Thanks – Chapter 4

25 11 2015

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players . . .

William Shakespeare

Bill, you’re right; life’s one giant interconnected production and we each play our part.  Because we each view the stage from our own perspective, the stars of one person’s play are the supporting cast, extras, prop builders, and ushers in another’s.

On this day before Thanksgiving, which is, for many Americans, the biggest family gathering of the year, we don’t need to be reminded that our relatives are to be (cranberry) relished. They are well-established co-stars in our personal production.

Today, let’s scroll down those credits, past the co-stars and the guest stars,

way, way, way down to the bit players.

This is about the folks with the non-speaking roles, the walk-ons,  the occasional recurring one-lined character actor – the very thanks-worthy and often nameless-to-us supporting cast of our lives. Why should we take time to acknowledge Busboy  #2, Person Who Let Me Merge, or School Crossing Guard? Because, without these supporting characters, our play would be flat; it would lack texture.

Remember, too,  these folks are actually super stars – headliners  in their versions of this play – and we are their extras,  a point not to be taken lightly.

So, when traversing a road construction zone, I smile and nod  at Young Man Directing Traffic  and he smiles and nods back. This is not a critical plot point in either of our scripts – unless one of us happens to have really needed that split second of encouragement. Often, such a small moment will change the way I read my part for the rest of the day.

And so I close my November of thanks-worthiness with a special thank you to all of you who let me be a bit player in your oeuvre. You lift my spirits. You encourage me to keep writing. You expect me to do my best, and so I do. Some days, it’s easier than others, but every Wednesday, I try a little harder to be a little better. Thank you.

May your holiday and your life be thanks-worthy.

Thanks – Chapter Three (and my 300th Consecutive Wednesday Post!)

18 11 2015

So . . . how was your weekend?

Yeah, mine too.

It’s taken a little hard thinking to hit upon this week’s thanks-worthy item, but it came to me, just moments ago, as I glumly surveyed the gray skies and brown drooping foliage of my November landscape.


11-18-15 a

Adieu, acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium.’

Although I felt the dread of being out in the chill and drizzle, I did not feel cold.

Windows! I am thankful for windows!

Thanks to windows, I was able to stay warm and dry while I fumed about the unpleasant weather,

which allowed me to look out long enough to notice my neighbor’s back door,

Where I'm always welcome.

Where I’m always welcome.










which led me to consider how lucky I am to live near lovely, kind, generous people,

which made the weather pretty unimportant.

See what’s outside your window.  If you look long enough, you’ll see something that will make you feel better – even if it’s rain blowing sideways – you’re warm and dry on your side of the glass.


p.s.  I am glad I promised myself – and you – a November of thankful posts.  I surely needed the reminder this week. Peace and gratitude to my friends, family, and readers. Thank you all.

Thanks: Chapter Two for November 2015

11 11 2015

If you, like me, have been nearly driven to fits of hair tearing and teeth gnashing over the growing amount of OUTRAGE! being exhibited by the social media-lites these past few days, you might think that today’s thanks-worthy subject is a figment of my imagination. It is rare, but it’s real.

Today, I am thankful for Common Sense.

Common sense empowers the brilliant and rational and pragmatic people I am lucky to call friends and family.

These are the folks who don’t concern themselves with the color of our coffee cups, although I will tell you that I have a strong preference for something handmade in the US, usually by an artist whom I’ve met personally.

They appreciate and accept any exclamation of good wishes, regardless of the exact wording. If it’s heartfelt and said with a smile, that’s perfect.

They have good intentions toward the world and expect the world will reflect good back on them. On the occasion when that doesn’t happen, they don’t take offense; they move on.

What’s wrong with us? Why don’t we care enough about the (insert cause of the moment) to fight for/against it? How can we just ignore the fact that stores are displaying pagan symbols, our neighbors have a pure-bred dog, the woman at the bank called someone “Sweetie?” Don’t we have any sense of political correctness? (To be politically incorrect, if you like to play the PC card on every draw, I guess I wouldn’t call that political correctness – I’d call it self-righteousness . . . but that’s probably for another day.)

Common sense does not take us out of the game. It is the internal referee that allows for a well-played and fair match.

Common sense allows us to analyze situations, propositions, and comments and differentiate between a CRISIS and a nuisance, a WAR and a slight, an INSULT and a colloquial greeting, and, with clear conscience and efficiency, toss much of what the non-common-sensers would have us setting our hair on fire about into the “no big deal” heap and get on with enjoying our day.

Common sense makes life easier. It makes it more enjoyable. It enables us to be polite. It lets us be peaceful and peaceable.

Not everything is a drama. We should remember that and next time some director (internal or external) is asking us to play it Stella! Hey, Stella! ,ask ourselves whether the scene is more evocative of  Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!

I don’t want to (pratt) fall for media shenanigans, so thank you,  common sense, for keeping my balance.

p.s. The writer does not condone nor is she advocating the poking of eyes with two fingers or bopping of heads with hammers, you Knuckleheads.

Thanks: Chapter One

4 11 2015

Given the disappointment (no more baseball until next year), depression (oh, Daylight Saving Time, why did you leave me?) and dismay (wait, the national elections are not until NEXT November?!) of the last few days, I’ve decided, as a kind of little pre-holiday hors d’oeuvre, to write about thanks-worthy stuff for the whole month of November.

gingko butterflies a

Gingko ‘Jade Butterflies’ leaves looking like an angel. Sweet Jessica.

