I’m Done Listening

I had a blog in mind this evening, but on my way home I changed my mind. On afternoon break I read a quick online story that really hit me. This is the beginning of it:

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A Thai man filmed himself killing his 11-month-old daughter in two video clips posted on Facebook before committing suicide, police said on Tuesday. People could access the videos of the child’s murder on her father’s Facebook page for roughly 24 hours, until they were taken down around 5 p.m. in Bangkok (1000 GMT) on Tuesday, or about a day after being uploaded.

It happened far away. In a world I know nothing about. To a man I know nothing about. To a little girl I know nothing about.

Of course, that’s just on the heels of a story from 3-17: MEDINA Ohio — The man who took his own life after he killed his pregnant girlfriend did not want to have a baby, her father said. Or from February: LaGRANGE  A man accused of abusing and killing the infant of his then-girlfriend pleaded guilty in a Troup County Superior Court last week.

There is nothing that can be said that can shed any light on any of these heinous crimes. There’s nothing I can do to turn the clock back. Nothing I can say to the families, to the situation.

There is nothing I can say to save the children.

I’m going to cut back on my internet wandering. Yahoo, CNET, all those hot spots that broadcast these crimes like they’re a Sunday social. I know everyone hurts, everyone wonders why. Everyone cries and makes promises and moves on with their lives.

But I’m an adult and can make my own choices. I’m older so that’s an even better excuse to tune all of it out. TV is make believe; I can handle that. But the news…

I’m done. My heart can’t take this. I know there are lots out there that say I should do something about it. The sad truth is there is nothing I can do about any of it. I can’t help those in Thailand or in North Carolina or even on the other side of town.

What I can do is interfere and interact with my own circle of friends and family. Encourage those who need to talk to talk. Those who need a break give them a break. Love the children I come in contact and stretch out to love the ones I don’t.

Life’s too short to let the media have their way. To let the world have its way. To let the madness get into my head. You are all my friends in one way or another. I’m here for you — for your highs and lows and losses and misses. But I have to let go of the rest of the world. I’m not willing to let the madness set me into depression and worse. My family still needs me.

I think I’ll call my grandkids now.

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Steve Axford

Australian photographer Steve Axford ventures into forested areas near his home in New South Wales to photograph the unusual forms of fungi, slime molds, and lichens he finds growing there.

The permutations in color, shape, and size found in each specimen are a testament to the radical diversity of living creatures found in just a small area.

A handful of the images seen here, namely the “hairy” fungi called Cookeina Tricholoma, were photographed last year on a trip to Xishuangbanna, China and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

His amazing photography catches images of fungi most have never seen.

Steve lives and works in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia where he often travels to remote locations to document the living world around him.

The delicacy and uniqueness of the fungi is beyond imagination.

It’s his work tracking down some of the world’s strangest and brilliantly diverse mushrooms and other fungi that has resulted in an audience of followers who wait to see what he’s captured next.

More of Steve Axford‘s amazing photography can be found at Flicker https://www.flickr.com/photos/steveaxford/sets/7215762943586123/and https://steveaxford.smugmug.com/

 

Save the Unicorns!!

I am coming up on a dilemma soon that I don’t know how to handle. And for me, this is a big one.

We are remodeling/redecorating our house one room at a time. It’s been 15 years, and the dirty ivory carpet that I never should have ordered is potmarked with dirty shoe prints and cat puke and dog poop. You know what I mean.

So the bedrooms are turning into …. bedrooms, and the library is being relegated to downstairs last room on the left (with only a window well for light), and we are thinning out all the stuff we’ve collected for the past 30 years.

My dilemma? I don’t have enough room for my unicorn collection.

I know I know — that’s not as horrible as losing a house or a job or getting rid of baby toys because your babies are all grown up.

These are unicorns we’re talking about. Not little teddy bears or Beanie Babies or leftover rabbits from Easter.

I’m talking about unicorns.

Magical, inspirational, surrealistic horses with horns.  Signs of life and light. Ethereal. Magical…oh…I already said that. You get my point.

I’ve been collecting these little things for years. And you know how it goes — once someone knows you collect something they always buy them for birthdays and holidays. So I’ve got quite a collection spread around the house. I have framed pics, mirrors, thimbles, mugs, lamps, slippers, shelves, crystal glass, Beanie Babies, necklaces, hanging rugs, glass statues, stuffed unicorns, brass bells, tapestries, crystal ball holders, earrings, blankets, and a set of 12 plates with a diamond at the tip of their horn.

Most of these have found a home on my walls or my curio cabinet or my bedroom. I even used the tapestries/blankets for curtains.  But there are others that are at the moment on a bookshelf that is going downstairs to the new library whose only light is a window well, and I refuse to let them sit in the dark without me.

