Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
Thank you Marci Missing Everyone for this lovely sig.
I've been blogging all through my days without knowing that it was blogging; although, this isn't necessarily the only thing I do without knowing what I'm doing.
Since I write on anything that's available around me, my life has been full of pieces of scribbled paper flying about like confetti. I'm so happy to finally have a permanent place to chew the fat.
So far my chewing the fat is on and off. Maybe, I lack teeth.
Feel free to comment, if you wish.
This Blog Continues in "Everyday Canvas "
|âWomen who are night owls share the same high propensity for risk-taking as menâ
âNight owls, both males and females, are more likely to be single or in short-term romantic relationships versus long-term relationships, when compared to early birdsâ
I wonder if this means I am kicked out of the human race and risk-taking womanhood.
To begin with, the article is not all that right. For one thing, I never had a short-term romantic relationship. They were all long, some too long, painfully long. The last one is still on and has lasted 49 years. Am I a risk-taker? Yeah, somewhat. I even tried to climb Matterhorn, once, even though my face was red afterwards and I didnât have one bone left that didnât ache. "What Women Can Do" But the jury is out on that, too, for in old age, Iâd rather not take any such risks. Trust me, I donât even risk cleaning my house fully.
For the researcher to save face, I am going to add that Iâd love to be an early bird. When I wake up early in the morning due to some out-of-the-ordinary situation, I do get more done, but when 4P.M. hits, I am a rusty android dragging myself around. So Iâd rather wake up a little late, thus avoiding the crabbiness of other early risers, as one of them lives with me and is married to me. Plus I like going to bed late, after the early-risers are fast asleep, so I can have some quality time for myself. In other words, so I can write.
Even if I were an early bird, I wouldnât mess my diet with worms. I know people in dozens of countries eat insects from beetles to stinkbugs. I heard that UN has urged people to eat bugs, and a couple of days ago, National Geographic published an article with the headlines: âAnts are sweet, nutty little insects, aren't they? I'm not talking about their personalities, but how they taste. Stinkbugs have an apple flavor, and red agave worms are spicy. A bite of tree worm apparently brings pork rinds to mind.â
EEEEK! These guys may love the tiny fried legs with a few sips of Chianti, but this woman (moi) screams bloody hell when she sees a bug. Just ask my early-bird hubby. Come to think of it, even he wouldnât touch those delicacies although he gets up in the crack of dawn and picks up and throws away the bugs that make me scream..
I guess I am, by choice, an owl, a hooter (no pun intended), and Iâll stay that way as long as the nights are full of silence and solitude and the writing bug in my bloodstream is not picked up and eaten by any hostile early-bird who might be goaded to do just that by the United Nations.
Prompt: What type of person are you: a night owl or early bird?
|Martha Stewart says, âEveryone loves a picnic!â
Easy for her to gloat. I bet sheâd make Foie de Gras au Torchon, a pasta salad with arugula and string beans and pack those with home baked rolls and a bottle of 2006 Bourgogne Chardonnay in her self-refrigerated, see-through glass basket.
Not me. I donât even know how to fake that funk. To me a picnic has to have Deets first as I donât like itching and scratching, then red and white checkered table cloth, and a straw basket with sandwiches in it. Better yet, just dump in the ingredients and have everyone make their own sandwiches. Oh, donât forget the cooler and your six packs.
To be direct, my answer to the question, âHow do you plan the perfect picnic?â is: âYou donât.â
Joking aside, I truly donât care for picnics. On the other hand, I donât mind having lunch in our covered porch with goodies from the kitchen spread over our outdoor dining set. When my kids were young, weâd have barbecues often in the backyard. I liked them fine, only because it meant less mess in the kitchen.
Maybe why I dislike picnics has to do with an old memory. Way back when, one of my husbandâs friends and his wife dragged us to a âfriendsâ picnic where there were more than ten families. Hubby knew them all, and I was acquainted with a few people there, also. Everything was all right at first, with us making small talk and sharing our goods and recipes for specific items. Then two drama queens started some kind of an altercation over some petty thing. I think it was over how a certain recipe should be handled. Then people began taking sides. In no time, all the past wrongs were on the table besides the food. One couple left in a huff; another started packing up. Next thing you know everyone was leaving. Oh well, as far as my love of people-watching went, that served me right.
Coming back to Martha Stewart, she also says: âEating outside can make even a simple meal seem like an adventure (if you're a kid), romantic (if you're a couple), or just a welcome change of pace (for the rest of us). But you don't have to trek to a park, beach, or forest preserve; it's just as fun (and much easier) to have one in your own backyard.â
Well, I have news for her. Iâm no kid, and I donât like *romantic* while the neighbors are watching. Plus, if I wanted a welcome change of pace, Iâd fly to Hawaii. That would be a very welcome change of pace, but I donât because Iâve decided to avoid airports like the plague, and Hawaii is too far to swim. So, only one thing is left for me: Take a sandwich to the beach and share it with the seagulls. Of course I have to have my hair covered against the seagullsâ thank-you notes.
Prompt: How do you plan the perfect picnic?
|Motivation plays a significant part in success. Where this asset is concerned, most of us are indebted to one teacher or another in our lives, since there are times when good teachers spend as much time as parents with a student. Some of time, however, a few words or a gesture is enough to motivate a student for a lifetime.
From where I stand, if I were to write about all the teachers in my life who shaped me, it would be volumes of material. Instead I'll concentrate on one incident that made my heart jump.
The school I attended, during my teens, was on a campus including high school, junior high, and other buildings for student activities. One day, when I was in eighth grade, the regular teacher for one of the subjects had called in sick, and a high school teacher, a budding author who had just received high acclaim for her book of stories, volunteered to take over for two consecutive periods. She was a young and beautiful woman, and her success dazzled our eyes. We admired her from afar, as she taught just a few hours of high school lit to seniors and had nothing to do with the junior high kids.
