Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ah, the Irony

I didn't get around to write my Monday Microfiction today because....I was actually walking down the beach this afternoon!  And no, no old guys with beards or buoys were found.

We haven't been to the beach in a long time and here, at the end of January when just two weeks ago there was snow, today it was 74 degrees! (23 C ).  Our friends live at Edisto Island.  Once there, they loaded us in the boat, then took us to the edge of the island where the ocean comes in to wave hello.  I haven't seen that many shells since I was a kid!

Which is why it was so cool to go "shell hunting" with the couple's 8 year old daughter, who is home schooled.   He's a fishing guide, Mom does kayak tours and the 9 month old baby rides in a pouch on her back.  They're the kind of family who literally live off the land, raising their own vegetables, keep chickens and have bee hives for honey.  So it was a rather surreal experience when this sweet little girl, who had the same enthusiasm I had at her age, came out of the house after applying her "makeup."  Over the holidays they visited her Mom's family in Sweden and it appears the cousins introduced her to makeup that you might see on a Paris runway.  I smiled without laughing when she explained the blue eye shadow over and UNDER her eyes made them stand out.  They did...as if she'd gone 3 rounds with a prize fighter and lost.

But it was fun to share an afternoon of finding natural prizes along the beach, both of us sounding like 8 year olds I'm sure....even if she was wearing more makeup.  She liked hearing about what I'd used shells for and even though she knew all their proper names, she confided she had nicknames for them too, giggling in delight when I picked up one and announced we'd called them "shovelers" because they were good....

...."for digging sand to make sandcastles!" she finished enthusiastically.

Exactly, I nodded.  

And so the hour on the beach went: her parents and the baby scouting ahead for treasures we might overlook, we "little girls" shell hunting while Hubby walked with our dog Boudreaux, who had just experienced his first boat ride and that ocean water is not for drinking.  Wish I'd had the camera for the double take, followed by spit take, that he did after trying to quench his thirst as the ocean lapped at him.

A nice, quiet Sunday afternoon.  Good company, beautiful weather and all the shells I could carry back.  Memories like this are great....because tomorrow it's suppose to rain and turn cool again.  

But I'll just be looking at the last shell she handed me, noting, "If you could just find me some lipstick this color, that would be cool."

The shell...was purple.  Long live little girls with imagination!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday 55

This may be the only time that being "economical" is actually fun.  If  you write a story in 55 words, please take time to let the G-Man know you played.
 
 
Take the quiz, then make a wish.  
In a week your wish will come true.

"Yeah, right," she muttered.
"Okay, I wish to get paid to write for a living."

A week later the Boss called her in.
She'd been chosen to write the company newsletter.

More work.
Same pay.

Ah, the consequences of wishing.


Okay, so this one is based in fact.  Mom sent me one of those e-mail quizzes that asks you to finish by making a wish, then sharing the e-mail.  Since I'd done this quiz before, I didn't see any need to "pass it on".

My job is currently in a state of flux.  After 8 years of extra travel with no compensation, I no longer have to work at 2 Centers a day [good bye afternoon Grump!  Sorry kids.].  Yet my schedule is still up in the air.  And yes, I'm trying to nudge it in the direction I'd like it to fall.

Before Christmas I'd sent a memo to the Big Boss asking if he'd considered re-issuing an annual report to the public that we'd done years ago.  Yes, I'd been on that committee for 5 years but when I took another position with my company and wasn't literally across the street, it died.   Well, for better or worse, my memo "inspired" the Big Boss and as of Monday, I'll now be writing the company newsletter.   I already do one for my seniors, and the Big Boss gets a copy, which he used as ammunition with a sincere sounding, "You are very talented at this.  You're an excellent writer."

Ah yes, excellence that comes for the price they already pay for me.  My ego didn't need stroking but I will enjoy the opportunity to do something I actually enjoy.  Plus it might FINALLY get me a computer upgrade since he wants to issue it electronically.

