Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Stealing: Icebreaker

Sunday Stealing: The Icebreaker Questions

1. Are you loud, outgoing or shy?

A. I'm an introvert, which is frequently mistaken for shy (or stuck up, depending on who is watching). Mostly I'm quiet and prefer to watch and wait.

2. What’s coming up where you’ll see an old friend?

A. Unfortunately, nothing that I am aware of.

3. Are you easy to get along with?

A. I like to think so, but you may need to ask my friends or my husband to know for sure.

4. Have you ever given up on someone, but then gone back to them?

A. Yes.

5. Who was the last person that you had a deep conversation with?

A. Last week was full of deep conversations with two of my friends.

6. Are you okay with being in a big crowd?

A. No. I have been known to have a panic attack in a department store.

7. Do you believe in luck and/or miracles?

A. I think some people do have better fortune than others, but I don't know if that is luck or circumstance.

8. What good thing happened during the summer? (It’s good to think about summer when you are freezing your butt off in January.)

A. We had homegrown tomatoes.

9. Do you think there is life on other planets?

A. Sure. We'll never know in my lifetime, so what does it matter?

10. Who was your first crush on?

A. A boy named Jamie. Not the James I married, though.

11. What are your bad habits?

A. I bite my nails and I am emotional eater.

12. What’s your favorite part of your daily routine?

A. The part where I feel like I've accomplished something.

13. Other than your significant other, who are you most comfortable with?

A. I have several friends I enjoy spending time with.

14. Has an ex ever told you that they regret breaking up?

A. No.

15. Why should your celebrity crush drop everything to be with you?

A. I don't have a celebrity crush.

16. What would be the hardest to give up and why? Books. TV. Music.

A. Books. I already watch very little TV and while I love music and listen to it, as I age I find I listen to it less. But I still like to read.

17. Do you believe in second chances?

A. Depends on what the person did to need the second chance.

18. What would you like to do next in your life?

A. Be a stronger, healthy, and more independent person.

19. What’s the meanest thing that anyone has ever said to you?

A. A family member called me white trash and said that the reason I couldn't have children was because God hated me just for being born.

20. What’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you?

A. People compliment me on my writing and on my resilience. I appreciate both sentiments.

__________

I encourage you to visit other participants in Sunday Stealing posts and leave a comment. Cheers to all us thieves who love memes, however we come by them.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

I Am Woman

To honor the women who are marching today in support of human rights.


Saturday 9: A Summer Place

Saturday 9: A Summer Place (1960) 

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song highlights the soundtrack from the movie A Summer Place, which is about two teenage lovers named Molly and Johnny. Did you ever have a youthful summer romance? If so, what was his/her name?

A. No summer romances for me, except for the one that led to marriage.

2) The "summer place" of the song/movie is a resort along the Maine coast. What "summer place" are you day dreaming about this winter morning?

A. I would like to be in Cuzco, Peru, visiting Machu Picchu.

3) In the movie, Johnny was played by Troy Donahue, who is remembered as nice looking but not terribly talented. Can you think of one of today's actors who you could describe as "nice looking but not terribly talented?"

A. I typed in "nice looking but not talented" in Bing and Russell Crowe came up. So I'll go with him. There were others but I didn't know who they were.

4) Molly is played by Sandra Dee, a perky blonde who was one of 1960's bankable movie stars. Two other blondes -- Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds -- joined Sandra Dee in the Top 10. The only brunette to sell a lot of movie tickets that year was Elizabeth Taylor. Do you believe men find blondes more attractive than brunettes or redheads?

A. There is a lot more to a woman than the color of her hair. *edited*

5) "A Summer Place" was by far the best-selling record of 1960. Also in 1960, two brothers in Ypsilanti, Michigan, opened a pizza place called Dominck's. That was the beginning of a chain now known as Domino's. What's the last food you had delivered to your front door?

A. The Schwan's truck delivered frozen yogurt, broccoli, and peas back in September.

6) In 1965, one of the brothers sold his share of the business to his brother for cash so he could buy a VW Beetle. Tell us about a time you had buyer's remorse.

A. We bought a 1998 Ford Taurus that had some kind of issue with the headlights; they would flicker at night, leaving you in the dark for brief seconds of time. We traded it in on another Taurus and it did the same thing. That lead us to believe it was some kind of issue with the vehicle overall. After that I purchased a Camry. We normally do not trade vehicles but every 10 years and that was a costly turnover for us, trading cars three times in five years.

7) In 1960, novelist Ernest Hemingway returned to the United States from Spain and settled in Ketchum, Idaho. Tell us about the last book you read. Was it a novel or non-fiction?

A. The last book I read was Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, by Kate Wiggins. I have been going back and catching up on some books I should have read when I was younger but didn't, and this was one of them. It's a novel about a young girl who is sent to live with her spinster aunts. The story reminded me very much of L. M. Montgomery's Annie of Green Gables. I had never read it before because for some reason I thought Rebecca was pornography. I have no idea where I obtained that notion.

