Looking at Traffic

I was waiting in traffic on my way home and I couldn’t help but notice the different driving styles especially at the intersections. I thought about it and realized there are several distinct styles.
1. The Creeper – this driver slowly inches up on the car in front until they are millimeters from the bumper. Most other drivers will in turn inch forward to create a little breathing room. This only encourages The Creeper to again inch closer…
2. The Crowder – this is the driver who stops his car in the crosswalk. All the pedestrians have to walk around the front of the car. I have personally known several people who do this. When asked they are of the opinion that it will magically make the light change more quickly…
3. The Cautious – these drivers are the opposite of the Crowder. They will hang back nearly a full car’s length from either the crosswalk or the car ahead. They aren’t usually a problem except when train tracks are involved. They really need to get a little closer…
4. The Crazy – there are far too many of these folks out there! They are the drivers who come screeching to a stop just as the light goes red or in many instances they scream through the light as it is yellow turning red, a “pink” light. My sister calls this “bleeding through” a light. Supposedly the traffic people plan for a certain number of people to pull this stunt since there is a delay before the other light turns green. Obviously in my town the people in charge of the signals didn’t get the memo!
5. The Confused – this driver doesn’t understand the concept of the 4-way stop. They either don’t know when to take their turn causing others to question if it is their turn or they go out of turn! No matter how you look at it they are accidents waiting to happen!!
6. The Coward – this is the last type I observed. They are most commonly seen in bad road conditions. The Coward is so timid and so slow that they are a peril to all the other cars. It is one thing to slow down as a light changes and something altogether different to start slowing down a full block before the intersection even though the light has just turned green. And of course when I say slowing down I mean to reduce speed from 25 mph (in a 30 mph zone) to 10 mph a full block before the light.
Now that I’m safe at home I can chuckle at the chaos that is winter driving in Indiana. But come tomorrow when I must brave the elements and struggle with my fellow drivers I know that I’ll be “white-knuckle” driving…

Looking Pinched

Hourglass figures from days of corsets cinch’d tight
Constricted breath and contained all movement combined
To make a sphere constrained and thoughts smaller
And birthed ideas bubbled forth
And birthed ideas bubbled forth
Women wondered, heard, held their heads taller
Took baby breaths and baby-steps from roles assigned
Fought battles from boudoir to basement for their rights

This is an Amanda’s Pinch. It is a rhyming, syllabic form that contains a refrain of repeated lines 4 and 5. The syllable count is: 12/12/10/8/8/10/12/12 with a rhyme scheme of: a/b/c/D/D/c/b/a. Its centered on the page to give the idea of being pinched in the middle. I first wrote one for the Scavenger Hunt this last September and liked it so much that I thought I’d give it another go.

I’m old enough to remember when I couldn’t have a credit card on my own. My father had to put me on his card. I remember being told I had no place in Veterinary medicine because I was female. In fact, it was shocking to the guidance counselor that I was even considering a career working with animals. When in college I took an aptitude test for possible career directions. I was told that I would make a great beautician, dental hygienist, nurse, even a passible mortician (because the dead don’t care about your gender). If it hadn’t been for the counselor (a woman in the armed services who had broken many barriers) I wouldn’t have seen the career at the very bottom of the list – veterinary technician. I have many women to thank for my rights – the right to vote, the right to own property (including real estate!), autonomy over my health care (but now not including reproductive rights). But I’m seeing an erosion of those rights and perhaps they will disappear completely. Now there is a lessening based on how much money I have, how mobile I am, how educated I am. If I’m rich and have the ability and the knowledge, I can travel to where I can access the care I want and need. If that’s not the case, I’m at the mercy of short sighted politicians. The struggle is real and the fight is not over. It was never over.

Looking for the Dream

There have been times in my life when I have been under extreme stress verging on distress. During those circumstances I would have recurring dreams. Most of them were disturbing in some aspect. I can still remember a couple of them that played on a loop at least once a week and sometimes more often. But those are not the dreams I’m looking for.

I have had periods where I have been deliriously happy and contented and produced dreams that were euphoric. The first week after I left my job, I had that wonderful dream. It was so pleasant that I didn’t want to wake up. I had had this dream before and I’m hoping to have it again. This particular dream involves me flying. I’m not exerting any effort and realize I am airborne! From that point my dream takes me on a tour of cities or mountains, or perhaps flying over oceans and islands, and on occasion I fly through clouds and rainbows.  No matter the direction the dream takes, it is fun beyond compare! And always a let down when I wake and realize it was just a dream.

Which brings me to wanting to repeat that very enjoyable dream experience. I’ve done some evening meditations. I’ve done exercises that are supposed to help you focus and bring the experience to the fore of your mind. I’ve performed relaxation techniques. But still the dream evades me. Just like rainbows, you can’t just order a dream to show up on command. *sigh* Have you ever had a dream so delightful that you wanted it to continue??

Looking AI Generated

Here is my offering for the W3 poetry prompt set by Denise DeVries. I really had trouble coming to grips with this prompt. On the one hand my muse looks at it and shudders in revulsion on the other my mind argues that it is nothing more than a tool. My internal argument went something like this:
Muse: Using artificial intelligence to assist in writing a poem is cheating.
Mind: AI is just a tool.
Muse: A tool for lazy people and the unimaginative.
Mind: More like a prompt to kick start the creative process.
Muse: I am the creative process!!
Mind: You are unreliable. The AI doesn’t take sabbaticals for months on end.
Muse: I’m NOT unreliable!
Mind: You are egotistical and a fragile flower. You need to get over yourself!
Muse: If you do this thing with AI, I’m out of here – forever!
Mind: Can we compromise? Maybe just have the AI come up with a couple random words to incorporate into a poem?
Muse: Hmmm. I suppose that would be alright. Just this once.
https://randomwordgenerator.com/ gave me the following 3 words:
miserable, premature, idea

I struggled. I sweated. And I nearly rolled on the ground like a horse with colic. After I had a little chocolate and calmed down, I thought about what I wanted to say. Then I considered which form would be the most expeditious to convey those ideas. I settled on the Tanka. It offers a little more freedom than the Haiku but still requires a conciseness.

I’m miserable
Poetic ideas gone
Premature panic
My muse ran away from home
Muscle memory writing

Looking Senseless

I was not born blind
But I cannot see
I was not born deaf
But true deaf I be
All these conditions
Do not define me
Nor do I count them
As infirmity
Not a single eye
Can see a soul leap
Not one human ear
Hears when ere hearts weep
All fear the silence
When the senses sleep
And dread the moment
Death into minds creep

Age has made reading glasses necessary. I don’t doubt that eventually Sparky and I will need hearing aids. We are well on our way to preferring large print editions of books. We’ve adjusted the size of fonts on the computer screens and on the smart phones too. I’ve stated before that being physically blind is not as bad as being spiritually blind, yet even so we are impossibly near-sighted, spiritually speaking. As for deafness, I know that selective deafness has crept up on both of us. Sparky tunes me out more often than I’d like to admit (and I call him on it). I think there are certain sounds that just don’t register in my auditory senses – most notably the alarm clock, and the constant hum and drone of the refrigerator and the furnace fan. As for the spiritual deafness, I have to admit that I tune out pleas for money from street people. At the same time I strain to hear the spiritual directions from God. I guess I’m no better or worse than the rest of the world and that does not comfort me. I’ve been struck senseless! I have tried and I will continue to try to be better and do what all Christians were commanded – Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the sick and dying, visit the imprisoned and to love neighbor as self.

Looking to Parent Well

There was a meme floating around Facebook that went something like: Teaching your child to question/stand up to authority means they will eventually question/stand up to you. This popped up on both our FB feeds while son#2 was visiting. He proceeded to tell me about a person he knew from college who had a confrontation with his father. The bottom line was that the son had an opinion that differed from his father’s and was unwilling to change his mind just because his father told him to. The father decided that might makes right and discovered that his “little boy” was an adult who could and would defend himself. This led to a discussion about his childhood, parenting, and the end result – a fully fledged successful adult. I told him that I hoped that I had “done right” by him even though I probably made mistakes. He reassured me that I had been and continue to be a great mom. He did point out a couple things:

1. He thanked me for keeping my promise to let him quit Suzuki violin lessons once he completed book 10. Of course he never did quit and he only got to book 9 before he graduated and went to college. He considered my “deal” to have been a stoke of genius and a little tricky. (He is a professional musician)

2. He said that if I hadn’t introduced him to foods/dishes from around the world he’d have ended up like a couple of his friends who refuse to eat anything except burgers and fries. He has been doing lots more cooking and has asked for recipes. That made my heart happy.

3. He was grateful that books were an integral part of his upbringing. He said that when we were all taking turns reading the latest Harry Potter book that it reinforced the fact that reading was something you did for life – not just as a kid in school. He has been reading a lot since he lives alone. He was bragging that he read nearly 100 books last year and hopes to better that number this year!

4. The one thing he holds against me is that I sold his TMNT figures at a rummage sale. But to be fair, he said I could and I did give him the money generated by the sale (he was in HS)… But now they’d be collector’s items and worth some coin. Hindsight is 20/20!

So to sum it up, his father and I did lots of things right and a couple of things we could have done differently but the end result speaks for itself. We have 2 fine citizens, who are respectful, caring, law abiding, and socially and environmentally conscientious. I think we did a decent job after all!

