BROKEN MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO’S THE FAIREST OF US ALL?

The Mirror Crack’d – You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change?


selfie in gray teeNo mirrors? How about a shiny car bumper or the reflection in a shop window or do you posit the loss of all reflections of every kind everywhere?

Vanity will out. Those who need to study their reflection will find a way. As for me, I think I would be just as happy to not have mirrors. We don’t have many even now. Just the standard ones over the bathroom sinks so I can do my hair and Garry can shave and not cut himself.

I’m not sure I ever spent a lot of time hovering around mirrors. Probably more when I wore makeup and when we go out, I still give a final look in the mirror to make sure things are aligned properly, my hem isn’t caught in my waistband, and I don’t have toilet paper stuck to the sole of my shoe … or some other equally embarrassing thing.

I could as easily just ask my husband if I look okay and he would tell me if I need fixing.

I don’t think my self-perception has much to do with mirrors — or ever did. Maybe smoke and mirrors in the sense of illusion and magic.

Many years ago, I went to camp in Maine for a couple of weeks with a bunch of friends. About half way through, someone asked if anyone had a mirror. No one had brought a mirror. There were 8 of us and there wasn’t a mirror amongst us. Maybe that’s your answer. Not necessarily the answer you were expecting.

HOSTA – THE GARDEN’S LAST BLOOMS

72-hosta_02

All the other flowers are finished. The day lilies are just a memory. A few straggler roses cling to the bushes, but their time has past.

72-hosta_03

The hosta are in blooming, though. Not known for their flowers, hosta are the plants that will grow even in deep shade. But if you give them a little sunshine … they make flowers. Pretty blue flowers.

72-hosta_04

HURT SO BAD

The silencing of Linda Ronstadt, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

All through the 1970’s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys from the mid 60’s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging.  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50’s and 60’s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.

In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums.  She has an impressive collection of awards, including 11 Grammys.  She remained popular until her retirement in 2011 when she declared herself “100 per cent retired.”  While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires.  You really expect them to come back at some point.  That was never going to happen for Ronstadt.

She could no longer sing.  She was physically unable.  In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publically.  Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career.  In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend.  Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.

In July, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt.  This honor was not to be denied to her.  She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.”  After the ceremony President Obama admitted to the crowd,  “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.”  It’s OK to admit that.  Millions of others boys did too.

 

PAIN AND GAIN? NO SUBSTITUTE FOR USING YOUR BRAIN

Rabbi Ben Hei says, “According to the pain is the gain.”

— Pirkei Avot 5:21 (second century)


NO PAINS, NO GAINS.

If little labour, little are our gains:
Man’s fate is according to his pains.

Hesperides 752 (1650)


Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains, without pains …

— as reprinted in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth (1758)


Jane Fonda didn’t invent it. Neither did that guy at the gym you think is god.

The concept has been lying around waiting to become popular slang for almost 2000 years. It didn’t refer to matters physical, either. It referred to your soul, to charity, to work in general. It was never intended to be taken literally.

Just because words rhyme, doesn’t make them a concept, doesn’t mean they relate to each other. Or that it’s a concept that applies to your aching body rather than your dark, mean-spirited soul.

fitness-myths-no-pain-no-gain

Pain is a body’s way of warning us something is wrong. Ignore it at your own risk. Acknowledging there are minor pains we all typically ignore because we know what they are, know they aren’t important, there are plenty of others you ignore at your peril.

How about the pain in your chest that signals heart trouble? How about that pain in your breast that says “don’t ignore that lump?” Or the shooting pain down one leg when you knock your spine out of alignment? How about the searing one when you dislocate a shoulder? Or the one, accompanied by an ugly snap which says “Hey, you just tore your Achilles tendon!”

Before you go ignoring a pain, make sure you know what that pain is trying to tell you. Try not to replace thinking with a motto.

I hate clichés. They are the latest fad in the long advance of stupidity.


Daily Post: Pains and Gains

 

THE FARM AND THE HOUSE

Image

cows in the pasture

The cows are happy. The chickens are happy. The corn is growing, joyously absorbing sunshine and rain. Three generations live on the farm … and the land has been in the family as long as anyone can remember.

72-Farm-081614_51

The farm-house

The work is hard, season after season. But the people … they look happy too. Maybe it’s living with the soil and the animals. Letting the seasons dictate what there is to be done.

