Posts Tagged With: Recreation


A Beast In the Night

I may be slightly guilty of complaining about my neighbors on Facebook. In most respects they are nice, normal people with young kids, relatives, friends, a dog and a trampoline. I wonder, though, if they celebrate more than the average family. And I also wonder, often, how to disable the bass speaker from their stereo system in a quiet, legal way.

This past weekend I found myself actually wishing for the simple annoyance of that bass thump thump thump vibrating through my bedroom wall at any hour of the day or night. What could possibly make me wish for such a thing?

Wilderness camping.

Yes, you heard me right.

Wilderness camping.


Aw… peace, quiet, beauty and serenity

When I think Wilderness I imagine large open meadows filled with wildflowers, pines intermingled with quaking aspens, blue skies, birds twittering, chipmunks chattering, and the smell of a campfire, with a soft breeze rustling the leaves. Maybe it would even include a brief afternoon downpour, which makes the air even fresher and more wilderness-like.


Our little outing included all that in glorious abundance. Exactly what a person seeks when they go out into the wild. At least, that is what THIS person seeks when going to a wilderness area. Don’t you?

Apparently other people, people I do not comprehend, think wilderness is for unmuffled engine noises and dust and the smell of gasoline and exhaust.


MAD MAX vehicles 2

The Beast’s Minions, no doubt.

Not long after setting up camp, in the WILDERNESS, we realized we were way too close to a dirt road that apparently compares to Times Square in mountain terms. Holy smokes! Every motorcycle, ATV, four-wheeler, jeep, and zoomy loud obnoxious vehicle ever invented drove up and down that road.


We took comfort in the thought, the absolute certainty really, that once the sun set the traffic would abate.

But alas, we found that assumption to be completely and totally incorrect. In fact, some of the wheeled monstrosities seemed to amp up the volume after dark.

Somewhere around 10:30 p.m. someone unleashed some Mad Max movie vehicle from the depths of Hades. I told MSH, “I think the apocalypse is happening. Isn’t that what the end of the world sounds like?”

mad max 4

This “War Rig” is actually from the movie Mad Max, but could easily be what I heard and felt.

I pictured amplifiers attached to where a muffler would be, flames shooting out the top and back, and a doomsday soundtrack that normally plays in a sci-fi movie when an entire planet is about to be destroyed. The driver most certainly looked like one-eyed Dennis Hopper from Water World. And I’m certain the beast was a half-track, or some tank or a war machine. This thing made our tent rattle and vibrate and I swear the ground shook. The fact that lightning and thunder were intermittently happening only added to the creep factor. Unlike the other vehicles that blasted through after dark, this one could be heard two to three miles away, coming and going.


Unnerving. Definitely not sleep inducing.

So MSH and I decided to read a bit and talk over what we were reading. A few more, by comparison, fairly quiet ATVs blasted through, surprisingly. Near midnight we turned out the lights and assumed we’d sleep through the night.

No flames shooting, since it’s daytime, but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

mad max 7

No flames shooting in the daylight,  but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

Until 1:45 a.m. when The Beast Built From War Machines of Horror Movies returned, driving slower and if possible, louder. The mountains echoed with the roar of this monstrosity, I swear house sized boulders voluntarily rolled down mountains and trees fell of their own accord at the sound of this thing.


What little bit of sleep I did manage was nudged awake by birds and chipmunks at the first hint of dawn.

scary vehicles 1

A cousin of The Beast, no doubt. Not so scary in the daylight.

The ATVs didn’t wake up until five hours later, a very welcome respite.


If wilderness is so loud and ridiculous, how do I escape the noise and chaos of mankind and their machines? I guess I need to try backpacking miles and miles away from any roads. Or try setting up camp next to a very loud river. Or both.

I suppose I’d better get my backpacking body back in shape.

mad max 3In the meantime, I guess I could be more tolerant of my neighbor’s late night stereo blasting. At least it’s not some vehicle from Mad Max showing up at my doorstep, right?

Have you ever noticed that so much about life and the troubles we go through is all about perspective?




Disclaimer #1: When I was a young’un, dad and his pals and their families, all headed up into the mountains from time to time specifically to ride motorcycles all over the place. We were oblivious to the thought that maybe our noise and dust weren’t as delightful to others as they were to us. But once it was getting dark, those machines got parked for the night. No one would mistake our little engines for some beast from the underworld, that’s for dang sure.