Looking into Owl Eyes

This is the very last of the House of Mayhem of the Mind Scavenger Hunt developed and hosted by MoonCatBlue. I am wrapping this up with a story poem (free verse sandwiched in a monorhyme) that includes the situation on Prompt #6 – due to a misunderstanding someone has booked a stay at an AirBnB/owl sanctuary despite a mild fear of birds and #8 – retell/reimagine a children’s story shifted for adults. I chose the Grimm Fairy Tale The Owl for this prompt. It is essentially a story about letting the imagination override reason resulting in destruction of property and death of an ordinary owl which is imagined to be a supernatural monster.

In the darkness I alight
Pay the Uber head toward light
Air BnB for the night
Rustling wings give me a fright
Fear of owls swooping in flight
This mistake can’t be put right
The urge to leave I must fight
Sleep and dream and just sit tight
All is better in daylight

A tangled dream of monstrous eyes
Clawing talons squeezing breath
From punctured lungs and crushing weight
I confront the owl confused
Who is more afeard when imagination
Captures reason and tears logic down?
Would I burn up all I own
When dread runs a rushing wind
And causes insanity in men?

Sweat drenched awake at midnight
The Lord’s Prayer aloud recite
Fear and terror will incite
A great panic to ignite
Patient wait for dawn’s first sight
See that everything’s alright
Convince self of trip’s delight
Know owls don’t hold hateful spite
For dream owls with flames I smite

Looking for the Dream State

This is my response to the W3 poetry prompt hosted by David at The Skeptic’s Kaddish. The Poet of the Week, Sarah David asked that we write a poem of 14 lines or fewer in any form on the theme of “dreams”. Dreams are elusive, slipping through my fingers on most mornings. I do have a couple recurring dreams, one really fun one and several that I classify as stress dreams. But the majority of my dreams leave me with a faint taste on the tip of my tongue or a lingering feeling of someone holding my hand or brushing my hair…

Seal slip into the dream ocean
I swim through memories undone
Surrounded by liquid emotion
Pulled, twisted, plunged deep and spun
Shadow ghost of the give and take
Revise the day, the night remake

Silver moonbeams a rare silk line
Strands of regret and gray hair
I weave my history symbol and sign
Connect my heart from here to there
What was, could or should be
The dream is my soul’s fervent plea

Jolted awake the dream dissipates
I rise to pass through reality’s gates

Looking at a Productive Day

Do good work in daily parts
Beginning work starts
Happy busy hearts
Respond to need
Eschew greed
Take heed
This day
Pray
Stay

A friend (and former coworker) of mine is recovering from a stroke. She is only 50 years old. It was sudden and unexpected. Because of a previous cancer scare, she has been very careful with her health. She exercised, riding her bike on 10 mile circuits, and ate a nearly vegetarian diet to mind her cholesterol. She didn’t smoke or drink or take illegal drugs. Yet she suffered a fairly significant stroke. At first she couldn’t talk or walk or even hold a spoon. It was a good sign when she recognized her husband. It took nearly 3 months of therapies – occupational, physical, speech. She worked hard and it paid off! She finally came home. She is hoping to go back to work before spring this year. To that end she is really pushing herself. She has a regimen of daily exercises and daily tasks that she has to complete. She is to the point that when she loads the dishwasher she says a prayer. Wiping off the kitchen table sends her into a praise frenzy. All the little things that I do without a thought are major accomplishments that are worthy of a prayer of thanksgiving. Talking to her on the phone I was struck by how happy she is to be alive.

Looking Winey

I’m going to have a little whine (or whinge as some from the UK would say). I need to get this off my chest even if it is truly a “first world” problem.

I’m all for a good description of a food product. I look for “aged Swiss cheese with a nutty flavor and a firm texture”. I want a cereal with “crunchy flakes, lightly sweetened with all-natural honey and plump raisins and oat clusters”. I expect that the description of the food will be accurate. Words like: crisp, sweet, tart, crunchy, high-fiber, creamy, smooth, etc., to describe and set the expectations, to entice me to purchase and consume.

Most foods try to present an accurate description. And then there are the hoity-toity items that veer off into the realms of double speak and comical descriptions. The worst offenders are the vintners. We were at the store and the discount rack had a bottle of wine for very cheap!

The description made me snort laugh because, well, who wants to drink a wine that has a flavor profile with “a hint of eucalyptus and leather“??? Anyway this is a prime example of the kind of ridiculous descriptions that wine aficionados seem to want. But what exactly does leather taste like? My first thought was that perhaps this wine was inspired by the Donner Party.  They did end up eating their saddles and reins before they resorted to cannibalism… Anyway this wine hints at many different flavors including “cinnamon and star anise” all layered with black plum and red cherry and of course the aroma of blackberries. Couldn’t you have said a “fruity red wine” with spices of cinnamon, anise, eucalyptus and leather? Anyway Sparky wanted to get it for the next time I make a pot roast (I use wine as a tenderizer and it makes the gravy delicious).  I voted no – I’m not so sure leather and eucalyptus would be an improvement for pot roast!!

Have you been reading food labels and spotted something funny? Do tell! I can’t be the only person in the world to get irritated and amused by the far out descriptions…