What’s a unicorn granny to do?

Our lower level is a monster pit of leftover “things” from my son’s move two years ago, plus things from family members passing, garage sale wonders, etc. The lower level is our last battlefield, and we’re going to war this summer.

I know that when I pass from this world my kids will collect all my baubles and put them in a box and out of guilt keep them stuffed in their basement somewhere. That’s no way for a unicorn to live.

But I haven’t passed and have no intention of doing so any time soon, so I need to figure out a clever, artistic way to display my life’s treasures. The main part of the lower level will be a TV/play room. There certainly has to be SOME part of that room that can house my buddies. Maybe I can find another curio/breakfront/shelving unit that I can display proudly on a back wall somewhere (so that when the grandkids play down there there are no unicorn casualties…)

At least collecting unicorns is a walk in a fantasy world. Dreams of unique creatures that can clean poisoned water and make things disappear and can take you to see the fae are indications of a healthy, albeit crooked, mind.

My hubby should be happy.  At least I don’t collect salt and pepper shakers.

 

Be Nice Until The End

Most of us run blindly through life, taking kids to football games or buying groceries or celebrating birthdays or oohing and ahhing about flower beds and great lasagna dinners, never stopping to think that one day all this wonderful madness will end. 

There are those who believe in the ever after: angels and Elysian Fields and all the chocolate you can eat.  Others believe in reincarnation: behaving yourself in this life is a sure bet you won’t come back as a newt or a grasshopper in the next.  Some believe you never wake up; others believe eternity is one big, made-for-TV movie.

But what happens if you don’t want to think about the afterlife, period?  What happens if all you want to do is get  lost in Star War movies or the Food Network or dreams of vacationing in the Bahamas?  Does avoidance equal ignorance?

I sometimes wonder if humans were meant to dwell on the afterlife as much as we do.  After all, whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  When all is said and done, if we are all going have a glorious resurrection, why should we worry about it?  If we believe our destiny is to reappear on another planet in another galaxy, why sweat the small stuff? 

None of us like to think about death.  We pop a few vitamins or walk around the block or stop smoking and think we have it made.  And, for the most part, we do.  We look around us, feel terrible about those our age who have passed on to greener pastures, and hope we can stay out of those same pastures a bit longer.

Yet there is always that heebie geebie feeling we get from that foul reaper that makes us feel we should do a bit more to insure a place in the afterlife.  Whether its prayer, abstinence, volunteering or tithing, we always make an effort to hedge our bets, putting an extra chip on the gambling table just in case.  We give a little extra to the United Way or volunteer to work the concession stand at the high school football game, even if our kid doesn’t play football.

How does that lessen our apprehension of our final moment?  How does contributing to the bake sale or adopting a pet from the shelter make us breathe easy about our last moments on Earth?

The older I get, the more I realize that all the anxiety, all the trauma I go through worrying about what happens at that final moment doesn’t mean a thing except heartburn.  One of the prices we pay for being born into this world is having to leave it at the end.  I’m not sure there is some cosmic string that is destined to be cut at some particular moment; I do believe that the joy we find in this life, and possibly the next, is based on the pleasure we give and receive from others.

Whether you read the Bible or Harry Potter, you cannot escape the fact that good deeds do not go unheeded.  That even if there is no cosmic God or Goddess who pats you on the head for being a good person, you are rewarded anyway.  There is something  about doing something nice for others — and for yourself — that brings its own brand of satisfaction.  Putting a plus in the “good” column just plain feels good.  

 I know my heart always feel better when I label myself “nice” instead of “mean.”  I feel good when I put a smile on another face; I feel bad when I make someone cry. Whether or not those points add up to admission through the pearly gates I don’t know. 

I myself don’t have a clue whether I will meet my mother and father on the other side, or if I will be reincarnated into a litter of cats.  What I do know is that it makes me feel good to do good in this world. All I can hope for is that my good behavior and loving heart will have counted for  something.  

My fear is that my repayment for being such a jolly good soul is that I come back to this world as a circus clown or born into a Green Bay Packer family.  The clown thing isn’t really very popular these days, and being a Chicago Bear’s fan…

That would be hell.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — David Krakov

David Kracov studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and began his career in animation with the Brad Pitt feature, Cool World.

During his time as an illustrator, David began to experiment with different types of clay, and started sculpting the characters from those films he animated.

Kracov’s magical touch with a vibrant color palette turned into unique steel wall sculptures.

Each in a limited edition of only 55 works that begin with hundreds of small sketches that are then hand-cut from a single sheet of steel and then finished with detailed painting in a high-grade, water-based, acrylic polymer paint.

The meticulous steel work along with his scrutinizing attention to detail allow these sculptures to take on a life of their own.

