WHAT I BOUGHT ON BLACK FRIDAY

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

Honestly, I was in the mood to buy something. A camera, a lens, a widget, gadget, cool electronic toy. I was eager and ready. But wherever I looked, the stuff on sale was something I already own … or something I don’t need or want. I’ve already shopped for my family and close friends, so there are no gifts on my list to be bought.

So I looked. And looked. And looked again. Finally, I found exactly what I needed on Amazon — and snapped it up. Greenies tooth cleaning dog biscuits for small breeds. I was thrilled to find it on sale for 20% less than I usually pay.

That concluded my Black Friday shopping. Garry and I bundled up and went to enjoy the annual lighting of Heritage Museum and Gardens.

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. Thanks to all of you who came and visited. Congratulations to all of us who stuck it through and made it to the end. It has been an experience … and a lot of fun! See you next year!

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: LIGHTS AGLOW – HERITAGE MUSEUM

Heritage Museum and Gardens Annual Lights Aglow was last night. Trees and buildings and tents … lights everywhere. It was a very cold night. Hard to shoot when your fingers are going numb from the chill, but I can’t shoot with gloves. 

IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?

Back when I was very much younger and hornier … like really horny most of the time … there was lots of discussion about The Spot. You know. That critical yet somehow elusive spot on the female anatomy? I assumed I knew what everyone was talking about though I was never sure because we can’t call anything by its proper name. Despite there being nothing dirty, offensive or immoral about correct names, we are still prissy about sex.

This produces some truly bizarre communication problems between the sexes. It’s akin to taking a vacation but not being allowed to say the name of the hotel. You can only identify it as The Resort. You are also forbidden to give the street number. Just Somewhere On Main Street. Good luck finding your destination.

It’s not only men who can’t find The Spot on wives or girl friends. It’s also persons of the female persuasion who (apparently) can’t find it on themselves. Say what? A friend of mind commented that even if the finger can’t figure out which bulge or lump does what, the spot itself should immediately contact the brain with the information — DING, DING, DING, THIS IS THE SPOT!

FlameHeartARTO-300-72

So what’s with all these girls growing up who can’t find it? I’ll bet every little boy in the world knows where his Spot is. He didn’t have to take a seminar. His brain said “Right here!”

More relationships have been destroyed by a woman’s inability to say “About half an inch to the left, please” than by adultery. The same people who fight, argue, email, text and post the most intimate details of their lives on Facebook are unable to tell a partner that he (she?) is missing The Spot. Oh puleeze.

I thought we got squared away on this 50 years ago. Or more. Apparently not. What are all the people who can’t find The Spot doing in bed? Playing canasta?

The time has come for technology to take a hand (no pun intended) in the matter. We need an app for that. How about one for the ubiquitous iPhone? Grab your phone and like a Geiger counter, it tells you when you’re hot — and when you’re not. As you zero in, the Hot Spot Finder App says “YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR DESTINATION!” in stentorian tones. The Hallelujah Chorus starts playing.

Everyone uses a mobile phone for everything, so let’s solve this problem once and for all. Give us an APP for that!

DAILY PROMPT: KEEPING UP WITH MYSELF

Since you asked …

I want the Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 Micro Four Thirds Lens at a mere $999. It’s never on sale. It would be perfect paired with a new Olympus PEN E-P5. Also, I would very much appreciate the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 Leica DG Summilux. These two lenses in combination would let me shoot in very low light without flash yet get fantastic quality.

96-P3-40mm_2

I don’t know about the Jones’. Are they photographers?

I don’t expect to get either lens or the new camera. I’ll gratefully work with what I’ve got, my latest addition being a long yearned for Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 Lumix II. It has turned out to be as good as advertised and I’m having a blast with it. I’m basically a happy camper, photographically speaking. Of all the things I own, my cameras give me the most joy. Hard to regret them.

But … oh … those lenses. And the new line of Olympus 4/3 cameras are so sweet. I’m allowed to yearn, aren’t I?

 

CONSUMING A WORLD OF WORDS – ALICE IN WONDERLAND

alice cover christie

ALICE IN WONDERLAND, NANCY CHRISTIE

19 pages
Pixel Hall Press (November 25, 2013)

In a mere 19 pages, Nancy Christie paints an amazingly vivid portrait. A complete world.

A woman of indeterminate age, Alice is trapped in the walls of her mother’s house. She has surrendered her life. Nothing exists but tending her bedridden shrew of a mother. Bereft of a life outside, she escapes by reading and consuming books. Literally.

Alice has slipped emotionally beyond despair and lost touch with her own soul. Her life is empty and ugly. No joy, hope or companionship. So Alice dreams, fueling her dreams by reading of faraway places. Somewhere along the way, dreaming morphed into physically consuming the pages she reads, as if by eating the words, they will grow in strength and overpower misery and replace reality.

