Inspired by Man on Mountain Top

He ignored the pain in his fingers and toes. Even through shoes, his feet were bruised, battered, and aching. He kept his eyes on the long sought and hard won view before him, avoiding the bloody fingers, nails torn and broken, dirt filling every crevice.

He held his knees close to his body, another body part to avoid looking at. He could feel the skin worn, tender bruises, and the chill of the mountain air teasing the gashes left behind by the rough basalt he’d scaled.

Was the view worth it? The wide wilderness of rock and pine before him reaching out and down for kilometers? Was the view of the sun glancing through the last of the late morning clouds to scatter shadows across the mountains enough to justify the body-battering?

Is it the view that made me climb up here, torturing bone and muscle? Or the journey itself, he wondered? Was it the goal or the journey to the goal? Why do mountain climbers climb? Adventure stories from childhood focused on the attempt, the struggle to attain, the courage to keep going, the self-discipline to see it through to the top. Few stories told much of the beauty after the attainment of the peak.

So it isn’t the goal that matters. He pulled his knees closer as he sat on the top of the rock he’d just scaled. It’s the climbing, the testing of the body, mind, and spirit to endure. It was the courage to face the pain as well as the view.

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve scaled the peak.

He stood up and pulled the camera from his pocket. Two quick snaps of the digital camera, flash going off automatically, would preseve the moment.

“John, get down from there.” He turned from the spectacular view. “We’re going to be late for the plane.”

Six feet below him stood his mother, a worn and wiry woman determined to spend her retirement years dragging him from one dream vacation experience to another, spending his inheritance and the pension money she’d saved up for years as a telephone company employee.

He sat down and slid, fell, his way down the rock, tearing a back pocket of his shorts.

“Oh, no. Look at you! We’ll have to clean you up before you get in the car. It’s a rental, you know.” She opened the blue Camry and fetched some wet wipes she always carried “in case of emergencies” in her purse.

“Looks like you had quite an adventure. Was it worth it?”

He didn’t say anything, just bit his lip as she attacked the scrapped knees with the stinging cloth.

It was worth it.

Out Spot Out

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I rolled the vacuum over the spot on the carpet. It didn’t go away

“That sucks,” I punned to myself, rolling the machine back over the spot.

I’ve always had problems with expectations, especially when it comes to machines, the tools developed to make our lives easier. I swear they don’t make life easier, they make life harder. We have to work harder to make them work better.

I realized I need to remind myself to pick up salad supplies tomorrow at the grocery store. I headed to my computer and it takes 10 minutes to make a note to myself, a note that updates to the cell phone I forgot at home. I left my phone at home. If I picked up a pen and paper, the note would be written in seconds, I could stuff it into my wallet so it would be with me at the store and I could get on with my life. But no. Instead I waste my time trying to make my life easier to use by putting my to do list on my phone. I should have made a note to remember my cell phone.

The thing on the carpet was still there. Two more rolls then I’m on the floor to tear whatever it is off the carpet.

How many times have I given someone or something an extra chance, a chance to change? Too many. I give everything a second chance. I learned the adage years ago to try everything twice. I might like it the second time. If not, I’ll know exactly why.

Sure, I’ve gotten burned, taken advantage of, and abused for such generosity. I think of it as my Starfleet training infused with Anne Frank philosophy. Give everyone a chance to do good as there is good in everyone, no matter how evil. Draw a line in the sand, but reinforce it with cement. Leniency only goes so far, then stand your ground hovering over your laurels.

I complete my two more sweeps with the heavy vacuum with no luck. It’s time to stand my ground over this spot. I really don’t want to get on my knees. I don’t have time for this. I’m getting angrier by the second, pissed off at this damn spot

I have so little patience for people and things. In spite of my lack of patience, my whole life has been a lesson in patience.

I used to joke that by 30, with all of my life experiences, good and bad, I’d learned patience. Then I fell in love and got married. I learned more patience. Patience was my new best friend. Then we hit the road full-time in an RV. I learned that patience meant more than dealing with people. It meant dealing with weather, mechanical problems, and other uncooperative people on the road. After two years of non-stop travel, dealing with every challenge to the best of my ability. I was done learning patience. I’d learned it. I’d completed my degree in patience.

Then we settled for a short time in the southeastern United States. I learned a new level of patience dealing with people who think that “don’t know about that” is the answer to everything whether or not they have the answer. All questions must be answered on the second or third try while they scope you out and get a feel for who and what you are, and what you really want from them. “An answer!” would be my mental scream to no avail.

