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Archive for April, 2009

Those of you who visit this blog regularly know that I’m an avid cloud-watcher.  I’m always on the lookout for “pictures in the sky,” and here are four I think you might enjoy.

While initially, you might just see this as a regular sky, if you stare at it for a minute, you’ll see that it is actually a gigantic  face, with two eyes, a nose and a smiling mouth.

big-faceThis next one is of two ghosts standing on a cobblestone road up in the sky.  The ghosts are a bit faint, as ghosts usually are, but they’re on the right.  The one on the left has his arms raised.  See them?cobblestone-cloudsThis third one is of a “demon head.”  The head, itself, is right in the middle of the picture.  Take a minute and study it.  You can clearly see his right horn and from there you can make out his head with two eyes, a nose and a slightly open mouth.  He seems to be spewing something out of that mouth all over the sky.  Bad demon!  demon-cloudI’ve saved the best for last.  When I saw this, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I felt like one of those people you see on the news who find an image of the Virgin Mary on a taco shell.  Anyway, this one shows Jesus bending over to pick up a lamb.  It’s obvious that it’s Jesus because he has a perfect halo over his head.  It also looks like God is shining a light behind him so he can find his way home.  Cool, huh?  jesus-lamb-cloudI truly hope you could see one or two of these images, if, for no other reason than I’d hate to think I was hallucinating all this.  If you have a favorite, please feel free to let me know in the comments.

Until the next episode…

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This past week I was fringe-triowatching one of my favorite shows, “Fringe,” (which, by the way is still spellbindingly awesome!) and it brought back a question which has haunted me for a long time.

Okay, first, let me flash back to the eighties, when my company sent me to London on business.  While there, I found myself, like the majority of the population, using their wonderful underground system to get around.  On one particular night, a friend and I had just left a play in the theater district and headed underground down a long flight of stairs, bought a ticket and were waiting on the platform for the train.  It was very late at night and the platform was deserted except for us and two very dodgy-looking young men wearing safety pins in their ears and noses.  The first thought that entered my mind at that time was, “What would stop those guys from grabbing us and throwing us in front of an oncoming train?”  There were no guards, no cameras and no guardrails.  The more I thought about it, the jumpier I became.  This was a time in London when they were on the alert for terrorist acts, cautioning people to be aware of their surroundings, watchful for unattended packages, and stuff like that, so, of course, I was a little paranoid.   787908_london_tube

The next day I was on another platform, this one so crowded that people were standing right next to the edge of the tracks where trains were rushing by.  Again I thought, “All it would take is a nudge for someone to fall in front of a train.”  Myself, I stayed w-a-a-a-y back!  Anyway, after a week, I returned to the United States and never had much cause for think about it again.

In Tuesday’s episode of “Fringe,” F.B.I. Agent Olivia Dunham, has a dream in which she sees a woman with a baby in a stroller, standing on a deserted platform next to the tracks.  Olivia hears a train roaring in and sees herself rush forward and push the woman onto the tracks, where she gets smooshed to bits!  It brought it all back to me – the unsafeness of it all and the possibility of easy homicide.

safety-doorsIn doing a little research into this,  I learned that some stations are installing “safety doors” like those shown on the left, so apparently, the problem isn’t just in my mind.  From what I gathered, though, this is primarily being done in Europe and Asia.

So, my question is – do any of you reading this have experience riding subways or the Underground on a regular basis?  Am I missing something here?  Is there something I don’t know about that protects people from being flung under the tracks?  And, if not, have you ever heard of people being “shoved” like that?

If you know a bit about this, please comment and educate me.  I’m starting to have bad dreams !

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Well, it was shortish, but infinitely rewarding.  With temperatures predicted to hit 80 degrees this past Wednesday, my friend, Babs and I decided to take the first of what we hope will be many weekly hikes.  We are the type of people who dread mundane exercise routines, treadmills and health clubs.  Thus, we have resolved to alternate between taking “nature” hikes wherein we’ll be in the woods and “street” hikes on which we’ll explore neighborhoods with interesting houses.

For this first one, we chose a nature sanctuary located in the heart of a small college town which is only ten minutes from us.  As we wound our way in, we enjoyed the peaceful stillness, broken only by the occasional group of birds, trying to outsing each other.  As we rounded a curve, we were delighted by this waterfall, smack in the middle of nowhere!  falls Close by the falls was what I saw as an “octopus tree.”  Well, to be technical, it had more than eight legs!octopus-treeBut, what was most interesting about it was that it looked to be running alongside the water!  running-octopus

And finally, I found a place in the river where the waves formed this rippling design.  It was simply beautiful, sparkling in the sun like liquid gold.  I couldn’t resist putting my hand in it, only to discover that the water was ice cold!  golden-ripplesI could show you a million pictures, but you get the idea.  I’d say this first hike was a success.  I mean, serenity, birds singing, water rushing over rocks, sunshine, a soft breeze, good conversation, great friendship, and God’s handiwork, all in one afternoon.  Really, what more could you ask for?

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Any Regrets?

rear-viewFor most of my life I’ve made a habit of never dwelling on my mistakes.  I learned early on that doing that was just wasted energy.  The point was to learn from them and move on.  And, with every passing year, I’ve gotten better at really thinking before making decisions so that I won’t regret them later.  Having said that, I know that most people have the occasional thought, “if only I’d done…”

If I could be suddenly transported back to my teens and twenties, here are five things I’d do differently:

1) I wouldn’t have felt such an obligation to live my life according to the blueprint my dad had drilled into my head, i.e., don’t worry about making a career for yourself, just meet a nice man and get married. Now don’t get me wrong, my husband was a nice man, a good man, but I eventually, many years later, realized that “nice” was not enough.  And I also got a late start in catching up with my education and my life.

2) I would have invested in several blue-chip stocks and hung onto them for dear life. (I think that’s self-explanatory!)

3) I would have sat down with my father and urged him to write an unbreakable will so that his vindictive widow couldn’t have disrespected his wishes.

4) I would have never spent those endless hours lying in the sun, like a greased pig, trying to get as tan as I possibly could.  My skin is paying for that now!

5) And, last, but not least, I would have said “no” a lot more than yes.  I did so many things in my life simply because I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings.  I guess that made me somewhat of a “people pleaser.”  (Well, them days are gone, I can tell you that!)

These aren’t things I’ve agonized over, just things that, if I had the chance for a “do-over,”  I’d do over.  All in all, I feel like I’ve made more right decisions than wrong in my life but, you always wonder…

Do you have any little (or big) thing you’d change if you could go back?  If you rarely comment, why don’t you use this opportunity to “break the ice” and tell me one or two?  No one will know it’s you, unless you want them to.  And I’d LOVE to know what other people would change if they could.

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When my dad remarried, I suddenly found myself with two stepsisters, one of whom I’ll call “Fern.”  Although she was close to my age, I never felt close to her because, even from a young age, Fern had decided her career – being a hypochondriac.  No cut was too small, no ache too insignificant for her to capitalize on.  Things that would just annoy the rest of us, would send her to her bed, moaning and groaning.

As she grew into adulthood, she managed to turn being ill into a competitive sport.  You have a headache?  She has a migraine.  You cut yourself with a kitchen knife?  She almost lost a hand.  You have an eye infection?  She’s going blind.  No one was allowed to be sicker than Fern.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  “Poor thing!  It’s a cry for attention.”  And, maybe it was.  But here is the sticking point.  She could be in bed with what she was sure was the final stages of malaria, but, wave tickets to an amusement park in front of her and it was “Glory Hallelujah!  I’m healed!” She’d spend the rest of the day riding every ride and having the time of her life. Or, after telling you she spent all night vomiting and was so weak she could hardly lift her head off the pillow, you’d see her an hour later, glued to Star Trek on TV and laughing her ass off.  Doctors could never find anything wrong with her, at least physically.  It was always very obvious that she was only sick when people were watching.

With this attitude, you can imagine what kind of employee she was.  She lost job after job because “it hurt my back” or “they pushed me too hard and I’m just too weak.”  She found the answer to this by becoming a life-long welfare recipient.  Now she could spend her days outlining her maladies to like-minded neighbors, all on the public dime.  I don’t remember her ever asking any of the rest of us how we were.  I don’t remember her ever doing anything kind or giving to someone else, because, in her mind, no one was doing as poorly as she was.  She was desperate for people to acknowledge how sick she was.

