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Short Short Stories August 20, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
40 comments

A local newspaper solicited short short stories (25 words or less) to run in the paper during the month of August.

At the end of the summer, one story will be chosen as “the winner” and its author will receive a culinary prize from . . . The Lazy Lobster.

I like lobster.  Even lazy lobsters, which are easier to catch.  I also enjoy playing with words, so I submitted a few short shorts:

The Best Thing About Getting Older

Audrey watched her 97-year-old neighbor sail by on a bike: “You’re such an inspiration, Vivian. What’s the best thing about getting older?”

“No peer pressure.”

Goofy-Riding-A-Bike

[We have a 96-year-old neighbor who still rides his bike and NEVER worries about peer pressure.]

Killing Time

Sophia hated waiting.
Killing time.

A woman in purple scrubs passed by, “Sorry, Sophia. Your chemo will start soon.”

Great. More time to kill . . .

Woodstock-&-Snoopy3

[Fiction.  Through and through.  The only Sophia I know is NOT undergoing chemo.  Which is good since she’s only 9.]

Busted

Busted light. Sparks flew. Son professed innocence. Mom’s cross-examination shed light. Son came clean.

“I might have hit the hot bulb with a wet towel.”

Zombies

[Fiction.  Sort of.  Borrowed from an anecdote Janna shared with me.]

Where’s the ESC Key?

Memories erased, a hard drive malfunction. A lifetime abased, software keeps crumbling. Circuits and synapses fried, no longer firing. Fumbling thoughts stumble, a graceless nosedive.

Little-Miss-Scatterbrain

[Prompted by watching “creeping senility.”  No, not mine!  My parents.]

Following Our Gut Instincts

Ralph leaned over his bike’s handlebars, revealing serious belly bulge.  John pointed, “That’s not a 6-pack . . . it’s a keg!

Ralph laughed, “I’m following my gut!”

Not Ralph

Not Ralph

[Prompted by seeing a guy in tight biker shorts with no shirt.]

Pretty Swift, eh?

Category: 19th Century Authors.

“Jonathan Swift.”
“What?”
“Final Jeopardy answer.”
“Alex hasn’t revealed the clue.”
“I know.”

Cue clue. Contestants stumped.

Answer announced: Jonathan Swift!

abstract-green-n-blue

[True story.  Just one of the amazing Winks, Whispers, and Nudges I’ve experienced from the Universal Matrix/Web.]

A Secret Made For Sharing

Mom hid dad’s birthday cake. “It’s a secret.” Jamie nodded. Seeing dad, the cork popped and 2-year-old Jamie squealed, “Cake in ‘ere! Cake in ‘ere!”

IMGP1762c

[True story.  For 2-year-old, birthday cake is too exciting to keep secret.]

How Do You Do That?

My husband waved an opaque bag, “Guess what I bought!”
The answer drifted in . . . “PEZ dispensers.”

“How do you do that?!”
“Sometimes I just know.”

Tree-Frog-Percheda

[True story.  Sometimes I just know.  And it always freaks BFF out.]

He’s Five. I’m Three. Do the Math!

Terrified by my older brother’s taunts, I screamed for back-up.  “M~O~M!!! Jamie’s gonna hit me!”

Mom (a clueless only child) replied, “Well, hit him back.”

daffy_duck_boxing

[I am NOT a tattle tale!  Or a cry baby.  Stop saying that . . . or I’m gonna hit you!  And don’t go running to mom.  She won’t do anything anyway.]

Stay

“Stop rocking the boat!”
“Learn to sway.”
“No. I’m leaving. Today.”
“Where to?”
“Can’t say.”
“Then stay.”
“No way.”
“Come back.”
“I may . . . one day.”

Chinaman-fishing

[Fiction.  Just playing with rhyme time.]

Falling on Deaf Ears

As the Merry-Go-Round slowed to a stop, my 3-year-old niece kicked her wooden carousel horse to urge it forward. “Don’t Stop, Horsie! Don’t Stop!”

Hand-moving-chess-piece

[True story.  The niece in question is now 21 and knows that kicking wooden horses will not make them speed up.]