During the first period, she gave us a subject, a prompt actually, and asked us to write an essay. During the second period, she gave us another thing to do, while she looked over our essays. I can't remember what the assignment was. It might have been a search inside the books for certain information, or something else. I was busy doing the work and didn't notice her watching at me. When I raised my head, I caught her looking at me, holding up a paper in her hand. "Is this yours?" she asked. I looked behind me to see if she meant someone else, but she hadn't.
I panicked. One of the school rules was, if you forgot to put your name on a test or any other paper, no matter how good your paper might have been, you got a zero. She must have seen the terror in my eyes. She stood up and walked to me, showing me the paper. My name was not missing. So what was the problem?
My heart started to beat rapidly. "Yes, it is mine," I said in a meek voice.
She stretched her hand, took mine in hers, and shook it. Now the whole class was watching us.
"Congratulations," she said. "This paper is the best one. It shows maturity beyond your age. Keep it up. Don't let it become a flash in the pan."
At this, I don't know what my face showed, but it must have signaled the greatest joy I ever felt. I guess she didn't want me spoiled either; so, after turning to class, she faced me again. "One success doesn't mean a thing. You can be successful once, or maybe twice. If you stop and don't go after it all the time, to what good is it?"
Years later, when I was in a motivational relaxation group, we were asked to recall the moment we felt the most successful, in our entire lives. Immediately, that moment in eighth grade sprang to my mind, as it still does, because that one specific moment was a very special kind of joy. No matter what I did or what happened later on in my life, nothing can ever match up to that.
Prompt: Did you have a teacher who inspired you?
|Throughout my life, I had a wonderful relationship with the employees wherever I shopped. Fact is, I like watching the people flit about the store more than paying attention to what I am buying. Maybe Iâve grown senile, but I donât remember one bad experience. If anything, most people who helped me choose, buy, or pay for the goods were helpful, courteous, and nice. Were they doing what they are supposed to do, I wouldnât know, but whatever the reason, I donât recall having a bad taste in my mouth while exiting a store.
True, sometimes, long after the purchase, there were a few incidences when the products ended up less than desirable, but I donât fault the gal or guy at the counter for that. That type of a flaw has to do with the company that produces low-quality goods.
Yet, not with a store, but with an insurance company, I have a bone to pick. This is in regard to the entry I made yesterday, concerning the 2004 hurricanes. For 40 years, my husband and I had been customers of Allstate through the two states we lived in. Our every insurance--home, car, liability, umbrella, you name it,--Allstate carried it for us. In all those forty years, we paid our premiums on time, never faulted, and we didnât even bother them with petty claims.
During the 2004 hurricanes, not our main house but the outside structures had about $11,000 worth of damage. Allstate was very nice about it and paid us immediately. Within four or five months after the hurricanes, our property looked the same as it was before the storms, while some of the other houses waited for up to two years. So far, so good.
Before the following year rolled in, the company decided to drop several customers from their roster. Guess who was among them, even though they did it for only our prime residence? And their excuse: they dropped 100,000 customers, without playing favorites, mostly from Florida because of the hurricane damage to the state, but they didnât drop our entire town. They dropped people randomly.
As a business, you hold on to your better customers, especially tried and true ones. You donât f.* them up without a good reason, or your business will suffer. Frankly, I donât want anything to do with Allstate whatsoever as long as I live. According to US insurance laws, an insurance companyâs duty is often referred to as the "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing." Does randomness in backstabbing customers show good faith and fair dealing? I guess lawyers can stretch anything toward their ends, but I think quality has nothing to do with randomness.
My husband still keeps some of the insurances with Allstate, still innocently believing in their *good will*, which isnât what I would do. I have to say my husband is nicer than I am and has a cooler head. He, too, was upset with the company and understands where I stand, but also says it is too difficult to redo everything and go through all that paperwork. He is the one paying, so I donât get into a fight over it, but if I have to do the paying at any one time in my life, it will be good-bye Allstate, paperwork or not.
Prompt: Whatâs the most dreadful, or wonderful, experience youâve ever had as a customer? How could it have been better or worse?
|Where I live it is always summer, and any summer is dangerous here, if you dare stand under the sun for long. Still, it is not only the sunâs heat that burns. From June 1 to the end of November, it is also the official hurricane season, which means, should a hurricane hit our town, wherever we are vacationing, we have to rush back before the hurricane, secure the place, and get out of there in a hurry if the hurricane is over category three. Practically, undoable, given the circumstances.
Unfortunately for the hurricane-zone residents, the weather people cannot exactly pinpoint where the hurricane will hit, until two days before or even until the last minute, depending on the hurricaneâs craftiness. Can you imagine the pickle we can be in, if we dared to go away in summer? Hubby and I, therefore, declared summer vacations to be out of the question for us.
Talking about summers, let me explain a few things about our hurricane preparations. First, everything outside of the house has to be carted in. That includes flowerpots, garden hoses, wind chimes, birdfeeders, and anything you can think of as not being stationary. Then the shutters have to be put up and secured. Inside the house, we have to store food but the kind of food that wonât go bad, which means cans, fruit that can last a few days, and bread with strong preservatives. Health-food lovers need not apply! We also need water, lots of it, and not only for drinking. When the hurricane messes up the infrastructure, underground pipes become affected. So we need water for washing up.
When the hurricane warning is announced, aside from the bottles and bottles of drinking water, we also store water in the bathtub and large trashcans that I bought for this purpose only. It is not only the water but the electricity that may be lacking during and after the hurricane; therefore, we also need an unbelievable amount of batteries for flashlights and radios.
Some people have installed generators underground, which work better and are less riskier than the ones above ground. Since hubby and I are two klutzes, we donât use any generators. âBetter safe than sorryâ is our motto when it comes to things that may turn tricky on us. Thus the batteries and a mechanical crank-powered radio and flashlights are in our hurricane war-chest.
