Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Me and the Blank Page

Oh, hum. A lament about what to write about.... Another one?
For some reason this is not a problem I have struggled with. Truth be told, (passive voice, I know. Phooey—rules!) I don't run out of things to say or stories to tell. This is not my problem.

 But who is listening?

So I sit (or walk, or vacuum) and think about you, the imaginary reader. What were you doing just before you bumped into my blog? What would add value to your mini-break from the things you must attend to, your own work, (official and unofficial) that which you care about and will get back to as soon as you click this page away?

And then, suddenly, the endless chatter inside me is silenced. The page goes blank.

I have no idea.

This is when I remind myself that Steven Spielberg said he makes the movies he’d like to see, and Stephen King said he writes the books he’d like to read. No matter that they're both Steves, sort of. They're also right.
And I get back to my internal clatter. Now I managed to write yet another post, and it entertained me.

And all’s well with the world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It’s a Jungle Out There

Remember the frantic repetition from MGM’s The Wizard of Oz— “Lions and tigers and bears, OH, MY!”—?

It’s beginning to resemble my back yard.

In addition to deer, (& their babies) and raccoons, (and their babies) and opossums, and squirrels, and small snakes, and crows, and swallows, we now have…

And we live in the city.

The Mama doe chased my cats away from her babies, who were larger than my cats. The foxes, on the other hand, played (yes!) with my cats. They rolled on their backs on the ground, teasing as dogs do when they frolic about, and then played chase. But I imagine that if any of my cats were to approach the den where this pair of foxes has their babies, the parents would get ferocious and forget about play chasing. They'd likely cause real damage.

What a jungle!

On our part, we watch from the distance our small yard allows, no more than twenty feet, and try to photograph our guests with a zoom lens. 
We assume their habitat must have been nearby, and somehow got disturbed. Because until this spring none of these wild animals ventured into our small back yard so close to people. It is definitely unusual for foxes to come out for hours in the middle of the day, and let us get this close.

I do worry about my cats. I make sure they have a way to come inside in a hurry. But still…

Of the whole menagerie of uninvited guests, it’s the foxes that captivate me. They are monogamous, and raise their kits together, male and female sharing equally in the care of their young. Call them perfect!
They typically have six to ten kits at one time. I haven’t looked for their den, so as to not disturb their family. But three young'uns have been spotted at one time, playing with tennis balls left behind. They push them with their noses to one another. I kid not. The next thing you know I'll be reporting their newly invented tournament. Stay tuned.

I remind myself they are wild, and must stay that way. We do not feed nor offer our guest room to them. I hope they leave soon and find a home where they can properly roam.

The other day one of the foxes stopped by my window, not even three feet away from me, and we looked at each other.
“No cookies for you,” I said. The fox cocked its head a bit and kept looking.
“Nah-ah,” I repeated. Fox lowered its tail, and a second later was gone. Had it not returned with its mate the next day, no one would have believed me.

I hope we all have a happily-ever-after picture book ending. Oh, my.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fail Better

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

A famous quotation. What in the blasted barnacles does failing better mean? This sounds profound, but is it?

Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird that most of her writing students come to her classes not to learn how to write but how to get published. She doesn’t teach how to get published, and barely teaches how to write. What she does do is share her experience of struggle, perseverance, and failure. She is an engaging and successful writer, so reading about her fails is inspiring.

She perfected the better and best failing.

The stories we follow and the tales we tell are not really about failures. They are about overcoming first failed attempts. The more dramatic and the higher the stakes, the better the fail, er, I mean the ultimate success.
We really have no narrative of failure. Not the real kind. Not in literature and certainly not in the popular culture. True better failures are banned in storytelling. Even our narrative of history is the story of the victors.

Our failures are the stories of ultimate success. “If at first you don’t… try again.” We live on hope.
I know of no alternative. I intend to do better, not fail better, thank you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The French sociological positivist Hippolyte Taine said it perfectly:

“I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”

I have nothing to add because adding, in this context, would amount to the idiocy of the philosophers. Thus, I’ll let the cats do some of the talking—
And finally, to prove the point—
Did you pet yours today?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


It’s a new lingo. ‘Splain it to me, Lucy~~~*

*Quoting from I Love Lucy really dates me.
Just the other day I asked a techie how the word "cookies" came to be the tracking inserted by websites, as opposed to the things we make and bake with flour and sugar and spice. Techie didn't know, but launched a long explanation that was full of yet more Computerese.

Language is a flexible thing, never set in stone. Volumes of interpretation followed even the Ten Commandments, the original of which were set in stone. It’s a moving thing. And that’s good, because so is life.

But things have been moving so fast, and faster, that the temptation to get off the bus and unplug is growing. I'm getting tired of feeling like an idiot instead of the wise old crone I imagine myself becoming someday.

Few things are more unattractive than trying to pretend to be hip and with-it when your bones are creaking and your mental screws are showing hints of rust. I prefer those who respect their age and time. But this means being left out of the conversation.

Or maybe we can have our own? Let the rapid-rollers feel left out, for once.
Ok, maybe looking back won't do it. Those days had their issues.

No solutions here, just a mini-rant followed by a sigh. Got to go and click some likes, and then link this post to a tweet.