Thursday, July 30, 2009

55 Flash Fiction Friday

It's that time again! Make sure if you write one of these short [55 word] stories, you tell the G-Man.

As 35 screeching children circled the room again it occurred to her that perhaps Stephen King had been a bad choice for this week’s Audio Book. King, no doubt, would’ve chosen a despicable solution.

She smiled crookedly.

Fighting temptation, she called for them to pipe down.

Yes, screaming for quiet was ironic. So she left.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunny Side Up

Some days I just get tired of all the bad news in the world. You too? How about we walk across my backyard to my little patch of sunflowers for a happier view.

They're suppose to be some mammoth type and they're still opening up. This is how it looks when you're just over five feet tall and look up...the plant is over seven feet tall!

Not a problem for the butterflies.

Or the bees.

But this one is my favorite.
Ever seen a shy sunflower?
Or is she just being a coy, southern belle?

Have a good week, y'all!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...and then some

Many of you know I'm not thrilled with the work front. It's not the seniors, it's the higher ups...especially when their noses get higher in the air and they lose all perspective of who is doing the work. However, I'm just as stubborn, so while I continue to do what I'm suppose to, I'm still looking elsewhere. Yeah, the economy is not helping. But giving up is not my style. Besides, I read recently that most people will have 5 careers in their lifetime. I'm on #4.

I was raised a Baptist, married a Catholic and when work demands began to intrude, I walked away from our church. Wasn't hard, as they weren't being particularly "Christian" at the time. Long story short, those who tithed the most money advised the Pastor that he would preach what THEY wanted to hear since their money kept the place going. The Pastor let them have their say, then left. I went out the door behind him.

But I never left God, who I think of as my Silent Partner. I still believe that when I talk, He listens. I don't believe in coincidence. I think when I ask for aid or guidance, it comes. Sure on His timetable, not mine.

This week, however, I learned that when I ask for something, perhaps I should be a tad more specific. Then again, maybe it's a lesson I need to learn.

The most prevalent thought in recent conversations with God is,"I just want to be able to do something that HELPS people. That truly makes a difference. Why get up in the morning if you can't contribute somehow? I just need to find a way to make a difference."

No, I wasn't born in the 60s. And yes, I do believe one person can make a difference. I picked the name "hope" didn't I? :)

This week I was asked to attend a meeting, my name having been selected by County Council. As a local government employee, they are the group who hire the Big Boss and set our budget. I've previously used the analogy that Council is like someone who's never cooked telling the Baker how much flour to put in a cake. I walked into a room of people I mostly didn't know and discovered we had one thing in common: County Council had summoned us to work on the 2010 Census... and none of us knew why. The shared ignorance made us laugh...and relax. We soon discovered we represented the 7 districts of the Council, plus smaller Municipalities, Education, Faith based and local Organizations. When the state representative from the Census Bureau thanked all of us for volunteering, we glanced at each other, fighting back hysterical giggles from the looks of it.

The Census is important because population determines federal funding and representation. We listened to a presentation explaining how we were important because it was our job to get the word out. The most important part of that word is insuring everyone living in our community fills out the Census when it comes. That senior citizens aren't afraid to answer the questions or that Migrant Workers won't hide in fear of deportation. Everyone uses our services, pointed out the Hispanic representative, and everyone needs to be counted in order for those services to continue. Our state was 49th in completing census surveys in 2000...and no, we couldn't thank Mississippi for keeping us from being dead last. That title fell to Sarah Palin's state of Alaska.

The goal is to increase participation by 6%. County Council wants a 10% increase. If we do this right, we can bring more money into our community, have more representation at the table where the big money is found, thus luring more businesses to come to our community and offer jobs. In today's economy, that's a lot of help, to potentially a lot of people. The 2010 Census slogan is simple, yet true. "It's in our hands." If we do the job right, we can make a difference.

Before leaving that afternoon, I was appointed Chairman. With all the local bigwigs in the room, the more obvious choices, I had no idea why.

As I left, a church song from childhood popped into my head. "He's got the whole world, in His hands," my brain sang.

Seems He just handed me a job to make a difference. Volunteering. No monetary benefits but a sense of satisfaction when the job is done right and others receive well deserved help.

The reality of life is in their Slogan, "It's in our hands."

It always has been. For if we don't care, who will?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Better Late Than Never I Guess

If you care to play, [writing stories of no more than 55 words] make sure you let the G-Man know.