Not only the electricity and underground water pipes can be affected, however. There is always the danger of sewer leakage and sewer-pipe breakage. We are told not to flush the toilets when we pee, but save the flushing for only the number two.
Even after the hurricane, if we evacuate the hurricane zone, we have to rush back home to secure our place and assess the damages because the earlier we apply to our insurance, the better are our chances of getting a refund; that is, if the roads to travel on the way back home are fine.
We have been through two hurricanes fifteen days apart in 2004 with other couples in our house because our cement-block house is said to be sturdier, and the other couplesâ houses were wood-frame. From where I stand, I prefer to stay home and weather the storm. Hubby likes to escape. The weirdo that I am, during the past hurricanes, I sort of rode the waves, watching the others cower and cringe. Hubby didnât enjoy the experience much, and those hurricanes were about category 2.5 to 3. After they passed, luckily for us, only the outside structures in the pool area, such as the mansard roof over the pool, the outside bathroom and the shed, were damaged. Weaker houses had a lot more destruction, unfortunately. Some people lost everything.
Another lucky thing for us, in 2004, was that our governor at the time was Jeb Bush, and being the then-presidentâs brother, he commandeered help and security to our town immediately. Yet, the hurricane scare wasnât over. In 2005, another hurricane came our way. At that time, our son, who was living in northern Florida, came and carried us to his home, but that hurricane was a weak one and did nothing to us. For the houses who were still waiting for their insurancesâ approvals for the repairs of the damages from the year 2004, however, it was a disaster.
It isnât the hurricanes alone that mess up the lives of the residents, but the aftermath of them. It is next to impossible to find companies to repair the homes, as all the businesses and warehouses also become damaged. Consequently, the job becomes open to the companies from around the area where the hurricane hit, if we can get them early enough. Most people canât do that because they have to wait for the *&!#* approval from their insurances.
Each year, we are alerted to the hurricanes, here. Most donât show up, but when they do, their performance is for the ages.
By the way, when I read this prompt, I laughed out loud, and I also felt very young, like a grade-school kid. A good thing in my age. Can you recall how many times, in school, we had to write about how we spent our summer vacations or how we planned to spend it?
Well, here is the answer. The way I am going to spend this summer will be listening to the weathermenâs pearls of scary wisdom every day and crossing my fingers, hoping we are spared yet another year from the hurricanes.
Prompt: What are your plans for the summer?
|Within the last several months, at least three or four books have stayed with me, but the one that impressed me the most was In One Person by John Irving, published in 2012. I wrote a product review for it. "In One Person: A Novel" .
It is a coming of age book about a boy in his teens, William Abbott a.k.a Billie, who happens to be bisexual. Through the confusion of his sexuality, he starts to have crushes for people, men or women, but his biggest crush is for the town librarian called Miss Frost, who used to be a man as Billie much later finds out. Miss Frost is the one person who has inspired the boy and introduced him to great literature, such as Dickens, Flaubert, James Baldwin, and the plays of Ibsen. Miss Frost who used to be a wrestler also teaches Billie one wrestling move, called duck-under, which Billie uses it much later when he most needs it.
Another important person in Billieâs life is Elaine, his best friend. Family dysfunction, single parenthood, step parenthood, and AIDS are some of the other smaller subplots in the book.
The story is told by Billie, in his much older years, as he looks back to his adolescence and the years that came later. The novel has many subplots, all enmeshed together so masterfully that it is inevitable not to admire the skill of the author. One of those plots has to do with Billieâs father and Shakespeare. Billieâs fatherâs passion, as a director of a Shakespeare theater, pulls the family from city to city, and even Billie ends up playing in the productions.
As such, the novel gains its title from Shakespeare, from Richard II: "Thus play I in one person many people, / And none contented." The author deftly uses Shakespeareâs style in plotting, since offstage, a few deaths together happen to minor characters as well as witticisms that spring up in personal conversations. Although the authorâs style of telling this story is episodic, everything is so well connected that the flow feels as if it were chronological. I was awed by that. On top of it all, the plot is a bit sad and a bit funny, tragicomedy style, and after the last page of the book, I felt deeply touched, saddened, and elevated, too.
In addition, the book is written with great sensitivity about all people who are misunderstood and who misunderstand themselves about their sexual orientation, and suffer for it greatly. In doing so, the book addresses much larger and probably highly controversial issues than just good fiction. Yet, I felt it to be exquisite fiction, and in every way, a testament to the genius of John Irving.
Prompt: Write about a book that you recently read that stayed with you after you closed the last page
"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together: our virtues would be proud, if our faults whipp'd them not; and our crimes would despair, if they were not cherish'd by our virtues"
Shakespeare – From All's Well That Ends Well
The way we look at life is only a matter of perspective. A person may say this glass is half full while another one may fret over the glass being half empty. Mathematically speaking, they are both looking at the same glass.
It is practically impossible to be happy and elated all the time; yet in reverse, being upset or anxious all the time is self-destructive. Accepting what we cannot change and looking at the sunny side is choosing to be content and showing fortitude. This approach encourages positive behavior and invigorates constructive work, which leads to service to ourselves and those around us.
For me, seeing the glass half full means being content, as contentment is being happy with the way things are and finding adventure in every moment. Maybe, the part that's half full we need to keep it that way, so we don't fall into desperation. Likewise, the other empty half should stay empty to goad and cajole us toward success. As Longfellow said, "For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain."
All I wrote up to here sounds nice and logical, but can I practice what I preach?
Absolutely, not. Like the glass that is half-empty or half-full, I am a person with flaws and a couple of positive assets. Whenever I feel I accept myself, I find the world accepts me, too. Whenever I feel cross with myself, the world seems to reject me, also. The same goes for what happens around me and with things that concern the wellbeing of my friends and family. As to wants and needs, most of the time, I feel content inside, but if, once in a blue moon, I see the negative side of things first, the positives always find a way of springing to my view to straighten my sight, which means my glass is usually half-full and I like it that way, so I neither spill over nor run dry.
