In Defense of the Shark – Shark Week

its likeness

the stuff of childhood ocean fears

legendary killer out for blood

and flesh and muscle and bone

yours and mine

to be ripped

by thousands of teeth

snarling

vice gripped and torn

like shredded chicken off

so many

legs and arms

—————————–

the creature

suddenly becomes such click bait

when it dares to venture far too close

dorsal fins causing panic

in its home!

becoming

torture porn fodder

for those who hang

on every word

a swimmer or surfer

a victim

a shark bite

—————————-

a different view

sleek shark, always misunderstood

big ones small ones and those in between

have you ever watched one swim?

well, I have

and they are

very graceful swimmers

to be admired

not to be feared

just like all living things

just like you

needs to eat

———————-

how can you

when you’re trespassing in their home

expect them to never come around?

swimming without a compass

hungry shark

seeking food

 obviously can’t tell

fish from human

so forgive him

maybe you really don’t

taste that good

anyway

“Smash” cakes and other special things

I have recently seen some recipes for something called a “smash cake.” Being the cake lover that I am, I was intrigued. I did a search for “smash cake” and found out that smash cakes are what you bake for a baby’s first birthday, for smashing purposes. Many of these are quite elaborate and are usually decorated nicely. When did these cakes become named “smash cakes” and why are they now a thing? I mean, any old piece of cake, store bought or homemade, will suffice, right? I mean, why put all of that effort into it? It’s not the freaking cake that’s the star of that show, it’s the baby, who will eventually wear the frosting on his or face after shoving the yummy goodness into their face. Also, parties are usually held for this momentous occasion and cake is generally served. Usually, the party guests eat the same cake as the baby and the baby has no memory of the event. Of course, the cake smeared face pictures are always good for a laugh or to display at their wedding. (not that I ever did that, lol)

This new tradition begs the question that I have been asking myself recently, “why does EVERYTHING this generation does have to be so freaking special?” Everything! I haven’t been to a baby’s first birthday party in about 25 years, but I do understand that this millennial generation is all about the internet. I’m really not ragging on that generation – my own kids are millennials. So far, they have chosen not to participate in these new rituals/traditions and that’s fine. Everything is staged. Everything is posed. Every little event must be documented for internet sharing. Do they even have literal scrapbooks? We had baby books. I kept baby books for my kids. In them are the usual – locks of hair from the first haircut, a few drawings that I kept, and some memories of their first couple of years. I have pictures. They’re in storage boxes, save for a few I keep out.

I’ve also wondered if these new trends, specifically the making of a special “smash cake” is only seen in certain socio-economic circles. Is this something that evolved from the wedding reception of smashing cake into each other’s faces/mouths? My own husband adamantly refused to participate in that and we agreed ahead of time that we wouldn’t do it. Enough wondering about that. I’m off to Google the answers to these burning questions.

The Great Pretender

Facebook “knows” us. I think we can all agree that for better or worse (mostly worse), we are targeted by pages, groups and ads based on what Facebook knows about us. I recently discovered a Facebook page entitled, “Pretend It’s Still the 1970s.” When posting, one of the rules is that all posts must be in the present tense as if you are actually posting from the 70s, whatever age you were then. Fun, right? Some of the posts are, in my opinion, of low quality. By this, I mean that rather than putting effort into actually posting a snippet of your life, a stock image of something will be posted and the poster will say something like, “It’s 1970 and the Beatles just broke up,” with an album cover or a picture of the Beatles. Those don’t interest me as much as the posts with real pictures of the poster and something that was happening in the picture. I decided to post my own memory and here it is.

It’s picture day for my 4th grade class. I’m wearing my best Toughskins; the ones without patches on the knees and I just had my shag haircut trimmed. The best part is that my best friend Andrea is sitting next to me! She’s cool and has mini bikes that we ride around her house. Her mom lets us have chips and Kool Aid. We never have stuff like that at my house!

My teacher Miss Zimmerman is so much fun. During indoor recess, she played Rock the Boat on our class record player and we all did “the Bump!

After school today I watched Match Game with my brother. Then we went outside to play on our gym set. My favorite thing is to hang upside down on the bars.

Fun fact, I Googled Ms. Zimmerman and found her still in the local area practicing psychology. I recognized her almost immediately from her Psychology Today profile picture!

Reflections Of My Life

20 points if any of you know the group who sang the title song here.

I began blogging way back in 2004. At least I think it was 2004. Then, I had two teens. So much has happened since then. Too much to even write about.

I always felt really comfortable writing about my life and including all kinds of personal information because the blogging platform I used then was essentially a little community. I don’t know for sure how many people were actually on that forum, but they had this great feature called blogrings, where you could connect with others based on topics that you had in common. For example, I was in a blogring with moms who had kids in school band. I was also in a couple local blogrings and a few writing groups. The blogrings were only accessible by those in the ring. My husband and I love to reminisce about when we blogged on that platform. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement and the advent of Facebook and other social media sites has made legit blogging with actual content about your personal life seem somewhat archaic and even a little self serving.

However, I want this blog to be a reflection of my life and things that matter to me. I won’t try to write engaging content all of the time, but instead, I will ramble on about shit that will mean nothing to most of you and occasionally post pictures of things that make me happy.

I spent a lot of time over the past couple of weekends just chilling outside next to a local dam. It’s a far cry from the riverwalk at Chattanooga that I used to love to go to, but beautiful in its own way. I also got a new phone with a kick ass camera. I swore I’d never be one of those people who valued such things on a cellphone, but alas, times change.

The problem with “lyrics analysis”

There are several TikTokkers I have stopped following because their main schtick lately is listening to a song from the past and dissecting the lyrics, thereby labeling it as “creepy”, “rapey” or “cringe.” (I think the word cringe is pretty cringe, but that’s another story for another blog)

Unfortunately, many of the songs that are chosen for this are hits from the 70’s and 80’s. I think we can all agree that times have changed. Movies from our childhood and teen years are now regarded as woefully tone-deaf, culturally offensive or worse. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” A lot of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s (and before) are quick to declare that we are the tough generation since we drank out of a garden hose or rode our bikes without helmets. Often, we roll our eyes and say that we survived it. That is survivorship bias. Not to get too dark here, but “we” all didn’t survive. That’s why bike helmets have been made mandatory for children under 16 in some areas and why schools don’t have smoking areas. Did I just unlock a memory there?!

It can be a catalyst for change when we look back on a previous generation’s culture and try to make the next generation healthier, more tolerant, or any other positive thing. My husband and I have virtually stopped reading biographies of our favorite musicians because we would rather not let their real life stories tarnish our memories of them or their music. That’s not saying that we condone any bad behavior. Besides the obvious criminal behaviors, sometimes we’ve got to just chalk it up to them being flawed people. John Lennon is a prime example of that and there are so many others. He’s not around to defend himself, but his son Julian’s forgiveness of him speaks volumes.

Some of the most popular songs I’ve seen crucified are the following:

Tonight’s the Night – Rod Stewart (1976)

Clair – Gilbert O’Sullivan (1972)

Into the Night – Benny Mardones (1980)

Nights on Broadway – the Bee Gees (1975)

I’m not going to post lyrics here, as they’re easily searched. Many already know that Tonight’s the Night was banned by the BBC with its seductive lyrics. Admittedly, in 1976, I was only 12 years old and was very naive. My parents didn’t really put limitations on what I could listen to and my brother and I liked to go through our father’s record albums and play them. As a 12 year old, I didn’t even know what a “virgin child” was. I just knew that Rod Stewart was a popular singer and this was on the radio a lot. Clair is a sweet song about the love Gilbert O’Sullivan had for his manager’s little daughter, Clair. No, it is not p e d o. Clair herself has spoken up about this song and her fondness for Gilbert. I suppose it has been taken out of context and listened to with “creepy man” ears. I know that if a woman sang a song like this there would not be anyone saying anything. Into the Night was written by Benny Mardones when he found out his teenage neighbor was living in a dysfunctional household. Benny took care of her and her family after the father walked out. The romantic undertones are there because Benny’s co-writer was taken aback by her beauty. Yes, that is icky. Does it make it a bad song? I always thought it was a nice song about the budding romance of two teens. I still like the song. Nights on Broadway, you ask? Yes. There are some lines, “I had to follow you, though you did not want me to.” Now we’re just reaching for straws.

There are several problems with this and one is that these critics are reaching for low-hanging fruit. It’s easy to look back and criticize and that’s why I no longer find it amusing. They’re likely to be preaching to their millennial choir. That brings me to the next problem and that’s the blatant hypocrisy. My oldest is a millennial and like my parents did with me, I tried not to censor his music and there was A LOT that got played on the radio that was censored. My kids and I used that to discuss that when lyrics are “beeped out” or replaced, that changes the meaning of the song, and most importantly, what that song means to you, the listener. I wonder if these folks who are making these videos about “our” music have listened to what’s on Top 40. If they are going to dissect songs from the 70’s and 80’s that have no foul language and try to sell their brand of snark, maybe they should look at what passes for music these days. Or, maybe just let artists make art.

Scott C. Holstad’s TOP Subject Rankings in Open Library

My husband’s legacy. Check it out!

hankrules2011

Open Library is overseen and operated by the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/), the self-described “Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine.” It’s an online “Library” that loans many items out and makes others they claim have been donated to them for free distribution available to readers and users. Wikipedia states it claims to have over 20 Million records in its database, so it’s not a small operation. I have an author’s listing/profile there which was created by an Anonymous User on April 29, 2008 for reasons unknown and over 20 years before I ever heard of Open Library, let alone found I had a listing there.

My Open Library Listing: https://openlibrary.org/authors/OL2928969A/Scott_C._Holstad

Scott C. Holstad’s Open Library Author Listing

I honestly have some mixed feelings about the practice, this business model, because while they’re likely the most “credible” of such sites, like all of them…

View original post 3,091 more words

Courage to Make a Change

And other topics.

In 1977, my brother and I boarded a plane, sans parents, to the state of our birth and the one where all of our extended family still resided. We had cousins and there’s just something special about those kids who were like siblings, only better. No shade at all to my brother, who was and still remains one of my best friends. We were on our way to spend a week at our cousin’s cousin’s beach cottage in Connecticut in the heat of July.

We had a blast! I was 13, he was almost 12 and our cousins were 14 and 10. Our grandmother, aunt and uncle were also there. We met the cousins from the other side of the family and while I felt a twinge of jealousy, wanting my cousins all to myself, T and N were great fun. Both girls were close in age to us and we get into a shitload of mischief with them and our older cousin, S. I often wonder if my brother, the only boy among us, ever felt left out, but he seemed to enjoy our fun. T and I bonded for years over our mutual love of Shaun Cassidy. Anyway, it was awesome and when Facebook happened, we were all back in touch, much older with families and husbands and jobs, etc.

N is the youngest of her four siblings and has had some challenges in her life. I never thought I would see the day that she would leave Connecticut, but she has packed up her cat, her computer and a few other things, thrown everything else in storage, and has made a trek to Virginia after a few years of real unhappiness. I greatly admire this. I can’t say it enough. It takes real balls to make a change like that. I know because I did it and so did my brother. My husband has also made major life changes like that and I can’t say enough for doing it at least once in your life. You can stay “stuck” or you can make a change, for better or worse. As N says, “nothing changes if nothing changes.”

Last weekend we celebrated our parents both turning 80. Fortunately, the weather was amazing and everyone had a terrific time.

I am back at the gym again on a regular basis. I need to be as healthy as possible. I may not ever lose weight, but I want my bloodwork and heart to be healthy. I have heart disease in my family.

Working from home is still awesome. I hope to get out and about with my laptop more often.

To Everything, (Turn, Turn, Turn)

There is a season. The season that I’m currently in is one of grief and the acknowledgement of the fragility of life, the passing of time and the realization that there for the grace of god… you know the rest.

Last Saturday on a beautiful Spring day, the husband of one of my best and long-time friends died unexpectedly. I was awakened by a text at 4:55 a.m. from my friend who normally would never, ever text me at the time of day, asking for prayers for her husband who was taken to the hospital not breathing. He had some major health problems over the past decade or so, but the way in which he passed from a massive heart attack was shocking to all who knew him. Side note, I hear so many people using the phrase “health challenges” lately, but I daresay that his issues were not only challenging, but problematic for him and his wife who had been with him since she was 14 and he was 16. That’s also how long I knew him.

The week prior, another friend lost her mother. Prior to that, a high school acquaintance’s father died. Today on Facebook, yet another high school acquaintance announced the passing of her father. This week, my 76 year old uncle had quadruple bypass surgery, an operation that my own father had 15 years ago. My own father who just turned 80 last month. My mother will celebrate her 80th birthday next month. After I typed that sentence, I almost deleted it because frankly, I’m scared shitless right now. Another bestie’s husband was hospitalized this week after complications after surgery. He came close to death last year himself.

I’m really not reveling in being the grim reaper’s messenger. The phrase “borrowed time” just keeps finding its way into my consciousness lately. Of course, all of my grandparents are deceased, as well as my father in law, so it’s not like I’m a stranger to any of this; however, the death of my friend’s husband has hit very close to home. I have PTSD from an incident in 2018 where I witnessed my own husband being loaded up into an ambulance headed to the ER, unconscious and barely breathing. I had no one to come sit in the ER waiting room with me, while I was kept away for hours, not knowing. Since then, I listen for his quiet snores while he sleeps, watch the rise and fall of his chest, and mentally prepare myself for what my life might look like without him. Borrowed time.

As a GenXer, this season of life with its sadness and loss can only be survived by balancing the tears with joy wherever you find it. We learn to let others have the joys and happiness without judgment. So, you like to take you cat in a walk in a baby stroller? Go for it. You want to go outside and listen to the birds or enjoy a drink at the bar? Life is short. Do it.

Crawling out…

My last post was around Christmas. I was feeling pretty down then and not looking forward to the imminent descent into a dark, cold winter. Omicron was just starting to rear its ugly head here in the U.S., which made a long-anticipated family Christmas celebration less than it could have been when my brother (only sibling) got Covid and had to cancel Christmas at our parents’ house. So, it was my parents, me and my husband for Christmas, which wasn’t terrible, but my brother’s absence cast a gloom over all of us which seemed to infiltrate my being for the entire day and night. After a drive through light show, I drove off the path and into a small ditch. No damage, thank goodness, but I had to drive the hour back home going exactly the speed limit just in case. On the way home, some lovely person who must’ve been in the Christmas spirit decided to almost run me off the road, becoming frustrated with my “slow” driving. Then a sudden downpour hit, forcing me to pull off the road when I realized I literally couldn’t see. I was just very happy to make it home in one piece, and I suppose that’s the takeaway lesson – be grateful for whatever luck or fate allowed us to celebrate with loved ones and survive 3 separate incidents which could have gone much, much worse.

It’s almost April. Here in the U.S., all mask mandates everywhere except in medical offices and hospitals have been lifted. I know better than to throw caution to the wind. I’m continuing to be very careful while getting back to life. I got a haircut after a year of letting it grow out and next week, I have a dentist appointment. I went to my library last weekend and checked out some books. Looking forward to visiting there more often.

Once the weather finally breaks, I’ll be back on my bike, several pounds heavier than last year, thanks to a new medication which despite its side effects, has made my life exponentially better.

What’s everyone watching these days? Listening to? Reading?

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