Tag Archives: life

Birthday freebie!

12 Apr

Next weekend is my birthday.  Specifically, the 19th is.  So, while I’m keeping my mouth closed about my age, like any lady older than 21 tends to do, I am letting everyone know that I’m celebrating by giving away books.

Lots of books, I hope!

To start with, there are two books being given away.  (See Gulf Coast Foods blog to see which ones.  It’s right here!)  I’m writing about a totally different book here, even though you don’t have to choose which one you want.  You can get them all, and there are no strings attached.

They are Kindle books, however.  That doesn’t mean you are only given the option of Kindle–they are also available in paperback from Amazon.com.  You don’t have to have a Kindle either–there are free apps to let you read Kindle books on a variety of devices. (It’s right here.)

So what is the mysterious book being given away for my birthday?

It’s Freak Files: The Unexplained Tales.  It’s a collection of tales that were told to me or experienced by me, and are all from real life experiences.  Normally, it retails for $2.99 in Kindle format and $6.99 in print format, with less than 100 pages.  I hope you enjoy it, and that you leave a review!

So mark your calendar and remember, the book is free on April 19th and 20th.  (Yes, that includes Easter Sunday!) Enjoy the book, and thank you for your support of my writing efforts.

Freak Files 09 15 2013

Swimming cats, babies in bread, and devilish tornadoes

1 Feb

Vivid dreams, especially of this sort, are noteworthy with me.  I just don’t have them that often.  This one was vivid and ranked fairly high on the Freaky Weird Scale.

It started off with three cats swimming in our bathtub, and me calling to Greg for him to come watch.  We were quite amazed, and the bathtub was certainly far larger than anything we could fit in our home.  I’ve seen smaller wading pools than this bathtub was–it must have been about eight foot long and six feet wide, as well as about a foot and a half deep.

Now cats can swim fairly well, but its well known that most don’t like it much.  These cats were enjoying it, and had gotten in for their swim of their own volition, which was curious.

Somehow, at that point, I ended up outdoors with Greg.  The sky was ominous, and there was an open field between our house and a cluster of other buildings, which included some houses.  There was also a lake or broad river behind us, and a couple of hundred yards along the bank from our house, there was a large underground structure which opened up on the water side.

All of this is important, as from the other side of this village or town, a massive tornado was approaching.  People were running towards us in a panic, and we were yelling and directing them all to the underground structure.  We ran along with the stragglers, and barely made it before the tornado arrived, completely destroying our house, swimming cats and all.

While I was obviously unhappy about losing my house, I was concerned about a woman who leaned back against a wall, somewhat exhausted and pale.  I was inquiring about how she was and whether she was all right when an older woman explained that she had just had a baby.  At that point, the woman laid a big loaf of bread wrapped in brown paper in her lap, opened the loaf, and was relieved to find her baby was sleeping contentedly.  I was quite impressed with the idea of using bread to protect the baby.

At that point, I woke up.  What was just as strange as the initial dream is that when I went back to sleep…I went back to that place, which is completely unlike any place I’ve ever known.  Our house was still destroyed, without a trace of the swimming cats or anything else–everything had been carried away by the tornado.  The town was just as destroyed, but I’m not sure where the people were.  I was walking around our former home, in the debris filled garden, when the woman with the baby in the loaf of bread walked past with the older woman again, still carrying her baby in the bread, although with its tiny face exposed and the brown paper wrapped around the loaf.

Pretty curious, that baby in the loaf of bread.  I have no idea where that could come from,  nor what it would possibly mean in terms of symbology either at this point.  It’s just…weird.  The whole impression was not anything like a hot dog or that the baby or bread were intended for anyone to eat, but rather that the bread provided some kind of special protection for the baby, while the brown paper simply protected and disguised the bread.

Protected from what?  Disguised from who?

Curiouser and curiouser, don’t you think?

Weird day and I haven’t had much sleep

12 Sep

Okay, I’m going to qualify this with the statement that I might have slept about two hours last night, and it wasn’t in a row either.

With the inability to sleep aside, it’s a weird day.

First of all, my laptop, or rather the one pressed into service when mine died in July, got hit with the update thing last night.  No big deal other than a laborious restart, right?

Wrong.

It’s having seizures over something it calls “desktop update”.  Never mind that every other computer updated without a problem.  Mine has to have seizures because it’s Murphy’s Law.  Unlike Greg, everything I work on is computer local, not net based or network based.   Sure, I can recover my files, but I am still clinging to hope that we can undo the malfunction somehow.  Mostly because if we can’t, I’m sort of screwed.  I don’t have the money to replace the laptop right now.  That was why I was using that one–mine had died.

