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Cue the score to a certain Hitchcock movie.

In a walk with the neighbors Tuesday night

we came upon an eerie sight

An owl, perched precariously on the end of a light post

Looking a bit like a small feathered ghost

Waiting for the movement of its meal

of which his hunger would steal

Watch out little bunny and squirrel!

His claws around you, they shall curl

Up, up and away he will stealthily climb

To take you to the hiding place where he dines

We approached to his menacing stare

A photo opportunity lay bare

“Come closer,” he beckoned to me

“I may want to dig my claws into thee…”

But before he could act on impetuous ego

A car turned the corner, a motorized foe

It gave itself gas and increased the speed

Toward us and the owl, with focused greed

To make its way hurriedly past

And with that, the end was now cast

Mr. Owl lifted his wings with might

And haughtily flew out of sight

His chance at a meal, at that moment, done

The speeding car had decidedly won

No doubt, though, the creature returned

Later…when foe was gone and quiet was earned

To search again for his unsuspecting prey

Watch out little creatures, he’s headed your way

It’s not what you’re thinking.

I have a difficult time tolerating certain prescription medications and over-the-counter cold medications. Many induce wooziness and nausea. Therefore, there is no wanton desire for illegal substances that would only torment and terrorize an otherwise healthy well-being.

No, that stuff is not for me.

This, girls and boys, is the drug of choice.

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Handsome Boy. I have not named him as I would rather he be a mysterious fellow who continually taunts with the lure of a ride.

It never makes me queasy, gives me a headache, or makes me throw up in the grass outside the apartment (that is for another post about colonoscopies)(or maybe not).

Neighbor Biking Buddy and I were discussing controlled substances for a bit on Saturday as we enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous ride on the Mariner and Rawley Point trails. These trails run next to or close to Lake Michigan on the eastern side of Wisconsin, between the cities of Manitowoc and Two Rivers (T’rivers is the native pronouncement). Our two-wheeled trek took us a total of 27 miles past the cool, blue waters of the great lake; around city buildings and down narrow sidewalks; through a lush forest of pine, various hardwoods and vegetation; and, finally, to a State Park that boasts campgrounds, sandy beaches and an overabundance of weekend warriors.

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An amateur photo bug, capturing an amateur photo bug.

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The beach at T’rivers, on the shores of Lake Michigan. The water is not warm, but the sand will burn your feet.

Why would anyone need drugs, when this is available? Why get high on a green leafy substance when I can get high amid the splendor of conifers that reek of top-shelf gin? Why lay around in a stupor, when I can breathe warm summer air with eyes wide open? Why induce midnight pizza roll munchies when I can induce healthy behavior?

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A piece of the Rawley Point trail.

Riding down this path brought Joyce Kilmer to mind…

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray…”

 

The afternoon sun cast its flickering light on leaves of deciduous suburbs that, in turn, shaded the explosion of resting fern and purple clover underneath. We stopped on occasion for water and food, a butt break, a bathroom break, and to pick wild raspberries.

Neighbor Biking Buddy and I need not answer questions of why we ride. The bike is our drug of choice, the instrument that gives us the power to feel strong and invigorated. We move like powerful, menacing tigers after the prey of a new or beloved bike trail. The urge to “kill” the pavement and stone beneath us is stronger than the urge of a bad inhaling habit. The sights, the sounds, and sensual pleasures of nature coax us into a euphoric state of mind.

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Heading north on the Mariner’s Trail, we were about to meet Texan Tom and dog Holly, reverse snowbirds in search of cooler weather.

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Bridge over the River Kwai? Nope, merely a way to get over the creek, through the woods, and to a final destination.

Toward late afternoon, after visiting a nearby public garden (adjacent to the Mariner’s trail) and soaking in the many colors of roses, daisies and impatiens, we had to call it quits. It was approaching dinner time. NBB and I were starved to the core. Bike riding for six and a half hours in the summer heat finally took its toll. The bikes were carefully strapped to the car carrier and we headed into town for any resemblance of sustenance. Texan Tom had suggested Courthouse Pub, where I have dined before. The food is delicious (albeit a bit pricey). Oddly enough, Tom and wife Bev appeared beside us at the bar not too long after our arrival. We chatted for a while until we were called to our waiting table and a plate of food that was almost as deliriously yummy as the day’s bike ride.

