Not Real Life

Have you ever noticed that no one ever says ouch in action movies? They get attacked and immediately respond in kind. I’m not so quick on the uptake. If someone hit me, I’d be shocked. I’d say ow. Only then would I beat the living crap out of them.

Another thing is that combative females often have long hair, but no one ever grabs that hair to yank them to the ground. I mean, seriously, in real life, no one plays that fair. If you really want a more level playing field, ladies, then get a freakin’ haircut.

A major pet peeve of mine is movies where cars successfully jump opening drawbridges. As a bridgetender, I can assure you that when people attempt this, it never, ever, ever ends well. If you value your car, your life, and your reputation as an intelligent human being, you won’t try this, at home or anywhere else.

And how is it possible, Hollywood, to throw so many punches without revealing how badly this damages the puncher’s hand? Hands are poorly constructed for impact. Giving people the impression that not only can you knock out someone with one punch, but that you’ll be able to walk away and play the piano afterward is irresponsible at best.

Another unrealistic trope is that you can plunge through a plate glass window and emerge without a single cut. Come on, now. We all know better than that.

The characters in movies seem to be superhuman. They can get shot and carry on. That doesn’t happen. Getting shot freakin’ hurts. After you’re shot, you just aren’t going to be in the mood to do much of anything, I promise. You’re going to say, “Yeah, I’m done.”

And, for what it’s worth, most women can’t run very far in 5 inch heels. I can’t even walk in them. Most conversations in bars are done at a shout. Most dumpsters are full of sharp objects. Doors are not easy to kick in. Most apartments in big metropolitan areas are extremely small. Dorm rooms are even smaller. It’s not easy to make a car explode. It’s pretty much impossible to hold someone’s hand while they dangle off the side of a skyscraper and then actually pull them back up onto a roof.

Come on, script writers. You can do better than this. I just had to get that off my chest.

Thanks. I feel cleansed.

woman-running-high-heels-01

Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Public Art from around the Globe

I love public art so much that I started a Public Art Lovers group on Facebook. I invite you to join! It’s fun seeing murals and statues and fountains and the like from far flung places that I’ll most likely never get a chance to visit.

I’m lucky I have a tolerant husband. Often we’ll be driving around, and I’ll shout, “Public art! Get a picture!” And he’s usually willing to do so, as long as it won’t risk life and limb.

I genuinely believe that public art raises a civilization to the next level. A life well lived should be much more than simply a desperate search for food, shelter, and clothing. Art is self-expression, and a sign that the mind has the time and luxury to be creative. Art also makes you think. It expands your mind. Art also adds beauty to the world, and we could all use a little more of that.

One of the unexpected pleasures of the gaming app Pokemon Go is that you can make friends all around the world and receive digital postcards from them. Aside from the ubiquitous pictures of playgrounds and places of worship, you are also treated to a great deal of public art. So without further ado, here are some of the cool digital postcards I’ve received or sent of late. My apologies that I can’t tell you the locations of most of these works of art, but I hope, like me, you’ll delight in the fact that they exist somewhere in the world.

Do you enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

Soos Creek Botanical Gardens, Auburn, Washington

I’ve been passing by Soos Creek Botanical Gardens for a few years now. I’ve always longed to visit, but they are only open Wednesday through Saturday, and I’m too busy opening drawbridges for a living on every one of those days. But recently I had a Saturday off and decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I’m so glad I did. It’s even more spectacular than I had anticipated.

This is a long, narrow plot of land, so the front entrance always gave me the impression that this would be a small place, when in fact it covers 22 acres. And this was a fantastic time to visit, because the garden was a riot of color. The first flower that drew my attention was this one.

Soos

If anyone can please tell me what this flower is, I’d appreciate it, because I’d dearly love to add some to my garden. Its stunning, vibrant red just naturally makes me smile. There were very reasonably priced plants for sale near the parking lot, and I definitely looked for this flower, but no luck.

This garden has several different themes to it, including a rain garden and alder grove, a garden with over 100 rare perennials, a heritage flower garden, a raised bed fruit and vegetable garden that was planted to help the food bank, a pond surrounded by and filled with water loving plants, a long stretch of grass bordered by gorgeous blooms that I think would make for a perfect wedding venue, a cedar grove, a ravine garden, a wildflower prairie meadow, and a native woodland.

I can imagine visiting this place again and again, and always seeing something new. I also hope to have the opportunity to visit during different times of the year as well as during healthier times, because currently the indoor features were closed due to the pandemic. In particular, I’d love to visit the Soos Creek Heritage Center to learn about the history of this area, and about the settlers who established the farming community in the 70 square mile Soos Creek Plateau. They’ve also had to cancel their regular educational programs and other activities that are usually held in the red barn, And the Elizabeth Fenzl Garden room looks like it would be a beautiful place to sit and contemplate the beauty of this place.

Aside from the size of this whole facility, another thing that took me by surprise was the artwork scattered here and there. It added a hint of whimsy to the place. And the front gate looks like woven tree limbs, but is actually made of metal. And I wasn’t expecting the animals. The aviary was full of doves, cockatiels, parakeets and peacocks. And there were horses and cows grazing contentedly on pastures to the side. These creatures added another dimension to this beautiful pace. So, yeah, I’ll definitely be back.

Here are some of the many pictures that we took on our visit. Enjoy!

Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Songs of Comfort

In these stressful times, I often turn to music to comfort me. Music can soothe like nothing else. It can put me in another place and time, and it definitely puts me in another frame of mind. Music can be an embrace, especially in socially distant times like these.

Here are a few songs that never fail to comfort me.

Mister Rogers Remixed: Garden of Your Mind by PBS Digital Studios. I draw comfort from this song because Mister Rogers is the epitome of comfort for me. He’s the father I never had. This song is a remix of many of his words of wisdom. It delights me to think that you can grow ideas in the garden of your mind. No matter how stressful life might be, somehow, if you view the world through Mister Rogers’ lens, you just automatically feel like everything is going to be all right. If you enjoyed this song, there are a few other PBS remixes you should check out. Namely, Bob Ross, Reading Rainbow, and Julia Child.

Another very comforting song is Let The Mystery Be by Iris DeMent. I just feel like she and I would be friends. And the song itself reminds me that I don’t have to have everything figured out, especially the biggest, most important things, such as my own mortality. This song just feels like a relief to me.

Sometimes you just want to be reminded that It’s OK. NNAMDÏ sings a song by that very title. It tells us that there’s no need to pretend we’re ok if we’re not. It’s important to remember that. I sing it in my head all the time.

And then there’s a song sung by the UU General Assembly 2020 Virtual Choir. It’s called Tomorrow, but I have no idea why. That word doesn’t appear anywhere in the lyrics. It’s primary message is that there will be better days. I think we all need to hear that from time to time, and when you hear it as sung by a hundred voices or more, you really believe it.

This one, I have to admit, is an odd choice for comfort. It’s got a sing along quality to it, and makes me feel like I’m part of the music. Colin Hay shows you how to sing the “Tumblin’ Down” part of the song, and you repeat that all the way though as he sings the lyrics. They blend well. Check out Come Tumblin Down. I have no idea why. It just makes me happy to sing with Colin Hay.

Another song by the UU General Assembly 2020 Virtual Choir is this song called “We Are”. It makes me remember that who we are is wonderful. It makes me feel like humanity is pretty darned good. I wish I always felt that way.

I hope these songs bring you comfort. I’d love to hear what songs bring you solace in the comments below!

comfort

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Painting Flower Pots

Every once in a while, I have this powerful urge to get creative. I suspect it’s the same feeling that animals get when it’s time to migrate for the winter. It’s not an option. It’s a compulsion.

But as we’re in the throes of a pandemic, I didn’t want to run out to an art supply store to get materials. That made me cast about in the yard and garage to see what was already on hand. That added an additional layer of creativity to the project.

We have a lot of (perhaps too many) mostly used cans of paint in a wide variety of colors sitting around, taking up space. I also happened to have a bunch of empty terra cotta pots in my greenhouse. So I thought, why not? What you see below is the result of my handiwork.

Okay, I never said I was Van Gogh. But it was a fun few hours, and now when I see these pots it makes me smile. I even went a little wild and tried gluing glass beads on one, as you can see. While it looked good on the day I took this picture, it didn’t hold up well. I guess the moisture and drying qualities of terra cotta do not make for a good gluing surface. Lesson learned.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be artistic. You just need to look at what you have available in a different way. Use your imagination. Have fun. Satisfy that compulsion.

Teracotta pots

Do you enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Confederate Monument Thing Again

On this day, when we traditionally celebrate American independence, I’m a little surprised that I’m having to revisit a post that I wrote in 2017 entitled, “Historical Statues: One Solution“. But yes, indeed, the controversy over whether or not to remove confederate statues has reared its ugly head yet again.

That 2017 blog post describes a brilliant solution that the people of Budapest, Hungary came up with to deal with their brutal communist era statues. It’s really quite fascinating, and I hope it’s an idea that can be adopted here. It would allow the statues to still exist, but in an educational context in a museum-like setting where those who don’t want to see them won’t have to. Please do read it and tell me what you think.

But for those of you who don’t click through, I leave you with a few points to ponder:

  • Monuments are not history. They’re the glorification thereof.

  • No child should have to grow up under the shadow of statues of people who thought they should be enslaved.

  • Removing a statue won’t erase the history, and we can and should still learn from that history. Learn, but not deify.

It really is okay to become older and wiser as a society. I promise. We’ll be okay.

Happy Independence Day.

Confederate_Monument_-_E_frieze_-_Arlington_National_Cemetery_-_2011
Historically absurd.

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

On Banning Gone With the Wind

As most of us know by now, HBO MAX pulled Gone With the Wind from streaming video. I don’t blame them. This is a movie that makes the Confederate South seem like a place where the slaves loved being slaves, and where the way of life was all fine and dandy until those pesky Northerners butted in.

Here are the opening credits, according to IMDB:

“There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South… Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow… Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and Slave… Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind…”

Make no mistake: This movie glorifies a system that should be shown as the ugly, racist, deadly and ignorant thing that it was. Slavery and everything that came with it is not pretty or gallant. It isn’t a dream remembered. It’s a nightmare for which this country should be truly ashamed.

But this movie is also a work of art. The cinematography is stunning, and the costumes are even more so. In the 1940 Academy Awards, it won an Oscar for best actress, best actress in a supporting role, best director, best writing, best cinematography, best art direction, best film editing, and best picture. Whether we like it or not in modern times, it’s a classic.

I do not believe in censoring works of art. What I believe in is providing context for those works that are offensive. This movie should be forever linked with a disclaimer/explanation/warning label. It should discuss how these views and opinions seemed acceptable in 1940, but we have come to realize how unacceptable they really are in modern times. It should come with links to other movies, books and articles that more accurately portray American slavery. It should warn that this film’s racism and misogyny will be offensive to many. It should also warn us not to fall victim to the false nostalgia that is Gone With the Wind.

I think everyone should see this movie and learn from it. It is a gorgeous work of art. I hope will never be created again, but it’s there, a huge boulder in the center of our cinematic culture, and we should acknowledge that. We also should celebrate that so many of us now find this movie inappropriate at best. You might say that we should all give a damn.

(Oh, and it’s rumored that Clarke Gable had really bad breath, so think of that during all the kissing scenes. Poor Vivien!)

Gone-With-The-Wind-Poster-gone-with-the-wind-33266928-1667-2500
“Oh, Rhett, please take a breath mint!”

Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Future Shorts

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a delightful video called Dog Years. It’s less than 4 minutes long, and I highly recommend it. It also has a second part which is even better than the first one. Even if you don’t like dogs, you’ll be charmed by these little videos. They dramatize what is quite likely the typical pet’s thought process.

I noticed that these videos were put out by an organization called Future Shorts, and I decided to further investigate. It seems that they’ve been around since 2004, and they’re a platform for short videos. They often host Future Shorts nights all over the world, where people can watch a collection of them. They call it a pop up festival, and it sounds like great fun.

Uh oh. Their Youtube channel alone is going to keep me busy for days. They have everything from documentaries to animation to romance, and every one I’ve seen so far is very well done.

I’m already in my jammies. Now all I need is the popcorn, and I can settle in for a nice binge watch. If you don’t hear from me for a while, send pizza.

future-shorts-spring-2012-560x293

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

10 Day Album Challenge #7: NNAMDÏ, BRAT

If you haven’t been following this series of posts, a friend of mine nominated me to do an album challenge. “The task is to post once per day for the next 10 days about the top ten albums that have an impact on your life, and to pay it forward by nominating someone else each day to do the same.”

Okay, so I’ll play. But I’m changing the rules to suit me. First of all, I’m not writing about this for 10 days in a row. I will write about 10 albums, but only on the occasional “Music Monday”. And I refuse to nominate anyone else, because I try to avoid adding stress to the lives of the people I love. Having said that, if you’re reading this, and would like to take up the challenge, go for it!

_______________________________________________________

Once again, my commute with NPR has sent me to an unexpected, yet delightful, place. (In my mind, anyway. I always manage to get to work or home, despite my flights of fancy while in transit.)

When I first turned on the radio, a song by NNAMDÏ was playing. I thought that maybe my speakers needed adjusting. Or perhaps I was actually at the dentist office, reclined in the chair, grooving with some much-needed nitrus oxide. I was hearing sounds I’d never heard before, and they made me disoriented in that calm, pleasurable, laughing gas kind of way. Naturally, I wanted more.

NNAMDÏ is an artist from Chicago, and BRAT is not his first album. You can tell he has a knowledge of music, and all the ingredients thereof, to the point where he can experiment with the musical recipe and cook up things that shouldn’t taste good, but actually do.

I struggle to choose the songs from BRAT that deserve the most attention, but here’s my best effort on this given day. (Ask me tomorrow, and the answer would be different. I recommend the whole album.)

The first amazing song that I hope you’ll listen to is It’s OK. I find this song extremely comforting in the stressful times in which we all live. He says, “There’s no need to pretend you’re OK if you’re not,” and the way he sings it, it feels like a much needed hug.

On the other hand, Glass Casket makes you feel like you’re floating through space. “I wish I was a farmer, I wish I was an astronaut, so I could feed my family, and then take them somewhere very far away.” This song makes you want to take that journey with him.

The third song I highly recommend is Price Went Up. It’s accompanied by a fascinating music video. It’s about frustration, but it makes you feel like frustration is the stuff of aliens, so that kind of makes everything all right. But I think everyone’s price is going up in this riotous atmosphere, so maybe the aliens have landed.

I listened to the entire album on Youtube, and I loved the emotions that washed over me. They were both intense and remote. And that made me feel like I could handle anything.

If concerts ever become a thing again, I’d love to see NNAMDÏ live. I’d probably be the only fat, 55-year-old white chick in the audience, but you know what? It’d be worth it.

0018109343_10

Like this quirky little blog? Then You’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Demise of the Hula Hoop Tree

After a storm passed through Amber, Iowa in 2015, someone noticed that two hula hoops were suspended in a tree on County Home Road. No one is sure how they got there, but over time, dozens, hundreds maybe, were added. This tree, nicknamed “Her Majesty”, was adorned with so many colorful hula hoops that it became a tourist attraction. People came from far and wide to see the Hula Hoop Tree.

Unfortunately, the tree was on the side of a highway, with no parking facilities. People would often come to a dead stop on the road to take pictures. Poorly supervised children would run across the road. People would attempt to add hula hoops to the collection, and those hoops would often overshoot the tree and land in the road, or, worse yet, in the cattle field of the farmer nextdoor. His barbed wire fence was often trampled by people attempting to retrieve their errant hoops.

Needless to say, Her Majesty was an accident waiting to happen. Because of this, very recently, the Hula Hoop Tree was cut down. The community has been left with very mixed emotions about it.

I wish I had seen Her Majesty before her demise, but it makes me happy to know that for 5 years, such a thing existed in this world. If you have a Facebook account, check out this gorgeous slideshow comprised of stunning and colorful photographs of the tree by Nikki Engelhardt.

Hula Hoop

Like this quirky little blog? Then You’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5