Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays




And May There Be...





I Wish You All Health and Happiness

And a Very Prosperous New Year

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not Exactly Sepia Saturday


I was fiddling around on my computer this morning and came across this photo. This has got to be one of my all-time favorite photographs. I get excited just looking at it.

The memories of those games! Back when quarterbacks called their own plays. Back when games were played in snow driving so hard you could scarcely see the field - much less the lines ON the field. Back when games were played in pouring rain - and receivers slid for 15 yards in the mud after catching the ball and then rising so covered in brown glop that you couldn't read the numbers on their jerseys. Back when games were played in temperatures so freezing that the ground crunched beneath cleats struggling for purchase and breath froze the second it hit the air.

Ah, Unitas! My favorite of favorites! Did you know how much I loved watching you? Did you know how exciting it was seeing you walk onto the field in those high-topped shoes? You, and Matte and Mackey.... How I miss you! I get goosebumps just thinking about some of those games.

There will never be another like you. You were the best. You were the greatest. Yet you never received the accolades - or the money - you deserved.

And this - THIS - is the greatest football photograph ever taken.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Theme Thursday - History



I call this one “Because”.
Because. Because. Because.
How many times in our lives have we women heard that one-word answer in response to a perfectly legitimate question put forth by us? The reason we hear it is BECAUSE they – you know, ”THEY” – have no other answer. There actually IS no other answer. Other than prejudice and fear. So I offer this up for Theme Thursday: An inexcusable history of the treatment of little girls and women by societies of every stripe and always under the guise of “protecting” them:


Because

Little girls. What are little girls made of? Well, I suppose that depends on the little girl so it's hard to say. But I hope for her sake that she is made of stern stuff. She will need it. She will need it because, unlike little boys, she faces a stacked and many times hostile deck. Making her way in life, in some ways, will be easier than in the past. But it will be anything but easy.

She will learn at a very early age that there is something "different" about her. She will wonder why, at the age of 5 or 6, she is expected to wear a shirt in the summertime while her 7 year old brother runs around comfortably shirtless. She looks at him. She looks at herself. She sees no difference. Nevertheless, little girls must wear a shirt. Why? Because.

She will find herself limited, time and time again throughout life, both by law and by custom, for no other reason than this "difference" which she neither sees nor comprehends. By the time of the "shirt incident" she will already have experienced the discrimination which will continue throughout her life. She will have been given dolls and strollers and tea sets. Her brother will have received chemistry sets, footballs, chess sets, and rockets.

Later she will be assigned kitchen chores. Her brother will not. Her parents will be happy when she earns a "C" in science and math. They will expect her brother to earn an "A" in these subjects. Why? Because.

She will face a world where computer ads show bright-eyed, engrossed boys competing for control of mouse and keyboard. Girls will be shown pretending to be princesses, or dressing up their Barbie dolls.

Even if she manages, when she is grown, to somehow overcome the early lessons and succeed beyond expectations, she will still be assumed by those who do not know to be the secretary rather than the boss, the nurse rather than the doctor, the flight attendant rather than the pilot, the administrative assistant rather than the CEO. As "reward" for her audacity in succeeding, she will be labeled "pushy", "uppity", or that old stand-by: "bitch".

Of course, in some parts of the world, it will be impossible for her to achieve anything because she will be sold/tricked into a life of slavery and prostitution or married to some forty- or fifty-something man before she is old enough to know what is happening to her. Why? Because.

In our own "progressive" corner of the world, she will find that people who neither share nor care about her own beliefs and politics will go to almost any lengths to force her to surrender the right to control her own body -- even in the face of near-certain death.

She will be told it is her "place" to be subservient to her male authority figure (father/husband). She will be told her husband's signature is required. She will receive the figurative pat on the head and told not to worry her pretty little head about it while her full-service broker merrily manipulates her money (should she be lucky enough to have some) to his own advantage and charges her more for the "service" than he would if she were male. Throughout her life she will be charged more for many other items and services than she would be charged if she were male. And she will find that, for some unknown reason, her own labor is not worth as much as her male co-worker's. Why? Because.