Then we moved to Israel.

Israelis, Hebrew, religious mythology, suicide bombers, terrorism, Iraq, screwed up US Presidents, politics, war, peace, negotiations, third-world mentality in a first-world country, I learned new levels of patience. Mountains of patience. “I’m done! I’m baked! I got patience. Can we move onto something new? I’m bored with patience. I’m ready for a new lesson.”

The universe continued to task me.

We moved back to the deep south of the United States, back to slow moving minds with their own rules and regulations about social life, honoring a practice filled with rituals of exclusion more than inclusion. We arrived in time for an early hurricane season and did the whole alphabet, starting with B and ending with W. Trust me, K wasn’t much fun in the middle. Mother nature became our local terrorist, destroying all recognizable landmarks and lifestyles by grinding and soaking everything to a pulp. “Really? I got this patience gig! I’m good on patience. Done. Really done. Well done. Burnt. Can I stop learning patience in this lifetime?”

No luck. Now in the Pacific Northwest, back in the land of cooler temperatures, calmer minds, peaceful green walks, no terrorism, save for the occasional earthquake, flood, and daily traffic jams, this is a land of peace, where patience is a part of daily life. A different kind of patience. An enjoyable patience. People are easy here, few agendas, going with the flow, whatever happens happens, and they are all understanding, kind, patience in their own right

You would think I would be more relaxed.

My knees hurt as I kneel down and run my hand along the carpet to find an edge to the yellow thing stuck to the carpet – and find nothing.

I look down at my hand, moving closer. Aging brings with it a new form of patience, the patience of the body slowing down, muscles tightening up, joints not cooperating fully, and eyes seeing less than they did even five years ago

What? I stop my sweeping hand over the spot and the spot is now on the back of my hand. As my eyes focus on this new level through trifocal glasses, I see that the spot I’ve been scrubbing off my carpet is sunlight.

I follow the glowing trail of light to a small hole in the curtain through which the pull cord weaves. I didn’t even know there was sunshine outside. It was foggy when I woke up and my head had been down in house-cleaning mode.

I turned my hand over. The sunlight danced in the palm of my hand. I rocked it back and forth, watching the light flicker around, imagining its warmth, radiance, a tiny spot of radiation tingling my skin.

How far did this light travel before it reached my hand? The sun is about 150km (93M miles) from me. Astronomers call this an astronomical unit, the distance light travels between the sun and planet earth, at a speed that brings the light here in eight and a half minutes, literally at the speed of light.

Little spot, what did you see as you traveled here? Did you see the stars? Is that why you sparkle in my hand? Did you bring some star dust with you to greet me? Did you meet any interesting creatures along the way? Do you have some fun stories to tell about your journey?

What does patience mean to particles of light that travel from their home to my hand in less than ten minutes? Do they have a different perspective on time passing? Do those ten minutes feel like a year, or the same as ten minutes feels to me as I sit on the floor holding sunlight in my hand?

I blink and my hand is just my hand again. The sun has shifted around the planet. The spot is now hiding under the chair.

My knees creak as I stand up and switch on the vacuum, but there is now a smile on my face. I’ve sucked sunshine today.

Husband Writes

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With our writer’s group meeting on a holiday, I was able to bring my husband, Brent, to the meeting. The following are his poetic works based upon the prompt. The prompt was to write in the style of the provided examples by William Carlos Williams, specifically the poem called “The Red Wheelbarrow”, emphasis put upon the description of the item to tell its story.

Here are Brent VanFossen’s examples.

So much depends
upon

a woman’s
soft touch,

shared passions,
and love

on a warm
September evening.

So much depends
upon

a late
summer rain

falling gently

on white
thistle down.

So much depends
upon

a bull elk’s
bugling.

Antler rattling
begets

next year’s
offspring.

Bullies

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The following is another prompt from my writers group. The prompt was bullies. Please remember that unless otherwise clarified, all these stories are fiction.

I was rasised by bullies.

One sliced you to shreds wth the barbed blade of her tongue.

Another used charisma to convert violence into a forgivable action.

Another used kindness to stab you in the back even when your back was not turned.

Another came out of the hatch evil determined to bring misery to all in his path.

What do you do when you are surrounded by those determied that their way is the hghway, determined to prove they are right no matter how wrong their righteousness.

Stay out of their way.

Stay safe.

Stay alive.

Sit back and watch the show.

The Story of How a Blog Was Born

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The following was based upon a prompt in my writers group. The prompt was to write out a step-by-step instructions as if you were spelling it out for a complete novice or someone who did not speak your native language. Then take those instructions and tell a story with them. Mine, of course, was on how to create a blog on WordPress.com.

Her fingers trembled on the keys. I can do this, she thought, chewing her lip.

Site name. Name of site.

The pain of the moment struck her chest, pressing the air out with a wheeze. Curling around the pain, each click of the keyboard a Morse code of dread, she typed the name.

The “Get a Blog” blue button pulsed a beat then drifted across the screen. She smeared her left hand across her watering eyes and stabbed the button with the mouse in her right.

“An email is flying across the web to your email inbox. Please check it to verify your site registration.”

The gentle, lighthearted tone helped her breathe a little easier, An unexpected kindness. She switched to the email tab in her web browser and reloaded the page, her new-found patience serving her well.

There is was. Confirmation of the moment.

A couple more clicks and the Settings Screen filled the dark room with brilliant white light.

It asked her to commit. To make this real.

She wasn’t ready. It wasn’t time. Too soon. Too late.

It had to be done.

It was done.

With courage she never knew before, strength she never thought possible, energy that rose from depths impossible to comprehend six months ago, six months in the past when she could wake up, heart filled with the joy at the fresh start of a new day, eager to plunge into new tasks, embrace new ideas, meet old friends and new strangers, hugs, laughter, meals shared, events toasted…six months later every moment is dark, filled with agony. A shared suffering but suffering all the same…

Fingers like sausages stuffed with lead she typed:

“Alexander Smith, educator, husband, father, kind heart. 1948 – 2013″

and clicked Enter.

David Tennant Regenerates into Matt Smith on Doctor Who

I’m a Doctor Who fan. I’ve watched all the episodes from number one with Hartley in the very beginning of the Doctor Who run, through to the reboot currently with Matt Smith taking on the role of the Doctor quite well.

Therefore, I’m in a good position to decide which Doctor is my favorite Doctor so far among all of them having not grown up with a particular Doctor like so many. For me, David Tennant is my personal favorite. He brought to the role all the comedy, wit, wisdom, and angst that defines all of the Doctors. He combined all of them and none of them beautifully. His passion for every role he takes on is a work of art, but his Doctor Who portrayal was truly brilliant.

The most difficult to watch and beautifully acted moment for me was during his last scene as the Doctor, saying his famous words that echoed what we were all thinking, “I don’t want to go.” Perfect passing on to the next Doctor.

We all have television shows and movies that we never want to end. While sequels fuel us, rarely are sequels as good as the original, but we want the characters and their stories to go on and on in spite of quality.

Doctor Who continues to get better, a rare thing in television and modern entertainment. This year is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who’s beginning, even though there was a good gap in the series. Fans, truly passionate fans of all types, even those in the movie and television industry, kept the spirit and demand for Doctor Who alive.

There are books, audio books, podcasts, radio shows, comics, all types of Doctor Who productions feeding the fandom of Whovians around the world in multiple languages.

I’m just one of the crowd loving the story of a mad doctor wandering the universe in a time machine shaped like a London police box of old.

 

Going Home

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This is a story based upon my writers group prompt to write about going home. The story is a form of fictionalized truth.

“Life happens while you are making other plans.”

Sometimes that old cliche nags at me, especially when it comes to the holidays.

Holidays sneak up on me. I don’t know why. They happen the same time every year. You’d think the habit of the holidays would somehow incorporate itself into my schedule better. Alas, it’s three weeks before Christmas and I’ve not done a thing in preparation. There won’t be any going home for the holidays this year.

Home. That mystical word. Home and family. A mixed metaphor in my life. Home is a word that has haunted me from my earliest memories.

As a child, holidays were spent with relatives and friends, homes where I felt special and included, a part of something, a feeling I never had in my own home. Home was a place of divisiveness, arguments, unjust accusations, punishments that drove us into our various corners. Alone time was cherished, sought, welcomed. Togetherness brought frustration, anxiety, and the desire to flee.

As an adult, having two homes is a sign of wealth. In childhood, it is a sign of divorce, separation of state and state, each one with their own rules. Divorcing as began my trip through puberty, home meant confusion, uncertainty, mines, and theirs. There was the place where I spent my school days and a second place where I spent my weekends and summers. Step parents with children enlarged the family. I became theirs and ours rather than mine.