Prompt: Do you consider your glass half-full or half-empty?
|"What's it all about, Alfie?"
Three most important things concept made me think about this song and the movie. The question in that catchy tune is put simply, but its meaning is quite significant. I have never been in any situation like the ones in the movie Alfie, but I try to look at things from all sides, if and when I can.
First, in my tripping-on-my-own-toes fashion, I'll try to address those three things. Possibly, the word things can be taken in any context.
In the context of virtues, despite how poorly or well that I may accomplish them, the first three are:
1. Respect and agĂĄpe (love in a spiritual sense) for all life, especially human beings, including their accomplishments and ideas, and tolerance and acceptance of their quirks and differences.
Under this heading go moral turpitude and humility, as life is not all about me as neither it is about any one person, no matter how great his or her accomplishment is. One needs to demonstrate a certain humility in the face of trust and words said and actions performed in innocence, and especially, try not to be offended or take an offensive position unnecessarily.
2. Diligence and work ethic with whatever I do, although at times, I overdo things.
Rarely things in life come easily, and most of us have to work very hard for them.
Still, working hard is simply a part of doing anything worthwhile, and the more that work is for other people, the better.
3. Learning, which has no end. Learning does not only mean schooling and filling my head with lots of information. It also means learning from experiences and introspection and reflection about everything and everyone.
In the context of intangible things I can't do without are my health, all arts, and nature.
In the context of concrete things are my house, my computer and books, and food.
We all move through life in different ways. Some of us do as little as possible while others live at full speed, but what we all have in common is spending our time and actions on something or other. In that, we need to avoid others' unreasonable expectations to influence us. If I am to put in words not only three things but everything I can't go without, my motto has to be:
"Living a good life for me is interacting with all life in a way that gives me meaning and positivity in all I do, without causing harm."
Prompt: Three things you can't go without..
|Who'd foresee sugar, flour, vanilla, and sesame seed oil mixed and crisped all together would so rock the world of dream chasers? As if we didn't have enough wisdom, aphorisms, and vague prophecy from all the Wise Alecs who have graced this planet since the dawn of history. I mean everywhere I look, there is a quote, a motto, a maxim, a teller of fortune, with all of them advising me how to behave and what to expect from life or from myself. I'll tell you a truth about me. I expect nothing of myself. Why bother? There is no hope in expecting. But people believe in the wisdom of the cookies. Imagine, tying your beliefs to a cookie...
Despite this dubious wisdom in it, the Chinese cookie is tough to crumble, but it has many admirers. I, on the other hand, can never let my teeth sink into one of them. I just can't. They are brittle and hard; well, almost always, except for that one time when we were given some edible ones in a Chinese restaurant. I've heard a few jokes about what's in those so-called edibles, but what I hear is usually risquĂ©. Oh, what the heck, this is the American way. Chinese cookies, together with the iffy jokes in them, were adopted by us Americans, although they originated in the Orient.
Not that I am too crazy about Chinese cookies or any fortune telling tools and processes, but I decided, given the originality of the prompt, to come up with a few of my own concoctions. I wonder if my Chinese cookie factory can ever prosper...Hmmmm!
You'll step into great good luck. Watch your step!
What is the end is not always a beginning. It's just the end.
Do not fear what you don't see. Fear everything else.
A book with your name on it is in your future. (I have to make nice here)
Writing in your blog is soft pillow to sleep on. No nightmares for you.
A bashful admirer is watching you from afar and laughing at you.
Don't believe everything with a dollar sign on it. It may be photoshopped.
Don't throw away that piece of coal. Wait that it turns to a diamond. You'll learn what forever is.
You'll meet a friend who will recognize the song in your heart but will sing it offkey
About time to catch up on your reviews and what your kids are up to.
A twisted brain produces the best sermon. It makes the congregation flee.
Your new challenge is the day two of GoT. You'll be just as confused as day one.
So there! Happy?
Prompt: You're now in charge of writing the messages in fortune cookies. Tell us our fortunes.
|The word travel comes from a Latin word meaning torture. Case in point, last year, a man, who was trapped inside Disneylandâs âItâs a Small Wordâ ride, was forced to listen to that theme song for 30 minutes. He sued Disney for mental distress and won 8000 dollars. I wonder how many on minimum wage would volunteer for that mental distress.
It is true that about at least 25 % of any travel can be uncomfortable and even with a threat or risk waiting at every corner, but then, there are such high points and things to be learned along the way that most of us take those discomforts gladly. In spite of the negatives I faced whenever I traveled, I came across wonderful vistas and unbelievable human beings.
A memorable incident took place off Istanbul, Turkey, about twenty-five years ago. On one of the Princeâs Islands on the Marmara sea off the main city, called Heybeliada, we decided to spend a day. Heybeli means having a saddlebag, as the shape of the island seems to resemble a saddlebag, and Ada is island. The island is called Heybeli for short.
Heybeli has a Naval Academy, a sanatorium, an Orthodox church with a monastery, and no cars. As transportation only bikes, horse-drawn carriages, and donkeys are used. Also boats of different sizes and shapes all painted in bright colors can be seen sitting idly or carrying people about. A ferry connects the island to the city. Fancy wood houses that appear to have sprung from the fairy tales, wood sheds for boats and whatever, and the flowers along ornate iron-lace fences and stone walls brightened with all colors of flowers decorate the roads. In fact, wherever we glanced at, flowers were there, but the main attraction of the plant life on Heybeli are the pines. The island is a treasure trove of pine trees. At higher elevations, there are woods of pine for picnickers. Food is readily available in the center of the town and where most of the cafes line the boulevard along the pier.
