An expensive trip to the neighborhood coffee shop and some analysis

I’m going to try to type this up really fast, so that I can enjoy the rest of my evening, hopefully as planned and without event. Jack said, “And now you can blog about it.” And so I will.

I decided that I would have a productive Sunday afternoon in the studio. I would do my calendar for the week, do lesson planning and research for piano students, and be a very, very good girl and have a great session or two of practicing cello. Then I decided that what would be really cool is to go to the coffee shop on the next block and get a refreshing beverage and a snack. It would be like the old days of my singlehood when I would patronize a breakfast vendor on my way into work. So I prepared a few things and decided to go light to the shop and just put the few necessaries into my pockets and head out. Upon my return, just as I’m reaching the studio door, I think, ‘where are my keys? surely they’re in my pocket.’ But, alas, no, they’re not. They are inside the studio.

Remember that part about kind of reminiscing about single days? Well, I’m single today because Jack and James are out of town. And the landlord is also out of town. I’m able to communicate with Jack because, although I left without keys, I did have my phone with me. He calls a locksmith. The locksmith (who turns out to be the father-in-law of the friend who ends up rescuing me) is unsuccessful. So I text a few friends (again, thankfully I have my phone, but it would have been nice if the phone and keys were reversed — but that’s in my brief analysis below) and track down the lovely Christina, who comes to my rescue, giving me a place to be inside. The landlord, who was expected back in town by 6 (this we know because Jack had contacted him) actually gets back by 4. It turns out that his key won’t work for the studio. He is able to get our apartment door open, and I retrieve a second copy of the studio key, which also will not work. What is up with that! I just had used a key to get in 4 hours ago. So the landlord calls the locksmith back. He tries his little tools again. No luck. They decide the lock has to be replaced. So with 30 minutes until closing time, the landlord goes to ACE.  Lock is replaced successfully.

As much as I didn’t want to, I did my work and practiced cello a bit, and even went on a planned Walmart trip. And now here I sit safe and (too) warm in my apartment, getting near the time that I didn’t want to be typing this post anymore.

Now, about that expensive trip to the coffee shop. I’ve recently been reading “The Undoing Project”, in which the working relationship of two psychologists who won a Nobel Prize in Economics for their studies in judgment and decision-making is discussed. At about 50 pages from the end, I finally came upon the use of “the undoing project”. Throughout the book, the author has gone over their work in how people make choices (one of particular interest to me was how the anticipation of regret influences decisions), but this “undoing” is about what our mind does after the fact, after a negative consequences of a choice, or a tragic accident or death. It is the “if only…” Although we cannot change the results, the mind wants to imagine scenarios that could have prevented this embarrassing, irritating or painful event. But interestingly, there are limits.

So I found myself this afternoon living all those “undoing” things that I had just been reading about. Feeling frustrated with my afternoon lost and anticipating the cost to my pocketbook,  I ran through all the “it could be worse”, “at least I had my phone”, “I do have some friends to call”. And I did a few “if only”s. And I realized that I was in the middle of that book. Isn’t it something that the mind insists on doing that? Maybe some of it is helpful in helping you not do that again, but am I really not going to plan to go to the studio when Jack is out of town? (hard to teach lessons that way); am I really never going to go to the coffee shop again? really never going to decide to walk the block with a light load? Now, I will hopefully check my pockets for keys, maybe think keys before phone. That’s the good thing about an “ordeal” (yes, I know, it could be far, far worse) like this; it is memorable.

Regardless of how much I reason and look on the positive side —if the lock was broken, me locking my keys in helped us discover that in a time better than a worse time to discover that, and definitely the comfort of having friends nearby and available, the security I felt at seeing how hard it was for a professional to break into our studio  — I’m pretty confident that my mind will always associate this day with my decision to go get coffee and that raspberry bar. Good thing they were both really good. They sure were expensive.

