Friday, July 19, 2019

Some of my favorite people...

Here are a few portraits of some of my favorite people. Aren't they good looking? In the comments section, you too can choose your favorite. Vote by number! Please describe why that picture is your favorite. You can be silly if you like. For example, you could make up song lyrics to show your mad love for your favorite. In fact, I encourage silly. The sillier, the better. In a future blog post, I will share your comments about your favorites. It's sort of like a popularity contest. So here goes... the people! VOTE!!! And share with your friends!
















On this date in history...

I had picked up a book of historical dates and was looking through it when I heard something rapping at my door.

"T'is some visitor and nothing more," I thought, as I ignored the rapping. It couldn't be real. No one raps on my door. I supposed that I had spent too much time reading Edgar Allen Poe and it was making me go slightly mad.

"Mad like a hatter," I thought. "It's time for tea."

Maybe I was spending too much time reading Lewis F. Carroll.

The knocking became more insistent. I opened the door. In walked a tall man wearing a very long scarf. He was followed by a mechanical dog. Oh. Um. That looks like Doctor Who. And K9. And not just any Doctor Who. It was the Tom Baker version of Doctor Who. Oh no. This couldn't be real. I thought that I was spending too much time reading books. It seems that I was also spending too much time watching television. Doctor Who, to be exact. He's not real. It's just a bit of undigested meat. Or maybe a bit of potato. No. Not a potato. I gave up potatoes for a month. I'm not eating potatoes. I'm just hallucinating time lords, mechanical dogs, and potatoes.

They were selling potatoes at the farmers market. I really wanted a potato. I bought corn instead. White corn. Oooh, that was so good. But there he was. That undigested bit of corn.

"I see that you're reading about historical events of July 18th," Doctor Who said.

"Uh... who are you?"

"I am the Doctor." 

"Yeah, right. And I am the Queen of Sheba."

"Do you even know where Sheba is?" Doctor Who asked.

"Nope, not a clue," I responded.

"If you don't know where your realm is, how can you be its queen?"

I peer into a book.

"It's in Ethiopia."

"Too late, mate. Hey, why don't you pop into my TARDIS?"

"I have to pop to the loo," I said, wondering why I just talked in such a goofy way.

Before long, I was actually in the TARDIS. The Doctor (or the impostor) said to me, "Why just read about historic events when you can visit them."

"Um, erp, this machine makes a lot of noise."

The doors opened, and I saw an enormous dinosaur. Its head was even smaller than I ever imagined possible. And there were flies buzzing everywhere.  And flying... um... reptiles... oh, and.... what was that??? Were there flies in prehistoric times? How should I know? There must have been. They were really noisy. They sounded like chain saws. Only chain saws hadn't been invented yet. The pea brained dinosaur was also making a racket. It started growling and it charged the TARDIS. The Doctor slammed the door and we departed before the dinosaur got a chance to sit on the TARDIS. That monster sized animal wasn't too quick so we managed to escape. It was fortunate for us that dinosaurs weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, thanks to their pea sized heads and monster sized bodies. Prehistoric times suddenly didn't seem as entertaining up close and personal.

Suddenly, the TARDIS landed again, very loudly. The Doctor opened the door. I peeked out, a little bit scared, but was relieved to see no dinosaurs.

"The year is 1334," the Doctor said. "The place is Florence. Would you like to meet the artist Giotto di Bondone?"

"Sure, you betcha," I said. "Um, there aren't problems with the Black Death, are there?"

"No, it didn't hit Europe until 1347," the Doctor said.

The Doctor and I left the TARDIS, followed by the mechanical dog. I wondered if that fake dog would be conspicuous but, then, I thought about the way that I was dressed and I realized that I was probably even more conspicuous. We walked and walked and walked and... um... I hoped that we would find our way back to the TARDIS because I had forgotten where it was. Then we arrived at what looked like a house. A man was painting some sort of nativity scene. It was very detailed. I thought that I might like to live in that house. It was beautiful. But then, I would die before I was born. I wasn't sure how that worked.

