Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Warm and Toasted

It’s hot here and everywhere. The critters in the back yard are trying to keep cool.

A local taking advantage of a cool dirt bath. Also my planters.

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Sorry for the mesh and pine sap, it messed up the image clarity but my functionality decreases 50% without a mosquito-proof environment;)

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It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

— Yogi Berra
Photo by Nerf Portraits on Unsplash

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I’m in seat 34 and already seven minutes late. We’re on the night bus to Cappadocia and I’m settling in for a ten-hour ride into the heart of Turkey. The old woman ahead of me is getting feisty, pounding on the window and demanding to leave, loudly. This little drama is all in Turkish, of course, but it’s hard to misunderstand this kind of impatience. Most of the country seems to travel by bus and this is the largest terminal I’ve ever seen. The station is huge, complete with hotel and shopping complex, mosque, 200,000 lira WCs, and plenty of air guns to keep the kids occupied. 

What’s this? We’re leaving right on time, only 14 minutes behind schedule.

Tops in Turkey: Topkapi Palace, cherry juice and jam, beer on a rooftop terrace with a view of the Haghia Sofia and Blue Mosque.

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Photo by Fatih Yürür on Unsplash

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Good to Know

Recent chat transcript with my father (note the time stamps):

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Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash

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That I Can Do

Hmm, Tuesday. What to write?

Do I have a draft of anything started?

(checks draft folder) No.

Do I have an idea for an interesting topic? Sure. Time to expand on it? Not so much.

New experiments in food and/or art?

Nothing ready to share.

Cute pictures of the cat?

No. Let’s face it, our cat is more fiend than fluff ball.

Inspirational quote about work plus adorable stock imagery?

That I can do.

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I’ve probably used this quote before. Still relevant!

“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” 

― Anne Lamott
Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

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In the early twentieth century, Dorothy Levitt, née Elizabeth Levi (1882-1922) was “the premier woman motorist and botorist [motorboat driver] of the world”… The Woman and the Car is a practical, how-to guide for those who wanted to take to the roads, but did not quite know how. 

— On the Road: *The Woman and the Car* (1909) – The Public Domain Review

Have times changed since 1909? Obviously, but not everything. “Many of the extensive recommendations regarding mechanics, etiquette, and the temptations of car culture hold true today.” Also, who wouldn’t like to have this much fun going to the grocery store?

I’m off to run an errand, but am I just picking up milk, or am I practicing a little petro-feminism?*

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* And I’m looking forward to the day when I can practice electro-feminism.

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Dear Apple, thank you for the recent software update. Unfortunately, there is now a problem with the spellcheck gremlins. You appear to be asking too much of them.

Case in point: If I wanted squiggly underlines beneath my homonyms, I would have turned on Grammar checking. I do not. I did not. So why do you (sometimes, periodically, unpredictably) “helpfully” point out that I have used “your” instead of “you’re”? Or “to” instead of “too.” I know, I did it on purpose. Yes, I am sure, and even if I’m wrong, it’s my mistake to make.

Please give your gremlins some time off, and leave my homonyms alone.*

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* Drafted yesterday, edited today to be more polite. Because I’m mostly over it, and it’s not the gremlins’ fault. Probably.

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

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I’m feeling Olden Timey today, so let’s take a trip down memory lane, to 1906 San Francisco. Sure, this video has been posted all over the internet, but this definitive version includes narration and historical details, with a new digital transfer to include the full video, sprockety edges and all.

Plus it’s just cool.

Funny how a simple video conversion can suddenly make the past feel quite present. And really, they were us, and someday we will be them. Let’s do history proud!

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Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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Pretty Ok Day

Sometimes, there is only one question that matters: Did you quit today?

No, no I did not.

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Would the world be a better place if we added the words “I’m afraid that…” to many of our negative thoughts? As in, “I’m afraid that the vaccine is untested and will hurt me.” Or, “I’m afraid that my neighbor with the weird tattoo hates me because I’m different,” or “I’m afraid that Anders in accounting is undermining my promotion case,” or “I’m afraid that the people in charge don’t care about me.”

Adding those three words adds flexibility. It highlights worry but also makes room for the possibility that you may not be right about the danger. It isn’t fact, but possibility.

Anders may indeed have it out for you, but your neighbor probably doesn’t think about you at all.

I’m not unaware that there are real problems in the world, and many of them can be very personal. I was raised around a mix of people, some of whom were sweet hometown souls and some for whom intolerance was their bread and butter. It is true that some people are not good. And not all tattoos are harmless.

Still. This quote also rings true for me:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

― Yoda, Jedi Master

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Growing up as I did, an adopted, mixed-race but not obviously so child in a mostly rural mostly white area, gave me a certain perspective onto the good and the not so much.

My brother looks Black, he got the brunt of the in-your-face not good. I don’t, as much, so I got to see what lay behind the masks. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always interesting.

What makes people tick? In my experience, the answer is often fear. We’re all scared of something.

Understanding that, about others and ourselves, can open a fascinating window into motivation, behavior, and connection.

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Years ago, I went on vacation with a group. I didn’t necessarily agree with the politics of all present, but that’s fine. We were there for a good time, and most days, a good time was had.

The weather was warm but it rained on and off, and strong winds blew through even on the best afternoons. On snorkeling day, the boat that took us out was on the small side and the water was choppy with a chance of jellyfish.

The captain took us out into deeper water, pointing to a box of snorkels and masks as we slipped farther from shore. The woman next to me didn’t say much but when she spoke, her voice sounded thin and strained. 

The boat dropped anchor and most of the group immediately swam away. My seat-mate stayed near the ladder, tension visible in her short, choppy strokes and the way her breathing wasn’t quite level.

In that moment, our differences didn’t matter. The water was deep. Jellyfish swarmed nearby, and the boat cast an absurdly small shadow on a vast ocean. 

I reached out a hand and asked if she would swim with me. She laughed, half disbelief, half desperation. 

Then she reached back. 

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It was years ago, but I remember that day every time I am tempted to fall into a knee-jerk reaction about someone. 

I’m half white, half Black, half American, half Canadian, half Star Wars, half Star Trek, half duck confit, half pork and sauerkraut. I’m Exhibit J for the argument that differences don’t have to mean disaster. 

I know that reaching out doesn’t always work. I’ve experienced the alternatives. (And thanks to the joys of social media and increasing polarization, it’s impossible to miss the bonfire of bad so often happening around us.) But I keep trying.

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Like most people, I am best at remembering the foolish things I’ve done, the comments I wish I could take back, or the times I wish I’d done more.

But I also remember that moment in the water, when I was able to reach past our fears and help someone. I doubt she remembers, and that’s fine. In a fundamentally useful way, that moment humanized us both. We do not always see eye to eye, but we like each other far better than any algorithm says we should. 

I can still see the wide blue waters flowing around me, hear the slap of waves against the side of the boat. And feel the warmth of another’s hand looking for help and hope, and giving both back to me in return.

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Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

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It’s June. June!* 

I’m in the mood to do new things. It’s also the beginning of the month, which, thanks to the “fresh start effect” is a great time to embark on new ventures.

“The fresh-start effect hinges on the idea that we don’t feel as perfect about our past as we’d like. We’re always striving to be better. And when we can wipe out all those failures and look at a clean slate, it makes us feel more capable and drives us forward.”

— Dr. Katherine Milkman

Behavioral nudges are my jam.

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I actually did start a new project yesterday, and it felt good. Today I decided to think about said project while crossing off the residual items weighing down my list. That felt good too.

Now it’s time to dive in.

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* I would have written about this yesterday but you know, Tuesdays.

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