This is what it’s all about, people. Two wheels that I pedal with delightful freedom. Of course, having a biking buddy (Natasha fills that role as well) who is willing to join me on such adventures, crafts an extra special day of memories. I have found the mountain bike to be an honorable replacement for the loud motorized version. Since my brother gave me this treasure three years ago, I’ve replaced a few parts and added a few others. I’ve been on short and long rides…alone and with friends. I’ve said “goodbye” to the handsome boy in the fall, only to joyously welcome his appearance in the spring. I dream of the next ride or a bike-until-I-fall-down trip of epic proportions with a friend or two.

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No, there is no room for illegal green foliage in my life.

I have an orange-and-black-is-the-new-drug bike.

So…if you’ll excuse me…

I have to go down to the garage now, sit on a bike seat and sniff the essence of my drug.

It always gives me a shiver when I see a cat seeing what I can’t see.

~Eleanor Farjeon~

Gibbs Attacks

I see what he sees, in the fuzzy distance.

But I am clueless over his thoughts.

Is she friend or foe to him, in this particular instance?

 

Does he ponder a gesture of friendship,

or the pounce of an attack?

The scene could be two cats, merely relaxing a few feet apart,

or the onset of a game…the principal players plotting to raise fine hairs down the back.

 

Although all cat games have their rules and rituals, these vary with the individual player. The cat, of course, never breaks a rule. If it does not follow precedent, that simply means it has created a new rule and it is up to you to learn it quickly if you want the game to continue. ~Sidney Denham

 

What goes on in the gray-furred head?

I haven’t a clue, but in waiting there is dread,

that I’ll have to play referee and send them early to bed.

I had plenty of cherished objects to choose from for the subject of this post: A china doll that belonged to my grandmother; a pouting stool painted by my father; an orange bicycle in the garage; jewelry from a friend; a chest of drawers that belonged to a great aunt.

What I eventually chose was this:

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My cherished object is not one thing, it’s a collection.

A collection of photos. In plastic, rectangular boxes.

Memories of childhood, parents, trips, cousins, neighbors, weddings, friends, pets, adulthood and holidays. Secured in plastic boxes from a store with a French name. I drag the boxes out on occasion to look through, only to be surprised by a photo I missed the time before.

Then there was the time when I simply looked surprised…or frightened…as a baby.

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That’s me (with scary hair), bottom middle, along with big brother and Great Aunt Kate. A lovely mother of two resides in a photo next door, with cousins Rosemary and Don bringing up the left.

Pieces of the collection assist in telling the story of a father who, I imagine, was proud of his children…even the one with the silly white bonnet. Adorable. Whatever happened to her?

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Images within a tattered album are of a mother dressed up for Halloween and her daughter, who is sadly NOT dressed up for Halloween.

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My father’s mother was a seamstress and she taught him her craft. Dad sewed what I can only describe as a hippie Aztec outfit that might have been popular in the 70’s as long as everyone was smoking wacky tobacco. (I remember loving that outfit, although I don’t remember if I was in my right mind or not.)

More photos from a life’s novel…

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Of a cat named Harley and bangs that have not been that short in a very long time. Dig the hair on the side, the sprouting wings that almost allowed me to fly. 

The collection, the object(s) that I cherish, are a reflection of many days past and of age and aging. The young girl in the family of 13, becomes a wife, then a mother, and finally a woman of 95. A cousin, Judy, is married to Dave circa 1960. A family of four visits the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Two children sit with Santa Claus. A handsome man sports an Army uniform. Distant relatives are unnamed. A few cats ARE named.

There is also the plastic box that contains memories of a woman in black. A biker chick. Her backside traveled many miles and the many H-D scarves and photos became a scrapbook piece de resistance.  Those days are gone, but she still has the leather jacket and a black and orange bicycle.

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Together, these photos create a highly cherished object. One that I will safeguard and hold close for many years to come. 

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bikerchick57:

I would like to share with you a grin-producing post from Lottie of Spain. I promise, you won’t be able to stop smiling.

Originally posted on Lottie Nevin - The Rioja Diaries:

Just as Irishman and I had finally got some semblance of order back in our lives, there was a knock at the door. Stood on the doorstep was my dear friend Mo with a tiny puppy in her arms.

Wilma at 4 weeks Wilma at 4 weeks

The little scrap was crawling in fleas and shivering. Over night some callous person had dumped the pup in her garden, no doubt in the hope that some English sucker would find the poor mite and take on the responsibility of their unwanted puppy. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence here. Understandably Mo didn’t want to be saddled with a puppy, and besides she was about to leave for the airport so what were we to do?

4-weeks-old

As luck would have it, the scruffy mite was almost the dead spit of Colin. Similar markings, same waggy tail and eyes that screamed out ‘Love me!’ How could I…

View original 702 more words

This will be my one and only political post. I usually like to keep my opinions off the internet.

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Today, however, I am going to make an exception. I will speak my peace and then sit on my hands (except to respond to your comments).

It has started in this country. The race for the next President of the United States is heating up. There are a ton of candidates running, too many to name here. Many don’t have a chance in you-know-where and there are a few that have already grabbed the spotlight, considered to be front-runners of their respective political party. Citizens of the U.S. vote in November of 2016. Between now and then, there will be an explosion of TV and radio media, along with the headache-inducing drone of endless negative ads meant to send us to our living hell until we vote for the right candidate.

In the meantime, I want to move to England. From a 2010 Chicago Tribune article:

In the 2008 (US) presidential race, the candidates spent a total of $1.7 billion, double what was spent in the 2004 race. In the U.K. election (2010), a spending cap of 20 million pounds, about $33 million, was imposed on each of the major parties. Of course, campaigns there are less expensive partly because of a ban on paid radio and TV advertising or any ads on matters of “political or industrial controversy.”

They have a ban on paid radio and TV advertising? Really? Why are we not doing this? Why do we leave our politicians to torture us for months and months on end? This 2010 U.K. election occurred after just one month of campaigning. One month. I realize that the United Kingdom, geographically, might fit into the State of Texas and candidates do not have to travel far to knock on the doors of their constituents, but I am still jealous.

There’s more, however, from CNN Politics that infers it may not be all honey and roses in British politics:

If politicians feel unloved in America, they should try Britain. Here, voters castigate politicians as liars on live television, tell pollsters by 10-1 margins that their leaders don’t care for the national interest and have descended into a corrosive countrywide funk challenging the very legitimacy of government.

Seriously, I’ve wanted to call U.S. politicians “liars” to their face many times, but instead I simply yell at the TV screen. Perhaps a few voters from the U.K. would like to weigh in on the political process in their country and if it’s any better than what we endure in the U.S.

Getting back to the media…

Last week was difficult for me. Another candidate threw his hat into the ring, a candidate that I will not vote for. Ever. Actually, there are three candidates I will not vote for. Ever. Each time they appear on the news, I feel the small hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I become angry. I yell at the TV screen and ultimately turn the channel. I fume for at least five minutes afterwards. Eventually, I calm down and realize it’s not worth the indigestion to get so fired up over a few politicians…until the next time they are on TV. Ugh.

The media loves a good story and they will embellish at will to get us fired up, especially certain cable and prime time networks that openly take political sides. I tuned into one of those networks about five years ago and with every show I watched, the angrier I became. “How dare they?” continually circled in my head, along with a few expletives and distasteful thoughts. One day, I had to turn it off for my own well-being and I haven’t been back since. This is how certain TV networks operate. Tell us what you believe we want to hear (like the politicians). Get us angry. Make us go out and vote for your party or candidate because the other candidate is a jerk and the other party is a bunch of morons and I am not a good person if I don’t vote the right way, for the right person. This is negative media politics, 24/7.

There are two things I would ask of U.S. voters for this presidential election. Turn off the TV and do your homework. Don’t let the negative ads or a cable TV show influence the way you vote. I understand that you have your personal political views, as do I, but sometimes our viewpoints get in the way of truth or of wanting to know the truth.

Alex Chrum, a self-professed non-partisan liberal, wrote:

We, as humans, seem to naturally default to those areas that we find comfort in—places of camaraderie, communion, self-affirmation and self-improvement. We try, as often as possible, to avoid situations that are harmful to our success, happiness and overall well-being. As a result, we tend to neglect those people and ideas that might seem threatening. It’s our “fight or flight” instinct. If you’re gay, chances are you aren’t going to actively seek out the company of violent homophobes. If you’re a person of color (any color, that is), you most likely won’t accept an open dinner invitation from a group of white supremacists. Similarly, rarely do we ever seek out stories and viewpoints that run contrary to our own.

Think about her words. We really don’t want to read or hear or discuss viewpoints that are not our own, let alone hang with people that have a different viewpoint. We listen to the spin doctors that are on our side. We set aside opportunities to learn about all political candidates and viewpoints because we have our hands glued firmly against our ears or eyes. We chastise those that don’t agree with us rather than having a rational, intelligent conversation with the opposition.

Do yourself a favor, dear voters, for the Presidential race, a Governor’s race, or for any political campaign now or in the future.

  • Turn off the slanted cable and primetime networks and search out TV and internet sites that are a bit more unbiased. Try WikiNews, The Real News , Reuters ,  The Independent,  The Economist , PBS, BBC or C-Span.  Or any other news outlet that doesn’t cater to one side or the other. Listen or read with your eyes, ears and mind open.
  • Use websites such as FactCheck.orgVotesmart.org, and Ontheissues.org to check all candidates and the issues, not only those that you oppose. Base your vote on fact rather than a negative ad that may or may not be true. Remember that some of those ads are paid for by special interest groups that simply have the goal of getting their candidate elected. Look for the truth, not an angry fairy tale.
  • Have calm conversations with those on the other side of the political fence. Be respectful. Listen to what they have to say about their party and candidate. You don’t have to agree or change your vote, simply hear the other side without an enraged comment or the wagging of a fuming finger.
  • Career politicians want to get elected and re-elected. That’s their job. Keep this in the back of your mind as they kiss the babies and promise not to raise taxes as you line up at the polls. Know their agenda and their political history. Has your potential candidate kept his or her promises in the past?
  • Don’t spew political vitriol or throw contempt around on Facebook, WordPress, political blogs, or at your neighbor. It’s not becoming and it doesn’t make anyone change their mind. It only rolls downhill into a big ball of hateful crap. You may think the blogger/commenter/neighbor is a dick, but your hate-filled words make you a dick.
  • Finally, go out and VOTE. It is your right (and some say duty) in this democratic country. Exercise the knowledge that you have obtained. Vote for the person you believe will do the best job not only for you, but also for the Independent, Republican, Democratic and Socialist neighbors in your suburb. Your vote does count.

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So there it is. I have spoken my peace about the 2016 Presidential election. My hope is that voters will consider some of what I have said – that doing a little research, checking facts on all candidates, having a productive conversation over opposing viewpoints, and being respectful of all voters will have a positive effect on the way we vote, who we vote for, and the overall outcome of the election.

In conclusion, I must take my own advice. Crazy cat lady memes and cute baby photos on Facebook are not as important as a knowledgeable vote. Hold me to that, please.

And keep your finger on the mute button…in case one of those negative ads tries to send you to hell and back.

Have a happy, insightful and peaceful Presidential Race, America!

PS: Dear readers, I encourage your comments and any insights you may have in uncovering true facts about political candidates. I only ask that you keep it clean and respectful. Thank you.

In response to this week’s photo challenge, Half and Half, I present photos from a Wednesday afternoon bike ride on the Wiouwash trail. Blue skies, temps around 75F, and split images made it a perfect 14-mile adventure.

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The blue of the sky outweighs the green of the grass, but two wanna-be Joshua trees split the vertical landscape.

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The diagonal split of a railroad track, half of the here & now and half of what was to come.

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Trees to the left, trail to the right. Staying on track makes this adventure most gnarly and bright.

