Heading back to Rolling River – for the Trifecta Week Ninety-two challenge

Springtime brings high water before commercial rafting kicks into gear. This year was no exception.

‘The Alley’, which some people called ‘The Witches Cauldron’, was brewing.  Jilli called her ‘Alice.’

She was referring to the dump of a bowling alley in town that ran League Night, and more specifically to one of the little blue-haired ladies there who was a 7-time Senior Olympic bowling champion. Bet you can’t guess her name. Despite that alley’s warped floors  –  or maybe because of them – Alice Dunberry held her record as the Strike Queen for 10 years running. Despite her kyphosis, when she let loose of that ball, it tore through pins (that sometimes flew into other lanes).

Alice knew of Jilli’s nickname for the hydraulic. It tickled her to no end. In high water, it boiled and reversed, looking like something a surfer with a death wish would ride. If you made it past Alice, the rest of the run was spectacular. If you didn’t, everybody in your boat would end up like those bowling pins.

All our guides divided up and headed out to take on the challenge early that spring. Big Mike took his crew in first, yelling instructions to paddle forward, hard and fast. It looked like they were gonna’ make it ‘til one of his rookies turned ‘em broadside. Bodies went flying; carnage everywhere! Good thing Herschel was downriver to pick up the mess. Alice had gotten her first strike of the day.

Jilli turned and laughed, “Ahoy!” Then off she went with her crew. It looked like they were gonna’ make it by going straight through the damn thing. Instead, they went for a flip, with Jilli getting launched from stern over bow. She came up and waved – to my relief. Strike two.

“Anchors away!” I instructed, pushing off the boulder that had been housing us upriver. I sounded more confident than I felt. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, Alice was about to land herself a turkey!

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Trifecta challenged us this week to write 33-333 words (I ended at 333 – which happens to strangely be Today’s EXACT number of posts of my blog!) to include the 3rd definition of the word turkey, which happens to be what you see on the screen when you manage to make 3 strikes in a row in the bowling alley. (And on the few – as in, very rare – occasions I’ve managed to pull that off, you would’ve then see me strut around doing the moonwalk – in other words, looking like a turkey!)

I wanted to try a different context than the bowling alley, though obviously still being true to the definition as given. That’s when I decided that Cody and Jilli could help me pull this one off beautifully (or at least with great enthusiasm) – with their adventures at an early 80’s commercial outpost start-up in the East, Rolling River (a novel I’ve been working on).

I hope you enjoy my take on it as much as I’ve enjoyed revisiting my favorite pair of crazy whitewater river guides.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Blues & Yellows

I’ve got the blues – and the yellows – today (for Cee).

Come join us and spread your own set of blues (& yellows)!

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Please excuse that a couple of these gallery photos were taken with my phone camera, when it’s all I had around (or left with a battery) to record the fun of the moment. 🙂

Lessons at the Dinner Table Challenge: PERCEPTION

Welcome to the first week of the Lesson at the Dinner Table Challenge.

It all began on November 11, 2012 with a post entitled,

  Lessons at the Dinner Table: Perception (link here or on the photo)

which described some reflections I had while breaking bread at an Italian restaurant with my teenage son.

For purposes I’ll define as “fairness in editing,” I asked him to read it prior to my final live submission (since it was, after all, about him). Not only did I get his blessing to Publish, but he liked the idea behind my title so well, he wanted to make it a Series. A couple of more minutes of brainstorming caused us to determine that it needed to become a Blogging Community Series, if others were interested in becoming involved.

So here are the details of how to submit your own Dinner Table Lesson, as inspired by that first historic post.

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My son read the first (and at the time, I thought the only) “Lessons at the Dinner Table” post moments before I submitted it. He liked it so well, he had the following suggestions for me:

First, he thought I should give it a Category of its own, entitled after the post itself – “Lessons at the Dinner Table” – because he thought there were a lot of good lessons that came (or should come) from encouraging family interaction and conversation (despite what the evil teen hormonal voices sometimes try to say).