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Who Got Here First and What in the World are We to do at this point

“Illegal” immigration. Oh, the debates that this brings up. Are the immigration laws even moral and just? That’s the present. Do we consider the past in determining what should be done in the present? Who got here first, anyways? And what did we do to them? We? Who is the We? If we’re all thrown into a blob, then We are the largest governing unit on this continent, the United States of America, which was founded by 13 British colonies. So what are We to do about the fact that We came here — invaded, that is — and committed genocide and stole land and force peoples off their rightful land?

I wonder this when I see people comment in the great internet debate that We were illegal immigrants, too. Just ask those that were already here, they say. So what are We to do to pay the penalty? Leave, as We are making current “illegals” do? Or should We let them in to repeat history and even the score by allowing them to take whatever they want and kill groups of current residents or push them off their lands? How are We to rectify the past?

Paternal great-grandparents, James and Laura Johnson Davis

And then there is Me. Who am I? For whom and what am responsible? With which am to identify? How did Kay get here? Part of me was “already here”. I am Cherokee. My ancestors were a people pushed off their land. Part of me came here from Europe. I am  some kind of mix of mostly western European. So am I victim or robber/murderer? And then there’s the part at how relatively late my Europeans came, and I’m pretty sure there’s not nary a conquistador nor revolutionary amongst them. Just farmers and crafters looking for a better place to live and make a living. They heared about this here place and they come. Some of those Europeans even married natives (Cherokee), and lo and behold, a few generations later, here is Kay.

Okay, that’s where my mind goes in all this. Actually, I do think we need to fix this immigration mess. I am not of the belief that anything that is Law is moral and just. I don’t think the solution is that all of We should exit and go home to wherever we came from. And part of that is, like I said, that and so many others are both “native” and “invader”. But that’s not the whole reason. And I also don’t think that anyone is thinking my extreme example above that We should just let them in to conquer and slaughter as We did. Actually, that’s not true; I think some (We’s and not-We’s) do think this way. Or maybe some think that We should just dissolve our European-based government of this part of the continent. (I have no idea if similar debates go on in Canada, Mexico, and the countries of Central and South America concerning the conquering and displacing of native societies.) If We are allowed to keep the current form of government, then what ought We to do about who gets in and for how long and when are they officially a part of Us. Should there even be such controls? Why or why not? If so, how far should those controls go on how they are to live once here? If the current governments are allowed to remain at the city, county, state and federal level, are they to expect the new occupants to follow their codes and charters? Quite honestly, this is something that I hear often. “They come here and don’t obey our laws. They bring the messy way of life they were fleeing from here. [Shoot! this is even said of those Californians that come here to Montana.] They comes here and think they don’t have to work and can just live off the government.” So should We be allowed to expect them to conform? Can it be enforced?

This is worthy of discussion and restructuring. What would be glorious is if it was honestly, fairly, and humanely reasoned out, and stupid comments and reactions would disappear from these online discussions and out of the mouths of supposed powers-that-be. And I go on dreaming.

Come now, let us reason together ~Yahweh, according to Isaiah 

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
~ Jesus of Nazareth, according to Matthew

My great-grandmother’s brother, Jacob Johnson and family

My grandfather, Lester Davis, son of James and Laura (above), and family

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Where I Lived, and What I Lived For (or, I Wished to Live Deliberately)

I stole those phrases from Thoreau. One is a chapter title from Walden, and the other is the very famous phrase from that chapter: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” I’m currently reading Walden in my grand effort to preread my son’s books for the upcoming school year. I learned a few things from his freshman year of high school (AmblesideOnline Year 9), one of which involves my changing role as his teacher. As we have moved into his more mature student years, in my zeal for promoting self-learning in his life, I believe that I was more hands-off than I ought to have been in this past academic year. But that’s another post. Just know I’m doing A LOT of reading this summer.

What I’m about to share may need to turn into a series of posts. [Added as I end this post: Yep! it will be.] I want to share about where all I’ve lived in these nearly 57 years (oh, no!) and what I lived for, and how much of it was deliberate choices for some pretty deliberate living. I wish I could say that now I find myself in a cabin in the woods with plenty of acreage surrounding me, where I grow my Joel Salatin-approved plants and animals, (or, rather, let them grow) but, alas, it is not so…yet.

The first two homes in which I lived my first 17 years in Illinois were not my choice, obviously. But they were good homes. In good places. With very good people. I was blessed. My parents left their homeland of Macon and Clay Counties in Tennessee in the early 1950s shortly after their marriage. As I shared in a previous post, my Dad was 32 at the time of their marriage, and along with serving overseas in WWII, had traveled out-of-state a few times for work, and traveled as a musician. He felt that it was the right thing to settle down now with this responsibility of a family, so he took his very young bride up north to the Quad-Cities, an Iowa/Illinois metropolitan area, where he knew there was steady work. For the greater part of the nearly 40 years they spent there, my Dad worked for International Harvester at their Farmall plant in Rock Island, Illinois. I don’t know on which side of the river (Mississippi) that they first lived, but I do know that shortly after their move there, they were both baptized and helped to build (physically and spiritually) a church in Davenport, Iowa. My parents were familiar with the Church of Christ in Tennessee, but neither became members until their move up north. My parents remained very active members of the church for all those nearly 40 years in Illinois — they were members of at least 3 congregations of the Church of Christ in that area. I was the 4th of their 5 children and came along during their 12th year of marriage. As you may imagine, church activities were a big part of my growing up years — twice on Sunday, Wednesday nights, week-long ‘gospel meetings’, summer Vacation Bible School, special events and suppers, area-wide singings, singing at the nursing home, holidays and other celebrations with church friends, summer evangelism campaigns, youth rallies.  And most importantly of all, my parents lived the morality that they taught. Like I said, I lived with very good people. I was indeed blessed.

I wanted to tell about those choices of my parents about where to live and how to live because they obviously much influenced who I became and why I have made the various choices that I have in the 40 years following my exit as a full-time resident of their home. What you also need to know is that for 23 of the 40 years of my adult life I was a single woman. The choices I made were by me alone and for me alone; I had no husband or child to consider, no family for which I was responsible. And yet I was able to take those values (most of them, that is — oh, the debt…) of my Dad that were associated with family responsibility and put them into practice in a single life. But as you will see, the way that I have most imitated the values, and thus, choices, of my parents, both as a single woman and as a wife and mother, is in their spiritual life. This life of mine has definitely been for the most part a spiritual journey. [For those of you that don’t know me well, you might think from the previous description of my family church life that what this means is that I’m going to go on with this long saga and fill it with 40 years of church activities, but you would be off there. It might still be more church-going than you can stomach, but trust me, my spiritual journey has been much more than church-going, as well it ought to be. I think there will even be surprises for some that think they do know me well. This could potentially be a Kay coming-out time. Now, aren’t some of you interested. Don’t worry, family, it’s not like that. (smiley face)]

End of Part 1. For real. I think I need to map out the sections of my life and decide what years to share with each post. I anticipate agonizing over significant things that I will forget to tell about and stressing about just how to tell what I do remember. I’ve lived in 8 U.S. states since I left my parents’ Illinois home, and several residences and cities within some of those states. Forty years and all those states is a lot to cover. What a ride it’s been. See you in Part 2.






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I’m Not Sorry About My Dad

I have had this post going on in my head since October, 2015. That’s when my Dad died. My Dad had many people who thought well of him and many, many who came to the visitations at the funeral home and the funeral at the church. So many times these good people greeted me with, “I’m sorry about your Dad.” I don’t wish to belittle these people or the sentiment they were expressing or their traditional way of offering sympathy; I know that these people sincerely liked my Dad. He was a good man. A very good man.

But just about every time it was said to me, it struck me as so odd for a few reasons, and I wanted to say back, “I’m not sorry about my Dad.”

I’m not sorry about my Dad. My dad Continue reading

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Little House and my Happy Golden Years

One of the reasons I’m grateful that I got to have at least one child is that I was given the opportunity to revisit the Little House series. My old books, purchased in the late 60s/early 70s, got to come off the shelf over a period of about 6 years as James and I followed the Ingalls family from Wisconsin to Kansas to Minnesota and finally to South Dakota. I didn’t finish the series with him. He suspects, I think, that Laura married Almanzo, but doesn’t know about her school teaching days, when Almanzo went out to pick her up and bring her home; he doesn’t know about Nellie Oleson’s return and attempts to get Almanzo; he doesn’t know about those ‘first four years’ of Laura’s marriage, or of their eventual move to Missouri. He does know about that long, long winter Continue reading

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Thanks for the Memories

I’m actually not very good with remembering things. I was listening to a podcast with Karen Glass, author of Know and Tell: The Art of Narration, and she mentioned that Charlotte Mason made a distinction between Memorization and Memory. Yep, memorization, that’s me. What I’ve been good with is deliberate memorizing of things — scripture, choir music, piano recital pieces, phone numbers, birthdays. I don’t remember lyrics to songs from just having heard or sung them a lot, or piano pieces from just playing them a lot. Those things I have to deliberately Continue reading

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I’m Jolly Well Going to Get Some of the Advantages, Too

I am the fourth of my parents’ five children. Our youngest sibling passed from this life at the age of 31 from cancer. That was an anomaly in our family longevity, except for our maternal grandmother who died at 36 from what I can never remember. My paternal grandmother died just before her 84th birthday; both my grandfathers were 73 at their deaths. My dad died in 2015, two months shy of his 98th birthday. Now that’s really something right there. My mom is currently 85 years young. As I tend to resemble my paternal grandmother and my dad in many ways, unless someone isn’t being careful on Hwy 212 one morning, I expect that I’ve got another Continue reading

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‘Times Were Much Simpler Then’

I’m listening to a wonderful interview (video at end of post) with historian David McCullough, whose most famous work is probably his John Adams biography. Don’t let the title fool you; in this hour-long interview he talks about much more than John Adams. So many wonderful things about knowing and appreciating people and events of the past, as well as how it ought to be taught. He also mourns the loss of skill with our own language, and thus the ability to communicate effectively and beautifully. (The beauty/art is what makes it effective, in my opinion.)

Somewhere around the half-way point he says he hates when people say, “Times were much simpler then.” He exclaims, “No they weren’t! Continue reading

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‘Only Human’

“Wow! that was very thoughtful of you!”

“Oh, it was nothing, I’m only Human.”

“Way to see the potential consequences of your actions and choose to act differently.”

“Oh, it was nothing. I’m purely Human.”

“You planned an awesome party for Joe’s retirement.”

“Oh, it was nothing. I’m entirely Human.”

“That was quick. Good job on consulting the map and checking that Facebook group for road conditions.”

“Oh, it was nothing. I’m essentially Human.”

“You’ve sure lost a lot of weight and gotten into shape. You’re really awesome to be that disciplined!”

“Oh, it was nothing. I’m exclusively Human.”

“It never fails; you are always on time for work. You’re getting the employee of the year award.”

“Oh, it was nothing. I’m wholly Human.”

“Thank you for remembering my birthday. That was very kind.”

“Oh, it was nothing. I’m utterly Human.”

“It’s really something how you’ve been nearly 50 years playing piano and are now learning a whole new system with cello — new fingering, sustaining notes, bowing. It can’t be easy to retrain the mind and body at 56!”

“Oh, it’s nothing. I’m completely Human.”


Those are some simple things that come to mind in a quick experiment with a twist on the usual usage of You’re/I’m ‘only human’, which is Continue reading

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To Be or not To Be

I am currently reading A Circle of Quiet, the first of Madeleine L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journals. She uses and discusses the word ‘ontology’ a lot in these writings, and it’s really making me a little crazy because, although I’ve looked up the definition — just about every time she uses it, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the meaning and how she is using it each time. From Google’s dictionary:

noun: ontology; plural noun: ontologies
  1. the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being.
  2. a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and the relations between them.

She also uses the word as an adjective and adverb — ontological, ontologically, which really makes me a little nutty. Ontology was actually her word for one summer, and the best I can make of it at this point is that she was trying to be and connect to her real human self (and to others, I assume) as best she could. Who am I really…deep down? What is the real essence Continue reading

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