friday fictioneers: integrating colors

Copyright - C. Hase

Is he making eye contact with me?

This may be the end of the bar scene for me.

“Yoo hoo! Over here!”

It’s unfathomable that any other could interest him.

Why look at us! We’re from the same class…the imperial whites.

Our breed has never mixed with coloreds. We are the elite among koi.

I hate mingling beneath my class. But alas, there aren’t many of us left. And to make matters worse, there are more of us sisters than there are males to satisfy.

Oh no! I don’t believe it!

He’s making eyes at Mulan…that yellow immigrant!

Damn coloreds!

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friday fictioneers: irreparable?

dismantled keyboard

Taking it apart was easy. Putting it back together? Not so sure.

What convinced me to surprise Missy, and fix the damn thing? I who know diddlysquat about mechanical things.

I had good intentions. Although it’s probably beyond repair now.

Like my marriage.

I’ve tried. We both have. But with two careers running on high octane, and 3 children in overdrive, life is crazy.

Had we seen this coming, would we have taken on so much?

Who knows.

And yet, I’m sure I can fix this.

If I can fix other people, I can fix us.

I’ll schedule us for therapy.nashville-09-2010-00024.jpg

nurturing thursdays: bullying

We’re all very familiar with the bullying that takes place among youngsters. These days it’s even taken to cyberspace…big time! Short of throwing the computer out the window, I’ve little advice to offer parents who are dealing with this recent phenomenon.

English: A graph showing where electronic aggr...

English: A graph showing where electronic aggression occurs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps if we backtracked a little however, we might do a little preventative work towards laying a better foundation to help alleviate bullying.

It amazes me when adults work themselves into a dither over children being bullied by other children. I often think…well, how about the bullying that goes on day in and day out among adults? Did we pass some kind of hazing threshold which now permits us to have at it? Or have the years worn us down so that we could care less if we overflow onto one another? Good manners be damned?

My own experiences with bullying have left me with an assortment of thoughts on the subject.

As the youngest I was an easy target for bullying by my older siblings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hide behind the Catholic church’s teachings commanding us to love one another. 

For some reason, society doesn’t point its collective finger at the family when it comes to bullying. We’ve come to accept that the older children are just naturally given to mistreating their younger brothers and sisters, if they’re so inclined. Perhaps it’s deemed a lesson in survival. Or it might be that parents are either too overwhelmed or too clueless to manage the ongoing spats of their offspring. Easier to let them settle things themselves.

Yes, lessons are good. However the downside of bullying within a family is that it often creates enmity. Loving one another is a given, especially when tragedy strikes. Liking one another is a whole other thing. And it’s the liking that allows us to coexist in harmony for more than a holiday dinner or a wedding celebration or attendance at a funeral.

Where do children learn the art of bullying? I would suggest that the primary source is the example their parents set. If a father bullies a mother or vice versa, such behavior goes a long way in convincing youngsters that bullying is okay. If parents didn’t engage in bullying and condemned such behavior in others, it would follow that children wouldn’t succumb to something of which their parents disapproved.

I understand that raising children not to bully is complicated by outside forces over which we have little or no control. Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be a good beginning to lay down some ground rules within the family so that bullying might not find fertile ground upon which to take hold, grow, thrive, and spread?

Paralleling the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God, family members might be commanded to…

  1. Love one another as you love your own self.
  2. Treat one another as you would want to be treated.
  3. Before lashing out with unkind words or gestures, have a discussion with yourself to weigh the pros and cons. Seek guidance from someone whose counsel you respect.
  4. If #3 doesn’t work for you…count to 100…or 1,000…or 5,000…whatever it takes to calm yourself down.
  5. If neither #3 or #4 work, go for a walk in the great outdoors where the sights, sounds, and smells might have a calming effect upon you.
  6. Get to know one another…your likes…your dislikes…your vulnerabilities…your passions. You do this with friends. Why not with siblings? Are they that alien to you?
  7. Put yourself in one another’s shoes, figuratively-speaking. What’s it like to be dad with his financial worries? Or mom who’s always stressed with so much to do? What’s it like to be the eldest missing the attention once reserved only for him or her? Or the youngest who feels left out, left behind? Is it true that middle children feel as though they’re invisible?
  8. Compliment one another. If doing so makes a complete stranger’s day, like the waiter or the barista, think what it can do for your own family member? Tell mom she’s a great cook…often! Congratulate your sister on her excellent grades. 
  9. Tell one another “I love you” every day. You never know if it’ll be the last time you get to say it.
  10. Respect one another…and yourself. If you have a legitimate gripe, speak up. And be sure you allow others to have their say as well. 