The man, who turned out to be the famous artist, invited us to go to the ceremony that dedicated the cornerstone to the bell tower that he had designed. The bell tower was for the Florence Cathedral. He seemed to be very excited about the cathedral and he said that he hoped that people would enjoy worshipping in it. He said that he was hoping that he would have the chance to worship in it but that construction was really, really slow. I didn't have the heart to tell him that construction wouldn't be complete until 1436. He seemed like a nice man and a very creative one who left the medieval art style behind for something more realistic.

We watched the dedication and, before long, were back in the TARDIS, traveling through time and space.

Our next stop was in Russia. We didn't stay long. There were weapons being drawn and loud shouts in Russian and in some other language. Apparently, it was Mongolian. The year was 1391 and we had just witnessed the Battle of the Kondorcha River. It was somewhere in southwestern Russia. After some guy in chainmail nearly fell into the TARDIS, we departed abruptly.

After that bloody battle in medieval Russia, we were relieved to discover that people were trying settle their differences peacefully... or, at least, bring their many wars to a conclusion or... um... a brief halt. We visited 1381 and saw the French and British sign the Truce of Leulinghem. The Doctor told me that this truce would last for thirteen years but it would not bring the Hundred Years War to a stop. Then we visited 1812 and saw the signing of the Treaties of Orebo, bringing an end to the Anglo-Russian and the Anglo-Swedish wars. I wandered away, in search of some nice refreshments to celebrate the magnificent day, but the Doctor corraled me and said that my bizarre 21st century dress could confuse the people of that time and I could change history. 

The Doctor said that he would have to bring me home because, all of a sudden, the TARDIS required servicing. He said that I could visit one more July 18th in history. Did I want to see the second battle of Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina, in 1863? (No more battles, please.) Or would I prefer to see the coronation of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, which occurred in 1841. I was awfully hungry after our jaunt through history, so I was hoping for some refreshments at the coronation of the Emperor. I chose the coronation, so we went to watch the ceremony. This emperor was known as the magnanimous. He insisted on serving us refreshments personally. I looked out of place, but the Doctor didn't. He had come up with some nineteenth century fashion statement that actually worked. Then there were musical performances and dancing and a huge feast... but at the moment of the Most Magnificent Meal of All, we suddenly found ourselves back in the TARDIS and, before long, I was back in my room, reading my book of historical facts and looking for... refreshments...

Thursday, July 18, 2019

What would you like to read next?

What would you like to read next? How about an interesting and colorful blog?

One of the most delightful things about participating in a blogging challenge is the chance to meet other bloggers via the internet. I have truly enjoyed many of the blogs that I have read during this ongoing challenge, and I am pleased and happy to recommend six blogs. They represent a diversity in writing styles and in topics. Take a look at them.  They are quite delightful, and I think that you will enjoy reading them as much as I do.

First of all, I would like to encourage you to read Jeanine Byers' blog, titled "Meet Jeanine." Jeanine is one of my favorite bloggers.  Over a number of blogging challenges, I have had the opportunity to read aspects of Jeanine's story. She is a homeschooling mom and a lifestyle blogger. She's written about winter blues/seasonal affective disorder, hygge, relaxation, and yoga, and more. I look forward to reading her blog entries. She includes videos and her posts are always beautifully and sensitively written.  That is not a surprise because Jeanine is an author, who has written an e-book about the slow lifestyle. Here is a link to Jeanine's blog: "Meet Jeanine"

The next blog that I would like to recommend is a travel blog, written by Doug Jarvie. He is a Canadian who travels all over the world, taking pictures and soaking up different cultures and experiences. If, like me, you can't really afford to travel the world, this beautifully illustrated and written blog is the next best thing. Doug takes you on a tour of the world through his posts. You get to see beautiful architecture, spectacular nature, and so much more. Here is a link to Doug's blog: "Where would you like to go today?"

Kandas Rodarte's blog is another one that I would encourage you to read. Kandas calls herself the "Mom Geek." She is a buisiness coach, who helps people grow their small businesses. She has a positive approach to business that helps her clients succeed. She writes about business and she writes about her personal life. She is living with metastatic breast cancer. Fortunately, it is currently in remission. She approaches every part of her life's journey, whether it be business or cancer, with the same enthusiasm. Here is a link to Kandas' blog: Kandas' story!