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Other Side of Retirement August 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance.
58 comments

Pooh-With-MailbagI’m reading letters written by my dad’s dad in the 1950’s after he retired from his rural mail route in Vermont after 30 years of service.

While writing the first of the letters, he was only 7 years older than I am now.

He kept busy with a variety of seasonal interests:  gathering sap to make maple syrup in the spring; planting and harvesting potatoes, beans, corn, peas, and strawberries in the spring and summer; cutting hemlocks for sale to the mill as time permitted; hunting in the fall; and heading south to Florida during the harsh winter months (except when the Vermont legislature sat in session in Montpelier and he claimed seat #87 as Town Representative for Hartland).

His second wife also pursued seasonal interests: dressmaking classes in the spring; canning fruits, vegetables, and meat and tending her flowers during the spring and summer; babysitting for my cousins on an as-needed basis; and traveling to Montpelier and Florida during the winter months, with pit stops in New Jersey to visit my parents as they began married life together, bought their first house, and welcomed my older brother into the world.

Reading about how my grandparents “spent their retirement” caused me to reflect on my own choices and pursuits.

IMGP1800bFor the last 10 years of my working life, I worked for non-profits to “give back to the community.”

Now, my time is my own to spend as I see fit . . . and I love it!

My days are populated with a variety of interesting activities.  I am never bored and there is always more to do than time to do it.

If I get bored or run out of things to do, I’ll volunteer or get a part time job, but for now I’m happy with the status quo.

That was not always the case.

When I first stopped practicing law, I searched high and low for “meaning” and “purpose” ~ convinced that I needed to do something “significant” with my life.

Now, not so much.

Much of the desire “to leave a lasting mark” stems from Ego and its incessant demand for applause, accolades, and approval.  Ego wants recognition for its accomplishments while on life’s stage and yearns for immortality in death.

Mickey-OKUsing an internal barometer and compass to direct and govern my actions has allowed me to embrace peace and happiness in relative anonymity.

I no longer feel any urgency to be more than I am.

Realizing that I have nothing to prove provides meaning enough for me.

Aah . . . that’s better!

After enlightenment, the laundry. ~ Zen Proverb

Related post:  “Just Be” and “I Am” . . . Rocking My World (In The Stillness of Willow Hill)

Sometimes It’s Hard To “Come Clean” August 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People.
49 comments

Have you ever overheard someone recount an event (of which you have first hand knowledge) by shading the truth, more than a little, to place themselves in a better light?

Claiming the role of blameless victim to a vicious attack, rather than recognizing their role as instigator or co-participant?

Maybe it’s the attorney in me, but when someone shares a sob story that sounds one-sided, lopsided, or far-fetched, I do not offer blind support.

I ask a few questions first, to ascertain whether the story is factual or fictional.

Once upon a time, we cautioned our young niece not to provoke our cat or she would get scratched.

Ignoring the warning, she backed Jazz into a corner and reached out to grab him.

He scratched her.

Eyes brimming with tears, she exclaimed, “Jazz scratched me!”

We examined the scratch ~ a glancing blow issued as a “step away from the cat” warning.

“What were you doing when he scratched you?”

“Nothing.”

“You were just sitting there, minding your own business, and Jazz ran up to you and scratched you for no reason?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Really?  You weren’t trying to pick him up?  Or pet him? Or follow him around?  You were just sitting still and he ran over to you?”

Hesitation.

“Well . . . he was under the table, and I just wanted to pet him, and when I got close to him, he scratched me.  But I wasn’t going to hurt him!  I didn’t mean to bother him.  I just wanted to pet him.”

{{Hugs}}

James-the-CatSometimes it’s hard to “come clean” and see our part in the controversy.

Our Egos don’t want to admit the part we played in escalating situations from peaceful co-existence to hissing, scratching, tail-pulling, or worse.

But it’s worth it when we do.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Related posts:  Is Your Soul Yearning For Less Drama (Find Your Middle Ground) * You Can’t Handle The Truth

 

 

Reality: What A Concept! August 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Mindfulness, People.
44 comments

alice26thMany of the on-line tributes to Robin Williams had something in common.

