Saturday, October 30, 2021

What to Do

It's always a conundrum to me. Does one celebrate Halloween on October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st or both. The alternative is Day of the Dead. Actually it is the "Days" of the dead.  I guess this a question of the status of one's soul.

These days Halloween has become pedestrian. It is a day to dress up, no longer in a costume of evil or jest - a witch, a ghost, the devil, a skeleton, an angel, or a clown. Gone are the days of a simple white sheet with 2 eye holes cut out! These days costumes vary from the image of a former president to characters from the latest video game to some female fashion persona from TV. It is a day of candy, plastic pumpkins, and parading up and down the neighborhood. Gone are the days of harmless tricks - someone's buggy placed atop a barn or a scarecrow redressed as a witch. Bobbing for apples is no longer part of the day.

All Saints Day is now relegated to celebrations by the Episcopal and Catholic churches. It has not changed very much over the ages. However now there are over 10,000 recognized saints - that's a lot of canonizations. The most popular perhaps being St. Michael the Archangel, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Joseph, St. Valentine, St. Christopher, and  St. Patrick. Note several of those have their own celebrated days. Do the churches celebrate them in mass (no pun intended) or select a favorite few to honor?

One can celebrate either or both of these "holidays".

The alternative being the trifecta, the three Days of the Dead, celebrated October 31, November 1, and November 2. Dating back to the Middle Ages, and not coincidentally being the same time as Halloween and All Saints Day. The purpose these days is to remember family and friends who have died and to assist them on their spiritual journey. It is celebrated October 31, November 1, and November 2. These days coincide with the celebration of Allhallowtide - All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day on November 2nd.

Each of the 3 days, represents a separate celebration. October 31st is in celebration and memory of angelitos (spirits of dead children), when children build the Ofrendas (home altars with a collection of objects placed on a ritual display).  On November 1st it is believed the spirits of the adults return. Families visit and decorate the graves of their loved ones on November 2nd. Candy and toys are placed on the graves of the children and gifts for the deceased adults include Tequila, trinkets, and their loved one's favorite candy. A new addition to the celebrations are parades where family members dress in costumes of skeletons and other symbols of the dead and walk through the streets of their towns and cities. No former politicians, gaming characters, or fashion icons here.

So I guess it comes down to modern character costumes and candy, rituals of the church, or alters, visits to cemeteries, and tequila. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

It's Never too Late to Save your Soul

 What do the following have in common:

  • Requieted love
  • Meet Cute
  • Successful / Well to do Character
  • Under Dog
  • Best Friend
  • Sentimental Soul
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Snowball Fight
  • Interrupted Kiss
  • Abstinence 
  • A misunderstanding
  • Contrition
  • Reunion
  • Gala, Ball, Holiday Festival

If you know the answer there are support groups out there to save you. Seek one to save your soul. It is not too late. If you don't, move along, nothing to see here - bask in your ignorance.

Bah Humbug, 'tis the Season.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

What's with the Poo?

 I can remember the first time I saw a Labradoodle. She was a rather large black dog with tight curly hair. Then, weeks later, I encountered a Goldendoodle. In my ignorance it looked very much like a golden Labradoodle.

Poodles are extremely smart dogs that initially had their reputations ruined by breeding down to dogs the size of cupcakes (aka Tea Cup Poodles). Unlike their large, regal looking fore-bearers, these tiny things had names like Fifi, Sassy, and Cookie. Oh, the inhumanity.

Originally, these smart German dogs (yes, German not French) were breed to be water retrievers. The name "Poodle" came from "pudel" which means to splash in water. And, there is reason for that odd haircut - a combination of a shaved dog with puffs of hair remaining. This is a traditional cut used by hunters. The dogs swim much better with a sleek cut, but the the hair around their joints and upper torso is kept to protect these parts from the cold. (And, I thought for years that it was a humiliating haircut used to look like the work of a pompous French hair designer.) 

Characteristics of the breed are described as Intelligent, Alert, Faithful, Active, Trainable, and Instinctual. Given all the sizes of the dog now (Standard, Medium, Toy, and Teacup) there is only one breed standard - the Standard (as in full size original Poodle). Fun fact: a team of poodles (standard) competed in the Iditerad Sled Race. 