8) In December, 1960, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was baptized in the Georgetown University Chapel. His godparents were Charles and Martha Bartlett, the couple who originally introduced young John's famous parents. Do you have godparents?

A. No.

9) Random question: You're at dinner with a married couple who begins to fight. Would you intercede and try to make peace? Or would you just sit back stay out of it?

A. I would not interfere unless it became violent and physical, in which case I would call 911. Otherwise, I would suggest to my spouse that we allow our friends some privacy so they could settle their difference, and leave, either by going to sit at the bar or going home.

_____________

I encourage you to visit other participants in Saturday 9 posts and leave a comment. Because there are no rules, it is your choice. Saturday 9 players hate rules. We love memes, however.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Do You Believe in Rock and Roll?

I was raised on a mix of music that mostly included country in my early years. My father was a big Elvis Presley fan, and Dad played in a band and sang. I heard him practicing a lot so there was always a repertoire of about 40 songs running through the air space of our house.

When I was around 10, I discovered I could change the dial on the radio and listen to whatever I wanted. Suddenly, the American Top 40 and Casey Kasem was the thing. I stopped listening to country music - I never much cared for it anyway - and turned to pop.

My coming of age music consisted of Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, The Captain and Tennille, Elton John, the Doobie Brothers, The Carpenters, Helen Reddy, Oliva Newton John, Carole King, Barry Manilow and then . . . disco. Suddenly I was listening to the Bee Gees, ABBA, Alicia Bridges, Andy Gibb, Anita Ward, Chic, Gloria Gaynor, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Donna Summer.

Hard rock never did much for me, but I married a farm boy who thinks The Rolling Stones are the end-all of the music world (and he may be right). He was also into AC/DC and ZZ Top, which I did not listen to until we began dating.

Neither of us are big Beatles fans, though of course I know some of their songs. How could you not? I suspect that is sacrilege in some circles, but I think age and the time you hit puberty probably has something to do with it.

When I was 12 I began playing the guitar, and at first I played the things my father played, since he occasionally instructed me. Mostly, though, I taught myself, and so I began buying song books with pop songs in them.

By the time I was 14, I was playing rhythm guitar in a band of my own. I never have been much of a lead guitarist, though I like the latest fingerstyles people are playing, where they pick out the entire song lyrics. Here's a link to an up-and-coming young lady, Gabriella Quevado, and her latest video. I don't know the song but it's pretty.

After I married, my musical talent declined. I was working, going to school, caring for a husband, and I was sick a lot. Also, I discovered that having no one to play music with was a detriment to my efforts. My husband plays the radio and that's about it, and he cannot sing, either. So I was left to my own devices. I made a few efforts to join a band or otherwise engage myself musically, but because I was involved in so many other things, nothing worked out.

My guitar did not sit silently for years on end, but it did sit silently for weeks, sometimes months, on end. One does not improve a talent without practice.

At various times, new artists have spurred me to learn new songs. Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow, in particular, were artists who had songs I wished to learn to play and sing.

Now I am older and have some time on my hands, and I have attempted to pick up the guitar again, to relearn the old things I knew and maybe some new songs, too. And you know what? The darned thing is heavy and I have a bad back. So playing the guitar hurts. I've had to adjust the way I hold it, add a foot stool, and not play for long periods of time.

But I still want to play music, so I bought a harmonica. I have no book or guide for that; I simply sit and pick out songs. Usually these are old tunes I learned as a child, like "Big Rock Candy Mountain" or "Shenandoah" or something. But it lets me make a little music.

A friend told me earlier this week that music is a part of me, that the song within comes bursting out whether I am singing it or not. Music personified? I wouldn't go that far, but I think music is a big part of my spirit and my spirituality. I may not sing hymns but I can make Don McLean's Vincent sound as spiritual as Amazing Grace, especially if I am having a sorrowful day.

Recently I missed a memorial service of a friend, but I heard it ended with a rousing rendition of Me and Bobby McGee. And I thought, what a wonderful song for a send off. I was sorry I missed that. I tend to lean toward the maudlin and expect the song at my funeral to be Into the West, sung by Annie Lennox, from The Lord of the Rings.

But wouldn't a little Bee Gees be more uplifting? Or even something from The Carpenters? Maybe I will have to rethink those plans.

Music is not a part of everyone's world, but it is a part of mine. I enjoy listening to new sounds, learning about new instruments, and hearing new songs. Just because I don't particularly like country music doesn't mean I don't belt out Hank Williams every now and then.

I think music goes back to humanity's earliest beginnings. It's primal in us. It's the beating of our heart, isn't it? Thu-thump. Thu-thump. The rhythm of our breathing, in and out. The tapping of fingers on a log.

The voice crying out in the wilderness.