Instead of looking at life through Robin’s eyes to garner the whys of his demise, bloggers mentioned him, in passing, as a stepping stone to get other issues into the spotlight.

That’s understandable.

It is easier to know man in general than to know one man in particular. ~ Duc de la Rochefoucauld

* Some called for more resources for those who struggle with mental illness.

A laudable goal, for sure, but I suspect that Robin had adequate (if not ample) resources available to him.

* Others called for us to be kinder in our daily doings and dealings.

An excellent suggestion, but I doubt that Robin took his own life because of   bullies on the cyber-playground or people looking at him askance.

* Some cited the need for open discussion about depression and addiction.

A noteworthy objective, which I suspect is irrelevant to Robin’s death since he spoke in public forums about these “taboo topics” with great regularity.

* Others encouraged us to lend an ear and really listen to those around us.

Yes!  We should do that.  And, yet, I’m not convinced that our poor listening skills, even collectively, caused Robin to end his life.

Sometimes talking makes “it” better.  Other times, talking just makes it BIGGER.

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27I could keep dunking the teabag, but you get the idea.

Instead of focusing on the reality of Robin’s life, many tributes gave Robin little more than a passing glance before veering off in other directions.

Not surprising, really ~ our view of reality is skewed because we’re looking at life through a dirty lens and cloudy filter.

When something happens, our experiences, concerns, and viewpoints form an opaque overlay, obscuring reality.  We tell ourselves stories and fanciful fictions in a futile effort to create order from chaos and sense from nonsense.

We see the world behind our eyes.

That’s not to say that our creation of ostensible tributes to Robin Williams was misplaced energy.  I don’t have a suitable vantage point to understand or oversee all the various ripples set in motion by our actions and inaction.

Perhaps the outpouring of emotion following his death will cause a tidal wave of love and compassion, lifting us high above the surreal landscape.  From that heightened perspective, maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of reality as IT IS instead of as WE ARE.

A quiet mind, like the surface of a still pond, provides a more accurate reflection.

Reality: What a concept!

Aah . . . that’s better!

On the outside chance that Robin is reading this in Never Never Land, let me close with his view of reality:

Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs. ~ Robin Williams

Related post:  Why We Mourn the Death of Celebrities (Smart Living 365)

The Hospital Bill August 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Joke.
23 comments

170px-Italienischer_Maler_des_17._Jahrhunderts_001A man suffered a serious heart attack while shopping in a store.

The store clerks called an ambulance when they saw him collapse to the floor.

The paramedics rushed the man to the nearest hospital where he had emergency open heart bypass surgery.

He awakened from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns at the Catholic Hospital.

A nun was seated next to his bed holding a clipboard loaded with several forms.

Seeing he was awake, she asked him how he was going to pay for his treatment.

Groggy, he replied, “I don’t know.”

“Do you have health insurance?”

“No.  No health insurance.”

170px-Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detail

“Do you have money in the bank?”

“No.  No money in the bank.”

“Do you have a relative who could help you with the payments?”

“I have a spinster sister.  She’s a nun.”

At this, the nun became agitated.

With practiced authority, she announced, “Nuns are not spinsters! Nuns are married to God.”

The patient nodded, “Great!  Send the bill to my brother-in-law.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source:  e-mail from unknown author (sent by Granny1947)

The Keyboard Awaits August 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
45 comments

170px-alice_par_john_tenniel_30What will it be today?

Fiction, Non-Fiction, Novel, Short Story, Essay, Poetry, Humorous Anecdote, Serious Reflection.

The vehicles available to transport our words to the world are as varied as the topics addressed in our musings.

Like a single strand of DNA, reordering the 26 letters at our disposal expands our universe from finite to infinite.

Writing allows us to play with permutations, switch perspectives, and view life through different vantage points and keyholes.

The freedom of orchestrating our thoughts liberates us from the constraining influence of public opinion and even from our own limiting beliefs.

