Epically Awesome Award of Epic Awesomeness

I’ve been many things, but Epically Awesome is BIG and well, AWESOME 🙂 I promise to respond in full soon as possible. My other half and I have not been feeling well and we’ve been very low energy … which for me makes it difficult to be prolifically creative. As soon as I perk up even a little bit, I shall put my energy into saying a proper thank you to Natasha and the other folks who have honored me. Meanwhile, an itsy-bitsy reblog seems appropriate. Thank you Natasha. You are young, but you are wise, Grasshopper.


Films and Things


I’ve been very kindly nominated for the ‘epically awesome award of epic awesomness’ by Kim over at Tranquil Dreams, so a big thank you to her 😀 check out her blog if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it 😀 Also a nomination from Meera Darji, who also has a brilliant blog that you should definitely have a look at 😀

So on to the rules, which are very simple;

1. Tell 10 epic and/or awesome facts about yourself.

2. Pass it on to 10 bloggers you think are awesome and/or epic – or both.

I might do a mixture of photos and facts because I’m not sure I can come up with ten interesting things!!

  1. I met Carol Ann Duffy a year or two ago, and she sat at a big table with all the Alevel English Literature students in my sixth form (which included me). We…

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We were staying in a one room flat borrowed from friends almost directly across the street from the harbor in Rockport. I had a new camera and the harbor faced almost due east, so I had checked the sunrise schedule, then set the alarm for 4:00 and dragged myself out of bed. It was a very short walk to the waterfront.

By 4:36, the sun was rapidly rising. I started shooting while it was still quite dark.

The time between these two pictures is less than 2 minutes. Sunrise is a burst of glory. Brief and beautiful.


I kept shooting. Sunrise passes so quickly and this one was really glorious. When I saw that cloud stretching across the sky, I knew if I kept shooting, the rising sun would exactly cross the sun. Rarely does nature fully coöperate with our plans, but this once, it did.


The hard part of the experience? I believe I was the only warm-blooded creature moving that morning and every mosquito on the waterfront was dive-bombing me while I tried to concentrate on getting my shot. I kept shooting until the sun was fully risen. By then, I was a walking mosquito bite, but I got my pictures.

It was a most extraordinary dawn. Pictures by me, but glory by God.

A Perfect Moment

Prompts for the Promptless – What’s A Litmus?

Does anyone remember for what litmus paper actually tests?

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

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

I’ve yet to determine the “litmus test” for Freshly Pressed. Whatever it is, I have flunked. I don’t measure up. Not clever enough? More clever than socially acceptable? Overly sarcastic? Insufficiently witty? Excessively eclectic? Irrelevant? Too topical? Too vague? Too pointed? Unable to follow simple directions? Failure to be a team player?

“Marilyn does not play well with others. She runs with scissors.”

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

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

Too many typos? Ouch.

“I plead guilty, your honor,” she said sadly, baring her soul for punishment. “I just don’t see them. I am a pathetic failure, dishonored, disgraced. Tear off my buttons. Break my sword. Rip the epaulettes from my shoulders. I deserve no less. Pass the yellow feather of shame.”

Despite the deep anxiety engendered by my un-freshly pressableness, I keep writing. Doggedly and with determination. Sometimes I’m so dogged I write about dogs.

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

Since I have recovered from my brief fling at being young, I have many opinions, but I don’t test. I have standards. Does that count? I don’t hang with racists. I don’t argue with stupid people by which I mean those delightful, heartwarming folks who combine blissful ignorance with strong opinions. I suppose there are a few other points, political, intellectual and social (don’t chew with your mouth open), but there’s no test. I like’em or I don’t. As with books and movies, I like what I like and don’t know why. Shameful. 

I don’t necessarily believe anything or anybody except my husband. He is an epic truth-sayer. If you ask him if that dress looks good on you, I hope you really want the answer. Because he is going to tell you. He will tell you with grace, charm and tact, but tell you he will.

I’m not litmus-test friendly. Worse, I’m completely out of touch with whatever is au courant. I wouldn’t know what to test for, much less whether or not someone passed, failed or whatever.

Does that make me a loser? Or, to put it in Facebook-ese, a LOOSER? I’ll bet my problem is I do not allow having nothing to say stop me from saying it anyhow. That’s gotta be it!

Tighten up, bitch. Get your act together! No looseness! Stand up straight! Button that uniform! Yes SIR!! Maybe if I get really tight, I’ll be Fresh enough to be Pressable!

Blogging Part 4: Etiquette Part II

I try hard to answer every comment, at least to acknowledge that I’ve received it. It’s courtesy and it’s also the only way to have a dialogue with ones readers and get to know them (and vice versa). I think it matters. Others obviously don’t agree. Because I know that the response rate to my comments is no better than 50% across the board.

Mikes Film Talk

Metaphorically strolling through the recent entries on the Freshly Pressed page, I noticed a disturbing trend. Some of these recent winners of that coveted page placement aren’t responding to their comments. They are responding to a few, but not many.

When I got Freshly Pressed last year, I tried my damnedest to answer every single person who commented. I would have continued doing so if I hadn’t had a heart attack and wound up in hospital and almost dying. At that point my blog and getting Freshly Pressed was forgotten. I think it would be safe to say that the only things that existed in the world for me at that point was the hospital.

If I remember correctly, when I came home four days later, full of scars, stitches and medication, the first thing I did was to check my blog and answer comments.

I can hear a lot…

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I don’t want this to sound as if I think I’m special because I deal with pain. I realize I’ve got plenty of company. It’s just that sometimes, I feel like I’m in an over-crowded lifeboat. Sinking.

There a central irony to this story, so I’ll start with the irony and go from there.

Parents, school advisors, well-meaning friends and family are forever urging kids to get out and get physical. Join a team. Take up a sport. Get some fresh air. Exercise. It’s good for you, right?


It is good for you. Mostly. But. Youthful athletic activity is often the start of a lifetime of pain. How many young men destroy their knees playing football? How many girls dislocate their spines in gymnastics? How many head injuries happen during little league baseball games? How many broken backs are the result of falling off horses? It’s not rare or unusual.

These days, everyone knows about the dangers, but it doesn’t stop kids from playing or parents from encouraging their involvement. Safety equipment is available, but injuries happen anyhow. Active sports are dangerous. It’s a fact. I’m not suggesting anyone stop playing sports. Life is meant to be lived, risks and all.

The irony is that sports are good for you if you don’t get hurt. If the helmet keeps the baseball from braining you. If getting tackled doesn’t tear the ligaments and tendons in your knees. If you don’t break your ankle coming down from a jump shot. If you ride well, don’t fall and land on your butt … or head.

For me, it was horses. I love horses. I love riding. I didn’t take lessons. I just got on and rode. I fell a few times. It looks funny when you land on your butt. Everyone laughs as you get up and limp back to your mount. You’re young. You suck it up.

Ignoring pain isn’t necessarily good. Pain can mean something is wrong. I dislocated my spine. Repeatedly. Each fall worsened the problem. One day after riding, I noticed my back didn’t hurt. I couldn’t feel much of anything. My back was numb and aside from tingling, so was my right leg. That scared me. I was used to pain. I figured it was part of athletics. No pain, no gain, isn’t that what everyone says? But numbness was new and I figured maybe I should see a doctor.

My spine was 50% displaced and was pressing on my spinal cord. Which accounted for the lack of sensation. If something wasn’t done about it, I was going to be in a wheel chair before I was old enough to vote — 21 back then.

At 19, it hadn’t occurred to me I might have a real problem. In those days, we didn’t run to the doctor for every bang, bruise or pain not because we were tougher, but because we were ignorant. We’re more sophisticated these days but in the early 1960s, no one thought much about sports injures. Kids played hockey, rode bikes and horses, played sandlot baseball. Nobody owned safety equipment. If we had, we’d have been embarrassed to use it. Only a total weenie would wear a helmet on a bicycle. Has that changed or do kids remove their helmets the moment they are out of mom’s sight?

I went to the doctor. He told me to do absolutely nothing until he got me into surgery. I got a second identical opinion. Don’t bend. Don’t lift. Don’t fall. Don’t do anything. I asked if that meant I couldn’t ride. The surgeon looked at me like I had two heads, both stupid. I figured he meant “No.”

My surgeon didn’t enumerate the risks. I doubt it would have made any difference if he had. I wasn’t going through life unable to do anything active. Whatever the risks, I wanted to be repaired. I wanted to ride. At 19, I had a spinal fusion and laminectomy.

The doctor mentioned I might develop some arthritis at the site of the surgery later in life.

“Uh huh,” I said. Later in life was a million years away. After I healed — a two-year process — I went back to riding. I never fell again. I took lessons, a wise move that might have prevented youthful injuries, but my parents were unwilling to pay for lessons. Too frivolous.

Fast forward 47 years, arthritis began to make inroads. I had to stop riding. My doctor explained if I fell, I might not get up. Ever. The fusion had disintegrated. I was glued together by arthritis, nature’s way of keeping my spine intact. When the pain got worse, I went back to my doctor.

“Surely,” I said to him, “you can do something for me.”

“No,” he said. “Pain management. Cortisone shots will help. For a while.”

I’ve been down cortisone road. The shots do help for a few weeks, after which the pain returns. The human spine isn’t engineered for bipeds. Many of us have spinal weaknesses we don’t know about until after we get hurt. When I was young, a bad back was not so common. With the passing of decades, almost everyone I know has some kind of back problem. Unless you are very lucky, the chances you’ve had a back injury are high. So I live with pain and quite possibly, so do you.


There are a lot of members of the back pain club. After you join the club, you usually get a lifetime membership. I finally discovered I have a problem I can’t fix. No amount of persistence, research, medical attention or cleverness is going to make it go away. So I’ve designed the world to make my back happy. We have a back-friendly home. From our adjustable bed, to the reclining sofa, our place is kind to spines.


There’s no moral to this story. It’s just life. If you don’t die young and live an active life, you hurt. The years roll on, pain gets worse.

I yearn for a scooter, but the one I want doesn’t exist. I want a scooter that’s an ATV, but weighs like a bicycle and folds up. There is no such thing. I probably couldn’t afford it if it did, but I can dream.

I have had to accept reality but I do not have to like it. Sooner or later we all face an intractable problem or several. It’s a nasty shock if you’ve always believed you are unstoppable. When you hit that wall, I recommend you get some very comfortable furniture.