Still, this dreamlike background and the clean pine scent that pervaded the island was not the best thing that happened to me. That best thing took place at a picnic place at a higher elevation where we walked up to enjoy the view. Under the pines we saw several groups of people sitting and eating on spreads that looked like large tablecloths, with each group minding its own business. In a tour group, there was a German couple with the wife pregnant who eyed what the people were eating, Not realizing that locals and tourists alike carried their food from the market or from their homes, as food wasnât sold anywhere around this place, they asked a picnicker where they could get some food. All of a sudden, everyone started offering them to share their food. Then a huge group, consisting of most of the picnickers, spread their tablecloths together in a clearing and called everyone, including us to join them. Language was no barrier since most Turks talk, however haltingly, English, German, or French. The warmth of friendship suddenly sprung among the people right there and then, and day ended up as being the most wonderful coming together for humans of different backgrounds.
I have been to many places in my youth, in at least three continents, and had different experiences, good or bad. Of all of them, I think what happened at Heybeli, at that specific day, is what the entire world should aim for.
|Iâll need a definition for the word treasure to talk about what I think my treasures are.
According to Websterâs, treasure has three meanings.
: something valuable (such as money, jewels, gold, or silver) that is hidden or kept in a safe place
: something that is very special, important, or valuable
: a person who is greatly loved or valued especially because of being very helpful
Of all the above definitions, the last one about a person is the most precious one for me, as it is my hubby, definitely my most favorite treasure, although I donât display him. If I displayed him, heâd have my head for it. He wouldnât even like that I mention him here, but he doesnât read my blog, so I can get away with it.
For the items in the middle definition --something special, important, or valuableâIâll try to upload the photos of some of those under this entry. They are what I hold valuable even if their monetary value may be nil. This list starts with my reference books near my desk, and other books that I hold dear scattered in bookshelves and wall units around the house. Next, I have the photos of people near and dear to me, some of which are on the wall next to my desk, as well as a froggy-on-a-lily-pad painting made my younger son Al when he was in third grade. Then comes the tall music-box with different colors of lights that change around a flower as the music plays, âYou light up my life.â This one is my older sonâs present. I have also my coffee mugs and fancy pillows with the word Joy embroidered on them, gifted to me by my daughter-in-law. In addition, I have the Writing.com pins and things, pinned to the shelf-cover on top of my reference books.
Then I have a doll, given to me by my daughter-in-lawâs grandfather two years ago, possibly as a gag gift. I donât know what made him do it, but he bought a whole bunch of dolls and gave one to every woman in the family. The originality of it, giving dolls to old women idea of that dear man, makes that gift a treasure for me.
Of the last description, probably the top ones are: my oil-portrait painting done by a somewhat famous painter-friend and teacher about 35 years ago, and other watercolor paintings of another artist not from USA, and some crystal pieces and similar knick knack in the curio cabinet.
In addition to what Websterâs has defined as treasures, I have other important items very dear to me. Those may have a monetary value or not, but they are not on display, and they are for me to gaze at from time to time and lock away. Furthermore, some treasures that not on display do not have a physical body, but only meaning. They are the precious, most valuable, non-replaceable, priceless memories that I hold inside my heart.
Prompt: What treasures do you display inside your home?
|It is a good thing I didnât become an astronaut. Imagine this exchange:
âHouston, is there a problem?â
âYes, a weird one. I am trying to save our electrical capacity and Astronaut Joy has lost it in the dark of the space. Should we return to earth or should I fill her up with a tricyclic?â
âShoot her. We canât abort the mission.â
No wonder Iron Maiden sang:
When the light begins to change
I sometimes feel a little strange
A little anxious when it's dark.
And, if you are curious why a woman my age should quote Iron Maiden, the blame lies with my younger son, who used our garage to fill the neighborhood skies with his bandâs heavy-metal din. To get in his good graces, I once lied that I liked the beat of Judas Priest. It must have worked because I overheard him brag (actually I eavesdropped) to his buddies, as if he has won the Olympics, âMy Mom, really likes Judas Priest.â Luckily, nowadays, he plays romantic Latin music on his acoustic guitar. Thatâs what age and his wife did to him. But I digressâŠ
Getting back to my fear of the dark, I donât only jump at things that go bump or creak or screech at dark. Due to my out-of-control imagination, I panic and turn into a spooked beast that flails around in mindless, savage fear.
My fear doesnât have a name. Okay, so they call it a phobia, but what I am trying to say is that, at such a moment, I am not even thinking of ghosts and other otherworldly creatures or even nasties from the planet earth like serial killers, rapists, burglars and the like. My fear has no definable element. It is just fear. It is not being able to see. Strange thing is, when I close my eyes, I donât see either, but I am not afraid of my insideâs darknessâŠmaybe because I know it so well.
The weird thing is, I can stay in the dark if someone I know is in the room with me. Otherwise, how else would I be able to sleep with a husband who turns our bedroom into a dark tomb with no light? No, mine is not a fear of aloneness either. When he used to go away on business, I was fine being alone and even enjoyed my solitude. Of course, our electric bill in such a situation rose considerably.
Donât tell me about night lights. I hate them. They throw shadows around and give every movement, every doorway, every piece of furniture monstrous capabilities multiplied billion-fold by my imagination. Maybe this is the primordial fear etched in my DNA from the times my kind lived in the jungle and had to be wary of lions and such, as in the right dose fear is a good and useful thing; the impulse to flee danger gives people an evolutionary advantage.
Whatever the reason, if I can't see what's happening in the dark and can't be completely certain of what is going on around me, flipping the switch to on--even if the electric bill rises sky high--is the best remedy . I lose my fear-of-the-dark problems then. Except, as the result of the remedy, this fear of the dark will possibly turn into a financial problem.
Prompt: Whatâs the thing youâre most scared to do? What would it take to get you to do it?
|The complaint about anyone spending too much time on the internet focuses upon the belief that people can get lonelier and lonelier without participating in a real-life crowd.
