IF ONLY I HAD AN EXTRA HOUR

Twenty-Five Seven

Good news — another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day (don’t ask us how. We have powers). How do you use those extra sixty minutes?

Twilight over the hills, Peacham, Vermont

Sunrise over the hills, Peacham, Vermont

If there were another hour in the day, it wouldn’t be enough. If there were another 5 or 6 hours in the day, it still wouldn’t be enough. Because sooner or later, you have to stop what you are doing and rest. Take a break. Stop moving, stop talking, stop the world. It’s time to get off.

Morning again and the mist

Morning again and the mist

The last couple of days have been continuous great conversation, fabulous food. Magical panoramas of a countryside so beautiful it seems like a dream. It’s been amazing. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Not enough hours to eat, talk, tour, take pictures, process pictures, write, answer comments. Socialize. Remember. Not even close.

I find myself having to face my own limits … I cannot do a single thing more and maintain any kind of balance. Yesterday, I realized I was not going to answer all the lovely comments and I was certainly not going to get to reading — or even skimming all the blogs I normally follow. I had been saving them, hoping that “later” I would get to them, but later, we were talking, remembering, laughing. Discovering we’d read the same book, shared many interests we’d never imagined.

Morning light on trees and fields

Morning light on trees and fields

Of course we know many of the same people. We knew that. We all went to the same college and worked at the same college radio station … that’s where so much of our lives because.

Our host was one of the early arrivals along with my first husband and a few others. They were the guys who turned it into a place where magic happened, where we invented ourselves, invented many things that are now part of media history. There had to be a first time for everything, but it is weird to realize that you were there — as an observer and sometimes, as a participant — in the creation of things that are now so basic to the broadcast industry that they seem to have existed forever.

72-Peacham-Monday_022

Yet they had a beginning. WVHC at Hofstra University was an incubator, a rich supportive environment for a bunch of creative kids who had ideas. New ideas. Because it was a different time, freer, with looser structure at the school — before so many rules and limitations were put in place — we had a chance to create new ways to do stuff.

Quiet country roads

Quiet country roads

And here we are, remembering, savoring people we know, the parts we played. Recognizing that things we and our friends did — invented — have made a difference. Truly changed the world and our industry. We really did it.

And all of this in beautiful Vermont where the leaves are golden and the last corn awaits harvesting. It is magic time.

WHO’S TALKING?

Counting Voices — A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?


First, dear WordPress, I think you are not paying attention to what you are saying. You seem to be distracted lately, especially on the Daily Prompt. This particular mistake is … well … peculiar. Not peculiar “ha ha.” More like peculiar strange and in need of medication.

Dearest friends, an inner monologue is not a conversation because it is a monologue. “Mono” means “one”, so this is “thinking something over” and doesn’t require anyone but the thinker. It is not a conversation. On the other hand, if your conversations involve people that you alone can see or hear … if, perchance, you have many voices in your head and they are having a lively discussion with each other?

And most especially if they are telling you to do evil things involving weaponry of any kind? You have should seek immediate help. No, don’t pick up that gun, bat, scalpel, or knife. Go directly to your local mental health provider and request a comfortable room with a view.

Generally, my best conversations are held with other human beings present. Perhaps I’m missing some fine conversational point of etiquette, but I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

One good conversationalist is usually enough for me and in my humble opinion, are always the best. Regardless, for real conversation, the train stops at four. People, not voices. After that, no one will get to finish a thought. You may have a great party, but it won’t be a conversation … though you can have pretty good arguments with a lot of people and sometimes, you can work each other up and turn it into a riot. Still, not a conversation.

Optimum? Two. Next best? Three.

Me with me? Or me with a lot of mes? Take some sleepy-time drugs. Go to bed. If it persists? Call someone in the morning.

BETTE, GARRY, AND MARILYN — IN SKOWHEGAN

And down the mountain we drove. Around 85 miles down, same mileage back. We met Bette Stevens, of 4 Writers and Readers. She’s in the middle of a round of editing her next book, but she took the time to spend the afternoon with me and Garry.

Bette Stevens

Bette Stevens

A great lunch and Ken’s Family Restaurant, a trip to the Magaret Chase Smith Library, and a brief sojourn to see the world’s tallest Indian (statue), created by Bernard Langlais (1921-1977), a sculptor from Old Town who attended the local art school.

Marilyn and Bette

Marilyn and Bette

Garry and I were wearing our matched pair of Serendipity sweat shirts. You could hardly tell us apart!

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Garry and Bette

Garry and Bette

We had great conversation at lunch, then spent some time taking picture of each other, visiting the library and admiring the statue, which is oddly located next to a Cumberland Farms.

View from the Margaret Chase Smith Library

View from the Margaret Chase Smith Library

We know each other on the Internet, yet there’s always some nervousness when finally, we meet in person. Will we really like one another?

The Margaret Chase Smith Library

The Margaret Chase Smith Library

No problem. It was love at first sight. I think we are officially best-friends-forever. I don’t know when we will be back this way, but I’m sure we will come again. Maybe next year or the year after that. But we will come back. How could we not return to so much natural beauty and great people?

World's Tallest Indian (Statue)

World’s Tallest Indian (Statue)

HUBRIS?

Upturned Noses — Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?


I’m all for equality — especially in the legal system — but.

I’m picky about computers though I’m not sure it qualifies as snobbery. My machines are big, bad, and fast. I’ve been told I’m using archaic technology. I’m not. My computers — 3 and 4 years old — are as fast and powerful as anything they are selling now. How come? Because I bought state-of-the-art, top quality computers in the first place.

Unlike the el cheapo glitzy stuff people buy, then complain it’s obsolete before they take it out of the box, mine keep up with the Joneses, Smiths, or Greenburgs. Why should I go through the hassle of transferring all my data and applications to a new, but not better, computer when the ones I own do exactly the same thing?

Who’s the snob?

75-GearNIK-CR-72

I’m snobbish about cameras. Absolutely. I don’t care how many megapixels you pack into your cell phone. It isn’t a camera. It’s a widget that can take pictures. If you take a horse and teach him to walk on a leash, is he a dog? If the dog can perform a dance on two legs, is he a person? You are welcome to your opinion, but on this one, you won’t get me to change mine.

And then … there’s coffee.

coffee

I have a single, unassailable standard. It has to taste really good. If I could find cheap coffee that tasted like expensive coffee, I would definitely buy it. And, in fact, the coffee I buy is mid-priced. It’s not the most expensive stuff … but it doesn’t come in giant cans from the supermarket either. And I buy it online because I get a better price.

If I’m snobbish about anything, it’s people. I need to be around people who think. Are creative. Have ideas. Read books. Can discuss stuff. Intelligently. Who don’t talk in slogans. Who have their own opinions and don’t mindlessly parrot somebody else’s lines.

I cannot abide people who believe what they believe because “that’s the way I was brought up” or “my minister says so.” To parrot words you’ve never questioned? It doesn’t work for me.

Hyannis downtown people

I know what Jesus said, but he wasn’t hanging with the hoi-polloi either. He talked about the meek, but he had his own tight group of pals and never left their company.

Intellectual snobbery is the Achille’s Heel of the intelligent and educated. If pride is the ultimate sin, then I’m guilty. Pride of intellect, pride of personal accomplishment, pride of knowledge. Can stupid, uneducated people have great ideas?  Maybe, but I’ve yet to see it. Hollywood loves the idea and it makes a great story.

In real life, is it true? You tell me.

A LITMUS TEST FOR FRIENDSHIP?

Litmus, Litmus on the Wall – If you had to come up with one question, the answer to which would determine whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met, what would it be? What would the right answer be?


Does anyone remember for what litmus paper actually tests?

From the ubiquitous source of all knowledge and frequent misinformation — Wikipedia — comes this enlightening but incomplete (please feel free to conduct your own research) definition:

Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens, especially Roccella tinctoria. It is often absorbed onto filter paper to produce one of the oldest forms of pH indicator, used to test materials for acidity. Blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions and red litmus paper turns blue under basic (alkaline) conditions, with the color change occurring over the pH range 4.5-8.3 at 25 °C. Neutral litmus paper is purple. Litmus can also be prepared as an aqueous solution that functions similarly. Under acidic conditions the solution is red, and under basic conditions the solution is blue.

I’ve yet to determine the “litmus test” for anything other than PH balance. Like in a tropical fish tank. You need to know the PH there or the fish will die. Otherwise, I don’t know anything about tests. I never know which posts will generate the most hits or comments. I have no idea who will turn out to be the person I can turn to in time of trouble. All my best friends became best friends because we liked each other, enjoyed each other’s company. Probably shared similar taste. There was no litmus or any other test. We hung out and couldn’t get rid of each other.

People and life aren’t a formula. There’s no single thing to indicate the potential quality of a friendship, the probably value of a relationship, the likely longevity of two hearts that resonate to each others’ rhythms.

I hade my face because I cannot bear the shame. Oh the horror!

I’m sure I’d never pass anyone’s “friend test.” Probably, assuming I could create one, not even my own. I don’t believe in standardized tests. Not in the schoolroom and certainly not in relationships.

As for standard litmus testing, I’m pretty sure I have a pH. If an actual litmus test were applied, I would definitely pass. Everyone would pass a litmus test because … (drumroll, trumpets) … you can’t fail a litmus test. There’s no correct answer and no passing grade. (Throw that bum out! His pH is way too low!) If my mother was any kind of judge, I’m too acidic, though there are days when I feel distinctly alkaline.

Since surviving my brief fling at youth, I have opinions, but I don’t test. I have standards. I don’t argue with stupid people. I’m referring to folks who combine blissful ignorance with strong opinions. I suppose there are a few other points, political, intellectual and social (don’t chew with your mouth open), but no test. I like people or not. I like what I like and I don’t know why. I don’t want to analyze it. Does that make me a loser? Or, as they say on Facebook, a looser? I’ll bet my problem is when I have nothing to say, I say nothing. That’s gotta be it!

If you want to be my friend, I promise you’ll never have to pass a test of any kind. Not a litmus or any other test. My love and loyalty are test-free, organic, and earth-friendly.

THE FAMILY AS WE MEET

Delayed Contact – How would you get along with your sibling(s), parent(s), or any other person you’ve known for a long time — if you only met them for the first time today?


How would I get along with them today? If I had just met them?

96-Matthew-HouseOnPaloAlto-1953

Probably not well. Mom might be an interesting person to talk to about her experiences in the thirties and forties. Her cynical take on politics and the way the world was going. Her disdain for government and the people who run it. Her dislike of “the old boys network” and the “old boys” in it were eternally amusing. She had a sardonic way of expressing herself that I think I have inherited. I miss her. She always had a unique “take” on whatever was going on.

I loved my brother though we had little in common but DNA. Our interests were so different. Our ways of dealing with the world almost diametrically out of phase. We shared a common understanding of how hard it had been to grow up in our world and come out unbroken.

96-MatthewAndMarilynApr1948

It’s a bit of a moot point whether or not we were unbroken, but we hid the damage well and managed to have productive lives. We were deeply supportive of each another. Yet I wonder. If we hadn’t been born to the same parents, would we have ever sought each other out? If Matt had lived longer — and so wish he had — we might have discovered more common ground as we matured. I wish we’d had the chance.

My sister was the odd child. Socially awkward and very much her mama’s darling, I think she watched me — especially me –with much envy and resentment, never understanding what it had cost me to break free of the family so young (I was barely 16) and go it on my own. I know she found me a hard act to follow … but she found life a hard act. By her mid 30s, she had retreated not only from the family, but from the world. She was a modern-age hermit and as far as I know, still is. Drug-addicted and lost, somewhere. She does not leave a forwarding address.

I’m always a bit envious of close-knit families, though I wonder what is hidden in there, what lies beneath the cheery surface. Maybe everything is just as you see it. Maybe not. It’s a bit late for me to find out because so much of my family has passed.

Maybe next time around the wheel.

STAY CLEAR OF LANDMINES

Happy Radars – Are you a good judge of other people’s happiness? Tell us about a time you were spot on despite external hints to the contrary (or, alternatively, about a time you were dead wrong).


This is one of Those Prompts which I could answer it in one word. Or I could write book. I’m inclined to be one-word-ish on this. I think I’m an excellent judge of what is really going on if:

  1. I know the people intimately
  2. Spend more than a few minutes with them
  3. I have my radar turned on.

72-Geese_03

I’m not a particularly astute judge of strangers unless I have some urgent reason to be. Moreover, I prefer to avoid intruding on friends’ personal business unless I feel I’ve been invited in. Even then, I tread softly. Other people’s private lives are a minefield. You can get blown to pieces if you don’t watch out.

So mostly, I don’t intrude. Most especially, I don’t judge and I don’t take sides.

Taking sides is how you lose friends and body parts.