Disclaimer #2: More logical people than I have suggested having a chat with the neighbors about turning down the music a bit after midnight. But, I’ve found it’s more fun to whine on Facebook about it than to resolve the situation.







Categories: Humor, Nature, Outdoors, Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Think It’s Time for Some Recess, Don’t You?

It's spring break in our school district here, so the playground's quiet.

It’s spring break in our school district here, so the playground’s quiet.

“Whoever enrolled me in the school of life…

didn’t schedule enough recess.” ~ Peppermint Pattie 

Do you ever get to feeling like Peppermint Pattie? Are you all slumped down in your desk? Can you hear the responsible grown-up people doing their “wha, wha, wha, wha, wha,” droning? Do you find yourself staring blankly off into the distance with not a single thought in your head?

Pretty sure I couldn't make it across these monkey bars even if my life depended on it.

Pretty sure I couldn’t make it across these monkey bars even if my life depended on it.

Yeah. Me too.

I’m pretty sure I need more recess scheduled in. Life’s school has knocked me on my butt big-time this past month or three and I’m tired of the learning curve. I’m afraid the road’s still aimed uphill though.

I think about what kids do at recess and wonder how I can get the same benefits without hanging upside down on the monkey bars. I’m pretty sure I’d probably pass out when the blood rushed to my head.

Boy, do I remember some amazing times spent on various playgrounds. Perks galore happen at recess:

  1. fresh air
  2. screaming time
  3. time to chat with friends
  4. letting boys know you like them without letting them know you like them
  5. figuring out if the boys like you without directly asking
  6. dodging skills
  7. throwing skills
  8. hiding skills
  9. how to stay warm in a dress when it’s fifteen degrees
  10. bathroom break
  11. getting a drink or two
  12. tether ball mastery
  13. figuring out when to tattle and when not to tattle
  14. being glad to get to sit down in the desk again
  15. figuring out the whole being part of a group/or not thing
  16. making plans for later

Admittedly, since I’m married, there’s a couple of those I don’t have to worry about. And since I live in Phoenix the question really isn’t about staying warm as much as it is how to stay cool in the summer while wearing clothing.

Who doesn't love a slippery slide?

Who doesn’t love a slippery slide?

The other thirteen items seem important for navigating life’s school as a grownup. So if I take time to chillax, veg, cool it, take a load off, rest and relax, recreate and even play, in other words, have recess time,  I’d probably get some of the same benefits as those kids screaming out on the school playground. At least, logically, you’d think so.

I’ve been known to scream, but not lately. Mostly my screaming comes out in the form of crying at random unexpected times. Maybe I should try scream therapy? Or maybe not. Of course, by attending a sporting event I’d have a good excuse to scream without making anyone feel bad. That is, if I don’t scream mean things at the ref or the coach. Which I don’t. Usually.


What do I really do that’s like recess?  Hmmm.

  • I recently started back at the gym a couple of times a week, playing Pickleball. That’s very recess-ish. I come away hot, sweaty, tired, laughing and energized. Great way to start a day.
  • Walks, I keep meaning to add those back in to my mornings. Mostly, my walks are spur of the moment with MSH rather late in the evening. Recess-ish? Sure! Chalk it up to the boys/girls relationship thing.
  • I belong to a book club. We chat, we mingle, we nosh. Feels very recessy.
  • My writer’s group has undertones of recess because I LOVE writing, it’s actually fun, enjoyable, relaxing and energy producing. I’m pursuing a long-delayed passion when I write and this amazing group of women encourage me in that pursuit. Definitely recess.
  • Reading. For fun. No assignment involved. Feels like a vacation, an escape, a decadent pleasure in its physical nothingness. A nice contrast to the constant motion of the rest of my day. YES, another recess moment.
  • Sitting on my front porch swing and watching the world go by. My ultimate recess pastime lately. R&R at its best. Does watching others play at the park count as recess? Does relaxing and swinging forward and back letting my mind wander count? I think so.

    photo 4-2 copy 2

    Picked up this bumper sticker at the Phoenix Marathon. Thanks to for their brilliant product.

  • Time on Facebook, playing online Scrabble and online Scramble all give me brief moments, okay, sometimes more than moments, of respite from the everyday non-stop to-do list of life. I laugh at a bizarre conversational thread, see what my sibs and friends have been up to, catch a quick cat or dog video, score a pathetic twenty-two points to my cousin’s fifty-six word score, spend two minutes finding words among a square of sixteen letters. A nice mental break. A score for the recess bracket.
  • One forty-five minute segment of a TV series a day. That feels decadent. That feels like sneaking out of class early and spending extra time on the playground when I shouldn’t. Why? I don’t know. Something about staring at the screen mindlessly letting stuff filter in? I shouldn’t feel that way. There’s just SO MUCH to do besides sit there. And I rarely feel satisfied, relaxed or energized by that particular pastime.
There's something oddly relaxing about the squeak -squawk of a swing going back and forth...