She will be the one to care for elderly parents while her brothers, better loved and lauded, go on with their lives unencumbered. She will be the one who misses work (when she works at all) to care for sick children. And she will be the one who is blamed when the children don't "turn out" as expected.

She will learn all these lessons well. Obviously the female's fortune and fate is her body. It's what's between the legs rather than what's between the ears that matters. She can't help but learn it. She will see it demonstrated everywhere, every day, over and over again. And when the lesson is finally swallowed whole, she will act on it -- manipulating, selling, tricking, bargaining, surviving -- using her body as her capital as she has been so thoroughly taught. And the day she goes beyond the socially-accepted prostitutions, she will face an incredulous society, cloaked in dirty innocence, asking, "How could you? Why?"

And she will answer truthfully: "Because".

----------------------------------------------------
Submitted respectfully – but very seriously – by AngelMay who asks each of you, when you hear the term "female circumcision", to scream and rant and stomp and threaten until the person who utters this blatant falsehood admits that what should have been said was "female genital mutilation."

PS
If you doubt for one minute this treatment of females still exists right here, right now, go here:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Theme Thursday - Snow



7

Footprints, rarely seen,
Of tiny scurrying things
Carved into the snow




8

Snow sparkles in sun
Silence blanketing the world
An icicle drops




I never saw much snow until I moved to Alabama. Yes. It isn’t just stars that fall on Alabama. Of course we never had the kind of snow you have to dig your way through. But we had more than enough of it to suit my taste.

Always liked the “idea” of snow, though. And Christmas cards with snowy scenes. This was always fine as long as I was inside, all toasty warm and sipping hot chocolate and refusing to be pried out with a shoe-horn. Although I do remember one winter in ‘bama when we had a big snow that settled on the ground for days, completely bringing everything to a stand-still. Except, of course, those of us crazy enough to get out there and go sledding down the road. I rode on the back of the sled while my friend “drove”. Of course we could not stop the thing and when we got to the end of the road we just kept going out onto the crossroad. Right in front of a police car. I think everybody laughed. Actually, I’m kinda fuzzy on that now. I seem to remember something about bail…

I’m a day early but….
Happy Snowy Thursday Everyone!


© December 2009 by Alexandra Scot

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Person Divided


Oh No! Whatever shall I do? Will I survive the day?
-
Born in Florida and a graduate of the University of Alabama, I'm a person torn on this day. It's showdown time. Throwdown time. Gridiron time. Tear down the goalposts time. (They don't do that anymore, do they? How sad.)
-
One good thing about this...
-
No matter who does what, I'll have something to cheer about. Unless, of course, they both turn out to be dufuses on this day of days -- and that often happens when the real chips hit the table. Still, here's hoping it's a good game.
-
I have memories of the Florida campus - I was there SO long ago as a visiting high school band member. (That part of Florida is really lovely.)
-
But most of all.... I miss The Bear!
-
UPDATE: ALABAMA 32 --- FLORIDA 13
ROLL TIDE!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Passing It Along



My beautiful gift from Jessie is to be passed along to others and so I have compiled (in absolutely no special order) a list of worthy recipients. So if

The Silver Fox

Sandra Leigh

Skip Simpson

Alan Burnett

Megan

Colette Amelia

and

Baino

will please come and claim their "Friendship Bouquet", I am most proud to hand it over to them.


First, they will please claim it by copying this bouquet.
Then:

2. Post the bouquet in your blog.
3. Tell us 7 things about yourself that your readers (probably) don't know.
4. Pass the bouquet along to 7 other new bloggers.
5. Notify these bouquet recipients with a comment on their blog.
6. And just keep on being the truly likeable people you are.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Theme Thursday – Friend


I have been enjoying the past couple of days with two of my best friends. First of all, my dear friend Sandra Leigh is here for a visit.



Unfortunately, I have to say bye-bye to her today and see to it that she catches a ferry back to that foreign country she lives in. But first, we will continue to enjoy talking and web-surfing and then dining at an Indian restaurant that has a tasty buffet before I turn her loose.

