πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει

toilet

I know, right…it’s all Greek to you.

FYI, the above phrase translates to “Everything changes and nothing stands still.” According to Plato in his dialogue titled Cratylus, this was written by Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC)

AGMA is aware that this is pretty heady stuff. Thank you Wikiquote.

I was going for “Nothing is constant except change.” but there seems to be some dispute as to who really said that. AGMA tries to avoid conflict at all costs.

Aside from having a name that 14 year old boys would love to make randy comments about, Heraclitus was a very wise man.

He was all about change.

And it’s more of a constant in our lives now than ever before in human history.

Just when you think you’ve mastered how to take advantage of the “smart” in your smart phone – or at least the 10% that you actually know about – an updated operating system downloads and boogers everything up.

“Rizzle frazzle what the hell sh*t frack damn now what??”, as heard in AGMA’s house after such an update.

Or SmartPhone V108.5 comes out. Now you have to go back to the very beginning and learn  the new 10% of the new phone that doesn’t operate at all like your old one.  Yet again.

Some of us have children or grandchildren who can help us. The lucky ones have children or grandchildren who actually do help us. There’s a difference.

AGMA’s still waiting for her younger son to reprogram our universal remote because we changed from cable to satellite. Over a year ago. In the meantime, our coffee table is once again littered with remotes of various shapes and sizes that don’t get along with each other at all.

Kind of like Congress.

There are dozens, nay, hundreds, of other examples of the constant changes in technology, meant to make our lives easier, that actually screw it up. At least in the short term.

Please don’t think AGMA is a “Make America Great Again” type who wants a general store/soda fountain on every corner, a black and white television with rabbit ears in every living room, and telephones connected to walls. With cords.

On the contrary, she has been known to be an “semi”-early adopter.

We bought our first PC in 1984 and had an email account shortly afterwards. We also had a Betamax back in the 80’s. I know, AGMA was young and foolish about the Beta thing…

I bought my first Prius in 2006 and got the first Google smart phone, the G1, when it came out in 2008. Both went better than the Betamax debacle.

AGMA also uses cloud storage for her pictures/videos. I just need to remember where they are – Dropbox, Amazon Photos or Google Drive.

I’m hoping the dementia onset will be delayed until I can figure it all out.

But there are times when AGMA takes great comfort in the unchanging nature of some things. Familiar things.  Things that I grew up with and have basically stayed the same my whole life.

The flush toilet for example. Invented by John Harington in 1596, but bought into common use in the late 1800’s by Thomas Crapper (14 year old boy alert!), the flush toilet is brilliant piece of engineering. Other than the occasional need for a plunger, it’s the execution of a near perfect concept in public sanitation that has withstood the test of time. And Hub’s occasional splurge of pork and beans.

And the iron. While the design has changed a bit over the years, it’s still basically a water chamber and a metal plate that gets hot, and is used to get wrinkles out of fabric. And, if too hot, as AGMA learned the hard way, melts synthetic fibers together into a disgusting lump that has an alarming smell. And sets off the smoke detector.

But that’s another post…

Other than setting the correct temperature (see above), there aren’t many tricks to the iron. You fill the water chamber (if you want to generate steam that can burn off your face), plug it in, and press it down on the wrinkled fabric strategically positioned on an ironing board.  The ironing board – yet another comfortingly unchanged household item.

AGMA is, of course, assuming that the iron hasn’t changed over the last 10 years or so. It has been that long since she has actually used one, but she’s pretty sure they’re still the same. She believes that if God had intended for her to continue to use an iron, God wouldn’t have put the $1.99 dry cleaner so close to her house.

And then there’s the toaster. Again, simplicity that’s hard to improve on. Bread, a heating element and time = toast. Pretty damn basic. And comforting.

Just make sure you unplug it before you stick a fork in to pry the toast out that got stuck.

So the next time your head starts feeling like it’s going to explode learning yet another “indispensable” app, or programming your new Nest, or figuring out the difference between Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and 10 other social media sites AGMA doesn’t even know about yet, go back to basics.

Think of the simple, familiar, unchanging, comforting toilet, iron and toaster.

You’re welcome.

Namaste.

September Yin and Yang

September

Yeah, yeah – I know I’m a little late since it’s already past mid-September.  This is a post that really wanted to be written at the beginning of the month.  It begged me to be written.  But because it’s not my normal “wry humor” (and I say that wryly…), I said no. It’s been nagging me ever since.  It would not relent.  I gave up. Thanks for your indulgence for my indulgence.

September is a very special month to me.  I always feel big changes in the air.  I can smell the changes.  September is chance to start over.  Brand new beginnings.  Most good and welcomed.

But not all.

September always means a new school year.  As a child growing up in Pittsburgh in the late 50‘s/early 60’s, school didn’t start until after Labor Day.   I was always excited to go back to school.  I couldn’t wait to see my friends again.  And back to school meant a new dress and a new pair of shoes for the fist day.  Cha-ching!

Getting a new dress was a big deal for me.  Due to divorce, I lived in a single parent household – unusual for the time – and my mother worked as a nurse in a VA hospital.  There wasn’t much money for new clothes.

Or new anything else.

But for the first day of school, not only would I get a new dress and shoes, but a new notebook, new pencils and a new book bag too.  (FYI – bookbags were the old school version of the modern backpack…)  It was a huge treat to go shopping with my mother for all my new stuff.  She was always so very busy all the time with work and taking care of the house and doing laundry and grocery shopping and cooking – we never had time just to hang out together. We would ride a trolley to downtown Pittsburgh and shop at one of the big department stores.   We always ate lunch in a restaurant.  To me, it was a thrilling adventure!

I experienced the same type of excitement at the beginning of September years later with my own kids when they started school. We’d go down the list of “suggested supplies”, head out to the mall and shopped ’til we dropped!  We all had fun, but I’m pretty sure that I enjoyed it the most…

And September was always the beginning of another year of volunteering.  I worked part-time in IT, so I was usually able to make time each week to volunteer at the kid’s school.  Yeah – I was one of those moms.  I was in PTA, helped out in the classroom, worked in the bookstore and on after-prom, baked cookies, was a Football Mom and a Soccer Mom.  All through their grade school, middle school and high school years, I volunteered.  And I loved every minute of it.

Now, every September when I feel the chill starting in the air and hear the sound of the September “critters” in the morning and see the leaves starting to put on their Fall regalia, my head and heart flood with the memories those happy new beginnings.  But September also reminds me that new beginnings can have their challenges.

My children have long been out of school.  The high school PTA and Football Moms are now run by people whose children were tiny babies back when I was involved.  September reminds me that every season comes to an end.  That very happy time in my life is over. Oh, I’ve adjusted to the empty nest and have reinvented myself several times over, and stay very busy and active.  I even started a blog!  But so far nothing has equaled the joy I had in parenting my kids when they were growing up.  September reminds me, sometimes cruelly, that time marches on.  Relentlessly.

Also, on a September day in 1965, my dear, sweet mother who worked so very hard to support my sister and I, died suddenly from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer.  She was two weeks shy of her 47th birthday.  So young…  I had just started 7th grade.  After the funeral, I was shipped off to a new city in a new state to live with my father who I had barely seen since he moved away when I was six, and his new wife who I’d never met.  I would never see the house I grew up in or any of my grade school or neighborhood friends again.

The smells and sounds and “feeling” of September remind me of new beginnings. But they also remind me that sometimes a new beginning isn’t welcome.   But it comes anyway.

I sigh and remember and mostly smile.