Apr 30

Again and again.

I think one of Mark Twain’s most interesting writings is the one that talks about living life…. but in reverse.  The composition states we should experience life backwards from the age of eighty to the time we were just a sparkle in someone’s eye.

Wouldn’t that be something?

He went on to suggest how much more we would learn, and understand…. if we already knew how to live before we had to.  So we would remember experiences before we had to “face” the actual “thing” or “occurrence.”

I think the postulation is quite interesting indeed.  That Mark Twain was a real thinker, I’ll tell you.

But the thing of it is… life doesn’t seem to work that way.  We wake up, each and every day, not knowing  exactly what the day will bring.

So one thing that has been introduced to me … is to take each one of my life experiences… one at a time.  If it was a positive thing … I will do it again.  And if the experience did not “work” for me… I try not to repeat it.

No. We can’t live backwards.   But we can live forward with some knowledge under our belts… more and more each day.  Every year we move along in age, experience, perceptiveness, and wisdom.  As our years advance, so do we.

So….. sometimes we need to take a brief look backward in order to see this.  To notice our growth.  Oh…. to keep on living and learning from it… with love in my heart.   That may be all I can ask of anything.

Another saying, by Soren Kierkegaard, says, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”  More good words.  More good wisdom.

And at the end of each day, we lay our heads down to rest.  We know it will begin again.  Tomorrow and the next day. And the next.

Hopefully, we just keep doing it all better.  Again, and again, and again.

 

“There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.”  – Tom Krause

 

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley

Apr 29

Untitled

Birthdays come and birthdays go.  Thankfully.

I will never complain about having a birthday.  I’ll tell you that right now.  That means I am here.  Being here is good.

Birthdays come to us in all different shapes and sizes and forms.

My first memory of a birthday… well…. actually it is my first memory of being in any place in any time.  It was when I was three.  My birthday party.  My Grandma K got very sick that evening.  I can remember standing on the landing of our staircase on Bruce Avenue with two of my sisters… peeking around the corner.  They took my grandmother out the front door to the hospital.  They said her tummy was feeling sick.

She died a week later.

My birthday memories improved significantly from there.  Happier.  Parties. Hats. Cakes.  Presents.  Surprises.  Oh…. did I ever love childhood birthdays.

And then, at some point, it shifts.  We go to school on our birthdays, or work, or take care of kids, or have appointments.  There are things to do, and responsibilities, and this and that.

That childhood magic fades.   But sometimes…. not the expectations.  We want the party hats and the kazoos back.  Yet….  so many times… our adult-life birthdays feel just like any other day.

Oh not today.  Not for me.  This might have been my best birthday ever.  There were more beautiful and  loving surprises than I can count.    I was reminded time and again today…. how many wonderful people bless my life….  every moment.   Family, and Friends.  Sometimes the two are the same… my family are my friends, and my friends are my family. And that is golden.

Oh lucky me.  To know you and share life with you.  The best present ever.  Each and every you.  Yes.

Every single you.

 

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

Apr 28

No if’s, and’s, or butt’s.

 

Every empty park bench has a story, I’ll bet ya’.  I mean, just take a moment to consider it.

On any given day, in any given park, there they are.  And people sit their butts down on them all the time.

It could be someone out playing with their dog.  Or…. a bunch of tourists visiting a new city for the first time.  It could be a kid playing hide and seek, or tag… and that might be the base.  Perhaps an elderly couple out for a walk together.  They sit and rest on the bench, and begin to talk about old times at the park.  They hold hands and look lovingly into each other’s eyes.

Yet… on another day… it may be the bed of someone down on thier luck.  They lost their home last winter in the great recession, and haven’t had a place to live since.  It could be the step-up exercise for a fitness junkie… working out at the park.  Perhaps it is the place where the secretary is going to eat her lunch today.  Her best friend is supposed to meet her at noon.

One little spot, in one little place…. one little tiny dot on the map.  Yet so many lives, intertwining.  Passing.  Crossing back and forth right by one another.  So close… all of it so very close.  But the next one knows nothing of the one that came before.  Or maybe they know the exact same thing… all too well.  The energy, the time, the space, all right in the same exact spot… and just glancing by one another.   A breath.  A heartbeat.  A moment…. and all… just one butt away.

I think that is where the term “But…..” originated.  On the park bench.  Many, many years ago.

Same with “Cheek to Cheek…..”  and “Turn the Other Cheek….”

But……. … I will continue with that story some other time.

Because this is not the END of the story…. BUT just another beginning.

 

“Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.” – Unknown

Apr 28

Who knows.

This little kid has no idea.

No idea about who he or she will be when they grow up.  There is a lot of positive things to look forward to.  Hopes. Dreams. Aspirations.  He or she may be the next president.  Or a baker.

