a glimpse of life…passing by (Daily Post Entry: Blur)

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/out-of-focus/”>Focus</a&gt;

village blur a glimpse of life.JPG

above is a shot taken years ago, in early 1980s, through the window of a van traveling at high speed along a rural road in Yucatan, near the archeological site of Chichén Itza, Mexico.     At first glance it is just a ruined photo, which is often what an amateur photographer gets when shooting on-the-fly from a grimy vehicle window, speeding down a road.    However, on close inspection, the camera apparently focused automatically on the village scene in a clearing beyond the surrounding jungle and captured this candid scene.   (Cropped close-up image below.)   Image by Robert Dreger, ©Sometimes 2017.

village-blur-a-glimpse-of-life-e1497725886780 CROP



Recollections of childhood (Daily Post)

Childhood Revisited

The earliest memories that I recall are when I was about five years old. I don’t know if that is early, late, or average for “first” memories, but when searching back that’s as far as my memory seems to go. Sometimes what we think of as memories are actually recollections from hearing about photographs in detail. We hear who is in the picture, what they are saying and doing sometimes…our reaction: did we laugh? cry? make an adorable face? What about the little bonnet…who sewed that? was it the person in the photo? All of these details may connect themselves to a picture in an album, recounted countless times within our hearing.

Remember the photo of Dad sitting on that ubiquitous pony, wearing baby knickers and a natty cap, holding a flag or whirly-gig in his little hand? I’ll bet each of us can fill in details…was he thrilled/apprehensive/frightened at the whole photographic event? Grandma, or someone else (maybe Dad himself) recalls each historic detail in rote fashion, having learned the story ages previously.

There’s a photo of Me in a small pool. I am not happy…in fact the little girl Me was screaming. Scared? Cold? Temper? Did the other little kid in the picture smack Me with that little pail he is holding?

I especially like the one of Me dressed like a private eye, leaning on a tree chatting on a little telephone.

OK, that’s enough of that!

In view of the fact that the Little Me is a baby,two or three…maybe four…in those pictures, obviously none of these are actual memories. They are based on information gleaned from someone else’s memory…recollections of tales of impressions of memories–that have evolved into compilations of perceptions of…sometimes numerous…people.

As for actual memories of very early age, I have managed to think up a handful of ideas that may or may not be memories.

One that I think is genuine is a circumstance that I have written about previously in this blog. I was barely five years old, and my Dad and I were enroute to California on a train. It was probably 1939. My mother and little brother were already in California.

The train stopped in the middle of the Arizona desert for some reason, and my Dad and other men on the train got off to have a smoke. Some ladies on the train looked after Little Me. I was terrified that the train would leave Dad in the desert. To this day I can summon the memory of the fear and terror of Little Me, and visions of the desert and mountainous terrain, and sand…cactus…more sand… still come unbidden when I think about my Dad, trains, California, or the Desert.

That is a memory…at least I’m 99% sure of it, because there is no other source of recollection for me. I was on the train, alone for all intents and purposes (the ladies not withstanding) and I’m sure my Dad did not worry about the situation since he had not abandoned me, and knew I was perfectly safe.

Another memory is of that same period, 1939, arriving at my grandparents’ home in Long Beach. I remember the small house with screened porch, and circular driveway lined with orange trees–with oranges. The reason I think that is a real memory is because it was an impression that I had that no one else apparently shared…at least they never mentioned it. Occasionally an image pops into my head.

Right Place–Wrong Time

Back in the day when my kids were in school,  I showed up on time for an appointment for my conference with the child’s teacher.  In those days I always prided myself on being on time.  I was busy, had all five of my children in school at various levels, and I worked full-time for the newspaper.   That meant frequent meetings to cover and conflicts with schedules.   So I went out of my way to schedule appointments around other obligations.

When I got to the school I found where I was supposed to be, double-checked the time, and waited patiently for my turn to come.  7:00 PM came and I gathered my purse and coat, and stood to be ready when my name was called.

But when the call came it was not MY NAME, it was some other parent’s.  Annoyed, I waited quietly until the 7:15 appointment was called–and then the 7:30!      By this time I was not only annoyed, but highly indignant that someone had forgotten to schedule my appointment, or that someone had stepped into my place out of turn.

Well…it was MY turn, and some inconsiderate, rude, person had taken my appointment, and BY GOLLY I would just get in there before anyone else could get ahead of me.

I huffed and puffed about the grave injustice that had been done to me, and stated how I always tried to be fair and honest…and that I would NEVER just elbow my way into a line.

The teacher listened to my tirade, then pulled a second list from below the one she was working from….then she said quietly and politely:
“Your appointment is TOMORROW night.”

Of course I was ready to crawl under a desk and hide.   The conference continued, although I was too embarrassed to pay much attention.  Then I tried to stammer through some kind of explanation/apology to the parent behind me–who was the REAL appointment–but as luck would have it, the entire transaction was conducted quietly and tactfully by the teacher, and no one knew of my terrible deed except her–and ME.

I still feel stupid when I think of that incident now, some forty years later!

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/humble-pie/”>Humble Pie</a>

Who Needs Punctuation??? (Yes–We Do!!!)

Punctuation is one of my most favorite topics.

I regularly yell at signs posted on businesses along the roadway who declare such comments as WE HAVE WATERMELON’S TODAY.  Or worse yet SUNDAY SERVICE’S, or even… 4 SAIL SHOE’S.

Yep, the culprit–misuse of apostrophe’s.  (Yes I spelled it on purpose…just sayin’.)

Wrongly spelled words bug me.  Especially when  posted on a SCHOOL sign!!!   Once I actually did a wheelie and turned around to go into a school and discuss their spelling… CORNGRADULATIONS!!!  OK, I didn’t even see the “corn” part of the word.    The school principal and a teacher happened to be in the office when I entered (yes, I really did!) and I explained the error on the sign.   They blithely explained that the sign was advertising a Fall wing-ding of some kind, and that the “CORN” was a pun.

So I explained…it is the GRAD part that is in error.   It was supposed to be “congraTulations.”

Blank looks… “oh,” said one of the educators… “I missed that.”    The luke-warm response only echoed their shocked expressions….ALSO–they did not seem to “get it” as when I passed later in the day the sign had not been corrected.

I love punctuation, especially elipses (the little line of three dots) and I try not to confuse them with dashes–,  or with parentheses.    English teachers and college professors are always so serious and narrow-minded about such things.

When I graded students’ papers I usually noted misplaced punctuation or corrected it…on the premise that since it was a History exam, dealing with something like the Sedition Act for example, it was over-kill to expect proper spelling and grammar.  Some of my fellow teaching assistants leaned heavily on bad commas or misspelled words… I just clearly wrote the word Sedition over their “Cedision” or other invented word.    One said he never counted or even marked bad spelling because he was not a very good speller himself, and usually didn’t notice.

I love exclamation points!!! and don’t ya love question marks ???  CAPITALS, italics, bold, color, ♥, or ℘ (which is the symbol for Weierstrass p (in case ya ever need it…one never knows!!!) NOTE: on the WordPress editing page the symbol to bring to your fingertips (I guess every one in the world?) is the  Ω .   It’s on the chart by the indent keys on the second line.   DISCLAIMER: I’m going to quit while I’m ahead there…it’s not at all confusing if one knows what they are looking for, but a little voice is whispering to me that I’m getting dangerously close to silly.  

Seriously, this is really a wonderful collection,  and one I would have welcomed when writing in Spanish.  There was a way to manually “build” a system of characters into a regular WordPerfect set-up, and I did so…and I could use the normal keys for adding accented vowels by using the CTRL key (or other)  and capital and lower case letters.   Also the ñ Ñ ¿ ¡ and
others.   This was very convenient when working with these characters.    The trick worked on the computer keyboard, and when I got a new computer I’d have to re-set my shortcut system.

Yes, this WAS before Word was even a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye.   WordPerfect was the industry standard, and the word processing system required by Cleveland State U, and which we were able to learn in the CSU computer lab free of charge.  Prior to WordPerfect I had used WordStar, which was an excellent system that came with early home computers.  I have written about that elsewhere, if anyone is interested.  https://mumbletymuse.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/rise-of-the-machine/

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/by-the-dots/”>By the Dots</a>

The Golden Age of Childhood

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Golden Age.”

Given a choice of one stage of my lifetime to last indefinitely, I would choose to be a child in the Golden Age of childhood— which I will define roughly as the period of elementary school, ages about five to eleven. These children are interested in almost everything, and are impressed with the enormity of the world around them, whether it is the majesty of the night sky or the or raindrops on a window pane.

Many, many years from age 10 a spider web or a pebble still can capture my attention. I still rescue silly moths that have fallen into the dog’s dish, floating with legs upward and gasping for their last wisp of air.     Chatting with cats is a given for a child’s agenda. Inspecting closely a pattern of Jack Frost on the winter windows…like little schematic blueprints for a plan of a new neighborhood.

To a golden-child-ager, everything is new and exciting, worthy of attention and consideration. There is no such thing as boredom…there is always fascination in one’s own fingerprint, or the way of a flower’s construction.

This quality of wonder and discovery endures in a child until someone–who is older and immune to the wonder of the world around them–interjects a snide or snarky “so what?” which effectively deflates the buoyancy of the child’s ego.

This age of childhood provides ample food for thought, and there is a constant river of new and interesting things to experience and learn. If I were to exist entirely in one stage of life, my choice would be to be a child.

In contrast to the open-minded and ever expanding intellectual repertoire of a child, other choices would be existing as an adolescent, or as an adult. Neither niche appeals to me.

The adolescent is neither child nor adult, always stuck in between, either too young or to old, unable to fully understand the implications of life.

Then there is the plight of the adult–which in my view would mean a perpetual “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” state of uncertainty… the curse of the struggle to always know what is right or wrong, and bear responsibility for consequences of all actions.

The learning curve is still present in the adult stage, but with added burden of having to live with and build upon history–good and bad, with “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” placard always nagging in the background.

My favorite paper doll–Greer Garson

(DailyPost, favorite toy as a child.)

My favorite toy as a young girl was my paper doll collection. I owned as many sets, or books, of paper dolls as I possibly could.

There was a paper doll edition of just about any Hollywood movie star a kid could think of, in addition to all sorts of theme dolls such as Fairy Tales, and various animals.    I had TWO sets of the “Twins” paper dolls, featuring babies from newborn to mid-teens (of course I did…) and there was a gorgeous “Wedding” set featuring a huge wedding party including the bride and groom and…well, you know.    There was “Raggedy Ann and Andy” paper dolls, which my grandmother especially liked–along with a paper edition of “Shirley Temple.”

My favorite movie star paper doll was the regal red-haired beauty, GREER GARSON.   I am not sure why, maybe because she (the doll) had a lot of green outfits in her wardrobe.    I love green.  (I always wanted red hair, as well, but <sigh> that wasn’t to be.)

greer garson ball gown greer Greer_Garson_in_That_Forsyte_Woman_2

(I’ll bet that gorgeous gown was green!   It certainly would have been included in the Paper Doll cut-out book.)

Other big stars of the 1940s who also were paper dolls in another dimension were Betty Grable, otherwise known as “The Blonde Bombshell”. She was noted for her shapely legs (aka “gams,”) and her picture on the side of some U.S. Army Air Force planes.

Then there was the “sarong girl,” brunette Dorothy Lamour…star of many south sea adventures. She was also a paper doll with a collection of colorful sarongs…all paper, of course. And Rita Hayworth, auburn-haired pin-up girl, who also had her image painted on the side of the occasional bomber.

A story involving a dog named Bob…

 A Tall Tale, told in jest, on a sort of a “dare.”  

The mail carrier arrives in her little truck about one p.m.   We have a big mailbox, which will hold good-sized packages along with lots of regular mail, which sits out by the road.  Except for watching on-coming traffic, which I avoid by standing behind and to the side of the box.

Sometimes our mail-lady is off, and another carrier fills in for her.   The substitute whips up to the box, jerks it open, and tosses the mail inside.  There is often a letter intended for someone else, a neighbor or down-the-road addressee.   The sub can be as late as six p.m., and is rarely here earlier than noon.

So when  I heard the mail truck at about 10:30, with its distinctive motor sound, from the kitchen where I was making pancakes for breakfast, and had just served myself a tall stack of pancakes– it encouraged me to run out to see what treasures the mail carrier was depositing in my mailbox.

Dashing out the front door, completely forgetting the bluejay who was concerned about her nest, which she had built in a tree near the porch.  We could hear the baby birds chirping, but I had forgotten them on my haste to get to the mailbox.

The bird, apparently surprised and quite agitated, did a bombing run over my head, diving and squawking as bluejays will do.  I did avoid the bird, which returned to her nest when I had passed.

When I got to the mailbox, I saw that the lazy substitute had decided to just hang the rather large package by its string, from the flag meant to indicate the presence of out-going mail.

It had started to rain, and when I got to the package the ink which had been used for addressing the package had a few drops of rain which had smeared the address, causing the black ink to smudge, and when I extricated the package from the flag, I managed to get black ink on my hands, and on my clothing.

As I dashed back to the house, the bluejay squawked loudly but did not bother to threaten me with its dive-bombing technique.

I could hear Bob, our Irish setter, barking inside the house, and as I entered the kitchen the cat, Trinket, jumped off of the table…knocked over the plate which was holding my stack of pancakes, and accidentally tracked syrup all over the table and when she jumped off the table the whole thing crashed to the floor: the dog, the cat, the plate, the syrup bottle, the pancakes spread with butter and syrup…and the sticky sweet syrup blended unpleasantly with the running ink from the package.

What a mess!  And guess what–there was no mail, only the package.

So if you’re a Writer–why aren’t you writing?

This is a question I have asked myself over and over– “if I am a writer, why am I not writing?”

I AM writing, or thinking about writing, or reading some deathless passages penned during my starry-eyed youth.  Poetry, expounding on the various virtues and lack thereof possessed by certain passages of fancy…romantic interests with which my life had been wrecked by unrequited love, or various disastrous relationships…real or imagined.

Thinking about writing has always been a favorite of mine.

By “writing” I mean actual seat-in-chair pounding away at the keys, producing Fiction.   Non-fiction has always been a form of writing, but not the end-all-be-all of fulfilling the Writer’s need and longing to … well, write.   Enthralled by my own turn of a phrase…disappointment at some less-than-ideal piece of work.  Who among us Writers has not spent a stray hour re-reading our work and marveling at how remarkable was the phraseology, the genius of putting words together in unique and individual style.

“Gosh that’s good, did I write that?”

Or the flip side of that scenario, where I stare at the page in horror… “Good Lord, I could NOT have written this piece of garbage!”

At this point of this narrative I should say that I have in fact worked as a Writer, newspaper reporter, and writer of countless university-level term papers,    I have written about almost everything I know, from Stonehenge in England to ancient pyramids in Mexico.  Once I wrote about what happened to bank checks when they were “in float,” which meant from the time a check was written until it arrived at the bank and was attributed to personal checking accounts.  (Known in the vernacular as “beating the check to the bank.” )

I wrote about a land-reclamation project which used dredgings from a harbor on Lake Erie, scooped out and deposited in an area a mile out on a cause-way to form a park.  Wrote about ghost ships at about the same time; and Johnson’s Island confederate prison out on Lake Erie.

Later, working on graduate degrees in Latin American History, I wrote papers on a vast variety of subjects, including the European Union, Herodotus and other “fathers” of Historiography, and Aztec “Flower Wars.”

The point here is that those feature articles were part of my professional position as a newspaper writer, and as a university student…although  I have never really considered these to be examples of “creative writing,” and even though I was physically engaged in “writing” virtually every day in some capacity, I longed to do Writing, with a capital W.

Oh sure, like most writers, I have a novel in the works.   In fact, I have FOUR novels in various stages of completion…none anywhere near publication.    There is a Civil War novel, a Science Fiction novel, a Murder-Mystery of course, and a Time-Travel work based on the development of Christianity in the New World/Mexico.

Within the dream of dedicated work on those four novels lies my goal of being a Writer.  This is what I want to write, although I understand that  any readership that I ever develop is much more likely in blogging, working on non-fiction articles, opinion, ranting, and yes, the occasional Fictional short story for a WordPress challenge.

So here’s the thing–if I am a Writer, I write.

…and they lived Happily Ever-After?

(Daily Prompt: living happily forever.)

When the beautiful Princess meets the handsome (and rich) Prince at the end of the fairy tale, and the author tells us that “they lived happily forever after,” the notion is at least implied that the author has taken us along the barbed and beautiful path winding through the story until… The End.

That’s it…the end of the story.    Anyone who is interested in hearing about what happens after the presumeably happy couple skips along on their merry way into the sunset.  (Remember those grade school book reports at school where we would smugly say to the class : “to find out  wat happens next, you will have to read the book….” ?   Well, admittedly that was a cop out, but the teacher was well aware of that fact and had a list of embarrassing questions to ask.   (It was not easy to fool Miss Cruelhart.)

Oh sure, it’s easy to extrapolate!   If one really wants to, we can speculate about the countless ways that the story could develop, or even drag on endlessly as the Princess and the Prince went about their lives in the Ever-after.

Is it even possible to live happily forever after?  After what?  After the happy ending in the Fairy Tale story as written?  How long IS “forever after” anyway?   One human life span?    What does “happy” require–would it be possible for BOTH the Priness and the Prince to achieve perfect harmony and compatibility indefinitely, until the end of Forever?

What if the Princess REALLY was awakened from her deep and endless sleep, and was socked with the Prince’s infamous bad breath when he kissed her. .  (There had to be some reason a handsome and rich Prince would have remained eligible to encounter beautiful Princesses that were just waiting for him to come along and discover her waiting for his attentions.)

Happily “ever-after” might be able to recover from halitosis (if the Prince was rich enough, and someone recommended some good toothpaste,)     But how could they get over the negative issues raised when the Princess had the gall to wrinkle her delicate nose in distaste?   Talk about hurt feelings…here the guy shows up out of nowhere and uses his magic powers to awaken the Maiden from her sleep, and she rebuffs him?

What if the girl simply does not LIKE the Prince?   What if HE doesn’t like her?

No wonder the Fairy Tales end with the “happily ever-after” thing.  They would not be as charming if the last sentence in the story was something like: “…the Prince immediately realized his mistake, when the Princess’ first waking word was “EW…”    How rude!   And actually, chances are that the Prince found her less than attractive up close.–who knew how long she had been lying there in her coma?

Housekeeping…blog edition

It’s about time I changed my blog around, even it is only a new header image and a new background color.  There is a lot of other tweaks and major renovation to be done, but that will have to wait awhile.   The Big Job around here is that the contractors are finally going to get here on June 8, ready to rip out half of my ceilings and replace drywall.   Nationwide paid on my claim months ago, and it is really amazing that they trusted me with sole discretion in dispersing the money.   The delay is largely my fault…being as how I preferred not to deal with major renovation while sick in bed with some mysterious illness…even my doctor didn’t commit himself to its nature, and basically said I would just have to deal with the hallucinations from the heavy-duty cough syrup…or do without and cough my guts out.  That illness took three weeks to conquer.

There is a silver lining in the Big Job…I have been forced to clear out tons of stuff (boxes of stuff) and books, out of my bedroom and the china cabinets in the kitchen/dining room.  On my  behalf I would like to say that the influx of “stuff” had two sources: namely my flea market indoor shops and antique mall shop, which were closed by me two years ago or so, resulted in moving all that stuff, including at least a thousand books, out of the shops into my garage, basement, and every room in my house.

Whew!  Thus the silver lining…all that stuff is being funneled back out to the garage, and later to other destinations.  Such as the Goodwill, maybe a yard sale, a now-is-your-chance-get-it-now-or-forget-it invitation to my family.

It is noteworthy that the trash cans and once-a-month-pick-up trucks have already gotten their share of discards.

Any way, to get on about the Blog.   I like the new color.   The header image change has been delayed by the sad facts concerning my suddenly forgetting everything I ever knew about camera-to-computer work.  The solution to that was really rather obvious (I’m a great follower of Occam’s Razor) in that the camera I was using had never been introduced to the computer!  Yes, I should be ashamed to admit it.  It’s easier to just blame Windows 8.1 for my failing computer skills…but that is another story.

My search for a new theme for Sometimes continues, however.   I keep returning to Bold Life theme.

well Bunky, that’s life at my place–both Cyber and Real.