Still Sparkling

Before checking my e-mail this morning I made a solemn promise to myself to answer the Daily WordPress Prompt no matter what.  Every day I read it and have good intentions, but we all know the place to which good intentions are paving the road.  This road is also crowded with people who write awkward sentences and take a long time to get to the point.

Sparkling or Still

What’s your idea of a perfect day off: one during which you can quietly relax, doing nothing, or one with one fun activity lined up after the other? Tell us how you’d spend your time.

At the risk of boring you into a coma, here goes.  Hey, it’s not like I’ve duct taped you to a chair in my living room where you feel obligated to choke down a bad cup of coffee and pretend to listen.  Although that’s how you may feel.

I have been successfully retired for fifty days.  That’s almost two months of continuous days off, and that makes me a self-proclaimed expert on the subject.  Quietly relaxing doing nothing is a fun activity for me, so I choose both answers simultaneously.

My typical day starts with coffee consumed while I scroll through all the e-mails I get from the best of the blogs I follow.  This can take a long time, depending on how interesting you all have decided to be on any particular day.  November has been a crazy month with everyone posting like mad.  I’m anticipating less activity in December when we’re all in Christmas mode.  Even if you don’t celebrate it, it’s pretty hard to ignore altogether.

W finishes reading the paper and most mornings wanders off to the kitchen, eventually interrupting me after making breakfast to tell me to come and cook my own eggs.  He just can’t make himself mutilate eggs the way I do.  Broken, flipped and cooked to death should be a choice in all breakfast restaurants.

If either of us has somewhere to go, we get our act together and do that.  If we don’t, the best way to spend an afternoon for me is messing around in my art room.  Messing around is no vague term.  Sometimes I share my mess, sometimes I don’t.  There was this one oil pastel thing I did that was so hideous I threw it out.  Picture an alien with green eyes and hair on fire.

I also read real books or something on my kindle, clean up, play some word games, write some kind of nonsense on my blog, drum up some ambition to make something for dinner, make lists.  Yes, there are days when I don’t leave my house.  I refuse to feel bad about this, although I will admit some form of physical exercise will have to make it on to one of my lists soon.  Up and down the stairs fifteen times a day should count for something in the meantime.

WAKE UP!  I’m still talking to you.  Don’t you want to hear how I spend my evenings??  They’re more or less a repeat of the afternoons, actually.

Some days I wonder if they miss me at work.  Then I read Dilbert on my page a day calendar and think – nope – probably not.

dilbert nov 20 001
Today is our anniversary so we will probably go out to eat somewhere.  We also know there’s a bunch of leftovers in the fridge and neither of us would care if we opted for that instead.  It’s quite delightful to have days stretch ahead of me which I can fill with whatever I want.

Okay, duct tape is going in the garbage and you’re free to go.  I’ll finish up the coffee.  Draw a couple of flaming red-haired elves.  Try not to get too stressed out by all the excitement in my mad and crazy life.

I worked hard for this!  I’m going to enjoy every single fun and relaxing minute of it.

nano

Scene From A Park

Photo Credit James Lee

Photo Credit James Lee

Writing 101:  Point of View

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.  Write this scene.  Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

We went for a stroll one afternoon in the park. I thought it might be our last outing of the season before the snow came, or even the last for the year until spring, supposing I survived the winter. Possibly the last park stroll of my life. I didn’t know. There were no birds to feed, the geese had all gone south. Leaves were falling and skittering across our path in the brisk wind and there was a faint smell of burning in the autumn air. Cold enough for a jacket buttoned up and for noses and cheeks to tingle. So I was surprised when we came across the old woman sitting alone on her bench, bare hands on cold steel needles. She looked up but the little clicking sounds the needles made as she worked bright red yarn around them never faltered. Her steely grey eyes peered straight through me as if I wasn’t even there. I let go of Sally’s hand and roughly brushed the tears I couldn’t control from my cold cheeks. What the hell? I never used to cry. But my emotions had gone haywire lately. I wanted immediately to lash out at a perfect stranger, shake my fist, yell at her wrinkled old face. Look at me, I’M STILL HERE! I’m not gone yet. And it won’t be today. Today is NOT a good day to die. I looked away, wiped my palms on my jeans, and grabbed Sally’s hand. And then we just kept walking.

