Your Weekly Diversion, Week 40


It’s week 40. I’m having technical difficulties with WordPress today, so I’m not sure how far I will get. 

We’ve just recently returned to Southwest Florida. There are signs of Irma everywhere. Blue tarps, stacks and piles of trees and branches and other debris by the sides of nearly every street. The big multiplex movie theater still hasn’t reopened due to hurricane damage. Our neighbors who remained here all summer have told us of sandbagging lanais, about the fallen magnolia trees (only a few remain out of scores across the lake), now just stumps, and the six foot piles of  debris including the contents of refrigerators and freezers, thanks to the electricity being off for more than four days. They’ve told us the smell of all that garbage and debris was extremely disgusting. Many people are still awaiting insurance money, if they were lucky enough to have insurance coverage, and if they have it, it’s hard to find available skilled people to do the work. Because of all this, we feel extremely fortunate to find our home intact, dry and undamaged. Well,  it wasn’t exactly undamaged. The AC wasn’t working, nor were our cable, internet and phone. When I went to do a load of laundry, I found out half the laundry room wiring was fried. Thankfully, good people came and helped us, and all these problems have been resolved. The food in our refrigerator and freezer were discarded by the man who watches our place and got it ready for Irma’s arrival. So between repairs and replenishing our staples, hundred of dollars have flown from our wallets, and that’s life. People have urged us to notify our insurance company of all these expenses, but I doubt they’ll exceed our deductible. And all we need to do to keep this all in perspective is remember what our American brothers and sisters are suffering in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Millions remain without adequate food, water, shelter, and power. 

These are my diversions carefully curated for you this week, despite being on the road and staying in pet-friendly hotels, and coming home to big problems.

Graphic courtesy of Creative Commons – vaXine

Magic mushrooms, specifically the psilocybin they contain, are helping people suffering from severe depression that has been resistant to all conventional treatments. And more than that, it appears that this chemical actually helps “reset” the brain. Wow!

It’s been a great time here for the birds. The floodwaters washed fish into areas where they wouldn’t ordinarily be found, such as retention ponds and catchment basins, and when the waters receded, the fish remained. Right up the street from us, where the woods meet the sidewalk, is just such a place. This small, squarish retention pond is lined with rocks, and surrounded by tall pines, squat palms and shrubs. And high in the trees roost a large flock of wood storks, huge birds with wingspans of about 5 feet and long down-curving beaks with which they fish. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 6,000 wood storks are left in the US, as fishing areas such as ours diminish and are replaced by development. So we feel very lucky to have up to 30 of these majestic birds perching on our roof, flying overhead, and roosting in the trees. I took these photos today while we were taking a walk around the lake. The first photo is of a bald eagle that a noisy flock of great egrets drove from our lake when he attempted to fish there. He was far more beautiful than my iPhone photo shows.


The second photo shows the woodsy retention pond surrounded by great egrets, the white birds with yellow beaks, and wood storks. Both species stand about four feet tall. The feeding frenzy marked by all the croaks and clacks gives new meaning to shooting fish in a barrel.

IMAGE: DIGITAL GREENHOUSE/PARTY/WEBSITE


Currently in Tokyo an unusual exhibit is drawing a lot of attention at night. Mostly an ordinary greenhouse by day, this one plays music and gives a colorful light display when the plants are gently touched. Each vegetable plays a different note. Together the sound is amazing. Check it out!

❤️ And this week someone very special and dear to us popped up, out of the blue, and brought us a happy surprise. You know who you are. ❤️

Last night when I first wrote this post and published it I was too tired to add a musical number, but this morning it came to me that “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds would be just the thing. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

                                                                                           Namasté 


Your Weekly Diversion, Week 22

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Graphic courtesy of Awaken Mindset

It’s been about 22 weeks since US Inauguration Day 2016, the life event that has propelled me into a weekly blog. This week has brought terrible heartache from the London fire, the hateful shooting of a Congressman and others ironically bringing both US political parties together as nothing has in a quite a while, more hostile deaths of US servicepersons in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and most recently the deadly collision of a US destroyer class ship with a huge Philippine cargo ship 56 miles off the coast of Japan, with the fate of 7 sailors currently unknown. Add to these tragedies the serious American legal issues mounting up daily and the subsequent angry tweets and contortions of logic and truth.

