Books I Love & Why

Had a nice visit with my father this week. One of the things that we usually turn to in conversation is books. It got me to thinking about what I love about books.

Now when I talk about books I mean books. Paper and ink, hold it in my hand, turn the pages, books. I can sometimes see the benefit of the readers now available on the market. They save space. Maybe in the long run they save money, though I doubt it. Still, I can’t imagine not holding a book in my hand, and as I said, turning the pages as the story leads me on whatever journey its author imagined for me.

But there is more to love about books than their physicality. So what is it for me that turns me on in a book? Here’s what I think. First I must be able to connect to the characters. They must feel real to me and I must feel as though I am getting to know them. I love character growth also. If a character is the same at the beginning of a book as they are at the end then it is likely I really didn’t have any fun getting to know them.

I am not very fond of overly descriptive prose. Please don’t spend two or three paragraphs telling me how the sun rose over the field and the blossoms glistened with the dew. To be honest when I hit these paragraphs I just start skipping through looking for the next bit of story.

Take me somewhere amazing. A story being connected to a place has little to do with description. As I said before I tend to just glance through that part of books. Rather what makes a place amazing in a story has much more to do with the events and the people than it does what the buildings look like or the streets.

Of course the most important part is the story. Whether it is factual, fantastical, mysterious, romantic, the story must feel real. And it must draw me in. I should practically drool over what happens next. If I can guess what happens next, well then, what is the point of spending my time on it? (Sorry Danielle Steele you long fell out of favor with me)

So what have I enjoyed. Oh so many books! But here are a few of my favorites, maybe you could share some of yours!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Rise to Rebellion & The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara

Warday by Whitley Streiber

Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

The Professor, Jane Eyre & Villette  by Charlotte Bronte

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Chesapeake by James A. Michener

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Rebecca & My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg

Watership Down by Richard Adams

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Candide by Voltaire

Mansfield Park (& Okay, I admit it everything else) by Jane Austen

Agnes Grey & The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

And the list could go on and on!

While I am on the subject of reading and good books I’ll recommend a website to you. It is a great way to keep track of what you have read, how much you liked it and get more recommendations based on your choices. Also you can connect with friends to see what they are reading and what they think of what they’ve read as well. It’s called Goodreads and it is at (real surprise here)

goodreads.com!

So now that you have heard what I think, let me know what you think! And then get off your computer and go pick up a book!

Contagion…

There is a contagion out there that I really think everyone needs to be aware of. It can be spread by physical or visual contact. Also audibly in the right circumstances. This “bug” is in fact so contagious that it can spread literally in seconds and has an immediate effect on the brain, altering levels of vital chemicals.  You may be thinking right about now, “Why haven’t I heard anything about this? What should I do?”  Well, here’s what I think. Since I am talking about the incredible smile and it’s ability to change your life and the life of others around you (even complete strangers) I say get infected! Smiling has real health benefits and is something we all need to catch more often. Aside from the purely external benefit of making us more attractive to others, smiling has been proven to increase neuropeptides which fight stress. Let’s face it, who here couldn’t use a little help fighting that? … Yep, as I thought, no one. We all face stress every day and we all could use a little pick me up. A smile might just be the pick me up you need. Also released when we smile are the neurotransmitters: dopamine, and serotonin, as well as endorphins.  So a little run down on the effects of these little chemical gems. Dopamine motivates us. It allows us to see rewards and then go for them.  Serotonin works as an anti-depressant and mood lifter.  You’ve probably heard the word if you have any experience with depression.  Endorphins, now there is a chemical for you.  They work at blocking pain (I’m all for that) and increasing mood (I’m all for that too). Other benefits of these chemicals being released in the brain are a decrease in blood pressure, lower heart rate, and increased relaxation. Sounds pretty wonderful doesn’t it? But how true is it? Well I know I have benefited from it many times. Lousy day? Put on a smile and sure enough I perk up. I used to work in customer service. Actually I used to work in very fast paced, demanding customer service. My co-workers often thought I was off my rocker. Why? Because I kept the biggest smile plastered on my face all day long. Truth be known I didn’t particularly care for my job, but as long as I kept smiling I still managed to have fun. I got through every day feeling pretty good. So I have a challenge for you. If you really want to know if it works decide right now to spend one whole day smiling at everyone, including yourself. Sure, life might knock you down a little through the day, but smile anyway. And then at the end of the day you be the judge. You decide if the smile isn’t the best little “virus” you could ever catch!

