Wandering Thoughts

Brick

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How many brick sidewalks still exist?  how many brick roads? Does anyone still remember “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”?

Brick walls.  Brick houses.  Brick buildings and storefronts.  The Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites forced them to make bricks to construct all sorts of things. They even forced them to find their own materials for doing so, but never decreased their demand for output.

Being a brick layer used to be quite a lucrative job.  I had a friend who did that job for years. His hands were as hard as bricks!

Castles, cathedrals, manor houses and hovels can all be made of bricks. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about my rare trips to Europe is the abundance of brick or cobblestoned roads and sidewalks. You have to be careful, though, where you put your feet. It’s easy to trip on the unevenly worn pathways.

There is artisanship in a beautifully laid brick  walkway. 3d1ec62beba49437a15579bea55c3db9Concrete or macadam  may make a smoother  surface, but they don’t have the beauty that exists  in brickways.  And I must have just made up a word, because a squiggly red line popped up under brickways. Seems like a perfectly good word to me, so I’m going to leave it alone.

Now it’s time for me to hit the bricks. I was lazy today and slept until past 8 a.m. Lovely.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/brick/

It’s a Hard Life

Pensive

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The  chubby baby stared pensivley  at his foot, which he had managed to grab in both fists. Now that he had it, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. He didn’t want to let it go, though, because he’d been trying for days to get hold of it.

Life sure was hard.

Closeup Portrait Of Baby Boy Holding His Feet Royalty Free Stock ...

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pensive/

Fat and Flourishing

Flourish

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Psalm 92:12-14King James Version (KJV)

12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

I remember reading this passage as a kid and laughing to myself.  Who wanted to be FAT and flourishing?  Couldn’t we just –you know, flourish?  Leave out the fat part.

Then I learned what the word fat meant in that verse. It comes from a Hebrew word, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,  that denotes richness and fertility  such as in fertile soil. It is the condition that allows things to grow and thrive.

There are some examples in the Bible of old people who became fertile and produced a child. One example would be Sarah and Abraham who, in their old age, God blessed with Isaac, the son of the promise God made to Israel.

Now, I don’t particularly care about becoming fertile in my old age. As a matter of fact, I think I would be shocked and not too thrilled if I found I was going to have a baby. I believe, however, that being nourishing and fertile can apply to more than reproduction.

I have four children, nine grandchildren. Those nine grandchildren give me a new opportunity to be rich and nourishing in passing down traditions, stories,  and my faith.

I was a teacher for several years. I had the opportunity to enrich the lives of my students.

Now I’m a counselor, and it is a delight to me that I can still bring richness and nourishment to the people I work with. Yesterday, it was my great delight to open my Bible with a young woman and show her how much God loves her.She was feeling pretty low when she came in. When she left, she was glowing with the joy of the knowledge that she was loved by God, and of infinite value to Him.

I work in a Christian counseling office, by the way, so I have the freedom to counsel from the Bible. If I get a client who doesn’t want that, then I leave it alone. I never force my clients to  listen to a sermon. Most people, however, know we are a Christian office when they call for an appointment, so it’s usually not an issue.

Anyway.  Pardon the rabbit trail, there, but I didn’t want anyone to think we force-feed Christianity to our clients 🙂

It is a particular pleasure to see my clients flourish. Often, when they first come in, they are empty and dry. They are brittle, with no green or quickening in their roots and branches. Counseling involves watering, fertilizing, and nourishing health of the inner person.  Nourishing produces flourishing.

I like being fat and flourishing 🙂

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/flourish/

Southern Pride

South

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As with everything, everyone, every where else in this world, there is often great beauty spread like a crazy quilt over ugliness and sorrow that hides beneath.

I’ve never lived in the South, but everyone else in my immediate family did. My dad took a church in the South shortly after I was married, so he and mom and my little brother packed up and moved.  My sister was already there, in the place Dad would spend the rest of his life.