I’ve curated some really good diversions for you this week, and I hope you’ll find something you can use here! There is such beauty, peace and positive energy all around us despite the negativity and fear being sown far and wide as distraction and worse. Don’t let the dark distract you from the light which is always there.

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Hyyge House founder Alex Beauchamp has elevated eclectic, homey and welcoming style to a major thing, and her blog is filled with wonderful photos showing her exquisite, artistically appointed cottage in Topanga Canyon, near Malibu in Southern California. Every item in her home, indoors and out is well chosen and sweetly positive. I would happily live in any of the cottages and bungalows she has furnished in the hygge style. Her blog and Instagram could uplift your regular web itinerary.

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When you think of water balloon fights, perhaps you recall your mom or other scolding authority figure telling you not to do that, you could put an eye out. Or maybe you remember happily vicious wars, a flurry of waterlogged missiles pounding your opponents as you tried to dodge theirs and failed, both ending up soaked and exhausted when the last balloon was launched and wetly spent. Yes, water balloons can be very dangerous and probably should only be used with goggles, and all the rubber remains ought to be be gathered up so they don’t end up in the gullet of a bird or other creature. That said, here is a video of the craziest water balloon caper ever. Needless to say, don’t try this yourself. It could have ended very badly!

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Photo courtesy of Lion’s Roar magazine

What with all the daunting problems our planet faces right now and in the future of our kids and grandkids, our personal challenges and stresses, and the political climate in the US, UK and elsewhere that begets anger, fear and cynicism, a vulnerable person could burn out. If you’re a helping professional, one who bears witness to the trauma and suffering of others, and you don’t exercise adequate self care, your risk of burnout is great. Fortunately, burnout is preventable. Lions Roar magazine addresses this important issue here.

And here is your musical medicine for today, a powerful spiritual anthem for my time, and maybe for yours. My friend Ann Koplow recently ended her blog with a wonderful video. I listened in rapt delight. Then, as often happens when I visit YouTube I listened to another, and loved this one. You may need to watch it more than once to identify all the players. Hint: Clapton was clean shaven, or a least I think that was he! Listening on your Bluetooth speaker is highly recommended.

Namasté

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Being quiet and listening

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Recolor design colored by Shielagh

Good morning! As I savor my morning coffee each day I read the daily quotations curated by Karl Duffy of Mindful Balance. I highly recommend subscribing to Karl’s blog so that you too can start your day with these words of wisdom. Some are from the ancient ones, while some, as is today’s, are modern quotes. All give us a positive thought to augment any practice.

Today’s quote is brief and very much to the point:

Everything that happens to you is your teacher…

the secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.

Polly Berrien Berends, US author

Please click on the link below to read it on Karl’s blog today with the comments added by his many readers and consider subscribing to his blog so you can enjoy it every day.

Source: Being quiet and listening

Workers of the World, Unite!

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Pete Seeger, in Shielagh’s translation of a photo originally appearing in Bluegrass Today

Today is May 1st, May Day, the International Day of the Worker, a day to show solidarity with labor unions and their hardworking members everywhere. If you work an 8-hour day, thank a union. If you work a 40-hour week, thank a union. If you get a break in the morning and the afternoon, thank a union. If you get paid overtime when your hours exceed the 8-hour day or 40-hour week, thank a union.

Lest we toss the Workers of the World Unite slogan, attributed to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, into some extremist dustbin, read what Abraham Lincoln said in his first annual message to Congress in 1861:

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. 