I have a problem with that complaint. Speaking for me, I have felt lonelier among some groups of real-life people than I have ever felt surfing the net. Truth is, I donât surf all that much. I probably should do more of it because internet offers a variety of interesting sites. In addition, if I donât like something, I can click myself out of there. Just try clicking off a person who says everything against everything you believe in and expects you to agree with him, while attending a boring party.
Then, the same complaint should apply to the couch potatoes who watch TV all day, with no participation. Which is worse then, internet or the TV?
On the internet, participation is the key in most sites. When I am inside a site such as Writing.com, I feel I am among friends who enjoy ideas and subjects similar to mine and we participate through our common goals or preferences. Try finding that in a neighborhood. No one in my neighborhood is into writing or art, and in my family, only a few of my cousins. There have been some people, even, who have tried to stop me from âdoing that boring thing with no practical end.â
I donât know how much time I spend online, exactly, but I go in and out several times during a day because I have to attend to real life. Some of those times spent on the web are only a minute or two, and the others may be a half hour to an hour or so.
On the other hand, I can see how some people can become addicted to the net to the detriment of their social and emotional "real" life. Yet, my way of using the web fits me perfectly, since I donât fall into its destructive pits and stay focused on the areas that sustain me intellectually and show me things I donât know about.
Prompt: How much time do you spend on the internet on an average day? Do you think it's too much?
|Why is the sense of smell so intense and functional for memory? Is it because we smell our mothers' innards first? This may have sounded like a joke, but I asked it in all seriousness, if seriousness and I can ever go together. Whatever it is, I bet it has to do with some kind of an early or even prenatal training, since there is a strong connection of smells with emotions and early life experiences, which most of the time are pleasant ones.
In my experience, even nasty smells bring forth happy memories. Case in point: When I was a child, we used to visit some people in an old worn-out clapboard house. The toilet there used to smell of urine, but I loved that house and those people in it immensely. A strong urine smell, now, brings back those people and that house, with a feeling of sunshine.
Another one is the smell of pipe tobacco. I knew the approach of one of my uncles from the smell of his tobacco. This uncle, who always walked around with his pipe hanging from the corner of his mouth, was never able to eavesdrop on our plans of mischief since my cousins and I would change the subject as soon as we smelled that special tobacco, which rather had a sweet fragrance.
There are other scents that remind me of people I loved, for example jasmine for my mother, lilac for my aunt, but Soir de Paris for my mother's second cousin who used to bring me expensive toys and was nice to me, even though she didn't like children in general.
When we first met, my husband was using Old Spice. He has changed his deodorant and cologne since. For old times' sakes, however, a few days ago, I did buy an Old Spice deodorant and put it in a drawer, not to use but to inhale the scent of where our youth has gone.
The smell of burning wood, too, is a smell of comfort, for it reminds me of several days after a storm with the electricity out, when my family used to gather around the hearth on cold nights, while I crocheted and told stories to my sons.
Then, there is the watermelon's winning scent when freshly cut, which brings back the joy of togetherness with our clan. Whenever we had a family meeting in summers, and I mean including the whole, extended family, everyone would bring a watermelon, and we'd have a watermelon fest together with my grandmother's baking and a variety of other dishes.
While I sniff out nostalgia, each scent connects to an event, a person, or a moment. With the prodding of a scent, I smell my emotions that take me to my past, and this must be a fact beyond imagination. I bet, some fragrances still are there, hiding in the back of mind and remaining dormant, until they can suddenly surface to startle me with a happy memory.
|A desert island is an uninhabited island for shipwrecked people. As I am deadly afraid of cruises, with the last disasters people faced while cruising the high seas, the chances of my being shipwrecked is little to none. Letâs say, for the sake of argument, I did get shipwrecked. Maybe I was kidnapped by an alien spaceship and that ship fell into the ocean. Possible? Probable?
In which case, I might plead, âExcuse me, Mr. Alien, can you wait a sec until I get my three books before we take off?â
If so, how would I know which book to take with me? Can I take my Kindle or Nook, to save me from carrying an entire library?
All right, Iâll skip that, as the prompt is frowning.
Iâll also skip my choice of the kind of an island to be shipwrecked in, although I wouldnât want an atoll, since there is no immediate fresh water on any, unless I dig a deep well for it. Not me. On top of being shipwrecked, I am not risking a bad back, too.
Now the three books:
Definitely, The Diwan of Shams of Tabriz, by Jalaluddin Rumi. My mother used to read it to me when I was a tot. What I like about this book is that, each story (call it a fable or parable, if you wish) has a multi-faceted viewpoint and the poet looks at a situation from all sides, unlike any of the Western literature. Most of the questions it asks, if in a nutshell âeven though there is nothing nutty about them-, why did anyone do anything and what was the backstory and the driving force behind their actions? Also, the way Rumi questions anything righteous appeals to me. Okay, enough of me salivating over this huge volumeâŠ
Second, I have to have The Complete Collection of Shakespeare, as it involves the entire human eccentricity, drama, and situations. And the poetry is to die for.
Third one is a dilemma. I am so torn about this. I narrowed it down to three choices. The Little Prince by Saint Exupery, Websterâs Dictionary, and a huge empty journal with a pen.
Darn! Websterâs will be no good to me if I canât have a journal to write in, and I wonât give up my first two choices; thus, it all boils down to the The Little Prince.
What the heck maybe Iâll just get the dictionary, the journal, and The Little Prince, after all he was also on a deserted place, a planet though it may be. But what about my top two loves?
On the other hand, I have to take all five books with me. The prompt will have to agree, after it hears me begging it to make allowances for my passions, as I'll plead my case through Rumiâs words:
âI don`t get tired of You.
Don`t grow weary of being compassionate toward me!
All this fantasy
Let my house be drowned in the wave
that rose last night out of the courtyard
hidden in the center of my chest .â
Prompt: What 3 favorite books would you take with you to a deserted island?
|Some days smiling is easy, with no worries, perfect weather outside, finances and family in order, my cooking and writing acceptable, health fine for me and for everyone around me, and no disasters, wars, fights, or elections blaring from the TV.