There was such a sadness in Sam that last fall we spent together. And so much anger. I honestly don’t know how I’d handle a similar diagnosis, but when he got the bad news, I decided the right thing for him to do was to keep on living. No giving up, no wallowing. I wanted him to be grateful for every single day he had left and happy to live all of them. But his moods were just all over the place. Of course I understood why, but still it was hard for me to cope with the intensity and the fierceness of his feelings. The funniest things would set him off. Like the day we went for a walk in the park. Everything was so beautiful and colourful and crisp. I’ve always loved Indian summer. There was a little old grandma sitting on one of the park benches busily knitting a child’s bright red sweater. She glanced up at us as we approached and I returned her sweet smile. It vanished though, when she looked at Sam. Because he was crying. Deep wrenching sobs, although later he’d claim it was just a few tears from the cold air and some pent-up emotion and naturally he didn’t want to talk about it. He dug his fists into his eyes, and then he grabbed my hand again and almost wrenched my shoulder out of its socket pulling me away. That poor old grandma, I’m sure he must have given her a crazy scare. And poor me. But mostly, poor, poor, dear Sam.

I was never one to sit at home by myself with nobody to talk to and nothing new to see, so as long as the weather stayed decent and my legs were willing, I’d pack up whatever I was working on and shuffle my old bones over to the park across the way. The bench I liked the best was under a big old red maple tree, and that fall it was just gorgeous. Red as the little sweater I had decided to knit for the dog I didn’t have. Once in a while the odd curious person would take the time to stop and chat. I lived for that. I used to tell fortunes and predict the future in my younger days, but those skills must fade away with age and lack of practice, because I got pretty rusty. Still, I liked to give it a whirl whenever I had the chance. Mostly I’d come up with nothing much to write home about. So when that young couple walked up the path it was like I’d been struck by psychic lightning. Her sadness mixed up with bewildered confusion, his rage manifested in clenched fists and choked back tears. Their combined unhappiness almost bowled me over. There was so much I wanted to say to them about hope and faith and nothing written in stone,  but they didn’t stop. Maybe it’s just as well. They were both already resigned to a future they believed they were powerless to change.  Too bad no one likes a little old lady who interferes.

Like a Stone

William Powell Frith - Sleep

William Powell Frith – Sleep

March 23rd Daily Prompt:  Mr. Sandman 

What kind of sleeper are you? Do you drop off like a stone and awaken refreshed, or do you need pitch black and silence to drift off to dream?

(I know this is yesterdays prompt, and I would have done it yesterday if I hadn’t needed to take so many naps.  It’s the only sane way to spend a Monday.)

I am a marathon sleeper.  If sleeping were an Olympic event I would be a high ranking favourite, a definite contender for the gold.  I have been in training my entire life.  When I was a baby my mother said her envious friends were sure she must be sedating me.  She could plop me down on any flat surface while she visited and drank tea and I would stay happily passed out until it was time to bundle me up again and take me home.  It was anyone’s guess what color my eyes were for several months because they were so rarely open.

I don’t remember ever being freaked out by bedtime as a child.  Or as an adult either.  So when I gave birth to a daughter who couldn’t seem to figure out how to sleep for more than four hours at a stretch until she was six months old, and then bumped it up to six hours between midnight and six a.m. until she was almost two – well that was enough to make me totally rethink the parenting thing, never mind my new zombie-like personality caused by sleep deprivation.  She was the kind of kid who would jump up and down in the middle of the room and sing and dance to stay awake.  After that I had a less confusing child who restored my faith in the existence of our family’s powerful sleep gene.  I never loved my son so much as when he would look at me with his forlorn little face at the end of the day and say “Is it time to go to bed yet?”

Although pitch black silence is nice for inducing sleep, for me it’s not a necessary requirement.  My grandma could fall asleep anywhere and so can I.  A loud noise or the phone ringing or incessant and annoying snoring (not mentioning any names here) will wake me up easily enough, but if I’m not sufficiently rested I will be ridiculously cranky until you shut up and go away and leave me alone.  Or give me coffee.  That also works.

Maybe I was a raving insomniac in a past life and in this one I’m making up for all that lost sleep. Sleep is such a lovely thing.  I don’t understand why we all don’t do more of it.  Although I’ve heard there are people who would like to do that and can’t.  That makes me feel like one of the lucky ones.   It’s like my brain has an off switch triggered by simply closing my eyes.  Is that a blessing or a curse?  I don’t know.  Maybe the mysteries of the universe can only be solved at 3 a.m., in which case I probably won’t be the one doing that.

But I’m sure this talent for dropping happily off into dreamland and staying there for hours has to be a true indicator of an untroubled mind, right?

Anyway, don’t think too hard about that.  Just agree with me.  You’ll sleep better.

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?