But the next time you make a wish, check out that "pass it on" clause.
 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monday Microfiction

Time to write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play.  

THIS WEEK'S PHOTO

I swear Mister, I just saw it!  
Rose up really high and smiled right at me.

Whadya mean the Ohio River 
doesn't have a Loch Ness monster?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday 55

If  you write a story in 55 words, kindly slip over and let the G-Man know you played his game.



The anticipation was torturous.   
The ebb and flow kept building to a tingling crescendo,
then…

….nothing.

Just when he thought it had passed,
the urge would begin cycling again. 

Slow. 
Deliberate. 
Teasing.

Will this never end? Jim wondered. 
I can’t take much more of this climax to nowhere.

“Just sneeze already!” he yelled in frustration.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

For Your Amusement

I write a monthly newsletter for my senior citizens and on the back page, I always try to add a small article that's either funny or interesting. They refer to these as "hope's little stories".   Thought the information in next month's issue [hot off the press today!] might interest some of you.

Science Needs YOU!

     After much research, scientists have finally found something smarter than a computer.
    The human brain.
    It’s true.  Scientists have discovered that no matter how useful modern technology is,  humans come out on top simply because we have the ability to reason.  A computer is only as good as the information it’s fed or the tasks it’s instructed to perform.  If humans see something odd or out of place, they stop and question “Why?”.   That’s why science is looking for a few good people to help as volunteers.  No, not as guinea pigs, but as “Citizen Scientists”.
    I recently learned about the Citizen Scientist concept and the amazing number of projects which utilize volunteers for data collection.  Now that’s not quite as boring as it sounds upon first reading.  For most sites, all the “equipment” you need is computer access, a comfortable chair and some time.  Often the computer is replaced with a pair of binoculars for say, bird sightings for the Audubon Society.  In fact, the Audubon Project is cited as the first Citizen Science project as it began using volunteers in 1900.  
    Many of the projects below are part of “Zooniverse”, which can be found online at  http://www.zooniverse.org/home.  Sign in there,  then choose from a variety of  projects to aid.
    Want to help turn WWI ship weather logs into data to aid scientists studying weather patterns? Select  www.oldweather.org You can even pick which ship’s “Crew” to join.
    Interested in counting craters and other impacts made on the Moon?  Go to http://www.moonzoo.org or join NASA’s group at http://science.nasa.gov/citizen-scientists.
    Perhaps you’re more interested in solar weather and flare eruptions.  Then visit  http://solarstormwatch.com.
    If you grew up believing Space is truly “the final frontier”, there’s a site dedicated to discovering new worlds.  You can boldly go where no man has gone before from the comfort of your own chair at http://www.planethunters.org.  And in case you think only rocket scientists can handle this kind of stuff, one of the latest discoveries was made by...a 12 year old kid.
    Google the phrase “Citizen Scientist projects” and you’ll come up with a myriad of interesting programs, some of which are local.  Each simply requests your keen eye and a moment of your time.  There’s no age or gender requirements.  The fact that you’re simply YOU makes you an important asset to the scientific community. 
    Besides, wouldn’t you like to see the look on your kids’ faces when you tell them that instead of simply retiring,  you’ve chosen to become a scientist? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

No Monday Microfiction ...I couldn't sum this all up in 140 characters!

Last week was...odd.  We received a little snow, topped with a nice sheet of ice which kept me home last Monday.  We, in my southern neck of the woods, are not prepared to handle such things as they only show up maybe once a year.  Southern snow is usually great: here today, stops everything for 24 hours, gone tomorrow.  This time a coat of ice kept it here a little longer, meaning work started later on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I still canceled the seniors' Tuesday lunch as they didn't need to try and drive on still icy roads.  My Boss called Tuesday to let me know I didn't need to go to the "second half" of my daily job for the rest of the week.  But not to worry.  I hadn't done anything wrong.