There’s something oddly relaxing about the squeak -squawk of a swing going back and forth…

Other things I could do that would rest and relax my mind and heart, but that I haven’t done lately: Listen to music. Dance in the kitchen. Garden. Bake. Nap. Camp. Hike. Bike. Eat dinner outside. Try something new. Plan a real vacation.

What am I doing still sitting here? I’m pretty sure I just heard the recess bell.

What do you do for R&R?

**Check out for more awesome bumper stickers related to running and other sports**

Categories: Fun, Happiness, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Friendly Game Goes South

Are you one of those people who believe that you should let little kids win at board games and matching games? Or do you come from the school of thought that advocates winning at all costs, little kids feelings and sense of fairness and fun be hanged?

I tend to err on the side of kindness which isn’t necessarily good for anyone involved in the long run.

I had a child that insisted on winning at the game “Husker Du?” as a toddler.  At a very young age she showed stellar skill at this fun matching game. She possessed such outstanding skills, in fact, that we began to work at winning against her. She did not take kindly to our gamesmanship. In no uncertain terms she let it be known that she was not going to stand for losing at this game.

It got ugly. The word tantrum took on new meaning when she lost. We almost seriously considered exorcism a time or two because the tantrums escalated so badly (not really, I’m joking, calm down.) But ugly described the scene that ensued time after time. It became easier to just let her win. It wasn’t much fun for anyone. Not even her. To add to the challenge she didn’t want to know we were letting her win, it had to appear that we had really tried to win, but the outcome must result in her winning.

Stupid, yes!  We got tired of that game rather quickly. And it mysteriously disappeared one day, never to return.

Fast forward about twelve years.

We had graduated to more challenging games such as Scrabble. Like Crocodile Dundee I would scoff when  someone would suggest most board games, then pull out my Scrabble set and say in my best Australian accent, “Now there’s a game!”


Scrabble (Photo credit: williamhartz)

Scrabble requires a tad bit of patience as each player needs to mull over various possible word plays. Of course, some people choose to put a time limit on a turn, but that’s a game of a different flavor. The patience factor lends itself to Scrabble as an internet game. Take your turn one day, wait for your opponents to take their turn over a few days, get on with your life, make your next play when you get around to it.

But playing the game live and in person requires more patience than your average, ordinary board game. If one of the opponents in the game seems deficient in the patience area you might want to consider tweaking the rules for time usage. Just a suggestion. A strong suggestion.

I am a person of extreme patience, usually. But twelve years ago “Israel” and “Palestine” (also known as daughter 2 and daughter 3) had inhabited my house for several years at that point. Occasionally a cease-fire would settle in but peace hung like a cadaver blowing in the breeze and threatened to disintegrate at the slightest provocation.

One day, during a deceptive lull in the lobbing of grenades and anti-aircraft fire and scud missiles in our home, the three of us decided to play a nice game of Scrabble. I know what you’re thinking at this point, and you’d be wrong. Trust me. Keep reading.

The game proceeded along as games do, with high interest in the proceedings initially, then boredom itching to join in the game, followed by snarky comments, occasionally drifting back into interest if a high score got played or the leader dropped behind. Halfway into the game things got a bit heated. The Tilby MIddle Western War threatened to kick into high gear. The peace treaty hung by a thread. Snark became argument, a well-played score became fodder for offensive posturing, two of the three parties bickered and argued ad infinitum.

Then it happened.

The long-suffering and patient camel hauling straw through the desert finally had the last straw laid down on her back.

I erupted in total and complete insanity.

“ENOUGH!!!” I yelled, slamming my hands on the table. “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!” The Scrabble tiles jumped and shifted on the board at the onslaught. In one fell swoop of my angry arm I cleared the defenseless Scrabble board. Tiles flew across the table and scattered like so much shrapnel across the kitchen floor.

Both daughters stared at me, shell-shocked and nearly silent.

