Resistance Is Welcome

Alf has surprised me with daffodils and purple flowers popping up this summer. My garden has never looked so colorful even though we have the worst soil on the planet. The Sahara has more chances of sprouting flowers than my front and backyards. It’s hard clay, that when broken up with toil and sweat, smiles at you for a moment, and then calls out to the clods and they come scampering back to form an impenetrable layer of steel that refuses all welcome to things green. 

Sort of like the attitude people have when confronted with the truth. It can be about anything. Health, food, books, religion, even where to take a vacation. Nobody likes to be told about something they haven’t thought of themselves. There’s an immediate revulsion. Never mind that what you’re suggesting is really good stuff, and will help them. That doesn’t seem to be the point. It’s being told something they have to do that makes them bristle. So I ask why the TED Talks are so popular, or the online seminars for turning you into a celebrity for 10 minutes garner thousands of likes on social media? Maybe the clue lies in this: if you appeal to a person’s ego instead of his well-being you stand a better chance of being heard.

There’s a word for that – pride.

Calvin says, “Hey, I run away when I hear the word bath.” 

Iowa Is Good for Writing

My friend and her husband are driving cross country to deliver a car to their daughter in D.C.

Nevada and Utah were blanketed in snow, which made for stunning pictures. Wyoming was another matter. Flat is the only word for it. A view of the occasional cow on some green land was the only bump on the landscape.

Now they’re in Iowa, home of John Wayne and its depressing Main Street, which looks more like a movie set than a real place for real people who work, play and raise families.  

I’m so used to living on the coasts that I forget there’s a whole country in the middle of the country. It looks like a foreign land to me. I expect people to be speaking another language and living another culture. And perhaps they do. They are ranchers and farmers and people who have worked the cornfields all their lives.

I looked up employment in Iowa. The list included pizza driver, office clerk, test administrator and library assistant. I noticed there weren’t any tech jobs. That’s probably because there’s no internet. Who needs internet for herding cows? Two border collies will do.

What I did discover were a ton of bloggers from Iowa. A lot of them are food blogs. But I don’t see Iowa as a foodie destination. How many blog posts do you need for grilling hamburgers?

It’s worth mentioning that there’s the famous Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, which has produced many award-winning authors over the years.

For some, looking at pasture lands and grazing cattle fosters the urge to write. I, for one, wouldn’t find any inspiration looking at a cow chewing the cud. I’d need some action like a line of geese following a marching band.

Calvin says, “And to think Iowa is the bellwether of American politics.” beagle

 

 

 

So It’s Raining

Finally.

It’s been raining cats and dogs.

Mostly cats.

They’ve been under my window at night hissing and booing.

Every day there’s a parade of them sniffing my bushes around the house. Black, white, grey and the occasional tortoise. They prance along with tails high. They learn who’s been there. Then they leave the next memoir installment detailing the gossip of their sordid little lives for the others to stay current.

To my knowledge there’s hasn’t been a runaway best seller yet.

They’re not too happy this week.

The daily Feline Gazette has been watered down from hard core news to sound bites that are water logged and hold no new mews. The social media section has mud caked on its whiskers. The local news, well there isn’t much due to the storms, which has led everybody indoors to lick their paws.

The few still out there got to witness drama in their own backyard last night.cats and dogs

A train derailed through the canyon. A mudslide washed over a portion of the tracks. One of the cars fell over on its side and slid down the embankment and was baptized in the creek. Fortunately no one lost life or limb, a few ended in the hospital but were later released, and most commuters got home without a scratch.

Those intrepid felines who gathered in the trees got to witness the first responders take charge and do their jobs. It was exhilarating. They’ll have an article in the next edition of the Gazette with their by-line.

If it stops raining.

Calvin says, “Cats are stupid. Why go out in the rain when you can burrow under a down comforter and eat bonbons?” beagle

 

 

 

 

Finally a Chance!

I’ve been away in Toronto, Canada at the Pan Am Games. I had never heard of them. They don’t get the publicity or the coverage the Summer Olympics do, but they’re similar.

The Pan Am Games are the Olympics of the Americas. I got the impression they are a venue for second-tier athletes who aspire to be Olympians. They get a chance to compete against others of similar standing in an international arena. If they do well and come home with the medals, they’re on their way to being Olympic hopefuls.

The Americans came home with 265 medals. No surprise there.

What excited me, though was to see Brazil with 141, Mexico with 95 and Argentina with 75.

These guys never stand a chance at the Summer Olympics.

