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2012 in review

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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Holiday Enjoyment

May 25, 2012 8 comments
Happiness mind-map

Happiness mind-map (Photo credit: EEPaul)

This will be a short posting today. It is, after all the day before a large holiday weekend. To that end, I’m going to take most of today off to enjoy nature and see something besides the four walls of what I laughingly call my office.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stops by this site. You read my words, and many take the chance to leave your own behind. The exchange is good for me, and I hope, for you as well.

Many of you are new to this neck of the woods. I’m glad you’ve decided to make this station a regular stop on your weekly sojourn around the cyber world. I’m also happy that I’ve provided material which has stirred conversation, discussion, debate and, for some, pleasure enough to click the “LIKE” button. In my book, you all deserve a medal.

THANK YOU, all of you.

Here’s hoping you all have a fantastic weekend of fun and family joys. I may take today off, but the rest of the weekend is a working holiday for me. Enjoy yourselves out there at the park, the lake, the beach and stay safe to return next week.

I’ll see you then. A bientot,

Claudsy

 

Family Histories on the Side

May 21, 2012 Leave a comment
The raw satellite imagery shown in these image...

The raw satellite imagery shown in these images was obtain from NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by http://www.terraprints.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking a day away from usual activities helps to restore a semblance of order to one’s life. Perspective is gained. Appreciation is elevated. New knowledge filters through the mind to lodge in memories.

Yesterday was a day of exploration into places unknown and challenging facts known. For me, it was also a time to take away snippets of useful information; the kind used in a twisted kind of way for story elements and character development. Those are the kind of relaxed and fun days that begin with one purpose and turn out as gold mines. Also, the experience felt much like going home to my dad’s family for the day.

We met up with friends, Sister’s distant cousins, in a small-town restaurant about an hour south of our locale. We had a nice lunch before heading south again to their home in an even smaller town. Our entire purpose for going on this jaunt was so that Sister could shoot the eclipse in an area where she could get good water-reflection shots.

During our scouting adventure, I was taken to places I’d never seen before; places that had escaped my notice when I’d lived in the area twenty years ago. As well, the cousins constantly pointed out places that related to their family histories.

“So and so built that ranch. Who is the latest owner, honey?” Cousin #2 asked as she pointed to the left to a grouping of buildings amid lush pastures. “The original barn’s gone now, of course.”

Gravel roads, dust flying from under the wheels of passing ranch trucks and cars, we made our way from reservoir to reservoir; each with points of interest. On the first we found swans that had been introduced to the waterways. The second, though smaller, was far more serene, more relaxing. Native ducks, muskrats, gulls, all played in the placid water. Further into the hills, we found rock chucks guarding their homes and new calves cavorting among adults.

MacDonald Lake

At last we wound through forested hills up to MacDonald Lake, nestled in the Mission Range; a smaller lake than it used to be, only because it isn’t allowed to fill up the way it used to years ago. The deep teal, crystalline waters, surrounded by pine-covered slopes, beckoned to us. Trails radiated from its sides for the explorer who would challenge grizzlies in the area for prime fishing spots.

From the south-end approach I could only envision one scenario. I saw a scene straight out of Lord of the Rings; the one where the intrepid questers canoed toward their mountain peak destination, along the length of a deep lake with darkly-treed slopes on either side. Magic sparkled before my eyes. I was, in that short moment, transported into a movie about a magical place occupied by hobbits and elves and all things mythical.

When we finally came back to the valley floor, our hosts took us to see the old family homestead.

“Let’s see if they’ve moved the herd out into the front grazing, honey?” our tour guide says as we moved down a gravel road. “When I was by yesterday, the pasture was high and needed to be grazed already.”

And so our indoctrination into family history continued. Ours was a calm adventure made up of laughing memories, local scenery, and points of family interest. All of which came under clouded skies that would never allow for shots of the eclipse, regardless of the camera equipment brought to bear.

A late supper and long drive home left us drained. Bedtime hadn’t looked that far away since our last distant drive at night. Rain followed us as we snaked our way along Highway 93 north along the west shore of Flathead Lake.

I came away with so many impressions to sprinkle here and there amid stories. There were subjects to research later for short essays. And along the way, I captured bits and pieces of personal revelation that will color my days for months. Because their personal histories have been shared so freely, they’ve allowed me to be included in their future histories. That has potential as a special privilege.

I wish everyone could have such a day as mine yesterday. When you have one, take away all that you can from it. Enjoy the uniqueness of it and make it your own. Have a great week all.

A bientot,

Claudsy

Flash Fiction Makes a Statement

May 5, 2012 6 comments
Multicolored nylon lattice delta kite Français...

Multicolored nylon lattice delta kite Français : Cerf-volant triangulaire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once in a while I write a bit of flash fiction. The exercise isn’t the easiest for someone who’s in love with word volume, but it’s terrific for honing skills used to tighten a story, make it crisper, and give it a memorable delivery.

Now that I’ve found a new outlet for flash, I can indulge each day, if I choose, to write short short stories to great visual prompts. This is one story I wrote this morning. If you’d like to check out the site and the prompt, I’ve left the trail of breadcrumbs at the bottom of this post. Enjoy the read, and let me know if I did deliver.

 

One Last Flyer

Visitors jostled each other, shoving forward to Seaport’s Punta de los Muertos. The village overflowed with contestants and spectators for the first annual “Kite Fly on the Point.” Thousands of feet of light kite cable hung from flyer’s belts throughout the park.

Amelia flexed her already aching hand around the looped cable at her waist. Beside it, dikes rested in their holster if she needed to cut the cable during the extravaganza. It wouldn’t do to get dragged into San Diego Bay during her event.

Too soon, Amelia heard her name. One hand filled with jewel-toned fabric, the other gripping her cable, she stepped to barrier at the edge of the sea. She waited for the nod to let out her kite.

With long practice she played out the ruby pennant sock and its cable, waiting for the next errant breeze. One after another, her jewels fled to the sky; pulling, towing, always reaching for the heavens, her pennants few straight and true on the stiffening breeze. It seemed so long since she’d danced this way.

Twice her flags attempted escape. Twice she pulled them back into line, her control cables requiring all her concentration, all of her strength. She’d only added the one flag, the one for Rachel. And yet, it screamed for release, just as her baby girl had near the end.

Amelia’s right hand dropped that control line, slid her hand to the holster, and pulled out the dikes. A hundred feet of cable or a thousand, it didn’t matter. Some things needed to be let go of, and Rachel’s kite was one of them. Her baby could fly it in Heaven.

After all, wasn’t that really why she’d come here today; to let go of all the struggle and the pain?

She felt someone pull at her arm. They weren’t stronger than her resolve. Cutters met cable, a quick crimp, and the kite leaped toward the stratosphere. It bucked, flapped in exuberance, and flew as an arrow on the long flight.

Now they were all free.

 

Find more excellent fiction and prompts as: http://flashyfiction.blogspot.com/2012/04/strung-still-but-free-to-fly.html#comment-form

How Far Can Family Be Extended?

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment

For the past two days I’ve talked about people who I’ve adopted into my family after becoming an adult. This post is about those whom we love to distraction and sometimes to bankruptcy, the ones who worm their way into our hearts with soulful eyes and a generous heart.

I’ve been privileged to be partnered with two such individuals in my life. I lost the last partner in 1997 to cancer and simply couldn’t face the possibility of living through that again afterwards.

When I lost the majority of my sight in 1979, I refused to crawl into the nearest closet to vegetate for the next 60 years. I chose to fight for a life in the world on whatever terms were necessary. I was fortunate to have a caring family who would put up with having me around during this period and support me until I could support myself.

After Vocational Rehabilitation, I went straight to Leader Dogs for the Blind to get a partner; my first such pairing. I won’t go into the details of selection, training, etc. It would take a book to do that.

I will tell you that—at least at that school—the trainers pair human with canine by the dog’s standards, not the human’s. I was chosen as a partner for a specific dog because of how what specific needs the dog had. How’s that for learning humility?

The system works, though. The trainers had just spent months learning every nuance about their animals. The people were unknown quantities, factors that could disrupt everything.

I was selected for Penny, a shiny copper-colored Golden Retriever, who was probably as smart or smart than most people I’ve known. She was bred for the program and two years old. I fell in love at first “sight” when was introduced to me.

As all the dogs did at one time or another, she tested me to see if I would allow her to break training. She ran me ragged testing my stamina. She made me the best I could be with her as a partner.

With Penny by my side, I attended university the next Fall term. I did have to take her back to the school before during Spring break that first year because my vet thought she had hip dysplasia which would cause her so much pain, she’d been unusable as a dog guide.

Blessings flowed when the school’s vet discovered, not dysplasia, but a severe withdrawal from antihistamine injections she’d been taking for severe allergies to grass and fleas. I spent the break there getting her back into shape, re-affirming her training, and thanking God each hour that she hadn’t been sentenced to euthanasia.

Penny could read my mind, I know. She recognized danger from a block away, kept me from injury more times than I could count, and acted as everything from best friend and comforter to confessor. She’d become my other half in more ways than acting as my eyes.

One of the most unique qualities was comforting those around me who had need, even when I didn’t. A friend who was terrified of dogs and was forced to by in her company each week became desensitized and had his phobia lifted so that he could leave the fear behind. A friend who was assaulted one night and came to us for safety found her lap filled with eighty pounds of retriever as a warm body to hang onto.

When my mother lay dying of cancer in her hospital bed in the living room, Penny lay beneath the side rail so that she would know if I needed to tend to Mom’s restlessness or pain, in case I dozed off while sitting on the couch. Penny had a special bond with my mother from the day I’d brought her home. The only time she left Mom’s side was for potty breaks and dinner. She grieved as much as I did when my mother died.

A few months later, she escorted me to work each day, got me through my work day and back home. My job took me all over the country. There was training in Dallas where the heat nearly fried us both. There were trips to the West Coast and back east for weddings, and more.

I had a busier, more adventurous life after Penny came into my life than before. I learned, worked, lived. And when the day came when she was dying of cancer, too, I had to make the torturous decision that every animal lover dreads most.

Not long afterwards, I was forced to replace her with another such partner, another second half. For all that I came to love and appreciated Jesse, who was a terrific replacement; there would only ever be one Penny. She would always hold a special place in my heart and in my family.