Secondly, we agreed that others should have the opportunity to contribute by linking up since you, too, probably have some great words of wisdom that have cropped up when breaking bread with others at one time or another. (Breaking bread is always a communal event, after all – or it should be.)

In the blogging community, it seems that Theme Challenges serve as the best approach to get this kind of community participation.
So I’m honoring my son’s creative idea by putting out a Tuesday challenge every other week entitled: “Lessons at the Dinner Table: Theme Title“. (I decided to begin every other week, rather than weekly, as I know I can’t force these things unnaturally; nor can you).

If you’d like to contribute, first blog about it with a “Lesson at the Dinner Table” title. Feel free to make it a true or creative story and we’d love to see a photo to go with it (though it’s not required – OR maybe photographers can just include a photo to represent the theme). I feel certain that you already get that this is a family-oriented theme, so enough said about that. 🙂  (For further clarification, this blog’s intent is to celebrate the gift of our triumphant human spirits – whether by humor, inspiration or insight.)

In honor of the first-ever post, let’s keep the theme for this first week:

PERCEPTION

You may choose to share your creative works here either through a ping back to the themed post or by adding your link in that post’s Comments section. You might also want to add “Lessons at the Dinner Table” in your search terms, so others may easily find posts of similarity.

#mysondoesntthinkImaloser

Community, Simplicity, Harmony & Generosity,

-jody

“Gee Up” – A Gaelic Tàlaidhean (Lullaby)

Our Trifecta writing community was challenged this week as follows:

This weekend, we’re enlisting your help in shortening our considerably lengthy bedtime routines by giving us a children’s bedtime story in exactly 33 words.  It can be an old favorite reimagined or a work that is entirely your own. – See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.dNHVJWyL.dpuf

My mind was immediately drawn to the Gaelic tradition of lullabies, in which every subject from one’s future hopes and dreams to parental warnings about lurking dangers (such as mischievous faeries) was addressed. I chose my approach on a subject that seems to delight many children (and adults alike) – the special bonded relationship between a horse and its rider; and I’ve given it the Gaelic title of what one traditionally requests of his or her steed when being privileged enough to ride together. May it insight exciting, adventuresome dreams!

“Gee Up” – A Gaelic Tàlaidhean (Lullaby)

Since auld lang syne –

Man nor beast ruled nither one nor other.

Horse ordained Man his two-legged bráthair.

Valleys they romped o’er and sowed anew,

Warred mightily; rested peacefully.

Anois, so must you.

© 2013 jody love

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As this lullaby comes to a close, I have one final thought to leave on your restful mind.

The beauty of the lullaby is (just as it says) that it lulls someone to the by. Just as with the horse and rider on an adventure, bedtime becomes a bonding time between parent and child, a time in which the child looks forward to hearing a new story, a  favorite familiar song, or just a time to draw near and snuggle together without the day’s interruptions.

In this, it becomes a ritual, one which the child cherishes well beyond the years of direct receipt. For the time at hand, it provides additional rich meaning to this Gaelic saying:

Cha chòir an t-each glan a chur uige.
The willing horse should not be spurred.

Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: “Beginning (Again)”

Ese has started a beautiful new weekly challenge (to be posted on Sundays) at Esengasvoice.wordpress.com .

I’m excited about participating, since it combines the written thought with my amateur photography interest (mostly an interest used to visually document the lovely things I might otherwise miss or forget in my world).

Ese will provide a prompt each week and asks, in return, that we provide “a photo you have taken and a quote, attributed to its author, and of course related to your image.” Seems fair enough! Won’t you come join in?!