And I have also been enjoying the last 4 and a half years with another friend:




This is my best little friend in the world. She’s the only “person” who likes my singing.

I wish everyone such wonderful friends.
And a very happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Big Thank You


A big “thank you” to Jessie
http://wordbin.blogspot.com/ who has given me a lovely bouquet.




Now I’m supposed to tell you seven things that you don’t know about me. Let me see now… What can I tell you without being arrested…?

1. I’m left-handed and I have hazel eyes.

2. I used to be a model many many many years ago.

3. I know how to climb a telephone pole and have done with the usual spikes.

4. All the light switch dimmers in my house were installed by me.

5. I have studied dress design many many many years ago.

6. When I sing people all over the county bang on the walls begging me to be quiet.

7. I am an artist who uses soft pastels. (One day I will post a photo of one of my paintings. I hesitate, because photographs of paintings don’t show the paintings at their best.) However, I have not painted for many years now.

At this point I am supposed to link seven new bloggers. But I’m so new to blogging I don’t really know very many bloggers who don’t already have forty-seven brazillion awards and bouquets and buttons.

However, I will keep an eye out and begin compiling a list.
Thanks again, Jessie! I love flowers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Memory


Here’s to you, my wonderful Little Red Ship!
She was the MS Explorer, and oh my! She was wonderful!



I sailed on her in 2000 and again in 2001. Those two “adventure cruises” were the best vacations I’ve ever had. Maybe the best I will ever have.

The first took us from Dundee, Scotland to the Orkney and Shetland Islands. And from there to Norway and up the coast all the way to Svalbard in the Arctic. You cannot imagine what a beautiful sight this little ship was when we were surrounded by ice and cliffs and not a living soul but ourselves anywhere in sight. She represented safety and warmth. She was the loveliest sight imaginable.



We dined in her little dining rooms with people from all over the world.


The second cruise again began in Dundee, Scotland to the Orkney and Shetland Islands – but turned back west this time and sailed to Fair Isle and to the Hebrides and the Isle of Man and to the Scilly Isles. We even stopped in Dublin and Waterford.

She carried only 100 passengers and we were treated to lectures on the marine life and tundra and many other things by highly qualified educators. Here is her cozy lecture hall:


We had wanted to take her "transition" cruise. That was the one that took her from the Arctic to the Antarctic. It took more than 30 days and it would have been wonderful. It stopped at several little islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But we never got the chance.

And then - Disaster.
On 23 November 2007, she sank in the Antarctic.



I was stunned when I heard the news. And I was riveted to the television and the computer trying to find out everything I could about what had happened. I was beyond saddened to know that I will never get to sail on her again.


You can read about my Little Red Ship here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Ship


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Desktop


In response to Alan Burnett on his wonderful blog, News From Nowhere, I'm posting my current desktop wallpaper. (If you haven't visited Alan's blog, you must. It's really wonderful.)
This is a photo, taken by my very dearest friend in California, of a rose that I gave him several years back. He obviously has a green thumb since this rose is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly healthy. It is my favorite of all colors for roses. I never tire of looking at it.

This particular rose was the 2003 Habitat for Humanity Rose. I've never been sure of the actual name given to this rose once the Habitat for Humanity series of Roses ended with the Jackson & Perkins company who sponsored it.

This desktop photo replaced another that is very dear to me:


This completely adorable thing is my girl, Sylvie. She was only 12 weeks old in this photo and I had just brought her home to live with me. She's a Champagne Mink Tonkinese with more personality than most people I know. And she's absolutely smart. She is definitely a "people cat" and will check you out without inhibition should you ever come to visit. She is SO much help, in fact, that if I ever have workmen in the house attempting to do a job I have to put her in another room and close the door. Sometimes you just don't need so much help.

She will ride around the house on my shoulders, and sometimes she decides it's time to put some lovin' on mommy and she crawls up my chest, puts a paw on each side of my neck, and nuzzles me under my chin. She has me absolutely trained. When I put her food down, she runs to a glittery ball that is suspended from a line on a tiny pole and waits for me to come and play ball with her. After a few minutes of play, when I return the pole and ball to its resting place, she will trot over - big as you please - and eat her dinner.