— U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861

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Union blood runs through our veins in this family. My parents were both union members. My dad, an architect and set designer for the motion picture industry (MGM and Twentieth Century Fox) in the 1960s, belonged to the IBEW, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. My mother worked as a draftsperson and also as a set designer for RKO Pictures in the late 1940s and belonged to the IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. I belonged to the CWA, The Communications Workers of America, when I worked in the business office of Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania and then belonged to the IBEW during a brief stint as a directory assistance operator. My husband retired as a member of the CWA after a career in the public sector. His father belonged to the APWU, The American Postal Workers Union as a postal worker. His mother belonged to DC 37 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, as a human resources clerical employee for the City of New York. And for almost 20 years, I maintained my psychotherapy office in the Amalgamated Lithographers Union Building near Union Square in New York.

This country was built on union strength. Let’s support those thousands of hard working men and women lending their collective strength to extend the union movement and thereby strengthen this great nation. Our best times as a country have been when unions have surged, bringing freedom from want, freedom from preventable illness through affordable healthcare, and freedom from job insecurity.

So, let us turn up the sound and let our voices ring, as we join Pete Seeger singing, “Union Maid” with its iconic refrain, “You can’t scare me, I’m sticking with the union.”

And perhaps you remember the ballad of Joe Hill, a martyr to the union cause, as sung so beautifully by Joan Baez:

Namasté

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Community & Friendship’s Delight

Are you a member of a community? We belong to several and are very grateful for them. Quincy Square, Pinecrest, Friends of Bill W, and more. Here is a glimpse into a wonderful, warm, community I would love to join, if I were close by. But then, perhaps I already am….

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delighted sitting Buddhas ~d nelson

Dear WordPress Community, and Friends on the path,

So easily mind goes here, then goes there.
The mind can go in a thousand directions
including thinking that it’s alone.
But, with mindfulness, concentration & insight
we can remember the path upon which we’re stepping.
On this path are also countless beings supporting us,
at this moment, some of them are of the human-type.

delightfully recycling, together in Deer Park

I’m reminded of so many elders and others
who are isolated and feeling lonely right now.
They wish so much to be with other human beings.
I’ve had these feelings arise, myself
and I’m only almost an elder.
Perhaps you’ve longed for human companionship, also.

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I’m offering a bow of gratitude for all the friends who came
joyfully together on retreat with me recently.
It felt very comforting, connected and safe to be vulnerable…

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 4

Diversion seems essential these days. I get mine from observing the birds, turtles and dragonflies on the large pond behind our place, reading well-written legal novels and police procedurals, cooking and baking, walking and working out, visiting with friends and family, and enjoying the gorgeous Florida weather, sugar-sand beaches and gulf waters. And my writing is less of a diversion and more of focused, creative process, which thanks to WordPress and the Daily Post I’m doing much more regularly. I also read the blogs of my fellow WordPressers. Many have inspired me to do more, write better, and persevere. We really have some great writers in this community. I’ve begun a series of short stories on this blog, or perhaps chapters of something bigger, but for now it’s at least a serial fiction. Lit crit is welcomed!

So where are we this week with diversions?

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Do you meditate regularly? Me, too, but there are many kinds of meditation, and you might enjoy trying something new.

 

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Did you ever wonder what your choice of car color may mean about you? Gas Buddy has some answers.

 

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Photo courtesy of Demoose, airliners.net.

 

 

 

 

 

I never knew how dehydrating inflight air can be until I read several blogs on the subject. I don’t fly more than once or twice a year, but some of my friends and family take lengthy flights across the globe with some frequency. Info in these three blogs might just save your skin. Really! Even you guys might learn something you can use.

 

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Flow chart courtesy of Ferguson fan @tbskyen

Lastly, I need to remember this above all. Truly. I mean tattoo it on the insides of my eyelids. Or print it out and put it on a mirror or inside of a cupboard door, or over my desk. These short questions are golden. Many thanks to Craig Ferguson for asking them. He probably wasn’t the first to say them, but he has brought them to the masses, i.e. us. In fact, this may be the best part of this post today.