That's good.  Because the week BEFORE she'd come into our monthly Staff Meeting,  wished everyone a Happy New Year before adding that she needed to speak to me.  But not then.  She was on her way to a meeting.  I called  5 hours later to see if she "needed" anything from me.  Why yes, it was a fishing trip.  Would you like to be left hanging like that?  All I received was, "Don't worry.  Nothing bad.  I think you'll be pleased but I'll talk to you later."

A week went by.  Not a word.

So on Tuesday, the Boss called to promise to "try" and drop by Wednesday to discuss it with me.  By Thursday morning, I just made myself forget about it.  Because by then, I'd gotten word that my favorite (I know, I'm not suppose to have a favorite) senior, Herbie, had died.  As you may recall, Herbie turned 100 in November and use to regale me with tales of his life, the most memorable being that as a young man, he actually RODE the streetcar named "Desire" to work when he lived in Louisiana.  Frankly we were all a little angry to discover he'd been in a nursing home for the past month and none of us had a clue.  Herbie was always out having lunch with different folks, so we just figured we'd called during one of his "social butterfly" moments. 

Friday morning had me explaining to those who hadn't read the local paper about Herbie and once again we all felt crappy for not knowing what had happened.  Then I drove half way across the County for one of our mandatory group events with the seniors.  Okay, so it was a bit surreal this time.  This one is located WAY out in the country, meaning I was the only lily white face in the bunch.  No big deal.  After all, I've known most of these folks for years.

And yet it's always interesting to see how they sneak sly glances at me whenever the discussion turns to Martin Luther King Day or Black History month.  Fortunately, being born and raised locally, I understand they ARE the generation who lived through that horrible time of separate restrooms, drinking fountains and hotels.  Sounded like horrible ancient history when I was a kid and Mom would describe seeing such as a teenager.   But working with this group has made it real by living it through their stories.   I appreciate the struggles they endured along the way and why their children still tell of those struggles in a type of oral history.  They lived through a horrible time and talking about it helps.  And I don't mind listening.  To them.  I have no patience for their grandchildren who have no desire to work but are fond of yelling "discrimination!" if it'll get them something for nothing.  Most of that generation would fold under what their grandparents endured on a daily basis.

But I digress.

So Friday, I listened as a young black man read Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, which I've never heard in it's entirety.  I found it to be like a living history lesson, even if there were more eyes than usual cast on me when Dr. King's speech listed what "negroes" had endured and what they should no longer endure.  A couple of folks glanced at me as if they expected me to react harshly, to stand up and declare the white man superior.

Not hardly.  The white man of their generation had not been raised as I had: after all, I began my elementary school career as part of that new social experiment called integration.  I'd always gone to school with black kids, so why should I feel odd sitting in a room with their grandparents?  My applause may not have had all the heartfelt enthusiasm of theirs but I had to smile.  If they only knew.

The only white chick in the room was born on Martin Luther King Day.

So I went from a step back in time to Herbie's funeral which was a step into the surreal.  Let's just say the Priest they found for the service was older than Herbie.  He wanted to go one way and the funeral guys wanted him to walk in front of the casket.  I guess he was a little hard of hearing because they finally grabbed him by the arm and placed him in front of the casket, then started pushing the casket.  The funeral director asked all of us to stand.  We did.  The Priest had a prayer, blessed the casket with holy water (I think; I couldn't see it but he described what he was doing), then started talking.  And talking.  Fifteen minutes later he was still talking and we were still standing.  Some of the attendees weren't much younger than Herbie and they were beginning to sway a little.

First time I ever attended a funeral where the Man of God forgot to tell his Flock it was okay to sit down.

The Priest said another prayer, seemed surprised to see everyone standing, then told us to sit.  It was an odd service, not the least bit personal on the religious end.  I thought only Baptists tried to save your heathen soul at a funeral but this little Catholic man outdid every Baptist sermon I ever heard growing up.  He did finally remember to put Herbie's name in a sentence.  Then his daughter got up and rambled on oddly with things only the family understood, stopping at an odd place and taking her seat.  

I skipped the graveside burial after this hour long circus.

I did stop by the office long enough for the Boss to see me and say, "I know you're wondering what's going on and what I haven't said to you yet?" 

I told her worrying didn't seem to change much in local government and she smiled.  Although the plan is still being worked on, the good news is I no longer have to attend the afternoon circus.  I feel sorry for the kids but if they get fed up, they can simply go home.   The plan for me is still being carved out and it'll probably mean some of my afternoons spent in the lair of the Office.  I told the Boss I figured she just wanted me to help with the occasional "special project" and I swear, I think she sighed in relief.  Time will tell.  And yes, I'll probably torture you with it as well.

Saturday was my birthday but there's an archery tournament this weekend so we were too pooped to do anything special.  Although Hubby did find time to get me some wonderful gifts AND a cake.  I wonder if he realizes he's really the best gift of all?

I'm off Monday so after reading this lengthy diatribe you'll probably be happy not to have to hear from me again until or Tuesday or so.  I'm in for another odd week: having to go hear the MLK speech means I missed out on the mandatory "Employee Birthday holiday"...which I'll be taking this week.

When I finally get back to a regular, 5 day work week, I won't know how to act.

Here's wishing you a wonderful week!  And thanks to those of you who stopped by to wish me a happy birthday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday 55

I know.  I've been MIA.  I'm trying to do better in 2011.  Don't we all try that for the first month of a new year?   So if you write a story in 55 words, kindly slip over and let the G-Man know you played his game.


55 words is what I need
to bring this story up to speed.

I got behind.  Lost track of time.
And now I’m stuck in Dr. Seuss rhyme.

Be Silly?  Witty?  Wordy?
Write a limerick that’s kinda dirty?

Truth is, tomorrow I turn 53.
Can I just sum it up with “Happy Birthday to Me!”?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Microfiction Monday

Yes, I found my way back to the playground.  So join me and write a story in 140 characters, then let Susan know you came to play.   


THIS WEEK'S PHOTO
Whadaya mean you're not a Super Hero?  
You've got wings and a great mask. 
Huh? 
It's not a mask?

Okay Magic Blue Poncho Cape, 
take me away!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm Still Here

Took a week off during the holidays and things didn't exactly return to normal right away.  Thus my recent absence.  Oh the part where I  helped Hubby with his business Inventory wasn't so bad.  And we finally picked out new furniture. for the living room.  Therefore we decided to "donate' the old sofa and love seat to my office.  Since we both had Jan. 3rd off, we took that day to go my Center.

Someone had already been there.  Calling card....broken window.

In a sort of bad game of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, the intruder ate all of my intended week of lunches out of the kitchen refrigerator freezer [although he used the microwave and threw the boxes in the trash can].  Then he upped it a notch and stole the pork chops I had planned to cook for the seniors the next day.  Looking around I discovered he also stole a third of the dessert, some paper plates and cups...guess maybe he was planning a dinner party.

Well, after his nap.

I wondered why it was so warm in the front hall when we arrived.  Seems he took a nap...or three or four....on the front sofa and pushed the heat up to almost 80 degrees.

While part of me would like to at least think this was a homeless person who needed temporary food and shelter, the realist in me realizes it's someone who's more into receiving than giving.  This is the 4th time in 6 years and it's always that same window.  First guy used a knife to get past the locks on the backdoor but the police got him and took him to a homeless shelter.  2nd time: broken window on the most hidden side of the building.  3rd time: same window but we discovered, after comparing stories, that he'd slipped in while the seniors had a night time dance class, used the restroom, unlocked the window and came back the next night.  This time; back to smashing the window. 

So I've been a little busier than I'd planned...because we all know coming back OFF of vacation is twice the work. 

Now if I can only motivate my employer to fix the brick wall someone ran a car into....well, a YEAR ago today.  An Engineer pronounced it structurally sound.  Perhaps.  But it's an ugly sight to see when entering my Center for the first time.

I don't need New Year's resolutions.  I need a Fairy Godmother.