Friday, October 12, 2018

Ya Winn Some, Ya Lose Some

Thought for the day:  A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history... with the possible exception of handguns and tequila. [Mitch Radcliffe]

Like J.H. Goldfuss said, There is only one satisfying way to boot a computer.

Right. Actually, I can't blame my computer. Or my camera. It's (gulp) ME. (Ohhhh, the shame of it all...)

See, I had easy peasy plans for today's post. Last weekend, we went someplace really cool, and I took a bunch of pictures. So far, so good, right? Just post the pictures, add a comment here and there, and BANG! Done!

Except... I, um... lost the pictures. (And shhhh! This isn't the first time I've done it.) Talk about an oopsie moment! Somewhere between trying to transfer them from my camera to my computer, they got... lost. And natch, they automatically deleted from my camera, too. I found a folder where they should be, but I can't open it. Found two pictures, but the rest? Who knows where they are? So much for all of those cool pictures. (sigh)

So I found a handful of pics on Wikipedia and on our county's Historical Society webpage. They'll have to do.

[Gwinnett Historical Society]

We spent a sunny Saturday morning at a fun fair at the Elishu Winn House. The house was built in 1812, and served many government functions in the early days of our county. The barn's third floor served as a courthouse, and our county's first elections were held in the parlor. The county's first jail... which was actually a small barn... was also located here... and the first executions by hanging were carried out here, as well. This picture is the before picture... what the house looked like prior to restoration.


THIS is what the house looks like now. Touring the house was like taking a step back into history. The furniture! The quilts! The toys!

(ahem) Guess you'll have to take my word for it.

A one-room schoolhouse.

The jail.

The privy. Nope, I didn't go inside.

A couple re-enactors. Really nice guys.

One of the guns in action. The pics I took showed both guys shooting at the same time, and lots of smoke. (sigh) You'll have to take my word for it.

Well, dang. Now I can't find the two pics that I'd located before. (I'm beginning to suspect I'm too stupid to own a computer...) They were shots of the blacksmith at work. In addition to two fellas doing that hot work, there were other demonstrators, as well, showing things like weaving, quilting, and lace-making. Lots of interesting stuff to see. Lots of booths set up under white tents. Vendors selling food, artwork, crafts, etc. It was a fun outing, and I'm totally bummed I lost all those pictures. After spending waaaay too long trying to find them, I then spent waaaaay too long trying to find a funny essay about a grandfather grumbling about technology. No luck there, either.

But I did find this, a poem that I bet will resonate with a bunch of you. Unfortunately, I don't know who wrote it. I didn't, but I sure do relate to a lot of it...
A little house with three bedrooms,
One bathroom and one car on the street
A mower that you had to push
To make the grass look neat.
In the kitchen on the wall
We only had one phone,
And no need for recording things,
Someone was always home.
We only had a living room
Where we would congregate,
Unless it was at mealtime
In the kitchen where we ate..
We had no need for family rooms
Or extra rooms to dine.
When meeting as a family
Those two rooms would work out fine.
We only had one TV set
And channels maybe two,
But always there was one of them
With something worth the view
For snacks we had potato chips
That tasted like a chip.
And if you wanted flavor
There was Lipton's onion dip.
Store-bought snacks were rare because
My mother liked to cook
And nothing can compare to snacks
In Betty Crocker's book
Weekends were for family trips
Or staying home to play
We all did things together -
Even go to church to pray.
When we did our weekend trips
Depending on the weather,
No one stayed at home because
We liked to be together
Sometimes we would separate
To do things on our own,
But we knew where the others were
Without our own cell phone
Then there were the movies
With your favorite movie star,
And nothing can compare
To watching movies in your car
Then there were the picnics
at the peak of summer season,
Pack a lunch and find some trees
And never need a reason.
Get a baseball game together
With all the friends you know,
Have real action playing ball -
And no game video.
Remember when the doctor
Used to be the family friend,
And didn't need insurance
Or a lawyer to defend
The way that he took care of you
Or what he had to do,
Because he took an oath and strived
To do the best for you
Remember going to the store
And shopping casually,
And when you went to pay for it
You used your own money?
Nothing that you had to swipe
Or punch in some amount,
And remember when the cashier person
Had to really count?
The milkman used to go
From door to door,
And it was just a few cents more
Than going to the store.
There was a time when mailed letters
Came right to your door,
Without a lot of junk mail ads
Sent out by every store .
The mailman knew each house by name
And knew where it was sent;
There were not loads of mail addressed
To "present occupant"
There was a time when just one glance
Was all that it would take,
And you would know the kind of car,
The model and the make
They didn't look like turtles
Trying to squeeze out every mile;
They were streamlined, white walls, fins
And really had some style
One time the music that you played
Whenever you would jive,
Was from a vinyl, big-holed record
Called a forty-five
The record player had a post
To keep them all in line
And then the records would drop down
And play one at a time.
Oh sure, we had our problems then,
Just like we do today
And always we were striving,
Trying for a better way.
Oh, the simple life we lived
Still seems like so much fun,
How can you explain a game,
Just kick the can and run?
And why would boys put baseball cards
Between bicycle spokes
And for a nickel, red machines
Had little bottled Cokes?
This life seemed so much easier
Slower in some ways
I love the new technology
But I sure do miss those days.
So time moves on and so do we
And nothing stays the same,
But I sure love to reminisce
And walk down memory lane.
With all today's technology
We grant that it's a plus!
But it's fun to look way back and say,

Some of us, anyway. Can you relate to any of the stuff in the poem? Did you ever fetch bottles of milk from your front porch in the early morning, and find the cold weather had popped the top off above a big pile of yukky cream? (NOT a pleasant memory...) Have YOU ever managed to lose photos when you were trying to move them from your camera to your computer? Please tell me I'm not the only one.  (I sure never had this kinda trouble with my trusty ol' Brownie or Instamatic...)

                         Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Writer's Convoluted Path

Thought for the day:  You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer. [Margaret Atwood]

If by nerve, Ms. Atwood means an undercurrent of masochistic tendencies, then I'd have to agree. Oops! Did I grumble-write that out loud? (ahem) Just kidding.

Hi-ya. As you can probably discern by that telltale badge, it's once again time for our monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group postings. This, the first Wednesday of the month, gives writers all over the world the opportunity to celebrate, complain, and commiserate about the joyful and not-so-joyful aspects of writing. Humble thanks and a jolly tip of the hat go to Alex Cavanaugh, our fearless ninja leader and the originator of this fine group. If you'd like to join (It's FREE!) or would like to read some of the other posts, please go HERE

[source: morguefile]
Okay, so maybe it's a slight exaggeration to suggest that writers have a masochistic bent, but I suspect very few writing careers resemble an idyllic ride in a snazzy red convertible through a picturesque countryside on a straightaway road devoid of traffic and stop signs. Just picture it: our imaginary sun-drenched writer, whistling a happy tune while zipping full speed ahead toward fame and fortune.

Yeah... no. That's not likely to happen, and for most writers, a tank might be more practical than a convertible, because a lot of stuff will be thrown at 'em as they struggle to reach the Promised Land of being... of feeling like... a Real Writer, and who wants to be stuck in a vehicle with the stench of rotten tomatoes and a bunch of icky gunk in their hair? Rejections, bad reviews, lack of sales, blah, blah, blah. Self-doubts can grow and spread like a cancer, making it difficult to see the road ahead clearly. (And the icky gunk dripping into their eyes doesn't help much, either...)

Nah. I don't think it's like a ride in either a convertible or a tank; it's more like a roller coaster. Sure, there are downs, and they can be pretty scary, but there are high points, too. Kinda like this:

Without meaning to, Charles Dickens described the writing life well: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. 

And Ernest Hemingway said There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it with charges. 

[It's rather comforting to know a master like Hemingway said writing isn't always a Sunday ride in a convertible, isn't it?]

No doubt, writers experience lots of ups and downs, but if you think about it, maybe that's a good thing. Consider an EKG: if there aren't any ups and downs, you're d-e-a-d, people, so maybe... just maybe... all of those ups and downs we experience are a natural part of living. Know what that means? During those desperate down times... those days when there are no sales at all and the words refuse to come... we must remember that there WILL be better days ahead. More ups to come. And ya know what? Those ups more than make up for the downs, even if we sometimes forget.

[source: clipart]

Now then, how about a quick peek at this month's question:

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Hmmm, good questions. First one: My very smart daughter tells me I'm an empath. I don't know if that's true or not, but I am very much affected by world events and the people around me. Negative emotions brought on by world events can make it very difficult for me to write or be creative in any way. Forcing myself to write during those times can result in some verrrrrrry dark writing, as those who read the early draft of my latest book could tell you. When my more positive nature takes the helm, the words flow much more freely, and there tends to be more humor in them.

As for the second question, a resounding yes. Recording my private thoughts during a sometimes difficult childhood helped me survive with a modicum of sanity... and I still have some of it left.

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Don't Mess Up My Do!

Thought for the day: I came; I saw; I conquered. [Julius Caesar]

[source: morguefile]

Well, good for ol' Julius, I say. Me? I'm more in the I came; I saw; I took a picture camp. I mean, the idea of climbing a mountain simply because it's there holds absolutely no appeal to me. Nada. Zilch. Zero. If that makes me a wimp, sobeit. At least, I'm still alive.

I also have no desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, be shot out of a cannon, tame a tiger or go swimming in a waterfall.

                                           Check out this short video of Niagara Falls:

 Horseshoe Falls, AKA the Canadian Falls, is the largest of the three waterfalls that make up the Niagara Falls, which lie on the border between Ontario and New York. It's 167 feet (51 m) high and 2700 feet (820 m) wide. Amazing, isn't it? So what do you think when you look at this massive amount of roaring water? Something along the lines of WOW? I mean it's breathtakingly beautiful, which is why it's been a favorite honeymoon destination for so many years. It's kinda humbling, too, to see such a powerful force on display.

So. How many of you look at it and think, I believe I'd like to conquer all that power? Come on... show of hands. Nobody? All right, then. At least I know I'm not the only wimp around here. Unlike us, people have been challenging the falls since the 1800s. Why? Um, because it's there, I suppose.

These old photos from Wikicommons show daredevil Charles Blondin, who, in 1859,  thought it'd be a fine idea to take a stroll across the Niagara Falls gorge on a tightrope. From one hundred sixty feet above the river gorge, to be precise, on a three-inch thick cable stretching 1100 feet. No safety equipment at all. Just his balancing pole. The dude was so sure of his success, he even offered to carry someone over on his back. (What a guy!) Alas, no one took him up on the offer. (Musta been a bunch of wimps like us.)

But that was just his first attempt. In subsequent crossings, he walked the tightrope while blindfolded, pushed a wheelbarrow, and yes... even carried someone across on his back. His agent. His brave... or crazy as a bedbug... agent. (I sure hope he got paid more than the standard 10% for that gig.)

After Blondin's feat, others replicated the gorge crossing... because they could, I suppose. But it wasn't until 2012 that someone actually walked the tightrope over the falls themselves.
                                                    The famous daredevil Nik Wallenda:

Not interested in taking a stroll on a tightrope, huh? Nah, me neither. Heck, I twisted my ankle just walking across the bedroom floor last week. .. no tightrope involved. For sure, my middle name isn't Grace, and with good reason. So if not a tightrope, how about a... barrel?

[source: wikipedia]
Would you believe the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel was... a woman?! Not that I think women are less courageous than men; it's more a matter of believing women are, shall we say... less rash. Not only was Annie Edison Taylor the very first person to make that plunge successfully, but she did it on her sixty-third birthday! (What did you do on your sixty-third birthday...?) What? Oh yeah, a lot of you haven't even hit 63 yet. Sorry about that. So what are the chances you might try something like this when you do hit 63? I don't remember what I did... but I can guaran-damn-tee ya, it was a far far cry from doing that.

In 1901, Annie, a widow fearful of ending up in the poorhouse, rode the barrel over the falls with the hope of gaining a better financial future. Her custom-made barrel of oak and iron was padded with a mattress, and after being tossed overboard from a boat, the river carried her barrel to and over Horseshoe Falls. She came through the ordeal relatively unscathed, with only a small cut on her head. Know what she said afterwards? If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat... I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Falls.

So. I guess it wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs, huh? What's more, her financial security was brief-lived. She earned a bit of money traveling around with her barrel and giving speeches, but her manager absconded with her barrel. The cad. She used her meager savings to track him and her barrel down, only to have him and the barrel disappear again. She lived out her life working as a clairvoyant and providing magnetic therapeutic treatments. (If she were a clairvoyant, I wonder why she couldn't find her barrel...?)

[source: wikipedia]
One last wackaddoodle daredevil. Bobby Leach was a circus performer and stuntman, who often bragged that anything Annie could do, he could do better. So in July of 1911, he took the plunge in his barrel, becoming the second person to succeed. He survived, but he also spent six months in the hospital recuperating from his many injuries, including two broken knees and a fractured jaw. And yet... and yet... he became quite famous, much much more so than poor Annie ever did. (Reminds me of a Virginia Wolfe quote: For most of history, anonymous was a woman.) At any rate, Leach made good money touring Canada, the U.S. and England, giving speeches about his death-defying plunge over the falls, showing off his barrel and posing for pictures. In a strange twist of fate, this self-aggrandizing stuntman and daredevil was killed, not by some death-defying act, but by a dastardly banana peel. While on a publicity tour in New Zealand in 1926, he slipped on said peel and injured his leg in the fall. The injury got infected, he got gangrene, and he succumbed two months later. Such irony. It wasn't the appeal of dangerous feats that did him in... it was a lowly peel.I'm sure there's a moral in that story somewhere.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. [Muhammed Ali]

 I say staying alive is a pretty darned good accomplishment

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. [Martin Luther King, Jr.]

Agreed. Kinda makes me think of the state of world politics right now. And just as I choose not to dive into Niagara Falls, I also choose to steer clear of talking politics these days. Rather than plunge into the chaotic roar, I'll wear a slicker and stand at a nice safe distance with the other tourists, where the mist may reach me, but I won't drown in negativity. Because, you know, I wouldn't want to mess up my do.

                           Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.