Thoughts destined to be washed away by the tides of life.
I've been studying my cover photo for a while now, and it seems to me that it is more than just a photo of what is there that can be seen, more than just three white rocks stacked on a beach. It contains an important question about the future, about what happens long after the photographer has gone. What will happen to our pile of stones when the tide comes in? Will it topple or has the architect built this structure at a safe distance? |
I don't know what will happen to these words that I stack here on the sand. They may prove safely distant, or they may be swallowed up by a rush of self-doubt. They may be here for a season. They may lose their balance and be scattered by the shoreline, or be hidden away under shifting sands. Perhaps someday, the tides of life will reclaim them.
Or maybe that's just a bunch of poetic, romantic nonsense. After all, this is just a blog.
|This is an unusual blog post for me, and it’s not the sort of thing I am good at, so bear with me. The important thing to remember is that this blog post is not about me, nor is it trying to elicit sympathy for me, despite the relating of some truly tragic details of my life in recent days, so we will have none of that. This blog post is about something else. It’s about WDC, or WdC or however one wants to stylize that.
Through circumstances we won’t discuss, I ended up with quite a long stay in the hospital for a large chunk of July. And let me tell you, being in the hospital during a pandemic is not the luxury hotel experience you might imagine. For one thing, you spend a few days isolated while they test you for Covid. Until such test results are received and prove negative, no one can enter your room without several layers of protective coverings, so no one enters your room unless they have some pressing medical need - like puncturing your veins one more time to fill vials of blood, or checking that you are asleep by waking you up to take your vital signs.
As I am extremely lucky, I got to stay in two separate hospital settings with three admissions and four rooms. And even luckier for me, the fact that I was running a fever meant that I got to have two invasive, up the nose and poke your brain Covid swab tests. Then, when I was transferred, I got to have two more. All of them negative, I mean, no worries about that. Four tests in two weeks, all negative. But being Covid free does not completely negate the discomforting experience of having someone stick a ten foot Q-tip up your nostril.
But none of that is the point of this blog post. Because that’s all about me, whining about my life.
The point is, that throughout the rather annoying month of July, there was one thing that made me feel normal - as soon as I was feeling well enough, I could log onto WDC and enter a world where all I needed to interact were words.
Of course, the extended isolation meant that I had to log onto WDC through my phone. I am not going to pretend this was easy. I had to learn to navigate the mobile version of the site, and once I had done that, I had to figure out how to post. First tries were limited to Newsfeed posts, but I soon graduated to answering the Question of the Day. The true test was trying to compose on my phone and then manage to transfer those words into an item in my portfolio and then to enter said item into a contest. I am rather proud of the fact that I won a few contests with my hospital poetry. And I kept up my participation in an ongoing poetry challenge, a feat in itself.
I learned some very useful things. Phone keyboards are tiny and missing one or two things that nearly kept me from succeeding. Like the curly bracket. The curly bracket is essential to posting on WDC and there was no curly bracket on any of my phone’s downloaded keyboards. I would love to tell you that I was clever enough to figure out how to make a curly bracket on my own, but what really happened is that I was complaining about it in a text while speaking the text into the phone, and when I said “curly bracket”, one appeared on the screen. It was a miracle! And it didn’t take me very long (a little while, though) to figure out that saying “close curly bracket” produced the closing bracket.
But the main point is that during very long days, spent mostly alone and with little to distract me (hospital television offerings are uninteresting, to say the least), WDC gave me a reason to think, to write, to learn new things and challenged me in new ways. All of which makes it worth the price of admission.
I don’t want you to think I was all brave and stoical and heroic, though. I did my share of whining. Here’s an example of whining hospital poetry:
And a little shout out to some of those forums and contests that inspired me while I was confined:
"24 Syllables "
And many thanks also to WDC for the little prods and prompts on the newsfeed that kept my mind from atrophying.
And always remember - your phone knows what a curly bracket is. I may never get over that...
|This might be a strange blog post to return to the blog with, but it sort of follows a theme with the last post. Because lobsters are not fish, either, but like mermaids, they live in the ocean.
First, let me say that I have never eaten lobster and it is very unlikely that I ever will. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about them. Not really sure what makes me start thinking about them, but this morning I got lobsters on the brain.
Thinking, that’s what it’s about. And brains.
Because for years, scientists said that lobsters don’t feel pain because their central nervous system is too rudimentary. They haven’t got a central brain. No brain, no pain.
I have always been a bit suspicious of people who purport to know what another creature is feeling. You and I are humans - the very same species - but I can never know exactly what your pain feels like. I can tell you I have a headache and you can accept that, but not feel it. And there could be times we think others are faking. Right?
So, how do we know lobsters don’t feel pain? Scientists said so. But now some scientists are saying the opposite. Canadian scientists, even, which would make it eminently believable according to my mother. And surprisingly, people who used to say there was no better way to kill a lobster have come up with some new and more humane ways to kill a lobster. In case it feels pain. Which they still deny.
I don’t eat lobster and have never ordered one to be killed for my pleasure. So why do I care? It’s just this thing I feel about having great responsibility and taking care to not do harm on purpose and to try to give voice to the voiceless. The non-verbal make really easy targets for injustice.
If you are going to make decisions that might cause pain, that might be cases of life and death, I think you’d better be sure about all your facts. And in some cases, where you can’t be sure, you have to err on the side of caution.
Anyway, I don’t know what a lobster feels or thinks, which is no good reason to drop it alive into a vat of boiling water. Personally, I think they are nothing more than big insects that live in the sea, but I don’t step on insects that are too big to kill with one attempt. There’s that squishy effect, too. Yuck. But my personal opinion on lobsters and whether or not I want one doesn’t really have any influence over whether they deserve humane treatment.
I guess I am saying that just because someone gave you the right to kill something that has no power to object, it doesn’t mean you should or that you know everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
Can Lobsters Feel Pain
|I need to write a blog post. It isn't as if I don't have any ideas, it is just that I question whether those ideas are suitable or wise. And well, I figure that I may as well be hanged for a sheep as two lambs, as my mother always said.
This is something that has been bothering me for days. I don't know what sort of attitude to have towards it because I can't decide if the perpetrators of this act are truly stupid, or if they have some sort of dry Scandinavian humor that maybe only my father could have understood. I would prefer the latter, because it's discouraging to think the former might be true.
Maybe you've seen my profile photo of The Little Mermaid. This statue is in Copenhagen, Denmark and it pays tribute to Hans Christian Andersen, the author of many stories for children (though The Little Mermaid is far too sad for children - it's nothing like the Disney version).
This mermaid sits on a rock in the harbor, looking out to see sea. Too bad she was looking away or she might have seen the vandals who defaced her.
For deface her, they did, with graffiti that reads: RACIST FISH.
Now you can see why I hope this is someone with a twisted sense of humor.
Because it is really, really sad to think that there are people out there who do not know the difference between a mermaid and a fish. It's even sadder to think that there are people out there who cannot tell fictional, mythological creatures from actual, historical figures.
And how unhappy a person do you have to be to be mean to a mermaid? Especially the Little Mermaid, a tragic figure who sacrificed herself for love of a human? That is so the opposite of racist.
And, this is just my opinion, but if you can't tell a mermaid from a fish, you may not be ready to step up and run the world.
|I think it’s time to discuss privacy issues with the cat. I mean, it didn’t bother me when the cat used to go into the bathroom with me, but she doesn’t do that anymore. And it didn’t bother me when she would stick her paws under the door. That was cute, really adorable. These little white paws stuck onto spindly black legs reaching under the door to try to retrieve a piece of paper she’d managed to chase through the gap at the bottom of the door. Wow, so endearing. I don’t mind that at all.
No, the problem is that she tries to open the bathroom door.
The cat knows how doors work. She’s seen us opening doors by turning the door knob. Now, the cat is not equipped with the right size of paw or whatever else she needs to be successful at turning door knobs. Thank goodness. If she ever learns to open the door, my life is over. I already went through this when my son was a toddler. He became the reason for highly placed locks and chains on doors. I am older and less resourceful, I could not handle it.
No, the cat tries but cannot open the bathroom door. What she can do is rattle the door knob which always gives me a start, thinking someone is about to walk in on me. The knob rattles, it shakes, nearly turns and I begin to form a warning scream when I suddenly realize it’s the cat.
It’s like living through a brief, tense scene in a horror movie, but only for a moment and there is no danger. So, not like a horror movie at all, but you will allow my exaggerated emotional response. The thing is, she doesn’t answer when I call out “who is it?” and that’s just what a killer in a movie would do.
But I suppose that if the cat trying to open the door freaks me out, then finding out the cat can talk would be enough to send me over the edge.
|It’s Sunday. I’ve discovered that not many people read blogs on the weekend. That’s okay. It fits right in with my post for today as it is not the sort that needs to be read as much as it needs to be written.
Someone once asked me what the theme of my blog was going to be and I felt a little panicky. I need a theme? I have written theme blogs before, but that was a different time. Way back when the Blogosphere was a phenomenon, when Google Adsense paid well and when you could drive traffic to a popularly-themed and regularly updated blog.
But that’s not this blog. Chances are if I keep writing here, I will eventually and without thinking type the sentence that reveals too much of the real me. I wouldn’t like that and neither would you. I prefer to be the other me, the one I make up new every day, like a hotel bed. A clean sheet every day.
I signed up for The Bard’s Hall blog challenge this month. The challenge is to write ten blog posts in the month of June. Which I have. Actually, this post and anything beyond it is a bonus.
I noticed something, though. When I first signed up and read the posts on the forum, I read that one had only to post the first blog post for June and tag it with Bard’s Hall. Which I did. Later, I noticed that everyone was editing their posts and updating them every time they published a new blog post. I thought about going along with the crowd, but I just can’t. It doesn’t make sense to do it that way. If the link to the first post is there, then all one needs to do to continue through the blog is to click on the word “Next”. To me, that seems infinitely simpler than going back and forth from the links on the Bard’s Hall entry post to each individual blog post. I suppose it looks like others did all the work and I didn’t.
Hey, that’s the first time I thought of that. If everyone else lists all their posts and I listed just the first one, they might assume there is only one. Ah well, I can’t conform at this point. It’s too late. I hope they do read through but it’s okay if they skip this one. It’s surplus anyway.
Which is why it’s okay that no one reads blogs on the weekend.
|When I was a little girl, I wanted a toy dog for Christmas. Not just any toy dog, this dog looked like some kind of beagle, and it had a leash and when you walked, it walked (rolled?) right along behind you. It was advertised heavily during Saturday morning cartoons and was definitely meant to be included on Christmas lists. I would have put it on my Christmas list, but I didn’t know anything about those. My parents, having limited funds, were smart enough not to risk a letter to Santa filled with potential disappointment. I got a lot of nice things that year, including a wonderful baby doll, but I was disappointed that I did not get that toy dog. Worse, my little brother did get that toy dog, and well… that’s a whole can of sibling rivalry we won’t open today.
I think we already had a dog, a living dog. We nearly always had a dog in the family. But there was something appealing about a little dog that would just be my own and would only do what I wanted. Over time, more realistic toy dogs evolved and by the time I was grown, there were all sorts of robot dogs who emulated the pet-owning experience without the mess of digestive end products.
I think this is the rationale behind a new movie starring a robot. This is not a human actor pretending to be a robot or an actor voicing a robot that has been created with CGI or special effects. No, this is a robot who apparently has learned her lines and says them with emotional conviction (after some coaching in method acting). Her name is Erica and she is the lead character, not a sidekick. In fact, she was created specifically to star in this movie.
Actors currently holed up in their mansions while their careers are on hold due to Covid-19, have to be a little worried. This is a director’s dream. He doesn’t have to find the actor who fits his image of a character, he can just order up a robot who is “born” to play the part.
I don’t know how the pay scale will be adjusted for robot actors, but whether the film company buys the robot, or rents it, or whatever, I suspect that the robot will be a lot less trouble. It won't sulk in its dressing room. It won't demand a raise, or nicer furniture, or a personal assistant. The robot will probably not have an agent lobbying for special privileges. And a robot actor will not inflate the budget by commanding tens of millions of dollars per film. In any case, the price of a movie ticket ought to plunge.
I am not sorry to see this happen. Although I usually warn people about the coming “rise of the machines”, I won’t mind a bit if a whole slew of these Hollywood types disappear and stop scolding me about whatever it is their tiny brains are obsessed with at the moment.
Meet Erica, star of the upcoming movie b .
|I started this blog in September of last year. I wrote five blog entries that month. The next month I wrote just one. And one in November. Then blog silence ensued throughout a long winter and lasted right through spring.
This didn’t happen with just the blog, the same was true of my portfolio - it didn’t grow for many months. There were no poems, no contest entries, nothing. To all appearances, I was idle, slothful, aloof from the WdC Community.
The truth is that life sometimes steps in and hands us a new job. It was last year that a family member desperately needed to leave a living situation and find a new one on her own. But that takes time, and so she moved in with me. For a time, she occupied the couch and had no quiet place of her own to go to. Neither did I.
Some people cannot spend a day surfing the internet or engaging in a hobby. Some with poor hearing and foggy vision cannot even spend the day watching television. And so, they require large amounts of face-to-face social contact. I was the provider of this social contact.
I tried at first to keep up writing here and there, and eventually we were able to provide a bed and a more private space and then later, she found a place of her own. But I had missed out on months of writing and building my portfolio. I kept up my membership so I wouldn’t lose anything in my portfolio and also because I liked to hope that I might yet return to daily writing.
Well, I am here to report that yes, I am idle and slothful, but I am also managing some daily writing. So, I guess that I have to wipe the last several months off my calendar - never happened. Today is a new day, or at least, it’s not over yet. But for a new day, it sure came with a lot of wrinkles.
|It was about 8 or 9 years ago that I decided to try genealogical research. I didn’t want to pay for any service, so all my research would have to be through information that was free on the internet. Google was my research assistant. I didn’t realize it then, but that was the perfect time to do this research as many of the sites that were giving out vital statistics and such for free, have now shuttered their search functions and charge for any release of information.
I was lucky also that nearly all my mother’s paternal ancestry was already recorded and kept on a website that was completely free to search. The Island Registry contains detailed family trees on many families that immigrated to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Without that giant first step, I might have not pursued further.
There was a story told in my mother’s family of a situation involving a murder. This happened in the 19th century, so no one who knew what really happened was still living. The story the family circulated amongst themselves made the murderer out to be quite a noble creature, and the murder a tragedy, but not a real crime.
I was surprised, therefore, when I accessed the local papers of the time on Google and read some very salacious details that the family had never disclosed (though, I don’t believe my mother knew of these facts). Unfortunately, I did not print these out and Google has since been stopped from publishing them for free.
This week, I was searching the internet, trying to find those newspaper articles again when I happened upon a Facebook page devoted to crime with a post about this very murder. Through the post, I have made contact with cousins I didn’t know existed.
Sometimes it is worthwhile to google something that you’ve searched for dozens of times before. The internet is always changing and new information is being added all the time. I found much more than I was looking for.
|I remember when I first experienced Facebook, I sneered at the number of people who used this great communication medium as a place to share photos of cats. They posted photos of cats all day long - fluffy cats, hairless cats, mischievous cats, fat cats, grumpy cats and cats who “can haz cheeseburger”. I just could not understand it, having been a dog person my whole life. Then, through no fault of my own, I became a cat owner.
My daughter had lobbied for a cat for years and I had remained steadfast. I did not want to be responsible for another pet as I had for the guinea pigs she brought home but tired of maintaining.
One day, nearly two years ago, I was entreated with pitiful pleas. My desire to see my child happy finally overcame my objections. I agreed to let her bring home a cat. This kitten with the tiny, perfect triangle of a head that sat atop long spindly legs, soon won us over with her boundless energy and appetite for fun. Then my daughter decided she was ready to move out on her own. Her own, meaning the cat did not go with her. And that was fine with me.
What I discovered when the cat came into my life is that cats aren’t as aloof or uncaring as they appear. They do care about you, but it’s not in the “just happy to be near you” tail-wagging way that dogs care. Dogs rush to you and win you over with exuberant expressions of their love and devotion. Cats are more subtle. They are so subtle, they don’t even know they are doing it.
Cats naturally exhibit behaviors that appeal to humans. They strike poses that we find irresistibly cute and adorable. With no effort at all, a decent cat can reduce the average owner to emotional mush by just rolling over, resting its head on a paw or displaying those big, round, dilated pupils that strangely, are often called “puppy dog eyes”. If we could resist these poses, these behaviors, then cats would never know that they could manipulate us. Alas, we are driven by instinct, too.
Because a cat who is sitting atop a cat tree, rolling onto its back and flipping its head upside down to look at you cannot be resisted, the owner rushes to the cat instead of the other way around as with a dog. Cats soon learn to lure you, to make you come to them and because they don’t want to make it easy for you, they let you guess what they want until you get it right. Food? Water? Treat? Window open? You want the window up so you can look out and hear the birds? Okay.
Cats do what comes naturally, and in doing so, alter our attitudes and actions. A curled up ball of fur makes us feel protective of something so soft and vulnerable and so, the cat can rely on the human to watch over it while it sleeps. We are satisfied with the feelings we get from viewing such cuteness, and in turn, provide our services and devotion. It’s a perfect arrangement and one that does not cost the cat anything. The cat does not learn to sit, or beg, or heel, or stay. It does not work as an alarm system to warn of strangers approaching. It will not eat your scraps to save you money. The cat does nothing more than be and that is all it takes to train a human to do the heavy lifting in the relationship.
I have realized that I can work to change the world through social media, and use the internet to influence the minds and hearts of all those who might listen, just by posting cute photos of my cat. If we could all just let our hearts be melted by these adorable felines, we wouldn’t have to worry about the future ever again.
The cats would be in charge.