“WE!”  I yelled picking up the empty Scrabble board. “ARE!” I yelled louder, if that was even possible. “DONE!” I yelled finally as I ripped the Scrabble board in half down the center fold. Then I tried ripping the pieces in half some more, but the dumb cardboard resisted my efforts. I bashed them over my knee to bend them in half.

hadesI’m pretty sure some uncensored and inappropriate words for children escaped my snarled and probably foaming mouth as I stomped to the garbage can and hurled the offending destroyed Scrabble board into the garbage. I then gathered several handfuls of nearby Scrabble tiles and stuffed them inside the garbage can with the dead game board.

Nervous laughter was erupting from the table at this point, which of course only served as fuel for the flaming torch my head had become à la Hades from Hercules.

I grabbed the already falling apart box from the table and tore it in half, stuffing it thoroughly and decisively into the garbage. Then the four wooden tile trays suffered the disgrace of death by garbage can.

Without another word I stomped off to my bedroom and slammed the door as loudly as possible.

After this little fiasco “Israel” and “Palestine” maintained a cease-fire for an unusually extended period. The disgraced and embarrassed camel with the broken back has never lived down the events of that fateful day.

Several years later, and by several I mean at least three, a new deluxe version of Scrabble appeared under the Christmas tree, to me, from, you guessed it, my two warring countries, daughters 1 and 2.

I’m happy to report that the Tilby war ended a couple of years ago, meaning both daughters moved out and found lives separate and apart from one another. With age and experience they’ve become friends of sorts and get along well enough.

Their mother, well, she’s another story. Sure she seems calm and serene most of the time, but there’s always a bit of a simmer under that facade. The secret, she’s found is to let lift the lid occasionally and let the pressure dissipate. Hopefully, with age and wisdom, the temper tantrum throwing mother will never, ever erupt again.

But I wouldn’t count on it.

Categories: Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What a Bunch of Nonsense!

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for silliness and nonsense. Yes, you read that correctly.  From seated bleacher “dancing” at the local High School football game, (that band rocks it!) to one liners and zingers on Facebook, from tickling to hot pink sparkly toenails on a woman over a certain age, from nonsensical YouTube video featuring llamas or dancing cats to old cartoons and sitcoms from the dark ages. Whatever the reason for a short break from life’s daily serious menu, I willingly embrace it.

minionsI’m lucky to know friends who’ll scream and giggle like teenagers in spite of being several decades older than the giggly screamer age. Fortunately I also know some quick-witted people who can go toe to toe with me with jokes and nonsense and movie quotes. Happily when our family gets together laughs and guffaws outweigh tension and discord fifty to one.

Life’s full of serious business, contemplative moments, heartache and worry.  I used to scare away potential friends with the weight of the world sitting solidly on my shoulder for all to see.  Laughter didn’t fit in with my earnest desires to make the most of my time on the planet. And then, someone taught me by example years ago that silliness didn’t take anything away from life’s solemnity. In fact, I saw and began to experience the load lightening magic of nonsense, laughter and silliness.

photo-19 copy 9Like downing a huge glass of ice water in the middle of a hot and sweaty task, silliness refreshes and refills and rejuvenates.

Too much of any good thing will cause more harm than good. All silliness and nonsense makes life a shallow pointless effort. Finding a good ratio between “LOL” (laughing out loud) and putting one’s “shoulder to the wheel” might make all the difference in my success at the hard work side of life.

If you happen to see a woman in a little truck doing some car dancing or belting out a tune like she’s some rockstar, it might just be me, taking a silliness break before heading back to my rock and my hard place.

Turn off your serious button and laugh a little. It’ll do you good. Click on these short links.

What is this Car Dancing she talks about?

Who said Cat’s can’t dance?

Okay, maybe llama’s are funny.

Categories: Fun, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Hills Are Alive

It’s Gratituesday! I’m thankful for sweet surprises out in the natural world this past week.

Two mornings in a row I encountered an elk herd grazing near my campsite. Majestic, serene, bigger than life, these animals seem unruffled by humans and all their noise. They tolerate our presence. They look on in what I imagine is amusement at all our accoutrements and fluff and necessary survival gear. Meanwhile they wander the forest finding what they need, surrounded by family.

The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) ...

Myriad numbers of squirrels crossed my path. Big fat ones, the size of cats! I’m afraid they might be getting too many munchies from the human side of the food chain, i.e., green apple flavored hard candy, (lick, lick, lick, lick, lick…) tootsie rolls, “cheese” covered corn chips, hot dogs, marshmallows, chocolate, taffy. Can you just picture their little food storage dens loaded with acorns, random candy and assorted junk food? They probably get through the winter on their body fat alone. Cute little critters though. I credit them with keeping the forest clean, the little foragers seem to love it all.

I also witnessed a variety of lizards, large and small, striped and plain, tailed and tail-less.

Butterflies visited a damp spot nearby every morning. I’m not talking your average run-of-the-mill monarch, although they are stunning. No, there were nickel-sized periwinkle blue fluttering songlets, yes, songlets. Their wings beat in a rhythm I couldn’t match and they flitted about like notes on a page, tones on a scale. Breathtaking. And the yellow butterflies were flower-petaled in their grace and color, elegant fliers with direction and purpose and no hurry to them at all. One morning a wasp or hornet of a variety I’d never seen before stopped by the butterfly watering spot. The stinger on that yellow and black sleek body was three inches long or more. Maybe it wasn’t a stinger, maybe it was a feeler, an antennae. I didn’t stick around to find out. Looked fierce enough to give it a wide path.

Pointleaf Manzanita blooming in the Mazatzal W...

Did I mention the wildflowers? I need to learn their names. A snapdragon-like cluster of three-foot stems with pale blue curling petals lined our hiking path several times. And always there were ground-hugging miniature purple throw rugs of flowers. Bright yellow mini-daisies jumped out in surprising places. Even the Manzanita trees had blossoms on them, highlighting the deep brownish red of their bark. Fresh needles, soft to the touch and new-green, tipped the branches of every pine tree. There’s no air-freshener in the world that matches that scent!

Luckily nature didn’t provide too many snakes, bugs, spiders or stinging or poisonous plants. I got lucky that way. Sure there were a couple of blisters, a cold night or two, some scorching days, but all the beauties that nature provides makes time out in the mountains a cornucopia of things to be thankful for.

If it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the joys of the mountains, maybe you can enjoy Julie Andrews singing about that particular joy. If you listen closely at the beginning you can hear birds in the background. Nice touch.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Forget Sweet Sixteen, It’s All About H.O.R.S.E.

Bouncing the basketball across the driveway to my son, I imitate a teen boy swagger and say, “You didn’t think I could do that one, did you?”

basketball hoop 1Standing where he caught the ball, he bounces it once, twice, tilts his head back, then lobs the ball with finesse into a full arching trajectory into the waiting hoop.

I am doomed.

I step into the spot he just shot from, bounce once, bounce twice, tilt my head back, let the ball fly and watch as it ricochets off the rim and lands in a nearby bush.

“S!” my sons exults.

“You’re still ‘H’,” I counter, as if his one missed shot were a significant point difference.

He usually won most of our games of H.O.R.S.E.  At least I had a modicum of a chance to win, where at a regular game of one-on-one, he’d always win. He was lighter, faster, more experienced and he had the added pressure of shame if you lost to your Mom.

When it comes to shooting hoops, I have no idea how my son felt about it. Young enough to not be too embarrassed about hanging out with his Mom, we had some good times. If he had other guys to play against, I was, of course, not particularly needed or welcomed. But given a boring afternoon or early evening, I was as good an opponent as any. I enjoyed the exercise. And it brought back some fun memories.

As a girl, how many times I had looked on as a giggling gaggle of girls watched a posturing bunch of boys playing a game of shirts and skins. I didn’t care for the gaggle. I always wanted to actually play.

Back then, I spent time practicing shots on my own when a basket and a ball were available, so that when the chance came around, I could pull my weight. Or at least, I’d have decent enough skills to make the basic shots in a game of H.O.R.S.E.

A great equalizer, the game of H.O.R.S.E. pits young against old, short against tall, talented against beginner. The rules can be tweaked to accommodate more than two players, make concessions for weaker players, give everyone a chance to enjoy and feel like there’s a chance, however slim, of winning. Or consummate players with incredible shots in their repertoire can wow onlookers and hone skills.

Basketball (Ball)

The ball lends itself to contemplation, the tiny round dots on the surface of the ball mesmerize and calm. The feel of the rubber, smooth and sticky, firm and pliable, relaxes your hands. The reverberating echo of the ball as it hits the concrete, bounces back into your hands, over and over and over, in a hypnotic lull.  Then there’s the smell of dust on the ball mingled with a sheen on faces and the slight tang of sweat.

basket ball hoop 2There’s something about the kind of conversation that goes on during a game of H.O.R.S.E.. Talk simply evolves. Words slip out more easily. Chatting happens about things that would never get discussed around the dinner table.

The hoop, netted or not, calls out, taunts, whispers. Again, again, again, just one more time, and one more. One more shot, one more game, one more bounce.

If you’ve never played a game of H.O.R.S.E. you can find the rules here. If it’s been a while since you’ve picked up a basketball maybe it’s time. Maybe running your fingers across the texture of the ball, letting it bounce beside your feet, tossing it between one hand and the other, sending it flying toward ‘nothing but net,’ is just what your soul needs today.

I can feel a game coming on. Anyone up for a game of H.O.R.S.E?

Needing to ramp up your Basketball Lingo? Here’s a great spot for a refresher.

Common basketball terms

I need to sound really cool, like I know the game in my sleep!

I’m not familiar with this game you’re talking about

Categories: Exercise, Outdoors, Sports | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Ups and Downs of a Mouse’s Life

Some days and weeks are like a roller coaster ride.


Somehow, I’ve never quite learned how to deal with the sudden shifts in mood, perspective and direction that life can throw my way. My instinct is to crawl under the bed covers and sleep, let my unconscious mind create a workaround solution to the juxtaposition of happy and sad, or joyous and melancholy.


Reality almost always dictates that I stay out of bed, fully dressed, interacting with the real world. I simply have to put on my game face and keep moving in the various directions the tracks take me.


Road Runner Express wild mouse roller coaster ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember a carnival ride growing up called the Wild Mouse, or something like that. Scarier than the full-sized roller coaster, each car held only two people tightly scrunched and belted down into tiny seats. At first the contraption moved the pair of riders slowly, haltingly upward, climbing higher and higher, providing a great view of the theme park and everything around for miles. Then suddenly the ride would shoot forward toward the outside edge of the track with a near certainty that it wouldn’t make the sharp ninety degree turn ahead.


Sure of my imminent launching out into the open air and down to the asphalt below I would close my eyes and try to hold the lurching terror of my stomach down. Somehow, miraculously, we’d make the turn without being thrown from the mouse shaped car only to careen up or down or out or around in a crazy mouse maze of speed and height.


Give me a roller coaster any day of the week.


I read a book a few years ago called “Who Moved My Cheese.” It’s about resilience and the ability to adapt and go with the flow. At least that’s the message I took away from it. My friend Kathy pointed out to me the other day that I’ve become skilled at moving with my cheese. In my personal mouse maze of life I’ve somehow managed to not get too lost or jaded or discouraged for too long.


Once in a while, in the middle of some incredible happiness and some of life’s best moments, life throws out rotten tomatoes. Wrapped up in the revelry of good stuff, I’m always caught off guard by those not-so-happy zingers.


What to do, what to do?


Put on my game face. Steel myself. Hold on for dear life.


And enjoy the moments that I can.

Even when things are tough, life is still filled with wonderful things. If I can remember that, then I am blessed beyond counting.


Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ll Take Silly Quizzes for Eight Hundred, Alex

Please answer the following QUIZ truthfully.

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate chip smiley face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When someone cuts me off in traffic I usually:

A.) Yell obscenities at them and then blaspheme their children

B.) Follow them too closely and try to cut them off as well

C.) Figure I deserve it because I’m such a bad driver

D.) Hope they make it to a bathroom stall before it’s too late

If an associate or friend says something rude to me I will most always:

A.) Come back with a quick, witty, mean-spirited retort

B.) Mutter under my breath, but keep smiling, while planning revenge

C.) Try to think of ways I can change so they will like me better

D.) Wonder if they’re seeing a therapist for anger management

A friend fails to answer my text or phone message or email after repeated attempts, I will:

A.) Delete them from my contact list and refuse to respond if they try to contact me

B.) Remember all the times they’ve ignored or slighted me in the past, then simmer and fume

C.) Figure I’ve done something to offend them and think of ways to make it up to them

D.) Wonder how soon they’ll have their technology up and running again

A blogger posts a silly quiz on the internet  with results I don’t agree with, I proceed to:

A.) Post a comment that lets them know what genus and species I think they belong in

B.) Create my own silly quiz that makes fun of their silly quiz

C.) Take the results to heart and begin a regime of self-improvement

D.) Keep following their blog, assuming they were having a writer’s block sort of day

Now add up how many questions you answered A, B, C, or D

If you answered mostly A.)