I would offer one more suggestion. 

Families should refrain from gossiping about one another…to one another. Doing so only breeds ill-will. I know. It happened in my own family, creating untold and unresolved disruptions to relationships that will probably never be rectified. Better to vent to good friends who have no personal stake in the matter, and who are committed to supporting you regardless.

Bullying can take on a life of its own, having far-reaching effects which often span a person’s entire lifetime.English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, th...

The one given to bullying can wind up behind bars because he injured another driver in a road rage incident. Someone who’s often the focus of bullying can finally snap, shooting and killing innocent victims in an attempt to assuage his torment.

Short of such drastic true-to-life scenarios, however, are the day-to-day consequences many of us face as a result of bullying. 

I hate confrontations because I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, even when a wrong has been done to me.  When I have had to say something hurtful to put someone in his or her place, I feel guilty forever after. Thankfully, I’ve learned to forgive myself and move on.

Low self-esteem can be a side product of being bullied. Recovering one’s confidence can be a lifetime job. 

Loss of trust is another factor when bullied. The victim forever doubts what’s said going forward. Only after what seems a lifetime of reassurances can trust be reinvested, if it’s even possible.

Bullies probably never think of themselves as such. Perhaps we should all ask ourselves…

…am i a bully?…

………hugmamma.

English: A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Be...

 

no brainers…

Don’t you sometimes listen to the news and shake your head in frustration?

I’ve grown a thick skin as a result of the last two presidential elections. Most news stories now just roll off my back, or barely make a dent in my grey matter. It’s either because I’ve no interest in the topic of discussion, like the recent Miley Cyrus uproar, or it’s because the news pundits seem to sensationalize every tidbit of information, relevant or not.

However there are some stories which cause me to cluck my tongue and shake my head.

From source: Two mammal-eating "transient...

From source: Two mammal-eating “transient” killer whales photographed off the south side of Unimak Island, eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Magyar: Kardszárnyú delfin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, for example, CNN kept advertising a film it aired last night…”Blackfish.” It documented the killing, a year or so ago, of a female Sea World trainer by an orca, also known as a killer whale.

A predator in the wild, it makes total sense that at any time the orca could revert back to what it does instinctively…kill. While humans like to think we can anticipate every situation, especially after investing heavily into a project, we can’t possibly know with absolute certainty that a killer whale will never behave contrary to our expectations.

Rather than admit to failure, humans resort to positive spin…”It’s rare that orcas in captivity kill humans.” Evidently once is not enough to realize that we should let these magnificent creatures live out their lives with their own kind. They are not goldfish in a bowl.

Why do we insist on having all earth’s species cater to our whims?Pope Francis met with media

Then there was the eye-popping news about a German bishop who got a smack down from Pope Francis. “Why was that?” you might ask.

It seems the cleric’s customized, new home cost tens of millions of dollar. Meanwhile, His Holiness has opted for simpler living in one of the Vatican’s guest quarters, rather than the grander papal apartment.

Why the “bishop of bling” felt he needed grandiose digs built with the generous donations of his parishioners is mind-boggling. As a Catholic, it made me want to slap the man upside the head and say “Duh??? What were you thinking?”

Why do we insist on having everything we might want…just because we can?

Finally, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre claims he is suffering memory loss.

“I think after 20 years God only knows the toll,” said Favre, who was sacked 525 times, more than any other NFL quarterback. “This was a little shocking to me, that I couldn’t remember my daughter playing youth soccer.”

Recent research has shown 

Of the 34 former NFL players who have died and donated their brains to research, the percentage of them who have pathologically confirmed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, is over 90 percent, according to a 2009 University of Michigan report.

 Evidently the NFL has taken the matter seriously enough to pay $765 million to players and their families who filed suit claiming the athletes suffered head injuries while playing football. 

I don’t even need the experts weighing in to acknowledge that if a guy gets knocked to the ground by 300 pound gorillas, his helmet isn’t going to protect his brain from being tossed around like jello inside his craggy skull. Duh???

“There is still a pervasive belief that only a concussion serious enough to knock the athlete out will do damage, but that’s not the case,” Harvard neurologist, Dr. Marie Pasinski. “Any blow to the head that leaves a person slightly dazed or not quite right may cause harm to the brain.”

