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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Milestones - BFF 200

BFF 200:  Milestones

We three staggered along, ever forward.  Ragged and tattered we trudged homeward.  Keeping to the less traveled paths.  Staying out of the ever watchful eye of the marauders.

Only the tallest of us, Kevin, actually appeared who we truly are, the last of our brigade.  We had not been able to find him suitable alternate clothing when we determined go home. We are the only survivors.  We were at the head of the onslaught, first in and then first out through the opposite site of the city. 

The carnage of this latest campaign has turned me against the very thought of another raid or war.  I long for the soft comfort of my own home.  The attentions of my sweet buxom wife, Meg.  I pine for the high pitch wail of the little ones demanding attention or food.  I loathe being caught up again by the “enlistment” officers. I do not want to travel by ship.  I do not want to leave these green hills to flounder through ankle deep, hot, blowing sands. 

For the last campaign, we had been rounded while out working the fields in spring.  That was two years ago.  Every able man in the city was taken.  We were shackled and made to march to the military encampment.

We, the “enlisted”, were not given tent to sleep in.  We created a woven tarp to hoist into the trees to keep the weather off our faces.  As we left the forested areas we dragged the tarps with us as long as they held together.  All too quickly, we were subject to the blowing sands of the desert.  All too quickly, we learned to watch the sky and bury ourselves as shield from the very grounds we were at war over.

Douglas has a bad foot.  I don’t know if he was bitten or stepped on something which made the appendage swell like a bloated toad.  It weeps and he sometimes whimpers as we walk.  Kevin applies a new poultice each time we stop, which is often, to try to alleviate some of the pain and infection. We three look like vagabonds.  More beggars to join the city.

The baby would have been born, named and begun to walk.  If Meg was able to finish planting and work through the harvest, we would have been owners of our parcel.  This would have marked our tenth year of tenancy.  Our papers would have been handed over this season.  My own Meg. How I miss her.

Meg’s red hair and freckled nose is the first thing you notice about her face. Once you get past her small waist and ample breast.  Poorly shaped teeth are what kept her from being picked as a lady in waiting for the Lady Jessica.  All the better for me.  I have Meg’s attention for more than just a few months per year.  I yearn to see that crooked smile.  I long to hear that stern voice with a hint of humor, chastising me for staying too long at the pub and spending too much on the cups.

Rounding a bend in the road, we spot it.  Hurray!  Our first milestone!  The first of the mile stones marks five miles to the great city.  Five miles from my home and family.  Five miles.  I will be home by sunset. 

The stones are set up to let travelers know they are now within the patrol of the city officers.  They let marauders know, too, they are now within the patrol of the city officers.  The first is merely an upright slab with the number  V engraved on it, surrounded by boulders to ensure no one gets the idea to move the slab thereby deceiving weary travelers.  The mile stones become more ornate the closer to the city.  More patrolling officers, less vandalism.  I am both relieved and wary. For we three know what treasures we carry.

First into the raided city.  I don’t even recall the name of the city.  It was merely the King's Folly , as we we “enlisted” men called it.  First into the city.  Holding our torches in one hand and our swords in the other, we lit fires everywhere we went.  We three created a triangle of fury, no one could fell us. First to raid the city.  First to see any valuables. First to take what we would come to call “our pay”. 

Now with swords hidden in our bunk rolls we travel together to our own great city.  Slowly we stagger in our tattered clothing.  Little do the onlookers know, rather than beggars….we come laden with treasures. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

BFF 204: I Blog Because

Gramma's Version of the Truth

BFF 204 : I Blog Because

Fly swatters in hand, we marshalled the back yard for ants and any other bug we deemed the need to be swatted.  It was a glorious hunt filled with dare-devil deeds like;  hanging on the rail fence around the garden, or plowing into the garden in search of the ever elusive ruby red strawberry, or running mad-cap through the backyard while some imaginary monster was going to “get us”. 

Braelynn turned those massive hazel eyes at me, blinked twice (her grampa does that when he is thinking too) and asked, “Gramma, why is the grass green?”  I pause in my ant quest,  contemplating what my answer should be. 

“Well, Ms. Braelynn, the grass is green because the world is just a speck of paint on a large mural and the picture needs our grass to be green”.  That seems to mollify her, temporarily.

“Gramma, why is Grampa’s hair white?”.  Ho boy, this is gonna be a good day….I’m feelin’ it in my bones!

Braelynn and I gather up our cup of freshly picked strawberries (some not so ripe, depending on the picker) Ushering my granddaughter to the faucet to rinse the berries off, I’m using this time to come up with another zinger for an answer.  I like to send Braelynn home with “food for thought”.  She typically shares her pearls of wisdom with her mother.  The feedback is hilarious.

“Grampa has white hair because he is part of a Q-tip in the picture we live in. You know , like those white Q-tips your mother uses to clean your ears.”  Braelynn squints her eyes and cocks her head.  She is categorizing the information I have just given her.  I can almost see the mural she has painted in her minds eye. 

“Are you sure?”   She is getting to the age she doesn’t always BELIEVE me.  I cannot imagine why. 