But back to the demeaning new practice of cross breeding, what "they" call "Designer Dogs". Like all dog breeds, the poodle descended from a combination of Russian, German, European water dogs, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Hungarian, and Russian water dogs. And, now we have 61 different poodle, poo mixes, in addition to Labradoodle and the Goldedoodle, the more popular are the Shih Poo, Schnoodle, and the Yorkiepoo.

 Poodles come in many colors: Black, Blue,Silver,Gray,Cream,White,Brown,Apricot, Cafe Au Lait (seriously?), and Silver Beige. There is also the color "Parti Poodles". Does the insanity ever end? For edification the "Parti Poodle" has a white coat with blotches of brown, red, or gray. Think of a poodle with a coat like a Brittany Spaniel. Then there is a red color that is a result of a separate gene known as the "Rufus" gene. 

I was OK with all this until last week when I ran into this lady with this huge (as in small pony size) very hairy dog. The dog was very friendly, wagging its tail, begging for attention. When I inquired about the type of dog, I was a bit taken back. "Oh, this Sweetie, she is a Sheepadoodle (as in Old English Sheep dog and a Poodle)." I commented that she was pretty and sweet.

As she and Sweetie walked away, only one thing came to my mind, "We have now jumped the shark or, rather, jumped the poodle".

Saturday, October 23, 2021

A is Red and so is Sunday in Thailand

This will sound odd, but what else is new, coming from me? As long as I can remember, in my mind, I see letters in specific colors. Yes, I know I should have sought help earlier. (I'll add that to my list of things to do.)

In my mind, A is red, B is blue, C is purple, D is blue, E is a dull yellow, F is brown, G is orange, H is yellow, I is white and on it goes. OK, some folks are blessed with certain innate talents. Unfortunately, mine is mental - and not mental in the way of Einstein. But, I digress.

Speaking of assigned colors, I came upon an interesting article on Thailand. Among the unique customs of this ancient country is an interesting one of colors - one for each day of the week. On each given day of the week, Thai citizens traditionally wear the color of day. Also, everyone sees the color of the day of the week they were born on as their lucky color. There is also a Buddha assigned to each day, although I did not read anything about the Buddhas being coordinated with a color.

Assigned colors are:
Sunday –         red
Monday –        yellow/cream
Tuesday –        pink
Wednesday –   green at daytime, grey at night
Thursday –      orange/brown
Friday –           light blue
Saturday –       purple/black

And, another interesting fact is that each day also has an "unlucky" color.
Sunday -          blue
Monday-          red
Tuesday -         yellow & white
Wednesday       (Daytime) pink
Wednesday       (Nighttime) orange & red
Thursday          purple
Friday               blue black & dark blue
Saturday           purple & green 

Just like our days of the week are named for planets and ancient gods, the Thai culture also has a planet for each day of the week as well as a Hindu deity that protects each day are:

Sunday             Sun  - Surya
Monday            Moon - Chandra
Tuesday            Mars - Mangala
Wednesday       Daytime - Mercury Budh
Wednesday       Nighttime - Mercury Rahu
Thursday          Jupiter - Brihaspati
Friday               Venus - Shukra
Saturday           Saturn - Shani

Who knew? It is all I can do to select a color of sweater to wear each day, perhaps I should coordinate with the traditional Thai colors. Of course, I would need to change clothes twice on Wednesday. And, add some orange and brown to my wardrobe since I was born on Thursday. And, learn to avoid purple.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Bucket List

 The Bucket List - things one wants to do before one kicks the bucket, the ultimate cliche. I happened upon the movie by the same name with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Although, in reality, we all do not have a friend like Edward who can finance our list or Carter who can make us face reality.

All this brings to mind our ultimate demise and limited time on Earth. Is the list something one truly intends to do or just a mental exercise?  Which begs the question, when does one start checking off items on the list? Does one wait until one knows their days are numbered or does one start soon, ensuring that one gets through it. And, when is soon enough?

Also, does one share the list or keep it to one's self. In other words, does one want comment or suggestions? Or does it contain items that are personal, a little out there, maybe a bit more adventurous? Keeping it to one's self prevents judgement and unsolicited recommendations. Sharing it opens it up to explanation and justification. And, who really needs to know another's dreams and fears?