“I need the photo,” she declared through gritted teeth. It’d been a month already. She had wearied of asking politely. Diplomacy was overrated.

“Huh?” he replied, attention fixed on making chicken salad.

“P-h-o-t-o,” she repeated slowly.

“I’m busy,” he huffed, adding salt.

“Oh? Do tell.”

“Group recreation. On my page.”

Aha. Her evil nemesis.


Monday, July 20, 2009

So, Where Were YOU?

Do you know where you were 40 years ago, this evening? I'll try not to sigh while some of you declare that at that point, you were a mere twinkle in your father's eye or perhaps in diapers.

I know. Exactly.

I was an 11 year old kid with her eyes wide open in amazement. Said eyes were glued to the television screen as a grainy black and white picture showed Neil Armstrong climb down that ladder to the moon's surface to take "One small step for man."

Yeah, well girls were impressed with that step too!

There will be some passing mention of the event on the evening news and the Discovery Channel has a special program on this evening. But mostly I feel bad that the kids I work with in the afternoon have been cheated and don't have a clue. With everything at their fingertips in 60 seconds or less, they have missed out on the childhood thrill of suspense. Holding your breath, waiting for the unknown. Of realizing that with science, there can be a little magic thrown in for good measure.

I remember just how Mission Control counted backward from 10 while waiting to launch an astronaut into space. Sitting there, fingers crossed with little girl hope, I always felt a combination of spine tingling, nerve racking, stomach sinking and spirit soaring enthusiasm. I recently heard a portion of a tape featuring Gene Kranz, the Mission Control Flight Director of my childhood, and as soon as he said, "10, 9, 8"...all those little girl butterflies returned. I swear for half my childhood, I was convinced that Kranz was the voice of God. [Until I later heard James Earl Jones speak]. Ironic that the man who so enthusiastically espoused about those first pictures, Walter Cronkite, has passed into heaven in his own way. Wherever he is, I'll bet Uncle Walter remembers. With pride.

And so today, in our high tech world, this landmark moment will probably be noted in a 60 second sound bite. But I'll remember. Because after we watched Man walk on the moon, we went outside to stare up at the moon in the night sky.

And yes. I did wave. For all I know, Armstrong waved back. Childhood was magical then, you know.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And That's The Way It Is....

Walter Cronkite, the last of his kind, is no more. Cronkite died yesterday at the age of 92 and television lost not just an icon, for whom the term "anchorman" was coined, but the last media journalist who was 100% trustworthy. I was somewhat disgusted that our local newspaper noted his passing with the headline "Legendary CBS anchor Cronkite dies at 92" on the BACK PAGE of the front section. If it was up to me, the story on the politician who's hoping for the Governor's job, which isn't available until NEXT year, could've waited a day. If anyone deserved a front page good bye, it was Cronkite.

Cronkite wasn't just the man who was pure grace under pressure, he became America's "Uncle Walter"....that uncle you could always trust to tell you the truth. As a small child I remember him fighting back tears, voice cracking as he announced the assassination of Pres. John Kennedy. I recall him allowing his professorial lecture voice to dissolve into total joy as, watching Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, he was said to have exclaimed,"Look at those!" Even cooler, he was still broadcasting when one of the original astronauts, John Glenn, went BACK into space 36 years after his first flight.

Walter Cronkite set the standard in his day by giving you facts, not his opinion. I think the only time he ever decided to step into "Editorial Country" was when he proclaimed the Vietnam War a stalemate which was merely killing American G.I.s. Some say that proclamation aided in getting this country out of that war. I was only 10 but remember thinking it must be pretty awful if Uncle Walter was disagreeing with the President.

I've missed his style of broadcasting for years now...not so much because he drifted into a well deserved retirement but because he seemed to have taken his style with him. I can't imagine Cronkite lowering himself to the level some so called "newsmen/women" utilize to share the news. I'm thankful to have grown up in a time where ethics meant something and the guy on the 6:00 news could be trusted to share the story with you, rather than preach at you.

I'm betting that Cronkite is now enjoying his beloved sailing in more heavenly waters. Here's wishing him smooth sailing and beautiful sunsets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And The Award Goes To....

