SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015 #16 – SMALL TOWN SUMMER

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015 #16 – MID SUMMER IN A VERY SMALL TOWN

It’s Frisbee Wednesday again. How time flies! Last time I looked, it was barely spring. Then whoosh, summertime. Now, summer is beginning to wind down. The flowers that bloomed in the spring (tra la) are fading away, holding their collective virtual breath for the riot of color and energy that is Autumn.

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But not yet. The whole month of August remains which we must traverse. Then, a week and a bit of September will pass until we whirl into prime time and the trees show color.

HEART OF TOWN: THE PARKING LOT

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Last night, we watched “The Quiet Man” on Turner Classic Movies. After the movie, Robert Osborne did a wrap up. He talked about the citizens of Cong (Ireland, County Mayo) where the movie was filmed. How the local folk were so excited to have a movie company in their midst, it was difficult to keep them off the set. They were always peeking out of windows, hiding behind buildings, trying to catch a glimpse of the stars. It was the biggest — only big — event to happen in Cong.

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We visited Cong on our honeymoon in 1990. They were still reliving the grand days when John Ford came to town with his cameras and crew. Most important, he came with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Nothing else ever happened. Or ever will.

I said to Garry: “Nothing has ever happened in Uxbridge. Not a film, not an episode of a television show.”

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“We had one pretty juicy murder,” he pointed out. Ever the reporter, Garry keeps a mental tally of murders in the commonwealth. Catalogued by town.

“Okay, other than that one murder. I don’t think anything has ever happened here more memorable than the day the bank card readers went down.”

“That was a traumatic day,” Garry agreed.

A fly photo-bombed my picture!

A fly photo-bombed my picture!

To further my point (or perhaps, beat it to death), we went to Hannaford today. It is our grocery store. It’s where it all happens. Where we gather to discuss upcoming weather events and the price of things. Garry wanted to pick up a newspaper and replace our depleted supply of kitchen cleanser.

I wanted to snap a few pictures.

We succeeded at both.

JUST SAY NO

Watching a rerun of The Virginian. The story? A young woman is visiting Shiloh while taking a hiatus on her relationship. It’s supposed to be a six-week separation during which she can discover if she really loves the guy. But he shows up and starts to pressure her to marry him right away. She’s reluctant. She promised her father to not see him. She’s disappointed in her beau for pushing her.

It’s a common story, one which I’ve lived personally and watched so many others go through, holding a hand while they agonized through their “apart” time.

One of the very few things my father told me that turned out to be true was whenever someone is pressuring you for an immediate answer, say no. Because when they are pressuring you, they’ve got an agenda. So, say no.

It simplifies stuff that might otherwise seem complicated.

You need my answer right now? Then I will have to say no.

The property won’t last if I think it over for a couple of days? No, thank you.

The price will go up before I have time to decide if I really want it? Hell no!

All those other candidates are waiting in the wings, so you need my answer right now? Uh uh. Nope.

I wish I’d followed this advice from a lot earlier in my life. For all the times I said yes and lived to regret it. Jobs I accepted because I was scared to keep looking. Relationships I got into — then had to get out of — because I was too insecure to stand my ground. Things I bought from high pressure salesmen — real estate, cars, and who remembers what else?

Saying no would have saved me years of misery … and a great deal of money. All I had to do was say no.

All you need to say, is NO.

THE BLACK STALLION

 

If I’m going to be in a movie, I say — bring on the horses!

I grew up yearning for a horse and devoured any book about them. My favorites books were the Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. I probably read the book so many times its cover fell apart.

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All through my childhood, Walter Farley wrote a steady stream of new Black Stallion books  — and I read every one of them. About his colts and fillies. About Alec Ramsey, who grew from a teenage boy to a man in the course of the series. Of Henry Daily, the old horse trainer whose career is revived by his accidental encounter with Alec and The Black. Many stories, as the years went on, were about the racing stable Alex and Henry build in upstate New York for which The Black was the founding stud. To this day, I know more about horses and horse racing than most people … because Walter Farley told me all about it in book after book.

Throughout my young years, I wished they would make The Black Stallion into a movie. I wanted to see The Black, to see Alec ride him. To see him come from behind and become the greatest horse to ever run on a track. I was bewitched by horses and was convinced I would need nothing else in this life if I had a horse.

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Oddly, the great Secretariat’s real accomplishments — winning the Triple Crown in 1973 — remarkably mirrored those of the fictional Black. Watching Secretariat’s career — in the real world — made up for never having seen The Black race.

I never got a horse. Gradually real life overtook my fantasy life. College, work, husband, baby, home, friends replaced dreams of riding bareback on the greatest stallion of them all.

But the magic wasn’t over me because in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola made the movie I’d yearned for since childhood. He based the movie, The Black Stallion, on the first of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, the one he wrote in 1941. In making the movie, they changed the story some. This would have made me crazy as a kid, but by the time I saw the movie — in an old theater in Jerusalem, Israel — I was a 30-year-old mother living overseas and able to cope with relatively minor digressions from the original tale.

Last week, Turner Classic Movies showed “The Black Stallion.” So, of course, we watched it again. I’ve seen it many times. Each is seeing it for the first time.

I am swept away to a desert island for the adventure of a lifetime. Even if you aren’t a great horse lover, the score and the cinematography are so extraordinary, the movie is like a dream. They set the story in its original time period, the early 1940s which helps augment the dreamlike effect.

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I want to be on that island with The Black. To ride him along the edge of the ocean, free from everything but the sun, the wind, the sand beneath my horse’s pounding hoofs. I would give a lot for just one day to live that dream.

“The Black Stallion” is a paean to horses, nature, and overcoming adversity. You don’t have to be a kid to love it. It also contains the least dialogue of any movie since the talkies took over Hollywood.

Director Carroll Ballard tells the story with luscious cinematography and a lovely soundtrack. Music fusing with images that wrench your heart.

COME AGAIN?

It happened again. Someone’s left a voicemail message, but all I can make out are a few words. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I recognize the voice. Maybe not.

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We used to leave messages on our answering machines telling folks to speak slowly and clearly, but most callers thought we were being funny. Leaving a coherent message was apparently a joke. These days, we get lots of incoherent messages. Usually, with caller ID (and now with a caption phone), we know who called and can retrieve the number, but not necessarily. If it’s garbled enough, the caption phone won’t get it either. It’ll just say “Incomprehensible” or “muffled” or something else that means “sorry, no idea what he/she said.”

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“Garry, your brother called. No idea what he said. Call him, okay?”

“Hey, Jim called about something. Call him when you have a moment.”

“One of your cousins called. They left a message but I can’t make it out.”

My favorite: “Someone called. Maybe it was important. They left a number but I can’t understand it.  Guess it wasn’t important enough.” Note: If it really is important and we don’t call back? Pick up the phone and call again. Seriously. If it’s that important, make sure we got the message.

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If you leave a message, speak up. Clearly. Repeat the phone number. Don’t forget to include your name — in case we don’t actually know you as well as you think we do or can’t recognize your voice.

Don’t mumble.

While we’re on the subject, how about those cell phones, eh? On which you can’t hear anything? From either end? I miss telephones on which you knew you had a connection that wouldn’t drop and on which you could hear what someone said to you — and know they could hear you.

No wonder texting is so popular. No one can understand what anyone else is saying.

10 THINGS I LEARNED ON THE WAY TO 300,000

Sometime during the night between yesterday and today, my total views passed 300,000.

three hundred thousand

That is an incomprehensibly big number. I never imagined having this many people look at my site when I started blogging.

I began Serendipity without thought and no plan. Or objective. For all the hours I’ve spent working on it, I’ve yet to set a goal or decide on a direction. I began because I could. I continued because I like it and I’ve met such wonderful people.

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I need to do say something more than “gee, that’s a really big number,” so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you. For what it’s worth and I admit, it’s not much.

1. The best (most active) days of the week are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Usually, but not always. You can have a terrible — or great day — any time for no apparent reason.

2. Summer is slower than winter. Holidays are always slow.

3. Real drama — by which I mean true life crises — bring out the best in people. They relate to you. All that heart surgery I had back in March 2014 doubled my traffic. (There must be an easier way.)

4. Sentiment sells. I don’t do “sentimental” well. It makes me uncomfortable. Garry does sentimental extremely well. His personal posts always “outsell” mine by a margin of better than two-to-one.

5. Celebrity sells. Garry’s stories about hanging out with the stars always get lots of hits. I love his stories as much as anyone and never get tired of them. Note to self: Encourage Garry to write more.

6. Quality counts as does a steady output.

7. Length (usually) counts against you. Long pieces — 900 words or more — are off-putting to a lot of people. Note: If you write long pieces and everyone reads you anyway? It means you very good. Better than me, for sure.

8. Short and pithy, especially with pictures, is a good formula.

9. The popularity of a post will be inversely proportional to the amount of work you put into writing it. It’s a Murphy’s Law.

10. Make’em laugh, make’em cry. But laughter wears better, long-term.

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If you were looking for something deep and analytical, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Mostly, what I’ve learned is I love blogging.

Writing, having a place to share photographs. If blogging had never been invented, I would have had to invent it myself. I love sharing the up side of my life with you. I try to keep the down side to a minimum.

I look forward to your comments and our conversations. They are the high point of my weeks. You inspire me, entertain me, touch my heart. You are my friends.

MOM WITH CANNOLIS

Mom came to visit in a dream, a most welcome visitor. I hadn’t seen her in a few months, but she looked great. After a quick hug, she told me she’d brought a surprise.

Of the all the things I expect the deceased to bring when they visit from the beyond, fresh baked goods are not high on my list. Mom handed me a box. Brown cardboard tied with thin string. It looked as if it came straight from my favorite Boston bakery. I thanked Mom and untied the box, carefully setting the string aside so I could play cat’s cradle later. In the box were a ten gorgeous cannolis.

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Oh yummy. I dug in, well into my third cannoli (Note: Food eaten in dreams has no calories, so always gorge on dream food) when Mom said that she was glad to see me again and drifted off. I woke up missing my mother and wishing we had a good bakery nearby. Then again, maybe it’s just as well we don’t. Dream food has no calories, but the stuff from real bakeries does.

Once upon a time, I dreamed of far away shores. Now I dream of Mom and cannolis.

 

THE FADING OF THE GARDENS

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It may be high summer to us, but to the day lilies, the end is near. There will be a few more blooms for another few weeks, but high season is over. The best of the garden is done.

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It’s the end of the second round of roses too. There will be stragglers, but the roses look weary. They are ready to sleep.

Pink lily fading

Daffodils are a distant memory as are the lilacs, columbine, Solomon Seal. The daisies are still with us, though.

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I don’t know how many of our mums made it through winter. They won’t begin to show themselves, if they are alive, for a few more weeks. August is a dull time for flowers, the month between summer and autumn blooming.

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Check out Cee’s Flower Of The Day — Roses!