I hope we never meet in a dark alley, or a lighted one for that matter. Why do you want to jump to the worst conclusion about people? I know traffic isn’t a fun place to find yourself day in and day out. I’ve spent more time than I’m willing to admit stuck behind silliness, squeezed into two lanes from four, and mystified by the rudeness and poor vision of others. I’ve also worked with my share of dweebs and space cadets. It could be very, very helpful to you if  you decide that others’ lack of skill and finesse isn’t going to determine how your day goes. In other words, RELAX a little bit. Loosen your grip on that steering wheel, pop in some chill tunes, think happy thoughts and go with the flow.  You’ll get where you’re going eventually. And if you don’t, you’ll at least not be quite so irritable or isolated.

If you answered mostly B.)

You might want to consider adding some sugar to  your diet and an extra hour to your sleep. Seriously?!? Do you even like your life? If it’s all about revenge and retorts and one-upping the other guy how fun can things be? I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no one keeping score anywhere! Surprised? No matter how many people you put down, criticize, back stab or plot against, your life isn’t going to be better because of it.  In fact, it’s possible you’ll have a really lonely and horrific life, one in which people avoid you and don’t invite you along for the ride. You need to watch more 40’s and 50’s musicals and some Jerry Lewis movies. Laugh a little more. Curse a little less. Try on a smile.

If you answered mostly C.)

Lighten up on yourself and read more limericks, jokes and humorous blogs. You take life way too seriously.  Really. I know it is a serious business and there are important things to deal with. Other people’s opinions about you ARE NOT one of those important things. Even if you are a politician, which I hope you aren’t, other people’s opinions of your aren’t real, or important. Be nicer to yourself. You’re a great person with all kinds of wonderful going on. You ought to admit it. Look in the mirror every day and say in your most sultry voice, “Hi there, beautiful!” If nothing else it’ll make you smile or laugh.  And heaven knows we could all use more laughter in our lives.

If you answered mostly D.)

Fill out the application for sainthood and prepare to be translated into a higher form of life. Really, you need to be writing this blog for me. It’s a wondrous thing to assume the best, rather than the opposite. Optimism and cheerfulness are in short supply. It’s nice that you’re setting the example for the rest of us curmudgeons. Hopefully some of your good will can rub off, or radiate or jump start some of us into a better place. Thanks for sharing your bits of sunshine.

If your answers were even between A, B, C, D you might want to schedule an appointment really soon with a massage therapist, a travel agent, your banker or your broker and a lawyer. I’m not sure what it means and am not in the least qualified to give you any advice at all.

However, I could give you my standard answer for most problems that arise. It’s worked on more occasions than I can count.

Eat something healthy and delicious.

Drink an extra glass or two of water.

Take a nice long nap, and then go to bed early tonight.

Eat some good chocolate (very crucial).

Last of all you need to know that everything is going to be all right.

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Magic of a Dusty Country Road

Dirt road

Dirt road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bouncing in the passenger seat of the dual wheel truck, dust billowing behind us, I rest my arm out the window, letting the leaves and bushes tickle my hand as we drive past.  If we were driving faster it would hurt to do this, but the ruts and rocks of this particular stretch of dirt road keep our speed at a minimum.  The truck eases right into the bushes and we slow even more as we make room for a jeep coming down the road toward us.  As that cloud of dust draws closer my father raises his left hand and waves at the jeep. A man with a cowboy hat lifts his hand in response as the two vehicles ease past each other.

“Who was that?” I ask.

“Don’t know,” replies my dad.

“But you waved at them,” I venture.

“Yup,” he says.

“So if you don’t know that man, why did you wave to him?” I push.

“Cuz, that’s what you do out in the country.” He punctuates the sentence in a way I know means that’s the end of this conversation. Not abrupt, not angry, just “that’s all there is to say about that,” communicated in an inflection, a tone or a breath.

A few minutes later, a truck lumbers past us, he waves, they wave, and I ask. “Who was that?”

“Don’t know,” he responds.


“Yup, that’s what we do out here,” he says with a relaxed twang to his voice.

The fifteen mile road we bump along that day provided several more similar scenes.  As we emerged on the asphalt and headed toward home I dangled my hand out the window to ride the slipstream of air that blew past. I felt the temperature rise as we s-curved our way down the mountain pass.  I sighed as the scent in the air changed from pine to scrub oak, and from scrub oak to suburb.

We drove past many cars once we reached the main roads of our town and never did my dad raise a hand in a hello. I didn’t ask. When we reached our neighborhood, he wave once, twice. Then we pulled into the driveway and I hopped out of the truck.