Not every day, however, starts this way. There are days I wake up to chaos around me, which instigates another chaos inside my head. It is in such times that I wish to stop the world so I can get off, if only for a while. Yet, an alternative exists inside me, inside finding something worth to smile about. For that alternative, I either look back into my life or search around me.
Ten things I do, to find something to smile about, are:
1. I sign in to Writing.com or Facebook. Something always exists in there somewhere to smile about, be it an e-mail, a C-note, a prize of some kind, someone elseâs success or someone sharing a funny video, a clip of his life, or a meaningful quotation.
2. I call my best friend and cousin on the phone. When we talk together, our words are like a soothing balm, as we remind each other not to take anything too seriously and our shared motto, âThis, too, shall pass.â
3. I talk to my husband. Even though he is a pessimist by nature, if he sees me upset, heâll find something to say to put a smile on my lips.
4. My sons and I have some kind of a psychic connection. If I am feeling a bit low, you can be sure Iâll hear from one or the other in some way, usually by phone.
5. I re-order my desk or my kitchen or a closet or two. Just the success of this little achievement is something to smile about.
6. I go to Youtube and watch cat or dog videos. When I had cats and dogs, they always made me smile and forget about whatâs making me upset. Now, in the absence of animal friends, the antics of other peopleâs pets serve as the second best.
7. Listening to music always puts a smile on my face and a few extra dreams in my heart.
8. I look through family pictures and feel like I am still together with those who have passed on and with those who live far away.
9. I take a walk. For sure, Iâll see, experience, and hear something funny or significant.
10. I try to lose myself in reading a novel, a mystery, or some well-written story. Just an hour of reading is enough to take me away from carrying around that frown on my face.
As an anonymous quote says, there are seven pretty good days in a week, and some day just isnât one of them, and since happiness and smiles are homemade, I always have a choice to make progress or to show the negatives in my life as excuses. I prefer to search and find a smile, especially when a smile isnât readily available. If nothing works, I still smile because I am still breathing.
Prompt: List ten things that make you smile.
|Being an only child and learning to survive an army of female adults around me who were all ready and eager to lend a hand for practically anything taught me to be wary of asking for help. Except for the men who showed up in the evenings, my grandmother, the maid, my mother, my aunt, and my grandmotherâs foster child, all these women were around me during the day, every single day.
âI am helping her,â âNo, I amâ âJust let me do it, for her!â
No kidding! This would go on until my mother would step in and say, âLet her do it on her own.â Then every one of them would stand around and watch me fumble tying my shoes, buttoning my cardigan, or whatever, with sad expressions on their faces and remarks like, âAwww!â âLook at her!â âPoor baby!â
And I hated to be pitied like that!
Another good thing my mother did was to let me get up on my own whenever I fell down. She forbid anyone to pick me up. I owe her for that.
Maybe because of her, to this day, I am hesitant to ask for help most of the time. Yet, I still do, if I have to, since I learned a few facts along the seven decades of my life. These are:
I am not a superhero. I canât do everything. If in serious trouble, Iâll ask and even yell. Also, when I canât do something on my own, not asking for help in time may turn a problem into a crisis. Who would want a crisis, ever, to deal with in their lives?
Someone who knows what heâs doing, like a computer techie, can boost my performance. What I am sure I donât know or canât find out on my own, Iâll ask.
I am not the kind who tries to reinvent the wheel like some of my contemporaries who stick to their old ways.
Everyone needs help and many people are willing to give it when necessary.
In general, if I am able to do something, Iâll do it myself, however badly. If it is something beyond my reach, like fixing a leak on the roof or the plumbing, then Iâll call a roofer or a plumber.
If I have too many bags of groceries to carry inside from the car, I wonât ask for help. Iâll make several trips back and forth and feel buoyant for the extra steps on my pedometer.
I donât, as a rule of thumb, ask for help from my children. If they see that something needs to be done and me struggling with it and they volunteer, then I gratefully accept their help. For example, noticing that my husband and I were concerned about a messy spot inside the porch/pool area, my younger son built me a wonderful corner in its place for my flower pots, and I am very appreciative of that. I love that spot, and anytime I am inside the porch, I sit facing that spot. I didnât come out and ask, but my son volunteered to do the job, and that alone made me very happy.
This prompt made me think. What was the last time I asked for help? I asked a store clerk to take down a box on a high shelf in a small appliance store. Before that, a while ago, I had a small cyst taken out from my back. I asked my husband to change the dressing, when I couldnât.
Maybe because I am hesitant to ask for help, people around me are willing to give it, and I am truly grateful to them.
On the other hand, when the roles are reversed, I like to help when a person needs support or asks for my help. After all, we all are human beings and not robots. That alone necessitates that we support each other and give help when we can.
Prompt: What types of things do you avoid asking for help with?
|From the moment a person opens his eyes to life, everyone begins to give him advice. Although values and opinions change with the passing of decades, some advice is timeless.
Oscar Wilde said, âThe only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.â Now, this is good, solid advice to pass it on. After all, it is easier to hand out advice than follow it. I listen to othersâ advices, but I donât necessarily follow them.
Among people related to me, my grandmother was full of itâŠadvice that is. She said the funniest weirdest things, but in the long run, life always proved her right.
My favorite one was, âTruck it, f *^% it!â when faced with an unsolvable dilemma. Once I asked her to explain the words to me. She said, âLoad your worries on a truck and wave bye-bye.â Also, her motto in life was, this too shall pass, which now brings me comfort whether a problem is petty or big.
Then, there is the kind of advice that is contradictory. I came across it when I tried running, during my dinosaur time. A person who considered himself an athlete told me to slow down to make my running a worthwhile gain. I donât believe he said it to catch up to me on the track, however. Anyone could catch up to me, even a baby, but I digress.