So, Lionel Richie:

Namasté

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Lush

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Artist unknown, courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

“How was school today, Michelle?” Her mom was dishing up her casserole of the day as she spoke.

“That’s too much!”

“You need to eat enough or you’ll lose more weight.” Her face scrunched up as she extended the plate across the table.

“You can’t make me eat more than I want!” She took it but had no intention of stuffing herself. She didn’t even like her mom’s cooking. Mushy dishes of overcooked pasta with some kind of cheese on top.

“You used to love my tuna-noodle surprise!” Her little brother Tommy giggled and said, “Sa-prise!”

“Whatever!” She poked at the heap with her fork and began picking out the peas and putting them into her mouth one by one.

“Young lady, don’t be rude to your mother!” Bill glared at her. She studiously avoided his gaze and kept her face a mask. He was a jerk. She didn’t know what her mom saw in him. She wanted to yell at him to leave her the fuck alone, but that would make him look at her with his creepy smile.

“Bill, remember what I said.” Her mom looked at him, darting her eyes away from the table. Trying to play peacemaker, probably. Why was this guy over here all the time anyway? She knew he was staying over nights but they always acted as if he’d stopped by for breakfast early in the morning. In the same clothes, riiight!

She pushed the food around, nibbled at the pieces of tuna she could separate out from the goop and noodles. When her mom and Bill got into a heated discussion about how he had no right to discipline her kids, she slipped out of her chair and using her paper napkin, in one quick motion swept the food into the garbage.

Sitting on her bed doing homework she felt at peace for the first time since she got home. The girls she knew said they hated homework, but she loved getting lost in the books, in the math problems, the history lessons, the American and English literature and the science. She also loved the A’s. Her good grades were something that belonged to her and not to anyone else.

She heard Tommy having his bath down the hall, Mom playing with him with bath toys while trying to clean behind his ears. Michelle gave him his bath sometimes. It was okay. If Bill ever volunteered to help him, she’d quickly volunteer and do it before he could get into the small bathroom. She thought maybe he was probably a perv.

They were reading Huckleberry Finn in English right now, and she loved the adventures he had on the river. Where were his people who should have watched after him? He could just take off and no one even looked for him. She thought this might be nice. She knew that there were a lot of bad people out there, though, and runaways who went to New York often ended up turning tricks for some skeevy pimp just to have a meal and somewhere to sleep.

The house was quiet now and she yawned. A quick trip to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth and she got into bed. She turned out the light and lay there trying to let go of her worries about the family. Even though her parents had divorced last year, her dad had always been there. She could call him, and every other weekend she’d stayed at his apartment and they’d done fun stuff like going to museums or shopping or to the movies. Now he was gone, dead and buried just a few weeks ago, and she wondered what was her life going to be like.

There was a creak in the hall and she sat up, listening intently. She saw the dark form of Bill in her doorway and get larger as he came in.

“I just came in to say goodnight, and tell you I’m sorry I told you off at the table.” He sat on the bed. “I want your mom to be okay, and her life is hard right now.”

She shrank to the other side of the bed, not wanting to say anything and wishing he’d just go.

Then she felt him touch her hair and heard him whisper, “Your curls are so…lush.”img_0116

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For the Daily Post

Have You Heard?

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As she walked down the long hall to French class, her head felt crowded with the possibilities. What if she gets a brain tumor? What if her mom marries her skeevy, loser boyfriend? What if she fails today’s French quiz after missing so much school, between hanging out at the hospital, and then the wake and funeral? It had felt to her sort of as if everyone had been staring at her as she walked from the bus. Could they tell she was now different than everyone else?

Asseyez vous, mes élèves!” sang out Mme Pierce at the front of the room as Michelle slid into her chair and stuffed her backpack onto the rack under the seat. For the next 20 minutes she pored over the questions and checked her answers. It actually wasn’t that hard.