72-Farm-081614_53

Corn is ready

Autumn is coming. The corn will be gone, the cows will no longer graze and sleep in the green pasture along the river. Ice and snow will cover the ground. Even the chickens will huddle in their coops. Everyone and everything will wait for spring to come again. Fortunately, it always comes.

72-Farm-081614_56

DAY IS DONE. ME TOO

It was one of Those Days. Started out normal. We had to get up a bit early because I had a doctor appointment and even though we left plenty of time, we got out of the house a bit late. Time slipped away.

My appointment went fine. Next stop? Grocery store.

We couldn’t get to the store. There had been a fire. Or something. The street was closed. Not the whole street, just the couple of hundred feet in front of the parking lot. Other than the fire engine with the flashing lights, there was no hint of a fire, or any evidence of anything. No smoke. No injuries. No water on the street. No crime scene tape. A blocked street where we needed to go. They were allowing cars to drive through from the other direction. So there was no legitimate reason we couldn’t go a few dozen feet to Hannaford’s parking lot. But nope, we had to take the detour.

75-MainStreetCR

Uxbridge not being a real city, a detour isn’t a quick trip around a city block. We were in Douglas before we could start looping back to town. By which time they had parked the fire truck and there were no official obstructions.

Shopping concluded, leaving town was our next trial. Civic excitement is rare in our little town, so everyone had to take a long look at the … what? Fire? Crime scene? False alarm? One of the rubberneckers was riding a bicycle. We were behind him, trying to drive at 1 mph. As soon as we (finally) got around him, someone pulled out of a side street, slowed down to about 10 mph. Directly in front of us. We crawled home. Karma is.

72-HannafordParking_004

Groceries unpacked. Television turned on. Surprise! Half our premium channels aren’t working. “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.” I call Charter. They’ve been having a bad week too and this is my third call in two days. Any day I have to call Charter is not a great day.

After a long hold, the agent assures me they are merely doing (more) repair work, but hope it will be finished any day now. They’ll call when it’s finished. Maybe even today. I go to make dinner and step in a pool of dog pee. I don’t know which of the little furry menaces did it, but I don’t get it. Why? They’ve got their own door and it isn’t even raining.

Eventually, dinner having been served, eaten, and cleared, the phone rings. Charter (recorded message) says “Repairs are complete, thank you for your patience.” But it is not fixed. Half the hi-def channels are “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.”

Any day on which I have to call Charter once is not great. Twice? Very bad. They tell me to reboot. They send a repair signal. My channels do not come back. They can’t get a tech here until Thursday.  I am grumpy, but make the appointment. I need to write it down, so I turn on the light.

The bulb explodes.

My day is done.

UP FOR THE SUNRISE

Image

Getting up for the dawn … really getting up … not just getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, then huddling back under the covers … means I’m going to take pictures. At home, the eastern sky is blocked by the trees. Though I’ve occasionally shot a few pictures of the sun between the trees, there’s no clear sky anywhere to really catch the dawn.

72-MarchDawn_POSTER-3

So, up for the dawn inevitably means I’m on vacation. Probably somewhere in New England because mostly, that is where we live and also where we spend our free time.

96-Sunrise and Sunset-EmilyDickenson

The last time I intentionally got up for the rising sun was Ogunquit, Maine. We were staying in a little resort a few blocks from the beach. An easy walk. It was September, so sunrise was still pretty early, in the five o’clock region. Garry is an admirer of the dawn, but not a willing participant in any activity that forces him out of bed before he is good and ready.

Busy Beach Pre Dawn

Thus that morning, I had set the alarm for four. It was still dark. I dressed, grabbed my gear, and headed out. No time to waste because dawn is fleeting, over almost before you have a chance to focus your camera.

Dawn Flight

It was a short walk to the beach. The sun wasn’t up when I got there, but the beach was far from empty. There are a surprisingly large number of people on the beach before sunup. Humans include runners, strollers, and veteran dawn watchers … and I suppose a few photographers. I didn’t see any others, but surely someone besides me had a camera.

75-dawn gull-nk-1.jpg

And birds. Big black-back gulls, laughing gulls, terns and plovers. It’s breakfast time by the water’s edge.

I started shooting as soon as I arrived, the mist still lying heavily on the shore. As soon as the sun started to work its way up, the mist vanished. From pre-dawn glow to full light is no more than 10 minutes, likely less. I took as many pictures as I could, then went home for coffee and something. It was a great early morning shoot.