And then, she got her wish. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  And, rather than put her into a deep depression, it almost empowered her.  In fact, when my stepmother left me out of her will, including a share of the house my father wanted me to have, Fern was one of the most vehement that I receive nothing.  (After all, it meant more for her!) Even as she was dying, she was badgering the executor for this item and that of her mother’s, just as if she had stumbled on a big sale on eBay.  I remember once seeing a cartoon of a tombstone on which was engraved, “See?  I told you I was sick!”  In a sense, that would fit Fern perfectly.

She died on April 9th.

And, what do I feel?

I’m sad to report…I feel absolutely nothing.

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A Sign of Spring?

flowering-treeI made a neat little discovery the other day.  Even though the temperatures continue to go up and down, I ventured out on a chilly day to try out my new zoom camera.  Right in front of my porch there stands this beautiful flowering tree.  I’ve enjoyed it a lot from my upstairs window, but now decided to zoom in on the details.  Although the wind was blowing the flowers, I made an interesting discovery…flowerCould that be what I thought it was?empty-nest

Yup, it sure was!   But then I wondered, is this a new nest or one left over from last year?  So I watched and waited…and waited and watched…and was almost ready to give up when I was rewarded with this

amy-bird

I’ve named her Amy…

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braOkay, the title of this post isn’t to be confused with “Alice in Wonderland,” although, to be honest, my latest experience was in many ways a lot like Alice’s.  But I regress.  Let me begin at the beginning.

A couple of days ago I had to go to Macy’s to return a bra which didn’t fit quite right and exchange it for another style or brand that might.  Now, the mall which contains this particular Macy’s is dying.  It’s like a ghost town, with many stores closed and that huge empty feeling wherein your voice echoes if you talk too loudly.  But, oddly enough, this Macy’s is pretty new.  They took over a local department store and redid the whole thing so that it is a sleek, ultra-modern tribute to modern commercialism.  That said, it’s never very crowded.

So I go to the lingerie department, intending to tell the saleslady of my intention to exchange bras.  But there is no one there!  Now this bra department is humongous, so I figure that maybe she’s stooping down doing inventory or something.  But, look as I might…no saleslady.  In fact, there was no one in the department at all except me! It was eerie.  This department is kind of in its own little alcove, so that I can’t see anyone in any other department, either.  But, okay, I decided to start looking for a new bra, figuring that someone would show up any minute.  I wander through the various bra racks (and, believe me, there are hundreds!) looking at this one and that one, my eyes occasionally scanning for some sign of life.  Nada.

Twenty minutes into this solitary shopping, two possibilities occur to me.  One is that I’m on some kind of Candid Camera show.  As I move around, my eyes are on the lookout for cameras or photographers, but I see nothing or no one.  The other possibility is that I’ve entered some kind of Twilight Zone.  I remember one old episode where a woman went shopping and disappeared.  Later, when her friend went to the same store, she passed right by her friend, who had been turned into a mannequin who looked just like her! Holey-moley!  Was I in some kind of black hole where time was frozen?

I also had visions of going into the fitting room only to have the door chopped down by a crazed ax murderer/sex maniac who knew he wouldn’t be observed.  He’d burst in, saliva dripping from his stubbly chin, and there I’d be with my precious ta-ta’s bared to the world!  What do do?  What do do?

“Oh Star, get real!” I chided myself, “You have to try these bras on.  By the time you’ve finished, someone will be here.  Meanwhile, look at it like this.  You OWN this department!.  Talk about privacy, girl!  You’ve got it made.”   With this good advice (thank you, Self,) I grandly marched back into the fitting room.  I found a bra I liked and came back out into the department, which was as vacant as before…just me and a million bras.  I searched the floor until  I finally found a human being in the crystal glass department and, when I explained what I was doing there holding a bra, she kindly checked me out.  And I was still alive.

Oh yeah, there is a little postscript to this story.  Remember when I told myself not to be nervous, just to act like I owned the department?  Well, it worked a little too well!  When I finished putting my clothes back on in the fitting room, I went to leave, only to discover that I hadn’t even locked the door! Momma mia!  I bet I only missed that ax murderer by seconds…

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