Women Dancing

music-594955_640 What brings people of different cultures together? How does a roomful of strangers from countries as diverse as India, England, Ghana, Spain, and the US form a bond? That’s a question I now know the answer to, and I’d like to share it with you.

I recently had the opportunity to go on an international cruise and was fascinated by the variety of dress, language, and culture on board. I’ve always been a people person, but while I love making new friends, I’m a little hesitant to reach out when the cultural differences are so strong. Thanks to the language barrier, conversation isn’t always an option and you never know how this person with completely different life experiences might react to your overtures of friendship. So I continued to enjoy the diversity from afar.

Then one morning as my friend and I were sitting in the lobby, one of the crew members put on some catchy dance music. I noticed one woman at a table in the corner start clapping and nodding her head to the beat and before long she stood and began to dance in her little space. Others applauded and, encouraged, she moved out to the main floor and began to dance in earnest.

A beautiful black woman, she wore robes that suggested Africa, and danced in a flowing, almost ballet style. When the music ended everyone cheered. She grinned and motioned for her elderly mother to join her. This lovely senior citizen rose and made her slow but dignified way towards the front. And, though somewhat bent and arthritic, when the music started . . . she  busted some moves! The crowd went wild and more women joined them on the dance floor.

The clincher was the Congo line.  When that started most of the women in the room joined in, and you’ve never so many glowing faces and smiling eyes. As the line wove it’s way into a circle, people took turns dancing through the middle, encouraged by the applause and support of the entire group. Even those who would ordinarily never dream of dancing in public found themselves having the time of their lives. We laughed and cheered each other on for almost an hour, until exhaustion set in and the crowd finally began to disperse.

After that, whenever we’d see each other on the ship we’d high five and grin. No words were necessary. It was, as my friend so aptly put it, a magical experience. What brings people of different cultures together? I think I know – music, dance, smiles, a shared love of connection, and the fact that we have a lot more in common than we realize. My new motto? Get up and dance!

Great Dance Music! http://talkaboutpopmusic.net/2015/05/16/lets-get-the-party-started/

Good Samaritan @ Smith’s Pharmacy

thanksWell, I’m back from the twilight zone. I’m not sure if anyone will ever see this because my readership has tanked due to my self-imposed blog fast, but I hope someone does because this is a great story. It’ll make you happy!

My 24-year-old daughter Josie is a caretaker, she has a nurturing heart and has always been the listening ear/shoulder to cry on for her brothers and anyone else who‘s singing the blues. As of now she has a job taking care of Cindy, a handicapped individual, who though smart as a whip is sadly, paralyzed.

My daughter’s job is to care for Cindy’s needs and make her as comfortable as possible. They have a great time visiting museums and movie theaters, the zoo and the aquarium, but it’s not always fun and games. Jo also drives her to doctors appointments, takes her shopping, styles her hair and even feeds her. Needless to say, this is a very special relationship.

About a week ago my daughter and her charge were at a pharmacy waiting to pick up some medication. It had been a long day and Cindy was hungry. Josie bought some yogurt and proceeded to feed it to her. After a few minutes a nattily dressed older gentleman came over and seemed to be watching them.

“Is this a mother daughter relationship,” he said.

My daughter, not sure what to make of him said, “No.”

“Are you sisters?”

“We’re not. This is Cindy and I’m her caretaker.”

“Well,” he continued, “will you two do something for me?”

Radar on full alert now Josie hesitated, and watched as the man reached into his pocket.  He pulled out his wallet, and proceeded to hand them a $100 dollar bill.

“I’d like you two to have a day out on me.“

Mouth hanging open, my daughter tried to give it back to him and finally stuttered out a thank you. The man walked away before she could adequately express her appreciation or even get his name.The next day Jo and Cindy went out for a lovely lunch at Cheese Cake Factory, and got their nails done – on the Mystery man’s dime.

THANKS COOL AND CLASSY GENTLEMAN AT SMITHS PHARMACY!

If you’re reading this my daughter thinks the world of you and what you did. Also,you made everyone’s day!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/make-me-smile/

Learning To Fly

a young chipping sparrow fresh from the nest

The weather is so beautiful today, it puts me in mind of another spring day years ago . .

The sun dappled leaves of the Elm tree-shaded our patio swing as I swayed, happily immersed in the Sunday paper. My faithful hound Toby snored at my feet, and a warm breeze carried the scent of summer blossoms. It was a tranquil scene – until I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned just in time to see a scruffy-looking object plummet from the sky and land with a plop on the dog’s nose.

Too startled to move at first, we both just stared. It was a baby bird. As it hopped from its unfortunate landing pad, Toby came to her senses and did what any self-respecting dog would do – she lunged. So did I, and grabbed her collar just in the nick of time. Toby’s teeth snapped shut on empty air and I began dragging her towards the house. Claws raking furrows in the lawn, she struggled to get at the bird all the while yelping like a strangled hyena.

My husband stuck his head out the door. “What’s going on?” he said.
At that point the noise level in our backyard was roughly equivalent to a rock concert. In addition to the howling dog, we had acquired an entire flock of hysterical bird relatives chirping and shrieking and swooping through the air. All the while the young bird, apparently unconcerned by the uproar it had caused, sat calmly in the grass, bright eyes blinking in the sun.

After depositing our crazed pet in the house, my husband and I sat down to watch the drama unfold. Two of the birds, presumably Mom and Dad, landed near the baby and chirped with shrill disapproval.

We wondered what had happened. Was this a flying lesson gone awry? Had the youngster simply gotten tired of testing its new wings and checked out? The odds of it dropping from the sky and landing on the nose of a dog must have been astronomical, but as I’ve learned over the years, it’s best to expect the unexpected when dealing with children. The adult birds were clearly appalled by their offspring’s close call, and I could imagine the dialogue that must have been taking place.

Mother bird: “What were you thinking!”
Baby: “Nobody told me not to land on a dog’s nose.”
Father bird: “Why would we tell you that? Everyone knows better that!”

Like any child caught in an embarrassing situation, this one appeared to ignore its elders. It fluffed its feathers with great dignity and at one point actually turned its back on the others. It made a couple of half-hearted attempts to fly, but though seemingly uninjured, just didn’t seem that interested.

Suspecting that our presence was adding stress to the situation, my husband and I retired to the house. I kept an eye on the scene lest a cat should appear, but it was clear that the bird family could easily take down a dinosaur if necessary. Before long the baby seemed to reconsider the merits of our lawn, and without fanfare, lifted itself into the sky, entourage in tow, and flew away. Quiet reigned in our yard once more.

I could relate to that bird family. I knew exactly how they felt. Eventually we all have to push our children out of the nest, yet in spite of our best efforts they often manage to get themselves into awe-inspiring trouble. In the end we simply have to shake our heads and accept the fact that we can’t protect them from everything. Sometimes all we can do is pray – namely that they’ll exercise caution with their new wings and ultimately,  find a safe place to land.

Daily Post http://dailypost.wordpress.com

Lost and Found

businessmanI work in a busy public library and am constantly amazed by the variety of things people leave behind.  For instance, car keys – we have on average 4 sets of car keys in our lost and found drawer at all times. Can somebody please tell me how you get home without your car keys?  Don’t you need them to start your car?

Another popular item is cell phones – a big-ticket, stress inducing item to lose track of.  I always feel bad about this and try to answer the phones whenever I hear them singing their sad little lost song in the drawer.  Often it’s the owner calling from someone else’s phone trying to locate their own.  “You left it in the library!” I say, and we have a good laugh and the mystery is solved.

Much harder to resolve and equally traumatic is the instance of people who leave their flash drives in one of our computers.  I’ve been there done that, and I know how it feels. People store important information on those tiny bits of technology – things  like business proposals, midterm notes, personal journals, and final drafts of their novels.  It’s like back in the day when everyone carried planners.  You lose it and you lose your mind.

We also deal in lost coats – last check we had three, backpacks and shoes – did you really not notice you were missing a shoe? Canes, we’ve found four over the past year and they’re all alike.  We suspect it’s the same person losing them, but have yet to catch the owner in the act of abandonment.

But all these things pale in the face of the Grand Champion of lost and found items. One day at closing we were astounded to find a  brand new, state of the art, convertible double stroller, sitting all alone in the children’s section.

What?  Someone entered the library with a giant double stroller and managed to leave without it? Poor  young mothers, I feel for you.  I know, sometimes life with young children gets so stressful that you’d forget you own head if it wasn’t attached. (But seriously, your stroller? That’s more important than your head.)

Anyway this particular story  had an interesting ending.  One day a young man came into the library and glanced at the stroller collecting dust in the manager’s office. He skidded to a halt and stared.

“Excuse me,” he said, “but I think that’s our stroller. We lost it a few weeks ago, and my wife thought someone had stolen it.”

No, not stolen, just forgotten.  I hope he broke it to her gently. In conclusion, the stroller and it’s owners were happily reunited, and our manager has his office back – for now anyway.

Are you missing your eyeglasses, your wallet, your trumpet or your wedding ring?  Can’t find your notebook, your credit card or your soccer shin guards? Check out the library. Books aren’t the only things we collect.

Linger

Wall ClockThe daily prompt asks what  we linger over – Ah, so many possible answers . . .  a good book, a crossword puzzle, a cup of hot cocoa on a snowy morning, lunch with a friend, a hot shower, a cuddly baby, puppies, a beautiful garden, and time with family.

I also linger too long over my word press posts, checking and re-checking spelling and grammar,  making sure I’ve made sense to someone other than myself.  So today I won’t do that.  Short and sweet – here it is.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/daily-prompt-linger/

Rock My World

thinking

Daily Prompt: Under Pressure? Only when I’m awake . . .

It doesn’t take much to confuse me these days, but this one really rocked my world.

I was running late for church last Sunday and wasn’t paying a lot of attention as I jumped in the car and drove off. I attended church, had a lovely time, and returned to my car only to find  the door wouldn’t unlock.   Now let me explain that this was my husband’s car and it has one of those electronic keys that you don’t even have to take out of your purse.  It’s magic and the door unlocks as soon as you approach – but not this time.

car keyWhen the lock wouldn’t work, I  assumed the car battery had died since it’s been doing that lately.  I was once again in a hurry  so I hitched a ride home with a neighbor and, master procrastinator that I am, promised to resolve the car problem later. Not surprisingly things came up that afternoon, and that night it  was just too cold so, bright and early Monday morning my spouse and I  went to retrieve his car.

We were surprised when the car immediately sprang to life with his key. Apparently it wasn’t a dead battery after all,  so what was wrong with my key? I began digging through my purse and discovered that the key wasn’t in there.

Wait a minute, how had I driven his car to church without a key? OH NO! Had I lost it at church?  Please not that. This key is expensive, in fact  one of my pet peeves about new cars, is that they all have electronic keys that cost roughly the equivalent of a years pay (mine anyway) to replace.

But I digress.

Back at home I tore the car apart to make sure I hadn’t dropped the key inside. I tore my purse apart again, and checked all the pockets of the clothes I’d worn to church. No luck.  Defeated, we finally sat down to discuss the options.  We still had one key to his car, but if we lost that we were toast.

toastMe: “I guess we’ll have to buy another key.”

John:  “Yes, it’s unfortunate that it costs roughly the equivalent of a years pay.”

Me: “Sigh.”

Daughter:  “Are you guys looking for Dad’s key?  I’ve got it right here.”

John:  “YOU have the car key?!!

Daughter: Uh oh, (stricken look) how did you get home from church Mom?”

Me:  How did I even get to church?”

John: “Why do you have the key?!!

(What you see here is a classic case of multi-level confusion.)

To make a long story short, unbeknownst to myself I had taken my own car to church.  My daughter who doesn’t like to drive Dad’s vehicle came by and traded cars with me, then left an FYI text which I never saw because I don’t know how to find texts on my new phone. She left John’s car in the same parking place so I wouldn’t be confused, (Hah!) but neglected to leave the key, and had been blissfully unaware of the problem until now.

Is anyone still with me?  I’m not.

Anyway, all is well now because my paychecks can once again go towards paying bills and buying chocolate instead of installment payments on a new car key.

Note to car manufacturers:  Enough with the magic.Can we please go back to cheap metal keys?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/daily-prompt-heat/

This Takes the Cake

IMG_20140205_154900Here’s one for Sherlock. We’ll call it the Mystery of the Baffling Baked Goods. As I walked out of McDonald’s one afternoon I came across a puzzling sight.  There on a little patch of dead grass in the middle of the parking lot was half of a child’s birthday cake, perfectly preserved, with plastic lid still intact. (In case you’re wondering, the white patches are melting snow.)  Now some of you might say, “So?  There are many reasonable explanations for a situation such as this. For instance,” ? . . .?  . . . ?.

See what I mean?  What could possibly have caused a half eaten birthday cake to appear in this parking lot median. Did it fall from a passing space ship, the remnants of an alien child’s  festivities? Did it get bumped out of  a hungry delivery man’s bakery truck? Did someone eat their fill and decide to share with other parking lot dwellers? I don’t know, but that’s about the extent of my theories.  Ideas anyone?

Where are Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys when you need them?

Talent Show

cake2

It has recently come to my attention that I have a very talented group of friends, and today I’d like to tell you about them. We all come into this world with a God given set of skills, and while some people take their gifts for granted, others take their talents and run with them.

Speaking of running . . .

Need some new running shoes?  How about this one?  Nice color,  nice tread, and check out those cool silver laces. I think everyone should have a pair of running shoes just like this. The only problem is – they won’t wear very well . . . since they’re made out of cake and fondant!  Can you believe it? (click on the image to appreciate the minute details)  My friend Michelle is a cake decorator.  She  made this fun cake for her running group anniversary celebration and I thought it was fantastic. Michelle does cakes for weddings, parties and just about any occasion. (Would taking a bite be a case of sticking your foot in your mouth?)

Celeste is an amazing quilter.  Unfortunately since I’m not an amazing photographer these pictures don’t begin to do her work justice.

The red and white snowman quilt is full-sized, and is  covered with minute and perfectly executed embroidery stitching.  It took almost a year to make and was clearly a labor of love. The cute bunny quilt hangs in her bunny – themed play room, brightening the walls for the many grandchildren who frequent her home. Last but hardly least is the beautiful diamond pattern, jewel toned quilt that lies on her bed. This is not just a quilt, it’s a work of art.

One thing that I love about Celeste and her hobby, is that she doesn’t box these treasures up and stash them safely in a closet, she uses them and has them out for everyone to see and enjoy.

Ludy is a candy chef extraordinaire.  As you can see she’s into chocolate and caramel,  and has actually made a business of her hobby.  It’s called Chocolate Divine, and let me tell you that name perfectly describes her creations. Ludy caters parties, makes goody baskets, and sells her wares in several grocery store chains. My favorites are the chocolate/caramel/almond turtles.  Note to self: Don’t leave me alone with a box of these.  The great thing about Ludy, is that  as good as she  is, she’s always taking classes to improve her skills.  Oh, I almost forgot, she also does a mean Chocolate covered strawberry.  Don’t you wish you had one right  now? Well guess what. You can. http://chocolate-divine.com/news/

Melinda has been sewing for years, and thinks nothing of sitting down at the machine and whipping up a project that would boggle my sewing challenged  mind. These jackets were all  the rage a few years ago, and never go out of style. They’re made from a pullover sweatshirt that’s been cut  down the front. After the embellishments are added you’d never guess it’s humble origin. Besides making them for herself,  she’s taught many others the ins and outs of the craft. Alas, it’s not as easy as she makes it look, and I have yet to finish mine..

These cute bags are also a sewing masterpiece.  Both bags, one a generic tote bag and the other crafted to hold sewing supplies, are filled with secret pockets, inside compartments and, the bane of my sewing life,  zippers.  She makes them as gifts, since thanks to the hours that go into each one, the price to sell would be astronomical.  These bags are bright and festive and fun, just like my friend.

Boots are her bag. My sister-in-law Sue, scours garage sales and second-hand stores for used cowboy boots, then brings them back to life as a beautiful purse or tote bag.  Who knew that cowboy boots were this pretty?  Sue has also turned her hobby into a thriving business.  She sells her handcrafted designs on-line and has several celebrity buyers.   The best thing about her business, Sue says, is when someone comes to her with a pair of boots that have fond memories attached.  She takes extra care with these projects, and loves turning something old into something new and making it a cherished keepsake to boot. .http://www.pinterest.com/sueroake/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/writing-challenge-object/

Bag Lady

bag lady 4Wish I was a bag lady. I ‘ve tried and tried to become one but just can’t seem to get the hang of it.

bag ladyFor the last five years I’ve been actively trying and failing  to bring my recyclable shopping bags into the grocery store with me.  I carry  them in the car and they’re not hard to find, but they almost never make it out of the back seat.  It seems that after so many years of not worrying about being green, it’s a hard  to change my spots.

Bless those stores who place REMEMBER YOUR REUSEABLE BAG reminders in their parking lot, because that actually jogs my brain and occasionally works.  But my usual routine goes something like this.

1. Get into the checkout line.

2. See someone else with cloth bags.

3. Mentally kick myself.

My brain starts to churn – shall  I leave this cart and lose my place in line while I run out to  get my bags from the car?  If I park my cart in a random corner  will a store employee think it’s abandoned and put everything away?  If I get up to the  check stand without recyclable bags will the checker shake her head and sigh because I appear to be eco lazy?

plastic bag lady

Woman with more plastic bags than me.

And this is just at my local grocery store,  I can’t even tell you how  about the stress if I appear sans cloth bags at Whole Foods or some  granola type establishment. You just know those people are going to frown. “You’re buying organic food and taking it home in a landfill clogging plastic bag?”  Sadly yes, and according to the, What is Your Ecological Footprint? internet quiz, I deserve to be frowned at.

The quiz consists of five (somewhat vague) questions ( example):

I produce: A) A large amount of domestic waste.  B) A small amount.

Most of my domestic waste is A) Recycled.  B) Not recycled.

Most of? That’s a trick question. I actually  recycle quite a bit  of my domestic waste, but there wasn’t a box to check for that. Anyway, according to the results, if everyone lived like me we’d need 2.8 planets to sustain life. Uh oh.

(I drive a hybrid car! Does that help?)

In my own defense, I think I’m pretty good at recycling. I’m careful not to mix glass and plastic. I don’t throw away pop cans, I compost grass clippings, and refuse to buy things that come in huge wasteful non recyclable containers. But those plastic bags . . . dang, they cost me a lot of points.

Now in reality, I don’t care that the bags hurt my score on the quiz, but I do care that they hurt the environment. I recently learned that a single plastic shopping bag can take a thousand years to degrade in a landfill, and that plastic bags are the second most common type of ocean refuse. Seriously?  I don’t think I want to be a part of this problem anymore..

What if, instead of simply wishing I was a bag lady,  I became one? What if I said, from now on I WILL use my cloth grocery bags? What if I said it in front of all of you so then I’d have to follow through?

Consider it done.

Here’s my plan.

I’m going to run off a copy of the bag lady picture I used in this post, and tape it next to the door lock on my car. That way I can’t miss  it.  Then if I still manage to get inside without bags, I will ask a store employee to watch my cart while I go back out and get them.space

Whew!  This is hard, but I want to do it, because we don’t have 2.8 planets with which to sustain life. But the good news is, if everyone does their part all we’ll need is one. Wish me luck!

Death and Dismemberment

I got a letter the other day stating that my Accidental Death and Dismemberment policy was coming up for renewal.  Now I’ve been kind of conflicted about this insurance for long time.  It’s not very expensive, that’s why I picked it up in the first place, but it’s also kind of a waste of money.  I’ve had it for approximately 20 years and so far have not suffered any death or dismemberment to speak of, although there was the time when I rolled my own arm up in the automatic car window. I wanted to see if it had an auto stop because I was afraid the dog would get her nose caught in there one day.  FYI, there is no auto stop and it really hurt. Watch out for doggy noses and kiddie hands.

But I digress.  I finally decided to cancel the policy, and called the number listed in the letter.  I jumped through a couple of hoops and eventually got a computer man saying they had a high volume of calls and the wait time was fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes!  It was only eight o’clock in the morning!  Oh well, I must be calling Zimbabwe or someplace with  a different time zone. I’d get back to them later.

At two thirty in the afternoon I called again.  High volume of calls – wait time fifteen minutes. Really? I checked the address on the letter and found I was actually calling Binghamton, New York.  New York isn’t that far away, let’s see – if it’s two thirty here, it’s four thirty there.  O.K., another potentially busy time, but the next day at 7:02 A.M.  I got the same recording. The light finally dawned. One of the computer prompts was, “If you want to cancel this policy push button #3”.  I bet anyone who pushes button #3 goes to eternal hold. They don’t want you to cancel. Duh!

Needless to say, I was annoyed.  When I told my husband about the  problem he shrugged and said, “I think you should keep the policy”.  I decided he was right. Trying to cancel was a big pain, also, I’m kind of superstitious about things like this and suspect that as soon I cancel the insurance something bad will happen.  Who knows, maybe the 15 minute wait time saved me from death and dismemberment, and then again  . . . my husband was awfully quick to tell me to keep the policy . . . maybe not. (Evil Bwa-ha-ha laugh in the background.)