Rock on.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thursday Thirteen: Men Speak on Greatness

1. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ― Mark Twain

2. “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” ― Albert Einstein

3. “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

4. “A great man is always willing to be little.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. “You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don't. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.” ― Jalaluddin Rumi

6. “Great leaders can see the greatness in others when they can’t see it themselves and lead them to their highest potential they don’t even know.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

7. “It takes a great man to be a good listener.” ― Calvin Coolidge

8. “The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” ― Brandon Sanderson, The Alloy of Law

9. “Good and great are seldom in the same man.” ― Winston S. Churchill

10. “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

11. “There are times when the world is rearranging itself, and at times like that, the right words can change the world.” ― Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game (The wrong words can change it, too - me)

12. “I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don't mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.” ― John Ruskin

13. “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.” ― Mahatma Gandhi 


Farewell to President Barack Obama. May his greatness follow him as he heads out onto the next leg of his journey.

 ____________

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 483nd time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Did You Write the Book of Love?

A very long time ago I attended a Bible study class and learned about agape love. The class was a study on one of the books of the New Testament, but agape love was the thing I took from the time spent there.

Biblically speaking, agape love is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Christian Bible.

The word agape is Greek, and variations of the word and its idea are found throughout the New Testament (about 200 entries). Agape love is the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers.

It's a love that simply is. It is love that is not contingent on value or worth. It comes without thought, it is spontaneous, and it has no regard for whether or not love will be effective or appropriate regardless of the person or instance involved.

Agape love is love of all, for no reason other than they exist. A good description of agape love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. It is known by some as The Way of Love.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Christians are commanded to love others with agape love, whether they are fellow believers (John 13:34) or bitter enemies (Matthew 5:44). Two themes emerge from agape love. Number one, it is wrong and false to claim to love God and not love other believers. One cannot love God and not love others who proclaim to love Him, too - even if they are a different gender, race, or type of religion. Secondly, one cannot claim to love God and then not obey Him. That means that agape love is inextricably combined with  Galatians 5:14, which says: "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

The word agape is associated with Christianity, but I think everyone has an obligation to attempt agape love.

Morally speaking, agape love is the kind of love people have when they work at the homeless shelters, offer up money for charities, or otherwise help someone. One does not have to be Christian to do any of those things.

One could say that public servants such as police officers, firefighters, and even teachers practice a form of agape love. Let's face it, not everyone wants to face a bullet, run into a burning building, or stand in front of a group of raging rug rats every day. It takes special people to do those jobs.

I felt like when I was writing for the newspaper that I was practicing my own version of agape love in my efforts to educate the public on the things that go on around them. When I wrote about the poverty rate in my community, or the need for gifts for the Angel trees, or took the time to research the reasons why about half of my county is considered a "food desert," I felt I was doing it out of love for my community. It didn't matter to me who read the story, but it did matter if the story moved someone so that they, in turn, might offer up assistance that I personally could not. After all, there is only one of me, but by writing an article, I could - and did - touch thousands. Some I moved to action and while that was gratifying, I was mostly grateful that people cared enough to reach out.

I knew there were readers out there who disagreed with me, but that was okay. Maybe the next article would be more to their liking. And some people are simply not able to care about others, for whatever reason. That is okay, too.

For some people, being a journalist has absolutely nothing to do with love, but to me it did. I suspect for many writers it is a way to show empathy and love. Not because journalists, writers, and artists point out foibles of others, but because we have a way to showcase need. In the case of celebrities, the opportunity to show agape love rests in the way the person acts on stage or screen, and since in our world such a person is pretty much on stage 24/7, his or her actions of daily life come under scrutiny. A person who tries to practice agape love in daily life recognizes that things like demeaning others, making demands, and trying to control the lives of those around him or her are not the actions of love.

This is true of everyone, really. If you love the world and try to act like it when you are in public, or online, or however you interact with others, people take note. Sometimes they don't even know they are taking note, but they do. You can learn a lot about someone simply by standing behind them in the supermarket checkout line.

I am not perfect. I get angry. I argue. I fight. I don't always readily forgive. I misunderstand. I don't feel well most days now and that makes it hard to be tolerant, because pain makes you think in ways you otherwise would not. I am no saint. I am not religious, actually, though I consider myself to be rather spiritual. I have great empathy for others, and I try very hard to be kind. I do not always succeed. I am human, after all.

The Internet has become a place where people make fun of others. This is not agape love. It has become a place where people fight and squabble because they have differing opinions, where name-calling is the norm and the last person on the thread is the winner simply because the other person gave up. This is not agape love.

This is just morally sick stuff that our society seems to be oozing out of every pore. The lack of empathy and the lack of agape love has created a very sad world.

Christians often say they are being criticized and that Christianity is under attack. I wonder if that is really true. Maybe what is under attack is the way the New Testament has been twisted so that agape love no longer means love. For some reason, many Christians in the public eye seem to think that love means hate and fear, divide and conquer. And that is the side that they show to the world, the side that is the opposite of agape love.

I do not understand this, because my New Testament says to do the opposite. It says to show agape love.

Some time ago there was a big saying: WWJD? What Would Jesus Do?

I think he'd sit down and have a good long cry, spend a lot of time figuring out how his words in the New Testament have been so misconstrued, and then work to start all over again.