Art Appreciation

I just finished watching a video at Khan University that discussed art and context. As an artist myself I generally am trying to accomplish one or more of a few things.

copyright 2011 Kendall Stewart

First is to accurately portray some object while at the same time catching the mood of the object in a way a photograph might not.

Copyright 2012 Kendall Stewart

In some instances I am simply trying to create something that brings beauty to the fore.

Copyright 1996 Kendall Stewart

Sometimes my paintings are absolute accidents, but once an accident starts to please me I try to build onto it and again draw out the beauty that is visible, at least to me.

When it comes to appreciating art I am always happy to share with people how my art came to be, what I think of a piece, what I was trying to do, etc. However the thing that I want from those who look at my art is to first and foremost determine how the piece makes them feel. The examples that were discussed in the video were Monet’s Cliff Walk at Pourville and Malevich’s White on White. In Monet’s piece it is easy to look at the piece and come to personal conclusions about what the painting represents, how it makes you feel personally, what you like or dislike about the painting. In the instance of Malevich’s painting it is much more difficult to come to those conclusions by just looking at it. Though you may easily decide if you like the piece, getting a feeling from it may be more difficult. So this is an instance where after looking at it, making some initial personal judgments, it is nice to get the history of the painting and the artist’s view on what it was they wanted to accomplish. Something that I would originally of viewed as, “Well I could do that!”, now offers more to think about. So here’s what I think:  while I still stand by the belief that foremost in appreciating art is how the work makes the viewer feel, it is obvious that we can grow in our estimation of a piece by learning what the artist felt and thought and experienced at the time of their work.

Tony Orlando and Me

I was maybe 7 or 8 when my mom took me to Ft. Lauderdale to see Tony Orlando in concert. I knew several of his songs by heart. I remember “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” and “Knock Three Times” were my favorites. His television show was the first show that I really liked. I didn’t care for anything else. I remember I had a cardboard oak tree with felt on it and a yellow ribbon. It said “I love you” on it. It was all very exciting. But all of this is nothing compared to what ultimately made this a lifelong memory that I love to share. At some point during the concert Tony decided to let everyone come up to the stage so he could go around and shake hands. The catch was that everyone had to stay calm. It didn’t work so he sent everyone back to their seats. He sang a song or two and he decided to give it another try. This time everyone was calm. I remember looking at my mom cause I really wanted to go, but she has a fear of crowds. I remember her telling me that I could go, but if I did I was going to have to go by myself. I was terrified. I never did anything alone if I could help it, but this, this was TONY ORLANDO! So off I went. Well I was about knee high to a grasshopper as they say. I looked 3 or 4. I made it to the stage and Tony Orlando walked right past me. But then he turned around. I remember him saying “you just have to see this” He came back and stopped right in front of ME! Somebody picked me up and the next thing I knew I was in Tony’s arms! He walked around on the stage hugging and kissing me. Finally he returned me to the crowd and you might be thinking I had the best memory in the world that night. But as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now for the rest of the story.” Years later mom was telling that story for the hundredth time but this time there was something new. At the time that this happened we really didn’t have money for concerts, much less concerts where we had to drive to another city to see them. But this was a big deal because I loved Tony. So determined that I should get to go to the concert my mom took on 2 jobs raise the money so that we could go. First there was an inventory job, then a job delivering flowers. All that just so I could go to a concert. How sweet was that! And what a pay off we all got. I don’t know if Tony remembers carrying around a little girl on stage but this little girl remembers and she remembers the effort that was put into my being able to go.