It was a beautiful place in many ways.  When I first saw it, there was still Spanish moss hanging all over the place. Land of the South | The southeastern region of the United States has a ...The moss would soon be pushed out by kudzu,  and I remember thinking how those plants resemble nations–one being pushed out by another. It is the history of the world. Contrary to what revisionist historians would like us to believe, America was not the first nation founded on the ruins of the previous citizenship. It’s been happening since the beginning of the story of the human race. Check out the history of the so-called American Indian, for instance. They spent their time hunting, gathering, in some instances farming; but always ready for war and the takeover of their lands by other more aggressive tribes. It’s just the way we are.

The South has so much beauty to offer. Today, “snow birds” fly south to escape the cold and snow and ice and misery of northern winters.  Sometimes I think I may be ready to join the migration, but I don’t really want the work of packing up, closing up, opening up and doing it all over again every year.  Winter here in PA isn’t as long or as cold as it was in Minnesota.  I can deal with it 🙂

Things I love about the South:  Beautiful antebellum mansions that have been restored to their original glory; magnolia trees; pecans raining down abundantly in season; the lovely slow speech; the humor (no one can tell a story any better than a Southerner); the hills and mountains where you can escape the sultry humidity of deep summer; the short winter season during which you may or may not need a coat; Southern cooking; and the list could go on a long time.

Things that are regrettable?  Well, the most obvious, of course, was the slave trade. More than regrettable, it was evil. The rationale was multi-layered, but one of the first layers had to do with the economy of the southern plantation.  There is no way to justify the buying and selling of a human being, so that rationale was that the African slave wasn’t really a human being.  See, we can find a way to make sense of anything we want if we try hard enough.

We do need to remember that the first traders in African slaves were other Africans, who rounded up people from other tribes and sold them to European slave traders.

There really is nothing new under the sun.

A lot of our friends have moved to the South to escape the ever-increasing taxes here, as well as the winters.  They all love it down there, and I’m happy for them, but I don’t think I’m ready or willing to make that shift. Finances may require it at some point, I don’t know. What I do know is that as the Yankee migration continues, taxes down there will increase just like they have up here. As industry moves south for lower taxes and cheaper labor, the economy of the South will be Northernized. Another kind of invasion, I guess.

They say that Southerners are a friendly sort, and I have found that to be true, at least on the surface. But I’ve also talked with people whose bloodlines don’t go back to three or four generations who are still considered Yankees, even though they’ve lived in the South all of their lives. There is a fierce pride among many  whose families have always lived in the South, right from the beginning. You don’t breach that wall easily.

Every region of our nation has its peculiarities. Because that is so, I’m hoping Wordy will prompt us with West, North, and East before we’re done 🙂 And of course, the Midwest is an area different from every other place. Could be some interesting posts to read.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/south/

Best Friends

Buddy

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The picture of the dog that accompanied this prompt put me in mind of the new dog in my granddaughter’s life.  He’s a Cavachon–a designer breed cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise.  He looks more spaniel than Bichon, and he’s just about the cutest little dog I’ve ever seen.

pup_x_1370646916_0

This isn’t her pup.  I pulled this picture off Google images.  He is, however, very close in resemblance.  They’re all different.  Some look more Bichon.  Some are all white, or all brown.  I think this is the cutest combination.

King Charles Spaniels were bred to be lap dogs, and Andy is  running true to form.  He’s a puppy, so he wants to play. He loves to chase, tussle, and roll around with all three of the kids.

But he’s definitely my granddaughter’s buddy.  She feeds him, takes him out, grooms him, and trains him.  He watches her wherever she goes, and when she’s not home he’s very unhappy until she comes back.

He has a cooperative temperament.  She’s already taught him to sit, stay, and come.  She’s working on heel, and I think she’ll probably teach him some fun tricks like shake and roll over.  I think he’s four or five months old now, and she’s only ten, so I think it’s pretty remarkable that she’s taught him so much already.

I’ve never had the fun of watching a child develop that close bond with a new puppy before.  We got a dog when our kids ranged from six to 13, and he loved playing with them. However, his closest bond was with Terry, because it was Terry who took care of him while he taught the kids what they needed to do. He was a spaniel as well–a Springer–and he was such a fun dog. He loved the snow, and when we walked in the woods he would find an intriguing snowbank and bury his nose in it , digging furiously. Sometimes all we could see was his tail 🙂

pet-dog-on-a-walk-burrowing-into-the-snow-to-remove-burrs-from-face-dpatd5

Watching this relationship develop is so much fun. Educational, enjoyable, and just fun. My granddaughter is never very far from her puppy, and he always knows where she is.  If he runs off to check out a noise somewhere, he’ll come bouncing back to her right away.  I’ve seen him turn in circles looking for her, and when he spots her he’s off, straight as an arrow. His tail never stops wagging unless he’s asleep, and he falls asleep instantly, as puppies do.  He cuddles up in her lap and takes a short nap, and then he’s ready to play again.

He’ll always be a lap dog. Cavachons don’t get very big, so he’ll always be comfortable curled up beside her or across her lap.  I’m sure, as they both grow up, that their “buddy bond” will strengthen.  Here’s to a long and happy  relationship.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/buddy/

Determined Women

Underestimate

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All of these are women you can read about in the Bible:

Eve, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Bathsheba, Mary, Lydia, Dorcas.

And here is a list of other determined women:

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/women/notable.htm

There are hundreds.  Some of them you may not know, but all of them have played a part in some important way.  They include people like Louisa May Alcott, Clara Barton,  Marie Curie, Cleopatra,  and Harriet Tubman.

They didn’t settle for “NO.” They bucked tradition. They risked everything, some of them, and suffered severely.  Some of them I wouldn’t have agreed with, not supporting their causes.  Some of them were ungodly and left an ugly imprint on history.

Elizabeth I was one of the most powerful monarchs England and the world have ever seen. She wasn’t always right, but she surely was determined. Catherine the Great comes to mind, as well as Bloody Mary, who was Elizabeth’s sister.

And have you ever heard of Grace Hopper? No?  Me, neither. She was “A computing trailblazer, Grace Hopper invented one of the first easy-to-use computer languages, which was a big advance in the field of computer programming.”

File:Grace Hopper.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

So what’s my point?

Never underestimate the power of a strong, determined woman!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/underestimate/

Remembering Mr. Magoo

Vision

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Poor old guy couldn’t see past the end of his bulbous nose.  We laughed at his antics,  but no one wanted to BE him.

Vision is such a marvelous gift!  I think of all the senses, it’s the one I would most hate to lose.

I have one nearsighted eye and one farsighted eye.  The optometrist who discovered it told me I was one in a million 🙂  It is easily corrected with glasses.  For a time I wore one contact lens, but as age set in glasses were a better answer. Before glasses, though, I often suffered terrible headaches without having a clue what the problem was.  What a relief to get that first pair of glasses!

Now I wear those trifocal graduated lenses, and they work quite well. You adjust to them and find that you rarely have to tilt your head to look over the tops of your glasses. Without them, I do a lot of squinting–which of course adds to my growing collection of wrinkles and creases.  Character lines, of course–not age lines 🙂

Yesterday I was enjoying my front yard. We have a pink dogwood and a white one, along with a variety of flowers Terry has planted. I have a gorgeous azalea, and some soft green ferns.  We’re in the process of replanting, because the bushes that were in place 22 years ago when we bought the house were all dying off. So things are a little bare. But there is a beautiful old oak tree with red leaves, and from a certain vantage point, it makes a wonderful trio with the two dogwoods on either side, against the robin’s egg blue of the spring sky.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of sight.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/vision/

Another Multiple-meaning Word

Survival

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Survival—of the fittest. That’s part of  the theory of evolution. The species that is the strongest, smartest, toughest, fastest–that species will survive and conquer those that are weaker.

One wonders, then, about the nondebatable survival of ants.

The Survivor.  A television program I’ve only glanced at during its long run, because I have no interest in watching people undermine each other  in an attempt to win the money. All that conniving and sneaking and disloyalty has no appeal for me.

Robinson Crusoe, on the other hand, does interest me.  As does the Swiss Family Robinson.I am intrigued by so much ingenuity. I’ve wondered, as I’ve read those classics, if I would do even one tiny bit as well as they did.  Probably not.

The popularity, in the past three decades of survivalism,  has not abated.  Companies are still selling survival food that has a 25-year shelf life. I guess it’s supposed to get us through everything from megastorms to nuclear holocaust.

Surviving a hurricane has more interest for me. They come and go fairly quickly in the over-all scheme of things. Four years ago, Hurricane Sandy created a rush on generators. We were all storing water in big containers, and doing what we could for a probably power outage.  Terry still has a supply of MRE’s (meals, ready to eat) from his army days, and they’re really not too bad. We already have kerosene lamps. The only thing we didn’t have was hot tap water, but there are ways around that, too.  I hated not flushing the toilets, though.  It was like having a party when the winds stopped, and the power began to flicker back on until it finally reached our neighborhood.  And we were just in the tails of the storm here in Pennsylvania.  It must have been terrifying for those in its direct path. We lost one of our big old trees out front, but that was the worst of it. We survived.

And somehow, through the most horrific experiences, the human spirit survives. I was watching some videos the other day about Jewish survivors of Hitler’s insanity. They’re dying off, now, and some of them are determined not to let the story die with them. As those who still enjoy hating Jews are doing their best to deny what happened, those who survived it are doing all they can to make sure it is not erased from the history books.  What amazes me is the lack of bitterness and anger that so many of them display. They are not looking for revenge. They simply don’t want their story to be forgotten, because they hope the world will learn from it.

We won’t.  Some will, that is true.  But when you look around you at the world today, you know that hatred against races, nations, religions,  cultures, still survives and is killing people for no reason other than their differences from other people.

Will America survive?  Will we survive this lamentable political wrangling and election cycle?  Will we survive the lying, the accusations, the name-calling?  Maybe, but we won’t be the America people my age remember. I’m glad I grew up then, and not now. I didn’t have to be protected and supervised every single minute of my day because of the evil that lurks all around.  I survived my unsupervised, outdoor-playing-ball-without-coaches-and-parents childhood quite well. I even ran barefoot sometimes, and we drank out of a garden hose now and then. We got dirty, we sweated, we fell and skinned our knees and were NOT rushed to the nearest ER. We didn’t have parents hovering over us every minute to make sure no one fought. In fact, the fights were good for us. We learned to negotiate, and we learned to be friends again when the fight was over. We learned to deal with bullies without having to have special organizations at school to do so. We generally stuck up for the underdog when a bully was being —well, a bully. In those days, the bad guys were not considered cool, and the rest of us did not want to be like them.

We survived quite well, in fact.

And now I have to end this ramble or I’ll be late for work.  Which reminds me:  We learned to work. We were brought up to leave home. We did not stay on our parents’ insurance until we were 26.  We did not live rent-free in their houses after we were 18. We wanted to be self-sufficient adults.  And most of us were.

And now I really am finished. Maybe.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/survival/

I’m Tired of Buzzwords

Diverse

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Diversity has become a big buzzword.  It has become a battle cry of political correctness, another buzzword. I was tempted just to leave it alone, but I must be in a combative frame of mind, because I think I’m going to speak my mind this morning.

First, let me say that I hate no one single individual. This isn’t about religion, or homophobia, or islamophobia, or any other phobia.

It’s about this incredible inability we human being seem to have.  What is that inability?

We are unable to leave people alone to live their lives according to their own principles, whether those principles are of faith, politics, or culture.

If we believe something, then everyone has to accept/believe it, too.  If they don’t, they are bigots. Haters.  Phobics.

It starts young. As a teacher, I watched little kindergarten princesses turn their snotty little backs on the poor little girl whose parent couldn’t put out the money for the designer clothes and shoes and hair gunk. Amazing.  Five-year-olds who refuse to accept diversity unless they are the ones who introduce it.  Then, anyone who refuses to accept/approve of their current fashion passion is a nerd, a geek, a loser.

We’ve become inured to name-calling in this lamentable political primary season.

It continues all through elementary school, junior high and high school, college, and into the work place.  March in line to the drumbeat of whoever sets the standard, or you’re out. OUT. No one talks to you.  No one recognizes your own unique diversity if it conflicts with their own. You must conform, or you are just a trouble maker.

Everyone else eats hummus, but you happen to like sour cream and onion dip. WHAT?? Don’t you know how cool hummus is, that it’s the healthier dip, that all the people in the know turned their backs on the pedestrian sour cream and onion dip, like, FOREVER ago?

Geek. Loser.

I know that we need a system of laws.  No one can be allowed to step on anyone else’s life, or pursuit of happiness without serious consequences taking place.  I’m not advocating that we live without law.

What I wish is that law would concern itself with national safety, economy, and infrastructure like roads and bridges, and leave personal choices alone.  The more we are governed about matters of faith, morality, and so on, the less freedom we have to be who we really are.  The more we make protective laws for tiny minorities who want all of society to approve of their choices, the less freedom we have to protect our children from things they don’t need to know about.

When we have to be silent about a closely -held conviction for fear of losing a job, we have lost our First Amendment freedoms and there wasn’t even a battle over it.

Words like diversity  and tolerance  have come to mean that you are a good guy only if you believe that everything is okay, no matter  what your faith, culture, or personal sense of right and wrong may tell you.

And what I will tell you now is that I will publish your comments only if you are courteous and manage not to use vulgar, profane, and hateful language.

It is completely possible to speak your mind and speak it clearly without resorting to being vulgar, hateful, and profane.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/diverse/

Now What?

Chaos

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Peter had lost track of time, living his days from sunrise to sunset, from season to season.

He was alone. At least, as far as he knew, he was alone. He had learned to blend into his surroundings, walking lightly, watching carefully. The stillness was complete. It seemed to him, in some distant memory, that he had enjoyed the song of birds and the rustling of small animals in the woods, but that was all gone.

It was a bleak landscape. Trees had been blown apart or uprooted as monstrous tanks rolled over them. The earth lay scorched and infertile in so many places. Peter had found a place that lay mostly untouched, and he had learned a great deal about what plants were edible, what water was drinkable.  His senses had sharpened over time, so that he could detect chemical smells that warned him of danger in the food or water.

His eyesight, too, had sharpened.  Or maybe it was just the lack of industrial smog. He could see for miles, and he could see the tiniest movement that alerted him to the possibility of meat.  Every now and then, a solitary bird would fly overhead. They were never within range of his crude slingshot, spear, or bow and arrow. In a way, he was glad. Maybe they had mates somewhere, and maybe they could begin to multiply.

He wasn’t so sure about those things for humans. Several seasons had come and gone since he cautiously emerged from the cave that lead to his deep hiding place. He’d made graves for his wife and their two children, who hadn’t survived the starvation that followed the cessation of the fighting.

Peter knew nothing of what was happening anywhere but his own small world. He walked the woods every day, searching for food.  He was slowly making his cave more habitable, laying in a supply of fuel for the coming cold time, creating some furniture and even a warmer cloak from small animals whose fur he had collected  and whose flesh had helped to fill his belly.

There were signs of life amid all the chaos.  Only once had he dared to venture to the edge of the woods that concealed him. He had stood as still as a tree for the longest time, watching and waiting for anyone or anything that might pass by.

There was nothing. Nothing but destruction and ugliness. Finally, he’d turned back toward his cave, thinking about making a better chimney for the small fires he built for cooking.

How would he live out his life?  Alone, solitary, hiding?

Well, that was better than exposing himself to the evil that seemed to lurk in the hearts of mankind.  Maybe he was the only one left. Maybe he would never know.

Maybe.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/chaos/