But right now… this little being simply does not know.

This little child  is not cognizant of being in the middle of the city…. let alone… of being a citizen of the United States… no concept.

He doesn’t know where his next meal will come from.  She doesn’t care what she will put on to wear when she gets out of the water.

He doesn’t know religion, or politics, or sexuality, or race.  He doesn’t know hate.  Not…..Yet.  She wasn’t born with hate.

But mostly likely, he or she will learn both fear and hate. And… she will  learn to fear the things she does not understand.

And that is one of the saddest things I’ve ever written.

“In time we hate that which we often fear.” – William Shakespeare

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” – Albert Einstein

Apr 26

Neigh.

As hard as I tried to horse around this evening…. the writing gods would have none of it.

They say you shouldn’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon.

So…. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.  I will just be on my way now. Maybe there will be a Dog & Pony Show some other night….

An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle.
– Theophrastus

  Horse sense is the thing a horse has,  which keeps it from betting on people.
 – W. C. Fields  

Horses can’t talk,  but they can speak if you listen. – Unknown

“The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. Ppeople, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.” (Chuck Palahniuk Quote)

Apr 25

On your mark….

I think it is all connected.  All of it.  The whole ball of wax.   The each-and-every-bit of that  kit and caboodle.  The full nine yards.  It is all connected.  Me. You. We. Them.  Us.  From the stars high above to the depths of the ocean.

I really believe this.

Life seems a little bit to me like those old “Connect the Dots” puzzles on the back of “Highlight for Children” magazine.  They used to be at our dentist and doctor’s office.  I loved that magazine.

The games in it were so fun.  The two pictures side-by-side that looked identical, at first glance.  But you had to find a half dozen things, or so, that made them different.  Like the clown’s tie would lose its stripes.  Or the poodle’s bow would be missing on one side.  Or that same clown would be juggling six balls instead of five.  But look at me.  I’m off track again.

Connect the Dots.  Yes.  I think life is like THAT game.  When you start out… it just looks like a bunch of little black discs scattered on a white page.  But soon, you start following the number pattern, and then you start to recognize some shapes… and before you know it…. you’ve worked your way through the entire thing.  You have followed the logical sequence of things.

And now, you hook it all together…… and you have a picture of a mime, speaking into a microphone.  Ahhhh…. yes.  The great revelation.

And that is life.

When we start out, we have no idea what it is going to be.  Sometimes even halfway through, we can’t see the bigger picture.  So then the older we get, and the further along we go…. things start coming into focus.  And finally… we start seeing how things have been mapped out for us…  our whole lives in history.

For each of us, the final picture turns out to be something completely different… but in many ways…. very much the same.  A bunch of dots and a line moving from one to the next.    When it turns out being a mime speaking into the microphone… well…  that is how it goes.

Yep.  Each dot hooks on to the next to make the bigger drawing.  The entire scenario. The complete concept.  All a bunch of connected smaller parts.  Connected.

“Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.” – John Muir

 “Invisible threads are the strongest ties”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” – Albert Einstein

Apr 24

Heigh Ho. Dig, dig, dig.

Walt could have used a few more Dwarfs…. I think.

Like Smarty, and Wacky, and Frumpy.  Just to start.

I like those Seven Dwarfs, I do.  And really…. they are perfect in most every way.  I guess I like them so much, I simply wish there were more.

In my estimation, that little group of fellas really have it going on.  Stylish.  Communal.  Representative of a wide range of emotions and states of being.  Great little guys to have around the house.   And the garden.

Hard little workers they were.   And…..  The Fathers of the Group-Trust-Building Activities.    As a unit…. they totally rock.  Yet as individuals, they have much to offer us too.

The Dwarfs are frequently used in analogies.  I think.

A lot of times… people will compare friends or family members to certain  members of the Hi-Ho Seven.   “Oh… so and so reminds me of Grumpy.”  OR…..  Dopey, or Bashful, or Happy… it just goes.  We also have a tendency to match our own personalities with those of the Dwarfs.    I call this phenomenon “Dwarfology”

Sometimes… they intermingle when it comes to the personality analogy.  For instance, when I am Sleepy… I can be Grumpy.  Even Dopey.  But give me a nap… and I am right back to being Happy.

But now and again, the Original Septet just is a few Dwarfs short.  No pun intended.

Frumpy is the one I have on my mind tonight.  I see an awful lot of Frumpy’s in the world.  Not just physically Frumpy.  But… people can be a little Frumpy on the inside too.

Boy oh boy.  Now that I think of it…. that list of Dwarfs could expand exponentially.  I just thought of Brick…. the Dwarf that is so thick… as a brick… that he won’t listen to anyone.