“Why is your hair yellow?”  I correct her, telling her there is a difference between yellow and blond.  Although, I must admit, a scarce one.  I show her the different shades of blue in her crayon box.  We investigate the varying pinks in my garden.  Walking to the neighbor’s garden we take in purple from violet to deep grape and many in between.  All the while discussing which shade is darker or lighter than the next. 

“Gramma, why is the sky blue?”

“Because, the picture we live in is seen through the mind’s eye of a blue-eyed giant.”

“Gramma, why  do you know all the answers? But Grampa doesn’t.” 

“I read books and stories and I like to write stories for my blog.”

“Gramma, what’s a blog.”

“One of the places where I get all my answers.”

Two Days Ago

GBE 2: Blog On  #57
Two Days Ago

Have I ever told you just how smart my cats are?  They are very smart.  Anyone who tells you animals are thoughtless inanimate beings just hasn’t paid attention. 

I am allowed to live with two cats.  The dark skinny one, Simba, is twenty years old.  The fat orange one, Buddy, is nineteen years old.  Who knew they would live to be so old!  I have lived with several cats previously, they all seemed to have run under moving cars within a month after my spending the money to have them spayed. These two are exceptional.

My two cats actually reason, they figure things out.  I can see it in their expressions and witness the results.  Doors shut?  No problem, Simba stands on his hind legs and jiggles the handle while Buddy leans his shoulder into the door to swing it open.  Have to lock the bathroom door, otherwise they think they need to supervise! They are a management team!

When let outside, they both know they need to come home when I whistle for them.  If they aren’t right there in our back yard, they will call back to me so I know to wait for them.  Simba is a bit of a priss.  He won’t “go” outside.  If he is outside  and need to go; he will demand to be let back in, use the litter box, and then demand to be let outside again.  Buddy isn’t quite as fussy.

As a kid watching “ Lassie” I always thought it funny when someone would ask the dog, “What is it girl, did Timmy fall down the well?”.   These two cats will actually come and get me to do something for them; let them outside (they don’t typically go any further than the neighbor’s yard), refill their water or food dishes (Buddy might starve overnight ya know – it could happen), clean up the liter box (fussy cats), kill a spider (they don’t like ‘em either!) or remake their beds (yes, they each have their own blanket they sleep with and they like them to be tidy)

A few years ago, the discharge pipe for our furnace humidifier got jostled loose.  Those two cats sat and stared at the dripping water until we figured it out.  Thankfully, we noticed before there was too much damage.

Simba is becoming deaf.  And like most older people who are hard of hearing, he talks loud.  Loud cats aren’t amusing.  They are the subject of cartoons and the recipients of miscellaneous items being thrown at them. (who me?!)

Our immediate neighbor has a cocker spaniel.  Esther.  Chubby little black thing that barks at us if she can hear us in our own home.  She barks and snips and growls and carries on.  Obnoxious little thing.  It’s owners finally bought a bark collar.  Early in the morning, Esther is allowed outside without it.  Depending on how many of the other neighbors are up and about for her to bark at.  Early morning is usually a short backyard bark session.  During the day, Esther is allowed outside with her bark collar on.  She seemed to be fairly quiet during the day, most days.

Since I am home during the day, right now, I have noticed the boys wanting to go outside in the early afternoon.  Bud wanted out, even on hot days.  That’s unusual for the big fella wearing a fur coat!

Two days ago I let them outside with me and I sat down on the upper deck with a cool iced tea. (typically Esther leaves me alone if I am quiet up there) Buddy, who I now realize is an instigator, made sure he walked along our fence line.  Esther, with her bark collar on, ran along on the other side of the fence.  Her small plaintive yips were sorta music to my ears! Buddy walked for about ten feet, then did the ultimate slap in a dogs face, he laid down!  Simba, then decided to walk over to Bud. Esther dodged back and forth and back and forth, wanting desperately to bark and snarl.  Then as she decided it was futile, she began to walk away, Buddy got up and walked a little more along the fence line.  Simba joined me up on the deck. Esther’s yips and yaps became apparent that she was beginning to be in pain, her people came out to investigate (finally).   I waved, smiling, and said "Hello". 

I get to live with smart cats.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

“Sandra’s Writers Workshop Hop” #2 Formal First Person

Sandra's Writers Workshop Hop
The “Formal” First Person Perspective

Walking around the neighborhood, as I do every morning, I drink in the meticulously tended gardens.  The purple and pink petunias are especially fragrant this year.  The day and tiger lilies are in full bloom.  I especially keep an eye on a neighbors hydrangea.  Her hydrangea produces prolific blue flowers.  I have two bushes and have yet to get a blossom much less flowers to cut.  I muse over what might be her secret.  I hypothecate that the secret is the plants location and amount of sunlight it receives. 

  Trudging along I drink in the aroma of the beech nut blossoms.  The street is lined with these wonderfully smelling trees.  Tapping my pocket, I am relieved.  The great gasping for air, yanking of the handkerchief, I begin the sneezing bout allergies demand.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blog Hop #52 Journey - 250 Words

Journey – Blog Hop #52

The covered wagon had nearly everything packed.  Somberly, Pa moved the oxen to the front of the wagon.  We are in the first wave of settlers after the Sooners.  We will prevail.

I refused to be a moonshiner.  Those dirty sneaky people, living in caves.  They jump the good honest people, stealing prime land they aren’t entitled to.

I worried about having enough water to get us there.  It’s only a five day journey from Michigan to Oklahoma.  My real concern was the availability of water once we find our new home site. 

I had heard the Indians are as cordial to you as you are to them.  I’m not frightened. I speak enough Potawatomi and Kickapoo to get by, hopefully.   I have trinkets and lace to barter with. 

John Palmer, my husband, and I mapped out the track of land we intended to stake.  The few head of cattle we own had been tied to the rear of our wagon.  We will prevail.

Saying our goodbyes took nearly three days.  Well wishers are plentiful in the small community we’ve grown up in.  Jars of jellies, dried meats, dried fruits and vegetables, bolts of cloth; well wishers have ensured our success.

With tender parts newly found on our bodies. The bumps and ruts of the route behind us. Our bruises are aligned with the official starting line of the land run.  Jockeying for position, John Palmer is in the second tier of wagons.  We will prevail. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

BFF #201 is "My Favorite Teacher".

BFF inspiration #201 is "My Favorite Teacher".

“My favorite teacher is Mrs. Young,”  Braelynn announces as she runs into the house. 

“Oh really?”, I inquired knowing full well she was going to fill me in on all the details, just as soon as I whipped up her daily smoothie.  Braelynn, like most kids her age,  is a stickler for routine.  A smoothie and one cookie is the after school routine, at Gramma’s house.

Braelynn, my gorgeous granddaughter gets dropped off the school bus right in front of my house every day.   I am a lucky Gramma.  I get to spend time shaping this inquisitive mind.  I am gifted with the right to teach her how to take care of herself, both physically and emotionally.  I am fortunate that my health affords me the opportunity to spend time with her, her sister Riley,  and her two cousins.  Riley is down for her afternoon nap.  The boys, Reid and Hudson, will be dropped off shortly.  For the next forty five minutes it is an exclusive “girls only – talk time”.

Forty five minutes alone with an adult who hangs on her every word.  Whoses entire universe spins only to the song of Braelynn Melissa Camp.

I make her favorite smoothie today, strawberries and banana.  She grabs a freshly made cookie from the cooling rack and settles into a stool at the counter.  Her fine auburn hair has pulled itself from the pony tail her mother sent her to school in.  She smushes a few strands of hair away from her face with the back of her hand only to have it fall back as soon as her hand is removed.

“There is a contest at school.  Well, I don’t know if it’s at our school, but it’s definitely for the school.” Braelynn can speak as she inhales and exhales, making all of her words and sentences run together.  If she is laughing as she speaks, I haven’t a clue what she is saying. 

“Well”, she begins, “we each have to vote on our favorite teacher tomorrow.  The teacher who gets the most votes wins a prize.  And I’m gonna vote for Mrs. Young”. 

The note in her Barbie pink backpack states there is indeed a contest and that the children are going to be the voters. 

I daydream for a few moments, while she munches the cookie and slurps her smoothie through the pink bendable straw.  (HAS to be bendable – gee whiz, Gramma) 

Who would I vote as my favorite teacher?  Would I select one of the many instructors who inspired me?  Or would I choose one who drove me? Perhaps one that set the best example?  It would a very tough decision, at my age there have been so many teachers.

My first grade teacher was so kind and patient.  I contracted measles, mumps and then measles again in first grade.  We were a sharing grade of kids! She was patient in making certain I got my school work to do at home and that I was “all caught up” with the rest of the class each time I was able to go back to school.  Measles twice!

My fourth grade teacher guided me to “advanced” classes.  She quietly tested each of us in her care with caution not to hurt anyone’s feeling., Three of us were moved to an advanced level.  She made sure I could sign up for Science Club and attend on the “off” days from my piano lessons.

George King, the bus driver, taught me a lot.  He was a trapper for the State of Michigan.  If you had “varmint” problems, George  was the person you called in .  George taught us through example.  He ate almost everything he caught.  (never saw him eat skunk) By allowing my siblings and I to taste his fresh honeycomb, we all developed a taste for it! George showed us the advantages  to wildlife by leaving the wooded areas wooded.  We have loons on the lake, I like to think it was George that made us all take note when they left for a few years and make amends to get them to return.  George King lived down the street from us and was in my life from the time I was six until he died.  I still miss that mangy, bow legged, balding, opinionated,  old fart.

Oh, the different animals I was privileged to grow up with.  When very young, we had a lovely golden retriever, Honey.  She taught me perseverance.  No matter how high the fence was, how many different ways my parents locked the back yard gate, nor how many rocks they stacked in the holes she tried to dig under the fence, Honey got out of the back yard.  Honey would come to the school and find either  my younger brother, Scott, or me.  She would come to the window of our classroom and jump up and down barking at the windows just outside of the room.  Many were the days I walked Honey back home and put her in the basement.

My seventh grade history teacher, Mr. Hahnenberg, taught me to leave self-pity behind and put my nose to the grind stone.  My mother fell down and needed brain surgery  a few months before school started.  He made certain I always had extra fun homework to do.  I was too “busy” to be worried.  Between milking cows, taking care of the two younger siblings and completing my homework, I had a complete day.
Braelynn snaps me back to the task at hand. “Gramma, could I please have more of the smoothie before the boys get here and drink it all up?”  I pour my beautiful girl a little more, saving some for the boys and her sister when she awakens.

Would I say my daughter Chris was my favorite teacher?  She made me change my behavior, outlook on life, and lifestyle.  She demanded I learn the lessons of being a mother.  Giving of yourself and even if you do expect a reciprocation, not to be heartbroken if none comes along.  More than just a few gray hairs are attributed to this young lady!

My husband, Bob?  Oh the lessons he’s taught me! Whew.  Perhaps I ought not go into that right now.

“Tomorrow is voting day, Gramma, and I wanna look really, really nice. Can I wear your pearls?”  

“To school?” I stammered.

“Yeah, I wanna,” she demands with a telling, petulant pout on her lips.  She already knows the answer, just a test, a gentle push to see if Gramma is really wound around her little finger as tightly as she thinks.

“No, I think I will keep them with me until you are older.  Maybe sixteen.  Zat sound good?”  I know her.  I know I have to give her a timeline.  She likes routine.  The boys, they have enough routine just rough housing through the day.  Braelynn prefers to ponder, musing over a thought until she has seen it from every angle possible.  Only then will she have an opinion.  Heaven help the person who tries to dissuade her from that opinion.  Once set, it’s set in stone.

“What do the Reid, Hudson and Riley get?”, she has her brows knitted together contemplating the individual gifts.

“Well, we shall see what they might like when they get older.  Perhaps Hudsey (nick name for Hudson) would like one of Papa’s watches.  Papa has some beautiful watches.  Perhaps Reid would like Papa’s ring with the ruby in it.  I don’t know what Riley will want. What trinket do you think she would like when she turns sixteen?”  Trying to divert her from wanting the pearls NOW.

“Riley likes blue.  She will want the turquoise necklace you have hanging up. Does she get the earrings and the ring too?” Now she’s sizing me up.

“Well, I would think she would want the whole set. Don’t you?” I smirk as I watch her eyes get big.  She is trying to envision the matching pearl earrings.  “Let’s go check to see if you like them.”

We climb the stairs to my bedroom, open the jewelry armoire, and there in the white jeweler’s box are the matching earrings as promised.  Braelynn runs to the bathroom mirror, holding them up to her ears.  Against her auburn strands of hanging hair I can see the future. The earrings are going to be stunning on her.  They will love her as much as she loves them.

“I sure wish I could wear them to school to show Mrs. Young.” She begins to pout. 

Laughing, I think to myself I have been given such wonderful teachers.  Patience, humor, concentration, persistence and love.  What other lessons does one really need to know.  My grandchildren are my favorite teachers.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

GBE 2 Blog On" #56 If I Had My Life to Live Over...

WEEK #56 (6-10-12 to 6-16-12): If I Had My Life to Live Over…
Elizabeth Grace

What a topic! If I had my life to live over.  Well, we already know we would not learn the same lessons if we did things differently.  So, does that mean we would learn them more quickly if we chose a different path?  Would we need to learn these specific lessons had we chosen different paths? 

Examining what you might do differently is only a tantalizing thought away from the age old question, “why am I here?”  By design or random accident?   If life is no more than cosmic coincidence does that give us license to blissfully ignore what we do not care to see or worse yet participate in the deterioration of planet Earth and its inhabitants?   

I read a book recently with a unique quote in it “The strong take what they will and the weak endure what they must”.  While I would like to see the world spin with a different idealism, I am afraid even America is quickly bending to this way of thinking. I fear the caste system is soon upon us. 

If I had my life to live over, I wish that while I was raising my family and trying to make ends meet, I had stopped and paid more attention to what our government officials were doing.  Or, perhaps more succinctly who was doing our government officials.

When I became old enough to vote  I marched down to the Secretary of State’s office and signed up as a Republican.  Back then, and for many years later, if you had told me my ideals would be deemed Democratic or Socialist we may have come to fisticuffs.  I thought our government system was filled with men who cared about long term benefits for ALL Americans, not just themselves and their cronies. What we have allowed the Koch brothers to do to our government is disgusting. (Koch brothers are the money behind the changes to most policies enhancing companies involvement with government)

I had the good fortune of working for a large corporation, United Parcel Service.  It amazes me that these Governors have the audacity to cite retirement funds and health benefits as a reason to “union bust”.  They actually say the “benefits” their employees make are driving the companies into bankruptcy.  I find it difficult to believe since UPS is a thriving company.  I will have a very nice pension when I come of age, because they ACTUALLY PUT THE MONEY ASIDE as they were supposed to.  Why?  Because there was a union looking over their shoulder to make sure it happened.  Checks and balance make for a profitable company.  Sure, there are your lackey’s the company would like to terminate, and guess what, a good management team can get rid of anyone.  A poor management team, whether it’s a union or non-union company will drive the company out of business eventually.  This is true whether the company is private or public.

What is the major reason Social Security is in trouble?  Because our government keeps taking draws from it to fund war.  Not because Nana outlived her usefulness.  Because of greed, typically in the form of oil.  But, woe unto the official who may want to fund alternative energy. 

The capacity of the general public to forget just baffles my mind.  Big Rock nuclear plant, located near beautiful Charlevoix, Michigan, was shut down in 1997.  After billions of dollars thrown at cleaning up the property, there are still 500 acres that are too hazardous for anyone to walk on.  Pristine forest, that will kill you to live there.  But, big business wants to build more nuclear plants because they are less expensive than an alternative energy.

I live in Michigan.  The acid rain that fell upon us from Gary, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois was outrageous.  It peeled the paint off cars. Where the acid rain blew in, it killed the plant life for miles. I would not want to see that again in my lifetime.  Gary, Indiana has a beautiful harbor that flows into the Calumet River.  Clean up of the harbor was halted twenty years ago due to the heavy hazardous contaminants flowing downstream.  The bottom end of Lake Michigan may never be open to people again.

If I had my life to live over.  I would have been far more protective of “Mother Earth”.  I would have quickly agreed with those tree huggers that saved forests for the spotted owl.  Or, here in Michigan, we have Kirtland’s Warbler which causes controversy.  Because some company wants to cut down trees on government land?  We would endanger another species for what?  Spite? They nest in young jack pine forest which sport a sandy soil that in my opinion isn’t good for growing anything else, oh, perhaps sand chiggers. Jack pine is a scrub pine.  Good for creating a nesting ground for the extremely rare Kirtland’s Warbler. Yet, because they have been told they cannot have it, there are companies who want it desperately. I am saddened when I hear any public official say that a law with environmentally conscience law is hurting jobs.  When in truth just the opposite is true.  Manufacturing plants are needed to create the scrubbers for the power stacks/ the wind mills/ the bio fuels or whichever alternate energy you chose. Manufacturing plants employee people.

There are times I am ashamed by what humankind has done to the planet we live on.  Per the “scripture” many of you follow, human kind has been entrusted with the responsibility to tend the animals and the planet.  Yet we allow greed to supersede our main objective.  Per the “alien” believers humankind was first installed to be slaves and then left behind to tend the animals and the planet.  Yet we allow greed to supersede our main objective. 

If I had my life to live over.  Would I have these same lessons learned?  If I had been more active in the governing of our city, state, country, would I have simply absorbed the thought process which seems to be “status quo”? Let the 46 companies who contributed the billions of dollars in funds to the political campaigns continue as though it means nothing?  Companies being considered “people” in an effort to channel more funds into a politicians coffers….the golden handcuffs. Companies allowed to put their own agenda before people.  The money machines.

If I had my life to live over, I have very few changes to make, but changes just the same.  However, these changes would have altered many aspects of who I am and the journey I’ve taken to get here.  I wouldn’t want to change the people I’ve met along the route, merely the fashion by which we were introduced. For each of us is the sum total of every essence we have encountered. 


Everyday Gyaan - What Surprises You?

What Surprises You?

We, as a group, have been asked to report what surprises us.  Naturally, my first response was to look up the word to verify I had a correct interpretation of it.  Surprise is a word that can be either a verb or a noun.  My take on surprise is generally, a noun: a coming upon unexpectedly; detecting in the act; taking unawares.

My surprises are exterior surprises manifesting a shift of interior deliberation.

The beauty of life surprises me.  There have been times when a wave of unexpected clarity has hit me.  When and where this tidal wave may hit is a mystery. I am nearly driven to my knees and filled with bliss. I cannot drink in the spectrum of colors quickly nor deeply enough.  The greens seem a little greener as do the blues and reds and yellows all around me. My vision seems a little more keen. I have been fortunate enough to experience this on more than one occasion.  Although, I will always recall the first time.  It was at dawn as I was driving eastward towards work.  The colors were so magnificent and overwhelming, I had to pull off the road to drink them in.

I am surprised that the sound of a anyone humming or singing while shopping makes me stop and smile.  The sound of someone else recalling a happy moment and expressing it, lightens my spirit as well. The attitude in any aisle within hearing distance changes. I do try to remember this and hum while grocery shopping, not only to keep my heart lighter, but to help others as well.

Lastly but not nearly least, the sound of honest laughter.  I am surprised at the power of honest laughter.  Not the he-he-he nefarious, not the tittle of polite “you’ve told an insipid joke”, but the honest release of intelligence mixed with gaiety.  The power is profound and in my opinion,  more healing than prayer. Shoulders lift, heads tilt upward, deep healthy breathing has occurred, and one of your worries has dissipated.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Week #51 Summer! Writers Post

Week #51 Summer!

Writers Post

Summer is finally here.  The kids are out of school.  The air is filled with laughter, barking, pollen, sunshine, birds, and bugs. 

Taking my morning walk I witnessed a bird chasing an orange bug.  It’s wings beat so quickly.  It zigged and zagged, with the wren following it’s every evasive move.  I couldn’t tell what type of bug it was, they moved as fighter pilots in “Top Gun”.  I could nearly see goggles on the bird.

Watching for many moments, my mind drifts.  Science purports the predator as the more intelligent of any type of species. I have come to the conclusion that I disagree!  What?! That’s big for me to disagree with Animal Planet or the Science Channel. These two channels are my religion.

While standing in the middle of the sidewalk staring after the fighter pilots engaging in their warfare, I determined the prey must first invent a new evading mechanism before the predator can even begin to match it and attempt to outmaneuver.  Therefore, with the advent of “first thought” one must conclude that the prey is actually more intelligent then predator who merely emulates the prey.  Wait a minute, I feel a small “void”  in the force.  My head is a little dizzy and my knees are a tad weak.

With the sprit, sprit, sprit noise of oncoming lawn sprinklers…I move from my position and begin walking again. On this clear skied, ninety degree day, I surely wouldn’t want to get wet…
Around the corner I am accosted by five youngsters under the age of seven. Emulating entrepreneurs as seen on television commercials, or one too many episodes of  Our Gang, the neighborhood kids have set up a lemon aid stand.  In the divine wisdom of a clear warm day and youthful exuberance, they have set up their lemon aid stand on a dead end street.  It’s about 10:00am, with no traffic.  At least they set up their table in the shade of a tree for they had no ice.

As the kids were close to my home, I cut across lawns and ducked into my house.  Emerging with my change purse, I walked across the street among shouts and hoots of joy.  Finally, a customer! I felt like a rock start.  Whew, they have a patient parent!  The oldest, I would say about six or seven years old, is standing with his grubby little hands on the pitcher.  The front of his yellow t-shirt is now festooned with a wet and sticky Transformer. The little one, about two,  pulled up on his big-wheel and said something…I think he said “you live over there”…I don’t think it was a question rather he was telling me what he knew.  The other three kids were all leaning on the table grinning.  They could see the gray streaks in this Grandmother’s hair.  They knew without a doubt they were getting far more than their asking price of twenty-five cents.  One born every minute. Depositing the three quarters into the oldest sister’s hand (noting she had tried to wipe off the lemon aid in the grass) every one of those kids gave me that lizard grin.
Strolling off with my seventy-five cent Dixie cup full of lemon aid, I noticed there did seem to be a few more bees and wasps around those five kids.  Probably the stand would be closed with a stinging lesson.
Up the steeper sidewalk I stride.  I have on my tennis shoes that will help tone and tighten your butt and calves.  While I am panting and puffing from the exertion, so far I haven’t seen any improvement in my physic, but then, I am pretty far from that  25 year old body they advertise. I don’t know of anything short of a brain transplant that might get me to that girl!

I take a small sip of the lemon aid.  Pretty certain the kids dumped lemon juice into some water and waved the sugar bowl near it.  Wow!  Not since enjoying Sweet Tarts have I had my mouth pucker like that! Trying to un “fish face” myself. Thinking of Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider; nic, nic, nic,  I dumped the rest of the glass onto a neighbors lawn. That ought to kill off a few grubs. I’m really glad they weren’t trying to sell cookies too, but then again, maybe it would quiet down the neighborhood if I fed it to a passing dog…

A new neighbor pulls into their driveway.  It’s the first I have seen of them, except of course, my watching as they drive to and from work.  If I don’t keep an eye on these people, who will?! She is a pretty young blonde.  She gets out of her car and walks to the mailbox.  I say “Hello.” She ignores me.  I guess they don’t talk to their neighbors in Texas. (says Texas on the license plate) I notice a ground bee’s hole in their yard…karma… she’ll get her comeuppance!  

Past the well trimmed condo units.  The condo’s near us are mostly filled with snow birds.  One “gentleman”, a term I’m not all together certain applies, likes to drink his coffee outside while walking through his fabulous flower garden.  He carries his coffee mug while walking his paths, donned in his robe and a pair of short-shorts from the 70’s.  They are those REALLY short silky things with the stripe up the side.  I am sure he still has every color they ever came in, since I have seen ALL of them.  Ya know, those ex-runners just think they have it all “goin’ for them” even after they stop running.  Knocked kneed, boney legged, pot bellied….I’m just saying…..It’s not always as pretty as his flowers.

There is one house, in our neighborhood, that we know is a rental.  Based on the exterior, the owners have been away for a very, very, very long time.  The once brown house has been partially painted.  Most of the front and two of the windows are now pumpkin orange.  Some of the shutters are burgundy while a few others are lip-stick pink.  He apparently doesn’t own a ladder as he only paints as high as he can reach, therefore the peak of the house and the garage are both still brown.  The tops of the shutters are the original colors. The brush strokes are nearly indistinguishable, I think sarcastically. In the front yard he, or they, have decided they did not want lawn.  There are various sized rock strewn across the front yard, with exception of the property lines.  There he inserted stumps and tree limbs into the ground, painted them Kelly green with peach and burgundy accents.  Along both side property lines he put up sagging chicken wire for his vines. No vines grow, but the chicken wire has tarnished nicely.  It must be a “work in progress” since there are unopened bags of something in the yard.  They have been there for YEARS!  Oh yes, he also painted part of the driveway pumpkin orange.  Lovely.  His one redeeming quality?  They have a dog that stays in their back yard and does not bark when you walk past.  I like that dog.  Might be my favorite dog in the entire universe.  The void in the “force” is healing. 

I stumble over an uneven square on the sidewalk.  After these many daily walks, one would think I would remember to pick up my flippers.  I am too busy gawking at the kids playing in the yards and sing-song calling to one another, smelling the wonderful aroma of morning coffee and flowers, simply watching life happen.  Summer is here and the air is filled with laughter, barking, pollen, sunshine, birds, and bugs.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sandra's Writers Workshop Hop #1 First Person I Have A Need For Speed

Sandra's Writers Workshop Hop
First workshop works - First Person


I tend to site hop on the computer.  First I load up Spider Solitaire, then flip over to Job Search on Michigan Works, then a quick check on Facebook to see if anyone has posted something interesting or funny, and finally open my three little used e-mail sites I use for job replies.  Sometimes I even wander through blogs reading the thought of others. 

I cross my fingers hoping there is at least one acceptable job for me today.  If one is acceptable to me, I first send my resume via Michigan Works e-mail, access the company website, fill out their specific application, and then update a cover letter specific to the job and company to add when I resend my resume from my personal e-mail.  Often, there is a test or a questionnaire or sometimes both.  Generally, the test is either math or a filing sequence test.  The company questionnaire can take up to forty five minutes to complete.  Then it is on to the EEOC forms.  Those forms take seconds to fill out and are often overlooked or forgotten by applicants. 

I care about my vision, so I make certain I look up and out the window every ten to fifteen minutes.  I’m a clock watcher.  Yes, a C-L-O-C-K watcher…you know how “those” people are.  I make myself think of Bart Simpson in the backseat of a car, “Are we there yet?  Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”  In my old age I have learned to tone it down a little.  I only get the stink eye on occasion. 

Back and forth between the different sites, I travel.  Flipping through my e-mail sites long enough to scan and delete the junk mail.  Save the automatic replies from potential employers.   Sometimes I get a reply or e-mail from an actual person, so I have a contact to follow up with.  Sometimes, not very often does that occur. 

I then add a tab filled with the name of the company I think I might like to work for.  Many companies do not post their positions.  You either know someone who already works there, or you work their website.  I work websites for a couple of hours.  First thinking of the company, locating their authorized website, locating the careers tab and surfing the information.  I detail my cover letter to coincide with the job they may have available before I attach it in their specific careers application site. 

Hopping from site to site, game to game, at the end of the day I may have spent ten hours just seeking employment.  No wonder I sleep so hard.  No wonder my derrière has spread.  I have got to find employment soon, if only to push away from the computer desk.

Leigh Young

Monday, June 4, 2012

GBE 2: Blog On - - Week # 55 High School

As July approaches, I am filled with elation!  Another class reunion coming together.  The opportunity to visit with old friends and rehash old stories which have been elaborated upon until then nearly have no truth left in them. To see old flames and foes.  To heal old wounds and span burned bridges.

This time around, one of our classmates bought a golf course (I should be so lucky) with a wonderful banquet area.  There is to be a scramble for anyone who would like to play and I do believe there will be activities for those who don’t play golf also. Perhaps some card or board games. Evening we will all get together for dinner within the banquet room.

My husband, Bob, has volunteered to take individual photos as each graduate enters.  This way, we will have a current photo of the “student” which can then be coupled with their graduation photo.  A “before” and “after”, if you will.  This was, those who are not astute enough to recognize their former classmates can backtrack and recall our high school “look”.  (that look wasn’t always the best…)

We have lost a few of our classmates since the last reunion, and found a few old friends as well.  As ever, within a small graduation class, people fell into cliques.  There were the “jocks” elusive, non responsive to anyone other than their chosen friends or girl friend.  However, with jocks it’s sort of a seasonal exclusivity.  If the jock only participated in football, he was the “it” thing only at the onset of the school year.  Play basketball and you had a key into the center of the school year. Track, golf, baseball caught the last portion of the year.

Kalkaska Public High School, class of 1973.  The largest graduating class to that time, all 130 of us.  Everyone knew everyone.  Most were related.  In a town that size, with that few kids, going to the prom with your cousin didn’t really denote a nerd.  It just meant the two of you didn’t have anyone outside the family and you wanted to go dance!  However, having moved to the town when I was 10, and no relatives other than immediate family in the area, I was a rare commodity. Too bad I didn’t realize it at the time, I may have capitalized on it.

In a town the size of Kalkaska, most young people participated in all sports or no sports.  Or at least most sports or no sports.  In high school I participated in girls basketball, powder puff football, and was a cheerleader. I also grew up twenty-five miles from town.

I had a beau who said I lived in “the giggly weeds”.  I liked him a lot! Growing up that far from town, I never had first date show up on time.  Each and every one of them got lost and/or stuck in the snow drift at the end of our dead end street.  I would be dressed “to the nines” hear a car whizzing past the house and get out my snow suit.  On a dead end street, twenty-five miles from town, driving faster than a dead end street allows, I knew it was my “intended”.  My family sure gave me the hu-ha about how smart my fellas were. I married the first young man to find my house without me pushing his car out of the mud or snow. (probably wasn’t the best way to select a spouse…we are no longer married)

Kalkaska Public High School had never had a female class president before.  I don’t know why, I really never did anything.  The Vice President was asked to give the speech at graduation. They really should have selected me instead, I wouldn’t have been nearly as outspoken politically as Keith was. As the Senior president, the only real responsibility carried with it is making sure the class reunions happen.  And I do.

This particular reunion we have found a few people.  One in particular, we actually were told by a relative that he was dead.  Imagine my surprise when he contacted me via Facebook.  Only to have him violate my trust and harass my friends through Facebook. 

Another high school chum didn’t contact me directly, but via another classmate we obtained her address.  She has had a difficult life.  No family.  Thinking she had no friends never reached out to us for help.  Silly girl.  I am pretty certain by the time you hit twenty, any pettiness from high school gets left there as you drive by.  There were at least fifty of us she could have turned to for help and any one or all of us would have been at her side immediately.  Back when we paid for each and every call, I spent nearly $200.00 looking for her.  I called everyone with her last name in the three states I thought she lived in.  Hiding.

High school is the launching pad.  It is where you learn to judge the disposition of those you would entwine your life with.  If you have not met any neer do wells, you will become prey.  If you have not met the bully, you will not understand negotiation.  If you have not met the siren, you won’t understand the abused for that is what/who the siren is. In a small school like Kalkaska the microscope is up front and personal.  Every walk of life is presented almost in caricature simply because there are so few people to wear all the  “shades” of personality.

Kalkaska Public High School had the first married football player.  He had to sue in order to gain the right to play football his senior year.  Ed and Dawn are still married.  Prior to Ed’s law suit, if you got married while still attending school, you only attended school.  Dawn was expected to leave school when she began to “show”.  Times have certainly changed. 

Within a small town, people fall into the categories of personality; bossy, sheepish, doer, thinker, busybody, clown, addict.  Each of us has played these rolls to some extent, in a small town the extent is magnified simply because there is no one else within that personality. From the small town persona, to high school graduation, through life.  When you meet again with your “classmates” you fall back into the persona you thought you left behind.  Whether you want to or not.  Some, who have not left the small town are saddled with whatever persona they were wearing upon graduation.  It’s a difficult unspoken “label” to shed.

My job as president is to reside over the reunion.  I talk, shake hands, dole out hugs, reintroduce, console and cajole my old classmates.  My job is to make certain everyone is felt welcome and safe.  My job is to make certain they all take only good memories back home with them.  My job is to make certain the memories of high school get elaborated on enough that there is sometimes very little truth about them, but they are good to feel again.  I help heal the old wounds and span those burned bridges.  I am filled with elation. 

Bloghop #50 - ethos - pathos - logos

Since I am unemployed again, I am keen to note the three elements of persuasion; ethos, pathos and logos, while being interviewed.  I want to hear my interviewer  tell me why I want a job with their company.  I believe a good interview should be a two way path. Not just my boasting about the wonderful person I am and how much good I will bring with me.  All rainbows and sunshine.

I listen to the sound of my interviewers voice.  Is there passion?  Do they sincerely care about the topic at hand, or is this simply an exercise in finding a warm body to fill a mundane position and they know full well I will be gone within the month.  Does my interviewer like their job?  Does my interviewer enjoy working for their own boss?  Does my interviewer care about the corporation they are hiring for? I listen to the tone and pitch of their speech pattern for sincerity. The ethos my interviewer demonstrates tells me how fervently I should press for the position at hand.

Hearing not only the tone and pitch of my interviewers voice, but the words used to describe working within their specific organization.  Does their pathos demonstrate pride in a well run company?  Does my interviewer have a personal connection with the company other than a weekly paycheck? Does my interviewer have the company’s future in mind as they check my resume again for what I can bring to the table. If my interviewer can display a sense of humor, it might be a good place to work.

Lastly, I like to see the logos within the interviewers presentation.   I have been interviewed by adamant interviewers, their company was the only company I should ever consider working for.  Of course, they were scam artists willing to take advantage of me. Extreme passion by an interviewer, generally means you are just about to get burned, take two steps back and run!

Whenever you are seeking something from another person, you must watch for these three most important elements of persuasion.  They will assist you throughout your life as you judge the earnestness in those you might intermingle your life with.