More of David Kracov’s fantastic sculpture work can be found at

http://www.david-kracov.com/

My Hero — My Heroine — My Characters

Every story has a main character or two. A villain, a hero, a heroine. Good guys, bad guys, and gals. Even your short stories have girls and guys in various stages of love, hate, and madness. You have every nuance of their character figured out — their personality, their hair, their habits.

All of our characters are based on people we know: characters in movies, old paramours, cousins, those who have done us harm. Our characters — good and evil — all come from somewhere inside of us.

So tell me — who are your characters based on? How many famous people resemble your purely self-created stars? Sometimes I have exactly someone in mind. Other times, I find a weird resemblance to someone I’ve come across in my life.

My first novel. Heroine — some version of  me. But not visually. Characters based on some weird, maniacal version of me always are the hardest to visualize. The closest match is kinda like Susan Sarandon but 30 pounds heavier. In her mid-40s. The hero — he’s got to have dark hair and dark eyes, and a slight rough beard. Maybe Doctor Connor Rhodes from Chicago Med. Just the right amount of fuzz on the chin. The matriarch — definitely Maggie Smith. And the pompous ass son — Frank Kennedy from Gone With the Wind. Second novel –same main characters. Add a doctor — Michael Douglas with beard and glasses, and a snotty girlfriend — the latest Carol Markus of Star Trek — and you’ve got some attitude.

Second set of novels — heroine — again, some wacky, astral version of myself. This time with shorter red hair in the first novel and spikey purple hair in the second. I did see a pic of Susan Sarandon with both the red hair and glasses, so she’ll do. The hero — more of Derek Jacobi in Gladiator. The king, definitely Aragon from Lord of the Rings. Consul Tresarrio — definitely Jafar from Aladdin, and Consul Corvenius — Ian Holm, Father Vito Cornelius from the Fifth Element.

There you go. Barred my soul, gave away my secrets.

There’s not always an identifiable face in your stories, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Gives you something to focus on, if only briefly. The characters then take over, flowering and winding their vines into their own version of reality.

I’d love to hear if any of your characters resemble anyone real or pretend. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or if you write poetry or haikus — I’d just love to hear your interpretation of your people.

Tell me Tell me Tell me! Do you have a Rhett or an Angelina in your world?

 

Driving To Work

Like many of you, I have a fairly stressful job at work. I’ve adapted quite well through the years, but until the retirement gong sounds over my head, I’m in it for the long haul.

I have a wonderfully relaxing ride to and from work. I’ve talked about it before — a wonderfully windey road that passes churches and fields and cows. It’s my saving grace.

But I have to laugh — it’s like there’s two different people driving my car.

In the morning the ride is bright and sweet and (depending on how awake I am) cheery. I call my morning ride my “Church Ride.” I make peace with the world; I plan wardrobe changes and meals I want to cook and visits with the grandkids and writing on my novel when I get home. I don’t listen to the news or music on my way in — just the open window and the birds and the magic of the future.

Driving home, there’s a different person behind the wheel.  This drive is what I call the “Crypt Ride.” Usually I’m fairly grumpy and non-communicative, accompanied by a headache, I’m defusing from the day while try not to zone out at the now-blah scenery on both sides of the road. I keep thinking about all the things I didn’t get done that day and that since my hubby is working nights I won’t see him and the dogs will drive me crazy and gone are the aspirations of sewing beads on a blouse and writing — what’s that? All I can think about is going home and plopping on the sofa and turning the mindless TV on.

What happened?

Once I get home and settled I often walk out the door with my commuting hubby and continue on my evening walk. That helps clear what crummy debris is still left in the crevices of my brain. When I get back inside I manage to do one project before sitting down and kicking back.

But that doesn’t justify the complete meltdown an hour before.

I tend to blame my out-of-sync circadian rhythm for most of my highs and grumps. I have a terrible time falling asleep early — I can stay up until 1 or 2 am.  So I tend to love the night. I love the coolness and the quiet and my creative Muse eventually drops by. The problem is I have to get up at 5:45 am, and 4-1/2 hours sleep is no way to live your life.

But being crabby during your free time is not way to live your life, either.

I know the best remedy is to not let work get to you. But sometimes circumstances are beyond your control. At least from 7:30-4:00. But at 4:01 there needs to be a cosmic, miraculous yet natural transition back to “Me Time.” A totally wrapped around inside-out transformation.

Or at least a light mood swing.

I think part of me is unconsciously thinking about that big “R” in a couple of years, and all the things I can and will do once I don’t have to punch a time clock. But until then, I need to find a way to trade “Crypt Time” to “Church Time.”

After all, life’s too short to let the day’s drudgery creep into my favorite activity of the day….errr…evening.

Power watching Game of Thrones.