Country roads were a staple in my life, for a variety of reasons, camping, canoeing, checking on the beehives my dad had stashed in various places, breakfast picnics, a day at the reservoir, or simply to go for a drive. Often my siblings came along, sometimes the whole family, occasionally just me.  Always the same ritual of waving to strangers happened. Sometimes he even talked to strangers. “Anything biting?” he might ask a man with a fishing pole. Or “Howdy!” he might say to a couple of kids walking in the dusty dunes of tire tracks.

The Pacific Northwest Trail

The Pacific Northwest Trail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All those roads taught me a kind of etiquette that isn’t in books. Out in the country, on back roads, on hiking trails, lakeside, or mid-river, there is an unspoken understanding. There is a camaraderie in solitary places, in nature, that temporarily suspends the walls we erect in ordinary places. There is permission granted in green open spaces that lets us, encourages us even, to be friendly, to be kind, to be more than ourselves.

To pass someone on a hiking trail and not say “hello” or “good morning” is unthinkable for me.   Brief eye contact seems like a given as well. At the very least, a nod of the head or a smile is a must. Conversation is optional, but allowed.

Similar behavior at a shopping mall, in the grocery store, walking down the sidewalk, gets you weird looks and feels completely off the mark.

I haven’t analyzed this too much. Just noticed it. Seems there are many unspoken rules that are difficult to explain, but make sense just the same.

One thing is clear to me. I need to travel fewer paved roads, and I need more dust clouds in my rearview mirror.

I’m drawn to the outdoors by the beauty and serenity of it all. There is energy and peace found in nature that nothing else can match. I wonder if maybe part of the attraction is also the relaxing of barriers, the lowering of the defenses, the slightly more open connection with other human beings.

Categories: Family, Memory Lane, Outdoors, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Why Is The Duck Lonely?

I had an English teacher in High School, Mr. Beck, bless his ever patient soul, who used to tell us “You’ve got the emphasis on the wrong syllable.”  But he’d pronounce emphasis and syllable with the stress on the middle syllable.  Like so: Em-PHA-sis and sy-LA-ble. Repeat after me, “You’ve got the em-PHA-sis on the wrong sy-LLA-ble.”

I loved how this sentence taught the concept by internal example.  Very clever and memorable.  Can you remember anything at all that YOUR high school English teacher said to you a few decades ago?

Mr. Beck had a few other choice things to share on occasion that I still remember, but I won’t ever repeat them here.  He had a very wry sense of humor.  Last I’d heard he had quit teaching and gone into the corporate world.  What a loss, he was a great teacher.

But I digress.

I mention Mr. Beck’s infamous saying as a preface to a road trip experience I had a few years back.

Two of my daughters were with me at the end of a couple of weeks visiting relatives, attending family reunions, dodging summer construction zones, singing inane songs about the traffic cones and traffic in general.  Seems that particular trip had involved more travel than most.  We were pretty traveled out on our return trip home.

Part of that return trip involved the winding roads south of Hoover Dam.  I think we had hit the twilight zone of road tripping.  Meaning we were bored beyond reason, making up songs that made no sense, and telling jokes with no punch lines and still laughing ourselves silly.

Food was often the answer to boredom in the car, so one of the girls broke out some of the snacks.  One package followed the cereal box mantra of trying to entertain and educate.

It suggested reading a particular sentence out loud with the emphasis on a different word each time you read the sentence.

The sentence was: Why is the duck lonely?

English: Rubber duck, Kimmeridge Bay This larg...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay. Boredom won out, we’d give it a try, out loud.

WHY is the duck lonely? – Kind of makes you wonder what’s been going on in its life.

Why IS the duck lonely? – A sort of questioning if the duck is lonely at all, or maybe doubt about the duck’s loneliness.

Why is THE duck lonely? – This particular duck’s loneliness is in question.

Why is the DUCK lonely? – Is the fish lonely too, or just the duck.  Makes you wonder about the rest of the story.

Why is the duck LONELY? – Is there a different emotion the duck could be feeling? Sad?  Melancholy? Why lonely?

Five words and a question mark.  Five different meanings.  Strange and fascinating. And we all thought communication was such a straightforward and direct thing.  Who knew that where the emphasis falls could make such an impact.

This little sentence is often a kind of mantra for me.  If I’m not understanding a situation, particularly a relationship issue, I try to rearrange the emphasis of a sentence, a thought or an emotion.  Sometimes it shines a different color or brightness of light on things that I hadn’t thought of before.  Sometimes I am just as confused, or more so, than before.

If nothing else, it’s a fun exercise to try if you’re stuck driving an endlessly long stretch of highway.

Categories: Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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