Okay, so I admit it. I hated the day the Academy Awards switched from that exuberant, "And the winner is...!" to the painfully bland yet politically correct, "And the Award Goes to...". It seemed....dishonest, somehow. Reality is a series of "win some, lose some" life lessons. But in the quest to make people "feel good about themselves", kids are receiving awards just for showing up to the game, no matter how they played. The whole reason for the concept of "fail" is so we can learn to "improve." I've seen kids "earn" sports trophies, because their parents bought them a uniform, later fall apart and feel like abject failures for losing a game of checkers. If they're never allowed to fail, how will they survive in the real world? How is removing the benefits of learning experiences, even the painful ones, helpful? Kids need to learn that life isn't always fair...but you'll live to try another day. Failing at one thing doesn't make you a failure, it's merely one step in life's journey.

Stay with me for a minute longer and this will get better. I promise. :)

Today, in theory, I failed. I didn't get the job I wanted. But you know what? That's okay. Deep down I kinda worried it wasn't the right job for me anyway. There's an old saying about "Grow where you're planted." I asked God to find me a new field and like any kind of gardening, waiting is the hard part.

No, I'm not sobbing or even pouting. I'm handing out awards to people who make me smile. This one, as a matter of fact, gifted to me by Poetikat.
I'd like to say at the outset that some of you witty, lovable souls are constantly getting awards, [yes Susan, Rachel and Ken, I'm talking about you] therefore I have telepathically sent this to you rather than ask you to play the game. This game is simple enough: just pass it on. [If you're so inclined]. Nice concept in this day and age of recession, huh?

Therefore, today's WINNERS are:

Shug: who inadvertently began my journey on this blogging road. He's too laid back to actually post the award on his site...but with all the good books of poetry he has to offer, does he really need additional praise? I do thank him for answering endless questions about Scotland while increasing my vocabulary.

Kim: I appreciate that he's willing to share both his highs and lows. That takes guts. He reminds us just how human we all are...and that being human isn't fatal. I love the art HE's making taking photos of area artists. He doesn't know it, but there's something personal we actually share....and no, I'm not a bearded lady. :)

Mapstew: I love every blog I visit, but some make you feel at home from Day One, as if you're long lost family....and they don't wish for you to stay lost. I love a sense of humor and when it's combined with a genuine laugh AND a song, well how can you go wrong? He'd be surprised to know what made me read his blog to begin with....although it's easy to see why I return. xxx

Dr. John: a new entry to my reading list [I swear if it gets much longer my hubby will think I'm AWOL!] thanks to Friday Flash 55s. His ongoing story on Knights and a Square Table have given me a giggle when life doesn't seem fair. Thanks for that Doc.

Peggy: I admire her for meeting a physical challenge head on with grace and humor. She has to be a wonderful lady to have raised such a considerate son. [How many laid off Cow midwives do you know who return to check on the four hoofed tykes?] I find it often ironic that when I attempt to say something helpful, she finds a way of turning it around and making ME feel better. Just this week alone, I am grateful for those talented sheep. :)

Titus: another new title on my reading list, I find her words interesting...words the rest of the world is now discovering in her newly published book of poetry. And like her, I am still amazed that I actually share real conversations with people on the other side of the world. As long as we're curious, we'll always be amazed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Superstitious Anyone?

Generally I don't worry about superstitions. I don't walk under ladders, even though I'm short enough, because I've always felt it would be my luck that whoever was on said ladder would drop something on my head. I open umbrellas outdoors just because it's safer and you're less likely to rearrange the knickknacks in the room with a surprise motion. If I spill salt, I don't throw any over my shoulder because then I'd have to clean it up. I figure if a black cat crosses my path it will keep on going because I'm not a cat fan and won't be offering to scratch its ears. And for some reason, Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day for me.

I have found the exception to the Superstitions Rule: Monday the 13th.

I've been playing catch up ever since the telephone guy came and installed a wireless DSL modem. Hubby said the guy had a difficult time making it work and left after 2 hours, swearing all was well. I think he just left...swearing. Two days later I turn on the t.v. only to get the message from our satellite service, "Phone must be connected or you will be charged". For some reason they, the satellite knuckleheads, think it's okay to charge you $6 if you don't keep your dish plugged into a phone line.....a line you only really need to order Pay Per View events. Which we hardly ever do. But Sunday night I sent an e-mail to the phone company advising that we had one jack out which the satellite dish had diagnosed as "no dial tone".

