Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Third Time's the Charm

Thought for the day:  Why fix it if it ain't broke?

Grandson Aaron is a rather, um,  exuberant eater at times.
Rather than come up with a new post for Thanksgiving week, I'm gonna do a re-run of last year's rerun. (If it ain't broke...) After all, the year may be different, but the sentiment hasn't changed a bit.

Since our grandson is two years older than he was when that picture was taken, his table manners have improved considerably. But he's still cute as a button. (ALL the grandchildren are, of course.) I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, and I'll be back with y'all next Monday. (I plan to spend the weekend doing some very serious... digesting.)


Thought for the day:  An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving day.  [Irv Kupcine]

I'm optimistic, but I'm not stupid, so I won't even pretend to count calories on Thanksgiving. At best, maybe I'll exercise a little discretion and only eat one piece of pie. And skip the whipped cream. (I know. Such phenomenal control.)

Some years ago, when one of our kids was in middle school, I wrote a silly poem for one of the bulletin boards I'd been asked to design for the school's hallway. The senior Bush was president at that time, but with a quick presto change-o to that part of the poem, I'm gonna go with it here for an easy lazy extremely thoughtful post for your enjoyment.

And so, without further ado, I give you ...

                                                                Turkey Blues

                                                There once was a turkey named Jake,
                                                Said, "How much must we poor turkeys take?
                                                When Thanksgiving rolls round,
                                                We must go underground;
                                                Why can't all those people eat STEAK?"

                                                   Now, turkeys may not be so pretty,
                                                   Can't fly, and aren't very witty,
                                                   But with a leader like Jake, 
                                                   A chance they might take,
                                                   So a bunch of them left for the city.

                                                   Jake led a big march on D.C.
                                                  (The IN place for protests, you see)
                                                  "We don't want any fights.
                                                  But we, too, should have rights,
                                                  For this is the land of the free!"

                                                  Obama came out on the green
                                                  With the most turkeys I've ever seen,
                                                   Said, "The issue is not at all murky ...
                                                   Rights are for MAN and not TURKEY;
                                                   That's the way that it always has been."

                                                  Thanksgiving is special in the U.S. of A.
                                                  And turkeys are heroes, I'd like to say.
                                                  So thank the next turkey you meet on the street
                                                  For being so terribly tasty to eat
                                                  And have a great Thanksgiving Day!


Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.      Erma Bombeck

Hmmm, this is one smart bird. Crabs would be even better than steak...

One final thought: I'd like to wish all my Jewish friends out there a very Happy Hanukkah. As a Christian, I'm certainly no authority on the subject, but I do know that Hanukkah commemorates a miracle, when a single day's supply of oil kept a lantern burning brightly through eight dark nights. So it is an 8-day festival of light that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and spirituality over materialism. Seems to me, whatever your religion or non-religion may be, these are all things worth celebrating. So, Happy Hanukkah, everybody. May the light always conquer the darkness in our lives.

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Half a Century

Thought for the day: Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.  [John F. Kennedy]

When this family picture was taken in Hyannis Port in August of 1962, no one realized how little future our American president had left. And it's hard to fathom that this day, November 22, 2013, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the day he was assassinated.

Fifty years. Half a century. Yet, those of us who are old enough to remember that day remember exactly what we were doing when we heard the news. Images of that day and the days that followed are indelibly etched into our minds. Jackie's chic pink suit, splattered with blood... young John-John saluting his father's coffin... the subsequent on-camera shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald... and so much more. But fifty years? Has it really been that long since the end of Camelot?

I wasn't planning to write about this today, but the fiftieth anniversary is hard to ignore. Especially when so many newspapers and television networks are commemorating it by highlighting every detail of those days. The images already residing in our minds and psyches are being shown on TV stations all over the world today, reinforcing them and threatening to break our hearts all over again.

But I don't want to relive that horrible day. Once was enough. Personally, I'd rather think about his life.

In the 1943 picture above, that's JFK on the far right, when he was serving as commander of  PT-109. After a Japanese vessel cut the PT in half, his actions to keep his crew alive were nothing short of amazing... the stuff of legends. Things like swimming three miles to shore... while towing an injured crew member by a strap, which he held in his teeth. A star-struck young boy asked him what it was like to be a war hero, and JFK responded, "It wasn't voluntary. They sunk my boat."

                                                     Anybody remember this song? [1962]

I think one of the things we found so intriguing about this good-looking president with the broad Boston accent and silver tongue was his role as a family man. It was endearing to see his young children scampering around the White House... to see pictures of him working at his desk in the Oval Office, with John-John playing beneath it... to see him walking beside his daughter Caroline while she sat on her pony Macaroni. Even though most of us couldn't identify with his wealthy background, when we saw pictures of him playing touch football with his brothers, or saw him walking and playing with his children, he seemed like one of us. And he seemed to care... about equal rights, about the poor, about the disenfranchised.

And, man, could he ever deliver a speech. Most of us remember his words, Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," but a whole book could be written about some of his other lesser-known utterances, too.

Like these:

*  Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

* Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.

* Do not pray for easier lives. Pray to be stronger men.

*As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

* When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.

* If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

*  Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the the discomfort of thought.

* The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.

Then there was the famous speech he delivered in Berlin. He took quite a media hit over that one. Here's what I wrote about it in a 2011 post:

Do you remember (or have you heard about) the speech President Kennedy made in West Germany on June 26, 1963? That was just twenty-two months after the Berlin wall went up, and he attempted to express his solidarity with the people of West Germany that day. His exact words were: Ich bin ein Berliner.

Unfortunately, a Berliner happens to be a type of jelly donut made in Berlin, and following that speech, President Kennedy got a merciless ribbing in the media for allegedly making a linguistic faux pas by declaring to the German people: I am a jelly donut.  He took the worst ribbing from America's so-called liberal press, but he also made the news in other parts of the world, as well, and for years,  teachers all over America referenced this speech when instructing their German classes about the proper and improper use of the word ein. Check out what appeared as recently as 1988 in the New York Times:

It's worth recalling, again, President John F. Kennedy's use of a German phrase while standing before the Berlin Wall. It would be great, his wordsmiths thought, for him to declare himself a symbolic citizen of Berlin. Hence, Ich bin ein Berliner. What they did not know, but could easily have found out, was that such citizens never refer to themselves as 'Berliners.' They reserve that term for a favorite confection often munched at breakfast. So, while they understood and appreciated the sentiments behind the President's impassioned declaration, the residents tittered among themselves when he exclaimed, literally, "I am a jelly-filled doughnut."
— William J. Miller, I Am a Jelly-Filled Doughnut, The New York Times April 30, 1988[10]

So why bring it up now? Because I just discovered that, in fact, President Kennedy's words were absolutely correct, even if they were delivered with a Boston accent. If he had said, "Ich bin Berliner," as his critics insisted he should have, he would have sounded foolish. Obviously, with the way he mangled the German language, he was most certainly not a native of Berlin. According to multiple evaluations of the speech by Germans, the way he said it actually indicated, "I am one with the people of Berlin," which is exactly what he wanted to say. And which is exactly how the Germans received it. None of the ridicule leveled at him ever came from the Germans.

Yes, JFK died fifty years ago today. But I'd rather remember the smiling faces as his open-topped car crept past a cheering Dallas crowd. I don't want to remember what happened to wipe the smile off our collective face. I don't want to remember the end of our collective idealism. I don't want to remember the end of Camelot.

With thousands of other people, I was in Washington the day of the funeral procession. It was a cold clear day, and the crowd was enormous. What stands out in my mind, even after all these years, is that in spite of the crowd... made up of people of all ages... there was no idle chatter when the casket rolled past. No coughs. No sneezes. The only sound I remember was the slow clop-clop of horses' hooves.

 Ah, Johnny, we barely knew ye... 

Although his light was extinguished far too soon, the memorial flame at Arlington Cemetery for John Fitzpatrick Kennedy, thirty-fifth president of the United States... will burn forever. 

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

What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.  [Robert Kennedy]

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Now, What Was I Saying?

