My 2012 in Pictures

The Losses:

My 84-year-old mom holding her 9-year-old self

photo by Elizabeth

and two weeks before she passed, my father-in-law also did along with his pocketful of index cards and pens so he’d never lose an important thought

photo by Elizabeth

The Blessings:

A week at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers

photo by Elizabeth

and the crescent shadows during the solar eclipse

The sun’s eclipse on our house through the trees, photo by Elizabeth

The Joyous Victories:

photo by Elizabeth

The Discoveries:

Toni Littlejohn’s art, photo by Elizabeth

Toni Littlejohn’s art

and Rain Fingerhut’s voice

Peace to all of you throughout the New Year!

Elizabeth

photo by Elizabeth

Takes a Village

Point Reyes Sand Castle day; photo by Elizabeth

A few years ago my local grocery had a tree with cards for Christmas gift requests from people who were homeless or nearly so.

For many good reasons, I’ve struggled financially in my life but when I read the individual requests it shifted my perspective: winter gloves; a man’s razor for shaving; socks; barrettes or a hair tie for a girl; a scarf and hat.

I have or can easily buy these things. It doesn’t matter if they’re old, or from a thrift store, or unstylish. I can still use or buy them. I don’t need to hope that someone will read my request and give me a pair of socks.

These few examples shifted my perspective on my own financial situation. I no longer accept bag credit when I fill my cloth bags with produce, but instead ask that it’s donated because my “need” diminished to slightly more than zero that day.

Some of my favorite parts of the season are the lights, spending time with those I love, and going to the local toy store to buy toys (well, usually art supplies and a stuffed animal) and dropping them off at Toys for Tots to be distributed to children who get too little material support, children I’ll never recognize though I apply the care in choosing that I do for my loved ones.

When I was little I was inseparable from my stuffed grey squirrel…Grayee was my Linus blanket. We moved when I was five and Grayee disappeared. Sobbing, I begged my mom to call the police because “the moving men stole Grayee.”

It was many years before I could laugh at the idea that these grown men would have stolen my battered squirrel, but Grayee had been my comfort and companion. My hope is that Toys for Tots provide the comfort I got from Grayee…and that the toys received are never lost.

Wish I’d Known Before My Car Was Stolen

photo by Elizabeth

My car was stolen from our driveway during a storm earlier this week.

 I’ve lived much of my life in dense urban areas, nothing ever stolen. Now that I live in a “safe” suburban neighborhood, my car is gone and there’s no public transportation. I am left with this gutting sense of foreignness that happens with violation, or when some core belief is irrefutably changed.

Everything that was in the car is gone as well: my best rain gear for stormy beach walks; my grandmother’s ring that my recently deceased mom wore to her final breath; a life-time of postage stamps so I could avoid lines.

I hope what I’ve learned from police, an insurance rep who specializes in stolen vehicles, and others can help you avoid this loss.

~  The incidence of car thefts is highest in a storm (which we had that night) because the storm masks the sounds of breaking glass and car alarms, which are quickly disconnected.

~  Some cars are specifically targeted.* When I heard this I thought it was because they’re popular; instead, it’s because they’re easy to steal (for example, a master key can be used for several years of cars that were my make and model, no breakage necessary.) Unfortunately, my car is worth more as parts than as a vehicle, which is disturbing on many levels. While the above link re: specific cars states that car theft is down, that’s not my insurance company’s experience.

~  Car theft, arson and burglary claims have so increased  in 2012 for my long-established insurance company that that division has almost tripled the workforce to handle the load, and they still don’t have enough reps.

~  The Club and similar devices hardly delay (moments at best) a professional thief. The officer who took my report said they don’t help.

The insurance representative who took my claim has changed his personal habits due to working in the car theft division. In addition to what I’ve already suggested, he adds:  

~  Don’t keep anything in the car including rain coats and other clothes since you’ll lose them when the car is stolen.    

~ NEVER leave the keys in the car, especially in the ignition, and most especially with the engine running, not even if you’re standing next to the car. Take your keys whenever you step out of your vehicle. (One of his clients left his key in his ignition while he filled his car with gas. Someone jumped in and drove off. The client not only lost his car, but had terrible injuries since the gas hose whipped him against the payment station when it jerked out from the speeding vehicle.)  

~  Keep your car doors locked, even if you’re pumping gas or talking beside the car . A friend’s purse was on the passenger seat as she filled her tank. Someone opened the door, grabbed the purse and ran.    

~  Don’t leave a spare key, especially a house key, in the car.    

~  Keep registration and insurance papers with you rather than in the car. If the car is stolen, at least they don’t have your address, name, and the like. Home burglary and identity theft often follow after a vehicle is stolen.    

~ Never leave a garage opener in the car. Not only is the vehicle in the garage at risk, but also one’s home if the garage is attached. An acquaintance mentioned that her car was stolen from her driveway, and that may have been the total theft if she didn’t keep the garage opener in her car. The thief used the genie to open the garage and Poof! both vehicles were gone when she woke.  

~  If you have a tracking device in the vehicle, use the locator ASAP since the tracker can be disabled quickly or tossed.    

~  If your car is stolen, call the police and then your insurance company to report it. Then let additional vehicle related services know such as companies who provide paid toll service, the DMV for disability plates/placards and the like so you are not responsible if your vehicle is involved in further crime, and also because these services may be able to help you track the vehicle.

Be safe and please pass this link or information on to everyone you know. Thanks.

* Top ten stolen vehicles 2020

Singing Mice

Photo by TLB

I’ve never understood the arrogance when people or cultures denounce other species as lesser because homo sapiens “are the only ones who can make tools, speak, or have emotional bonds, consciousness, problem-solving skills, complex thoughts” and the like.

Most of these assumptions have already been debunked, albeit one species and/or one tool that expands our limited sensory ability at a time.

However, we know so few, if any, absolutes about ourselves–individually or collectively–whether about existence, potential, unconscious reactions and impulses, yet people make claims about other species’ limitations that we can’t possibly know, especially when we lack the sensory means that another species relies on.

For example, would you have assumed that mice sing? Not a squeak, but instead they sing in frequencies beyond human hearing and will change their tune to match other mice and woo females. Imagine Elvis’ hip grind if he’d been a Mus musculus

(More about singing mice)