For my BEGINNING entry in this challenge, let me begin here, with a thought on “Beginning AGAIN” (and again, if necessary):

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

With that being said, I walked out early this morning, as Sun was trying to rise, but Fog was oppressing her from announcing the beginning of our new day. Fog had brought the magician, Dew, with him, who had sprinkled a magnificence of his own across the land. Sun, of course, wasn’t going to be shown up for too very long. She would burn with envy until, eventually, she prevailed. Until then, Dew offered glorious glimpses of hidden mysteries we all too often pass by – that begin anew each and every day or evening.

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Amazing to me that, as lovely as they are, these little catch-all baskets won’t last through the day.

My hard-working guardians of the bush will begin working anew for their next evening meal. (Perhaps I can assist in some small measure – by leaving my porch lamp burning a few extra minutes).

To prove my point, let me demonstrate how the dew – which showcases the spiders’ works in such a dazzling fashion – will also eventually do a dastardly undoing…

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Yet even in their unraveling, look what loveliness occurs in the process. I couldn’t help but envision my garden flowers enjoying their fleeting pearl necklace of morning glory!

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As I’m sure is the case with many children, a cherished book of mine from childhood is E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Webb.

So I cannot help but end this post with a quote from the hardest working, best Web-spinning, quote-writing philanthropic spider of all – Charlotte:

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

Go spin yourself a beautiful beginning for your temporal day!

-jody

A Heart of Compassion (and how mine needed CPR yesterday)

I think of myself generally as a compassionate person.

Sometimes I even consider my compassion to be a curse (when a burden gets laid upon my heart, then another, then another, and I hurt for so many in the world).

But I was again faced with the ugly truth yesterday.

I can be just as selfish as the next person.

I feel the need to preface my story by saying that I haven’t been in the best of moods lately about human nature, in general – and much of that revolves around the court system, of all things. I’ve had to be in courtrooms over the past couple of years more times than I think anyone should ever spend in a lifetime (unless, of course, you’ve chosen to be a judge). I feel in the times I’ve been there that I or others have been treated unjustly in a system that, to be honest, seems to exist more for itself than for the good of the whole. In the last several circumstances, greed has been the prevailing factor, in which others have sought to take what was not rightfully and ETHICALLY theirs, but by which LEGALLY they could create great costs and burdens on others who were already paying high prices for these individuals’ actions.

Yes, I know that’s rather vague, but my point essentially is this…when you’ve been exposed to greed and had people stealing what little you possess, apparently it wears down your compassion and perhaps creates a stingy kick-back response.

Point in case…

My sister and I have a tradition of sharing dinner & a movie for our birthdays. This week, it was her turn. I arranged to take her to a matinee movie, and had brought along a free popcorn & soft drink coupon that I had saved up for the occasion, along with a coupon stuffed away for the dining establishment she had chosen. (In other words, I was having to be thrifty with my celebration extravaganza.)

As I pulled into the parking lot of the movie theater, I noticed a younger man standing up from where he’d been squatted next to a car across the aisle. As he stood, his beltless pants sagged well below his waist line without the usual fortunate covering of underwear. As a mother of a teenage son, I have no doubt, I ground my back teeth in irritation. When I pulled into my parking space, I didn’t see my sister yet, so I began searching through my purse for my coupons and my discount theater points card.

That’s when I noticed him – in my side mirror.

The same man (probably in his mid twenties, though I’m assuming it was his lifestyle that made his face appear older) was standing at the rear of my car, blocking my exit for the moment I decided to open my door. An alarm went off inside my head that told me to stay where I was, as I saw no other persons nearby and I wasn’t certain of his intent.

Five minutes passed.

I began to feel additionally irritated that he hadn’t moved and was causing me to feel trapped in my own car.

I watched as he swung around the car parked next to mine to approach the front of my car. He yelled out, “Ma’am, ma’am!”

Probably because he seemed to have some sense of manners, I partially rolled down my window and politely responded to his call.

“Will you give me some money for…?”

I never heard what it was for. His voice faded, as he tried to decide for himself what he should say.