Alone with our thoughts, we step into solitude to carve order out of chaos.  As we edit, we add, delete, expand, contract, and reorder our thoughts until we are satisfied that we said what we meant, and we meant what we said.

220px-PinocchioIf we feel inhibited about sharing our unfiltered thoughts with an audience, we can create a fictional character to act as proxy or puppet.

And we hold the strings.

Everything we taste in life adds to our arsenal, our tool bag of tricks.

The world expands and we expand with it, noticing nuances and using experiences to entertain, persuade, educate, amuse, and spur others to action.

When we share our adventures, readers are inspired to expand their horizons.

The downside to this pleasant pastime of playing with words is that writing is a rabbit-hole.  An endless warren of thought threads distracts me from tackling more mundane tasks.  

Even those essential to survival like eating. And sleeping.

170px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_02In the Write Zone, the world is put on hold ~ I’ll get to IT (whatever IT is) later.  Or Tomorrow.

Next Tuesday at the latest.

I wonder if I lose track of time because I’m just writing for the fun of it?

At present, I’m not driven by thoughts of fame, fortune, or eventual publication.  I don’t care about “having written” or “making a name for myself” or any other external indicator of success.

For me, it’s the journey of writing that holds appeal.  I just want to be happy as the path unfolds before me.  And writing is the best means I’ve found to that end.

Other than chocolate, of course.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related Posts:  Writing and Writers * The Four Horsemen of Writer’s Block & How to Defeat Them  (Raptitude) * 7 Writing Tips From Real Writers

A Quick Hit of Inspiration August 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Life Balance.
38 comments

Sometimes we stall in our tracks and need a quick hit of inspiration to get us going again:

Celebrate your progress.  Sometimes half of success is simply noticing it.

Aah . . . that’s better!

For more by Kathy Davis:  Simple Secrets ~ 7 Principles to Inspire Success

Sponge Bob Square Pants August 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor.
51 comments

Snoopy5If I’m focused writing, I can tune out extraneous noises ~ screaming jets, barking dogs, even TV.

It’s all White Noise.

Except if Sponge Bob is talking.  Hearing Square Pants squawking in the background puts me on Red Alert.

“ACK!  Change the channel!  Change the channel!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Are there any noises you find impossible to filter out or work around?

 

Castles In The Sand August 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, Nature.
30 comments

Screech!  A lone gull screamed at the solitary form bull-dozing the beach.  When no other gulls joined the battle cry, the gull flew off.

IMGP0914

The boy returned his attention to the wet sand.  Water lapped at his feet as he scooped up handful after handful and began building up the sides.

Time passed.  The boy remained intent on his task.

The sun slipped toward the horizon.  The boy stood up and stepped back.  He shook the sand off his clothes, brushed tenacious grains off his bare legs, and smiled at his masterpiece ~ the best snowman he had ever made.

IMGP1481

With a nod of satisfaction, he walked into the deepening twilight.

Behind him, water lapped at Frosty’s belly.  Eroded by waves, the boy’s “nod to the north” crumbled into salty foam and washed out to sea.

IMGP4116b

Aah . . . that’s better!

O Captain! My Captain!  Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won.

Rest in Peace, Robin (7/21/51 – 8/11/14).  You fit lots of life, love, and laughter into that dash.  You’ll be missed.

Celebrating Time’s Passage August 11, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor.
40 comments

220px-Congrats_bqtRecently, Rainee did a post about Aging ~ The Age Old Questions ~ seeking ideas for how to celebrate an upcoming milestone.

I reflected that age is “just a number that helps us place memories on a timeline from Birth to Death.”

In my younger years, moving along that timeline seemed a matter of greater import than it does these days.  Back then, I celebrated not just my birthday, but my entire birth month!

This year, we planned a low key celebration ~ Happy Hour at the Chart House one day, pizza from Oma’s the next.

Maybe for my 60th, I’ll plan something a bit more spectacular.  More noteworthy.

Like jumping out of a plane.  Or wrestling an alligator.

IMGP1566

Snake charming is out of the question.

Aah . . . that’s better!

What’s your favorite way to celebrate time’s passage?