Today was so beautiful, it almost didn’t seem real. The sun shone with that magic angle of autumn light that rendered everything in painterly richness. The temperature soared to the seventies. Leaves made almost bell-like sounds as they yielded to the breeze’s suggestion they let go of summer and they swirled toward the ground.

pseudolarix a

Pseudolarix amabilis – first year for these amazing cones.

Yes, we can all agree, a beautiful day is thanks-worthy, but that’s not the whole story.

After running an errand, this morning, I discovered that someone had removed some old splintery deck boards from a pile in my back yard. I suspected the culprit, made one phone call, and it was confirmed; it was my mother. She’d mentioned that she could use a few of them in her landscape and we agreed that I’d help her get them to her house . . . she did not wait for my help.

Of course, not having something on one’s To-Do list is thanks-worthy, but that’s not the whole story.

dandelion b

Live and let live! Happy dandelion puffball resting in the grass.

The truly thanks-worthy part of this story is that my mother, at age 85, drove her own van to my house, carried several 16’ deck boards around my house, loaded them into her van, and put them where she wanted them at her house – without any help.

This did not surprise me. Even though she has always been independent (as in “stay out of her way or you’re apt to get run over”), I remember not to take her good health for granted. I know many friends whose parents are gone or who are not able to care for themselves.

My mother is busy and capable and engaged every day.

That’s what makes her healthy.

That’s what makes her dangerous.

That’s thanks-worthy.

A Scary Tale

28 10 2015

Have you ever wondered how traditional fairy tales might translate to modern day? Well, here’s my take on one, just in time for Halloween, the story of Snow White and the Seven Apps.

Once upon a time, not long ago, a brilliant but evil sorcerer named Steve Zuckergates, conjured a Magic Mirror called social media, where all who gazed on it became unable to look away, so strong was their need to be told that they were indeed fair . . . and smart and funny and creative and talented and hot . . .

The Magic Mirror was so important that people carried it with them, wherever they went, and dropped everything to gaze upon it, if it called, which it always did.

One day, a fine and truly lovely princess – we know this because we can read her profile and look at her many selfies – was so drawn into the Mirror, that she fell prey to the evil Zuckergates and succumbed to the “Sleeping Death,” finally eschewing all forms of human contact in favor of the ever present Magic Mirror. She was at the mercy of the Seven Apps: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Yelp.

Now, in most of the fairy tales I grew up with, this is the moment in the story when the evildoer is vanquished by a handsome prince who saves the day. The prince is, in this fairy tale, sadly M.I.A., having fallen victim to the same Poison Apple . . . and that is truly a Scary Tale.

Happy Halloween! Don’t text and treat!


Brave Enough to Say No

21 10 2015

We’re bombarded by life coaches and memes and bumper stickers – not to mention athletic shoe and sports drink commercials – to DO things. We can feel a little bit “less” when we decline almost any adventure. Are we cowards? Are we just boring people? Well, perhaps, in some cases, we’re just irrationally afraid to try something different or we’re in a bit of a rut and don’t feel the energy to get out of it.

Sometimes, though, it is absolutely the best, smartest, and bravest thing to NOT DO.

I do not care whether or not his politics make sense, his record is worthy, or his history is respectable; today, Vice President Biden made a brave and right choice to NOT DO – to not enter the Democratic primary – in the face of massive pressure from many sources, including the expressed wish of the son he just lost.

When faced with overwhelming exhortations to do something, small or large, it takes a lot of backbone to not simply bend to the will of the crowd. We can hear encouragement and praise as charges – demands to excel, to perform, to DO – when all they really are meant to do is show how much we are admired, loved, trusted for who we already are.

Mr. Biden, I respect your courage and grit for being able to examine your heart and to hear your son’s words, not as an order to execute, but as the most succinct way for him to tell you what kind of man is his father. Your entire family, including Beau, must be very proud of you, sir.

It’s good to be challenged. It’s good to set and chase goals and dreams. It’s only good, though, when you can honestly say that they are your challenges and dreams. Challenge your reasons for accepting or rejecting the challenges laid down by others. You’ll reach the right goals faster, if you’re not sidetracked, chasing someone else’s idea of what you should do.

A PSA (Paula’s Sarcastic Again)

14 10 2015

I’d like to take a moment to talk with you about an insidious threat to our society. This is something that has recently come to my attention, as a result of a discussion I had with one of my very smart and earnest friends. We must raise awareness of this growing pernicious phenomenon before it undermines our way of life.

I am talking about Satire.

The OED defines satire as:

The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

As with many other things, since the time of the editor-free wild west of the internet, there has been such a flood of unregulated irony, sarcasm, spoof, and parody that the pristine waters that once divided truth from fiction have been irreparably muddied. We now see that many people seem unable to differentiate fact from folly.

Here’s the quote from the argument . . . er discussion . . . that started this:

There are too many people who don’t have the sense to separate truth from satire. I prefer comedians who don’t exploit that ignorance to spread political misinformation. (Andy) Borowitz, like (Jon) Stewart, can be very funny. He can also be very dangerous.

She’s right, goddammit!

What can we do to protect our gullible, indiscriminate, short-attention-span, shallow selves against these diabolical masterminds? They pretend that they want us to question our assumptions about our world, to dig beneath the surface of our politicians’ rhetoric, to think for ourselves . . .

Oh, those clever bastards! That’s it! We must think for ourselves, which, in this day of instant polling, meme-generators, 6-second stories and 140 character ideas, has fallen out of our everyday routine.

Comedians are not dangerous. Some people who use comedians are dangerous.

Satire is not evil, if it’s enjoyed responsibly, so laugh heartily, but think hard.

(Cue music)




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 526 other followers