96-SunriseWalkNIK-CR-1

 

NEW DAWN – Daily Prompt

REVISITING OLD NUMBER TWO – DIALOGUE

Image

DIALOGUE – WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – OLD NUMBER TWO

old number 2 fire engine

Views of my favorite old fire engine. I know, on one level, that he is an inanimate object. A truck. Metal and glass and rubber. An engine that ceased running years ago. A fire truck whose time came and went.

old number 2 fire engine truck

Despite knowing this, I feel like this old truck holds history in his rusty body. Memories. Fires, rescues. History.

OLD NUMBER TWO FIRE ENGINE

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because the countryside has many veteran trucks and other vehicles quietly rusting in fields, often keeping company with the growing corn and the grazing cows and sheep.

old number two fire engine wheel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We invest our things with personality. Maybe we can’t help it. We are alive and we share at least the sense of life with those things with which we share our world.

Old number 2 fire engine truck

BELLWETHERS AMONG US – WHERE THEY GO, WE FOLLOW

Connie Willis_1996_Bellwether

I read Bellwether again. Finished it the other day. Each time I read it — this is the 4th or 5th time — I learn something new.

Bellwether grabbed me from page one … from sentence one. Not merely was I highly entertained by the story, but I learned a lot about chaos theory, fads, sheep, and the meaning of “bellwether,” a term I’d heard and used — and misused — for years, but never entirely understood.

It was the bellwether and sheep connection I never got. What do I know about sheep? And why would I care? It turns out, sheep and people have an unnerving amount in common.

A bellwether is a leader of sheep, an über ewe, the sheep who the flock follows. There’s no visible reason why a bellwether leads and nor any obvious reason why the flock follows. There is just something about that ewe.

What the bellwether does, the other sheep do too. The flock will follow her — mindlessly, blindly — over a cliff if that’s where she leads. The flock doesn’t know it’s following the bellwether. They just do it.

Humans have bellwethers too. We no more recognize our bellwethers than does a flock of sheep. Still we follow them. An atavistic instinct, embedded in our DNA? Some are born to lead, others to follow. A few to walk a unique path.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny. Erudite, witty, and replete with trivia guaranteed to upgrade your anecdotal skills.

Bellwether suggests answers to previously unanswerable questions. Why do people vote against their own self-interest? Why do we do so many stupid things? The answer? We’re following a bellwether. They are loose amongst us, invisible shakers and movers. Unaware of their effect on the people around them.

You should read this book. It also explains a lot of events throughout history which have never made any kind of sense. Even after you know all the facts of what happened, most of history doesn’t make sense. But if you add in a few critical bellwethers, it all comes clear.

Human life, history and relationships are illogical. They just happen. We can explain them only in retrospect. That’s what historians are for, after all. To make sense of the past because it won’t make sense by itself. Human society is chaotic. The only predictable thing is unpredictability.

I found Bellwether original, insightful, amusing and thought-provoking. Highly entertaining and funny. I can’t imagine what more anyone could want from a book. I recommend it both in print (Kindle or paper) and audio. It is a book you will read and remember.

Then read it again. There’s more to it than you will get in a single reading.

SHARING MY WORLD, WEEK 34

Image

Thank you Cee for another fun round as we explore the inner secrets of This Blogger’s Life. Chapter 34.

What is your favorite smell? What memory does it remind you of?

Bread baking. Actually, anything baking. Coffee. They all remind me of … baked goods. And how good they go with coffee.

72-Pound-cake_08

Name a song or two which are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Good Day, Sunshine. They played it at my son’s fourth grade graduation and the kids sang along. I cried. And Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, especially the second movement, because I performed it often. It became a signature piece. As it is for many pianists.

cropped-75-sunshinegoldhp-1.jpg

Do you play video/computer game?  Which one(s) or most recent? 

No. I used to play Civilization and Caesar. Sim City. But that was long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Does Scrabble count? I play Scrabble. And solitaire.

Seven-Dwarfs

Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best?  Plus what would the 8th dwarf’s name be? (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey)

In one way or the other, all of them, depending on circumstance.

  • Sneezy during allergy season.
  • Doc when dealing with the doctors.
  • Bashful if you point a camera at me.
  • Dopey … well, you can guess.
  • Sleepy … another one I think you can work out for yourself.
  • Happy when a plan comes together.
  • Grumpy when the plan doesn’t come together, life falls apart, or any time I have to call customer service. I feel obliged to point out I’ve had to call at least one customer service each day for the last 5 days. This week, I am entirely Grumpy.