Thought for the day:  Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.  [Steven Wright]

It's been said many times that elephants never forget. Big whooping deal! I mean, what do they have to remember, anyhow? They don't have to remember where they parked the car. Don't have to remember where they left their keys or suitcase, either. Because... wait for it... (Ba-da boom!) their trunks are always with them. (Sorry.)

Okay, so actually elephants do have an excellent memory. According to a Scientific American article from January of 2009, elephants don't have very good eyesight, but they never forget a face. Bully for them. I, on the other hand, have been known to run into someone I sang with in the church choir for twenty plus years without being able to pull his name out of my brain. Not to be too tough on myself, I did recognize his face... it was just that pesky name that eluded me, and elephants, of course, don't have to remember names, now, do they? All they have to do is remember more trivial stuff, you know, things that their survival may or may not depend upon. Like where to find water... who poses a threat to the herd, that kinda stuff. They don't forget enemies... and they don't forget friends. Even after more than twenty years. [This video is just over seven minutes long, so if you don't want to take the time to watch it, no biggie. But if you do watch it, you might want to grab a tissue first. ]

At any rate, that's neither here nor there. I didn't intend to make myself feel completely irrelephant by comparing my crappy memory to that of a pachyderm, but my train of thought got temporarily derailed for a minute.

Now then. I wanted to talk about the irritating creep of forgetfulness, but I... forgot. Yeah, a lot of that going around these days.

 Ever waste fifteen minutes looking for your eyeglasses, only to find them perched atop your head? Or searched frantically for a pencil that's safely resting on your ear? Right where you put it.

Ever stash something important for safe-keeping, somewhere you know you'll remember... and then forget where ya put it?

One of the joys of hanging out with long-time friends is creating memories together... even if you don't always remember them.

How many times have you gone into a room to do a task, and ended up doing fifteen other things, and leaving without doing what you went in there to do in the first place?

Okay, so forgetting to put on clothes may indicate a more serious problem, but a certain amount of forgetfulness, while certainly annoying, is par for the course, and nothing to worry about. Best we can do is stimulate our brains by reading, doing puzzles, learning new things, and engaging in stimulating conversations. (preferably with other people)

Mark Twain said, If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. 

And the truth is... this video is a hoot. Not only does Pam Peterson have a lovely voice, she's got a lovely sense of humor, too. Can't do anything about your slippery memory? Might as well laugh about it.

                      One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory. [Rita Mae Brown]

                                              Maybe that's why I'm so happy?

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

Oh, wait, WAIT! Before I (ahem) forget, remember that Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade Goodreads giveaway I told y'all about last time? Well, the window's open a lot wider now. Not just to the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia... but to every single country listed by Goodreads.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Free Stuff is... Priceless

Thought for the day:  When the window of opportunity opens, sometimes ya just gotta climb through.

The temperatures are a little chilly, but that's okay. I'm washing the windows, anyway, and fixing to throw 'em wide open so y'all can come on in. So to speak.

See that spiffy Goodreads Book Giveaway widget in the sidebar? The one that invites you to enter to win a FREE! FREE! FREE! autographed copy of Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade? Yeah, that one.

No strenuous activity required, either. No climbing out on a ledge or up the side of a building, no aerobic exercise and heavy breathing. None of that. All ya have to do is... enter. Easy peasy.

WHOOSH! The window is open now, and guess what? No matter how cold it gets, I'm not gonna close it until midnight of December 11, when five... that's right... FIVE!... winners will be selected by the fine folks at Goodreads.  Hey! You could win a FREE! FREE! FREE! Christmas or I love you present to give away. Or, what the heck... keep it for yourself. But ya can't win, if you don't enter. So go ahead. Make my day. Enter. (Open to the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia)

Talking about FREE! FREE! FREE! stuff, two lovely ladies...  Julie Flanders and Lexa Cain... will be hosting a bloghop next month, with lots of free stuff up for grabs. The object of the hop? Its title kinda says it all, but the official blurb elaborates: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Beaches of Hawaii? Slopes of Vail? Cancun, Paris, or Rome? Where is your dream destination? 

Simple enough, right? And you have plenty of time to think about it, so no excuses. Besides, with as busy as things get to be this time of year, it'll be kinda nice to write a post for this one ahead of time, dontcha think? If you're interested, you can sign up to participate at either of their blogs. You can also see the ever-growing list of prizes there, too.

Yep, free stuff is definitely priceless, but when things do have a cost, it's a good idea to pay attention to where ya put the darned price tag. Otherwise, the results can be downright hilarious:

Who amassed those pictures, I don't know. Smarticus received them from a friend, who received them from a friend, who... you get the idea. Anyhow, they were new to me, so I thought they might be new to you, too. They're, um... priceless, dontcha think?

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Going Where the Wind Blows

Thought for the day: I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails and always reach my destination.  [Jimmy Dean]

If you don't have a specific destination in mind, I don't reckon you're ever lost. I had a destination in mind, but I'm gonna have to adjust my sails a bit to get there a little more quickly than I'd planned. Smarticus and I have been out and about a good part of the day, so not much time left to get this post ready to publish at its usual 12:34 AM time slot. No problem. Remember Colonel Flagg from the oldie but goodie TV show M*A*S*H? One line he said quite frequently is, "I am the wind." Well, that's me this evening. Gonna blow through this post and be outta here before ya know it.

At least, that's the plan. No telling which way the wind's gonna blow for sure...

Smarticus took this shot at Lake Louisa Park.
You've probably heard of a Mexican Stand-Off before... well this picture is what I'd call a Floridian Stand-Off. Pretty cool to see a grasshopper and lizard sitting so close together, isn't it?

Smarticus and our son took these three to Lake Louisa Park on Saturday, and let them lead the way for a hike. In plus ninety degree temperatures, and high humidity. Let's just say, they all got plenty of exercise. (Did I happen to mention it was over ninety degrees?)

Our daughter-in-law, granddaughters Jordan and Ella, and I, on the other hand, opted to get our exercise at an air-conditioned mall. Shopping isn't my thing, but we were on a special mission: finding Jordan a dress for her homecoming dance. That made it fun, even if Ella got a little wore out, and Atlas got a little fussy. (Grandma got a little wore out and fussy, too, but no one offered to carry me.)

Smarticus and I spent one day doing the TT thing. (Typical Tourist) Yep, we went to Universal. The price of admission is ridiculous. Heck, it cost sixteen bucks just to park... and then we had to walk more than a mile just to get from our car to the park itself. (Yeah, I heard there were shuttles available, but we didn't see any, so we hoofed it.)

This picture doesn't really do the huge Transformer justice. If I remember right, it's in the area of the park that looks like the streets of New York. Another area looks like the San Francisco pier. Illusion is the name of the game. The movie sets feel... real.

Attractions are based on various movies and TV shows. Some of the rides within those attractions are something else. Nothing like zooming downhill backwards on a roller coaster... in pitch darkness.

I think our favorite attraction was based on "Despicable Me 2." That roller coaster ride puts you right into the scene with the characters, thanks to 3-D glasses, which are provided for a lot of the rides. My favorite part of the day was hearing Smarticus laugh like a little kid on this ride. (We reeeeeally like the Minions.)

It was a grand day. One thing I'd recommend if you ever visit Universal, though. Spring for the express passes. After waiting in line for about an hour to get into Shrek, we bit the bullet and treated ourselves to them. Life's too darned short to spend all day waiting in line.

One thing we usually see in Florida that we don't see anywhere else... skywriting. The most frequent thing is "God loves you" and a smiley face. That's probably what this one was gonna be, too, but all it shows so far is... GO.

Which is what I've gotta do.

Yep, I've gotta hop right outta here. 'Cause that's just the way the wind is blowing...

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

Things Go Better With Waves

Thought for the day:  The cure for anything is salt water— sweat, tears, or the sea.  [Isak Dinesen]

Yeah, without a doubt, I tend to lose my head (and heart) when it comes to the ocean, or any other body of water, for that matter.

Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.  [Robert Henri]

I don't know why I love the water so much. I just do. On a very primal level, it speaks to my soul. Corny? Maybe, but it's true.

To myself, I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.  [Isaac Newton]

Yeah, what Isaac said. Plus, it smells good.

Before I get to the gist of this post, about our visit to Florida last month, let me preface it with a picture of someone we had the pleasure of meeting the weekend before we left town.

Blogging pal Mr. Charleston came to our little ol' town that weekend to attend an Italian car show with some of his buddies... and Smarticus and I met up with him there! How cool is that? Spiffy hat he's wearing, isn't it? Not sure who that fat old lady is standing next to him. (She does look vaguely familiar, though...)

Okay, on to Florida... and the beach. Cocoa Beach, to be precise.

Smartacus and I  had a good bit of free time during the weekdays, and bless his heart, he surprised me by taking me to the beach one day. Woo-Hoo!  I didn't even ask...! (And yes, he got a lot of brownie points for being so darned sweet.)

I was surprised at how many swimmers and surfers were in the water. And even more surprised at how warm the water was. Who'd a thunk it? In October!

There's a kind of bird I've always loved to watch at the beach. Sandpipers, maybe? They have such a funny way of scampering across the sand. Their legs move a hundred miles an hour, but their bodies stay stiff and erect, with barely a twitch. Hmmm, maybe they move so fast because the sand's so hot?

A long pier extends across the beach and out over the water. The covered section houses some little shops and a multitude of watering holes. Out at the end of the pier, a bunch of folks were testing their luck with heavy-duty fishing poles.

I'm not even one hundred percent sure what this sign is supposed to mean, but it cracked me up, anyway. Trespassed...?

Here's another shot of the pier from a different perspective. See that building out near the end? Know what it is?

Ta DA! A tiki bar! No wonder those fishermen weren't complaining about baking out there in the sun...

It was awesome being beside the ocean again... smelling it, feeling the water swirl around our feet and the salty breeze ruffle our hair. Well... okay, amend that to ruffle my hair... Smarticus' hair doesn't do much ruffling in the breeze anymore. Hey! He was wearing a hat! That's what I meant. Yeah, that's it...

Anyhow, one of the reasons the visit meant so much to me is because I didn't have to ask. He knew. Know why he knew? He read my book! In Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, Pearl loves the ocean as much as I do. (Fancy that!) And she wanted her husband to take her to Atlantic City, not because she asked, but because he knew how much she loved the ocean. Get the picture?

    Pearl felt like leaping and dancing her way to the ocean, and it was all she could do not to break into an all-out run. As soon as she reached the sand, she kicked off her shoes and squished its gritty warmth through her toes. Then, with shoes in hand, she continued toward the water, her attention focused on the distant whitecaps rolling into shore.
    The ocean's scent was unmistakable now. She breathed it in and let it out slowly, as though she hated to let any of it go. Salty mist caressed her face, a sun-kissed breeze ruffled her hair, and she walked faster.
    As she approached the water's edge, fleeting imprints of her feet followed her across the ocean-kissed sand. Watery fingers stretched toward her, and swiped a playful lap at her feet. She splashed through it, and with arms lifted in triumph, stepped into the surf.

I really wish that fat lady would stop hijacking her way into our pictures.

Yeah, I wore beach shoes. (That sand was hot!) And my sweet hubby packed our shoes in the car, without me knowing about it. (awww) We both forgot how difficult it could be to plod across the soft sand. The wet stuff, no problem, but that soft stuff... oh heck, maybe we're just soft. But the ocean? It's every bit as magical as I remember.

Before I go, one more picture. A fitting ending, with Mr. C the opening bracket, and this lovely lady the closing one...

The delightful Pixel Peeper and her hubby met Smarticus and me for brunch. We had a blast! Even though we'd never met before, we immediately recognized each other. (Or we thought we did... as we were enthusiastically squealing and hugging, she paused to say, "You are Susan, I hope...")

You know, I'm inclined to say that the people we meet and like online, the people we meet through blogging and feel an affinity for... that's real. Blogging pals aren't just blogging pals. They're not cyber-friends; they're friends.  How totally cool it was to meet two of those friends face-to-face instead of just blog-to-blog.

Oh, are you wondering if the ocean spoke to my soul this time? Nah.. it just waved. (HA! Just kidding.)

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.

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

P.S. Next Monday is Veterans' Day. To all of you veterans out there, my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.