He told me the goal to running was to get my body to recognize the pace Iâm going in so I wouldnât burn all of my energy at the start of a run. I listened and slowed down for my running success. I lasted longer. What my body thought about this, I wouldnât exactly know to its minutest detail, but I think the advice worked, because that guy himself used to run long distance. Yet, unfortunately for him, he didnât tell me to keep up with my running craze through the years no matter what.
And because he didnât tell me to stick with it, I didnât. The shape I am in is his fault now. Of course, it is. He is my husband. He should have told me. I wouldnât listen, but he should have told me.
Prompt: Describe the wackiest but most useful advice you've ever received. This could be interesting!
|Sometimes, in our era, while reading Shakespeare, his text sounds like he is making his characters curse their heads off. "But screw your courage to the sticking-place, //And we'll not fail."
This, in fact, is no curse but Lady Macbeth urging Macbeth to commit to the plan of murdering King Duncan.
So, what does Shakespeare have in common with title of this entry or Star Wars? For sure, not much, and certainly not cursing, except for the drama of quirky characters. So much so that, there now exists Star Wars written a la Shakespeare, by Ian Doescher who imagines, in jest, that the bard is the real author. Published by Quirk Books, the titles make me laugh: The Empire Striketh Back; The Jedi Doth Run.
Truth is, as far as Star Wars go, I am only familiar with the first trilogy, but Doescher's version cracks me up, especially when he makes my favorite character Darth Vader talk. "Nay, Peace! I warn thee, man, be not too proud // Of thy great terror technological. // A weapon for the mass destruction of // A planet—even to destroy it whole-- // Is no match for the power of the Force."
Why do I like Darth Vader among a slew of interesting characters? Nasty characters with a tragic underbelly, the kind some call an iconic villain, are exciting and interesting. And Darth has it all: heavy breathing, a massive body, physical and mental power, that gothic mask, theme music...
His black metal armor and mask is out of this world as it veils his human side and makes him into a machine of the dark side. Essentially, that mask is made to cover something either too horrible or far too complex to be imagined, maybe something good that has gone bad, like spoiled flesh. And that outer covering or appearance of him propels his actions and makes him into an awesome presence that punishes those who annoy him as he enforces the discipline of the Imperial power of the dark side. And he does all this with an almost controlled, rational anger.
Way back when, while we watched the third Star Wars movie, learning more about Darth Vader made me feel empathy for him. When I found out he was probably subjected to trauma that changed him from a Jedi knight into a dark lord, and that as a daddy, he died for his son, I felt my heart break. After all, he isn't the only monster who has turned human or vice versa. Doesn't the dark side do this to some people in real life by injecting lust for power and nurturing it to such a degree that there is no way out except death?
After watching the third Star Wars movie, I remember feeling depressed for all humanity, because the basic story was about how an angel can fall, as if the movie was repeating the scriptures.
Anyway, all this was a few decades ago, when I had my kids with me, so I kept a stiff upper lip and my ideas to myself, and after the movie, we went for pizza and ice-cream to sweeten my Darth Vader blues. Of course, I let the kids believe I did the food thing for them.
Prompt: Who is your favorite Star Wars character? Luke Skywalker? Darth Vader, Yoda, C3PO, R2D2, Ewoks, Jabba The Hut, Hans Solo or Princess Leia? Not a Star Wars Fan? How about Star Trek, V or ET? Have fun with this.
|No matter how much money or success one hopes to make in life, the journey starts with one dollar or one step. Usually the first dollar is the hardest to make.
Most human beings, at least the ones in our culture, start making a dollar here and a dollar there in their teen years. If I made any money during my adolescence, I owe it to my tenacity because I grew up with an overprotective mother who wouldn't let me babysit or mow a lawn or do anything else for "strangers" who were in fact our neighbors and friends. If I did anything for anyone, she would be around watching me and would have me do it as a favor, and not for money. After all, according to her, money was dirty; I had everything I needed and one didn't eke out monetary gain from friends. In spite of living under the thumb of such a character as my mother, I still made my first dollar in my teens. This is such a long time ago that I remember the whole experience in a haze.
A daughter to one of our family friends, one I'll call F, was struggling in school. F had a few problems as a child. She was too fat and painfully aware of her size, and I suspect in hindsight, she also had learning disabilities, which people didn't know, understand, talked about, or admit during the fifties. Otherwise, F was a pretty girl and quite nice. A year younger than me, she was running the risk of being left back in a time when schools didn't let anyone repeat a year. To the best of my recollection, her wealthy parents always had a tutor for her for one subject or another, but F hated the tutors and had crying fits after they left. Her mother didn't want her to drop out of school and was pushing her to the max.
I, on the other hand, was her opposite. I was in an accelerated all-girls school and doing very well. F's aunt thought, because F related to me as a friend, I should be the one to tutor her since she seemed to be the most relaxed with me. My mother jumped in and said I should do it, but as a favor. F and her family wouldn't hear of it; at the end, for the sake of F, my mother had to accept their offer.
So I started tutoring F in practically all her subjects. She didn't always listen to me. She never wanted to do the work, and at times, she would daydream while I was trying to explain something or other to her. Whenever she did that, I told a joke, and once drew a caricature of her face pouting, which made her laugh. Although eventually our sessions turned into clowning, she made some headway, and her grades improved. Her family was happy.
My dubious success of tutoring F while I was in ninth grade opened the door to my tutoring others in lower classes than me for the rest of my school life, for finally, my mother had consented to it if the students came to our house for the lessons instead of me going to them.
Much later, I received a teaching license, but when it came to teaching high school, I didn't like the experience at all. Although I still cherish the memory of my so-called success with F and other students who followed her, I dropped out of teaching after six months.
Prompt: How did you make your first dollar? Baby-sitting, paper route or..... Have fun with this.