Do we start with simple things easily attainable? You know, those tasks we always put off - organizing one's desk, spending time with that great aunt who drives one crazy with unwanted advice. Do we venture off the known and get out of our comfort zone? Dining on Fugu Blowfish (from Japan), Hákarl (form Iceland), ot Locusts (from the Middle East. Do we say things that we have always wanted to say, but were brought up to be too polite to do so? Such as telling your friend that wearing caftans to dinner does nothing for her figure or mentioning to your daughter that the guy she is dating is absolutely useless and she will regret it later.

Do we go for adventure? Skydiving, for instance, personally this is no where close to my list, I have no desire to die prematurely, same for riding a Harley, or driving a race car on a NASCAR track. Life is short enough as it is. Do we travel to those far way places with strange sounding names? Or do we stay home and read all those books we have intended to finish for years now.

Do we spend money on objects we could never otherwise justify? That perfect house with the ideal kitchen, that sports car in gun metal blue, or that set of antique crystal we have admired in the store. 

Or are we sentimental and wish to spend time with those we love, make friends with those we admire from afar, show those close to us that we really care.

In reality, when the paper hits the pad, it is all personal. It is a list no one needs to justify to anyone else. It should be full of decadent pleasures, expensive items, exotic experiences, and all those things we have put off for lack of time, effort, or justification.

I'll spare you my list, especially since I do not have one (yet). After all, everyone is not ready to face mortality. Not all of us are prepared to put these dreams, desires, and regrets on paper. Seeing it in writing is cathartic enough. Soul searching and admitting there are things we wish (need) to do. Promising ourselves we will act on our intentions. Realizing, our time on this planet is limited at most, measured at best. 

The ultimate question is: Are we willing to bare our soul, justify our aspirations, and follow our dreams?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Send in the Leaves

Where are the Leaves? There ought to be Leaves. Well, maybe next year.

Autumn is the season of crisp weather, bright blue skies, long shadows, and colorful leaves. Last year, I spent much time searching for the bliss of red, yellow, and orange foliage. But, alas, I never found it. Not only was I late (the leaf change was early), the conditions were not ideal. Right then I made a pledge to myself - Never more. I was not going to live this close to the mountains and not experience the wonder of fall foliage (in color). 

So this year, I started following the foliage prediction maps early. I was prepared. I had a plan. There would be no disappointment. All predictions said this week would be the peak of the season. As it is, I have the week off (long story why, but I'll spare you the details).

Friday I was in Cashiers (elevation 3500) - no color at all. Saturday, I made my way to the parkway.  Surely there would be spectacular views. At the lower level there was no color. Well, maybe a glimpse of yellow here and there. 

 I started at the entrance by Asheville and made my way north. As the elevation increased, I spotted a bit of color. However, the traffic was ungodly. Then the mist and fog set in. If there was something to see, it was lost on me. Since there are fewer viewing areas on this part, I had to go 20 something more miles before I could turn around. But, the map said  . . . Dejected I went home. 

Sunday, I decided to catch the sunrise on the parkway past Pisgah, elevation 5,700. The 30 degree temps at dawn did not deter me. The sunrise, although a bit brisk, was spectacular. It slowly changed from mauves and purple  . . .

To brilliant oranges and gold.

As the sky lightened, I knew the view would change from the golden hues of dawn to a spectacular show of color on the hills. But, alas it was not to be. There was a bit of color amongst the green, but only enough to tease.

So I returned home and checked the prediction maps. Sure enough they still said that Cashiers and Pisgah were currently at their peak. Actually, according to "those who know", Pisgah was past its peak. All I can say is - who died and made them the experts? 

Undeterred, I decided to give it a another day or so. Perhaps one morning I will awake to find that the witch is dead and everything is in color. I doubt it, but a girl can always hope.