Vidya Laka is the Lady in Read. She writes about books and sometimes writes poetry. She loves books and her blog reflects her love of all things literary. In addition to writing about books and her love of reading, she also writes about art and music and travel with the same enthusiasm that she shows for books. This is a very delightful blog, and I would encourage you to check it out. Here is a link to Vidya's blog: portal to Lady in Read's blog.

Stuart Nager is a professional storyteller, a teacher, and writer. He describes himself as "wearing many hats." His blog is one of the most creative blogs that I have the pleasure of reading. He writes flash fiction (these are very short stories, sometimes under 100 words), poetry, and stories written in a serial format. He has a gift for cliffhangers and he brings the suspense/horror theme to life in so many different ways. He is sort of like the 21st century version of Edgar Allen Poe. If you are looking for something well written and hair raising, this is where you need to look. You get the wits scared out of you but you always come back, ready for more. Here is a link to Stuart's blog: Stuart's scary stories!

Alana Montante writes about music, travel, life in Central New York, and much more. Her photography is spectacular. Her blog post is a feast of photographs, musical selections, and stories. Looking at her blog motivated me to take pictures of flowers and of the sky. I enjoy Alana's blog so much. Check it out at: "Ramblin' with AM."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Never having to walk alone

Shortly after 9/11, I sang in a recital at the Community Music School in Buffalo. When I was choosing a song for the recital, I tried to come up with a song that felt inspiring and that gave a positive message of  hope and endurance. One song that has always given me that message is "You'll Never Walk Alone," by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. 

"When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high

And don't be afraid of the dark."

During the years that followed, it felt as if darkness had taken over. It was the darkness that was such a big part of the universe in Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Wrinkle in Time. It was a darkness that had taken control of people's hearts and people's minds. It left them feeling afraid and feeling a need to have other people tell them what to do. On the planet Camazotz, the people had become automatons, all doing the same thing at the same time. 

Camazotz was a place totally consumed by darkness, which is not surprising. Camazotz was originally not a place but a dark figure, a death bat, that was described in the Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayan Qu'iche people of Guatemala. Camazotz, the Death Bat, may have been the inspiration for Batman, the Dark Knight, who comes from somewhere entirely unknown to save us from ourselves.

But hope always overpowers the darkness, even during the most terrifying of storms. My own personal storm came in the winter of 2007-2008, when I became ill with pneumonia. I feared the darkness of night, when everything became quiet and obscure. When I began to recover, I still had trouble sleeping so I watched the moon shine a light that cut through the terror of nighttime. And it gave me hope.

"At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark..."

Early in the morning and just before sunset, there is a golden hour, when the light from the sky glows with such a brightness that everything looks golden. But the golden sky lasts for just a moment. A moment of hope and a moment of intense beauty. Robert Frost's poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," depicts the fragile nature of that golden beauty. The leaves that start off as delicate flowers. Humans are like that, too. Our hearts start off tender and open to love and kindness.

And then, when the golden magic is gone, we allow fear to take over. Nightfall leaves us shaking with our fears. We look outside and see nothing and our fears build. We fear the people that we are told to fear. We see them as monsters, not as humans. But sometimes, we become aware of the golden hour that comes just before nightfall, when, for the second time in a day, everything radiates with gold. When we meet the people called our enemies, we discover that they are not horrible monsters. They are humans, just like us. Our battles become futile. The futility of fighting was seen during World War I, when there was a Christmas truce. Enemies shared food, sang Christmas carols, played ball games, and shared family pictures. 

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

I love this song because of its message of never giving up in the face of frightening things, such as storms. I also like the message of never having to be alone, as long as you have hope in your heart. Even in this time, when darkness seems to have taken over, hope is not so easily extinguished. It lives in you and in me and in friends and neighbors and in those enemies who really aren't enemies.

(Music credit: Source: LyricFindSongwriters: Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers, You'll Never Walk Alone lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Ask me anything!!!

Today, I went to the farmers' market. It was one of those summer days that are pure delight. Everything is in bloom. The colors are delightful and dramatic. It was a good day to be outside.

The blogging prompt for today was for me to ask you to ask me questions. You could ask about anything that you like, and I will answer them in a future post. I might answer them with pictures, but I will most definitely answer them.

Please ask your questions in the comments section below. If you ask them on Facebook, I will still answer them here!

Ready... get set... go!!! Ask away!!!

Stupid Laws USA

Today, I thought that I would offer you the first stop on a tour of the United States, via the stupidest laws that I could find online. And what's even funnier is that these laws are actually still on the books, although I don't know how many of them can possibly be enforced. Today's stupid laws have to do with automobiles. (Future themes will include "fashion police," animals, and food.)

Well, some idiotic laws actually make sense. How about this one? "It is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a motor vehicle." (Yes, kidnappers should do the driving after blindfolding their victims.)

In Anchorage, it is illegal to tie your pet dog to the roof of your car.

It is against the law for women to drive while attired in a house coat. And not only that, no vehicle that lacks a driver (ejected for wearing the aforementioned banned house coat) may go faster than 60 miles per hour. 

In Alamosa, it is illegal to throw missiles at cars (apparently, it's legal in the rest of the state).

Well, this isn't quite a car, but it is applies to vehicles so... In New Britain, Connecticut, it is illegal for fire trucks to exceed 25 miles per hour, even when going to a fire. (let's hope that the fire burns as slowly as the fire trucks are driven)

In Rehoboth Beach, it is illegal for people to change their clothes in a car (but you can wear a house coat).

You may not place coins in your vehicle. Also, it is illegal to sit on the back seat of a car without wearing a seat belt, but, if you ride on the bed of a pickup truck, you are not required to use any safety equipment whatsoever.

You must contact the police if you plan on entering the (unspecified) city in an automobile.

Using a dead person's license plate or handicapped parking sign is a crime. 

Motorists have to be able to see pedestrians crossing the highway at night. Therefore, the pedestrians are required to wear tail lights (that's a fashion statement!).

In Rockville, it is against the law to swear while on the highway.

Taxi drivers are not permitted to make love on the front seat of their cabs while they are working.

Selling cars on Sunday is against the law.

It is against the law for red cars to drive down Lake Street in Minneapolis. And in Minnetonka, truck drivers are prohibited from driving while their vehicles are sporting dirty tires.

Slow down! Speeding is illegal!

When you are driving on one of the state's (nonexistent) mountains, make sure that you drive carefully at the right hand edge of the road, or you could go over a (not-real) cliff (or get a ticket if the cop actually finds that imaginary mountain).

New Jersey
It is illegal to drive quietly, especially if you're going to pass other cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. You must warn others on a highway that you are going to pass them. And, if you pass bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and skateboarders, it is considered to be good form to scare the wits out of them by honking your horn.

You have to honk your horn when passing other cars. There is no requirement to terrify bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and skateboarders, however.

It is illegal to read a comic book while driving a car.

Oregon has all sorts of silly laws concerning operating cars. Drivers have to remember lots of stuff. First off, they are not allowed to test their physical endurance while driving a car (leave your weights at home). It is illegal to carry a baby on the running board of a car. And, for heaven's sake, do not pump your own gas (you'll probably trip over the baby that is napping on the running board).  And finally, it is illegal to keep a car door open for longer than necessary (however long that is).

If you are driving down the road and you see a team of horses coming in your direction, you are required to pull off of the road and cover your car with a blanket or some other covering that blends in with the environment, and let the team of horses pass.

Rhode Island
In Scituate, it is illegal to drive down any street, carrying beer in your vehicle, even if it hasn't been opened.

South Carolina
Do not do a U-turn within 1,000 feet of an intersection.

