Out Played

Photo prompt: © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“It’s an effing eyesore.”

“I don’t care.”

Martin balled his fists but Susan just gazed at him.

She said nothing but he knew: Raise a finger on me and off to jail you go. The judge was clear: Anger-Management or prison. Martin took the former but could swear Susan’s infuriating behavior intended to get him the latter.

He inhaled slowly before turning away. “When Sanitation fines us,” he growled, “it’s all yours to pay.”

“Fine,” she shrugged. “Though I think they won’t.”

He glared. “Why? Got connections?”

“Nope,” she patted the rotting piano. “I’ve registered it as street art.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Salted

dead sea dry OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

In the cracked curl

Of earth

Baked in sun

And ancient salt,

The Dead Sea

Awaits a

Flawed flow of

Redemption,

Or a whitened end.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Texture

 

Home Unlikely Home

Accessorize AtaraKatz

Photo: Atara Katz

 

A pot, a plate, a shelf, a hook.

A bed on wheels, food in a nook.

Unlikely home, perhaps, but look

At least you’ve got a place to cook!

 

 

For The Photo Challenge

What if bad people forgot how to be bad? (An irreverent fantasy)

broken-umbrella

I was walking home from a meeting the other day and ran into an elderly woman with a walker and a broken umbrella. She looked lost.

I asked her if she was okay, and she shook her head. She couldn’t remember where she was going, then brightened slightly: she had a card. She dug around in her purse, broken umbrella perched over one shoulder and rain drenching her head, keys and change spilling onto the wet pavement. I held my umbrella over her, picked up the fallen items and looked at the card she held out: A senior center. I knew which one–it was quite a ways away. How did she end up so far from it?

She’d been trying to get there and must’ve taken a wrong turn. Got lost. She was flustered–she’s lived in the area a long time but couldn’t get herself oriented to what avenue was where or in what order or how far. She kept repeating an attribute of her destination. A ramp. For wheelchairs and walkers. It had a ramp. She’d been walking and looking for ramps…

I told her not to worry. I knew where she had to go and would walk her there.

On the way and as she looked for ramps and we slowly navigated in the rain that dripped over the edge of her broken umbrella and as we dodged puddles and splashing cars and potholes that snagged the wheels of her walker, she told me (and repeated the same every minute or so) she has “some dementia.” She used to be very independent and “drive all over the place” but now keeps getting confused. She said she tries to leave the house to be with people because “it is important” and because otherwise she sits home alone “and cries like a baby all day.”

My heart ached for her.

Her broken umbrella mirrored her flickering brain–she held on though it barely did what it ought to.
It took us a while to inch our way to the senior center. I kept reassuring her we’ll find the center (with the ramp). She retold me of her dementia. How independent she used to be. Of her forgetting. Her wanting to be with people. Her “crying like a baby” at home.
After I left this sweet lady safe and sound at the center (with the ramp–she was so delighted to see that ramp! Its presence a small proof of her memory still holding on to something!), I walked home and couldn’t help thinking … Wouldn’t it be helpful if instead of this little old lady, some of those who thrive on cruel manipulation, got a touch of dementia?
Irreverent simplicity.
Oh, dementia is no joke, and I did not and do not intend to trivialize it!
Nonetheless I found myself considering how safer our world would be if those who connive to hurt and harm, forgot how to … and instead became immersed in small-radius-activities of afternoon bingo and word-searches. If tyrants and terrorists of all types of violent intrusions, lost interest in victimizing or power-hunger, and instead had their world contract around organized daily existences in protective housing someplace … to be occupied with lunch and naps and no longer be capable of manipulation and scheming …
Just saying.
They would be a far more deserving audience for a bit of dementia, than this sweet woman and so many the world over whose full heart and intellect we can use.
Wouldn’t it be helpful, I thought, to have the wish-to-harm turn dull in those who relish spreading agony?
At least until the shuttle to Pluto was ready …
pluto-stamp

Find Your Pace

rollercoaster

“I think life is moving too fast. I can’t keep up.”

My friend’s face on the chat’s screen was drawn. She has been through some hectic times. Her father fell and broke his hip two weeks before, cascading into issues that required not only the logistical reorganization of everyday life from an independent elder to someone who would not be likely to return to his home of 60 years; but also the emotional and psychological support for both herself and her father at this sudden change. An active retiree, her father was usually out and about, fishing, carpentering, flirting with a few old ladies at the retiree club he frequented. My friend lived only 15 minutes away, and visited often, but he rarely asked for her help. When he did, she suspected it was more as a point of connection and to let her “feel needed” than due to actual need for her assistance.

One burnt light-bulb later, and it all changed.

Life’s pace for both of them shifted. Her father’s life turned mostly idle, his days passing with him sedately in his bed, or at most in a wheelchair. Where he had counted months and weeks and days in plans and projects; he now counts hours as he waits for meals, physical therapy, and his daughter’s calls and visits. For my friend, life sped to calculating minutes into which to fit things. She juggles her job and two children, her home and preparing it for winter, the recent flooding of her basement, coordinating the care for her father, orthodontist appointments for one son, college applications for another, all while trying to manage the stress and grief and worry without losing so much sleep that she is no good in the morning.

Things do not let up. Her father is to be discharged from the nursing home very soon, and he will need a long term placement where he could continue to get care now that other systems in his body have decided to give in to old age. To top things off, she just found out there is a problem with her car that will require her to leave it for repairs for several days. The logistics of a simple car rental outdid her just the night before.

“I can’t keep up,” she stated, sadly shaking her head.

“Maybe you don’t need to–or at least, not with everything,” I suggested.

She glared at me a moment. Then her eyes softened–she knows I understand a bit about overwhelm. “How?” she asked, voice shaking now, maybe with just a hint of hope that there can be a way off of the roller-coaster and into calmer rides. “How, when it all needs to get done …”

We brainstormed, and she realized that she had accumulated quite a few vacation days. The original plan was to use the lot for a cross-country trip with her kids–and her father–but these plans may  well change some anyway. It could do more good to take some of those days now. Even three days off would give her time to check out retirement-homes in the area without the stress of rushing from work to try and get catch administrators before they left for the day. It would allow her to learn more about the financial and logistical burdens her father will now face and what support can be made available. No less importantly–a few days off will give her just a bit of time for herself.

She decided to take four, luxuriating in the concept of creating time.

The realities to juggle did not change but her pace did. She found a way to slow it just a tad to give herself some sense of traction. Renting that car no longer seemed so daunting. She laughed that she would see if they had one in red, just because she always wanted do drive one that color. She friend relaxed just knowing there’d be an opportunity to catch up, pay bills, cook everyone’s favorite fall stew, drink her coffee sitting down, take a bubble bath.

“I forget,” she noted before we hung up our Skype connection. “I think so much about making sure everyone else has time to decompress, that I get squashed and do not notice until I am frantic.”

“So many of us do,” I told her. “I think this is where we can hold a mirror for one another and remind each other how to find a better pace.”

I am no longer worried about my friend. She found her balance, as she had helped me find my own once in a while. We do that for each other, calibrating pace.

Life rushes. We all rush on, attempting to catch up … But for today, may you find your best pace. A place to pause, a breather in the midst of life’s amazing and yet often tiring long race.

Rest your mind, calm your heart

Make It Work!

I bet you have such days …

When things don’t seem to work as expected, when all your plans fall through and what you thought would take two minutes takes two hours. When that quick phone call to settle some bitty thing becomes forty-five minutes of muzak followed by a hang-up then forty minutes more before you get transferred again, only to be put on hold for speaking to another department … When the quick break for a sandwich becomes condiments that spritz in the wrong direction, an upset can of cookies (complete with crumbs), a shattered glass requiring three broom cycles and a vacuum … Days when one client after the other is either late, cranky, moody, muddy, or all. When the world becomes an exercise in patience, a realigning of time and expectations.

These days sure happen to me all too often. I bet you have them, too.

It used to get my blood-pressure up, to have things unexpected. In general I do not much care for surprises. My friends and family know that I’m not the person to plan dark roomed “Happy Birthday!” parties to. No thanks. I like knowing what to expect and having a bit of opportunity to see how to best manage stuff that happens. Good or bad. So having a kink in my day never was my recipe for happy.

Nowadays, though it does not rank high on my preferred-day way, it mostly makes me chuckle. I figure that it is a pause for learning, something to call my attention to doing too much, too fast, or with too little an awareness. The unexpected grounds me faster than a cup of cold water (sometimes it IS spilled or splashed cold water … in a double-attention-getter …). It stops me into “what just happened?” and “how on earth …?” And that very pausing stirs a breeze of mindfulness into my brain.

So, while I still don’t like to spend my lunch break sweeping shards, cleaning counters, or on the phone with some ‘press-this, press-that’ company; I try to see it as something that helps to pace me or to point to where I have lost touch with the clock that is not of this world. Where I have turned too low the timer within me, the ticking of my body, the breath that should not become fogged by too much thought or busyness.

I still get stunned–surprises do that to me. But I take a breath, as well. And chuckle. Laugh a bit into myself. The ridiculousness of it all helps me find the gratitude that’s tangled with the grunt and sigh. It is a gift, really, when everyday tasks that I’ve done a million times without awareness bring back the reality of how complex they truly are, and how blessed I am to be able to perform them mostly sans a thought or pause or conscious memory. It is even a precious thing to have the things I usually take for granted–a company to call to make things right (or try to), the vocation I love living, the freedom to set my schedule, the miracles of water in my faucet and electric power at my finger tips. So many do not have those and would gladly take a spilled cup for having the water flowing to begin with.

And suddenly the disruption is not so terrible and the wait is not so bad. This realignment of meaning helps shift me, even if the situation stays the same. I get the best ideas, sometimes, when I’m on hold, a captive audience, forced to still and listen. The muzak goes right through me. It is my own thoughts that unfurl, birthing new ideas. I am reminded of the most arcane and unexpected and forgotten things when I am climbing to change yet another light-bulb that went zip a moment before session, or rush to change a stained article of clothing before a client comes. Somehow these unplanned, often unwanted, wrinkles in my planning pause me long enough to bring in an unseen angle or perspective.

Don’t get me wrong: I still do love my little islands of predictability. It is lovely when days go just as I had planned (or at least close to), and when my energy is parsed the way I’d hoped. It doesn’t take much for me to run out, you see. Some hiccups in my autonomic nervous system makes my body ultra-prone to fast exhaustion. Weather changes, temperature shifts, being vertical too long–they can and do seriously tire me. And yet, I am not frail. Just living with a finicky apparatus. All the more reason, one might declare, to not live life too gingerly as if on eggshells (please, oh please only figuratively! I’ve cleaned the kitchen once already, courtesy of spilled coffee grounds this very day …).

For days when patience is a bit harder to come by? “Just make it work” is my mantra of sorts for those. I have not invented it, of course. People all over our blue Earth marble have been saying it in all manner of variations, for longer than my mind can fathom, and while facing far more difficulty than I usually have to endure.

Small hitches in the schedule? Unexpected hiccups? Murphy working overtime to make life inexplicably complicated? I remind myself that it is all workable. Sometimes the solution is immediate, sometimes it takes time (I would sure love to know the schedule, though, Dear Universe, if you are listening!). Sometimes I can resolve it on my own, sometimes only with serious creative collaboration.

Either way, when the Universe throws a wench in my today and threatens to mess up my tomorrows, I try breathing smiles into it. A chuckle, even, if I can. Extra points for finding blessings in the messes … Gold stars for managing cooperation in the least likely ways or with those I do not find it easy to collaborate with.

I’m reminded of a photo of Paris in flood in 1924. People faced the very wet prospect of ruined shoes and clothing given that the only possibility was trudge calf-deep in watery plazas. Or was it really the only way? In ingenuity, someone or some ones, came up with a creative (if rickety) solution … and wrangled up some cafe chairs …

paris flood

Paris flood, 1924, photo by Henri Manuel

 

Find a Way

Today, find a way.

Even hardship, worry, ill-at-ease;

Stir and shift away with breeze.

Today, find a way.

Seize a moment, hold a notion

Breathe in light, glimpse emotion

Grasp a smile.

For a while.

And the way, for today, will stop by.

Pathway

Pathway

Bangladesh Boat Bridge

Bangladesh Boat Bridge

Mulu Caves, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Mulu Caves, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

 

Make Life Easier!

creativity

Practical fun! Two for one!

Life is complicated. Stuff gets in the way, falls off, gets tangled, goes missing, takes time and space and energy to organize. Thankfully, there are some very clever people who come up with supremely genius solutions to problems you maybe did not realize you even had, or that give you an ‘aha’ moment when the solution is presented.

Think you need to get a specialized gadget for every situation? Think again. Apparently you probably already have all you need, and some of it may be in your recycling bin even as you are reading, just waiting for salvation and a second chance…

Small ideas can make big sense once you see them.

Here are some simple, everyday things that can make you life simpler. Or at the very least, provide you with a smile (and smiles, as we all know, are super-efficient ways to make life instantly better!)

Simple solutions with everyday objects–click on the links below each photo to get even more ideas!

Let little Tennis serve you with a holding hand!

tennissolution

Want more ideas? Click here!

 

Hang on to your chosen reading material …

hangerholder

More where this came from? Click here!

 

Catch drill spills!

drill spill

Want more easy solutions to pesky problems? Click here!

 

Give shoes a step up (and your floor a dirt-break)

shoes off

More fun solutions? Click here!

May your day be easy and your solutions multiply!

Sky-High Practicality

airplane

Seven hours into a twelve-hour flight the other night, an adorable (and chatty) curly top three-year-old in a nearby row: “Mommy, I don’t want to stay on the airplane anymore. My legs want to run.”

Mommy (sounding similarly fed-up if not run-ready): “I know, Sweetie, but we can’t get off right now.”

Curly Top, miffed, tone slightly rising toward whine-a-thon: “Why?”

Mommy: “Because we’re very high up so we can’t go out now.”

Curly Top: “We’re in the sky, Mommy?”

Mommy, voice disheartened: “Yes … we’re up in the sky.”

Silence. Then Curly Top again, pensive with a touch of wonder filtering in: “Mommy, we flying?”

Mommy: “Aha … the airplane is way up high because we’re flying.”

Another silence, followed by bubbly cheerfulness in the toddler’s voice: “Oh, that okay Mommy! We can just fly down right now!”

🙂

airplane2