Argentina excelled at tennis, rowing, canoeing, fencing, water skiing, and golf. Golf? Yep. IMG_2144 (1)

Mexico outdid the others in squash, racquetball, archery, table tennis, diving, and synchronized swimming. Mexico synchronized swimming? Who would have thought.

You’d never see that at the Olympics.

So I give high praises to the genius who thought up the idea of the Pan Am Games.

What’s still missing is a venue for Middle Easterners, Aborigines, Native Americans, and the gauchos in Patagonia. Then I think we’ve covered the planet.

Calvin says, “Not so fast. What about Hound Games? Every year to see who medals as the top-speed rabbit finder. Even the rabbit has to train.” beagle

The Cost of Mastery

Malcom Gladwell in his book, Outliers, wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Gladwell used well-known figures as his examples like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Beatles and J. Robert Oppenheimer, to name a few. However, most of us are not the Gates and popular musicians of the world.

We’re ordinary.

Which got me thinking. suffering

I wonder if 10,000 hours is true for airline pilots, surgeons, and clergy.

After all, these types are responsible for people’s lives, much more so than the examples in Gladwell’s book.

I wonder if pilots, surgeons and clergy realize how serious their jobs are.

Probably not, especially if they’re young.

Years ago I needed a surgeon and the man was pompous and verbose. He knew he was good. He was a young guru with magical hands.

Then I needed him again ten years later. I barely recognized him. He was overweight, still talkative, but this time he was humble. He told me he had slaved at the altar of success only to bring his marriage to the brink of divorce, that he had lost more patients than saved them, and that there was more to life than the surgery room.

I wonder if that’s true for pilots. After all, a jet is a jet, the controls are the same, and the view out the cockpit window at 30,000 feet pretty much looks the same everywhere. A flight attendant friend tells me that pilots are usually found at the hotel bar at the end of a shift. Most are divorced or living with unhappy wives. That’s scary.

And clergy? Just think of the problems they hear – the agonies, the failures, and the disappointments of their parishioners. The lapses in church attendance. The struggles with their own marriages and children. The need to preach relevant messages every week to congregations that don’t listen anyway.

Ten thousand hours for mastery? Is that all? I say you need a lifetime to be an expert in being human.

Calvin says, “Well, I’ve mastered being a beagle except you haven’t noticed lately.” beagle

 

 

Singing in the Rain

I survived the big storm today. Barely.

Our subway system is not prepared for anything but normal. A few drops of rain and all the trains run late.

With today’s downpour that came down in sheets, the rails were slick and the trip into the city was a jerky experience.

Our conductor looked worried. He ran up and down the cars unlocking and then locking us inside in case we fell out. Did he know something we didn’t? How could we fall out? We spent a good deal of time paralyzed on the tracks.

We finally made it into the city. Then came the adventure of walking to the office. Or should I say crossing the Jordan to the office. Except the waters didn’t dry up for me. I waded my way there, getting progressively more drenched as I neared my destination. By the time I arrived, my freshly washed hair looked like a mop, and I was soaked through from the waist down. Never mind that I wore rain boots, a raincoat and held an umbrella. There was no hope of staying dry.

It’s a good thing I love the rain.  rainy-evening

I don’t care how it comes down.

Rain is moody weather. With it comes gray skies, glistening sidewalks, and splashing water from automobile tires. If you’re in the country, then it’s broody skies with different shades of gray, crackling lightning, and drumming thunder. It’s God’s theatrical show free of charge.

I grew up with thunderstorms that stopped your heart they were so powerful. I also grew up with earthquakes. My relationship with God started when I was a child. I wasn’t going to fool around with someone who could produce such power on demand.

I still laugh every time the weatherman makes a prediction.

Like today. Okay it’s wet, but nothing close to the fear instilled in us by the media to stay home and keep dry.

Where is everyone’s sense of awe?

Calvin says, “Awe? I’m awed that you love the scent of wet fur!” beagle

 

 

 

 

Go Giants & Eat a Macaron!

Fall is Giants season.

After the trouncing they got in Kansas City, which humbled them, and that’s a good thing, I’m hoping they emerge with renewed pumpkin spirit and go on to win the World Series.

In honor of the orange and black team, here are some pictures for the occasion: (those special macarons can be bought at Tout Sweet Patisserie here: http://www.toutsweetsf.com/)

Giants

 

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(C) 2003 Gateway,Inc.

 

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These are my pictures which I hope will inspire you to wear orange, root for the team, and look for ways to share the fall season with others.

Calvin says, “I’m in Giants wear all year – orange, black and white – go Beagles!” beagle