It didn’t matter. I was already aggravated about his pants. I was irritated that he’d trapped me in my car. I felt the need to show him I wasn’t going to be his victim.

“No, I won’t.” My answer was harsh, cold, to the point.

He turned, dropped his head, and began walking across the parking lot, unintentionally (or not) mooning me as he went.

I jumped out, locked my door and headed the opposite direction, asking the girl at the theater counter to alert mall security, as I stood at the door watching him veer toward cars, looking into them.

It wasn’t until much later, until I had time for the alarms in my head to silence themselves, that I had an overwhelming compassion flow over me.

What had I done? Or better yet – not done? There was a store across the lot. If his pants bothered me so badly, couldn’t I have gone into it and gotten the man a belt? Maybe even a pair of underwear?

So what if he did have track marks up the insides of his arms? Did I have the right to judge him for that? How could I have known what his life had been like? What it was going to be?

Couldn’t I have found one simple way to show this man one ounce of compassion?

And yet, all I showed him was contempt. The same thing that had likely caused him to be in that parking lot, begging for his next meal or his next fix. Which was it? Had I even cared? Not when it mattered the most.

* * *

Matthew 25:40 says – The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I did nothing, Lord. Nothing. God, forgive my lack of compassion.

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It’s the Little Things

Don’t EVER under-estimate the TREMENDOUS importance of the little things in life.

Have you ever been point-blank asked, “Why do you love me?” and you felt foolish because, maybe – just maybe – you didn’t have an immediate response? (Because you weren’t even sure of why yourself.)

No need to panic! (I assure you.)

I’m going to posit that it’s because your mind (which is a little on the lazy side – sorry, but someone had to say it) immediately jumps across synapses to grasp whatever it most easily can. It reaches for the BIG stuff it can readily access. And maybe it was the BIG stuff that first caught your eye about someone – the things you could more easily measure because there they were, right out in the foreground for the whole, entire world to see!

But we don’t truly fall in love with someone because it’s easy to see that person is easy on the eyes. That’s called attraction. Infatuation. Stalking, if you keep watching them and they don’t want you around. As a matter of fact, I’m guessing that the majority of relationships never progress to their full potential because many people never get past what’s in front of them. They’re so focused on “the BIG,” they forget to nurture “the LITTLE,” so it can grow.

Little things don’t just happen “in the heart” – where the soul part of the brain digs deeply and finds GREATNESS in the tiniest little inflections; they must be carefully tended there. Strangely, these aren’t the same for all people. Any combination of traits and characteristics, which only come rarely in fleeting glimpses, can combine to compel us to love someone – or somehow care for others.

The way a dimple only flashes at the exact moment his eyes light up – and only when you’re around.

The manner in which she drops her head and blushes while brushing your hand with hers.

His guttural laugh over some silly bit of nothingness that drives you crazy.

Her cooing sighs when you whisper in her ear.

The way in which he traces the lines inside the palm of your hand to soothe you when you’re nervous.

The way she stands tall and proud when introducing you to others.

The stupid crook from where he broke his pinky toe – twice.

The scar left on her body where she stood strong and battled cancer.

Each of those little things adds up to equal a GREAT story – one that’s both personal, and shared.

It doesn’t happen exclusively in romance. It’s about any relationship. It’s about life, in general. It’s about personal growth where you finally come to like yourself. It’s about surprising others you may barely know with some random little something – and watching what a BIG deal it becomes in their day!

I came in this morning to a lovely surprise bouquet, left on the conference room table by our new secretary to brighten our work day. (Guess what? It worked!)

I came in this morning to a lovely surprise bouquet, left on the conference room table by our new secretary to brighten our work day. (Guess what? It worked!)

If you find you’ve been too focused on life’s BIG things, as of late, take some time to embrace the little things. (They won’t weigh you down nearly as much!)

And here’s a good place to get you started – with a little bit of music, which always greatly soothes and uplifts the soul!