 

Chivalry of a Ten Year Old

I was out with friends today and was reminded of a chivalrous act of a few decades ago. I was 7 or maybe 8 and one of the houses on our street was unoccupied. That particular house had a greenhouse on the property. We kids decided this would make a perfect fort, at least until someone bought or rented the house, and so we set to cleaning it up and getting it ready for some childhood fun. We hadn’t been in there long when I moved a cinder block and came face to face with the most disgusting creature I had ever seen in my life, a slug. This sent me screaming and crying out of the greenhouse being fairly sure that I had just met the blob’s infant child! I feel pretty sure that most of the boys found this amusing but one boy, Billy, a ten year old who lived across the street from me leaped into action. With wings on his feet he ran to his own home and returned with the necessary salt to slay the monster. And afterwards he came to tell me that all was well. And not only was the monster gone, no one would tease me either, he’d made sure of that as well. Now a days, 35 years later, I never see a slug without thinking about this sweet young boy. And I wonder, are there any chivalrous 10 year olds out there today?

Every Moment, Every Hour, Every day…

It has been a while since I posted anything on here. Due to various health issues I have not been very motivated to write. And have often thought that I just didn’t think much of anything at all. A real stumbling block to a blog called “What I Think”!!

Some of what I have been dealing with is physical, but much more of it has been mental and emotional. There is something about mental and emotional problems that are especially wearing. Since the problem can’t be seen it is more difficult for friends and family to be sympathetic. The “snap out of it” mentality is particularly hurtful. I have been blessed with family and friends that don’t look at me funny when they find out I am bi-polar and that I have an anxiety disorder. But even with that the last several months have been a struggle.

Something a friend said to me has made a great deal of difference to me and I keep it in front of me as much as I can. I’d like to share it mostly for people that might be struggling themselves with any mental or emotional disorder. She told me, “Every moment, every hour, every day that you get through is a success. It means that the next moment, hour, day has hope for something good.”

Sometimes I can get through whole days, but more often it is only the hours and moments that I can get through. It is good to have the reminder that they are a “success”. And how wonderful that they add up to make days, and even weeks and months now. As for the “hope for something good.” Yes, sometimes the successes lead to good. I mean, when I have a good day I only got there because of the moments that I survived.

I share this for two reasons. For those of you who are struggling, you can succeed. You may have to take it a moment at a time but each one of those moments is a success. For those who know someone who is struggling, be patient, be kind. They may not be able to see their successes yet and what they really need is love and understanding.

The Barred Owl Story

English: Barred Owl on the Hontoon Dead River,...
English: Barred Owl on the Hontoon Dead River, near Blue Spring State Park. Taken by User:Mwanner, 13 January, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some years back my parents put up an owl box in their backyard. I don’t remember how long it took for a couple to take up residence, but sure enough Mr. and Mrs. Barred Owl did in fact find the home appealing. I would listen to the tales of this fine couple and loving animals the way I do and living 6 hours away precede to get jealous. Then came the first baby. Family photos were sent and I loved them but it never did quite ease my jealousy. Of course anytime I came to visit was the wrong time to catch site of the family. I even spent a good half hour staring at the box one year only to find that the movement we had spotted was a squirrel!

So finally another vacation approached and I really put my foot down. I was determined that this time I would meet the Owl family. Or at least see one of the parents, I would be happy seeing one of the parents! My mom tried to tell me that I was going to be too late to see anything, but I was determined. As if I really had anything to say in the matter!

One day while there I was working in the front plant bed when my father came and rescued me. He didn’t say much, just had me follow him to the backyard. Really I wasn’t thinking much about why, I was just very happy to be rescued from the many creepy crawly things in the plant bed I was working on. I said I liked animals but I am afraid that does not include bugs or worms.

Once stationed on the deck he pointed her out. Mrs. Owl had made an appearance. I am sure it was just for me. We stood and watched her for some time. I was absolutely in awe, she was beautiful. Eventually, she flew back into the woods. I however was not satisfied. I wanted to stare at her all day. Feeling somewhat like I was on safari I followed her with daddy following me, I am pretty sure at this point he thought I had lost my mind. Not far back into the woods though, closer to the box, we hit pay dirt, it was the baby! Oh I was so happy. I stood very still just watching her (?) and her watching me. Then she started to do this funny little dance. She bobbed her head side to side to side, over and over. Well not wanting to be left out of the conversation I preceded to do the same. She would bob and then I would and then she would and so on. Now I am really sure my dad thought I was crazy. After a few minutes of this I suddenly realize that about 10 to 15 feet beyond baby is Mrs. Owl. She is sitting on another branch watching the scene with a very keen eye I am sure. Still baby and I continued our dance for a bit and then satisfied that I have the best owl story ever we turn back to the house and leave mama and baby in peace.

English: Barred owl mother and chick, just aft...
English: Barred owl mother and chick, just after the chick fledged (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now this is a pretty good story, but it isn’t over yet. That weekend mom and I went to a renaissance festival where we come across a bird show. It was a good show as I remember it and after, having just had this remarkable experience, I decide I would go and talk to the host of the show. After sharing with him my story he shares a little tidbit with me.  The rocking back and forth had meaning, of course. In an adult the side to side action is done in order to triangulate prey. In a chick however, it is a request for food. To this day I rather figure that the chick was really disappointed in me for not providing some tasty morsel. But I also think I was fortunate to not have mom shove some freshly killed squirrel down my throat as it must have been obvious to her I was starving!

I’ll always love this story, it is certainly the best wildlife adventure I have had. But what about my jealousy? Well of course it is hard to be jealous of a few photos when I had a whole conversation. Though I should mention that after I got home my parents found out there were twins and got to see them both at the same time…drat!

Squirt a.k.a. Millard Fillmore

squirtWhen I was about 10 we had a new addition to our family, Squirt the cat. My father found this to be an unacceptable name for a cat and so he dubbed him Millard Fillmore. Squirt was an incredibly special cat, very intelligent. But let’s start at the beginning.

We had decided that a cat was in our future, but the right cat had to be found. The number one thing I remember was that my dad insisted it be a female. Week in and week out my mother and I would visit the local shelter in search of a cat. I think that most weeks there would be no cats at all, if there ever were any cats they must have been boys because as I remember it I came home disappointed a lot. Then one day my dad came home early from work and took me out to buy socks. The things a 10 year old remembers! After stopping for socks we drove out to the shelter. This was a surprise to me because it was usually mom and I that would make the trip. When we walked in the door the counter was to the right and to the left was an area with small cages. Most of the cages had small dogs in them, but smack dab in the middle was a grey cat. Below the cat I remember an English bulldog. Dad and I looked at the cat, but it was a boy and once again I felt disheartened. But there was something about this cat. I remember the cat had figured out that the latch was all about opening the door, thus all about getting out. That cat wouldn’t let the latch be, to the extent that he had stood himself up on his front paws supported by nothing but the latch trying to escape, or I rather liked to think to come be with us. I remember daddy talking to the attendant for a long time, and I don’t know now if I realized he had folded or not, but he had.

The lock was not the only sign of intelligence in this cat either. To this day I don’t think I have ever met a more intelligent animal. He could tell time, knew most of what he needed to know about a calendar and had great table manners. To start with was his uncanny understanding of time. Every morning mom was the first to get up. She was an early riser and Squirt would get up in the morning and leave me in bed to spend some quality time with her. After a bit he would slip back in bed with me until it was time for my father to rise, though not necessarily shine. Squirt hung out with him just long enough to get under foot and then he would come back to me again. Then he would again return to me. He would start to stir a little before my alarm clock. Never too early, just a few minutes before the alarm. Now this was not the extent of his time telling abilities. We lived immediately behind my school. Between the school yard and our house was just our street. We had three recesses. There were two fifteen minute recesses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Then there was the thirty minute recess at lunch. Now Squirt was an indoor-outdoor cat and during the day while I was at school was outdoor time. Everyday that I was at school Squirt would show up either in the field behind the school, in our front yard or on our porch and he would sit and watch me. Now he would only come for the lunch recess, I guess he just figured fifteen minutes was not enough time to be worth stopping his own activities. Then he would show up again after school was out, we generally were approaching the door at the same time, although I sometimes ran a little slow.

Now I said that he knew the calendar pretty well, and given his talent with a clock it should come as no surprise. Squirt understood Monday through Friday. He knew that Saturday and Sunday were meant for sleeping in. He understood the summer months, at least I don’t remember having a problem getting to sleep in during the summer. The one thing he didn’t seem to get was holidays. If I was out of school or my parents were off from work during the week, well he generally got that wrong.

Next would be his table manners. I am sure that one through you a bit. I remember this one time that my mom was out of town. Daddy made dinner, spaghetti, and set the table, three places. As it turned out there was a place for him, me and for Squirt. Now Squirt was definitely not allowed on the table, but there sat a plate with just a bit of spaghetti, a little sauce, and a meatball. And so we sat down to dinner. Squirt had no problem figuring out that the extra plate was for him and jumped right to his seat. Of course his first go was to put his paws on the table which only got him a firm “no” from my dad. I remember him sitting back in the chair and mulling the problem over. I kid you not, you could see the wheels turning as he decided how to tackle the situation. Then pretty as you please he stood on his back legs, leaned in, and without touching the table, ate his meal. I’m not sure who was the most pleased with him, my dad, me or Squirt himself.

My Heartbeat: Obadiah

 

 

One of the pets that I currently have is my dog, Obadiah. He is, of all the pets I have had, the one that is completely attached to me and I to him. Not to say I haven’t loved all my pets, I have. But there is something about Obadiah.

 

 

 

For starters, to all those die-hard “get your pets from a shelter” people, I am sorry. I have had many pets from shelters and I really am a fan of the idea, but Obadiah is a pet store kid. I had been visiting that store for years just to play with the dogs as I never had the money for a dog. And over the years I had built a report with the manager of the store. I think we both knew that I was never going to have the opportunity to have a dog again and the visits helped when I was having a bad day.

 

 

 

This one day I was having one of my days and I needed a puppy fix. I happened to be right at the store so I popped in. This was the one time in my life that I happened to have money in my account as I had just gotten back pay from Social Security. I should never have gone in, but I wouldn’t change it now for anything. I went in and my eye caught sight of a little white and honey colored puppy that was just a teeny bit of a thing. He had the biggest eyes. He was what they called a chineranian, in other words a Japanese Chin and a Pomeranian mix.

 

The Pomeranian started out as a large, sled-ty...
The Pomeranian started out as a large, sled-type dog and was downbred to become the small companion dog it is today. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: Japanese Chin (Neru)
English: Japanese Chin (Neru) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I chose him to play with and it was perfect. He had a great attitude. Not hyper, but not overly laid back. He played without being more than I could handle, I tire easily sometimes. He chased the toy he was repeatedly given, then curled up on my lap after enough playtime had been achieved. Then I picked him up and went to look for the manager so that she could put him away. This was the moment. He just kept looking at me with those big dark eyes and I could just see all the love in the canine world peering out at me. I had found the manager and we proceeded to discuss all the reasons I could not take this little guy home with me. And she was really good at it too. We talked about vet visits and cost. We talked about food and toys and grooming. We talked about my bad days when taking him for a walk would be too much for me. Finally after 10 or 15 minutes or so I let her pry him from my hands. I knew with reason that I should not have a dog. Mostly for those unexpected costs. After she took him back to his pen I wandered around the store. I looked at everything! I tried at least three times to leave the store, but I couldn’t. Occasionally I would walk back by the dog pens and see him, I couldn’t help it, I was drawn back to him over and over again. Each time I would look at the price, being a pet store it was a ridiculous price and I knew it. I suppose another 20 to 30 minutes went by and I still had not managed to leave, and I really was trying. Finally I found the manager again, I told her that I was struggling and asked if anything could be done about the price. As it happened the owner was in the store that afternoon and so she said she would go back and talk to her. I started praying that very moment. I prayed just let them bring it down to x amount and I am sold. I wish now I had prayed for something lower because my prayer was answered. The manager came back with the exact amount I had prayed for. All hope was lost at that point of me not having that pup. Out he came to be carried around as I chose leash, collar, bowls, toys, food, treats, etc. I remember I had a dentist appointment that day so I loaded up the car with everything but my new puppy and went home and arranged things. I went to my dental appointment and then straight back to the pet store. The name Obadiah was chosen, everyone in my house gets a Bible name these days, and off we headed for home. He moved into my heart within moments of my meeting him, and he hasn’t left since. He is incredibly intuitive, knowing my good days from my bad days. And he has no qualms making me get out of the house and exercise with him if my health allows. But he never pushes me out of bed or off the couch if I’m not up to it either. Despite his Pomeranian background, he has learned to bark under his breath at things rather than at a full yap, except when someone knocks on the door. He is gentle and laid back in nature, loves everyone, but me most of all. With his semi-smooshed in nose he snorts a lot which has led to one of his many nicknames, snort. He can count to ten in Portuguese and knows a few commands in Portuguese as well. We’ve been together for 5 years now, I’m hoping for another 10, but I try not to think about it. He is my best furry friend, and I am his best friend too. I hope I live up to that as well as he does.

Obadiah:

 

 

 

 

Pepe le Pew-Stewart

A friend of mine asked to hear about people’s pets. In my case I thought that could be a long post, I don’t even know how many pets I have had in my life. So I thought I would share some of the most special friends I have had in my life here for any who are interested.

The first I will tell you about is Pepe le Pew-Stewart. Daddy always said that he couldn’t have the last name Stewart because he already had the last name Pew. But when you are 8 years old that just isn’t the way you think. Now, over 30 years later, I am standing by that name. He was after all part of the family.

Pepe was by far the most exotic pet I ever had. Yes, as the name suggests, he was a skunk. Mind you he was a de-scented skunk so no fear of startling a cloud of stink out of him. I remember he liked mashed up bananas when we first got him, what he was fed later I don’t remember. I do remember him being mostly patient with me. I had the horrible habit of dressing him in my doll’s clothes, putting him in a stroller, and then walking along the neighborhood sidewalks with him. I am sure that this is probably why when he heard me coming he had a habit of hiding.

One of the things about Pepe though was that he was blind or very near to it. You couldn’t come near him with the smell of food on your hands or he would try to take a bite. Not his fault, he just couldn’t see to tell if it was a finger or nice bit of meat wagging around in front of his nose.

Another thing I remember about Pepe was that he had kind of a funny scent. And no we are not talking about the kind of smell where you have to get out cases full of tomato juice, just a musky smell. A lot like a ferret smells. His fur was course, not soft the way a cat’s or maybe some dogs’ furs are. He had beady little eyes, just black dots. He had puffy fat pads on the bottom of his paws, and little black nails. I used to like to softly squish his paw pads for some reason, and he never seemed to mind. I also remember bringing friends to see him. He had his own little area in the laundry room with boards stacked up to keep him from escaping into the rest of the house. He was definitely a novelty to anyone that visited.

When it came time for us to move though, Pepe couldn’t come with us. And that is the sad part of the story. We gave Pepe to a teenage boy and his family. He, the boy, evidently had several exotic pets and was considered to be responsible. I’m sure he was. We, my parents that is, passed on the warning of always washing your hands thoroughly before handling Pepe. A neighbor came by to see the latest addition to the young mans menagerie and didn’t wash her hands. She had been making meat loaf before visiting. Pepe bit her, go figure. He probably thought he was being given a banquet. The neighbor insisted on Pepe being tested for rabies, unfortunately to test for rabies in an animal you have to kill them. So Pepe got put down. I still remember coming home from school one day and mom giving me the news. I was devastated. He was a really neat pet, and not once did he bite or scratch me while I humiliated him with baby doll clothes, dresses no less. I still miss him when I tell this story, and I still get a bit teary eyed. Though I don’t think I blame the boy anymore, I probably do still hold some bit of a grudge for the lady. But who knows what happened, and I guess now it really doesn’t matter. Although I am thinking the young man probably learned a tough lesson.

So here he is, Pepe le Pew-Stewart:

pepe le pew stewart

Why did they end up saying THAT?

I am at a loss as to why the harp would ever have become a verb meaning to nag at someone. The harp, as a noun, is a beautiful instrument, both to look at and listen to. It is also a very complicated instrument. A typical harp that you see used in a classical symphony is an amazing piece of engineering. It has over 1500 moving pieces, 1500! Aside from having to know all those strings, you also have 7 pedals that change what the strings sound like. Incredibly complicated from my point of view. And while we are most likely familiar with the elegant sound of a harp associating it maybe with angels and heaven and elegance, it can make a much wider variety of sounds that you would think. It can be thumped on, wires and base. It can be scraped on. It can be made to make sounds you certainly don’t immediately associate with a harp. Also, it requires great strength to play. You must support the harp on your shoulder, you must pull against strings that can have a literal ton of pressure being stretched against them, you have to hold your arms up in front of you for stretches of time that I can assure you are just not normal. So, no wimps as harpists! But here is what I do not get: How did we start using this word to mean to nag? I’ve tried to look it up. I found that it was first known to be used in this way in the 16th century and Shakespeare used it in Hamlet (1602). But what I really want to know is WHY! It amazes me when words change. When they suddenly find a new use or meaning. And in this case to go from a beautiful music making instrument to being an unending, droning, nagging well I don’t understand! Any wordies out there that can help?

 

Life – To Choose, to live.

I just finished watching the movie “The Way“. It is the story of a man whose son dies beginning a trek through France and Spain. When the father gets to France to collect his son’s remains he decides to take up the trek in place of his son. I thought it to be a really good movie. Very moving, watching the father come to terms with his loss. Seeing how, in the end, he changes, grows. I suppose that is all in how you view life. One scene that I really liked was a flashback of a conversation between father and son:

Father: My life here might not seem like much to you, but it’s the life I choose.

Son: You don’t choose a life dad. You live one.

Personally I agree and disagree with both. I agree with the idea that we have a life, we have been given a life and yes we live it. Each day, each moment we live. But how that life is lived is determined by our choices. The son could have just as easily replied that the life he was living was the one that he had chosen.

So it is for all of us, each day and each moment are filled with choices. And those choices determine everything about our lives. Some may turn out to be mistakes, but they shape us. Some will turn out to lead us in directions of growth, happiness, joy, but just like our mistakes, they also shape us. And so maybe we choose to live. Or better yet, since I cannot answer this question for anyone except myself, I choose to live. I choose to live my life the best way that I have found. I’m just glad that I chose to live a life that makes me happy and fills me with true joy.

 

I said what? Then I did what?

For several days I have been thinking about McDonald’s Caramel Iced Coffees. Yes, I know this is a strange thing to think about over an extended period of time, but I never ever said I wasn’t weird! What I kept thinking about was not the deliciousness (and they are delicious), or the caffeine, it was about consistency. I can order the same thing and depending on who’s making it there is no telling what I will get. Size may vary, recipe is sure to vary (particularly by shift), store makes a difference too. Anyway, since I really enjoy having my caramel coffees, I get really aggravated when I can’t get a consistently made coffee. But as I have been considering this I also found myself turning my vision inward. How consistent am I in things. I found I wasn’t very pleased with the answer. There are certain things I feel I should be doing everyday without fail. If I manage 50% of these things 75% of the time I feel pretty satisfied with myself. So I can complain about my coffees all I want, but what I really need to consider is fixing my own consistency problems before I start having a fit over something as mundane as a McDonald’s coffee. At least that is what I think.