international airports. A living room/dining room is no problem.

I my continuing my meditation when I hear my mom come out of her bedroom. Then: "Hello, Tom. Are you meditating?" I open my eyes and see her standing before me, a big smile on her face and her hair up in yellow curlers--you know, the plastic kind that have a roller and a clip that slips on once the hair is onto the roller. She looks wonderful.

She yells at my brother, "Tom's meditating!" She kindly wants him to stop cooking so it's quieter. I also taught her to meditate when I taught my brother. She says she doesn't have time to meditate, though. Too buy cleaning the house.

"It's OK," I tell her. "I'm fine."

What follows is a loud conversation about what's for dinner. That is resolved and things settle, the buzzing and chirping of the microwave accompanying the smell of TV dinners.

I continue with my meditation.

My cellphone rings. Since this is my "emergency" phone, I check the text message. It's from my niece that I haven't seen in almost 25 years. I had just talked to her on my cellphone for the first time this morning while on my bike ride. I read the message, text a quick response, and continue with my meditation.

My brother enters the living room, and I hear the TV click on. News. "Your brother's meditating!" Mom says. "No, he's not," he replies. "He's playing with his cellphone." Oops!

I close my eyes and finish my meditation, actually feeling good. I never fail to be amazed, even after so many years, at how easy and powerful the TM technique is.

My brother and Mom have finished eating. "What are you going to eat, Tom?" my mom asks. "Maybe some grapes to start with," I say. "You want some?"

"I'll take three."

She stands by me while I remove the grapes from the vine, wash them, and place them in a drainer. Mom reaches in and by touch chooses three.

"Thank you," she says.

The more things change, the more some things stay the same.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Day Out with Mom #27: The Lunchbox, Hard Hat, Cookie Story

That cookie good? You always liked cookies.

When you were little, four or five, I worked up the Feather River canyon when they were building the power houses. Every morning I'd get up early and leave, and your mom would cook breakfast and pack my lunch. Remember my lunch box, the black one with the brass rod that slips through the eyes to lock it shut, the one where the Thermos fits into the top part? We still got it in the shop? Imagine that . . . it's over fifty years old!

So I'd go to work every day, that long drive, eat my lunch at break time. It was hard work. For a while I drove the explosives truck, delivering the powder to the power house and road and tunnel sites. Your grandpa talked me into getting another job, though, one less dangerous. I drove a "Uke" for a long time, a great big dump truck, it was.

And then I'd come home and there you were at the door, waiting for your dad. You'd put on my hard hard and take my lunch box, every day. That hard hat would fit down almost to your shoulders, it seemed, but you'd tip it back and sit on the floor, slide out that brass locking rod, open the lunch box, sort through the wax paper, and find a cookie. Then you'd grin up at me and bite into that cookie.

I'll tell ya, no matter how hungry I was at lunchtime, I'd never eat that cookie, no matter what. Once was enough to come home and see you rip open that lunchbox and not find that cookie. The look on your face!

No matter how hungry I was, I'd leave that cookie for you. It wasn't the only thing I came home for, but it sure as hell was one of 'em. Seeing you eating that cookie just brings back the memories.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Movie Review: World War Z

A zombie that is dead can't be infected.

Brad Pitt is trying to save his family from a zombie pandemic that is sweeping the world. Once bitten, in twelve seconds the victim is a zombie. This leads to some powerful visuals of the infection spreading, but even a slight sense of scientific skepticism casts a pall on the reality-building efforts of the production.

However, it being a rainy day and I being somewhat tired, I persevered and finished the movie.

The best moments are the narrow escapes and the brave few who hold out against overwhelming swarms so that the even fewer might escape and perhaps endure. Brad Pitt's character is one lucky dude, escaping attack after attack in his world-spanning search for a "zombie solution." Meanwhile, small enclaves hunker down, stay quiet, and hope the zombies stay "dormant," which shouldn't be too hard for the undead, especially since they don't seem to feed.

Let's see--dead but animated, energy out but no energy in, can't get sick but keep on kickin' . . .  A science-based "solution" doesn't seem to be the best way to end this movie, but with a willing suspension of disbelief, one can at least sit back and watch characters prevail (for mankind), characters in the end a lot more lucky than the actors portraying them.

I've been trying to be reasonable, though, and I guess the real truth is this: what am I doing trying to apply reason to a zombie movie? I might as well try, when the sun sets, to keep the vampires at bay by converting my house's lights to  full-spectrum lightbulbs. Makes sense, but, hey . . .

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved