Thursday, August 21, 2014



     A bad habit of mine is standing at the kitchen sink eating lunch like I am punching a time clock. I had one-half hour for lunch at school. I usually have a cup of Greek yogurt with fruit. Sometimes I splurge and have a cracker spread with hummus. I keep it simple. I am intent on taking a nap and reading my book. That’s the whole purpose of rushing through lunch.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Red in tempo

     The very first car I owned was a red Chevy Impala. I never bought a Chevrolet again. I never chose that color again. It was a flash in the pan decision celebrating my college graduation, and the salesman talked me into it before I knew it. I drove the life out of that Chevy Impala, and for that youthful period, it ended up serving me well with only one speeding ticket restraining my joy of flooring it in sixty seconds.
     I like fresh red cherries. The thought of pitting them makes me hesitate at the store and consider my decision, but only for a moment. My fingers remain sticky and stained while I indulge and linger with the sweetness of the fruit in my mouth. I never regret buying a pound.
    My friend’s neighbor went through a red light and totaled her car. She wasn’t focused on her driving, and in a split second, she nearly died. Luckily, she has recovered, but it has slowed down her pace of living immensely.
     It is hard to get timing right in life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This problem gets solved

       It could be that summer is coming to an end sooner than later, and my brain is overheated. I’ll use that as my excuse.
      My column deadline is getting closer and closer, and I can’t settle on any topic to write about that is fresh and exciting.
     If you are a regular reader, you know that I keep a stockpile for this very reason giving me the freedom to go on about life worry free. (Insert laugh here.)
     I read over every potential column and not a one is right for this week. Although you might beg to differ, I don’t want to take it out on you, reader.
     There is absolutely no sympathy from my husband when I whine about my dilemma. Back to my office.
     Considering that nasty weather has poured buckets of rain these past couple weeks, I am obliged to write a thoughtful column — not too cheery, but appropriate.
     You can’t make light of road washouts and rising creeks that are not far from your own house. Frankly, the thought of wet basements for tons of friends in the area humbles me, not to mention the foundation of one older home weakened so badly that the place must be torn down. The organic farmer down the road is attempting to replant his fields once again betting on a string of decent days for a late crop. 
     I’ve been there and done that with flooded basements, and not only is it time consuming and costly, there is the emotional impact, too. Nowadays I appreciate living on the top of a hill.
     Join me in giving a shout out to our volunteer fire departments and their willingness to pump out basements twenty-four seven.
    Let’s not forget our utility workers and our highway crews who do their share keeping us safe.
     The trusty sump pump is essential for living through storms. You listen day and night for it to kick in. And the backup pump to the regular one is another prudent measure for peace of mind. Once my daughter’s pet hamster escaped from his cage and drowned in the sump pump. It was on a clear day, though. Explain that one to a preschooler.
     Originally, I started writing a column about coincidences. I thought it could be a conversation starter. It’s a common occurrence. You know what I mean exactly. If you go on a trip, or move from home, it is guaranteed that you meet someone that lives near you, or has a relative close by.
     I actually look forward to discovering what new person will come my way and how we are connected. Or I take a trip down memory lane and a person from the past appears. It’s fun if you are not running away from anything, and want to let things go.
     I’ll share my tale from the British Isles this summer. After a couple days of meeting and greeting fellow travel mates, I began a conversation with a couple from the Boston area. Naturally, they wanted to know where I lived, and I gave my general answer – the Rochester area.
     The husband asked me if I had heard of a town called Geneseo?  I laughed. Apparently, they have a cousin living in Geneseo, and I went on to tell them about my column in the County News. I know. I know. I promote myself everywhere. It turns out that the relative’s name sounded familiar to me, and she reads my column according to her cousin that checked with her.
     Somehow I couldn’t make the topic sustain longer, and even the example I used wasn’t as clever as others, which I no longer remember. I asked other people about their stories. They were telling me such fascinating ones, that I quit writing. There was no point in squeezing out pointless sentences just to fill space.
     I have to come up with a new plan of attack. The clock is ticking.
     I overhear a conversation in the post office — I’m good at that for gathering new ideas — and it gets me thinking about list keepers.
     For example, I know someone you would call a monster list keeper. She has subheadings and sub-sub headings like a grid she is preparing for a NASA space launch. Whether or not she systemically accomplishes the list is up for grabs. I sure hope so for the sake of the others that live with her.
     My lists used to be kept in prominent places on my desk. Lately I keep them on my iPhone with a handy app. I feel less guilty without the list staring at me crying out for me to stay on top of the day.
     Now don’t get me wrong. Lists are good. Working people need them. Kids are more organized growing up with them. I hate going to the grocery store having forgotten my list. I go up and down the aisles dazed and nothing triggers my memory. My cart is filled with extra items as the result, and the supermarket thanks me gratefully.
     Last week I dropped my list on the floor at the store, and an understanding woman came up to me handing it over like it was a valuable document I should treat with better respect.
     Low and behold, I have rambled on and on like wringing out the last droplet from a soggy dishrag. See how it all works out?    
     My husband grins and says, “I told you.”      



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My best friend

     Blessed are those who can please themselves.  -South African proverb

     In other words, I am my own best company, a self-help uplifting thought, is a excellent approach to life at any age.
     Community and family remain within the circle that is critical to functioning well.  You need others. They make you a more empathetic human being as you engage together creating a better place in the world.
     Practice liking yourself and learning how to be attentive to the subleties surrounding you. It's a lesson that doesn't come easily to everyone.
     Once I sat for over an hour watching the sun come up through my living room window. The light shifted across the room and brightened any object it hit bringing it into better focus. How much dust had accumulated on the bookshelf could have stopped my whole experiment. I let it go and mentally thanked the road crew for working on the highway all summer bringing it back into shape for the winter ahead.  When I left my chair I was glowing inside and out from experiencing a slow moving awakening of a fresh morning. Never once during that hour did I think about all the chores, activities and phone calls I had to do. Instead, I thought about nothing whatsoever. Later in the day I felt a bounce in my step, a bit more energy and a bushel of optimism. Sure I had concerns for others, situations to get under control and more on my plate than was absolutely necessary. My attitude was positive, and I had stirred the flame of boldness within me. I kept my thoughts to myself, my own best friend.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Assembly required

     The process puts you in touch with the organizational side of your brain. 

Assembling toys on Christmas Eve. Assembling a new camper for its maiden voyage. Assembling a new husband for the long haul of a marriage. Assembling a new computer. Assembling a wardrobe. Assembling an entertainment center. Assembling a sewing kit. Assembling a group of people to engage in conversation or debate. Assembling legislators. Assembling an online address book. Assembling  construction bids. Assembling moths for mating purposes. Assembling military troops. Assembling parts of a Lego set. Assembling ingredients for a tiered cake.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Throwing my feet up

     A good wine is like floating on a euphoric water raft riding the happiest wave in the entire universe. For a short spell I am suspended from the craziness of daft, hateful people and illogical ideas depressing all of humanity before I crash to shore ever so gently with a renewed attitude. How corny is it to be dancing with the stars right from my comfortable red sofa holding a glass of Pinot Gris tipped to the possibilities of peace on earth? It's worth a try.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Berry picking

      I love randomly stumbling into things. It makes me feel adventuresome like when I discover a wild raspberry patch at the furthest edge of my property and I brave the prickers from other assorted bushes to reach for plump fruit. First, I have to return home for a bucket. I talk loudly and made all sorts of noise just in case a black bear and her cubs are also out getting berries. Company to share the fruits of Mother Nature’s bounty isn’t welcome.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A not so spoiled cat

     The round twenty-pound container of cat food is empty. It is down to one or two pellets rattling around when I shake it. There is a powdery coating of brownish grains in the grooves that I must clean before refilling. I buy the premium high-end dry food, and have it delivered from the online pet company. I wait for free shipping deals. The cat is worth it. I did a lot of research before selecting a product that has no corn, wheat or soy fillers. Instead, it is natural chicken, rice and cranberries.
     The cat eats dry food and a lap treat in the evening. At exactly 8 p.m., my husband opens the drawer of the table by his recliner and pulls out an old child-proof pill container used to keep kitty treats. The cat is way too smart, and he figured out how to open the drawer and pull out the bag of treats. He would bite into the plastic bag attempting to feed himself any time, especially when we weren't home in the evening. Measures became necessary to stop a bad habit from forming. 
     This morning the cat is back and forth underfoot in the kitchen because he hears me cleaning his container. I don’t know if he expects a handout or not. I will stick to my guns and not allow it.Who's in charge here? 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday experiment

  I'm doing an experiment today, and I have no clue as to the outcome. I doubt that it matters one way or the other, though. It's the process that is significant like in writing where opportunities to expand your horizons and grow as an artisan are priceless periods when you are free of time constraints.

  • I am slowing down the day and relishing it moment by moment. 
  • I have no set agenda. No chores. No schedule. Whatever feels natural, I will do. It may involve others, and it may not. It may involve going somewhere; it may not.
  • I am thinking about family and friends in a most postive way.
As I fall asleep tonight, I will look back over the hours and consider how I felt, the highs and lows and what it all means for my creative self.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nostalgic moment

Life in the Fast Lane
'63 Chevy Impala, a date at the drive-in movie and dinner at the fast food joint.
"Oh, What A Night"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Focused on personal photography

      I am taking selfies morning, noon and night like a kid with a brand new toy.
      Holding up my cell phone at arm’s length — that’s the secret to better pictures — I shift it up and down to get the proper proportional background. I swish my short, curly hair signaling the subject is in a perfect frame. I greatly exaggerate my body pose, and smile like a star. No shame. Click. I have a new selfie to share instantly, or not.
     For those of you that need to know, here is the official Wikipedia definition: A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. They are often casual, and are typically taken in a mirror. (I haven’t tried one.)
     Frankly, it is so odd that I am into posing for selfies.
Ooops. I got caught. 
     For no reason that I can explain, I’ve never liked my face recorded for posterity. As a kid I got scolded because I would put on a sad face or move my head just enough to annoy my photographer mother. I was in the front row in my elementary school pictures because I was one of the shorter children in the class. Still, I never looked too happy about it, and I put on my fake smile — or pursed my lips tightly together when I was hiding a gap in my front teeth.
    I can tell you fifty ways to avoid having your picture taken. I am an expert escape artist when the eye of a camera is aimed in my direction. Just ask my husband and he will shake his head at his most unwilling participant. He’s forever taking photos wherever we go, and I am dancing into the woodwork as fast as my feet will trot to get out of the screen.
     Maybe it’s a control thing, and taking my own pictures puts me in the driver’s seat.
     On the other hand, I enjoy documenting my adventures. I shoot hundreds, and a few I get right, and the majority, I don’t. I am not a studied photographer, and I admit that I am not willing to expend the required time learning about my camera. I do appreciate my acquaintances that are experts in the field.       
     I am horrified at the overall personal image issue perpetuated in the media, especially for young girls. Females are reminded that they can never be thin enough. To say the least, I am quite happy with teen preoccupation with selfies since feeling good about your body is healthy.
     A southern Illinois woman helped put herself in jail by posting a selfie, KFVS-TV reported. A little Internet narcissism lands her behind bars. She posed wearing very distinctive leopard prints that were allegedly stolen goods. The owner of the store spotted the outfit on social media.  Not so smart.    
    Folks work hard to get into shape for a physically challenging journey; others learn a new language so that they can travel in a new country. Me? I surprised myself, with a daily binge on selfies this summer.
     Fellow travelers kindly offered to take my picture daily near significant historical sites, and I refused. They finally gave up with me, though. I am not sure if they understood my lame excuses —. my hair is a mess, my makeup worn off or I look horrible in general — any reason to get them to quit.
     One afternoon when the temperature rose well beyond what was expected, I was at Stonehenge, England looking forward to working with challenging photo angles. There weren’t too many tour busses there, and the place was relatively clear for pictures. I started shooting while walking in a circular path for visitors around the hulking stones.
     I saw a girl taking a selfie, and then a second younger person, like it was the most normal thing in the world. They would laugh while they compared their pictures. That is so much healthier than being afraid of loving your own body as unique and special.
.     Why not, I thought?  I was a little self-conscious at first, and my attempts were not too good. Finally, I gave in, tilted my head slightly and smiled for my birdie, and there I saw a cool picture immediately. No one was looking at me. They were busy recording their own memories.
     I didn’t go to the extreme of scrapbooking my entire trip with selfies like another of my trip acquaintances. She would send them out to her grown kids each day. I used a blog designed especially for the trip with a combination of photos and words.

   Gentle reader, here’s a warning for you: when I write a column about how I am jumping in and photo bombing other people’s pictures, you will know that I have been exposed to the sun too long. Tell me it’s time to step into a darkroom – that’s a term you don’t hear nowadays — readjust my settings and get on with looking at life through a sharper lens.
Everything you desire in a region and more.