Of Black Coffee, Morning Clouds, and Self-Expression

EARLY THE OTHER MORNING about 6:00 a.m. the clouds floating over our house were so pretty that I decided to sit on the deck, drink my mug of black coffee, and photograph the clouds as they drifted overhead.

AS I WATCHED CLOUDS morph into one shape after another, I remembered a recent interview I’d heard with Carly Simon.  She was on Here’s The Thing podcast with Alec Baldwin.  [Interview here.]

WHENEVER I THINK OF Carly Simon I think of the lyrics to You’re So Vain, specifically: “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, Clouds in my coffee.”  It seemed like the perfect thought for where I was sitting, what I was drinking while musing on clouds.

I HAD ENJOYED LISTENING to the podcast as Carly explained her life, her music, her memoir. Her conclusions.  My impression was that she sees her past clearly, with a wit and wisdom that made me appreciate her struggles. And her triumphs.

AS I WATCHED THE CLOUDS, reflecting on what Carly Simon had said, I began to wonder about my own abilities to understand and describe myself to others.  Would I ever be able to explain my past, either in verbal or written form, as eloquently and truthfully as she had explained hers?

NOT THAT I HAVE an overwhelming desire to tell all to everyone, but should I feel the need to do so for some reason, would I be able to do it?  Would you?

Be The Light: Five Links That Sparked My Interest

INTRODUCTION

As you may remember I’ve joined a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of May, I have a story, or five, to share with you, my gentle readers.

THE NEWS STORIES  

 A lonely snail almost gets the girlfriend of his dreams. If only.

 Newly discovered shade of blue is getting a name. Cool.

Saving 7th century architectural history in a 20th century modern way. Smart.

A baby otter has a lucky rescue. Cuteness.

• Mom gets honorary MBA doing what Mom’s do best. Huzzah!

MY COMMENTARY

I had a difficult time this month finding one positive news story, with a bit of depth, that fits the criteria set out for this event. With The Donald hogging the news cycle 24/7, non-political + inspirational stories disappeared.

Did you notice that, too?

Re-thinking how I could keep true to the spirit of We Are The World Blogfest, I decided to bend the rules and share the foregoing list of some fun news stories that are positive– in their own small ways.

Because, I believe, every little bit of light helps.

* * *

{ If you’re on Facebook, there’s a Blogfest Community – We Are The World page there with connections to other people who are writing posts for this event.  I don’t do FB, but thought you, my gentle readers who like FB, and enjoy positivity, might be interested in knowing this. }

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Be The Light: Of Ladybugs, Love & A Clever Little Girl

I’ve joined in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of April, I have a story to share with you, my gentle readers. 

* * *

THE NEWS STORY:  

Did you know that in the Jewish religion when visiting a loved one’s grave it’s customary to leave a stone on the grave?  These stones are called visitation stones.

I wasn’t aware of this tradition until I read about a girl who took it upon herself, in response to cemetery vandalism, to create some pretty hand-painted lady bug and heart visitation stones.

The complete story [found here with video] tells of 6-year-old Ayel’s response upon learning that vandals had damaged her great-great-great-grandmother’s tombstone in a St. Louis cemetery.  Ayel decided to paint some stones for herself, and for all the other families who had experienced this vandalism, as a way of showing kindness to the living– and respect to the deceased.

* * *

* * *

MY COMMENTARY:

If you took the time to watch the video, then you’ve already realized that Ayel is cuter than the bee’s knees.  I mean, how could you not love her?

That smile!

But beyond that fact I like this kid’s spirit.  She understands what happened in the cemetery and that it was a lousy thing for anyone to do.  However, instead of ignoring what happened or giving in to helplessness, she’s opted for kindness.

Ayel intuitively gets what many adults have forgotten.  She understands that creating something healing and meaningful doesn’t have to be complicated.  It just has to come from the heart.

Which, as anyone with even just an ounce of kindness in their soul knows, is a great place to start.