Merci bien, Mademoiselle Harris,” said Mme Pierce, adding softly, “Comment ça va?” with a gentle smile as she came down the row collecting papers. She shrugged, tried to smile but it felt more like a sneer, and she looked away. She felt a weird sensation, almost like nausea, but more like the homesickness she felt at sleep-away camp.

“Écoutez!” From the front of the room, Mme Pierce enthusiastically launched into the lesson of the day.

She turned to the page in the book they were covering but her mind wandered. Just this morning as she was opening her locker, one girl whispered to another across the hall, “Have you heard that Michelle Harris’s dad just died of a brain tumor?”

Her face burned now with the memory. How lame! No one had said a single word to her this whole day. Except for Mme Pierce. Maybe she actually cared. A tear slid down her cheek and splashed onto the textbook.

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Namasté

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For the Daily Post

Success

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She leaned her forehead against the cold metal of her locker, wondering what she should do next. Mrs. Carter said she could go home, but her mother would be at the hospital and her little brother would be at the day care. A bell rang and kids came streaming out of classroom doors and flowed past her laughing and talking, clutching their books, animated and unaware of her. The polished floors squeaked with the rubber of their sneakers. She turned away and fumbled with the lock, failing to get the combination right until the third try. As the door opened, her mirror swung into view and she saw her face. Skin pale and wan, eyes rimmed red, hair curling wildly as it always did, mouth grimly set and devoid of color. She pulled out her backpack and found her makeup bag. She grabbed the silvery pouch, shoved the backpack deep into the locker and slammed the door. Just as she turned on her heels to head for the girls’ bathroom, she bumped into someone.

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

“No prob,” said a towering guy with bad skin and a nice voice. “My bad.”

“It’s okay,” she said and tried to smile at the boy she’d never seen before. He wore a varsity jacket. Basketball. No surprise being he was so tall. “See you,” she added, hurrying to the bathroom to get out of the awkwardness.

“I sure hope so,” came the voice as she pushed open the door and almost ran in.

She set her makeup bag on the counter and took another look at herself. The pallor was gone and her cheeks were as pink as if she’d already put on her blusher. She leaned against the counter, wondering what she should do next. It wasn’t going to be an easy day. She put her hands through her long hair, combing the stubborn curls with her fingers. She’d been brought to the office to take a call from her mother. They had this stupid rule about cells in the classroom, and she’d had hers confiscated too many times to bring it out to check for texts or leave the ringer on.

Yesterday her dad had had brain surgery and they’d all been there, except for Tommy who was too little to be allowed in. Mom, her boyfriend Bill, her aunt Mary and Mom’s best friend Alice. Dad always said they’d had a friendly divorce, and she supposed this was proof. The doctor had come out in his green scrubs, just like on tv, cap on his head and mask down around his neck. The surgery was a success, he’d told them. They’d gotten the tumor and he had an excellent chance to recover fully.

Dad had looked really funny last night as they wheeled him from post-op to recovery, wearing what looked like a big white shower cap on his head. He’d smiled at her and she’d squeezed his hand, and he’d told them he felt great.

“See you, kid!” He’d said with that funny, crooked smile.

And then Mom was leaning in to give him a sort of hug and kiss him, and they’d all said, “See you!”

But that was yesterday. Today he wasn’t doing too well, Mom said with tears in her voice. Something had gone wrong. He was unconscious and they weren’t telling her anything but acting like it was really bad. His face was swollen, her mom had said.

“You can come,” she said, “but I don’t want you to feel you have to. If something at school today is important, stay. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

She played that over as she put some gloss on her lips and pressed them together. Yeah right. If anything changed she’d be pulled out of class again. Forget that. And she took her things and walked out and headed for her locker. Opened it in a flash, stuffed the pouch into her backpack, swung it onto her shoulder, and slammed the locker closed.

She strode down the hall, oblivious to anyone else around, and out the front door of the school. The sun was shining fiercely. She rummaged into her backpack and pulled out her Metrocard and her cell.

“Mom? I’m coming up there. Tell Dad I’m coming, okay?

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For The Daily Post