As you can tell, I'm not in the least besotted by her. And, of course, she isn't spoiled at all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving


Have a happy holiday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Theme Thursday - Late

Somewhere on my bookshelves, tucked in beside a volume of Steinbeck, I have a first edition of John Hersey’s book Hiroshima.
It looks just like this:




If you have not read it, do. Do, and you will hear of of things you already know but don’t often think of these days.

You will read of the mission of a now-famous airplane:





The Enola Gay.


And you will hear of this:




It’s called “Little Boy” – such an innocent-sounding name for such a deadly thing. On August 6, 1945, “Little Boy” was dropped from the Enola Gay at 8:15 a.m. over Hiroshima, Japan.






The devastation that resulted was unspeakable. It was so horrible that I cannot bring myself to post pictures of the living creatures – human and otherwise – who suffered. For those, it is way too late to say “I’m Sorry.”



For those of us who are here today to read of this, I wonder. Can we learn from our past? Can we ever find peace? Will we ever demand peace?



Is it too late?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Theme Thursday - Telephone


Let me take you back to 1952.
The theatre smells of buttery popcorn and the seats are deep red velvety plush. Sometimes the floor is pretty sticky so watch your feet. If you arrive a little late, an usher in a spiffy uniform with a tiny flashlight will seat you.

The huge red velvet and gold-tasseled curtain goes up. Feature begins. Today’s Black & White Feature: “Chicago Calling” starring Dan Duryea.



Here is one of the things IMDB ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043401/ ) has to say about this film:

Duryea is out of work, and his wife takes the kid and leaves him. They are involved in an auto accident, out of town, and Duryea must wait until they are out of surgery to receive a phone call informing him as to whether they will live or die. Because his phone bill is un-paid, his phone is disconnected, and he tries in vain to earn, borrow, and even contemplates stealing the money.To make matters worse, his little pooch is run down in traffic.When the Phone Company Rep comes to pick up the instrument (this was made long before we all owned our own phones!) Duryea cons the guy into hooking him up long enough to take the long distance call from Chicago concerning the condition of his wife and kid. This is where you will really need the Prozac!Although this is downbeat throughout, Duryea gives an acting "tour-de-force" and if they ever show it again, it is well worth watching, but you've been warned!

I was hoping I could find this at Netflix but, alas, they just don’t have it. If you have seen it, you know just how good it is. If you haven’t seen it, please do if you ever get the chance. It’s excellent.

Speaking of telephones…

The first phone I can remember my parents ever having looked something like this:





We had a “party” line and it was pretty funny. I was just a kid and I could pick up the phone and hear the old lady down the street talking to somebody. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff people talked about. Well… maybe you would.

Then my parents got a “private” line and one of these:




Pretty snazzy, huh?

When I was a teenager, I had one of these:



I was way cool! At least I thought I was way cool. There I was in an oversized men's white dress shirt and jeans. Legs in the air, butt in the chair, head nearly on the floor - just like the little "princess" I was. Eat your hearts out!


Now I have one telephone in the entire house – and I never answer it. It is hooked up to an answering machine so it won’t feel too neglected.

If anyone wants me, they had better call me on this one, instead:




Bye Bye now. Nice chattin’ with ya.
Ya’ll come back real soon now… ya hear?

What? Damn!
Can you hear me now?
Hello?
Hello?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Theme Thursday - Castle

There are several ways to approach this week’s Theme Thursday’s “launch” word. I suppose that, mostly, when we think of a “castle” we think of a very large building that housed many people (most of whom were not related to each other) and with battlements for protection against enemies – such as this one:



This is Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. It has seen better days, I’m afraid. It is mostly tumble-down, cold and uninviting. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in it.

Here is a castle more to my liking:


This is Lewis Castle on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Lewis Castle brings to mind damsels in distress or yearning young female hearts in romantic gothic novels. Maybe Mr. Rochester lives there. Or, maybe he lives here:


This is Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides and invokes all manner of flights of fancy when I allow myself to just take it in from the distance at which I photographed it.

Of course not all castles are huge. Some are rather small and humble – at least by our standards today – and don’t even bring to mind the word “castle”. However, two thousand years ago when this structure was built, I’m thinking it was deserving of being called a castle:


This is the best-preserved Broch in the world. It is located on Mousa in the Shetland Islands. The figure standing beside it is that of my better half. He is just over 6 feet tall – to give you an idea of the size of this structure. It is about 43 feet high with walls about 15 feet thick at the base. The Broch is built of stacked stone and without any mortar whatsoever to hold it together – yet it has stood on this spot for over two thousand years.




I am lucky enough to have been inside and even on the very top of this structure. I must say it’s a bit frightening up there on a misty grey day when the whole world is shrouded around you.


I walked this narrow walkway there at the top. I can reveal to you that I did it VERY gingerly as I could see between some of the stones into blackness. It was a sobering experience – and exhilarating. I can tell you that I was very happy to come down again.






We learned so many things on this particular trip about the archaeology of Scotland from Britain’s wonderful Graham Ritchie who is shown on the right in this photo:







You can find Graham Ritchie’s books about the wonderful ancient archaeology of Scotland on the Amazon website.

All of the photos (above) were taken in August of 2001.

Of course there is another kind of “castle” with which I am familiar:






This particular castle can cause no end of trouble – and pleasure – depending upon the circumstances under which you currently “own” it. When I first met my better half I found myself in a game of chess with him and soundly defeated him in about 7 moves. Ahhhhhh! That’s a nice memory. Over the years, however, he got better and I got lazy and today he can beat my socks off.

Finally, this whole castle idea has me thinking of one of my favorite films:



I think I will add it to my queue at Netflix and enjoy it once again.
Happy “castling” everyone!


Friday, October 30, 2009

A Little Haiku



Somewhere along the way I asked myself, “Why write haiku at all?” And I realized that the purpose (and the fascination) is to capture a moment in time – to capture it with such perfection that it can be experienced even by those who were never there.

There are some moments so vivid in my memory that I can almost smell them – so real I can see them as though they happened only 5 minutes ago. I can feel and taste them. I can hear them. They fill me with a yearning that is almost painful. They make me laugh. They make me quiet. They bring me suddenly to tears. They have the power to soothe and refresh. They have power to jolt and disturb. They are slices of life that can be both re-lived and shared. They are intensely personal and yet almost universal to the human experience.

The discipline required to adhere to the strict 5-7-5 syllabic form within which I have chosen to work is good for me. Though much of the haiku written in English today does not follow this form, it is still a worthy one and deserving of the effort required to do it well. These stern boundaries, I feel, serve to force a thoughtfulness that might otherwise become laziness.

One last mention: Though I call it haiku – and much of it is – some will drift into a hybrid of haiku and senryu and involve the human rather than the natural. I hope to be forgiven for this license. Finally, as with my fiction, I strive for excellence but make no claim of expertise. I write for my own enjoyment and hope that, perhaps, someone else along the way will enjoy my work as well.



1

A whale surfaces
In the distance -- far beyond
the suspended gull.



2

Beneath a Peace rose,
beside a fallen petal –
ants in fierce battle.



3

Cardinal pair and
belligerent jay discuss
living arrangements



4

Hawk circling against
a crisp blue dotted swiss sky –
a handsome danger.



5

Foraging squirrel
noses the lawn for a nut
hidden yesterday.



6

Devoted geese float
together on glassy pond –
content just to be.




© October 2009 by Alexandra Scot

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Theme Thursday - Halloween






BOOOOOO!
I was just getting dressed for Halloween.
Here I am in my costume. Ain’t I a honey?

Well I guess I HAVE changed a lot over the years.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t recognize me. I’ve changed my hair.










Here is a photo of me way back when. Oh my gosh! I’m so cute even *I* want to hug me.