Favre has wisely chosen not to seriously entertain the Rams’ invitation for him to quarterback their team going forward.  ‘ “I want to live a long time, I want to live healthy, as close to normal life as I can,” said Favre.’

English: Brett Favre (#4) as quarterback for t...

English: Brett Favre (#4) as quarterback for the New York Jets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we continue to sacrifice our bodies, minds, and souls to money and fame? And if we do, why are we shocked when our lives take a turn for the worse?

I sometimes wonder about human behavior and what makes us do what we do, when it seems we should know better. Perhaps it’s in our nature to rationalize whatever path we choose. Some decisions are pretty straightforward; others can lead us on a merry chase. More times than not we end up facing the same dead end. We probably know in our gut what the likely outcome will be. Being human however, we prefer to play the odds. We’re risk takers…

…what have we got to lose?…a lot, it would seem…

………hugmamma.

shrinking seats…

I’ve criss-crossed the country numerous times in recent years to visit my daughter who was dancing in the southeast. Those who commute between coasts for their jobs probably feel as I do…airline travel sucks!

airport security wands

Hoisting carry-on luggage onto and off of airport security belts, as well as into and out of airplane overhead bins in record time, is enough to throw anyone’s body out of whack. Make that a six decades old body already twitching with arthritis and fibromyalgia…and you’ve got the beginnings of one grouchy passenger. However being raised a long-suffering Catholic, I’m primed to absorb as much pain as the false gods of travel can dish out.

Whether or not age is to blame, or my brain goes into overdrive knowing my access to bathroom facilities is severely restricted once on the plane…I find I have to go to the restroom several times before I board the aircraft. It seems I have to squeeze every last drop of liquid from my body in order to stave off any possibility of neurotic behavior once on board.

On one flight when I heard what I thought was the signal allowing passengers to move about, I jumped out of my seat and raced down the aisle toward the forward bathroom. While the flight attendant didn’t stop me, she sternly notified me that the sound I heard was for passengers to keep their seat belts fastened.

Airplane Electronics Sign

Oops! Well, when ya gotta go…your brain’s only got one thing on its mind…ya gotta go!

Many plane rides later, I’ve figured out what I can drink and what I can’t.

I can’t drink caffeine. It messes with my digestion. I can’t take regular sips from my water bottle. That’ll get me bouncing in and out of my chair running to the bathroom for the duration.

Cranberry juice. That’s what I can drink and still maintain my equilibrium. Isn’t it suppose to help with urinary tract infections? Maybe that connection calms my mind into thinking “This is good for  urinary issues. So go ahead, have a glass or two.” Which I do.

Knock on wood…I’ve been fine. But who knows? Older age might make spaghetti of that solution. I’ll have to figure this out…one plane ride at a time.

Having just returned from visiting with my daughter in Houston, I was reminded of my disdain for the whole, unsavory stew that air travel has become. As if a festering wound required more salt, today’s Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled “The Incredible Shrinking Seat.” 

Airplane seats.

Airplane seats. (Photo credit: La Shola y EL Gringo?)

Comparing an airline coach seat these days with seats in other venues, the article highlights the fact that airlines really do expect us to morph into sardines when we fly.

A Boeing 777 First Class seat measures 21″ across…a Regal Cinema non-premium auditorium seat measures 25″ across…a Texas Eagle Superliner train coach seat measures 20.5″ across and the Barclay’s Center upper/lower bowl stadium seat measures 19″ across. By comparison the Boeing 777 10-seat economy coach seat measures a paltry 17″ across.

I’m 19 inches wide, shoulder to shoulder. Sucking in 2 inches is probably not a major issue for me since I’m a smallish woman at 5’2″. Maintaining a shriveled up version of my normal self, however, is a trick.Gumby and Monkey

One learns to become silly putty, literally.

I stretch my limbs into whatever shape is required as I’m jostled by air turbulence…flight attendants and their food and beverage carts…and, of course, my seat buddies. And every so often I just have to move, or else I’ll go…stir crazy!!!

Strapped into uncomfortable seats for 5 hours is not my idea of a good time. It’s become the norm that I now deplane with considerably more aches than when I awoke the morning of my flight.

As I waited to board my return trip to Seattle I overheard a woman say that this was her last flight. Once she returned to the comfort of her home, she was never flying again. It sounded like something I could commit to…if it weren’t for my nomadic child. 

I will play the role of long-suffering Catholic…pee 5 times before I get on the plane…lose 2 inches off my 19 inch wide frame…play silly putty…drink cranberry juice…and refrain from an overwhelming desire to start an in-flight revolution…so long as my daughter lives an airplane ride away. 

…just don’t expect me to like it!…

………hugmamma.

nurturing thursdays: 3 words…i love you

Those three words…I love you... can work wonders when told to someone who’s in pain…who’s hurting.

Those three words…I love you… needn’t be reserved for family, sweethearts or close friends.

Those three words…I love you… shouldn’t be secreted away…only to be displayed on special occasions.

Those three words…I love you… isn’t just for lovers on Valentine’s Day.February 2011 00068

Those three words…I love you… takes only seconds to say.

Those three words…I love you…can make someone’s day.

Those three words…I love you…bridges the distance between two hearts.

Those three words…I love you…is a hug traveling on a cloud.

Yesterday I was sad to learn that my cat-sitter, China Rose, has been spending her nights alongside her mom in the hospital. Since June she has been dealing with throat cancer. 

China Rose is a sweetheart who adores cats. She has 9. Most are strays which she has adopted. Not only does China mother her own, but she does the same for those at the local vet where we take our cats. In addition, she cares for cats whose families are away.

When I asked after her mom, China choked back tears. I know first-hand that when someone shows compassion, it’s difficult to remain stoic.

I told China I wished I could hug her…that she felt like a daughter to me. And the next three words flowed easily …I love you.

China responded…I love you too.

I could see her smile…knowing that…I really do love her. 

…those three words…i love you…from me to you…

………hugmamma.

English: On Valentine's Day , the words of Jim...

friday fictioneers: homeless

copyright -Janet Webb

HOMELESS…TOGETHER 

Marnie loved waking up to beds squeaking, feet shuffling quietly, voices whispering. She found comfort in the morning ritual. 

As she wiped the sleep from her eyes, Marnie surveyed her family, a motley group of folks whose upended lives brought them together.

Under the same roof, individuals coalesced.

Working in harmony, beds were made, breakfast prepared, children dressed and readied for school.

Hopes high, the adults scattered in search of work to help sustain their loved ones and their community.

For little Marnie, homeless meant sharing. A small sacrifice, she felt, for the love bestowed by…her extended family.

 

weekly photo challenge: infinite

“Someone” asked that I post a photo of a field of tulips. I said I would…

 

To view the brilliance of colors…click on the photo…ENJOY!!!

………hugmamma.

daily prompt: michelangelo’s you

My personal sculpture would be one that’s been in the carving process the last 27 years.

Even now tweaks are made,

updating the piece,

bringing it ever nearer to perfection,

realizing that may never be accomplished,

and being fine with that.

A mom…

…giving without question,

…expecting little in return,

…loving the shared moments,

…of laughter, sadness, doubts, fulfillment.

Upon my headstone…

…she was the best she could be…

………hugmamma.

Michelangelo

 

…don’t blink!

That’s what Heritage Action’s 31-year-old president Michael Needham is advising his Tea Party rookies in the House of Representatives.

Don’t blink!

In the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial “The Strategist Behind the Shutdown,” Needham is hailed as the craftsman behind the tragedy in which millions of Americans find themselves. Himself a pawn in the game of high stakes funded by the likes of billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch, Needham vows to wreck havoc with Obamacare.

So what is the endgame–is there any exit strategy short of Mr. Obama rolling over? Mr. Needham admits that ObamaCare will never be repealed as long as Mr. Obama is president, but he still thinks it can be defunded or delayed: “Look, Democrats usually win these fights because they do a better job of not cracking. Obama says he will never blink and we believe him. They’re very good at this. We’re obviously very bad at it.”

At some point, doesn’t there have to be a compromise? That’s the way the system works, after all. Mr. Needham agrees, “at some point in this fight somebody has to blink.” His mission, he says, is to persuade “the House not to blink first.”

And so conservative wonder boy, Michael Needham, wears a broad smile in the face of the government shutdown. “Why so?” you ask. Because Needham believes “…we are in a great position right now” since he feels the Republican Party and the conservative movement will win the political battle over the shutdown.

One wonders why Needham credits the democrats with not blinking first.

Perhaps it has something to do with the Democrats’ steadfast commitment to the 98% of Americans whom Republican delegate Mitt Romney claimed not to represent during his run for the presidency.  Helping the less fortunate among us is not a game of “see who blinks first,” as Needham seems to think. 