Click on the Half and Half link at the beginning of this post to peruse the bevy of talented photographers and their interpretation of this challenge.

I survived the past five days of theater, concert, funeral, mom, shopping, church and business trip.

I’m a tad bit tired, especially after an earlier, very sweaty yoga class.

All I can muster up this evening is a hit-and-run of the patio gardens that Natasha and I tend.

First up: Black-eyed Susan vines and a lucky turtle.

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Clematis and Sun-Patiens

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We celebrate the Fourth of July all summer long.

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And can’t get enough of pink impatiens, even the out-of-focus ones.

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Intermixed with the Impatiens is the perfume of white Lobularia.

Besides smelling “lovely,” it grows like a weed and almost hides the bright pink when looking up from the ground.

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I see the neighbor is trying to keep up with the Jones’s. How dare she.

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That’s it for today.

More to come on the writing-more-than-two-paragraphs side of things very soon. I promise!

“Today I will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant,

in which case I will eat a cookie.” ~Cookie Monster~

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Then again, when life is pleasant, I will eat a cookie.

Or perhaps soft-serve ice cream and Oreos (concert sustenance and beautiful-summer-night reward).

Life is pleasant and good, people. Don’t wait for unpleasantness to indulge in what you love.

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If you check out the comment thread of my last post, between The Master and I, you will see that we both have significant birthdays coming up in 2017.

How did I get to be this old?

Time slips away, unknowing and unsuspecting. One day I am 25 with a flat stomach and no cellulite and the next I am heading toward the big 6-0, wondering why I can’t lose 5 pounds of flubber around a flubbery midsection to save my soul.

I need a piece of chocolate and an ice cream cone to contemplate this mystery.

While contemplation runs afoot and somewhat wild, I thought I would take this opportunity to steer you toward an upcoming blogfest. Blogger Dan Antion at No Facilities and six of his friends are holding the Cherished Blogfest the weekend of July 24-26, 2015. All you have to do is write about a cherished object and share with the blogging community and other Cherished Blogfest participants. Check out the Blogfest link to learn details. I’ve picked out my cherished object and can hardly wait to get started on writing the post.

Then again…

I’ve been a tad busy and unable to sit down at the computer and write a novel about anything, including mom or the cats or the lovely fireworks display this past Saturday. I suppose I could have penned a poem or shared yet another photo of the felines last night, but I preferred to sit outside with the neighbors, eating a bratwurst, sipping on spiced rum and cola, and talking stupid. I have priorities.

This afternoon, after work, I have to make a trip to mom’s place (brandy emergency, she’s almost out) (bad daughter forgot to check on Sunday), then hit the gym, make supper, water the patio plants, watch Star Trek (priorities, people), and finally go to bed.

The rest of the week is a bust as well: Thursday evening is filled with a performance of “The Lion in Winter” at the local community theater. Natasha’s daughter is one of the leads, I will be in the audience. On Friday evening, I shall be in attendance at a Christian music festival (Chris Tomlin anyone?). Saturday’s time is taken with a friend’s husband’s funeral (it’s okay, he had been very ill for quite some time), a visit with mom, doing laundry and getting ready to leave Sunday afternoon on a short business trip. I might be able to sit and relax by next Tuesday night.

And time continues to slip away…

So, it is with sadness that I must succumb to a mini blogging vacation. I have to steer thoughts and actions to other events. I’ll be back next week and I may even have a story to tell about all of this busy-ness.

In the meantime, sign up for a blogfest and go find a few new bloggers at WordPress. You’ll need something to occupy your time while I’m gone.

WP Photo Challenge: “Ready to walk on through? This week, share an image of a door.”

The captions tell the short story.

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Patio Door:

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Two Ways

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Tunnel Doors:

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Times Two

To friends in the U.S. and those who celebrate, Happy Independence weekend. Have a wonderful 4th of July!

In breaking news…Gibbs hung the mouse early Tuesday morning.

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Again.

Third strike, buddy.

That’s 10 to life under the watchful eye of your human and no treats until I say so.

(The tossing of paper off the computer table was ignored due to lack of injury or insult.)