Monday, October 11, 2021

It's More than the Theme Song

When I think of music in the movies, two things come to mind. The first is theme song, especially if it became a commercial hit, examples being some of the award winning tunes from the Bond franchise - "For Your Eyes' Only", "Goldfinger", "All Time High" and "Live and Let Die". Most people are familiar with "Rain Drops keep Falling on my Head" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Two of my all time favorites are "Memories" from The Way we Were and "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffanys. There was a wonderful song called "Moondust" from (of all movies!!) Meatballs. If you not familiar with it, and a doubt you are probably not, Google it.

The second musical memory of a movie is the overture. Whether it is the opening credits of My Fair Lady or the sweeping production at the beginning of Gone With the Wind, these compositions set the mood for the movie. Rogers and Hammerstein are probably best known for their overtures.

However, I recently realized the most important music in a film is not the theme song stuck in your mind for days or the grand orchestral production of the first minutes. It is the score. The music that sets the scenes that we rarely pay attention to, yet it is a major part of the movie going experience.

Last week I was walking and decided to "listen" to a movie. By the time I got back to my place, I was enthralled. The movie, not a block buster, but a decent film, was a totally different experience with just the dialogue and the score. Since I had seen the film several times, I was very familiar with the characters and setting. But the score, which no doubt influenced my experience the earlier times I had seen the film, was initially lost in my consciousness. However, it was this very music that carried the movie. All the action, the feelings, and suspense could be followed by just listening to the score. Now I truly appreciate the Academy Award Winners in the category of "Best Score".  

And just in case, one doesn't know the difference between a movie's theme song and its score:  "[The score] is probably so called from the vertical scoring lines that connect successive related staves. A score may contain the single part for a solo work or the many parts that make up an orchestral or ensemble composition".

When I was quite young, I remember my father explaining the concept of a movie score to me. He had me listen to the score only (no dialogue) of Peter and the Wolf. I could tell just by the music that something bad was going to happen or things were going well or there was some expectation. The music carried the emotions of the story. It was a great lesson that I put away in my mind, along with his tutorials on how to select a great book by its binding and what to look for when buying an Angus cow. 

But, like many of those valuable things Daddy taught me, I was a bit slow to really appreciate the lesson. Yes, it took me 50 something years to truly appreciate his lesson on scoring. Now I just wonder how many valuable things my father taught me that I have long forgotten or failed to appreciate at the time. 

Perhaps the lessons were much like the score of film. As I go through life they provide the background, the richness, and enjoyment of my daily experience - I am just not conscious of it. "Let's say it was the moon dust, that hides behind the moonlight, that fell and set us free with its moon dust melody."

Friday, October 8, 2021

Save it for a Rainy Day

In this week of inclement weather,  save it to the poets (and musicians) to romanticize the rain. 

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
       Perry Como

Save it for a rainy day 
       Stephen Bishop

Here comes that rainy day feeling again 

Here's that rainy day they told me about and I laughed 
      Barbara Streisand

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, Save it for a rainy day 

Oo, I hear laughter in the rain, walking hand in hand with the one I love. 
      Neil Sedaka

I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain? 
       Creadance Clearwater Revival

Rainy day bells play by the raindrops 
       Neil Sadaka

Kentucky rain keeps pouring down and up ahead's another town that I'll go walking through . . .
In the cold Kentucky rain 
       Elvis Presley

Smoky Mountain rain keeps on falling, I keep on calling her name 
       Ronnnie Milsap

You can thank me later for the continuous loop one these songs will stay in you head today.

Monday, October 4, 2021

A Ouija Board, a Magic Wand, and a Genie in a Bottle

 Everyone has most likely played that game of naming a list of people, well there are several of these lists. One is - If you were stranded on a dessert island, what 3 things would you want with you? Number two is - If you could have one wish what would it be? Number three is - who would be your dream guest list for a dinner party?

Obviously, these are all personal. Everyone has different answers, well except that a majority of us would ask for unlimited money somewhere in here. As for me, I have thought about these queries long and hard over many years.

For the first, I would want a Ouija Board, a Magic Wand, and a Geni in a bottle. The magic wand just a back up in case the Geni is uncooperative. 

My one wish would not be world peace, contrary to that desire of many Miss America Finalists. I would request the ability (and resources) to travel anywhere I wanted at anytime.