And here I am a few years later in my award-winning (I’m not kidding) costume that my incredibly talented mother made for me:




And now, Ladies and Gentlemen…
For your Halloween entertainment, I offer the following:



They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Today’s cartoons barely have any movement at all. Lazy animators, I guess. Or something. I’m not sure what.

Here’s a little something more current:


This guy has quite the talent, hasn’t he? The puller of the strings, I mean.
It's pretty obvious the LITTLE dude has talent.

Here’s wishing you all a happy and safe Halloween.
As for me, I’ll be kicking back with a nice glass of red and trying to come up with my next short story. I might even bake some of my famous banana nut bread. Yum!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

p.s. - If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to take a look at my latest short story that follows this post. I called it “TAPS”. It isn’t about Halloween, but I think you might enjoy it, anyway.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Theme Thursday - Traffic

I so hate traffic that when I saw it was this week’s theme I immediately thought back to a time when there wasn’t any. At least there wasn’t any compared to today.

Years ago (many years ago, now I think about it), there were no Interstate highways. Two lane “highways” served to get us from state to state and humble little motels and cabins, though few and far between, dotted the route with places to lay our weary heads. And a highway with a median? Woo-Hoo! Now THAT was something.




This was back before the impressively useful invention of the solid white line down the outside edge of the road to tell you what was road and what was potentially death at the bottom of a mountain cliff.

Traffic, as we picture it today, was something almost unheard of. Of course, we had less than one third* the current population, too. (Sometimes I long for those good old days – as long as I get to keep my computer, of course. And internet and big old front-loading washer and dryer and all the other conveniences that I just can’t live without.)

Entertainment, while traveling, consisted of spotting license plates from faraway places and reading the always fun Burma Shave signs.


My maternal grandfather used to scare everyone witless when he got behind the wheel of his car. I was too little to know what kind of car it was but I suspect it was black and boxy and had a Ford label on it. We lived in Florida on a little crushed-shell road that connected to the main paved road that ran between the towns north and south of us. Grandpa would get into his car and go hauling down the shell road and then, without looking either way or even slowing down, barrel out onto the main road toward whichever of the towns he was headed for. Everyone would shut their eyes and hope for the best and comment that it was a wonder he hadn’t long ago been killed.

Today, of course, it’s a different story. Today you will be run off the road (if not just flat-out run over) if you do anything as timid as actually keeping to the speed limit. Tempers flare and tires screech. Fingers are flung from windows in all manner of gestures. Snarls abound.

I hate traffic. I despise it. I hate what it does to us. I hate the delays. I hate the creeping. I hate the speeding. I hate the white-knuckled, blood-drained, trembling fear of going 80 miles an hour, bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door on interstates so packed you couldn’t slow down if you wanted to. And change a lane? Ha! You had better hope to know where you are going and get in the proper lane at least 20 miles in advance or God help you.

Here is why I don’t live in Seattle:


The most kind and domestic of people become slavering monsters once behind the wheel of a car in traffic. Hell hath no fury like a cut-off driver on his way home to his Friday night pot roast.

Give me a little one-horse town any day.

I will stay right here, happily driving rural roads and hoping to catch a glimpse of two little donkeys in a field on my way to and from a town that has only a couple of stop lights.

Of course, this little town with only a couple of stop lights is sometimes packed to the seams with tourists walking around ogling the place as though they were in Disney World and snapping up every available parking place. The half-life of a parking space here is about 2.35 seconds. So look sharp and just keep circling. It’s so worth it. And winter will always come and the tourists will (mostly) stay away.


Love this place! Yesterday, I had to go to the courthouse to straighten out a mix-up with our voter ballots and I walked in, asked to speak to the county auditor. She came out, we spoke, laughed, done! All in a matter of three minutes, max. Try that in a big city. Ha!

Of course we haven’t even touched on other kinds of traffic – like drug trafficking. But then, I know so little about drugs that you could hand me a sack of white powder and I would try to make cornbread out of it.


Ya’ll come!
*Ok, ok... it wasn't less than a third of today's population -- but it sure seems like it.