May 21

You light up my life.

Tan mom was in the news again today. Defending her rights as a tanner, among other things. She said that tanning takes a big skill. A big skill indeed.

And there you have it.

So you know me….. and my ruthless pursuit of knowledge. I decided to research the Fine Art of Tanning. In 7 Easy Steps.

1. Pick a sunny day. While this may seem like common knowledge to the tanning virtuoso…. to many amateurs……  it is not.

2. Warm weather is preferable. Although it is possible to absorb UV Rays at any time of the year, warm temperatures are advisable …. as sweaters, coats, and scarves lessen the overall taming surface of the skin.

3. Go outside.  This helps tremendously. Tanning through window light simply is tedious at best. Possible… but insipid.

4. Slather up with tanning oil. Do not, I repeat , do NOT use what is termed a Sunscreen Lotion. They contain harsh chemicals which block the sun from creating that deep dark luster. The label will have an SPF rating. This is called the Sun Protection Factor… hence… your first dead giveaway that this will be a preventative.  Dead giveaway.

5. While tanning oil is good….  Crisco Shortening is better. Nothing fries like Crisco.

6. Lie down during tanning.  However, it is suggested that you turn over frequently. This ensures an even darkness, which is very similar to cooking a chicken on a Rotisserie Grill.

7. Tanning may also be accomplished from artificial sources… commonly referred to as “Tanning Salons”. More on Tanning Salons in the next edition of the Art of Tanning.  If neither artificial, nor natural light is available…. brown shoe polish may be applied directly to the skin.

If it weren’t for Tan Mom, I would never have learned all of this. She sure is doing an incredible job of spreading the truth about tanning….

“What you perceive, your observations, feelings, interpretations, are all your truth. Your truth is important. Yet it is not The Truth.” – L. Ellinor

She looks like Wile E. Coyote after the dynamite stick blows up.” – Jimmy Kimmel

May 20

I think. I thank. I thunk.

A lot goes through my head on any given day. I mean…. a WHOLE lot. Some days… it wears me out.

Here are some of my daily thoughts, observations, and opinions.

My dog is a little Ewok. I think.  She doesn’t act like one… or sound like one.  But she looks like an Ewok.  Smells like one too.

Commercials have changed significantly in the past 40 years. When I was growing up… I can’t remember anyone saying… “Oh man. I LOVE that commercial.” We only had things like the Imperial Margarine crown-on-your-head, and Madge saying… “You are soaking in it.” Those were wild and crazy days.

Now every commercial is a Rock Concert, or “Coolness” defined. Catchy songs. Bright lights. People dancing on cars.  You know the one where the dogs bark the Star Wars Theme?  I LOVE that commercial…..

The Neanderthal’s brain was bigger than mine is.  Yours too.  And on a similar note…. Canadian researchers have found that Einstein’s brain was 15% wider than normal. Both of these facts… which exist at the same time…. disturb me on many levels.

When snakes are born with two heads, they fight each other for food. This reminds me of politics in the United States.

Just 150 years ago, Americans and Europeans believed that mummies had great healing powers. They ground up the mummies into powder and used it as medicine for all kinds of diseases.  Now you may think… “I can’t believe someone would ACTUALLY believe something like that.”  Trust me… in 150 years… people will look back and be astounded by some of OUR current beliefs… and laws.

Paul Revere rode on a horse that belonged to Deacon Larkin, of Massachusetts. But the truth behind this historical fact… it was actually his Dad’s horse. Ah. The first case in history of taking the family vehicle out for a joy ride…. Kind of like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  But a long time ago.

For Second Amendment folks: Revolvers cannot be silenced because of all the noisy gasses which escape the cylinder gap at the rear of the barrel. Hence… if you decide to shoot a Mime, you probably should NOT choose a revolver.

I think the reason Shakespeare was so great… was because he just made words up. All willy nilly. Shakespeare’s works contain first-ever recordings of 2,035 English words, including critical, frugal, excellent, barefaced, assassination, and countless. Now that is incredikeenable.

And speaking of such things…..  I have decided to write a book. More on this later. But for now… I am off to a great start. I’ve got all the page numbers done.

So.  Just a few thoughts on the day.

“I laugh, I love, I hope, I try, I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry. And I know you do the same things too, So we’re really not that different, me and you.” – Colin Raye

May 19

Breakfast of Champions.