* * *

Be The Light: Of Coffee, Kindness, And Connection

I read about the idea first when bikerchick57 posted about it on her blog, Mary J Melange.  Then I read about it again when Susan Scott wrote about it on her blog, Garden of Eden Blog.

I liked what they were talking about so I thought to meself, I’ll do this project, too.  Thus I share with you my first post in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest, the point of which is to highlight positive news stories and present them on the last Friday of the month.

* * *

INTRODUCTION: I initially thought it would easy to find a positive news story online, but I was naive.

Stupidity. Anger. Hostility. Resentment.  Those news stories were everywhere, easy to find even when I didn’t want to find them.

I was ready to give up on this project but decided that I wouldn’t let vitriol win, and eventually I found the following positive news story, therein proving that good news is out there if you intentionally look for it.

* * *

THE NEWS STORY: When I finally found something positive in the news, it was a story about a small personal gesture made by a woman who behaved rudely toward a guy who was just doing his job.  The story, Starbucks barista gets apology note and $50 bill from ‘sassy’ customer, hit home with me for many reasons.

For one thing, I’ve worked as a waitress, which is like a barista in that you have to deal with tired people who just want their food and drink. Now.

Also I’ve been a sassy customer, not in food establishments as much as in retail stores, when I can’t find what I want– and all that I want is, in my mind, so simple and should be there.

And three, I’ve sent apology notes to friends and family when I’ve goofed up. ‘Cuz good manners count.

* * *

COMMENTARY: This was an act of kindness that highlights a common problem that I see in our increasing complicated, impersonal, and fast-paced world.  That is, a lack of patience for not getting what you want, then taking it out on whomever happens to be the messenger.

But what I do not see or read about often enough are apologies expressing a sincere regret for impatient behavior, backed up with something tangible. Hello, President Grant!

So in conclusion, with all due respect to Gibbs Rule #6, I think that in many cases, such as this one between strangers, apologies are a sign of strength that can only make our world a better, less hostile, more connected place in which to live.

And we all want that, don’t we?

Thinking About Opinions While In The Presence Of Sharp Pointy Things

{ Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw via Unsplash }

# # #

Just because something happens, and I am aware of it, doesn’t mean that I have anything to say about it.  Or that I will change my behavior because of it.

I got thinking about this idea the other day when I went to the doctor’s office.  After a brief wait in the waiting room a nurse called me back to the examining rooms.  As we walked along she asked me what I’d done over the weekend.

Basic chit-chat as I got settled into the room, ‘ya know?

Or so I thought.

I told her that we’d gone to a college hockey game.  I was starting to elaborate when she interrupted me with a tirade against the university whose team we’d seen play.

# # #

Her, shocked: DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE DRUGS ON THAT CAMPUS?

Me, mild-mannered: Uh, no… well, yes… it’s a college campus…

Her, outraged: DIDN’T YOU SEE ON THE NEWS THAT THERE WERE RAPES ON THAT CAMPUS?

Me, contrite: Uh, yes I did… not good…

Her, empowered: DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT MY SON WOULD NOT GO THERE BECAUSE IT WAS A PARTY SCHOOL AND HE DIDN’T FEEL LIKE HE’D BE SAFE THERE?

Me, polite: Uh, no… didn’t know your son considered it, but if he didn’t feel like he’d be safe there then I’m glad he didn’t go there…

Her, demanding: WHY WOULD YOU GO TO A GAME THERE?

Me, quietly: Because it was for work… and it was free… and we had a fun time…

# # #

Now clearly I hit a nerve with this woman.  And as you, my gentle readers, can tell, I answered her questions as accurately as I could, considering that she had at her disposal sharp pointy and pokey things that she could use, while upset, to inadvertently hurt me.

I’m not a fool.

But this conversation, such as it was, did give me pause.  It got me thinking about how I now live in a society where everyone seems to have strong opinions about many things, and you never know what topics are going to set somebody off.  

[See conversation above.]

I also realized that, ironically, I have to admit that I have no opinion about all the people with all the opinions.  Say what you will, think what you want.  Live and let live, you know?

Just don’t hurt me in the process.  That’s all I ask.

What Was This Week All About? Anxiety, Awareness, Acrimony, And Adjustments

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This has been a ridiculous week.  MY MIND AND SPIRIT ARE WHACKED, ON EDGE.  In fact, so much so that I’m going to write a listicle instead of a proper post To Remember It all. 

• • •

In no particular order…

√  ANXIETY:  Our normal temperature for this time of year would be 39ºF.  However, on Monday morning it was 7ºF here with a wind chill close to 0ºF, a light dusting of snow everywhere.  By Thursday morning, after 65 mph winds on Wednesday night that took down many tree limbs, our temp was 65ºF.  Right now on Saturday morning it’s 35ºF outside with gray skies.

These extreme temperature fluctuations make me nervous– and put a wrinkle [pun intended] in my early morning “what to wear?” decision-making process. 

√  AWARENESS:  I’ve always said that I believe that education is everything.  I was naively referring to learning about language and history and math and science and critical thinking and how to get along with people.  I was not thinking about learning new terms for sexual deviancy, but thanks to our PEOTUS I now know more about said topic.  Unless you’ve been visiting Mars this week you do too, right?  

Perhaps we should change the aforementioned acronym to mean Pervert Elect Of The United States.    

√  ACRIMONY:  I’m disappointed to know that one member of the board at LL Bean, a woman who is a descendent of the founder, has used her vast wealth to fund The Donald’s campaign.  I agree in part with the current LL Bean Executive Chairman’s FB message [instead of a proper press release?] reminding us that this woman is free to do whatever she chooses with her money, but I disagree with him about how her behavior does not reflect upon the company.  

A company’s board of directors, chosen for their acumen, is the brains behind a company, and as such whatever a director values will influence [obviously] his or her input into how the company operates.  Thus any connection to anything or anyone dodgy [Hello Donald] casts doubt on the way the whole company is run. 

Not saying I won’t shop there in the future, but it’ll no longer be the first place I go to when I need clothes, bedding, sporting equipment, outdoor furniture.   

√  ADJUSTMENTS:  My iPad, which by techie standards would be a great-great-grandma, is doing wonky things.  It has taken to tweeting not what I write, but a link to the last article that I read.  Fortunately I’m not ashamed of anything that research and read, so that aspect of this problem isn’t what worries me.  No, it’s the fact that great-great-grandma seems to be on a tweeting bender.  The poor dear just can’t help herself.  Nor can I.

So I deleted my Twitter app from my iPad and this week have lived a life in which I only see Twitter when I’m using my desktop computer, which means not so often.  

• • •

Reflections On That Which Baffles Some Ohioans

save-the-matchesAll I can think to say is one of my favorite sayings: SPIT FIRE AND SAVE THE MATCHES.

This is an exclamation of surprise that means: Well, I’ll be darned! What do you know? Huh.

I’ve also heard this saying in a slightly more vulgar form wherein the “p” in spit is changed to an “h” thereby creating a different word that imparts a similar meaning.  This ruder saying then sometimes becomes a phrase in a NSFW longer saying.

But this is a polite blog so we’re going with the sweet shorter version of the saying.  Plus I like mine better.  It’s cuter, rather dragonesque in its imagery.

• • •

I only share this saying with you, my gentle readers, because it has come to my attention that some of my fellow Ohioans have asked one particular question of ye olde Google.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-4-52-35-pm It is a question that I find to be an odd one, but then my fellow Ohioans often baffle me.

I’ve lived in this state most of my life, been educated here, but cannot explain how some of us are, shall we say, enlightened, while others are in the dark.

Dim.  Lacking any spark whatsoever.

• • •

This, I believe, explains how it is that the most popular question on Google that comes from the Buckeye state is: HOW TO MAKE FIRE?

I kid you not, as the following image shows.

It’s a question that suggests overall we Ohioans aren’t the brightest bunch of people, looking as we are for the answer to a question that researchers suggest our ancestors in the second part of the Middle Pleistocene knew the answer to.

But in Ohio today, not so much.  😉

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{ Find out more about your state’s questions HERE. }