So I’m using a desktop computer.  Nothing wrong with that other than I don’t have much workspace.  It’s also not set up specifically for me, which means I cannot work on it very long at a time.  So, while I watch, rather irritated too, the bar on the laptop, it goes through repair routines.  Ones that should take 15 minutes are taking hours to do.

But that’s not all.

I have this really odd sensation in my hand.  Greg and I don’t wear our wedding bands.  Not for some unusual spiritual reason, but rather because of a very practical one.  We’ve both had rings smashed onto our fingers, and he’s seen people lose fingers when a ring hung up on something.  Even without having a finger ripped off, having a ring smashed onto your finger that requires tools to remove is not pleasant.  So…our wedding rings reside in the jewelry box.  We rarely wear them.

But today, I keep actually FEELING a ring on that finger.  I can feel something pressing against the fingers beside it too.  It’s a phantom sensation, but even when I am looking at my fingers, I still have the physical sensation of it being there.  For some reason, it has an ominous feeling for me, but I have no idea why a phantom ring would be ominous.

If someone else told me they were experiencing that, I’d ask them if they were contemplating doing something that would jeopardize their marriage, and it was a nudge to remind them of their commitment.  I’m not, and I know that without a shadow of a doubt.  The next thing to question was whether someone else was potentially threatening their marriage.

I’m not seeing that either.

I am just left with this weird uneasiness, and I’m trying to tell myself that it is just a case of aggravation combined with lack of sleep.  I am surely just making a mountain out of a molehill.

But this sense of foreboding IS pretty creepy.

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People Watching

7 Sep

I am a people watcher.  I notice a lot of things about people, and some of them are very subtle cues about their psyche given away by their body language.  When I worked in fields such as corrections and law enforcement, it was very useful.  When I was younger and lacked knowledge about the frequency of people having less than honorable intentions, it was what saved my silly butt when my brain failed to use what is called “common sense”.  People watching is a lifelong habit.

As time as moved forward, the internet was not only born, but grew up and out, swallowing our world.  It has given us access to the thoughts and comments from people from all over the world.  In many cases, it has removed the economic barriers that had previously isolated certain sectors of society from each other.

So what does that mean?

It means that I have the ability to regularly observe the public behavior and comments of those people born into a life of privilege.  You know the sort–their vacations cost more than my house’s total purchase price.  They have never experienced actual hunger, been homeless, or been worried about whether their utilities were going to be shut off before they could scrape together the money to pay the bill.  They have no idea what robbing Peter to pay Paul even means in terms of daily life.  They can have personal trainers, multiple cars, multiple vacations each year, etc.  They also have the ability to go “find” themselves and put their principles ahead of survival.  

When they were graduating (or their children) from high school, their biggest worry was not trying to find a way to pay for college, but rather whether they would be accepted into their first choice college.

But that’s okay.  It is nice that some people can enjoy a life of privilege, and if they inherited it from their grandparents or great-grandparents, well, lucky for them.  It’s hard to not envy that financial state when you are struggling, but I really don’t bear them animosity.  What does torque my psyche is that these people with  a life of privilege feel that they not only have the right, but the obligation, to pass judgement on the rest of the world.

People usually do not choose to be poor or financially struggling.  No one enjoys being hungry, homeless, sick, etc.  Our natures encourage us to try to avoid those states.  They, which in this case, includes me, may have made some poor choices or been the recipient of an unfortunate series of events that lead them to that state.  From there, circumstances can snowball to other issues, with a wide range of observable results.  These things can happen to people who are intelligent, moral, hard-working, and considerate of others.  They may even have a very good education to go with it.

It’s sad but true, money talks in this country.  Without money, if you are sick, you will die, the same as anyone who is poor and sick in a third world country.  Some areas have better indigent health care than others.  In Mississippi, if you do not have children at home, you are unlikely to receive any assistance with any medical needs, from medication to hospitalizations. The state does not consider keeping their population healthy to be financially feasible or a good investment, apparently. It means lower costs for the elderly too–Mississippians tend to die younger than most Americans, reducing the number of years that the elderly receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, etc.  Sounds great on paper, if you are one of the privileged category that can afford good housing, good nutrition,  lifelong insurance and private elderly care.  Poor people tend to believe that they are “lucky” to have minimal health care for their children.  The new national health care plan is painted to be the tool of the devil himself, an affront to the very fabric of American society.

Why do these people of privilege believe that they are responsible for passing judgement on every overweight person they see, everyone who is struggling to make a life for themselves, everyone who asks for help, and everyone else that they may observe in the course of a day?  Who gave them that right?

Somewhere along the way, the capitalism that we all treasure became a corporate based economy that has little to do with the concept of “free enterprise” and a whole lot to do with monopoly and control.  It’s not really capitalism anymore, more like corporatism.  Now we are told that corporations even enjoy many of the rights of a person.

Wonderful, right?

Not until a corporation dies on the battlefield or in a hospital bed of a curable disease.

In most cases, those with a life of privilege have acquired it via the corporatism society we live in today, not due to extraordinary efforts or great inventions. The sad thing is that with the rise of corporatism, we’ve lost compassion.  We illustrated it with the reality show industry featuring Donald Trump pointing his finger and stating “You are fired!”

There is no compassion from corporations.  It’s nothing more than the cogs of a wheel that bring the downsizing from the board of directors to the employee being laid off, all pre-planned like a paint by number painting and never seasoned by compassion, to give the dreaded pink slip to someone who is going home to his or her family with the worst news imaginable.

Even the safety net of the extended family is gone, also courtesy of corporatism and its demise rushed by the corporatism that fuels Hollywood’s representation of society in films and television.  We are now like a nation of three year olds grabbing everything they can reach and shouting “MINE!” at the top of their lungs.

Corporatism has convinced us that we need those “toys” and that he who dies with the most toys wins.  Too many people are working too many hours to buy toys so that they look as though they are living the life of privilege, when instead they could be enjoying the luxury of a real life with enough.  It’s made us a nation of people who trample over other people just to grab one more toy too.

Did you think Hunger Games was a depressing book?  It’s not that much different than the corporate career many face.  Most “die” early on, doomed to a life in the mail room, secretarial pool, or being fired.  A few climb to the next level, if they are greedy enough and willing to stomp on enough other people to do so.  At each level, more die and fewer rise to the next level.  Then, finally, there is a handful of “winners” who get the prize.

I think we need a whole lot more compassion, respect, and consideration for others and to stop entertaining those in positions of privilege with our envy and efforts to rise to their positions.  We need to learn what enough really means.  We need to remove the concept of false shortages and monopoly from our economy and create an air of plenty and competence.  We need to reward excellence and despise greed.

I can dream, right?

Sometimes, I wonder how Gene Roddenberry’s world came into being, what kinds of growing pains it experienced before money went away.  What measure did they use to bargain with others then?

Vacation!

1 Jul

There has been a problem, and it’s all Facebook’s fault.

They kept advertising vacations in locations like Israel or at a nice, hot, sunny beach.

Now maybe to someone who is starved for warmth, that’s appealing.  Me, I hear Israel, and I think Middle East, and that isn’t a place that is apt to make me relax one bit.  They have entirely too much going on there right now, from political upheaval to religious issues, and my idea of a good time does not include wearing a burka, trying to decipher where I could or couldn’t go as a woman, or watching soldiers carry machine guns.

I have betrayed the fact that I’m not very worldly.  I’m terrified of tanks and soldiers with guns, and always have been.  It’s bad enough to see them on television.  I don’t want to vacation where I have to navigate check points or be “protected” by soldiers.  It’s bad enough if it’s your own country that is living like that, I sure don’t want to go visit one for “fun”.

No, I’m not anti-gun.  I’m anti-war.  I’m a mother and a grandmother, and I see wars as killing sons and daughters.  I’ve lost one, not due to war, but I know what it feels like.  I can’t imagine sacrificing a child to the war games of politicians.  I’m also not anti-soldier–I have friends and relatives who have or are currently serving in the military.  I don’t have a panic attack if I see them in uniform either.  Not even if they have a gun.  They aren’t on patrol.

I guess I regard the entire Middle East as this huge war zone, with periodic spaces under truces that don’t include me, as I’m not Muslim or Jewish.  I also have no need to make a pilgrimage to an ancient religious site there.

Plus it’s hot.

And sandy.

I spent most of my life in the American Southwest, which is predominantly semi-arid.  I’ve had enough “beach” for a lifetime–a beach is just more hot sand to me.  Never mind that the southwest is short on water–they have ample “beach”.  Even on the Gulf Coast, I prefer to visit the beaches in the winter.  Or at night.  Hot sand has zero thrills for me.  I don’t even want a sun tan.  I’ve spent the last thirty years avoiding that, why start trying to get one now?

So, I started thinking…

IF I could afford a vacation anywhere, where would I really want to visit?

Someplace cool.  Like really cool.   Not rock star cool, but ice and snow cool.  Like Mississippi winter cool, most likely.  Greenland and Iceland come up on the list fairly quickly.

The reality is, I don’t have a vacation budget this year.  I’m like most of America, and have a hand-to-mouth existence that is plagued with gaps between the two.  Our primary vehicle has broken down–our back up vehicle, our old mini-van, has expired tags.  We’re not going anywhere right now.

So how on earth to take a vacation?

Vacations for me are usually a camping trip somewhere.  Sometimes, I’ve gone on camping road trips, camping along the way to visit someone or something.  It’s entertaining and relaxing, and I got pretty good at setting up/tearing down.  Since those days, I’ve become disabled.  Setting up camp with Greg is now an endeavor that takes a lot out of us, even as we’ve simplified things immensely.  We’re also in need of a new tent now, as our old standby one with its easy set up and internal frame, has seen better days and leaks so badly we just use a tarp over the rain fly.  Without a functional and legal vehicle, we’re not going camping either–besides, I no  longer can cope with summer heat without air conditioning.  Our camping, when we can go, is confined to the other three seasons of the year.

But…

I’m a devious so and so sometimes.  I’ve heard of staycations.  Most of them sound like they aren’t all that much fun, or even save that much money.  But I thought about it, and what do I like to do when I go camping?

Obviously fishing is a big deal, but when we go out of Mississippi, I don’t fish, as I don’t buy an out-of-state license.  So what do I do then?

I hang out and do much of nothing, actually.  I do cook, especially if we have a group, but with the loss of the use of my arm, I have to have a fair amount of help to do that too.  So, it looks like I don’t do much except deal with meals, and when it’s just Greg & I, we tend to do very simple meals at that.

I’m going to hang my hammock in the yard on Wednesday, after the radio show is done tomorrow.  I’m going to take one of the books I need to read, a pillow, and go lay in the hammock and do nothing at all except read and watch people go by.  Maybe I’ll swing the hammock a bit.  I might get my little battery personal fan out to create an artificial breeze.  I might even take the laptop out for a bit, and see if the wi-fi reaches that far.

Sound silly?

Maybe it is.  But just a day of being silly can make a lot of difference in how we approach problems and figure out a way to solve them.  We could definitely use some increased brainpower!

Common decency?

29 Jun

When did things like kindness, courtesy, being polite, patience, and virtues in general go out of style?

I’m sort of lost here…in case you hadn’t noticed.  I’m also curious.

When did cruelty, viciousness, rudeness, foul language, selfishness, greed, and avarice become desirable traits?

Seriously.  I still see posts where women brag about being bitches.  Yes, I know a bitch is a female dog, but there is a reason why the word bitch is used to describe a woman.  It’s because she is selfish, rude, vicious, cruel, and/or greedy.  While I own three bitches myself, and I love those dogs to death…it is the attitude of a bitch in heat, if you had sexual promiscuity to the list of characteristics of a bitch.

It’s sure not something you’d want your daughter to grow up to exemplify.

Ok, I’ll admit it…I have, on numerous occasions, responded with “Thank you, that’s the nicest thing anybody has said today” when I was called a bitch by a man.  That’s because I was working as a guard in a men’s prison and it likely WAS the nicest thing I’d been called that day.  You will never get anywhere if you think a prison guard has popularity on their mind–they don’t.  They tend to be oriented on policies, procedures, and getting the job done.  Being called a bitch kind of went with the general lack of popularity thing I had going on then anyhow.

But that was just a job, and that was a very long time ago now.  I don’t like being called a bitch.  I don’t call people bitches either, unless provoked greatly.  When I do, it is NEVER a compliment, in case you were wondering.  I’ve never had respect for someone that chose to act in that manner either.  I certainly don’t envy them.  In general, I feel sorry for them, for surely something terrible has happened to make them so miserable.

I still try to be kind, considerate, and polite with others.  Even bad customer service reps don’t get sworn at by me–the worst I say is to ask to speak to a supervisor.  Bad customer service happens to be something that makes me very irate too.  Rude clerks make an impression on me in stores as well.  I tend to not want to shop there again.  Rudeness is bad for business, it does not attract future customers.  It drives away previously loyal customers too.

So why are all of these companies, from your local hospital to the utility company to the corner coffeeshop, still employing rude and unpleasant people?  Why are we beginning to accept rudeness and worse as our lot in life?  Why aren’t people more considerate of their co-workers, neighbors, customers, employees, friends, and even family?  How did society become so “me, it’s all mine, I deserve this” about everything?

Paula Deen is being crucified for decades old comments, and yet we forgive people like Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen.  We hear the same words in music from a variety of artists, and that’s okay too.  We’re devoting hours and hours of debate to whether or not gay people should marry.  We send money overseas to promote “freedom” and “democracy” while our own freedoms are being eroded away and our democracy becomes a corporate lapdog.  We scream about human rights, and right here in the USA, they are violated continually, without even minimal access to health care for the millions of working poor families.  That’s okay, we’re sending rice and vaccines to Africa.  Never mind that the seeds we export are GMOs and “Terminator” seed…leaving farmers starving and unable to grow anything.

We can’t change the world.  We can’t even force change in our own country in anything resembling a speedy change.  We can’t make people learn to think independently and quit worrying about whether or not Britney Spears was wearing underwear when she went to the club last week.  We can’t make them demand their freedom is protected or that Congress actually works to better the lives of the majority of citizens in this country.

So what can we do?

Start in your own little corner of the world.  Demand that corporations deliver what they promise, from the product they sold you to the customer service that ensures it works right.   Smile at your neighbor and ask how they are doing.  Quit surfing on the surface of life, worrying about paying that too-high mortgage or that new car payment so you can replace your four year old car.  Quit caring about who’s name is on the butt of  your jeans and spend more time paying attention to how those jeans makeyou feel.

For crying out loud, quit being a whining bitch and bragging about it.

Grow up.  Participate in life, contribute something along the way.  Make a friend and keep them as a friend, even when its not convenient.  Friendship is about more than mere networking.

Learn the virtues and think about them.

Common decency…ask someone like your grandmother to tell you about that.  It isn’t weakness to be kind and considerate.  It’s a virtue.

Try a few of them on for size.  It’s not about anti-feminism or religion or wanting to go back in time.  It’s about how  you treat people.  It’s about how you treat yourself too.  How can anyone be happy if everyone cringes when they see you coming?  Fear doesn’t come with respect, in case you hadn’t noticed.  It’s more apt to deliver disgust, repulsion, and rejection.

 

Does social media reflect our society?

16 Jun

I’ve been looking through various social media sites today, having a few laughs at the creative ways people solve problems.

And then, I would read the commentary from people that I don’t know. It was interesting but also concerning. Judging by that commentary, our world is made up of a high percentage of very vocal people who feel an obligation to pass their moral judgement on someone else. They can’t see any further than single snapshot of the story, but because of THEIR opinion, that person should be imprisoned, have their kids & pets taken away, and be restricted from interactions with others…at the least.

I’m not talking about photos of blatant cruelty, deviant behavior, etc. either. Some of it revolved around creative punishments for kids after some rule violation, which was never described. Having been a parent with kids who were creative about rule violation myself, I know that I had to be creative with finding appropriate punishments that reflected the rule violation. I wanted them to understand why the rule existed and why it was important to follow the rule too. It wasn’t about retribution usually (sibling wars sometimes do involve that though.)  I was a mother who actually made her daughter wear a sign that stated “I lie to my mother” much to her chagrin.

Sometimes it was about outdoorsy stuff–fun things to do with kids while camping, having a bonfire, etc. Sometimes, ideas don’t work so well in practice as they do in concept. I’ve done a lot of things, ranging from cooking on hot rocks to cooking stuff on a stick. I’ve eaten food that had more sand in it than the average ocean beach too. I’ve tasted things that were rather unpleasant along the way. It’s part of the fun we share with our kids.

After due consideration, I have concluded the following.

Too many people spend too much time worrying about what other people are doing.
Too many people lack fun in their lives, and therefore must stamp out the element of fun in other people’s lives.
We have too many “holier than thou” people in the population.

We have way too many people who object to hearing laughter or seeing smiles.

Too many of those who are “experts” and free to make decisions about what we can or cannot do have no idea what we are doing or why we are doing it.

Too many people actually feel they have not only the RIGHT but the moral and legal obligation to control what other people do in the privacy of their own homes–and I don’t mean what we consider illegal normally, but how they talk, what they think, how they dress, what they eat, their manners, etc., stuff we consider the small individual choices of life.

It’s no wonder that as the mysterious “They” say, the nation (or world for that matter) is going to hell in a handbasket.  Everybody is too busy worrying about everyone else’s thoughts and actions to take care of their own business!  Surely these trolls (yes, they are trolls…people who habitually do this negative commentary are even called trolls, for crying out loud!) cannot be doing much for their own personal economy or relationships if they are devoting this amount of time to tell everyone else that they are doing it all wrong.  Just like those parenting experts that have never had a child of their own, these trolling experts don’t seem to have a life of their own.

Not that the world or the masses are always right either.  I agree…too many people deface historical or archeological artifacts, whether in vandalism or theft.  Too many people do dumb things like chop down living trees to build a bonfire or break glass bottles at a beach.  Other people destroy the environment with the foolish use of a fire or flare.  There are people who do abuse their children, spouse, parents, or strangers for that matter.  We have laws trying to protect society from acts of stupidity and viciousness.  We have an appropriate process to deal with the people who are believed to have violated these rules of society too.

But just because I let my granddaughter pick a wallflower alongside a country road, that doesn’t mean I’m letting her burn down the forest.  Yes, I know it is a wildflower and it won’t produce seed because she picked it.  I also know that it was one of thousands in that area alone, and that the roadside will be mowed in a week or two.  It’s not endangered, and I think she is smart enough to learn (over time, she is still a toddler) to respect and appreciate our natural world.  Meanwhile, the child of the pompous troll who passes judgement on us as being among those who rape the environment will miss learning what beauty and joy is to be found in the natural world as s/he learns instead to judge others with no tempering by mercy or common sense.

If this is the direction society is headed, my apocalyptic prediction friends are apt to see it become a reality.  These people are so focused on finding fault with others around them that they can never see the real threats to their world aren’t the people who laugh and do silly stuff, but rather those who work in secret, trying very hard to stay out of sight as they figure out how to make a few extra dollars.  My conspiracy theorist friends can undoubtedly figure out how these trolls are actually secret government agents, designed to keep people irritated and aggravated, unable to focus on real issues while they deal with the dumb stuff the trolls come up with.

Like education.  Genuine education that actually teaches kids critical thinking skills…now there is an idea that has been long forgotten as we deal with the “No child left behind” concept that ultimately was translated to “thou shalt only teach kids what they need to know to pass the federal tests” because that is going to determine whether or not you keep your job as a teacher.  Critical thinking isn’t necessary, especially if you are raising the next crop of trolls and troll victims, now is it?

It’s no wonder we have the FDA pursuing small farmers who sell raw milk while we have organized crime moving drugs throughout the  nation, or that towns across the country are more concerned with whether or not someone is growing vegetables in their front yard than they are with the number of people in town that don’t have access to fresh, healthy produce at all.  Yes, I know that raw milk is a potential carrier of horrible disease and that was the original reasons for pasteurizing milk, but if people were educated to understand what the word pathogen meant, then they could make an intelligent decision about whether or not to use raw milk, couldn’t they?  We’re far more likely to hear about a school teacher having inappropriate sexual relations with a student than we are to hear about all of the teachers who managed to help a child learn and maybe even make something of their lives via education.  We’ll hear every small detail about some celebrity’s life, right down to whether or not she had on underwear when she was at location x than we will hear about that local activist who managed to put together a community farm that ensured that everyone in that town had fresh vegetables in season.

It’s time to quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and go do something.  Have a glass of milk and eat a cookie, made with real butter and sugar, while sitting on an unmowed lawn and letting the sun warm your body.  Wear some goofy outfit and go to Walmart, and while you are there, smile at people and ask them how they are doing and really listen for once.  Go eat a hot dog with mustard and kraut while watching a baseball game and cheer for both sides.  Pick a dandelion flower and hold it under your chin to see if you like butter.  Have a lemonade stand and give the stuff away to people, just for the heck of it.  Put a lawn chair in your front yard one evening and wave at everyone who drives by.

Just don’t be a bland piece of milk toast in a milky, bland world!

My car runs on magic and other crazy stuff

26 May

I know it without a shadow of a doubt.  My car is a magical thing.  Probably more magical than Puff the Magic Dragon or unicorns even.

No, I’m not crazy at all.  At least I don’t think so.  Let me show you the logic of this statement though.

My car operates through the magic of a talisman and some different magic potions.  It’s not unlike the scenarios seen in some video games I remember my kids playing on their Nintendo.  I think one of the games was called Zelda?  Maybe.  I can’t remember for sure, but there were characters who had to navigate this strange landscape to rescue a princess, fighting all kinds of magical creatures and crossing all kinds of obstacles, magical and otherwise.

We see magic in a lot of our fiction and movies, from the Lord of the Rings to the whole Harry Potter thing.  It’s only natural that I would eventually see the parallel with the thing we call “reality” here.  It first occurred to me that magic is what operates my car.

It starts with the purchase, of course, and all cars come with at least one magic talisman.  We have to have that talisman in order to make it move.  If we lose our talisman, it’s a huge disaster too.  We’ll turn our homes upside down and rake the entire lawn in search of it.  If it’s bad enough, we have to call a special magician to come and create a new talisman for us.  In the “good old days”, talismans were simple tokens, ones we could have copied in a number of locations, usually hardware stores.  Today, however, those talismans have been imbued with even more magic, and obtaining a duplicate one can be very expensive.

Now once we have our car, the modern version of a magic carpet, except that it doesn’t fly, we aren’t off the hook in terms of further magical purchases either.  We have to have regular supplies of magic potions, most of which is purchased at a magic potion store.  Occasionally, other magic potions are also required that perform more specialized magical assistance for our cars.  We can buy these at different stores, as well as occasionally finding limited quantities and varieties available at the specialized magic potion store.  We even have a meter on our cars to tell us when we’re running low on magic potions.  Many of us even have special tools to help us find those all important magic potion purveyors.  When we are forced to continue using an older, worn out car, usually because we lack the “gold coins” and “reputation points”  to buy a newer model, we often are forced to buy more potions because the potions don’t last as long.  We may also have to visit magicians more often to have the car’s magic restored.

All cars must make regular visits to magicians to ensure that their magical powers are intact.  It’s part of the magic conspiracy to ensure that we don’t accumulate excess gold coins.  We’re even more susceptible to that conspiracy if we are forced to use an older model of car, as their magic grows weaker with time.  I’m certain that the makers of these cars put a timer inside of them to ensure that we are inclined to replace our cars regularly, by making their magic fade faster and faster as time passes by.  Those with more reputation points and gold coins can buy more elaborate cars with better protection from that timer than those who don’t have as many points or coins.

While the conspiracy is run by a secret consortium of evil magicians, another one protects that conspiracy.  They too are the evil magicians, and they have special palaces to perform their magical incantations to figure out ways to steal our gold when we aren’t looking.  The largest palace in my region of the realm is called Congress.  The magicians have other titles too, usually they are called congressmen or senators.  They earn money openly by inflicting us with lots of taxes on our cars, as well as our magic potions.

The evil palace magicians have many conspiracies against the common people, who are people like me.  Not all of the evil magicians are part of that palace consortium, although they seem to use the palace magicians to help them with their conspiracies.  There is another conspiracy against us, involving our “regeneration” potions.  Some of these potions are for health, some are for energy, and some are special points, like intelligence, experience, and education.  All of these potions are under continual attack from hidden factions of the evil magicians’ conspiracy forces.

On the health potions, they restrict our ability to earn the necessary points and gold.  They tax them heavily, and participate in secret efforts to raise the prices to prohibit the lower ranking players from obtaining them.  For the energy ones, they have created potions that are useless or actually even will take away energy points, leaving us exhausted and unable to progress to obtain points anywhere else.  With the education points, they have limited where we can earn them, raised the costs immensely for those without a lot of reputation points or gold coins, and made it very difficult to obtain enough points to advance in the game.  Sometimes, they’ll just take those points away for no reason at all, or require more points to advance without warning.

It’s just as bad with the experience points.  There are periods of time when they refuse to grant experience points to any of the players without a huge backlog of experience points, or for those with fewer points in other areas.  Sometimes, it’s based on the number of gold coins held in reserve.  It’s very frustrating for players who are trying to advance to have this happen.

Most of all, they have attacked the intelligence point earning ability of players.  Vast areas of the realm are traps, which suck away the intelligence points that a player has earned, and does it with no warning that it is happening.  Remaining in such an area for any period of time can be devastating for a player, as they may not be aware of this until it is too late.  It’s harder to earn those points back if you have been playing for any length of time too.

So, do you think I’m crazy yet?

Just in case you missed the satire, I suppose I’ll offer you the magical key to figure it out.  The talisman for the car is a key.  The most critical magic potion is our gasoline supply (or diesel if you have a diesel car.)  The rest of it, well, I can only hope that you haven’t lost too many of those “intelligence points” and have accumulated at least some “reputation” or “experience” points along the way.

Kids

30 Apr

I saw something today, and it reminded me of when my son (he would have been twenty three now) was just a little guy, at that stage where he had finally started speaking clearly.  They are really cute then, and it’s probably a good thing they are so cute, because they do have a knack of repeating things…that don’t leave their parents in a very good light.

I remember that day so clearly still.  It was fall, and cold already–we were living in Minnesota that year.  It was late afternoon, and I hurried to the grocery store with him in tow.  Even though he was rather large for a three year old, I wanted him in the shopping cart.  It meant that he would be at least slowed down on the amazing faster-than-light speed with which he could disappear.  I just had a few things  to pick up, and it was mid-week.  It was also senior citizen day at the grocery store.

The day before, a little warmer and sunnier, I had played basketball on the pavement with the neighborhood kids and  my own kids.  Unfortunately, when scooping up the ball, I had ripped a fingernail backwards, tearing it away from the nail bed.  Anyone who has ever done that knows, it is a blinding pain, certain to provoke the most saintly of people to a swearing fit.  In my case, because of my son’s habit of repeating everything, I had replaced all of my good swear words with the innocuous phrase of “nasty words.”  It worked to express myself without having to worry about him repeating it.

Or so I thought.

There we are at the grocery store, my deceptively angelic looking three year old sitting in the seat, smiling at each and every old lady in the store.  It was his bait to get them to come nearer…and they did.  And then he would drop the bombshell in that voice that toddlers have that carries for ten city blocks despite traffic and pouring rain.

“My mama says nasty words!”

My cheeks flamed, but the humiliation would continue, because nothing I said could put a stop to his game.  He told every single little old lady in the store that his mama said nasty words, leaving out the rest of the story and without explaining that it was literally the phrase “nasty words.”  Nothing I said could tame the scandalized looks I received, and I may as well as had a scarlet “nasty word sayer” embroidered on my shirt.  I hurried through the check out, while he informed the bag boy, the clerk, the women in the line behind me, and the store manager that his mama said nasty words.  There wasn’t a sympathetic glint in an eye anywhere, I was a bad mother who said nasty words where her toddler heard.

Like I said, it’s a real good thing that kids that age are very, very cute and we’re really attached to them.  I was mortified, and trying to explain only made the situation worse.  There was no quick escape, and the floor refused to open up and swallow me either.

But you know what?

Time does change your perspective on things.  Twenty years later, it’s a funny memory.  I can still hear his voice as he announced, over and over, “My mama says nasty words.”  He was  so proud of his announcement, and utterly unaware of what they thought he was saying.

 

Pay it forward?

27 Apr

The past few months have been really tough for Greg and I.  We’ve been struggling, barely keeping things together.  Sometimes, it would be very easy to get very depressed about it all.  But then, I stepped back and thought about what was going on.

It’s not that we have failed, but rather I see it as a lesson we needed to learn.  Maybe me more than Greg, to be honest.  It’s a lesson in humility.  I was arrogant and reluctant to let people help me, even after becoming disabled.  I kept on insisting I could do it on my own, even when it was becoming blatantly obvious that that was not a true statement.  Still, I refused to admit defeat and give in, accepting help.  It was hard to even ask Greg to help me when I couldn’t get dressed or undressed.  To let someone else see that I was struggling was unthinkable.

I thought I was better than that, it seems.  That’s a risky thing to do, because when you don’t learn your lessons, they just get harder.

That’s what the universe did to me, it seems.  I wasn’t getting the lesson with just the physical aspect, so they delivered a secondary version.  It’s like those Ladies of Fate looked down at me and frowned, saying she didn’t get it the first time, let’s hit her in the pocketbook this time!

And then they cackled.

Okay, so I have a wild imagination.  Even so, I am convinced that they did in fact cackle.

So the financial woes hit, and as we navigated those rapids on the river of life, apparently, I wasn’t learning fast enough to suit them.  So then, Greg has his heart attack.  While he could have died, he didn’t, for which we’re both very thankful.  But it scared me and scared me good, as well as put him in the hospital for a week, leaving me to cope on my own.

It was like watching a house of cards when a stiff breeze struck them.  It all began to fall apart for me.  Greg has no idea how fragile my world suddenly became–he missed those melt downs.  I had no idea how I would cope, with anything.  The stress was killing me.  The fear was paralyzing me.  All I had was a fragile thread of hope binding us to manage to get through this somehow.

And people helped me.  Some of it was financial, some of it was emotional, and some of it was very intangible.  Even the rude people who upset me and made me angry actually were helping me, because then I had at least anger to help keep a stiff spine and keep on going.  When Greg got out, we managed to find more help to get over those first weeks as we tried to figure out how on earth we were going to get by.  Family helped too.  It seemed to be strings of minor miracles coming together, creating a ladder that looks like we might actually survive it all after all.

And I learned.  At some point in our lives, we all need help.  This is important because if we fail to accept those times, we’re also depriving someone else of their own lesson.

Because at some point in our lives, we need to help others.  It might be a small thing, it might be a bigger thing, it might even be a huge thing.  It doesn’t matter what the size is, the whole point is that by helping someone else, we’re learning how to be a little less selfish and a little more giving.  Like the Grinch…our hearts can grow a size larger.

And then, at some other point in our lives, it’s time to pay that debt and pay it forward.  I’d already been in that position.  Long ago, on several occasions, total strangers helped me, for no reason at all.  I hadn’t asked for it, even though I really desperately needed help.  I did manage to accept it graciously and thankfully.  Since I don’t even know who they were, there is no possibility of ever paying them back for that help.

Or is there?

To me, it was a case of paying it forward.  Random acts of kindness to others doesn’t hurt.  It doesn’t even cost a lot usually.  It might take a bit of extra time, a bit of extra attention, a dash of true consideration…but that’s a small price to pay really.

Because you never know when you will be suddenly thrust into walking in their shoes for a day or longer.  You never know what life is going to dish out to you, and suddenly leave you in a position of desperation and loss of hope.

I know most people get on the bandwagon for donating time and money around the holidays.  That’s really nice.  The fact is, there are people in desperate situations every single day of the year.  Get up, go and do something.  It’s like making a deposit in  your karmic bank account–and you never know when you’ll need to make a withdrawal.  Finding a cause is great, but it doesn’t have to be something that well defined.  Maybe its giving a ride to a neighbor, buying a package of diapers for a young family, a box of groceries for an elderly person, or a donation to the local food bank.  Even something as simple as carrying in a trash can for an aging neighbor might do more than spare them the effort–it might restore their faith in humanity and make them feel like someone cares.

Make a difference, somehow, to someone.  Make someone’s day a little brighter, not so that they will like you or do something for you, but just to see them smile.  You might be really surprised at the side effects that it will have on  you.

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