Feeling as if I had no home, no roots, I turned to travel, moving easily from place to place. It was just a bed. A temporary roof. Keep the suitcase packed, just in case.

Newly married, new husband and I took the art of living on the road to a new level, traversing North America and the world for years on end. We’d rest for a day or two, maybe a month, occasionally longer. Then on to the next job, next adventure.

The question of home arose on a daily basis.

“Where are you from?” is a common question in the traveling world.

For me, it became a question of “where did you grow up,” “where did you spent the majority of your life,” “where did you just come from,” and other between-the-lines answers sought. What was the answer they really wanted. What did they really want to know about us and our “home” that would help them define us in their community and world.

When falling in love together, my husband had a hard time first saying the words “I love you.” Understanding deeply my sense of lost self, he would hold me close and say “Home is where Lorelle is.”

Over the years his words sank in. Home is where Lorelle is. HOME is where Lorelle is. Home is WHERE Lorelle IS.

He taught me that home is where you make it, so I’m going home to me now.

Let Me Sleep Before I Go Go

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From two prompts in a writing workshop. The first is a gift that changed your life and the second was based upon a participant arriving late and saying, “Waking up is hard to do,” a joke on the song “Breaking up is hard to do.”

In my marriage I have only asked for one thing. Sleep.

You may think this is a simple request, one typically found in many busy family lives, up at all hours of the night with the ills of young children, racing around between the commuter routes of workers, hobbyists, and sporting play fields. Late nights spent fighting or loving, working our way through the hills and valleys of a life loved and lived.

Alas, these are not the reasons I seek my gift of sleep. I actually don’t need much sleep. Yet I treasure every moment of shut eye I can get.

My idea of a perfect day is to rise before the sun and go to bed long after the sun sets. I live quite well on 4-6 hours a sleep, often barely getting three, though four or five is better. Gifted with the energy of a bulldozer and the enthusiasm of a hummingbird going after a feeder, I plow my way through life, awake the moment the alarm goes off, usually before, and dreading the time I have to stop for the day and lay my head down on the pillow.

My husband has other ideas on sleep. He workshops the sleep gods, and does an amazing job. For him, the best sleep comes early in the morning about two hours before the need to arise arises. It begins with the first beeps of the alarm clock. This is when his morning worship begins.

In the chill of the morning, my eyes fly open at the sound, totally awake. It is usually an hour or two before I really need to be awake, but the deed is done and my motor is running.

I watch as his arm creeps out from the warm cocoon we’ve created to bang the top of the clock. As the clock shakes with the impact, I see that it is six in the morning. I’m awake. Totally and irrevocably, no matter how hard I may try to return to a dream state.

He’s still asleep. Though the decades-long habit, he is barely conscious enough to accomplish this task. He’s started his early morning ritual of prayer to the gods of the night, sleep, and dreams.

For the next hour to two, I will watch him snore, hear the electronic beeps that go off with regularity every eight minutes. His arm slip out of the warmth to slap the clock as he sinks back into his “best” sleep of the night. I should get up, get moving, get my “go on” as my mother called it, but I’m fascinated by the ritual and determined to get just a few more minutes of my own.

Living with him, I wake up furious and impatient realizing I’ve lost those extra minutes when I could be in a mentally relaxing and healing state as the man is beside me with the quick trigger slamming arm.

Over the years I’ve tried everything to change his habit. I’ve switched from the beeping to annoying buzzers. I even tried annoying morning news radio then stopped. I don’t want the first words I hear in the morning to be reports on murder and mayhem by individuals and governments.

I put my foot down, literally, and poked and prodded him from the bed. I even hung my feet outside of the warmth of blankets to gather the cold within them before putting them to his backside to propel him from the bed.

Nothing worked.

Recently, I decided to change my attitude of battle about this denial of my rights to sleep to my appointed time to rise. Instead I lie in bed and watch my beloved morning snoozer snooze a little longer. I snuggle up against his warmth and think warm and loving thoughts. I grab my smart phone and catch up on my reading, email, or blog, wrapped in his warm embrace.

After twenty years of waking with anger and hate in my heart at the loss of a precious hour or two of sleep, I’ve found safety and comfort in these hours, listening to his soft snores and the rhythm of his deep breaths. While he snores, I realize that the greatest gift I’ve been given is time. Time to love, and time to be loved.

Journaling isn’t as easy as it sounds

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In one way or another, I’ve been writing every day of my life for…let’s just say decades. Now that I’ve put a simple task before me to write in this “journal” daily, I find obstacles every where I turn.

My days are filled with writing technical articles, social media commentaries and replies, and responding endlessly to emails. I’m glued to the computer, keyboard, and mouse continuously almost every waking hour. When I’m away from the desktop computer, it’s the laptop, tablet, or phone.

Someone added up all the articles I typically wrote and came up with an average 1,975 articles a year. Yet I can’t seem to get to this journaling business more than a couple times a week.

I’ve started to study the art of the journal, especially memoir and family history journaling in preparation for the Family History Blogging course I’ll be teaching in Spring Quarter, and I’m so impressed by those who wrote great letters and journals, recording their thoughts on paper. Sure, they didn’t have a computer nor the near desperate panic of work ethic we have today, but they found time to record their thoughts. Why is it so hard for me.

Sometimes I think I have no thoughts – well, nothing original. Or my words fall flat with lackluster language.

Discussing journals with friends during our recent Thanksgiving holiday party, they spoke of the power in the written language to preserve a moment with flowery, descriptive words. One person told of focusing on a single subject, like a tree outside the window and start to describe that every day, commenting on the changes, weather, and eventually the things on it, around it, then about the world, all linked together.

A couple told of their long distance romance in the early years and how they wrote journals more than letters to each other. They’d exchange them when they got together and write responses in each other’s journals. What a magical way to romance.

Yet, for the first time in my life I look at the blank screen before me and the words won’t come.

Instead, I write about how all of this is just too hard.

It will get better tomorrow.

Finding Creativity and Artistry Anytime in Your Life

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Leslie Ditzy Vids YouTube Channel images.My friend, Leslie, is an inspiration to me. She used to drive me “batty” – her term for it – but now she has come into her own in her olderness and is not just an inspiration to me but a mentor and motivator.

The niece of an Oscar winning actress, Leslie has come out of her turtle shell casing and into her own as the queen of Ditzvids.

In a form distinctive and yet similar to Tracy Ullman, the actress and comedian famous for her various characters, Leslie continues to unveil a wide variety of characters adorned in antique hats, veils, glasses, sweaters, and other paraphernalia.

She explains to me often that the clothes make the character. She’ll try on different hats and wigs and suddenly feel the entity coming out of her. They have unusual and creative names, often representative of their personality.

There are so many characters she’s created that get me rolling on the floor and literally peeing my pants from laughing so hard. I’m not sure if these are funnier because I know Leslie and know how out of character (and sometimes “in character”) these are, or because they are just that funny.

Sandra Ledbedter is one of my favorite characters. In the video above, she prepares for vacation with her boyfriend in Hawaii, and her nerves, as well as her query personality, comes out beautifully. In the next video, she’s on vacation with her boyfriend in Hawaii and decides to use “modern technology” to send a video post card. Honestly, I could see my mother sending the same post card back home.

Sandra’s brother, Ernie, is a character she describes as literally taking her over. She fell into the “ARCHitech” personality so completely, she lost herself. The brilliance comes through in this unique video.

“Flatulance Air” is a unique airline, and this “safety” presentation for the flight is brilliant, an airline really run on gas.

Estrella the Smari Swarmi is a hoot, the Swarmi without a glass ball as someone took it. LOL!

In this video, Kiki states the truth that all of us over the age of 40 wish: Shoe designers, please make shoes for us to not only make us feel good but look good, whether or not we’re heading for the dance floor.

During the Olympics, she came up with an Olympic Swimmer character that won an Olympic Rhinestone.

Eugenie is a royal house maid for the queen – Elizabeth – and she invites you for tea.

Watching the Ditzvids from Leslie, I am reminded of how little creativity I have in my life and that I need to get more. She is shining and thriving with these beautiful video characters, stretching her imagination in every direction, embracing different parts of herself as well as other people.

Her courage to put these “out there” in the world is wonderful to watch. She gets judgmental about herself and her friends and their opinions of what she is doing, saying she knows that everyone thinks she’s looney and “off my meds” but she keeps producing them, improving constantly. I’ve previewed some of the future releases and trust me, she’s come up with some amazing characters and outfits.

I need to put myself out there more again. I need to risk with my creativity. I need to push myself to do more and experiment with my art, in all directions.

Thank you, my dear friend, Leslie, for pushing me to become more fully me. Just one of the many reasons I love you so much.

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