A Fork Tale

Daily Prompt: 

Write a post about anything you’d like, but be sure to include this sentence somewhere in the final paragraph:

“He tried to hit me with a forklift!”

***********

Clifton Carmichael is a dutiful son.  He goes to visit his 89-year-old mother in the seniors residence every day and patiently listens to all her complaints.angry

The food is terrible here.  Everything is mush.  The coffee is like dishwater.  And those caregivers!  Why do they always mumble and never speak up.? And they don’t listen either.  I tried to tell them that some of my best articles of clothing have been lost by the facility laundry.  Anybody could be wearing my things!  I wanted to keep a look out for them but someone has gone off with my good glasses too.  I don’t think I’m wrong to strongly suspect that old coot, Ernie.  You remember Ernie?  They’ve forced me to share a table with him in the dining room and he is downright cantankerous and extremely unpleasant.  I have no idea why.  I try to be nice, I surely do, but I do not like him, not one little bit.  Why, just the other day he rudely disrupted dinner by waving his cutlery around at me in a very menacing manner.  Clifton, are you listening to me? 

Hmmm…?  Of course mother.  Ernie.  Are you getting along any better with Ernie now?

He tried to hit me with a fork, Clift!

A forklift?  Mama, don’t be ridiculous.  And don’t fret, nobody could get a forklift past the security doors.

A fork, Clift.  FORK!  FORK!  FORK!

Mother,  please!  Shush – such language!  You’ve imagined the forklift.  I’ll get the nurse to give you something to calm your nerves.

Get her to give something to that Fork King, Ernie, why don’t you? He’s the villainous silverware fiend!  Oh, never mind.  Nobody listens to me.  Go home Clifton.  I can look after myself.

Yes. Yes, alright.  I do believe you can.

Clifton Carmichael sighs as he gets up and kisses the top of his mother’s silver head.  Forklifts in the dining room.  Good God, he thinks as he bids her goodbye, what next?

Dancing In The Moonlight

dancing in the moonlight

dancing in the moonlight (Photo credit: AlicePopkorn)

Daily Prompt:  The Full Moon -When the full moon happens, you turn into a person who’s the opposite of who you normally are.  Show us the new you.

The new me, under the light of the full moon, will be dancing her little heart out with beauty and grace.  (The old me is a terrible and awkward dancer with heavy duck feet and a clumsy body which bumps into things and knocks them over.)

I found this picture of opposite me, wearing a fluffy white dress, on a pedestal, taking a breather from all that manic prancing around in the middle of the night.  And still smiling even though my bare feet are wet from the dewy grass and I have no idea how I’m going to get down from there.

It appears that moonlight also makes one young and gorgeous with great hair.  Wow.  That’s better than the magic of candle light, hey?  Get out there in that moonlight, people!

To quote some lovely moony lyrics from King Harvest -

When the moon is big and bright, it’s a supernatural delight

Everybody here is out of sight, they don’t bark and they don’t bite

They keep things loose, they keep it light, it’s such a fine and natural sight

You can’t dance and stay uptight.

Here’s the music I’m using for my next dance under the moon.  Come and join me!  I swear I won’t bark and I won’t bite.  Beyond that, I’m not making any promises about my behaviour.  A full moon does strange things.

Catching Up While Nodding Off

coffee soul wine
Here is a list of words which best describe my frame of mind on this hot and muggy August evening.

1.  Sluggish (an actual slug would look hyperactive in comparison)

2.  Inactive (I’m typing only because I get to sit down to do it)

3.  Unresponsive (W sent me a text and a one word answer wore me out)

4.  Languorous (physically and mentally squishy)

5.  Listless (although not really because, hey - this is a list)

6.  Weary (women do get weary)

7.  Lackadaisical (dreamy, but the dreams are purposeless and beyond weird)

8.  Somnolent (sounds so much more sophisticated than just plain sleepy)

9.  Unambitious (my post-a-day plan has gone for a crap)

10.  Lazy as hell

This has been going on since dragging my butt home following five straight days of work (three is normally my limit and then I turn into a walking zombie).  Then I tried to answer a daily prompt which wanted to know what bores me.  Everything I wrote, if you need to know the answer to that one.  I gave up and wrote this exciting list instead.

Now I’m too embarrassed to reply to old comments because everyone has SO moved on and will have forgotten who I am, never mind what they said to me.  I’m sorry.  But too out of it to drum up the effort to make a sad face.

There!  This can pass for a post!  I am going to hit PUBLISH and go to bed!  Expect slightly greater things tomorrow.  Or possibly the day after that.