We have more Dopeys than I can count.  Brick and Dopey were twins.  I know a couple of Cocky’s too.  How many dang Dwarfs am I up to at this point?   For me personally…. I could add two more.  Chilly and Hungry.

Heck, by the time I get done, we won’t have enough room in the little Dwarf house for everyone.  Tenement tents will have to go up out back…. neighbors will begin to complain of vagrancy.  Even though most of us will be off at the mine all day… a dig, dig, dig, digging.

With all those Dwarfs hanging around…. well…… we are liable to piss off some wicked Queen.  Then where would we be?  Heck.  She might even take it out on Snow White.

Yes, perhaps I just better leave well enough alone… in the land of Fairy Tales and Dwarf Stories.

…..  I should simply be grateful  …. and just whistle while I work.

“This life is not for complaint, but for satisfaction” – Henry David Thoreau

“Praise the bridge that carried you over.”  – George Colman

Apr 23

Flower Power

Just one little story comes to mind tonight… an old memory really… of someone I met a long time ago.

Yes, the story of this guy I once knew.  His name was Hugh MacTaggart.  And this guy was a mean son of a gun.

Okay…. side bar.  Where in the heck did that phrase come from… “Son of a Gun?”  What the heck is that anyway?  Guns don’t have babies….. let alone sons.  Well, as it turns out… this phrase started a long time ago (1700s) with the British. (Of course I had to look it up!)   It means that a child has… shall we say… questionable parentage. It refers to the possibility that the child was conceived on the gun deck of a ship.

Dang it… another segue.  Did you know that Colonels don’t carry guns?  Nope they don’t.  Colonels don’t carry guns because packing heat could cause them to pop.  Get it. Colonel.  Heat.  Pop.  Argggghhhhh.  (Okay.  There is something terribly wrong with me tonight.)

I can get SO off track sometimes.    Where was I?  Oh.  Hugh MacTaggart.  He was a horrid man.  Vile.  Odious.  Stinky.  MacTaggart was  so mean that he’d throw a drowning man both ends of the rope.  Yep, he was so nasty that once….  he  was engaged to a girl with a wooden leg…..  but he got mad and broke it off.  This guy was bad news, I’m telling you.

At any rate, he told me a story once, when we were bellied up to the Soda Fountain Counter at Woolworth’s.  Well it was a little stronger than that actually.  For those of you born after the Soda Fountain…. I’ll put it in other words.

Me and Hugh were drinking at a bar.  Not me and you.  Hugh.  Oh whatever.  Back to his story:

He told me about this incident that happened when he lived in Europe.  There was an Order of Friars there.  I believe they were Franciscan.   I guess these friars were behind on their belfry payments.  So they decided to open up a small florist shop to raise funds.

The little flower shop did quite well.  It seems that  everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God.  Well…. as it happened…. a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. I mean… dang… they were doing good.  They had plenty of money for rent, and  were saving to buy new rope sashes for their brown-hoodie-dressy-things.

So the rival Florist, Bob the Flower Guy…. he went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him once again.   So, the rival florist hired my friend, Hugh MacTaggart, who…. was known as….the roughest and most vicious thug in town.  Bad Dude.

Bob the Florist asked MacTaggart to “persuade” them to close. So….. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he’d be back if they didn’t close up shop.

Well.  This scared the sandals right off the friars feet.  Terrified, they
did as he asked….   thereby proving that Only Hugh Can Prevent Florist Friars.

 

Okay… that was possibly unforgivable on my part.  I think I’m all hopped up on caffeine or something tonight.  But just remember… I do this because I like you… and I am trying to help people live stronger lives…..

Because……

Seven days without a pun makes one weak.

 

And finally…. a photographer’s favorite quote…..

“Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don’t have any film.” – Unknown

Apr 22

In Pursuit of Happynuts

Feuds have been going on forever.  Some rivalries are as old as time.  They come in every shape, size, length, and detail…. this list of discord and strife.

Oh it ranges from the battle between Coke vs. Pepsi, to Apple vs. Microsoft.  Hatfields vs. McCoys.  Helmann’s vs. Miracle Whip.  Clan Chattan vs. Clan Kay (Battle of North Inch). Star Wars vs. Star Trek.  And of course… Good vs. Evil.

But none is as fierce, as intense, as fervent… …. as.. ….

Dog vs. Squirrel.

Recorded cases date back to the very first Homo Sapien, whose name was Ugghhh.  He had a prehistoric Beagle looking dog…. named Uggghhhh.  And would you know it?   Uggghhhh would chase the prehistoric squirrel, named Skippy,  all around the Cave Yard.  Yes.  It started way back then.

Throughout history, this rivalry has persisted.

In the times of the Ancient Norsemen….the little Norse Dogs would go out with the Vikings for months at a time on their sailing vessels. And what did those little Norse Dogs do when they finally reached land?  Yes.  They would chase the squirrels… no matter the place… no matter the time.

However, as a sidebar here…. their little helmets with the horns always slowed them down too much to actually catch any squirrels.

In Revolutionary times… an epic historical event was complicated by a Squirrel vs. Dog incident.  Yes again.  As Paul Revere… you know Paul… it was ‘He who warned uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.’…. THAT Paul Revere….

At any rate, as he rode a-ringing-and-a-shooting…. a large Collie ran right across the road and caused Revere’s horse to rear-up and throw Paul to the ground.  The dog continued running fiercely in the direction of…. none other than… a bushy-tailed squirrel.

Some say the squirrel was a British Operative.  Could have been the little white wig.  But worry not.  Paul got the job done.

What about the Hound of the Baskervilles?  That little guy went missing for three weeks.  When Sherlock figured out the mystery, he found the Hound had chased a squirrel into Scotland Yard.  Yes that Baskervillish Mutthound had forced  little Skippy right up a tree… and there they stayed and stayed.

So as you see, this is nothing new today.  The question is…. why.

Our three dogs are so obsessed with the acquisition of squirrels… that they become like ice cream addicts in the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.   Like small children at the North Pole.  Like me in front of the Apple Store.  Pretty much… incognizant to the rest of the world.  A chronic case of tunnel vision.

And so it goes.

They stalk. They sneak. They crawl and scrabble.  The leap.  They lunge. They hurtle  and zoom.  If trying were the same as winning, they would be champions.  Unfortunately, it is not.  The squirrel seems to stay one step ahead… just out of reach.

So hard as they try…. the closest they come is the bristle of the tail.

The squirrel brain looks smaller in physical size… but I wonder.  It seems to have a great deal of smarts, and cunning.  The pursuit of the dog appears to be no match for Skippy, the King of Nuts.

I think I might start eating acorns.

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy” – Joyce Grenfell

Apr 21

Cardiff the Big

Ah.  The old Hocus Pocus.  Or in some cases… the old hoax us, pokes us.  Yes the “Hoax” has been around since the beginning of …  “once upon a time.”

Well, this particular hoax story is just interesting. It is the account of the Cardiff Giant, one of the most famous hoaxes in American history.  I had never heard of this incident before tonight.  So I did some reading on the subject.

Quite a thing, really.  The Cardiff Giant  was a 10-foot-tall “petrified man” which was uncovered on October 16, 1869 by workers digging a well.  They were working  behind the barn of William C. “Stub” Newell in Cardiff, New York.

The Giant was the creation of a New York tobacconist named George Hull. This guy…. this Georgie “Tobaccy” Hull was an atheist.  He decided to create the giant after an argument he had with a fundamentalist minister.

The minister dude was  named Mr. Turk.

During the argument, George Hull kept calling the reverend….. Holy Turkyboy….  probably.

They argued  about a passage in Genesis that stated that there were giants who once lived on earth.  So old George got a 10-feet-long block of gypsum and he shipped the block to Chicago.

Once in the Windy City,  he hired a German stone cutter to carve it into the likeness of a man and swore him to secrecy. Various stains and acids were used to make the giant appear to be old and weather beaten.  THEN, George buried for a year.

So…. I am not entirely sure what this guy Newell had to do with it…. other than having the farm where Hull buried the giant.  But , one day….. Newell hired two men, to dig a well. When they found the Giant, one of them has been attributed to saying “I declare, some old Indian has been buried here!”.

The giant drew such crowds that showman P.T. Barnum offered $60,000 for a three-month lease of it.  He was turned down by Newell. So Barnum made a copy.  He put his giant on display in New York, claiming that his was the real giant and the Cardiff Giant was a fake.

And the fun continues….. On February 2, 1870 both giants were revealed as fakes in court. The judge ruled that Barnum could not be sued for calling a fake giant a fake.  Both the Cardiff Giant and an unauthorized copy made by P.T. Barnum are still on display.

So….. that judge declared the fake, fake giant…. was indeed….  sort of okay… not so fake… since it was a fake of a fake.  This all in the late 1800s.  Sounds more like today.

I just find this so interesting… from start to finish.  I mean, the lengths this George Hull went to… all for the sake of winning an argument.  He spent a lot of time and energy and money on this.  And for what really?  To be right?

It is my estimation that this occurs a lot.  People going to great, great lengths… just to prove they are right.  I wonder what would happen if that same time and energy, and money…. went into to understanding and helping each other.

If every one focused on “understanding” and “compassion”…. I think we all would… perhaps… be Giants.

 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault