…and they lived Happily Ever-After?

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(Daily Prompt: living happily forever.)

When the beautiful Princess meets the handsome (and rich) Prince at the end of the fairy tale, and the author tells us that “they lived happily forever after,” the notion is at least implied that the author has taken us along the barbed and beautiful path winding through the story until… The End.

That’s it…the end of the story.    Anyone who is interested in hearing about what happens after the presumeably happy couple skips along on their merry way into the sunset.  (Remember those grade school book reports at school where we would smugly say to the class : “to find out  wat happens next, you will have to read the book….” ?   Well, admittedly that was a cop out, but the teacher was well aware of that fact and had a list of embarrassing questions to ask.   (It was not easy to fool Miss Cruelhart.)

Oh sure, it’s easy to extrapolate!   If one really wants to, we can speculate about the countless ways that the story could develop, or even drag on endlessly as the Princess and the Prince went about their lives in the Ever-after.

Is it even possible to live happily forever after?  After what?  After the happy ending in the Fairy Tale story as written?  How long IS “forever after” anyway?   One human life span?    What does “happy” require–would it be possible for BOTH the Priness and the Prince to achieve perfect harmony and compatibility indefinitely, until the end of Forever?

What if the Princess REALLY was awakened from her deep and endless sleep, and was socked with the Prince’s infamous bad breath when he kissed her. .  (There had to be some reason a handsome and rich Prince would have remained eligible to encounter beautiful Princesses that were just waiting for him to come along and discover her waiting for his attentions.)

Happily “ever-after” might be able to recover from halitosis (if the Prince was rich enough, and someone recommended some good toothpaste,)     But how could they get over the negative issues raised when the Princess had the gall to wrinkle her delicate nose in distaste?   Talk about hurt feelings…here the guy shows up out of nowhere and uses his magic powers to awaken the Maiden from her sleep, and she rebuffs him?

What if the girl simply does not LIKE the Prince?   What if HE doesn’t like her?

No wonder the Fairy Tales end with the “happily ever-after” thing.  They would not be as charming if the last sentence in the story was something like: “…the Prince immediately realized his mistake, when the Princess’ first waking word was “EW…”    How rude!   And actually, chances are that the Prince found her less than attractive up close.–who knew how long she had been lying there in her coma?

Trash and treasure in 400 words…

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[Day 19, writing101 Free Writing, 400 words non-stop]

Four hundred words is not really that many,  it depends on the subject, the time, and style of writing.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do (I don’t like that “been wanting to do” instead of simply saying “wanted to do.”  Anyway, the Word Police probably won’t be interested in this free-writing stuff, except maybe the least faint-hearted among them.  As I was saying, I have thought about writing about clearing out stuff.   I have a lot of stuff, as I’ve explained before, having had two brick-n-mortar shops which closed and moved into my garage…and bedroom…spare room…office/book room…closets…basement, although I’ve been trying to give that space a break as it is already overloaded with stuff.

Now, when I say “stuff” I don’t mean “junk.”  Most, the vast majority of said stuff,  is books…thousands of books, some listed for sale, some waiting to be listed.  I am pleased to say that the junk from among the good books has long since been disposed of, which means that good-junk went to the Goodwill, and real junk went into the trash.

My other stash of mostly-good stuff is dollhouse furniture, dolls, toys, “little everythings” as I call them.  This topic is fodder for another post…dollhouse paraphernalia is a very wide subject.

Then there is the real issue here–dealing with miscellaneous nick-knacks and mementos, souveniers, that sort of thing.  This includes anything any of the kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids ever drew, wrote, or made.   This includes such things as a pinecone with yarn arranged artistically around the edges.  When I asked the granddaughter what it was, she replied: “a pinecone with yarn on it.”  Now–how could I throw that out?

Caveat–this post does not in any way apply to  anything that was my grandmother’s.  Those things are stashed high up, with threatening notes inside or taped to the bottom warning of dire consequences for trashing them–some things are sacrosanct.

[Well, I’m afraid I cheated, I ran over my allotted 400 words, so without thinking I went back and edited out some words.  In fact it was about sixty words, including one entirely foreign subject.  Sorry.  I would go back and try to find an earlier draft (by about 5 minutes) but don’t want to mess up the post.    The deleted sentences had nothing to do with the point of the post anyway.]

End

Beware of hot Pop-Tarts…and the Word Police

This and That

There is something that bothers me, and I have been meaning to throw the question out to see if anyone knows or cares about the answer.

Here it is, the question– how and when was the word “ensure” imposed upon us as the preferred (if not required) usage in instruction booklets and manuals for all manner of appliances and handbooks?

Buy a new toaster. The manual warns that the user must “ensure” that certain precautions are taken before the toaster is put into active duty. There is a long list of things that must be “ensured,” such as plugging the electrical cord into a properly grounded outlet; the toaster should be operated on a safe fire-proof surface; and the user must refrain from inserting inappropriate objects into the toaster.

The manufacturer is usually very specific about what TO DO and NOT TO DO. Never put water into the toaster. Do not operate the appliance when in the bathtub. Do not put butter or jelly on slices of bread before toasting them
In case the bread gets stuck, do not try to pry it loose with a table knife or fork. Don’t allow children to play with the toaster.

My favorite all-time direction deals with the toasting of Pop-Tarts, which is, incidentally, one of my favorite foods. I make no apology. The instructional gem of logic and perfect cover-their-ass precautionary caveats
Is as follows:

“DO NOT toast toaster pastries in this toaster. But IF YOU MUST–ensure that the pastry is not cracked or broken. If it is difficult to remove from the toaster, turn it upside down and carefully slide it out. If necessary, allow the Pop-Tart to cool thoroughly before trying to remove it.”

To return to my original question, I really would like to know how the Word Police managed to spread the apparently mandatory ENSURE word, instead of the old wording such as: “make sure,” or “be sure,” or even “assure” (although the latter probably isn’t correct.)

The Deer in the Tree Garden.

Cats & Animals

More than likely no one really cares a mite, but I really need to write a note about the photo I have in my header of my blog Sometimes.  First, I admit that it was chosen because it was needed to have a sort of neutral photo for a new theme I was trying out.  (Or an old theme that was back in favor.)  I previously had a picture of some beautiful red Hibiscus flowers, but even I was getting tired of them..

This photo is cloudy for two reasons: it is shot through the less-than-pristine glass patio door; and in the rain.  The reason I grabbed my camera and hustled up some shots is…well, because it is a deer.  I love deer, and see them fairly often, but they are elusive…especially when in photo range.  This photo turned out fairly well in that it also features my tree garden, which I have discussed previously.

Deer always manage to sneak up and stand in the yard in some picturesque pose.  My deer photos usually leave something to be desired, such as lining up the deer so that there is a wind-chime-bug coverning the deer’s head.  Or it’s the rear end of the deer…not that white-tailed deer rear ends are not cute in and of themselves.

So when I peeked out the window and saw the deer standing by the full-blooming Rose-of-Sharon, with a “ok, let’s take the picture, lady…” attitude, I got it.

The point of this post is that in keeping with the “spruce-up-your-blog” campaign over at WordPress, I admit that mine needs a lot of work.

Speaking of sprucing-up, I hope that I’ve settled on a theme for awhile.  I am using… uh, let’s see… Bold Life theme… one which I flit back and forth to because I like the colors, the lay-out, and it just seems comfortable.     As I have said before, in the past two months I have changed fifteen times, many of them back and forth to Bold Life.  The problem I have with switching themes is that it left me having to drag-and-drop my widgets every time.  Yes, I know there is a simple way to do that, but I didn’t know it until just a couple of days ago.

So anyway, that is what I wanted to say about the deer header.  It remind me of a sort of water-color or blurry painting (not being a visual artist I wouldn’t know an impressionist painting from a cubic style, if there even IS such a thing.)   OK, so the stylized photo of the deer, the droopy wildflowers, and the soggy hanging Million-Bells plant, is more the result of poor photography skills.

Another thing, while the subject is up on screen…I am working on developing a writing work ethic in which I write every day.  No excuses.  The hazard here is that once the material starts flowing out of the brain, through the keyboard, onto the computer screen…well, let’s just say I get carried away easily.

Wouldn’t it be some kind of poetic justice if I were to LIMIT my writing time each day?

Stream-of-consciousness…proceed at yer own risk

Commentary, History

[DAY THREE prompt for Writing 101.]

Note: this is my offering for this assignment, which is to write for at least 15 minutes non-stop, without thinking much about where it is going or where it has been.  This is how my brain works, in compartmentalized tid-bits of life.  Normally I give the post at least a look-see to try to pick up the dumbest errors and/or a stab at continuity.  Warts and typos and all.. WYSIWYG, “what you see is what you get,” no frills or whistles.

This is a lso my commitment to develop a better writing habit…since I call myself a Writer.:-)

Wow, my three favorite songs in my whole life?   I actually wrote a blog post on this subject a few weeks ago, but never published it.  For one thing it is not easy to narrow down eight decades of music into one three-song package.   I can narrow it down to three vinyl long-play albums.

When in Germany back in the late 1950s we listened to Armed Forces Radio or Network or whatever it was.   There was a disc jockety who had a radio show which was introduced as ” when the creek don’t rse, something like that, or actually that was the sign-off.  If the lord’s willin and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be back tomorrow morning at 6:05.   Red Jones was his name, Sergeant Red Jones.  He played the lates hits from back in the states every morning after the 6 a.m. news.

I have always been obsessive about music, as well as anything else, and I had three or five basic records (yes they were 33 1/3rpm, vinyl.    The three I played the most were “Carmen” “Johnny Horton, and In a Persian Market, by David Carroll and orchestra.   We also played others music, bt those are the three that stand out.  (Sgt.  Jones never played any of them on air to my knowledge.)

I had grown to love the music of Bizet’s opera,, Carmen.  I had seen the movie Carmen Jones, starring Dorothy Danddridge and Harry Belafonte, with Pearl Bailey and other greats I can’t think of right now.   The record version of Carmen that I had was performed by I forget now what orchestra it was…and featured only music, no words.  (I wasn’t THAT classy.)  I can still hum most of th opera, but the words are not known…for one thing it ws in Sapanish and I would not study Spanish for another thirty years.  Anyway… Johnny Horton did all those “American Patriot” songs…noteabley the Battle of New Orleans, and Sink the Bismarck, and Ya Marched all the Way Johnny Reb.   and the sad tale of the horse that was killed at Little Big Horn with Custer.  Those songs still bring a tear to my eyes.  You do not want to hear me sing an of them…unless you are one of my cats, who will come from all over the house at the first note.

It was these songs that originally sparked my interest and/or fascination in the Civil War, the German Navy, Gen Jackson, and Persia.   In a Persian Markt was a favorite of mine, and still brings up visions of camels walking across the desert and tents and arabs and all that.  The album was Percussion Orientale.

I still have those original albums.   I copied them once on cassette tapes with poor results.  I think they are available on CD.

[my DAY THREE prompt, writing stream-of-consciousness for non-stop 15 minutes.]  one interruption…a computer calling to ask if I needed business capital… I was rude to the computer as I hung up.

“One for the money, 2 for the show, 3 to get ready, and 4 to GO…”

Hollywood & TV

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Show Must Go On.”

Today’s prompt reminds me of the old rhyme “one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.” Although rather obscure in origin perhaps, it rings clear in meaning.

ONE can be the Producer of the show.  He or she is the person, or more likely committee, that decides to put on a show.  Let’s say “they.”  They put up the money in various ways–through personal funds, community money in some form, investment capital, and LAWYERS who handle assorted legal matters.    Without these deep-pockets players there quite possibly would not BE a show.

TWO is the Director of the show.  This person hires and fires costumers, electricians and carpenters, painters, stage hands, all kinds of “go-fers” who go-for coffee, go-for needle and thread, go-for pizza.  Also the Director recruits and auditions writers, and actors — without whom there would hardly BE a show.  Then it is the Director who actually Directs the show, from mundane who-stands-where supervision to helping the Star to die perfectly when the murder scene happens.

THREE would be the various trouble-shooters that deal with all sorts of problems ranging from tempermental stars to malfunctioning wardrobes.   These people are charged with the responsibility of dealing with The Media, making sure there is sufficient publicity…of the right kind.   They get the show ready-to-go. They put out the brush fires when tempers flare and Murphy’s Law is at work–anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong, or at least someone will have to at least do the worrying about such issues.

FOUR certainly not the least of what makes the success or failure of the Show — those  actresses and actors who are the STARS of the show, upon whose names and personas are the magic that makes the show a hit or .. not a hit.   In this role at times a brilliant script can be tarnished by a less than stellar performance by the Stars….or on the other hand, a popular and perfect-for-the-role player can save a sub-standard plot and turn it into a huge hit show.

I would choose to be in the Three-To-Get-Ready category…which is where those involved are a variety of skills, each of them important to the end result.

Handling the Money angle would not appeal to me at all.  It is not in my area of expertise, for one thing, but also I think it would be boring and frustrating, and rather snobbish.

Being The Star might sound glamorous and exciting, but to me it would actually be anything but!  Working under the hot lights, dealing with The Co-Star, and trying to do exactly as Directed would not be fun.  Not only the Pomposity and big-feeling bossiness of  a prima-donna director would not be anything I would like to do either.  I would hate being criticized, or told how to format my performance.  Also as a Star it seems to me that a lot of the blame for short-comings in my ability would be unfair, and cause great resentment.

Actually I would like to be a Writer, but this task is not one of the choices for this prompt.  Therefore, I’d be in one of the sub-sets of the category of Director.  In that capacity I would be able to do my specific job, and make whatever difference possible to the outcome of the Show.

Getting the most from Photography practice

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Third From the Top.”

Make sure I use these parcels of enlightenment to gain as much knowledge to make my blog photographs….as good as they can be.”

(This is the third sentence (slightly paraphrased) from Mark Bialczak’s blog, at http://markbialczak.com/2015/03/25/photo-101-keeping-my-edge-aligned/  which I highly recommend.)

(Actually Mark is referring to his photography using his camera phone, but in keeping with the assignment I elected to edit his words to adapt to my own post.   I hope he won’t mind 🙂

The hints and tips offered by bloggers and WordPress support people are invaluable to me  in improving my own photography skills.  In fact the very concept of being “required” to do the exercises is extremely helpful as it brings some order into my chaotic work schedule.   The word required in this useage refers to my own personal requirements, forcing me to participate–. there are NO mandatory requirements to the DailyPost feature. only suggestions.

I have been taking photographs for a very long time.  Haven’t won any prizes, but have  learned a lot through trial-and-error, and instruction here and there– from my staff photographer buddy at the newspaper where I worked years ago, and from my husband, who was an accomplished and experienced photographer.

My original working camera was a Yashika-Mat, which I still have.  However, I can’t find it at this moment when I want to take a photo of it.  [To see my search method of operation please see  http://mumbletymuse.com/2015/02/23/mad-woman-searching-for-lost-things/  which pretty much sums it up.]

Anyway, I supported five kids for two years with use of that camera…(not well, but adequately.)     It was recommended by my friend at the paper, as being relatively easy to use, and indeed it was quite serviceable.  The Yashika-Mat paid for itself several times over in the years I used it.  I was not a staff photographer, but as a reporter and then features writer I did personally take a lot of the casual photos used with my articles.

Later I had a variety of 35-mm SLR cameras, including a Nikon, a couple of Hewlett-Packards, another Nikon, and now my Sony Sure-Shot, which has a Carl Zeiss lens, and 4xZoom, plus a “no shake” feature to compensate for my…well, shaking.  🙂  Once I used some of the excellent advice and tips found here from Mark and other real photographers (and reading the instruction manual) I have come to respect this nice little Sony.  Still no prize-winning photos, but so far I have been very pleased with its range and versatility.

It is important to say that I depend heavily on automatic cameras, and it has been years since I actually tried to use the 35mm settings.  One of my difficulties was that it is hard to stay still, and my vision has not really been conducive to good focusing skills.    My proficiency with f-stops and lighting has never been excellent, either.

Nevertheless, over the years I have managed to take photos that are at least passable, some of them pretty high quality at least as far as esthetics, if not technical skills…if I do say so myself.  I would add, that my short-comings as a photographer have not particularly worsened with advancing age, so I can’t use that excuse.  🙂

Something that I have learned over the years is that skilled operation of almost anything comes with practice.  I know that’s pretty mundane, but still, part of my issues with photography has been lack of preparation, and neglecting to “get to know my camera.”

That means it wasn’t the best idea to take a brand new camera on a trip to Mexico and read the instruction manual in the van riding to and from wonderful photo-ops.  Sure, my photos that resulted were not all really bad, they just could have been better with a bit of effort on my part.

That’s the story of my life, photography chapter.

Frozen custard, please…

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I could say chocolate or strawberry ice cream could fill in for vanilla in a pinch, but no thanks, I’ll pass on the Sweetened Tea, Almost-Blueberry, or Chunky Raw Cookie Dough.  Not that I will automatically refuse to try any new ice cream flavor, unless refusal is really OK, and will not hurt the feelings of the host who has discovered a brand new super flavor which guests HAVE to try.  If they insist, well, … I’ll taste it, but I won’t like it.

My favorite is good frozen custard, that tastes like it is supposed to. Vanilla frozen custard. There is a place in my town that has just the kind I like…rich, not-too-sweet, creamy but light. This stand is open fron April 1 to October 31 each year, and only sells frozen custard and ice cream concoctions. At one time they sold burgers, but that slowed down the service and created extra work.

As a child my grandparents took me to Euclid Beach, which was a big amusement park on the near East side of Cleveland, Ohio, and was a major location for shop picnics and family outings. Euclid Beach has been closed since about 1960, I’d have to look it up to know the closing date. It was the main amusement park featuring major rides and a variety of attractions, in addition to the beach on Lake Erie.

Euclid Beach had the first frozen custard stand that I ever heard of. I can still see it, right near the entrance past the exhibition buildings. All the stand sold was frozen custard…vanilla. It tasted like custard, which it was supposed to do, and had a creamy taste. It was good.

In one way Euclid Beach was disappointing, to me anyway as a kid, because when I went there with my parents and brother it was for a shop picnic, put on by the company my Dad worked for. That meant that admission was free for company workers, but families either had to bring their own picnic lunches OR buy food and drinks on the premises. So that meant our picnic baskets, and thermos with real lemonade, were brought in and set on a table to mark our space in the huge pavilion. Most families brought their own lunch. We did all get a frozen custard, but there was no money then for snacks and souveniers.

So to return to the question “What kind of ice cream?” I choose Vanilla. If I break down and choose something else, it is sure to be a disappointment. Oh, I do like butter-pecan ice cream, but it has to have real, crunchy, pecans…and good authentic flavor. None of that all-purpose white “soft serve” stuff with nuts or various other ingredients added.

I’ll have vanilla Frozen Custard, please…

Where has the “Loyal Opposition” gone?

Commentary

Whatever happened to the concept of the “loyal opposition?”  What that meant  was that the two-party political system we entertain here in the United States was composed of both Democrats and Republicans, who more or less took turns running the country.  The percentage of Rs and Ds varied at different times.  The “loyal opposition” meant that when members of one party had control of the governing bodies, the other party cooperated and supported the system and the Chief Executive–the President.

That is not to say that there has never been wiggle-room on major issues on which the representatives of the various fifty states disagreed…or more specifically on which their constituents had strong feelings one way or the other.  This political form allows for differences in campaign rhetoric…and for situational platforms for argument and regional points-of-view.

Recently 47 members of the United States Senate acted on their own to basically go over the head of the President and threaten a foreign power with possible political ramifications.  The key point here is that all but a handful of Republican Senators signed the obnoxious–if not treasonous–letter to Iran, warning that they could reverse any agreement or negotiations of President Barack Obama concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

The huge number of signers indicates that there was a significant volume of political pressure on Republican Senators, so pervasive and strict that only a handful–less than ten–dared to go against the party sledgehammer.   Vulnerable members of the Senate apparently had little choice, and not much to lose because of the sheer number of participants who signed the letter to Iran.  The others, the old-timer big-shots of the party and the Tea Partiers and axe-grinders, could well afford to join the vast majority and sign the letter.   No doubt these people thought that their action was a bold definitive statement, and would be accepted by the general nay-sayers and Obama-haters among their constituents.

In some quarters–such as major national newspapers–are calling these 47 Senators “traitors.”  That’s going pretty far, as obviously most of the Signers of the infamous letter to Iran are not traitors, and may have looked upon the matter as inconsequential, and a harmless thorn in President Obama’s side. One that would cause a commotion, and attempt to somehow diminish the President’s standing by building their own reputation as out-spoken and heroic firebrands.

In my opinion it was a stupid move, and illustrates just how far from common sense and good government our Senate has advanced.

Remember a few decades ago when the huge scandal that would be known forever as “Iran Contra” broke? Hmmm… Iran again… when the CIA sold guns to Iran to make money to finance the tragic yet silly fiasco  of trying to fight the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.   It could be argued I suppose, that then-President Ronald Reagan actually did have authority to approve the complicated Iran-Contra operation…and of course there was the added attraction which provided the Democrats a platform for beating the drums against the Reagan administration.

But that’s another story…