Your Weekly Diversion, Week 19

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Wow, Week 19 already. Seems like more, doesn’t it? An eternity. Yeah well, you can live and die in a moment, so…

This week in my little life has been crazy. It started a bit tentatively with a few days of transient abdominal pain that got progressively worse, then a trip to the doctor who sent me to the ER. It was a recurrence of diverticulitis, the first I’ve had in over 20 years. Think labor pains or the worst doubling-over belly ache you ever had. Intense. But I’m home now and slowly getting back to normal, although still not there yet.

Here’s what I’ve curated for you this week:

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Photo by Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

First, an inspiring piece about the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu. I know that his dad, known as “Moon” Landrieu, who was also a mayor of this most unique American city, would be very proud of him. I know I am, and I’m a distant niece of Robert E. Lee. Thank you, Mitch!

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Uruguayan amethyst, courtesy Gem Adventurer

 

Love sparkly, colorful jewels?          Me, too. Especially purple ones. Some of you may be surprised to know that some stones are more suited to you than others. Take this quiz to learn which is your best gemstone. (I was thrilled to learn that mine is amethyst.)

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Spinners from learningexpress.com

How do you like those new fidget spinners? What? Haven’t heard of them? Then hustle over to Mashable to learn more. By the way, there are more different kinds than I knew.

I was delighted to read that Outkast’s “Hey Ya” is the choice of many Australians for their new national anthem.

Namasté

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A to Z Challenge: C is for Clymer Library

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C is for Clymer Library, the public library located in the small northeastern Pennsylvania town of Pocono Pines. The Clymer Library has a long and very interesting history:

In 1901-1902, Rev. Rufus W. Miller founded, with supporters and investors, the Naomi Pines Assembly and Summer School. Based upon the “Chautauqua Movement,” it was designed to provide adult education in the arts, humanities, sciences and non-denominational Christian education and worship. For the 1903 summer season, it opened with the Pocono Pines Inn, Blakeslee Hall and an auditorium, overlooking Naomi Lake. Over the next few years it added several buildings for activities, support and summer living quarters.

— from Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

Originally founded to support the literary needs and edification of the lakeside community of Lake Naomi and then Lutherland, the former Lutheran-church-sponsored coeducational summer camp in what is now Pinecrest, the library was eventually relocated into the upper floor of the firehouse of the Tobyhanna Township Fire Department. The firehouse was eventually moved to its current location on State Road and in 1980 the library took over the entire building, which has since expanded considerably.

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I decided to take the A to Z Photo Challenge around my little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. We’ve had a home here for over 10 years, and taking this challenge is offering me the opportunity to get to know it even better than I have. I hope you will enjoy this photo journey as much as I do!

A to Z Challenge: B is for Bluets

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Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

B is for bluets. These bluets are tiny, pale, four-lobed flowers that come up in the spring. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin tells us that these flowers grow in part shade in small patches, as these are. They are perennials, of the madder family, Rubiaceae. The Latin name is Houstonia caerulea, and they are also known as azure bluets and as Quaker ladies (it is thought because of their pale, purplish blue, reminiscent of the color of the hats Quaker ladies were often seen to wear).

Bluets bloom in spring and early summer in the US from Georgia to Maine and in eastern Canada. They can be sown by seed and cultivated, and are often featured in rock gardens. I found these tiny bluets in the grassy verge by the road to our lake in a patch of dappled sun. Their fragile beauty is a reminder of the nature of impermanence to which we are all subject. Savoring moments of joy in our day helps us stay in the now and have gratitude for the life force within us.

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I decided to take the A to Z Photo Challenge around my little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. We’ve had a home here for over 10 years, and taking this challenge is offering me the opportunity to get to know it even better than I have. I hope you will enjoy this photo journey as much as I do!

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

Serial Fiction, Chapter 5: Better Now

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Photo and graphic by Shielagh, copyrighted 2017.

She sat on the beach, a few feet from the water where the sand was dry, watching the waves as they slid in and out, their swish and sizzle setting a soothing rhythm. Being down here was so wonderful. Staying with Gramma was a little weird with all the old people she hung out with, but feeling safe was worth it.

Michelle hugged her knees to her in the cool morning air. She came here a lot, mostly because Gramma could see her from the big picture windows of the apartment. In a way it felt she wasn’t trusted, or like being treated like a kid, but she knew it was because Gramma cared enough to keep her in view. She had her cellphone on her all the time, and Gramma would call her when she wanted her to come home. She figured, too, that if Gramma ever saw someone unsafe nearby, she’d call her, and if, God forbid, anyone tried to hurt her, she’d call 911 in a heartbeat.

Besides, she knew she was helping Gramma just by being there, because her grandfather had died a few years ago, and now Gramma had lost her son. It must be hard, Michelle, thought, and she was glad she could help Gramma too somehow.

The last few months had been a blur. Amanda had told her mom that Michelle’s mom’s boyfriend had been “inappropriate.” The first night she spent over there was one she knew she’d never forget.

“Let’s call your mom now,” Amanda’s mom had said, and Michelle got on the extension so she could listen. After a couple of moments of small talk, Amanda’s mom, Gloria, had told Michelle’s mom, “Michelle isn’t safe at your house, Donna. Your boyfriend has been touching her, and you have to do something. Get him out of there, and report him to the authorities.

“You little liar!” her mom had screamed. “You’re just making that up! He wouldn’t do anything like that!”

Michelle had sobbed, “It’s true! He comes in my room!”

“I don’t believe you,” her mother had said in a weird, quieter voice.

Gloria had spoken to her mom calmly and clearly, continuing to say that the creep had to go, or Michelle would be staying at her house. It had only gotten worse. Her mom had shoved her clothes into a couple of black garbage bags and dumped them on Amanda’s front lawn the next day. Thank God she’d taken most of her personal stuff and school books to her locker and had the rest in her backpack. Looking back, she began to feel as if she’d known she’d be getting out of there fast.

Gloria had helped Michelle tell the police what had been happening. The policewoman who came over had been really nice. She took a lot of notes, and she said a social worker would come see her, too. That had been okay. By then she’d told Amanda and her mom, the police and now this nice lady who reminded her of her English teacher, and the more she told it, the easier it was, especially when they all seemed to believe her.

“We need to find a better place for you to live. I’m sure you can’t stay here at your friend’s house indefinitely,” she’d said, looking at Gloria. Gloria had said that Michelle was welcome as long as she needed to stay, but they’d talked about a lot of other things, and it was decided that staying with her dad’s mom, her Gramma, in Florida, was the best thing, and the social worker had called Gramma right then.

“Oh, baby! I am so sorry!” Gramma had said, and in a few minutes, it was all arranged. The next week she’d flown down to Florida and in a few days was registered in a school with a lot of smart and creative kids. Gramma had been a teacher and she knew all about the Sunshine Academy. A friend of hers had taught there and she said they even had a school psychologist that kids could go see for free if they had problems. “It’ll be good for you to talk to someone,” Gramma had said.

So here she was, on a beach in the morning before school, mentally tossing her problems into the water as her therapist had suggested. Math test, sadness over not seeing Timmy anymore, not even getting to talk to him because her mom wouldn’t let him, missing Amanda and other friends, and some of the boys. The creep was gone. He’d gone to jail for a little while, but Gramma said his lawyer had gotten him out, and he could stay out as long as he went into counseling and did community service, but he wasn’t allowed to be near kids. Her mom said she would never forgive her for this. Michelle didn’t care. Not really. Like her therapist said, it was complicated. Mom had problems she needed to work out. A tear slid down her cheek and she brushed it away with her sleeve. Yeah, she cared.

She watched the seagulls wheel overhead, mewing like cats. A big brown pelican suddenly swooped down and scooped up something in its bill. Probably a fish.

Her phone pinged and she looked at it. “Time to come up and get ready for school,” was Gramma’s text. She got to her feet and brushed off the sand. She realized she really did feel better now.

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For the Daily Post

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 15

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Week 15, coinciding with the 100 Days. It feels as if I’ve gotten more done than usual.

In the past 100 days I have

  • Spent time with good friends and met new ones
  • Closed one home and reopened the other
  • Changed insurance companies with all that it entails
  • Gone to the gym and worked out 3 times a week
  • Found an eating plan that works for me to lose weight
  • Had two laser eye treatments
  • Gotten new glasses and now see amazingly well
  • Attended an excellent professional conference
  • Meditated every day
  • Written in my journal most days
  • Learned to let go and turn over what I can’t change
  • Spent time on the beach, toes happily in the sand and sea
  • Watched and identified many beautiful birds
  • Learned mahjong and Mexican Train
  • Collected shells and learned about them
  • Co-drove almost 1,400 miles
  • Complained about bad hotel rooms and obtained full refunds
  • Kept my business going through it all
  • And managed to blog every week

We didn’t have staff to do any of it, although we do have great people who help out with things we can’t do ourselves. I’m just an ordinary human being, married to another ordinary human being. And I know that you who read this have done as much or more than I have these past 100 days. After all, with nods to the Firesign Theater, singer Jill Detroit and friends in AA, we’re all just bozos on this bus.

Namasté

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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