And that wraps it up folks!

Well not really. I thought I’d come back and add that eight dwarf — Achy, the arthritic dwarf. That’s when I just sit around creaking and making the occasional huffing noise as I try to get up on my feet.

THAT POPULAR TOUCH

We bloggers are endlessly in search of answers. All kinds of answers. I am, in particular, forever seeking an answer to the ultimate blogger query: What makes people follow me … and why are some posts popular while others (often, in my opinion, better) … not?

Serendipity-Blogging-Map

I think I’ve got it. The answer became suddenly obvious while I was reading “Excellent demo” on Mindful Digressions site. He’s one of the bloggers I always read. One of a handful. He is like me insofar as he writes about everything, whatever is on his mind. Sometimes funny, maybe serious, frequently thought-provoking, and informative. Always well-written, entertaining, and admirably free of typos. Even if the day’s post isn’t exactly up my alley, it’s worth reading.

Excellent demo” was about a software presentation to a prospective client that goes horribly wrong. The WiFi connection doesn’t work, the hot spot tool doesn’t help. It’s humiliating. The kind of experience we have all had, in one way or another. It’s painfully universal. I can remember at least two horrible professional moments, both involving cameras. After more than 30 years, they remain cringe-worthy and painful to the touch.

Oh, his company got the contract anyhow. He wondered how that could be? I thought the answer is probably simple. Everyone in that room at some time or another had a similar experience. That the demo went badly generated a visceral empathy. It didn’t sell the product, but it didn’t UNsell the product, either.

Back on Serendipity, I noticed the last two posts that did better than usual were both about the kind of stuff that happens to everyone. THANK YOU, I THINK, about backhanded compliments and I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER, which talks about dealing with doctors who don’t see you as a real person.

The common thread? I looked at other popular posts. One that Garry wrote about his parents, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MOM AND DAD! and a similar post by me, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!. A few more posts Garry wrote about me when I was sick.

I looked at the list of my all-time most popular posts. Not including camera, movie, television, and technology reviews which have a life-cycle unique to that type of post and setting aside DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE, which has a life of its own … all Serendipity’s most popular posts have some universal theme — something anyone, everyone can relate to.

I don’t write this way on purpose. I write the way I write because I write that way. I’m betting most of you don’t design your style. It comes out of you. It is you. I can control my subject matter, but I have little control over my style. When anyone asks about my “process,” I come up blank. What’s a process?

I don’t have a process. I get an idea. I write about it. It may leap out of a conversation with Garry, a comment I make on someone else’s blog, a book I’m reading, a TV show I’ve watched. A dream I had or what the dogs did. Many are anecdotes … things that happened here and elsewhere. Often, the interesting part of the story isn’t the event, but how it affected me.

There are blogs that deal with issues. Special interest web sites which talk about current events, news, politics, religion, the power structure, education. Some are all about history or literature. Or talk only about movies. They have their audiences, people who are interested in the things these bloggers write about. Me and many of you reading this have special interests too, but mostly, we are interested in life.

That’s what we write about it. Sometimes, it’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Nice and tidy. As often as not, it’s a memory, a string of thoughts wrapped around something that happened. A wish, a wisp, a wistful moment. And strangely, other people enjoy reading it. Go figure, right?

SUMMER LIES HEAVY IN THE DEEP GREEN LEAVES

Today the man who sets the prompts in motion, wants me — us — to talk about the end of summer. The start of school, the end of long, warm, sunny days. How I feel about that.

I feel a lot of things, but I’m not going to talk about any of them. Because I don’t want to talk about the end of summer. I’m not ready to talk about it. Not even to start thinking about heating oil and boots, icy roads and frozen woodland.

72-Farm-081614_53

I’m stuck happily in summer. I love autumn with its amber sunshine and scarlet maples, but after that? Someone else can fill in the details. I’m not there yet, mentally or physically.

It’s beautiful today. Warm, bright, sunny.

Entirely green. Not a hint of anything but languid late summer. And that’s where I’m going to stay until I get pushed, screaming and kicking, into the next season.

August Blues – Daily Prompt

WHEREVER THE ROADS GO

Image

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Roads

From the city to the country and back again, this is a nation of roads. Americans are wedded to their wheels, their trucks and cars. We can’t imagine a world without a road to get from here to there, wherever here is, wherever there may be. There absolutely must be a road … because we are defined by our roads.

No road? Impossible. That would be un-American.