Recreation

GOOD ADVICE FOR ELSEWHEN TRAVELERS

Time travel, the ultimate addiction. The day I realized the big window in my bedroom was a wormhole, I started day tripping all ever. It started out a day like any other. Coffee. Making sure the dogs had biscuits. Wash those few dishes in the sink. Clean out the drying rack. Look at the sky, wonder if it’s going to clear. Wondering why it matters so much anyhow. It’s just another day, right?

Then the whirly twirly thing in the venetian blinds. A vortex! Trying to figure out how to get to it. Why don’t they put them at floor level? I’m supposed to leap over my dresser? I’m 66, not 14! Give me a break, or more to the point, let’s not give me a break, like a hip. If I’m going anywhere, I want two of them, even if they don’t work well.  Wondering if Medicare will cover illnesses and accidents in other times. Wishing I had a clue how to designate when and where I want to travel … oh and when I would like to return, please.

It turns out (surprise!) the vortex knows. Just focus your mind on when, where and how long you want to be wherever. The vortex takes care of the rest, like an exceptionally good travel agent but much cheaper. The danger is going through the vortex with your brain muddled. You can wind up some strange places … not places a tourist wants to be.

Garry caught this picture of me on my way home from traveling to a favorite spot in Arthurian England. Good catch Gar!

Garry caught this picture of me on my way home from traveling to a favorite spot in Arthurian England. Good catch Gar!

Also, you don’t have to jump or climb into the vortex. Just stand as close as you can and reach into it mentally. Cool beans, right? Like, wow, what a trip. Whatever was the best hallucinogenic drug you ever took? This is better. This is what we were looking for.

If you are one of the lucky ones who’ve had a vortex appear for you, I’d like to offer you some practical advice:

  • Don’t drink, smoke dope, or take other mind-bending substances before you travel elsewhen.
  • Avoid the 14th century. It’s too depressing. Also, you need vaccinations for defunct diseases making it difficult to explain to your doctor.
  • If you have a cool doctor, let him or her in on the secret. Some can be bribed with an excursion of their own. And it’s a good bet you’ll eventually need medical support.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Layer. Sometimes the seasons aren’t predictable. A small carry-on piece of luggage in a natural fiber such as canvas makes a good investment.
  • Take your camera. Take extra memory chips and backup batteries. You aren’t going to be recharging anything.
  • Leave the cell phone home. A ringing cell at the wrong moment can produce unexpected — and unpleasant — results.
  • Tell your mate what’s going on. Nothing upsets a relationship more than your appearing out of nowhere. Why not take your other half along for a couple of rides? Maybe he or she will love it too!
  • Try to land on or near the ground in an open area. Arriving mid-air or inside a wall produces bad trips. Sometimes death. Be clear in your mind so the vortex can read you. Wherever you are going, do a little research. Google Earth and history books can be very helpful in giving you good visualization capabilities.
  • Try not to lose yourself in time. If you overdo it, you can forget who you are supposed to be, who your children are, your friends, family. Everything. Maybe that’s not so bad for some, but most of us want to go home eventually.
  • Don’t tell everything to everybody. You want to keep the press out of it. Far out of it.
  • The future is scarier than the past. Spend time in known history before you venture forward. You’ll be glad you did.

This is the most fun you’ll ever have. Take lots of notes, pictures and have a blast. Talk to people Don’t worry about language barriers. The vortex won’t send you anywhere without the appropriate language skills in your brain. You won’t remember them when you get home, but they will always be there when you need them.

Vortexes don’t last forever. Make the most of your opportunity while it’s available. Enjoy your travels, my friends. Welcome to TIMING OUT of life! It’s the best ride you’ll ever take.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST -The Best Medicine

Life in shreds? Out of work? Evicted? Hiding from the repo guys? Other half dumped you? Bank threatening to foreclose? Don’t take it personally. It’s just  a joke. No, really. Disaster is life’s cute and funny way of pointing out how little control you have over your fate. Don’t cry. No one likes a cry-baby. Smile! That’s it! Go on, now, no suffering allowed. This personal disaster is your cue to laugh. No one wants to hear your sad story … unless you turn it into a funny story! Then everyone wants to listen.

The first time my world went to pieces, I walked away from a dead marriage, gave everything to my ex and moved to another country. The joke was on me. I promptly married a guy so much worse I get dizzy thinking about it 30 years later. When that fell apart (though it lasted longer than it ought because I wouldn’t admit what a horrible mistake I’d made), I staggered — bloody, dazed and penniless — back to the USA. When I stopped feeling as if I’d gone through a wood chipper, I married Garry which I should done in the first place, except he hadn’t asked. Minor detail.

All that seemingly pointless pain and suffering was not for nothing. Stories of hideous mistakes and horrendous outcomes are the stuff of terrific after-dinner conversation. A few drinks can transform them into hilarity. Misery fuels humor. It’s a fact. Misery, mistakes, and disasters are high comedy. Funny movies are not about people having fun. They’re about people in trouble, with everything going wrong, lives in ruins. The difference between a comedy and a tragedy is the ending. Tragedies usually end with a pile of corpses; comedies (usually) don’t. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of timing and style.

Funny stories weren’t funny when they happened. Now, well, yeah, they’re funny. After I was told I had cancer in not one, but both breasts (they were having a two-for-one special at the Dana-Farber), I had them removed and replaced by silicon implants, but stopped short of adding fake nipples. Previous surgeries having left me with no naval, I now present myself as a space alien. You don’t believe me? It’s true.

And about those fake tits: I own tee shirts that say “Yes, they are FAKE. My real ones tried to kill me.” I’m wearing one right now. It’s a killer at parties and is the high point of my cancer experience.

Fake breasts

When life goes to Hell in the proverbial handbasket, a lot of folks who were sort of friends eye you with suspicion (is bad luck contagious?), but also with a subtle hint, a light whiff, of profound satisfaction. They wouldn’t be rude enough to say so, but they are overjoyed that it happened to you, not them. Sorry about your life, really. (Furtive, slightly smug grin.)

If you are a writer, out of the wreckage will come a book or at the very least, a Freshly Pressed badge from WordPress. Yay! See? It wasn’t for nothing!

Our personal traumas are collateral damage in a Darwinian battle of the fittest to survive. No one gets through unscathed. So mindful of whatever tragedy lurks just over your personal horizon, why not prepare some clever repartee? You can give it a test drive at the next get together with your more successful pals. It will give you something to look forward to. And, as a bonus, you will really appreciate the irony when your friends’ lives go to pieces later on. You’ll be able to give them great advice on how to survive their personal Apocalypse! Cool!

So no matter how horrible things are right now, don’t worry. You will stop bleeding and screaming. Eventually. Black depression will ebb. You won’t always feel you can’t breathe. That crushing weight on your chest will be replaced by a permanent sense of panic and mild hysteria you will call “normal.”

Start laughing right this minute.  No tears allowed. Tragedy is hilarious. Heaven may be droll, but Hell?  Everyone is yukking it up down there. Watch out for the flames (OUCH).

AUTUMN WASHING AWAY

As I sit in my office listening to the sound of the rain, I can look up and see the rain dripping from our gutters — probably clogged with leaves — and see the way the leaves droop under the weight of water.

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This is the third day of rain in a row. Yesterday … even the day before … the rain was only intermittent. The sun peeped out occasionally just to give us hope and at one point, enough to allow the Red Sox to beat the Devil Rays 12 to 2. And then the rain came back. A bit heavier, a bit steadier.

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This morning, it’s a very steady pouring rain and the leaves are beginning to fade. What just yesterday held the promise of an exceptional autumn is morphing into a repeat of so many autumns in recent years. Just when the leaves are showing real color and we harbor the dream of a glorious fall … the rain comes. The gold and the red turn to dull brown. The leaves slither off into sodden piles on the ground and autumn never hits its peak. Over before it entirely began.

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Maybe if the rain stops today … just maybe we can salvage the season. I so very much wanted this one perfect season. For so many reasons. I wanted this one, this time, to be right.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns – White Mountain Bridge

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Just outside of Lincoln, New Hampshire, high in the White Mountains, a footbridge leads you into the woods onto a hiking trail. If you follow the trail, you will eventually find yourself at the top of one of the highest mountains in the region, a place where altitude equals weather and whatever you know in the lowlands is no longer true.

 

Write About Dogs

My favorite cartoon – by George Booth — was originally published in The New Yorker. It shows a man sitting in front of a typewriter. Dogs are everywhere A woman, presumably his wife, watches from the doorway. The caption reads “Write about dogs.”

My home is full of dogs. Anyone who comes to visit must compete with the dogs for the comfortable chairs and the best spots on the sofa. (Come to think of it, we have to fight them for the best seats too.) That’s the way it is. The dogs are family.

If we have guests who are old, frail or allergic, we do our best to accommodate their needs. We put the most rambunctious, smelly, and hairy dogs out of the way if we can, but that depends on the weather. Basically, if you don’t like dogs, you’ve come to the wrong house. People who don’t like dogs are not frequent visitors.

That’s fine with me. I prefer the company of most dogs to most people. There are lots of reasons to prefer dogs. But the two big ones are love and honesty.

Dogs love you completely, totally, and without reservation. They don’t care about your social status or education, whether you are young or old, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor. They love you completely.

Your dog will never betray or abandon you.

Dogs are terrible liars. Not that they don’t try. Every dog will do his or her best to convince each human to give them treats. Your dog will tell you she needs a biscuit now or will collapse from hunger. This is not particularly convincing when the canine in question is a beefy pooch who has obviously never missed a meal. Eternally optimistic, all dogs figure it’s worth a shot. It’s a dog thing. You never know when a biscuit might fall your way.

When the performance our furry kids put on in hopes of getting a tasteless dry biscuit is especially hilarious, we relax the rules and give them a little something. After all, they don’t have hands and can’t grab one for themselves. Now and again, they need to get lucky because they’re cute and we love them.

Dogs lie, but their lies are simple and transparent. There’s no malice in them. They just want a biscuit. If they don’t get one, they love you anyway.

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When it comes to love, dogs are the best. They “get” love and think you are wonderful. They think you are wonderful every day of their lives. When they are dying, the last thing they will do is look at you with love in their eyes, wag their tail one final time and try to give you a kiss.

I have spent my life lurching between my quest for God and an equally ardent quest for the best dog food at the most reasonable price. When times have been hard and we’ve had to choose between food for us and food for our furry children, the fur kids always win.

Our dogs do not suffer from angst. They don’t worry unless supper runs late or biscuits are forgotten in the bustle of a day’s activities. If such a catastrophe should occur, they know exactly where to present their grievances and apply for redress.

Dogs live close to their deities. They hang out with their gods on the sofa. They get biscuits from them in the morning and evening. If life is circumscribed and a bit confined, it is nonetheless good.

Sometimes one of their gods gets angry and yells at them. That might make them unhappy for a few minutes, but the gods of their world don’t stay angry. Our dogs have kindly and loving gods who are inclined to scratch them behind the ears and talk to them in soft voices.

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We are gods to our dogs and as such, we set laws for them to live by. Don’t poop or pee in the house.

Do not chew things not given to you for chewing, especially not anything containing batteries. Don’t jump on old people or babies. Don’t growl at delivery people. Don’t stay up late barking. Abide by the law and all will be well.

When rules are clear and understood by all, life runs smoothly.

TinkerPartyGaNKl

The human side of the contract is more complicated. It’s harder being god than dog.

We pledge to care for them all the days of their lives. We keep them healthy. We love and nurture them. We feed them properly, make sure they get exercise – though they don’t get enough of it and neither do we. We keep them warm and dry in winter, cool and dry in summer.

If we force them to go outside to do their business, it is because they are, after all, dogs.

Every evening, for at least a little while, their gods climb down from heaven to play on the floor.

Our dogs don’t fret about the future. They live in a joyful present. When their time comes, we will make sure they pass gently out of this world. We promise to keep them as free from suffering as is within our power.

That is our solemn contract. We live up to that pledge because we really are gods to our fur children and must never let them down. Pets teach you a lot about the divine contract.

Daily Prompt: Leave em’ laughing!

There’s no viable alternative to laughter. Drugs, booze, even chocolate … all are nothing in the face of the black comedy of our lives. True there is something to be said for laughing while drinking and eating chocolate, but not all of us can treat our bodies that way and live to tell the tale, so we have to settle for humor.

VeganWitches

When our lives are in shambles, when all around us is falling apart, the brave tell jokes. When the laughter dies down, we take a deep breath, tell another one … and laugh some more. The more horrific the situation, the more devastating the problems, the more catastrophic the impending calamity, the funnier it is. We do not laugh at tragedy.  We laugh at life. We laugh at ourselves.

Laughter is not about happy times. Jokes are full of pain and sorrow. They are the defense we’ve been given to push back the darkness and despair. Use it freely. It’s the best medication on earth.

The difference between tragedy and comedy is how you look at it. Laughter is the universal cure for the griefs of life.

What can you do? If the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed the headlight of an oncoming train? Heard any good ones lately?

Laughing at the craziness, insanity, ludicrousness, the utter absurdity of my life — and the demented world in which I live it — is my first line of defense against despair. Take away laughter, strip away my sense of humor and I’m a goner.

I hope I’ve left you laughing!

Water Retrieving

It was a party on the Cape. Beautiful house. A group of politicians, media folks, and their Others. And one, big, wet Golden Retriever.

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To be fair, he could have been a happier retriever if only someone had thrown one of his hoarded tennis balls. He had carefully corralled them in the family swimming pool and while the spiffily dressed guests sipped cocktails and munched on sandwiches, he swam in the pool, then dripping he would try to convince someone to throw a sodden tennis ball.

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Alas, it was not his lucky day. How to make him understand that even we dog lovers couldn’t embrace so much wet dog dressed in our “nice” clothing?

Watch Out for the Pod People!

Everything and everybody changes. Most of my family and friends have changed relatively gradually over the years. Recently a couple of people I’ve known for a long time have changed suddenly and dramatically. Overnight, they became dry and humorless.

It appears they had a humorectomy. While they slept, their sense of humor was removed. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it’s deeply disturbing. I think it’s possible they have been replaced by pods, like the  “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

I could not survive if I did not see how ridiculous my life is. If the absurdity of it didn’t make me laugh, I would do nothing buy cry and bewail my state. Laughter heals me. It’s better than sex. Better than yoga, meditation, medication, or street drugs. It’s free, unrestricted by laws, available to anyone who is not yet dead and is acceptable behavior under almost all religious systems.

Many friends are going through rough times. Their problems vary, but the results are the same. Stress, anguish, fear, worry, insomnia. You worry, try to keep it together until you’re ready to explode.

What can you do? If the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed the headlight of an oncoming train, I say: “Buckle up and let your hair blow in the wind. It’s going to be a Hell of a ride.”

Laughing at the craziness, insanity, ludicrousness, the utter absurdity of my life — and the demented world in which I live it — is my first line of defense against despair. Take away laughter, strip away my sense of humor and I’m a goner.

At our wedding — 22 years ago — my cousin and I danced the hora. What makes the dance so memorable  — other than discovering that she was in great shape and I wasn’t — was feeling like I was going to spin out of control.  That feeling of being grabbed by something stronger than me and being twirled and spun with no ability to control what happens has become an allegory for life.

I laugh any time I can, at anything that strikes me as even a little bit funny. It helps me remember why I bother to keep living.

My friends make me laugh. I make then laugh. When our lives are in tatters and everything around us is collapsing, we laugh. Then, we take a deep breath, and laugh some more. The more awful the situation, the more dreadful and intractable the problems, the funnier it is. We are not laughing at tragedy … we are laughing at life.

The difference between tragedy and comedy is how you look at it. Laugher is the universal cure for griefs of life.

Serendipitous Photo Ops — Big Car Show in Mendon

I had a doctor’s appointment in Upton. It’s about 6 miles away and normally takes me 20 minutes to get there. I usually leave half an hour because it’s all local roads and it’s road repair season in New England.

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But today, traffic was stopped. Like everyone’s tires had been super-glued to the road from Uxbridge all the way through Milford.

It turned out … they were having a car and motorcycle show in Mendon.

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We are not renowned for entertainment in the Valley. Carnivals don’t come here any more, though they used to. Maybe the carnivals are gone and that’s why they don’t come. Or may it’s because the town sold the fair grounds to a private developer. That could be the answer. Thus a big car show — this was a large one by any standards — draws a huge crowd. And everyone has to get there via Route 16.

Which doesn’t mean that other people, like us, didn’t also need to use the road. Hah. Fat chance.

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Route 16, which is the main route from one part of Blackstone Valley to anywhere else is two lanes. One in each direction. When it bogs down, it backs up for miles in both directions, which is exactly what it did. You can’t go around because we don’t have many roads. With so few roads, it’s hard to get lost in the Valley even if you have no sense of direction. The paucity of roads makes it hard to get lost, but close to impossible to find alternate routes from town to town. Essentially, there are none. You can make huge loops that take you miles out of your way, but it’s not really an alternate route … just a long circuitous detour.

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So, while we were sitting in traffic, occasionally moving forward a few feet, I opened the window, stuck my head outside and took some pictures as we crawled past. All of these pictures were shot from a slowly moving car through the open window.

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These are the ultimately serendipitous photographs. I was using a long telephoto lens, which accounts for the odd perspective. But interesting. Almost abstract.

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I couldn’t get shots of most of the cars … too much stuff in the way, but I got some of the motorcycles and other attractions. It’s what to do when you’re stuck in traffic … and why I always carry a camera.

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Best Medicine – Laugh, Clown

Life in shreds? Out of work? Evicted? Hiding from the repo guys? Other half dumped you? Bank threatening to foreclose? Don’t take it personally. It’s just  a joke. No, really. Disaster is life’s cute and funny way of pointing out how little control you have over your fate. Don’t cry. No one likes a cry-baby. Smile! That’s it! Go on, now, no suffering allowed. This personal disaster is your cue to laugh. No one wants to hear your sad story … unless you turn it into a funny story! Then everyone wants to listen.

The first time my world went to pieces, I walked away from a dead marriage, gave everything to my ex and moved to another country. The joke was on me. I promptly married a guy so much worse I get dizzy thinking about it 30 years later. When that fell apart (though it lasted longer than it ought because I wouldn’t admit what a horrible mistake I’d made), I staggered — bloody, dazed and penniless — back to the USA. When I stopped feeling as if I’d gone through a wood chipper, I married Garry which I should done in the first place, except he hadn’t asked. Minor detail.

All that seemingly pointless pain and suffering was not for nothing. Stories of hideous mistakes and horrendous outcomes are the stuff of terrific after-dinner conversation. A few drinks can transform them into hilarity. Misery fuels humor. It’s a fact. Misery, mistakes, and disasters are high comedy. Funny movies are not about people having fun. They’re about people in trouble, with everything going wrong, lives in ruins. The difference between a comedy and a tragedy is the ending. Tragedies usually end with a pile of corpses; comedies (usually) don’t. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of timing and style.

Funny stories weren’t funny when they happened. Now, well, yeah, they’re funny. After I was told I had cancer in not one, but both breasts (they were having a two-for-one special at the Dana-Farber), I had them removed and replaced by silicon implants, but stopped short of adding fake nipples. Previous surgeries having left me with no naval, I now present myself as a space alien. You don’t believe me? It’s true.

And about those fake tits: I own tee shirts that say “Yes, they are FAKE. My real ones tried to kill me.” I’m wearing one right now. It’s a killer at parties and is the high point of my cancer experience.

Fake breasts

When life goes to Hell in the proverbial handbasket, a lot of folks that were sort of friends eye you with suspicion (is bad luck contagious?), but also with a subtle hint, a light whiff, of profound satisfaction. They wouldn’t be rude enough to say so, but they are overjoyed that it happened to you, not them. Sorry about your life, really. (Furtive, slightly smug grin.)

If you are a writer, out of the wreckage will come a book or at the very least, a Freshly Pressed badge from WordPress. Yay! See? It wasn’t for nothing!

Our personal traumas are collateral damage in a Darwinian battle of the fittest to survive. No one gets through unscathed. So mindful of whatever tragedy lurks just over your personal horizon, why not prepare some clever repartee? You can give it a test drive at the next get together with your more successful pals. It will give you something to look forward to. And, as a bonus, you will really appreciate the irony when your friends’ lives go to pieces later on. You’ll be able to give them great advice on how to survive their personal Apocalypse! Cool!

So no matter how horrible things are right now, don’t worry. You will stop bleeding and screaming. Eventually. Black depression will ebb. You won’t always feel you can’t breathe. That crushing weight on your chest will be replaced by a permanent sense of panic and mild hysteria you will call “normal.”

Start laughing right this minute.  No tears allowed. Tragedy is hilarious. Heaven may be droll, but Hell?  Everyone is yukking it up down there. Watch out for the flame (oops).

Daily Prompt: Rolling Stone – Where’s my moss?

I used to think about tossing it all in and getting an RV — just rolling from place to place, sleeping wherever we landed. Waking up to watch the sun rise atop the Rockies, or something like that. The problem is, I have this annoying brain. It doesn’t let me just fantasize. It wants the details. It wants a workable plan. So I don’t fantasize. I obsess. About the logistics of the thing. I start making charts, budgets, schedules.

Rolling into Gettysburg. Goal, a comfy motel wioth WiFim cable TV and lots of hot water. A good restaurant too.

Rolling into Gettysburg. Goal, a comfy motel with WiFi, cable TV and lots of hot water.  A good restaurant too.

The price of gasoline. I mean, do you know how much it costs to run an RV? Holy smoke! It’s not a question of how many miles to the gallon. More like how many gallons to the mile. I have friends who own a yacht, but they almost never go anywhere. They hang out in the marina because it cost too much to actually go anywhere in the boat. I’m not arguing with the joy of yachting, or RV-ing, but seriously — that’s mucho dinero.

How much can I fit into the trunk? And about those dogs?

How much can I fit into the trunk? And about those dogs?

Then, there are the dogs. There we are, on the open highway, tooling along, watching the gas gauge drop and the dogs are restless. Do they really need to do something? Or are they just messing with us? Who knows? Do we want to take the chance? Our dogs are smart enough to know if they exhibit certain behaviors, they are going to get what they want and I can see us never making much progress because the dogs think it’s a real hoot to get us to stop everything and let them run around. Even at 3 in the morning when we’ve just fallen asleep.

With no doggy door, no fenced yard, it’s us, the dogs and leashes, standing there, whining “Please, go already, it’s cold, I’m tired, I want to go to bed,” while Bonnie laughs at us as only a Scottie can.

Now a train, that might be okay. Except how long can youstay aboard? Really? And what about those dogs?

Now a train, that might be okay. Except how long can you stay aboard? Really? And what about those dogs?

And then … well … there are the bathrooms. My husband has a thing about the bathroom. He would be okay for a few days, but then … he wants a nice, comfortable room with a spacious shower and unlimited hot water. A place to sit, ponder and all the rest. Not squinched into a little tiny airline-size nook (or cranny? does anyone know the difference?), but room to spread out, leisurely. And me? While he’s doing his leisurely morning ablutions, what the hell am I doing? Beating the bushes for a bit of privacy where it isn’t full of poison ivy?

But wait. You gotta pump out the head. You gotta fill the water tanks. You need to hook up to some electricity. Buy groceries. Dog food. Cook meals in that tiny little galley. I stopped loving meal preparation about a decade ago. Am I going to rediscover the joy of cooking in the galley of an RV? Why do I doubt that?

And WiFi? Without getting complicated, Garry has bathroom issues. I have WiFi issues. Take away my Internet connection and I will probably have a psychotic break.

Who is going to water the plants?

Who is going to water the plants?

My head is reeling. I WANT TO GO HOME TO MY COMFORTABLE BED. I’m not a stone and I don’t roll. I limp. And hey, I have a doctor’s appointment. I’m tired of rolling. I want my recliner. I want my computers, my big screen television, my huge oak desk.

I want my desk. My computer. My big monitor. My chair.

I want my desk. My computer. My big monitor. My chair.

Roll, roll ye stones. But I don’t think I’ll be rolling with you. Nice but not for me. Nope. Sorry, the gypsy life passed me by. Send postcards!

Oh, thank you Lord. My bed! I need my bed!

Oh, thank you Lord. My bed! I need my bed!

Watch Out for Pigeons!

Anyone who knows me at all knows I love roller coasters. I love them all … but for me, there’s nothing that comes near the Cyclone at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Been riding it since I was 8 years. I’m ready to go again. Just say the word. But I think I’d have to go alone. My friends and husband have declared themselves too crotchety to do it again. Bah. Humbug.

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If a goose can bring down a 747, it is not irrational to believe a pigeon can derail a roller coaster. Just thought I’d mention it.

Here’s a crazy video of the coaster and nutty middle-aged people enjoying the last great legal high. How many of us leave this ride limping, wondering if we are as insane as we appear to be? I would say yes, we are insane. After last summer’s excursion to Busch Gardens, almost a year later … I’m still limping! But oh, that wonderful adrenaline rush as you look down the first drop, wondering if this time, the car really is going to hit a pigeon and you will go flying off into eternity. What a way to go, right?

Map of Coney Island in 1879

Map of Coney Island in 1879

This is still the best video I’ve seen to date.  Clean, almost sort of  like being there. Nah. Who am I kidding? There’s nothing like being there except being there. Garry says we’re too old, just because I can’t even stand up straight. He points out I can barely walk. But  you don’t have to walk on the Cyclone. You just sit and scream. I can do it. I can, really. Especially the screaming.

Well, we’ll always have 2009 in Brooklyn.

Ah, the refreshing sounds of joy mixed with terror! What a great thing it is to be safely scared to death. Just gotta go back … one last time. I hear the new rides are FANtastic. And here, a sentimental song and a look at those long ago days of doo wop and 1962 … beehive hairdo and mini skirts. Gee. I was the same age that my granddaughter is now … yikes.

Hey Brooklyn … how are you?

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Getting the Good Shot: Down and Dirty

It was hard figuring the best candidate for this one because I do this kind of shooting all the time. Some of my favorites are taken from above my head or way down near the ground. I picked this one because for some reason, it has always talked to me. But what, exactly, is it saying? This is Boston by Symphony Hall, the only place you’ll find these interesting crosswalks.

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Daily Prompt: Places – Take Me Back to Coney Island

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Take me back to Coney Island, the Coney Island I remember. I want to be on the Boardwalk. I want to sniff the air full of the aroma of spicy exotic food, pop corn and hotdogs. I want to smell the salt air blowing off the ocean and shade my eyes from the gleam of bright sun on white sand.

I want to hear the endless screams of riders on the Cyclone, the squeal of kids discovering how far they can see from the top of the Wonder Wheel.

I want to watch the people, all the different people of every color from everywhere in the world as thy gape at the strange wonders along the boardwalk, hear the rumble of the elevated trains passing.

I want it to be exactly how it was the first time I rode the big roller coasters and screamed in delighted terror. I want to be that child again for a single day, the little girl discovering fear and wonder on a hot summer day when the world was young.

Vote for the Brains

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

Someone asked me to write about whether or not I wish I’d acted less from my brain and more from my heart in relationships.

Au contraire, my friends. I fervently wish I’d used more brain and less of everything else.When I look at the big picture, I’m not sure there was any difference between “thinking with my heart” and not thinking at all.

Men are accused of being in thrall  to lust, but women are no less irrational when chemistry takes over. Women’s behavior may be more subtle (or not), but sexual attraction — old-fashioned lust — remains the root of many of our most horrible choices. I suspect women are somewhat more inclined to marry their mistakes which doesn’t improve anything and usually sets the stage for lots of drama in the future. Maybe that is changing, but cultural conditioning goes deep. It’s a lot harder to escape your conditioning than you imagine. Just when you think you’re free, you discover you’re doing exactly what you swore you’d never do.

Through a combination of a lust, loneliness and more than a little hubris, I achieved a hormonally induced prefrontal lobotomy. Staying determinedly stupid,  I wound up married to the wrongest possible person in a country where women can’t initiate divorce. Good show Marilyn!

It took years and a lot of blood under the bridge to get my life back. It was ugly, expensive and painful — and completely avoidable. I made a moronic decision against all advice. Even many years later, I have trouble believing I did that.

Some people need to loosen up. Others need to tighten up. I’ve been on both sides at different times in my life … and my conclusion? There is a very good reason our heads are at the top of our bodies. The brain is supposed to be the boss.

You’re going to get in a lot less trouble with your brain at the helm. If your head is saying “Whoa, pal … don’t do that!” you really should listen.

Related articles

Awakenings: Are we there yet?

Reblogged from AWAKENINGS 

I love western movies. I love the romance of the old west, the line of wagons rolling along in the shadow of the mountains, bravely heading to the achievement of  the nation’s manifest destiny. But I can’t forget that in building this country, we destroyed other nations, slaughtered thousands of men, women and children in a systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of every Native tribe we encountered — our own American Holocaust. That the tides of history have ever been thus is undeniable, but it doesn’t make it less horrendous. So with the romance, there will always be an underlying bitter knowledge. We built our land on the blood and bones of those who were here long before us. 

– Marilyn Armstrong

On the trail again . . .

Do you suppose the children of the early pioneers questioned along the way “Are we there yet?” Every five minutes a repeat of the refrain, “Are we there yet?” An ever nagging, whiny “Are we there yet?”,  “Are we there yet?”,

“Are we there yet?”

Needless to say, the mode of travel was not by air-conditioned automobile, camper or RV. Instead, it was by crude wagon, horseback or on foot. A grueling 2000-mile journey across western plains and mountainous trails would last five months. Conditions were harsh plagued with accidents, illness, raging river crossings, mud, dust, monotony, and often terror. In spite of unimaginable, unforeseen circumstances, they trekked onward … onward toward a dream, hope of better times in a land to the west.

The shadow of fear loomed endlessly regarding the possibility of encountering native Indians who had been reported as being savages. Can you imagine traveling into a territory where it was known for men to be killed and scalped while women were taken prisoner? That, of course, would indicate the women witnessed the brutal slaying of their husbands. While many of the women were eventually saved, it was reported they went insane and lived only a short time after being rescued from captivity. They had nothing left, their husbands were dead, more than likely the children too, wagons were burned and all possessions taken from them. They were stripped of everything in life they had ever known or owned.

Had it not been for the determination and perseverance of these early pioneers the west would not have been won. Winning, however, came at a high price for both the white man and the Native American Indians who, by the way, were not savages. But, that is another story. . .

So, back to our initial question: “Are we there yet?” I do fear had one asked that question he or she would not have been brave enough or in the condition to ask it again! What do you think?

Long dresses, trousers with jackets, hot sultry weather, & tumbleweed were commonalities along the trail.

Hardy Pioneers

After taming the eastern seaboard, crossing the Western Frontier
proved to be just as treacherous as crossing the Atlantic.
This, however, did not impede the push westward
as hope, faith, and courage continued to prevail.
By crude wagon they traveled
With limited communications
Across the Mississippi
Westward to the Appalachians
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Walking beside the wagons
Eased the bumpy trails
But not the loudly clanging
Utensils and pails
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Fetching water from a stream
Collecting dried buffalo chips
Shaking out dusty blankets
Were never regarded as quips
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Days were long and grueling
Under the sweltering sun
Dusk welcomed time to rest
Once chores were finally done
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Gathering around the campfire
With smiles and laughter perchance
Lessened the pains of their labors
As they enjoyed song and dance
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With new land in sight
After months on the trail
Labors did not end
For bodies thin and frail
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Shelters needed building
Fields hoed then plowed
Candles dipped for lighting
To unveil the shroud
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Without modern tools
Hands aching to the bone
Time for rejoicing
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In a place to call home
Sod shanties, crude cabins
Canvas stretched across dirt floors
Muslin on the ceilings
Kept grime from falling indoors
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But, in spite of it all
Smiles of joy would beam
It was a place called home
A part of their dream

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©2013 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

If you think a long car trip with the family can be stressful, try to imagine a trans-continental wagon train … with the kids.  Would anyone arrive at their far off destination with their sanity intact? Perhaps the journey accounts for the high level of guns and violence in the Old West. I bet it was that endless trip by covered wagon with the whole family, a level of togetherness that is almost incomprehensible.

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I’d love to be able to retell this from the point of view of the Native Americans whose homelands were being invaded by people who had no respect for their customs, nor the slightest willingness to learn anything about the culture they despised. Our pioneers were so steeped in the righteousness of their cause, the rightness of their greed for the land that was not theirs, they could not even consider the possibility that there was another side to the story. What would they have done had positions been reversed? Would they have been thought savages for protecting their land, families, and homes?

That most of the pioneers were utterly ignorant is probably the best thing you can say about them. Those lands were not uninhabited. They were not empty, waiting for white people to come and civilize them. The rightful owners were not savagely attacking our brave adventurers: they were attempting to halt an invasion.

There were people living there, people with an ancient culture, homes, and families. They too had children, wives, hopes and dreams. In building this nation, we destroyed not one, but many nations.

See on awakenings2012.blogspot.com