As for the dinner party, this is my favorite. There are 2 categories alive and dead. The list of those still in the here and now would include: Annie Leibovitz, Kevin Costner, Dr. Nan Morrison (one of my college English Lit professors), a certain young man I didn't date in high school but should have (whose name I will not reveal),  John Martin Taylor (a well known Charleston chef who penned "Straighten up and Fry Right" aka The Fearless Frying Cookbook), Ted Turner, and Aaron Sorkin.

The list of those who have passed would include my father (a true Renaissance man of his time), my Auntie (a favorite Great Aunt of mine who cussed like a sailor, smoked Salems, and always had a great story), Bill Lynch (a family friend who epitomized a gentleman from an old Charleston family who introduced me to good Gin and Cointreau at the age of 15), Dr. Frampton (the minister of the Presbyterian Church I attended as a child), Cokie Roberts, and Judge Blane Michael (the funniest white man I ever knew).

When you have a quiet moment, I suggest you make your own lists. I cannot speak for everyone, but it put my life in perspective. And, although I doubt any of these wishes will come true, I can always dream.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

"They" Know a Virus is not Contagious

This truly goes under the category, "You can't make this stuff up."

I was in a store yesterday, one that requested its patrons wear masks while shopping.  Although I do not like wearing a mask, I respect any store that has such a policy. The gentleman in front of me in line turned around. "Don't you just hate having to wear that thing," he asked as he pointed to my mask. I noted he was not wearing one.

"It's not my favorite thing but I respect the store's right to request it," I said, trying not to sound nonplussed.

"Well, I happen to know for a fact that they do no good - not effective at all." He continued, "Let me show you." With that he pulled out his American Express card. "See that comma between 30 and 2023 (the expiration date)?" Before I could answer, he continued. "This card," he pointed to his Amex Card,"is a hole in your mask. That comma is the virus. So you can see a mask does no good."

"Well . . . ", I started to comment about N-95 masks, but he continued before I could finish my thought. "There is a book everyone must read, called The Invisible Rainbow. It is over 100 pages and 25 of those are footnotes citing the experts." As this point, all that went through my mind was The Rainbow Fish, The Reading Rainbow, and Unicorns.

"You should know, the Spanish Flu in 1918, which did not start in Spain, actually started in Kansas." Before I could offer that I knew that, he continued. "And it was not spread by contagion, like people to people. It was spread along the telephone wires that had recently been strung across the country. It spread by radio waves coming from the lines. Then the transcontinental telephone line spread the disease to Europe."

"Phone lines? Really?" I replied.

"Yes, there is proof that radio waves carry all types of viruses. You know in the Army, the first thing they tell you is to stay away from radar and x-rays? The Army knows all about this, they have just keep it secret."

"Huh, I haven't read anything about this."

"It's all in The Invisible Rainbow, you should read it." He continued,"And the experts know a virus is not contagious, it's nothing but dead cells."

I started,"And this is in  . . ." But before I could finish, he cut me off. "It's all in the book. You really need to read it. And, you know what caused Covid19?"

"Phone lines?"

"No, the 5G network. It's everywhere and it has spread the virus across the globe." I was hoping that he would quickly reach the register, so he could pay for the few things he was holding and spare me any more of his scientific theory. But, luck was not on my side. The lady in front of him decided she needed to pay with a personal check and it was taking her a while to locate her checkbook in her rather large purse.

"There is a great video called 'Covid19 in 19 Minutes'." He continued. "But you want find this on Google. It can only be found on a secret browser that only real serious scientist follow."

Finally, it was his time to check out. "There is a God," I silently told myself. As he left, he turned, pointed to me and smiled, "Get the book, you really need to read it."

The only thing I could say was,"It all sounds very interesting."

With that he turned and left. I was tempted to follow him out the door and see if he was going to don a tin foil hat. But then, I had given him enough of my life. I'll take my chances with telephone lines and the 5G network. No doubt, somewhere over the rainbow . . .

Friday, October 1, 2021

Be Happy

 "I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” Jane Austin in Pride and Prejudice.

I live to learn this lesson. How much simpler can it be said. We often are so busy trying to achieve what we think is going to bring us happiness, we don't recognize it when it is in front of our face. 

Fear not, I will opine no more. I shall bask in my content and enjoy my happiness, all the while appreciating I have both.