I woke up Monday, the 13th, with a splitting sinus headache and a disposition to match. Where had the weekend gone? Why was it time to go to work again....a place I've come to dread? With a sigh, I got dressed and as I went to leave, I saw hubby outside with the lawn mower. The hood of said mower was up, meaning it had once again gone on strike. I drove away without saying anything....because between the look on his face and how I felt, it just seemed like the smart thing to do.

The short version is: hubby worked on the lawn mower for 2 hours, then cut grass for 2 and a half. [We have 5 acres, 3.5 of which is grass]. As I drove home, now with a tension headache from the kids yelling and not paying attention as I tried to do a craft which I have been ordered to do, with supplies I had to supply, my cell phone rang. Hubby was telling me to drive carefully as a bad thunderstorm had left LOTS of water. And oh, by the way, the power was out too.

I was about a mile from home and rounding the corner when I saw that the man with the tree service had lit the giant pile of leftovers from his job....the pit of burning debris always makes my sinuses go haywire. It was belching large plumes of smoke on one end from being put out by the torrential rain, but the other side had re-ignited. I drove through a small pond that use to be my driveway as hubby opened the door. While waiting on the power guy, the phone rang. The telephone guy was on the way.

Longer story short: the power guy pulls up after the phone guy. While the phone guy is trying to figure out what the original phone guy did to make only 2 out of 3 jacks work at any one time, the power guy laughs when I tell him if I could reach the breaker on the transformer, I'd reset it myself. He goes down the road, comes back and tells me I was right. I happens 2-3 times a summer....for the past 12 years. The power guy asks if the lightning messed up the phone and I told him no, that was a previous problem. With a grin, the power guy, whose name tag says "Charlie", states jokingly, "Well, keep an eye on the other guy. You know those telephone guys like to take things from your house and stick them in their pockets."

I smiled and replied, "Oh he looks trustworthy. His name is Charlie."

The power guy burst out laughing as the "other" Charlie came out the door....they knew each other.

So the power got fixed in an hour, the phone shortly thereafter but the phone guy pronounced our alarm system severely wounded in the lighting strike. He's a nice guy though, and volunteered to try and get the part we need so we don't have to. I told him I'd nominate him for "Employee of the Month". He said it wouldn't do any good and laughed. I told him it meant something to me. He smiled, and thanked me.

So as all the utility people left and I prepared for a rousing round of "Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me", the youngest dog, Bou, came up, licked my hand and wagged his tail.

Oh, we'll be fine. But next Monday the 13th I'm going into hiding!

And as sign of better things to come,
I received this award from Kat.
[Okay, from her OTHER blog]
I love it not only because it was thoughtful,
but because it came attached without strings!
I'll pass it on later.....when things seem to be working more smoothly.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

We Interrupt this Life.....

Work is a nightmare. It's so bad, it's following me into my dreams at night and keeping me from getting a decent night's rest.

Yes, I'm trying to escape. No, not having any luck just yet.

Blogger ate the first version of this post, saving only one word: Sigh.


Then we had the mother of all thunderstorms Monday night and although we didn't lose power, lightning is fun when you live on a hill surrounded by fields. When I attempted to check e-mail last night, I discovered one of the gadgets connected to the phone line has gone haywire, so now I have to start going through them to figure out which one is keeping my DSL from connecting to the Internet. I suspect it's one of the filters used by the phone company.

And my lovely aloe plant, which you saw a few posts back, was swept up by the wind [pretty good feat considering how heavy it is!] and dumped unceremoniously onto the concrete porch floor.

Oh well, it was time to separate and re-pot it anyway. :)

So if I seem absent for a day or so, just ironing out technical difficulties. Yes, I posted this from work where dial-up is the rule. I'll stop now before I develop an ulcer.

Yeah, I'm still smiling....even if it's a bit lopsided at the moment.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Land of the Free

One evening I was taking night shots with the camera. I sat down on the front steps to review the photos and suddenly heard a strange, flapping noise. Looking up, I saw I'd forgotten to take down the flag. The wind was gently blowing and I got this shot.

It made me realize that while I sleep,
someone watches over America.
And for that, I am thankful.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fiction Time

If you decide to play, make sure you visit MrKnowitall, affectionately known as G-Man, to let him know.

Fireworks for the 4th of July were expected. The in-house implosion however, had not been anticipated.

Suffocating in an atmosphere of lies and backstabbing, he declared his independence. And quit.

Without 2 weeks notice.

That they were blindsided and stunned was merely the last job related perk he would enjoy.

Hello, land of the free.