A Community Thank You!
Woman of the Year edited...
The past two plus years have been a time unlike any other. Pandemic, January 6th and now at the minimum a return to the cold war. One of the things that I have found and trust in is that things change. Just when you think that the worst thing possible can or will occur; we are surprised it got worse or it was remarkably resolved. I think that we have been surprised by both these past two years.
A little bit about me
My great great grandmother and my great aunts…note the two fluffy dogs!
I was an only child and my mother was an only child and my grandmother was an only child and my great grandmother was the only one in a family of four women to get married, leaving three spinster aunts…
Our new dog, Spud, was supposed to be a border collie but turned out to be much more than that and has some unfortunate habits…so a friend suggested that I talk to an animal psychic who told me, “Spud is inhabited by your great Aunt Deal, one of my spinster aunts who was a lesbian and that she was coming into my family because, I welcome everyone.
I didn’t think I was going to share this startling piece of information with the community at this beautiful event but as I thought about it… I realized how much that meant to me that… I welcome everyone.
Because I had a very small family and an insular upbringing.
I think that is nice.
And it is fodder…
The fun thing about getting older is that you can look back at life's foibles and absurdities and laugh. Just before the pandemic hit, I had started writing a bit but the pandemic gave me even a bit more time to write and I realized that I have a story for pretty much anything and everything, hence the name of my Substack!
And I don’t have to take myself too seriously. I'm not worried about being the next Hemingway and I’m certainly not worried about punctuation as many of you will note.
I am a pretty intense person. Dogged might be a good description... It has worked reasonably well in our architectural business but I am sure my office gets a bit tense when I start to rev up…”What now!!!” So being sequestered gave some distance and the immediacy lessened a bit.
Two years ago when everything came to an immediate halt on March 16, Sam, son-in-law extraordinaire, moved all of our staff home not only with their computers but also their Aeron chairs! It was as though we had been set up for this for a long time and it worked really quite well for me. I had been the person who drove from client to client and our clients have been mainly far away from Morgan Hill; from Salinas to Daly City and all of those are areas in between since a lot of our work has been with school districts and counties. I could easily put on 25,000 miles a year and it was exhausting and I don’t think I realized that until everything stopped. We were lucky we had a yard and a job we could do from home.
As you may have read or heard in my early 20’s I lived in a jungle in Guatemala. Time there was slow, the combination of heat and humidity…like molasses… but it gave me time to truly be in just one place for two years and…it’s weird but the pandemic was a Groundhog Day experience for me, all of a sudden it wasn’t so much that we were isolated and alone it was just that momentum had stopped and it gave me and I think many of us an opportunity to think about what is important.
…Without this world pause, I would have forgotten how important time is. Instead of rushing to a meeting or grandchildren rushing off to soccer, I read stories with my granddaughters, and we talked about how important stories were. We decided to build tiny libraries together since other families didn’t have access to books with all libraries and stores temporarily closed.
We painted the tine library's rainbow colors with small quarts of paint left over from house paint tests. We were able to get books, lots of books from Booksmart, our local bookstore, and through that connection we became word warriors. June, a first grader, became a bookaholic after sorting and resorting books and then having the incredible experience of our friend and teacher extraordinaire Roya helping her learn to read several days a week. We spied on people sharing books from the libraries excited about finding a book that they hadn’t known as we drove around delivering and straightening.
When we first moved to Morgan Hill in 1979 penniless and burdened with college debt, it was just a tiny town and Charles said to me, “ I don’t want to dwell on my experience as a combat veteran in Vietnam, Instead, I want to volunteer and make a difference.” I never made a definitive decision like that. Instead, I became a helper, on the perfiery…if you need help just ask and I can fill in and that is what I do. I have overheard people talking about me…oh that’s the tree lady on Nextdoor or I think she is an architect…
I love being that Tree Lady!
I have a friend here today who remarked years ago that I am unfailingly polite and ever since she said that, I have tried to live up to that undeserved expectation. I do love please and thank you…. A couple of weeks ago I was playing Raffi, of the Baby Beluga fame, to Madeleine and Collins' son, my new grandson, Weston, and a new song came on about thanking. Thanking everyone and I thought about that.
One day, Charles and I were planting at the Granary and two women came and stood about 2’ away discussing the flowers and what we were doing without ever acknowledging us. It was as though we didn’t exist. It was weird and I thought about it…why. Why didn’t they at least say hello and then I realized I was a non person, I was “just” the gardener. No one should be a non person. Everyone deserves to be acknowledged and greeted and welcomed, please and thank youed.
Some of us even ask Siri… can you please get me the number. Admittedly that is a bit over the top but better to be safe than sorry.
We were lucky, the quieting of the world for that brief moment gave us pause. As we go back to our busyness and businesses how can we bring new awareness to our lives?
How can I put down my phone, computer, distraction from the life around me and make sure and live a life well lived? How can I remember and acknowledge and truly see everyone say good morning, good afternoon, good evening, please and thank you and look up and thank the trees for shade and a place for the birds to nest?
This was a good portion of a speech that I made as a thank you for a recent award I received as Morgan Hill Woman of the Year! It was a great honor and I was pleasantly surprised when all of the chatter stopped dead for Spuds story!