In Prince William County, it is illegal to park on railroad tracks.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Lights for Liberty: Buffalo

Image may contain: 2 people, including Judith Keys, people smiling, people standing

Yesterday, I went to the Lights for Liberty rally in Buffalo with Jude and Jessica. Jude (pictured here with me) is also known as the Button Lady. She has a machine and she makes all sorts of buttons. She creates buttons for candidates and for various causes. Sometimes, the buttons are poignant, and sometimes, they are funny. This time, her buttons were more poignant than funny. Jude was quite popular with the media because of her basket of buttons, which she happily distributed, and because of her baby Trump balloon, which she displayed to best effect, despite the balloon's lack of size.

Last night, we listened in silence as the names of deceased migrants were read out loud.
media coverage

We listened with saddened hearts to stories told by migrant children about shocking conditions in detention facilities.

They talked about not having soap and toothbrushes and beds and blankets. The young mothers talked about having no changes of clothing or diapers for their babies. The children talked about being separated from parents and grandparents. Some of them were as young as five years old. Kindergarteners. 

The event planner holds the
microphone for her daughter,
who reads a letter written
about conditions in the
detention facilities by
a young child.
A few hundred persons stood on the grass at the corner of Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue, holding up signs that asked for the U.S. government to respect the basic human rights of people who have come to this nation, seeking asylum.  As darkness fell, we held up candles and flashlights to shine a light in an impenetrable darkness that was darker than the fading light in the sky.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Finding inspiration in everything

Inspiration. It is so necessary to have it, but where does it come from? For me, it comes from a variety of sources. It comes from migratory birds and butterflies, who, despite all obstacles, always seem to know their routes. It comes from the dulcet tones of songbirds on sweetly warm days.
Inspiration comes from horses running wild and free, their manes and tails flying behind them. Inspiration comes from the plant world, as well. It comes from the scent of newly opened rosebuds. It comes from young trees that bend in the wind and that resist breaking. It comes from a tiny plant in a flower pot that is trying hard to grow and to become a great big plant with flowers.

Weaver Lenore Tetkowski and her award winning wall hanging, "Mount Diversity," turns material into an inspiring story of humanity.
And inspiration comes from other people. Inspiration comes from the determination of premature babies. It comes from watching people use their bodies to tell stories, which is the magic of dance. It comes from hearing the stories of people who have had to flee their homelands and find a save haven elsewhere and from their determination to start their lives over. It comes from our friends and our families and our neighbors and from the friends that we have yet to meet.

Inspiration comes from other people, even when we refuse to acknowledge them. All too often, in our world, we have come to see people who don't look as if they could be our first cousins and who don't speak the same language that we speak and who don't practice their faith in the same way that we practice ours as THE OTHER. We are taught to see people who are different from us as threats, instead of as gifts. We learn to be afraid of diversity, instead of enamored by it. That fear and that rejection of others leads to us treating "THE OTHER" badly and even abusively.

Unlearning our fears of our fellow humans is a gift. It leaves us free to celebrate diversity. It means that we can no longer treat others badly. We see other humans as friends and neighbors and as guides to cultures that are just as wonderful as our culture. There is no longer an us vs. them. It is just ALL OF US, speaking a wide variety of languages, looking very different from one other, experiencing so many paths to spirituality, and loving a great collection of music and art.

Unlearning our fears of our fellow humans gives us the freedom to love life because we are no longer gripped with terror. And it helps us to become better inspirations for one another. Then we can find inspiration from everything and everyone with a sense of confidence and joy.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Really awesome flowerpots

Today's blogging challenge was to share some photographs and to talk about what makes the photograph interesting. The photographs that I am sharing with you were taken during Sunday's garden walk. They depict something that I really enjoy: decorative flowerpots. I love colorful and interesting flowerpots and have decorated a few of my own. I decorated one flowerpot with all sorts of random stuff, including seashells, buttons, and broken china. You push the random stuff into this material that feels like mud, and, after a while, it hardens. 

On Sunday, I photographed flowerpots, among other things, at the garden walk. I enjoyed the way in which the flowerpots enhanced the gardens in which they were placed. I also enjoyed the way that the flowers matched their lovely pots. So here are the flowerpots. I hope that you enjoy their design and their placements in the gardens: