All My Fears From A to Z

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 29th week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fear Factor Daily Prompt:  People are afraid of all kinds of things: spiders, the dark, or being enclosed in small spaces. Tell us about your greatest fear — rational or irrational.

I am a day behind with this, so I guess we can rule out the fear of being late.  There is no one major area of crippling paranoia for me.  Just a lot of minor annoying (but, of course, completely rational) phobias which I have decided to organize into an alphabetical list.

1.  Aliens (especially the ones that are cleverly disguised and walking among us.) (Hey, I’ve seen the documentaries, I know about these things)

2.  Bats (the kind that fly around at night wanting to get tangled up in your hair)

3.  Cancer

4.  Drowning

5.  Explosions

6.  Falling (hard and awkwardly enough to break bones) (or down an abandoned mine shaft)

7.  Germs (and people who don’t wash their germy hands)

8.  Heights (rooftops and beyond)

9.  Illnesses of the fatal variety

10.  Job interviews (avoiding them is the reason I’ve been doing the same job for so long)

11. Karaoke (Really, that shit is scary)

12. Lightning bolts

13.  Memory loss and Madness (although if I do go mad, who knows, it might just be a different kind of happy)

14.  Natural disasters

15.  Oceans

16.  Pain

17.  Quicksand

18.  Roller Coasters

19.  Swimming (without a life jacket) (in the ocean) (…which would lead to drowning….)

20.  Typhoons

21.  Unidentified Flying Objects

22.  Violence (physical, verbal, abuse of any kind)

23.  Wasps

24.  Xenophobia (Yes, I know, fear of a fear.  But until we get over our fear of strangers and foreign things,  peace on earth will never happen)

25.  Yeti

26.  Zombies

I probably won’t write a children’s alphabet book based on this list, complete with frightening illustrations, although stranger things have been done with the alphabet.  And many of the things I’ve listed (like the last two, for instance), I have no actual personal experience with whatsoever.  They just seem to me to be absolutely fear-worthy.

What are you afraid of?

Big K Little k, What begins with K?

There are several sweet and brilliant “K” people in my life, but if I get started talking about them I will never shut up.  So I’ll just say a few things about Kismet and Karma instead.

karma koma

karma koma (Photo credit: PixLjUicE23)

To me they don’t mean the same thing at all, but feel free to correct me if I’ve got this all wrong.  Just letting you know that even if you do confuse me with the facts, it’s still unlikely you’ll change my mind about any of this.  Ha.  Yes, I am one of those obstinate and opinionated people today.  Which makes this day not unlike every other one I’ve ever lived, but that’s another topic entirely.

Kismet to me is synonymous with the word fate – a predetermined or unavoidable destiny.  We are born, we live and we die.  You can’t really argue with that because it is pretty much an unavoidable process for being involved in dwelling on this earth.  To us as mere mortal humans, our fates are unknown and unknowable beyond the very basic and obvious.  We know death will come but we don’t know when.  It’s kind of funny how it totally surprises all of us when you think about it.  But that would be because we mostly try so very hard to never think about it at all.

Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodne...

Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In between arriving and departing, we have free will.   We believe we are directing our own destiny.  If we didn’t believe this, there would be no point in trying to make something of our lives.  We would all just sit around waiting to see what happens next.  Sometimes others are very influential in pointing us in a certain direction and we may not be aware of it, or simply not care enough to stop them. Then when things turn out not to our liking we tend to blame someone else for seriously messing with our fate.

The truth is, everything that happens in our lifetimes between birth and death is Karma, or cause and effect.  Karma is what we do, and Karma is what comes back to us as a result of the decisions we made on what to do.  Life is kind of like a circle, or a looping spiral, or a meandering line going from point A to point B.  We get to choose our path.  We are in the drivers seat.  I could go on and on with these similes, but I choose to stop now.  You’re welcome.

“Karma is simply the law of cause and effect. If you plant an apple seed, you don’t a get a mango tree. If we practice hatred or greed, it becomes our way and the world responds accordingly. If we practice awareness or loving-kindness, it becomes our way and the world responds accordingly.  We are heirs to the results of our actions, to the intentions we bring to every moment we initiate. We make ripples upon the ocean of the universe through our very presence.”  - Christina Feldman Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart, Parables of the Spiritual Path from Around the World.

“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how  I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life – whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” ―    Elizabeth Gilbert

So what kind of ripples on the ocean of the universe do you want to make?  I used to think I was pretty much completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Now I’m not so sure.  And don’t try to talk me out of this comforting little notion I’ve got, because I quite like believing that what I say and do might actually matter

I can’t change my Kismet, or my ultimate fate.  But I can make some good Karma on the way to wherever I’m headed  I can take the bad things that happen and turn them around and head off in a different, new, even better direction.  I can be optimistic to the point where I appear to be blowing smoke up my own ass.  Sorry if that little metaphor offends, but I figured if I snuck it in here right at the end a large percentage of readers would miss it because they’re already bored to death with this whole Kismet/Karma diatribe.

Just make some good ripples today, okay?  Or some big waves.  Whatever floats your boat.  And doesn’t sink someone elses.

P is for Putto

It’s a mystery to me how I have lived so long without knowing this word.  I also don’t know why I have neglected my Alphabet Soup category since the 23rd of October.  Mine is a life filled with wonder and confusion and maybe I’ll get into all that later, but for now, here’s a picture of a putto, (plural putti) (also known as an amoretto or an amorino when it depicts cupid);  a representation in baroque painting or sculpture of a small chubby naked boy with wings.

Sleeping Putto, by Léon Bazille Perrault, 1882

Sleeping Putto, by Léon Bazille Perrault, 1882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That would be Cupid, right?  Looks like cupid to me.  Or a cherub.  Apparently it’s common to get these things mixed up, and that’s why there’s Wikipedia to help straighten everything out for us:

Art historian Juan Carlos Martinez writes:

Originally, Cherubs and Putti had distinctly different roles, with the former being sacred, and the latter, profane. That is, Cherubs and Seraphs (Cherubim, Seraphim) are Angels, occupying the highest angelic orders in Heaven and are thus the closest to God. On the other hand, Putti, arise from Greco-Roman classical mythos (i.e., non-Christian). They are associated with Eros/Cupid as well as with the Muse, Erato; the muse of lyric and love poetry…
….By the time the Baroque Era came about, which might arguably have been the high point for Cherubim and Putti, both of these little beings were usually being depicted in the same way. Which one they were, simply depended upon the theme of the painting or sculpture: If religious (sacred) – they were Cherubs. If secular or mythic (profane) – they were Putti.

Wenceslas Hollar - Jesus, John, and four cheru...

I suppose it depends on the artist whether these putto/cherub illustrations turn out to be beautiful or butt ugly.  I think if I tried to paint one it might end up in that second category.
Anyway, enough putti pondering for this Grey Cup Sunday.  I guess since I’m in the West I should be cheering for the West.  Even though that means rooting for Calgary, which is probably against some obscure Edmonton bylaw from the baroque period of our shared city histories.  If they all dressed like cherubs I’d watch the whole thing.  But my becoming a football fan is probably not sufficient motivation for the players, especially in November.  That could get butt ugly fast.

J is for Jabberwocky

J is also for Johnny Depp, and his inspired version of Jabberwocky in the Alice in Wonderland movie.

Jabberwocky, the unedited version, by Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I love the poem (most poems make exactly this much sense to me) and I love that movie, and what can I say about Johnny Depp that hasn’t already been said?  Probably by me?

We’ve had a perfectly beamish day, picking up a mimsy new filing cabinet at uffish old Wal-Mart and then galumphing back home to put it together.  My magical housekeeping fervor continues.  Callooh callay, this vorpal stack of papers is finally going to get filed!  I expect to feel quite brillig once it’s all done.

Q is for Quintessential

I never use this word in polite conversation.  My attempts at sounding sophisticated come out sounding prissy instead.  Plus I would probably stumble over its proper pronunciation and make a quintessential fool of myself.

quin·tes·sen·tial

adjective

1.  of the pure and essential essence of something: the quintessential Jewish delicatessen.

2.  of or pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something: the quintessential performance of the Brandenburg Concertos.

The purest, most characteristic, perfect example of a particular type.

Yesterday I fell asleep in the afternoon heat.  I used to watch my grandmother do the same thing.  She’d sit down to read and her eyes would close and her head would nod and the book would fall from her fingers onto her lap.  Once I gently touched her shoulder and startled her awake and she told me she wasn’t really napping, she was just resting her eyes.

So!  Yesterday I was resting my eyes in the warm sunshine.  When I opened them the sky was overcast and a cool breeze was chilling me to the bone.  It’s how the seasons change.  One day it’s summer and the next day it’s just not.  I know the autumnal equinox does not officially begin until the 22nd of September, but here in my little spot on the northern hemisphere it is already fall.  These chilled old bones do not lie.

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, 19th-20th century poet.

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, 19th-20th century poet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found the quintessential bit of poetry to describe exactly how yesterday felt to me.

It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.

–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

 

 

 

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt is probably the quintessential name for a poet.  If I ever expect to make it as a poet I can see I will have to seriously lengthen my name.

English: Sunset at the autumnal equinox

We had the quintessential autumn sunset the other night as I was leaving work, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  Look at this photo and imagine a half deserted parking lot in the foreground, a few power poles here and there and a Wendy’s sign twinkling in the distance.  And take out the waves.  There.  Quintessentially perfect.

Hmm.  Did I just say perfectly perfect?  I’m never using this prissy word again.

I Is For Inky Caps

Aren’t they beautiful? Do they not have the most delightful mushroom name ever?? Much easier to say inky caps than coprinopsis atramentaria.  They’re also known as tippler’s bane because if they’re consumed with alcohol they’re poisonous.  They probably won’t kill you, but symptoms include facial reddening, nausea, vomiting, malaise, agitation, palpitations and tingling in the limbs;  or, in other words, wishing you were dead.

R is for Rhythm of the Rain on the Roof

Summer this year has been a study in extremes.  Scorching hot sunshine one minute,  black skies and pouring rain in a wild thunderstorm the next.  Hail gets thrown in once in a while just to keep us interested.  Last night there was yet another storm, followed by a cool overcast morning, custom-made for sleeping in.

Next door (and close to my bedroom window) the neighbors have a tin roofed storage shed.  When the rain is pounding down on that it’s easy to imagine I’m safe and warm and living inside a giant steel drum.  The sounds are musical.

Of all the songs written about rain, these two are my favourites.  I guess deep down I will always and forever be a child of the ’60′s.

You and me and rain on the roof
Caught up in a summer shower
Drying while it soaks the flowers
Maybe we’ll be caught for hours
Waiting out the sun
You and me were gabbing away
Dreamy conversation sitting in the hay
Honey, how long was I laughing in the rain with you
‘Cause I didn’t feel a drop ’til the thunder brought us to
You and me underneath a roof of tin
Pretty comfy feeling how the rain ain’t leaking in
We can sit and dry just as long as it can pour
‘Cause the way it makes you look makes me hope it rains some more

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I’ve  been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone  again

The only girl I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new  start
But little does she know that when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair
For her to  steal my heart away when she don’t care
I can’t love another when my heart’s  somewhere far away
Rain won’t you tell her that I love her so
Please ask the sun to set her heart aglow
Rain in her heart and let the love we knew start to grow

H is for Horoscope Haiku

Horoscope readings can be enigmatic, bewildering and about as clear as mud.  I know they’re generously peppered with words like possibly, likely, might and may, so that no matter how insane the prediction sounds as a whole, there’s always some little obscure bit of it that is close enough to the truth to make you wonder.  Or at the very least laugh and roll your eyes.

Whiteboard: A l33t haiku and somthing else.

Whiteboard: A l33t haiku and somthing else. (Photo credit: blue_j)

Haiku is a little like that too.  Although originally it wasn’t supposed to be funny. The poems were songs, prayers, and incantations to the gods, meant to celebrate an awareness of the moment, holding all things in reverence.  A haiku is a sort of meditation, conveying an image or a feeling.  Of course if you’re not Japanese you’ll have a harder time getting it right.  But you can still be happy with your “English Haiku” efforts simply by saying what you think and adhering to the 5-7-5 syllable pattern.   Never mind all that stuff about season words, two-part juxtapositional structure, and objective sensory imagery.  Really.  I did some research and ended up with a headache.

But not a severe enough one to stop me from mixing horoscope with haiku and coming up with some incredible poetry.  That’s what I’m calling it.  You may want to describe it some other way.

Cranky love partner,

it’s time to pick a path and

try to heal the rift.

***

When you are patient

on the upside or the down,

gaps become smaller.

***

Make him a sandwich.

Love will bloom if you never

let him get hungry.

***

Don’t just go along

ignoring your best talents.

Get off your fat ass.

***

Try to get along,

accept all the differences,

nobody’s perfect.

***

A blast of romance

will broaden your horizons

with far-reaching change.

***

Happiness backdrop

if you travel far away,

persevere my dear.

***

My horoscope didn’t use the exact words get off your fat ass.  I improvised on that phrase and a few others.  Think haiku horoscope will catch on?  Personally I’m kind of hoping this is a one time thing and we never see it again.

S is for the Stupor that Saved My Soul

HA!  That’s just a tad over dramatic.  Oh well.

Last night I sat here in a work-induced stupor watching old Guess Who videos on YouTube.  Everyone needs a Burton Cummings fix every once in a while. This one suited my mood – staring at a record spinning.  Wow.

My advice to you is to go there and type his name into search and that should effectively write off a large part of your day.

I needed to go to my ‘calm’ place, as opposed to the place where a control freak ego maniac (who also happens to be stupid and forgetful with a bit of meanness and spite thrown in to foster insanity) rules a few odd hours of my life.  Ever notice how the people who make up all the dumb rules also make themselves the exceptions to them?  Funny how that works.  And how impossible it is for me to change anything except the way I react to it all.  Or refuse to react.  Stupors will either save or kill me.

Normally I bite my tongue (or tape up my typing fingers) to avoid complaining about work here.  Sorry that slipped out, but exploding was the other alternative. And hopefully everyone has been so mesmerized by Burton that they’ve not read this far anyway.

And I think I’m over it.  Life’s too short.

The Story Behind Vanilla Grapefruit

The REAL title is G is for Grapefruit, but nobody would get sucked in and excited about that so I spiced it up a little.  Somewhere I read if there’s no “hook” right at the beginning of a story you might as well stop right there and type a letter to your grandmother instead.

Grapefruit is always sour and usually bitter, but has a lot going for it otherwise.  It’s an oblate spheroid for one thing.  I bet you were thinking it’s merely big and round.  The only way this fruit even vaguely resembles a grape is when seen from a great distance growing in grape-like clusters on trees.

Can you imagine buying a cluster of grapefruit?  That would be a lifetime supply for most of us.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a real live fresh one.  However, it’s managed to infiltrate my cosmetics and personal hygiene products in a big way.  Along with other fruits and spices and flavors.

Everything I know about marketing is from a consumer’s point of view, but I’d say they’re on to something when it comes to naming products which people like me find hard to resist.  I have vanilla/grapefruit, honey/apple and cocoa/shea butter lotions.  Nectarine/white ginger,  grapefruit/lemon grass and plum/sukura blossom deodorants.  Cherry blossom/ginseng, apricot/almond and tropical coconut/lime shampoos.  Pomegranate and guava and cranberry – I’ve worn them all.

I’m a great advertising target because obviously I’ll buy anything if it promises to smell weird.  Don’t even get me started on body washes, soaps, lip gloss and candles.  (I’d like to wrap this thing up before midnight.)  The thing about grapefruit is that it goes with just about anything.  It’s been described as zesty, energizing, uplifting, invigorating, crisp, kissed by sunshine, romantic, and refreshing,

Yeah, I know, romantic is a stretch – soft music, sparkling wine, grapefruit and candle light.  But who paired it up with vanilla and made that work?  Or gin, or jicama or mint?  Maybe the same people who mixed it up with orange juice to make it palatable.  Or with quinoa to make me gag.

My title was not just a hook, it was also misleading.  Because the truth is, I DON’T KNOW the story behind vanilla grapefruit.  I googled it and came up with some less than helpful information about Crown Royal Whisky – butterscotch, vanilla, grapefruit pith, simmering spices, and dusty rye.  Whoa.  They should make a body wash out of that.  I’d buy it.