DAY ONE – THE JULY BLUES! – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s day One of July Blues!

It has finally arrived and it’s going to be a blue, blue summer. Today, it’s the bright blue of the wild spiderwort in my garden.

Spiderwort is a strange plant and its blue color has a strong violet and pink undertone. So often, I take a picture of “blue spiderwort,” but when I post it on my computer, it’s bright violet-pink. No amount of color correction will fix it, either.

They come out blue if I take the picture in shade. Or — mostly shade. It’s something about the spectrum of sunshine that changes its color.

Spiderwort in its proper shade of deep blue.

LIVING IN TWO PLACES – Rich Paschall

A Tale of Two Cities, by Rich Paschall

A while back I saw this Daily Prompt question: “If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?”  Normally I am not a Daily Prompt kind of guy.  I am on the subscriber list, but usually by the time I read the email notice, it is a day or two later and I just delete.  This one sounded rather intriguing, so I stashed it away for later use.

St Petersburg bridgeWhat would you pick?  Would your home town be included?  Would your current residence be a choice?  Remember, in this scenario you can have any two cities.  Shall it be a northern city for summer and a warmer climate for winter?  I guess you can reverse that if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.  If you are close enough to the Equator, you have no need to move away from the cold.

Maybe you need somewhere exotic as one of your stops.  Fiji comes to my mind.  There must be somewhere in the South Pacific that is warm and inviting.  If you think we must be restricted to cities, then I will say that Nadi, Fiji has over 42,000 people so we will count it as a city rather than a village.  If your home is in Nadi, I guess you can still spend plenty of time on a beach on the other side of the island.

How about a European capital?  I have always found London inviting.  Author Samuel Johnson once famously stated, “…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  I guess that could be said of many of the great cities of the world.  I found Rome, Paris and Brussels all to be interesting and vibrant cities.  I have not been to other European capital cities.  Perhaps our choice of two cities should include one unknown and one known.

If you have not been to the other side of the world from where you are, would you chose a city solely on the recommendation of others?   Would you do an internet search of other places, or strictly stay with what you know?

When my father retired and moved from the cold of the Midwest to Florida, I began to understand the attraction of what they called “snowbirds” in the South.  These were the people who kept their homes in the north, but spent the winters in the south.  I loved Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota and many of the Gulf cities.  I could see doing exactly that.  Perhaps your second city would be in another warm climate.  Arizona? Southern California? Hawaii?

Chicago Skyline
Chicago skyline from the museum campus

Actually, it did not take me long to settle on two spots.  When I eliminated the fantasies and considered what is most important, I knew the answers.  First would be Chicago.  It is a world-class city with world-class attractions.  It has major sports teams and fine stadiums, old and new.  It has theater and concert venues. The major shows and Rock and Roll acts make it here when they tour.  There is a lakefront that stretches the entire east side of the city, with open parkland, beaches and museums.

Al Capone does not live here.  We are not the murder capital of the country, we are not even in the top 10.  We do get a lot of publicity when there is crime.  Like every big city, we have big city problems.  I would say these problems are increased by the NRA suing the city over any attempt to keep guns away from gangs and criminals, but that is another column.  We have friendly people who celebrate diversity.

You may not have heard of my other choice.  I guess it is not really a city, but rather a small town of about 20,000 people.  It is in the beautiful Alsace region of France.  You will find small towns with ancient buildings sprinkled among the vineyards.  In the distance on top of some of the hills, you will find castles left from centuries ago.  If you say that this will not do, I must pick a larger “city,” I will move a short distance to the north and the lovely city of Strasbourg, capital of the European Union.

Selestat
Selestat, France

Why would I pick such completely different places on two different continents?  Why would I choose places that have  similar climates, where neither will escape the snow and cold?  How could I spend half a year in a big city and half in a small town which holds none of the major attractions?  The answer to me is quite simple.

The locale is no longer the most important consideration when deciding where to live.  At one time it may have been important.  When I am retired and tired of shoveling snow, maybe I would desire the warm weather locations.  Now it is about family and friends.  Aunts and cousins of various generations are here in Chicago.  Friends made recently and friends since childhood are here too.

In France is one of my best friends.  He spent a year here in 2009 and when he left we maintained our friendship through visits once or twice a year, here and in France.  When I go to France we always see things I have not seen before, so it is great adventure.  If he was somewhere else in France, then I would name that city instead.  Spending time with family and close friends, no matter where they reside, makes their locations the places I want to be.  For now my choices are Chicago, Illinois and Communauté de communes de Sélestat et environs.  Where are your two homes to be?

ASSISTED SUICIDE: YAY OR NAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #11

Do you believe that terminally ill people should be allowed or encouraged to end their lives via physician-assisted suicide? If so, under any circumstances or should there be restrictions? If not, why not?

At last, a question into which I can sink my fangs!

On a personal level, I say yes, yes, and yes again. If I will put one of my dogs out of his or her misery, why should a human suffer the agony of a terminal illness when we wouldn’t do it to our pets? Other countries — I believe Holland is one — allows humans the right to end their lives in peace and dignity, but in this country, we are not. Nor in England, from whom much of our law comes.

Do I think anyone under any conditions should be allowed to end their life? Maybe not. But this is something that the medical community should seriously look at and come to some kind of resolution. Many doctors — privately — will help a dying person, especially one in a vegetative state, to die by simply not treating an illness. But it depends on the individual physician and his or her relationship to religion, faith, or whatever. And some simply won’t do something which might endanger their license.

My son promised to take me behind the shed and blow my head off if I got that bad.  But really, I’d rather be prepared — just in case. I don’t know how many times I’ve signed a paper saying “Please, just let me die!” — but each time I’m in the hospital, they ask me to sign again. For some reason, they can’t seem to remember what I said last time.

You know, before medicine made it possible for the terminally ill to linger on for sometimes years rather than dying quickly, people didn’t linger indefinitely with machines to make them breathe and tubes to provide nourishment. When an illness became that bad, we died. Like we were supposed to.

I’m in favor of that. At least allow us to die when we are ready to die. If nothing else, please — turn off the machinery.

WHERE LATTE LIVES

The glade was always special. The light was different in the glade. Rumors abounded. Especially after little Mary had gone there to picnic with her dolls and disappeared without a trace. They found the dolls, but Mary was gone.

No sign of struggle. No sign of anything. Dolls, neatly lined up with their little cups, waiting for a party that would never start.

dancing trees

Until, one day long years later, Mary was back.

As she disappeared, so she reappeared. Silently, without warning. By now, she was a tall, dark-haired woman dressed in odd garments constructed of some peculiar design and fabric. None of the local townspeople had seen anything like it before. She talked oddly, too … with a funny accent and very fast. Occasionally sighing and murmuring “What I wouldn’t give for a double latte right now.”

“But where were you?” she was asked. Repeatedly. Usually, she would smile and shake her head. One day, after she had been home for some months, she said she would like the townsfolk to gather in the glade and she would tell them all a story.

I’m sure you can imagine the excitement as the simple farmers and weavers and cobblers and coopers of that rural village gathered in the golden morning light in the very glade where Mary had disappeared.

When all were gathered and quiet had settled on the crowed, Mary raised her hands as if to bless the crowd … but it was only to shush them to full silence.

“I’m no great public speaker,” she began, “But since you all seem to want to know … I went to L.A. There’s a portal, here, in the glade. Not all the time. Just sometimes and if you step into it, you’ll find yourself in L.A.”

“What’s an L.A.?” they cried in one voice.

“That’s where the latte is,” said Mary, smiling, misty-eyed.

And then, another shout. “What’s a portal? What’s a latte?”

“A doorway in time and space,” responded Mary. “And some really great coffee.”

“What? Huh?” came the confused responses.

Just then, a bright whirling light came and settled nearby in the trees. “Like that,” said Mary, stepping through it. And she was never seen again. The town is still talking about it and will continue to talk about it forever and a day.

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT: THE GLADE – SUE VINCENT

THE TREASURE CHEST – THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT

Carrie and Rob were talking. About the things they would do if only.

If only they discovered a forgotten bank account or won the lottery. It wouldn’t have to be a huge win. By lottery standards, a very modest win would do the job nicely. Enough money to fix some broken things around the house. Maybe pay off the lingering credit debt and the car.

And take a trip. Carrie wanted Paris. Rob still yearned for Hollywood. With a enough money to fly first class and stay in a really nice hotel. Maybe they could do both.

But right now, Rob had obligations. Responsibilities. He had to drive some hundreds of miles to his family home in Pennsylvania. Mom and dad were decades gone, but somehow, none of the kids had been willing to clear out the old house. Rob’s youngest brother and his wife had lived there for a long time and now, they were gone. As were his other siblings. He was the only one left. He knew he could hire professionals to clean it, but that seemed cold.

treasure chest

The old house was huge. Two attics. A couple of basements, one of which was blocked off. Rob didn’t want to know what might lurk there. As he climbed the creaky, narrow stairs to the attic, Rob was hit by a wave of nostalgia. He remembered rainy days with his brothers, pretending to be bandits or pirates or explorers.

As he climbed from the stairwell to the light, he was surprised at how tidy and organized the space was. There were boxes, of course. Racks of old clothing, each item carefully zipped in a tinted plastic cover. Plenty of dust too and it swirled around his legs as he walked across the creaky floor. He found himself smiling. Some second-hand store was going to have a treasure trove of goodies to sell.

Against the wall, near the east-facing window was something he didn’t remember. A huge, dark trunk. For the life of him, he couldn’t recall it. If it had it been there when he was a kid, he’d surely remember. It was just the thing to inspire dreams of loot and booty to a child with even a hint of imagination.

So now it’s your turn to imagine what Rob found inside …

Thursday photo prompt – The Chest… #writephoto

LET DOWN YOUR GOLDEN HAIR …

Tower and trees

From the depths of sleep, she heard the voice. Calling. That old, familiar, and utterly unwelcome refrain. She opened one, sleep-filled eye. Noticed it was still dark — not yet dawn, then looked at her clock.

“Four in the damned morning? You’ve got to be KIDDING,” she snarled. To no one in particular, except Perhaps, a self-assured gray tabby who  completely ignored her. Which was de rigueur unless tuna or catnip was involved.

The voice came again.

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair,” he called.

“Another #$@%^# prince,” she said under her breath. She arose from her bed in the high tower. Went into the bathroom. Came out with the chamber pot. He was calling again.

“Rapunzel, Ra …” and when the contents of the pot covered his head, he just stopped. Gurgled. Mounted his horse and trotted away.

Rapunzel picked up Perhaps and sighed with pleasure. There would no doubt be another prince on some other night, but at least for this night, no one would further disturb her sleep.

“Good night, sweet prince,” she giggled as she drifted off.

Thursday Photo Prompt – Sue Vincent

WHAT’S THAT FLOWER YOU HAVE ON?

Prompt-fog-and-roses-006

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

She’s forty-one and her daddy still calls her, ‘baby’
All the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy
‘Cause she walks down town with a suitcase in her hand
Looking for a mysterious dark-haired man

In her younger days they called her Delta Dawn
Prettiest woman you ever laid eyes on
Then a man of low degree stood by her side
And promised her he’d take her for his bride

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

Tanya Tucker – Delta Dawn Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I know I didn’t write it, but the moment I saw the pictures, I heard the song in my head. So … here it is.

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT – SUE VINCENT