The other night I was watching a ball game.  I am a Pittsburgh Pirates fan.  The Pirates were up against the Detroit Tigers.  Major League Baseball… for those of you who don’t know.    Justin Verlander was pitching for Detroit.  He was just two little teeny weeny outs away from throwing a no-hitter.  It would have been his third no-hitter.  Holy Bat Boys!

So… in the bottom of the ninth inning of that game… I quit rooting for Pittsburgh and I was pulling for Detroit’s Verlander.  But one of the Pirates got a base hit and hence….the spoiler.

You know, this is simply a minor example.  But sometimes, we realize the side we are on may not be right … or it may not be as important… as a greater issue at hand.

Along those same lines……  there is an old phrase that goes… “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”

I’ve never been too keen on this phrase.  The fact of the matter is…  everybody can’t win all the time.  There has to be a loser.  I’ve never thought too highly of the losers that brood and stomp about.  I just happen to think it is far better to show graciousness, and poise. ( I have not always done this… by the way.  I’ve been a crappy loser at times in my life.  But that is not the point.  I am learning. )

You see.

Sometimes.

Sometimes. We lose.  Or…. we can be wrong about things.  It is human nature.  No one is perfect.

I never enter into any situation WANTING to lose.  I want to do my best, and play well, and make good choices.  Run faster.  Leap higher.  Be smarter.

But there are days when the other team will be better.  Or perhaps, the other side of the coin is the one that was “right” all along.  Heads it is.

Being kind and gracious isn’t always easy when we lose, or we are wrong.  But it takes a strong and brilliant character.   A confident identity.  The Truest Champion.

And… if you can’t be a good loser all the time.. that’s okay.  In those cases…  feign a limp.  While it is not exactly gracious…  it is a heck of a good way to lessen the humiliation.

 

“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.”

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude”

“You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.”

-Zig Ziglar

May 18

The things we see.

 

I wish I had a good story to tell tonight.  Something.  Anything.  But I don’t.  I simply have a couple of images that I shot today.

I went into this cemetery this morning, to try to grab some images.  This is a graveyard, actually.  It is next to the Unitarian Church.  Downtown Charleston.

This Mourning Dove and I hung out for a long time.  She said her name was Madge, and that she was a Chicken Hawk.  I believe her.

Because the truth of the matter is…  We don’t see things as they are.  We see things as WE are….

“This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.” – Henry David Thoreau

“I can believe anything provided it is incredible.” – Oscar Wilde

“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

May 17

Out in the rain…

It is funny how a song can conjure up an image… or a memory.  Pretty strongly, really.

Donna Summer passed away today.  I don’t know that much about her as a person.  She died of cancer and she was only 62 years old.  I hope her family and friends can find peace.

But a few of the songs she made, sure do hold a lot of memories for me.  Big recollections.  College especially…  and some there after.

There is something you should know about me.  It seems that I crack myself up sometimes.  I don’t mean to do it.  But… it just happens.  So this song…. is really something… I’ll tell you.

I would sing this at the top of my lungs.  And then laugh and laugh.

“Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
’cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!”

And there you have it.

I guess… ..

If you can’t be the poet… be the poem.

May 16

Can you hear it?

I shot this photograph this morning near the Battery.  As I walked behind this woman, something about her struck me.  Here we were, walking together, yet very apart…… walking alongside the river where the Civil War’s first shots rang out.

I wondered what she was thinking… at that moment.   Maybe nothing at all.  But.  There was a feeling I got about her.  Maybe it was the way she was walking.  Her gate was labored, yet at the same time, careful and measured.  Purposeful.

It looked to me, like she was on her way to work.  Quite possibly, she is a maid at one of the households here in downtown Charleston.  I pondered what her day might bring and what she had on her mind.  Was she happy or sad?  Worried or tired?  Satisfied or yearning….

As she got nearer that little bird on the sidewalk, I just stood, and watched.  It was all very peaceful.  It all seemed exact and complete, somehow.

And then, all at once…..  she started dancing. Just a little step or two.   I chuckled inside.  I grinned on the outside.

I don’t know what it means really.  But I thanked the universe for that little moment.

And then I started dancing.

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Angela Monet

May 15

O-Ee-Yoh! Eoh-Yoh!

Well here it is.  One of the all-time birthday of birthdays.  On May 15th in the year of 1856…     Frank L. Baum was born in New York.

He is… an American writer and best know for his novel-series….. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.

Ahhh…. the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.   Because, because, because, because…..

Yep.  This is one my very favorite stories, and of course, best-of-the-best movies.  It is filled with the catchiest songs… and the winningest characters.  From opening curtain until the final credits roll.

The Scarecrow.  The Tin Woodman.  The Cowardly Lion.  Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West.  Oh.  And let’s not forget His Royal Cuteness….  Toto.

This is so much more than a Classical Children’s Tale.  It is a well orchestrated dance performed by a complexity of characters.  The number of underlying themes are innumerable.

Good vs. Evil.  Hope.  Tenacity.  Friendship.  Loyalty.  Dreams.  Ingenuity.  Resolve.  Truth.  Love.  Compassion.  And it has a Lollipop Guild.  C’mon.  What more could you want?

Yes.   The Wizard of Oz is the perfect coalition of virtue and decency. “Put ’em up…. Who’s afraid…. ?”

But here.  Here my friends… is the best part.

“Then I’m sure to get a brain…. a heart…. a home….. da noive!”
And there in lies the key to life, I think.  The four things we truly need to be good human beings.   A sincerity in each of each of these:  Mind, Heart, Soul, and Courage.

The main characters of the story implement their strengths to do the right thing.  They move through challenges and adversity… each one of them.

And in the end……   In the end, they uncover the answer to their questions.  They find that secret prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack Box.  And after a long journey… following their highest hopes …. they discover the true meaning of “home.”

So Happy Birthday Frank L. Baum.  Your creativity has been an inspiration to me.   I think you Rock Frank

…….Yes.  And your little dog too.

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
– Mary Oliver

May 14

Untitled

Life brings us all sorts of things.  You just never know what it will be… or when it will happen.  Tonight, I was inspired, once again, by someone very dear to me.    She has such a loving and generous heart.  She seems to move through life with kindness and compassion on her every thought.

While life is sometimes good and joyful……   other times…  it can bring us challenges… or even hardships.   I much prefer it when it is full of delight, and felicity.  I have a tendency to get pretty troubled… when things are troubled.  With a capital T.

So.  I will keep on learning from others’ examples.  Both good and bad.

And with all of that…. there is one thing I have come to know.  It is always good to laugh.  Unless, of course, you are funeral or something… and all you can think about is clown farts.  That’s not such a good time to laugh.

So tonight… just  a couple of funnies….  to lighten thing up around here…..

 

===============================  Toot  =======

A couple of young tourists are pulled over by a highway patrolman. The officer walks up, asks for the driver’s license and registration.  So….when the officer doesn’t get it quickly enough,  he whacks the driver right in the head.

“That’s for not having your driver’s license ready,” he snaps. “I ain’t got all day.” After he issues the driver a ticket, the patrolman walks around to the other side of the car and whacks the passenger in the head.

“Owwww!” hollers the passenger. “What’d you do that for?”

“That’s to make your dream come true,” replied the cop. “I know that when you’d gotten a half-mile down the road, you were gonna say to your friend here, ‘Wish he’d tried that with me!'”

===============================  Honk =======

There was an old sea captain with a wooden leg, a hook for a hand and a black patch over one eye.  One day, he is telling a young boy how he got his injuries:

“It was a big sea battle, lad. A cannonball flew across the deck and took off me leg. Later a doctor friend fixed me up with this wooden one.”

“Wow.  How did you lose your hand?” asks the kid. “Well… it was the same battle, lad. The pirates, they boarded me ship and their captain, he whacked off me hand with his cutlass. Later, the doctor friend gave me this hook.”

Then, the boy says. “I guess you lost your eye in the same battle.”

“No”. says the captain. “I was looking up one day, and a seagull crapped right in me eye.” “Gee” says the kid “You mean the seagull’s crap blinded you?.”

“No” the captain replies,”First day with me new hook.”

====================================

And that is the end of the road tonight.  I’m off the hook.

May 13

Captain DIY

Ah. The old DIY…. as it has come to be known these days.  Yes.  Do It Yourself Projects.  It is kind of a “fad” thing now.  There are books, and YouTubes, and columns…. I think there is even a DIY Network.

Anything for a buck, I suppose.

But growing up… everything was DIY in our household.  But we never called it that.  Dad just fixed things… and we kids…. well…. we “helped”….

It didn’t matter what it was really.  Leaky roof.  Pipes.  Patching cement.  Painting.  The washing machine.  Oh… I LOVED it when the washing machine went on the fritz.  My Dad would always sing the song…

“Go on home, your mother is calling.  Your father is stuck in the washing machine.  Go on home, your mother is calling.  She can not get the clothes clean.”  That rocked.

He always sang, or whistled, while we worked.  It made it more fun, I think.

Anyway.  These days, it is somehow “cool” to embark on the iconic DIY Project.   I’ve always liked to fix things on my own.  But the older I get… the less frequently I take on the big endeavors.  Well… this was my week.  I took on two big projects around the house… at once.  Ambition seems to get the best of me.

I have been told that I am a bit of a Perfectionist.  In some ways it is true.  I have found that when I start out on a project, I am very diligent indeed.  I am methodical.  Meticulous.  Yes, most careful and thorough.

But I have also discovered, that by third day of the project, with sore muscles, and tired eyes…. I rely on a few catch phrases to get me through the task at hand.

They include…. “That’s close enough.”   “That will do.”  And… toward the very end… and most frequently… “Awww.  Who really gives a sheet.”

Here it is Sunday night, and I am still not wrapped on either one.  Close… but no cigar.  So I will kick off my Monday with the toolbox in hand.  And of course, a song in my heart.

I learned that one from my Dad.

 

“A positive attitude may not solve every problem but it makes solving any problem a more pleasant experience.” – Grant Fairley

May 12

One bright light.

The first human touch that I knew, was  that of Dr. Hockwalt’s.  He was my Mom’s OB/GYN.  Then probably a nurse or two handled me…  but I bet they all had  on gloves.  Maybe.

And then… the first REAL human touch I met, was that of my Mother’s.  And of course, the one that endured.  Yes.  On that morning of my birth, she held me close to her heart.  As she cradled me in her arms ….  she told me she loved me.

She has been doing it in some shape or form….. ever since.  And that is a Mother’s Love.

Mom’s come in all different sorts and fashions.  Everywhere on this little blue ball of ours.  And there is no way on earth to be a perfect mother.  I’m not sure why so many people expect them to.  But you see… many times… there are an infinite number of ways to be a good mother.   And so often… they are our brightest lights, our greatest champions,  our beacons…. and our shelter.   For that, we celebrate them.

We all have very different relationships with our mothers.   But the fact of the matter is…. there is no gift we can give to our mothers that would ever equal the gift they gave to us.  And that gift…. is life.

I don’t think any words can truly explain, or aptly describe a Mother’s Love.  So I will not keep trying to do so here.

But I am so thankful to know such love.  And with all my heart…. I am so thankful for my Mom and for my life with her.  I love you Mom.

 

And on the lighter side… here are some fun little snacks to munch on around the dinner table…
• The highest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782) of Shuya, Russia. Between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 confinements, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. 67 of them survived infancy.  Can you say Yowza?  I hope to heck she got a lot of good presents on Mother’s Day.

• 24.8 is the median age of women when they give birth for the first time – meaning one-half are above this age and one-half are below. The median age has risen nearly three years since 1970.  Half below 24.8.  Can you say Yowza again?

August is the most popular month in which to have a baby, with more than 360,000 births taking place that month in 2001.   Let’s see… minus 9 months….. that’s December.  December is Get Busy Month… I guess.

Tuesday is the most popular day of the week in which to have a baby, with an average of more than 12,000 births taking place on Tuesdays during 2001. Tuesday’s Child is full of grace.

And we girl babies… waiting to exit the womb.  Here’s what we do…   We make preparations for her motherhood by developing egg cells for future offspring.   Yep.  When baby girls are born, each of our ovaries carry about a million egg cells.  That is all that we will ever have.   How cool is this?  The cycle of life prepackaged.

Wow.  Think of all the brothers and sisters I never got to know on the outside….   of the ovary… that is.

Happy Mother’s Day… to ALL the favorite Mother’s in my life.  I know a ton of them….