He says the path to victory now is for the House to keep passing bills to open up popular agencies of government, such as the national parks, the National Institutes of Health and Veteran Affairs: “I don’t think that the Senate can keep refusing to open up these agencies as the shutdown drags on and on and on.”

Like his predecessor Ed Feulner, founder of Heritage Action, Needham believes that ” ‘in the war of ideas there is no room for pacifists,…” Those within his party in opposition to Needham’s ideas “denounce him as everything from cocky to a GOP wrecking ball.” Sources interviewed for this article, “both inside and outside of Heritage have complained of late that Mr. Needham’s $7 million lobbying shop has become the tail that wags the $75 million think tank.” 

Michael Needham is unconvinced that shutting the government for weeks and weeks is a bad thing for the economy. His only concern is the repeal of Obamacare. All else is of little consequence.

So it seems fair to say that Needham, Cruz, and their financial backers have the President in their sights, and are determined to…

…take the president…down…

………hugmamma.

daily prompt: mid-season replacement

I’m sitting in the midst of a mess, because my daughter’s bedroom underwent a remodel. 

Meanwhile, outside the skies grow darker earlier, and remain that way until later the next morning.

I’ve started turning up the heat to stave off the chill indoors. And when walking the dog…I’m all bundled up.

I don’t think I’d want to go backwards to the sunny days of summer. 

That’d only delay the onset of winter…and beyond…the sweetness of spring.

I might have felt differently had this mess not occurred. 

Now that the remodel is done…I’m excited…

…to have friends over for the holidays!…

………hugmamma.

 

it’s fine…

Those words…it’s fine. What do they connote?

“Having a blast!…I’m on top of the world!…Life couldn’t get any better!”

Or…

“Life is so-so. …I’m getting by. …It’s just a job.”

Most folks understand that dancers put their bodies through the ringer. Afficionados of the art form consider dancers to be athletes.

Houston Ballet dancers in front of Houston Cit...

Houston Ballet dancers in front of Houston City Hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact that they make pennies compared to NFL football players or major league baseball players doesn’t lessen the passion dancers have for what they do. I would go so far as to say that money is a minor consideration when these artists look for work.

Dancers subsist on nights in…recovering from the day’s work, and preparing for the rigors of the next. Rarely, if ever, are they hung over from a night of partying hard. Dining out often means sharing tapas or appetizers with wine. Most dancers cook their own meals. The luxuries they might enjoy include a massage, a yoga or pilates class, new dance wear, a pedicure…an occasional concert or hockey game.

Of course there are those few designated principals who, every now and then, might be able to purchase a pair of designer jeans at $400 a pop. Every sport has its stars, after all.

on the cover of a dance magazine

on the cover of a dance magazine

While my daughter was comfortable in her previous job, she felt as though she’d hit a plateau. And as a member of a ballet company, there’s little a dancer can do to change the dynamics.

With the repertoire in place a couple of years in advance, casting is more or less set in stone. Unless there are injuries or a phenomenon joins the ranks, the die is cast as to who dances which roles. It’s not uncommon for a dancer to perform the same role forever. Not much challenge in that.  Ask any dancer who’s done the same thing in The Nutcracker for say…10 years.

While the position of soloist is somewhat fluid, especially in smaller-sized companies, principals are dug in for the long haul. It’s not to say they haven’t earned their prima dona ranking…they have. It’s that they will dance all the leads for as long as they remain. And they will make it known, subtly or not so subtly, that they are not to be messed with.  Try and get past them for a role…and your stress level just went through the roof.

Molds are meant to be broken. Individuality should be encouraged, even celebrated, not discouraged.

website image for contemporary dance

website image for contemporary dance

However the bigger issue is…the patrons. Whether seated in Yankee Stadium or The Metropolitan Opera, the paying public holds “all the cards.” It determines what succeeds and what doesn’t, and who makes it…and who doesn’t.

That’s life.

So when life doesn’t line up the way we would like, it makes sense to chart a new course.

My daughter’s chosen path as a freelancer has breathed new life into her career as a dancer. She is thrilled to be working with a choreographer who pushes her to do her very best every day. She is equally humbled to know a man who respects her as a professional, like himself.  

That Dominic Walsh was a principal with Houston Ballet for many years and, now in his 40s, still dances with the same bravura, gives my daughter someone to emulate. She considers herself fortunate to have befriended a renowned artist in the dance world. I know she wishes…

…there were more like dominic walsh…her mentor and friend…

………hugmamma.