Nancy Christie is an author who creates unforgettable images. She writes tightly, nothing wasted. Rarely have I read anything as evocative. So much is conveyed in few words. Too soon over. I avoided short stories for years because they left me feeling unsatisfied, but Alice In Wonderland is a most satisfying morsel, a world in a few heartbeats.

The only thing that could have improved this story would have been another story.

About Nancy Christie:

I am a writer both by trade (magazine articles and corporate projects – see my site’s About Me section for more details) and by preference.

Although I enjoy “business writing,” my passion is for fiction. Long fiction, short fiction, bits and pieces of fiction (character sketches, dialogue)–any kind of “make believe” writing that takes me from my reality into my characters’ reality. I’ve been fortunate to have several pieces published in literary journals. With the release of Annabelle, my first e-book and now Alice in Wonderland (both published by Pixel Hall Press), I have moved further on my path to achieving recognition for my fiction.

As for what writers have inspired me, some of my favorites include Agatha Christie, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Mark Helprin, Carolyn See, Elizabeth George–a mixed bag, to be sure, and just a few of those with whom I “keep company.”

I write, I read, I write some more and so it goes …

THANKSGIVING 2013 REDUX

The turkey was delicious. The baked potatoes were perfect. The meal was enough for everyone to eat seconds, thirds and probably fourths, but no one made it to the end of one. The leftovers should feed everyone for at least two days.

In this family, we do not fight at the dinner table, especially not on Thanksgiving when we have gorgeous food to eat. You don’t let the food get cold while you argue. Argue before dinner or, if you can stay awake, after dinner. At the table, eat. We all grew up being told: “Don’t waste food. People are starving in … (fill in current location of famine) … ”

Growing up in my family, there were two cardinal sins:

  • Wasting food.
  • Defacing books.

Although each of us grew up with different parents and traditions, we all emerged from food-obsessed cultures. On Thanksgiving … really, at any meal … we eat. With dedication, appreciation and purpose.

Happy Leftovers Day, one and all!

DAILY PROMPT: FEAR FACTOR – EEK!

I’m afraid of spiders. Not because they are dangerous, though some are. Not because of the potential toxicity. I’m afraid of spiders because they are creepy, make my skin crawl, and make me scream like a little girl.

Carolina wolf spider with spiderlings, large

EEK, I shriek and jump straight out of my chair with my heart pounding like a trip hammer. The loudness of my EEK and the hysterical pounding in my chest is in direct proportion to the blackness and largeness of the spider. Bigger is scarier. Big, black and hairy might actually kill me from sheer panic and irrational terror.

A friend of mine was attacked by a wolf spider while sun bathing on her patio in Arizona. The thing was the size of a small dinner plate (dessert plate?) and landed on her breast, then proceeded to take a chunk out of her. The pain was one thing. The fear was so intense she promptly sold her house and moved to a place where there are no wolf spiders. I’m with her.

Big Hairy Spider

But today, I am a warrior. I have power. I do not go EEK!

I went into my bedroom to change my clothing this afternoon. There, in the middle of my white blanketed bed was a medium-sized black garden spider. Did I scream in panic? Did I even go EEK? NO! I rallied my womanly strength, balled up my clean pink tee-shirt that I had just taken from my cupboard and squashed it. Kept squashing until it was nothing but a black smear of used-to-be-a-spider. Then, I put the tee-shirt on.

I went and told my husband. He gave me a proud thumb’s up.

I wear dead spider proudly. I am woman. Hear me roar.

A REMARKABLE THING HAPPENED

Something happened yesterday that never happened before. An angry exchange became friendly. Because I was able to step back, realize that my “opponent” was not my enemy. I pulled back and gave him a chance to back off too. We both benefited.

SwansWatercolor_05 - Marilyn Armstrong

It happens all the time on the Internet. We get into heated exchanges and forget we aren’t enemies. I have hot buttons. If someone pushes one of those buttons, I react. Without caution or intelligence. Ungraciously, I lash out because I was a battered child and sometimes, battered wife.

fobidden planet poster

The shadows of bad experiences don’t completely disappear, no matter how much therapy we get, how much we forgive. Fear and rage seem to come out of nowhere. Sometimes, I see someone else reacting like me. Which lets me do what I did yesterday — step back, take a breath and cool down.

It reminds me of one of my favorite creaky old science fiction movies, Forbidden Planet (1956). In the end, the civilization of the Krel was destroyed by monsters from the Id, by which they meant the unconscious. We are more sophisticated today and use different terminology, but the concept remains sound.

I am always in danger from my personal demons. The nasty ones I don’t even know are lurking. Everyone has demons — no one has lived a pain-free life.

A remarkable thing happened. Yesterday, a fight ended without bitterness before anyone said something unforgivable. How cool is that, eh?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

life-thanksgiving-ye-glutton

For those of you who think Norman Rockwell only painted idealized images, he didn’t. His idealized images are the most popular, but he painted many other, hard-edged pictures. If you’re in the neighborhood of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, I recommend the Norman Rockwell Museum. It’s an American experience. I especially like this Thanksgiving cover for Life Magazine — reminding us that the Pilgrims were a humorless bunch. They wouldn’t approve of Thanksgiving, not one little bit and you probably wouldn’t want them at your table.

I enjoy Thanksgiving. The idea of it. It’s good there’s a day dedicated to gratitude. And eating too much, visiting with family and friends. But — you knew there was going to be a “but” didn’t you? — I am frequently reminded there are people who don’t have a family. Others who don’t have much to celebrate. And of course Native Americans, who on the whole, don’t find Thanksgiving a reason to rejoice.

So, while we are consuming our dinners and enjoying our family, please give a thought to those who aren’t celebrating. Can’t celebrate. Are disinclined to celebrate.

Please don’t post stuff promoting a work ban on holidays. There are people who need the extra money from working holidays. Not everyone has someplace to go. For many, working holidays is an escape from the pressure of a warm fuzzy event in which they cannot (or will not) participate.

It’s wonderful to be grateful for what we have. It’s also good to be mindful that not everyone is equally or similarly blessed.

The Pilgrims: America’s First Mooches – Covered in Beer, Thomas Cochran

From: The Pilgrims: America’s First Mooches on Covered in Beer by Thomas Cochran
Also see on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Looking back on my younger school days, I can remember the lame way we were taught about the first Thanksgiving like it was a wholesome party on top of Plymouth Rock. They ignored the fact that the Pilgrims had no business being there and the Native Americans would have been perfectly within their rights to shove a hot spear into thou’st rectums; but they didn’t.

This is not a piece of work where I’m going to argue how unjust the discovery/founding of America was etc. because those arguments are stupid. I was born in 1986 and didn’t have a damn thing to do with any of that. But the Pilgrims do remind me of that friend everyone has who conveniently has no cash, stays on your couch too long, cleans out your fridge and then puts pox infected blankets on your bed so you’ll die and he can take your house.

first-welfare-caseThe popular understanding of why the Pilgrims came to America is so they could gain religious freedom, a tale simply untrue. The Pilgrims originally moved to Holland where the laws regarding religious practice were much less restrictive. But, after 12 years, they decided to travel to North America because of financial troubles. In other words, they were tired of paying for stuff and set sail across the earth looking for some free stuff. Well, they found it and then some, and it didn’t take them very long, either.

About five minutes after landing, the Pilgrims began looting some Native American graves they found near the shoreline. The Wampanoag Indians left supplies, as many civilizations did, for their dead’s journey into the afterlife. The Pilgrims mistook this for some sort of community chest and began hoarding the sacred items for themselves. Naturally, when the Indians found out about this they began to shoot arrows at the thieves. Thus, the first Thanksgiving fight was born.

Thankfully, as in every typical Thanksgiving throw down, there was a moderator who eased relations between the Pilgrims and the natives. Squanto is like that uncle who doesn’t drink and is sane enough to stop the fighting before it comes to blows. It is typically taught that Squanto spoke English because of interaction with past settlers. Actually, Squanto was kidnapped five years before the Pilgrims arrived by explorer Thomas Hunt and brought to Spain. There, he learned English and promptly got the hell on back to North America. When the settlers arrived, after muttering, “not these mo-fos again,” Squanto decided to make peace between his people and the Pilgrims. He taught them how to grow corn so they wouldn’t steal anymore from graves. He also taught them a lot of other things that I’d rather not research and write about. Squanto made the fatal mistake when it comes to moochers: he showed them where the beer is.

“If you offer a man a beer, he’ll have a drink; if you show him where they are, he’ll drink all day.” – An Alcoholic who doesn’t fish.

The first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621. It is thought to have begun because the sorry-ass Pilgrims weren’t prepared for the coming winter and begged the natives for food. This also isn’t true. The Pilgrims weren’t totally stupid and were aware they needed to stockpile food for winter. What we call “Thanksgiving” started when the Wampanoag became suspicious of the Pilgrims one day after hearing gunfire. They feared the settlers were preparing for war and became defensive. Instead, the Pilgrims were hunting. Squanto once again was the voice of reason and it was decided that the two sides would enjoy the fall harvest feast together. Happily for us, the Thanksgiving tradition was born.

(Too bad they didn’t follow through on those war suspicions and kill all the Pilgrims in their sleep because in ten years they would become hostile and start trippin’)

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

If you think this is an exaggeration, it’s not. If anything, it’s an understatement. I didn’t write it, but I agree with it and wish I did write it. So … here it is, in its entirety. Enjoy.

PLEASE NOTE: Really, I did NOT write this. It is a reblog, or more accurately, a scoop. Kudos and comments go to:

Covered in Beer: The Pilgrims – America’s First Mooches

See on coveredinbeer.wordpress.com