Monday, February 27, 2017

Rainy Day and Protesting

A young friend of Rainy Day who lives in Singapore, asked Rainy D if she had ever marched in a protest. Now, Rainy Day has been around long enough to have marched in several, and in a way, I guess she did. Both march (and march, and march. She still hears her DI counting cadence in her dreams!) and protest.

You see Rainy Day considers herself a Peace Monger. She hates wars. She agrees with the bumper sticker so popular in the 1960s that stated, "Wars are unhealthy for children and other living things!"  During the 1960s, she protested the Viet Nam war the only way she knew how.  (That was so long ago that Vietnam was still two words!)

Taken from WAC Images on the web. No, Rainy Day didn't have long blonde hair. Yes, the woman is way out of uniform. And no, Rainy Day didn't fire a rifle in basic training.

While many of her classmates wore tie-dyed clothes and long straight hair festooned with flowers (to which Rainy Day is highly allergic), Rainy Day cut her thick curly hair and enlisted in the WAC (Women's Army Corps, no longer around. Rainy Day really is an antique;-) AND she's still around!).  While Jane Fonda was busy sleeping with the North Vietnamese, Rainy Day was attempting to sleep on the ground in Alabama during Basic Training too close for comfort to deadly, unseen, (but heard, she swears!) pygmy rattlers.

Rainy Day never understood the hippie's protest movement.  She always thought the best way to end a war was to win it--or it would haunt you forever.  "Look," she is fond of saying, "at the South." But, to be honest, she'd rather avoid war altogether. They really are unhealthy for children and other living things. And they have been known to interrupt the flow of coffee and chocolate. Think Peace, not War.

She still protests, but not by marching, camping, or chanting. Even WACs grow old (if they're as lucky as Rainy Day.) She writes letters. And she signs them with her name and adds, "I am a Woman, a Veteran, and I Vote!" Her politicians know who she is and what she stands for. Do yours know who you are, and what you stand for? Why not?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Have You Eaten?

For the most part, I enjoy Facebook, and I have several Facebook Friends in other countries I've never met, and in fact probably never will. Many are young enough to be my grandchildren, and I enjoy them tremendously.

My first African friend, who lives in Nairobi, came via an American friend of mine who spent her teen years in Nairobi and is a friend of hers. And then there were others who were friends of his and friends of friends and...well, you know how that goes. I now have friends in Kenya, Ghana, and who knows where all.
Kenyan Food -- stolen from the web. Doesn't it look yummy????
Now, I'm not uber paranoid about Facebook Friends. If they bother me, I unfriend them. Easy on, easy off. Some of them are very up front, they want to message (correspond) with someone who speaks English and can help them better their English skills. And, of course, there are bound to be some cultural/languages differences to cause confusion now and then.

One of my Facebook Friends uses an odd phrase now and then. At first, I thought it was almost nosy, then decided it was the equivalent of 'hello' or 'uhhh' and didn't think much of it. He would ask me if I'd eaten, and when I answered and told him I had not, he talked about how much he wished we lived closer together so he could cook me a good meal. Nice, but I don't need a personal chef.

OK, got all that? Well, here's the story I really want to tell.

The other day I got a Friend request from a man who appeared to be about 55-60, Caucasian, born and raised in London, England and living in Los Angeles. He had no mutual friends with me, so I messaged him and asked who he was and why did he want to be my friend. Usually, when I send something that blunt, I get no response. This time I got a response. Seems he found my page, liked what he saw, and wanted to 'friend' me. Hey, it takes all kinds, yes?

He immediately started sending me messages. He was looking for a woman, someone to love, to care for him as he'd care for her, yadda, yadda, yadda. Uh, no. Not my idea of a Facebook Friend. Oh, he said, he loves walks on the beach (no pina coladas?), being with his church group, etc., etc., etc. I told him I was a Free Thinker/Buddhist/Atheist and not interested in a relationship. He pushed. He is going on a business trip (leaving tomorrow) to Lagos, Nigeria. Would I like to go with him? (oh, yeah, sure, I mean I could get my shots, my visa, ticket, etc. over the week end. Right?)

And the language became a bit more relaxed, and sounded a bit fem, and a lot like my friend who always asks me, Have you eaten? Now, I'm not so naive as to think people actually put their pictures up on Facebook—most do, but a lot don't. And I began to think my new 'friend' was African, not British, and black, not white. Now, I could care less, but to lie about it? And then he asked me, Have you eaten?

And I got curious, really curious, so wrote my friend who used to live in Africa about the phrase. While waiting for her response I looked it up. She responded in a few minutes and said she'd never heard that phrase, and in looking it up, found the same sites I did. It's a Chinese greeting.

Not only that, but when she was home in The Netherlands over the holidays, they ran a special on the telly about these rooms full of Asian women setting up fake Facebook pages in order to sucker in people with deep pockets (that ain't me, Babe, no, no, that ain't me!). I've been chuckling every since. Oh, and I'm down two Facebook Friends. ;-)

Have you eaten? Is a common greeting among older Chinese. It harks back to the days of food scarcity in China


Old Topic: Postcard Poetry Exchange. See last week's blog for all the details. There is still plenty of time to sign up, and the more the merrier.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Postcard Poetry is Coming!

Yes, it will soon be April, and that means it is once again time for POSTCARD POETRY!

For those of you interested, get those pencils sharp, pens filled, and poems percolating! I mentioned this in my last post, and promised more information, and based on some of the emails I received, I guess I’d best get the info out there.

What it is:
April is National Poetry Month and what better way to celebrate than by writing, sending and receiving poetry? I can’t think of a better way, can you?

What is required:
·      At least 30 postcards. These can be originals made by yourself, purchased through many venues (including – just search their site for ‘postcards’). I say “at least” 30, because that is what you need to commit to sending; however, you may send more.
·      Dedication to write and send a postcard a day for the month of April. These are, of necessity, short (think Haiku). They can be of any topic (I tend to use the photo on the card for my prompt, but that’s not necessary).
·      At least 30 return address labels (or handwrite your return address) on each card. Last year it came to my attention that the reason some of us didn’t receive the full complement of cards in the mail was due to incorrect addresses. Someone was smart enough to have put a return label on her cards, and one came back. She checked, she’d transposed a number, put it in an envelope and mailed it off to the correct address.
·      At least 30 postcard stamps. (They are considerably less than First Class postage, so with getting.)

Who may participate:
·      Anyone who wants to. I think it would be great fun if schools would get involved.
·      The more people who participate, the more fun it is.
·      May those in other countries participate? Absolutely! I’ve made friends in other countries through similar projects; however, because of the high cost of international mail, I strongly recommend if you know someone in another country who might be interested in joining our group, you suggest they start one in their country of origin (I’ll be glad to help out). They are still welcome to join us ;-)

How it works:
·      If you wish to participate, I need you to email me your name and postal/snail mail address. I will make a list of all names and postal/snail mail addresses. Shortly before April, I will email you the list. (I will not share email addresses. If you wish to share, that’s up to you. You may write it on your postcard.)
·      Once you have the list, find your name, and beginning with the name just below yours, count down 30 names, coming back to the top of the list if need be. Send a postcard a day to each of ‘your’ 30 people.

Do you have to be a poet to play?
Absolutely not! You just have to want to have fun.

Are you ready?
·      Send your name, postal/snail mail address to me at: lenora (dot) good (at) icloud (dot) com
·      And share this post with anyone you know who may be interested in joining our happy group, or who will share with someone who may be interested.

I  I forgot to add a deadline for registering (Thanks, Paul for catching that!). I'd like to have your information not later than 24 March. I will accept later registrations, but will whine, grumble, and cry. Obviously, the 31st is a tad late, but....)

Monday, February 6, 2017

How Do You Describe Colors to the Blind?

Or photographs? Or television?

I recently read a short story, “Cathedral,” by Raymond Carver. I didn’t care a great deal for the story, but it did bring up memories—some older than others. The story was about a blind man who came to visit the narrator’s wife. I have no idea why, and don’t think I care.

At any rate, I began to remember the movie, Mask with Cher and Eric Stoltz. Eric played Cher’s son, who suffered from a horrible disfiguring and lethal disease — craniodiaphyseal dysplasia —which killed him as a teenager, but at one point, he was at a camp for differently abled kids and trying to describe colors to a blind girl. How do you describe colors to one who has never seen? (Cast of Mask:  Obit for Florence Tullis, played by Cher, )

As I recall, he used objects, blue was cold, he gave her an ice cube, clouds were gray, he ‘showed’ her steam or maybe smoke. I don’t remember what he did, but I remember that scene. Years later, I found myself at a parade, and next to me was a blind woman, in a wheel chair, and her husband described all the floats and marchers as they passed. He was distracted for some reason, so I tried to fill in. Not as easy as it seems! But they appreciated my efforts.

In thinking about the movie and the parade, I remembered my time in Alabama, back in the late 1960s when I was in the WAC. I had a friend who was born with no optic nerves or eyeballs. John was a hoot. He didn’t let lack of sight deter him. He even drove the family car – with very close supervision. They lived out a ways from the madding crowds and his wife would guide him as he backed the car down the driveway, and have him stop just before entering the street and they’d trade places. Sometimes, she’d drive out in the country, on old roads with no traffic, and let him drive. She sat very close, and would tell him how to steer.

John knew about colors, but had no reference. I asked him once if what he saw was black. He didn’t know. He said sunlight was warm, ice cubes were cold, but when the girls came home from shopping, or school, he’d always ask about their clothing, and did they wear gold or silver jewelry. It was important, he said, to them.

He was the person who taught me braille and gave me an awl and punch, which I still have. He taught me grade 1.0 braille, where all words are spelled out. Grade 1.5 is with certain short cuts, and grade 2.0 is all shorthand. We corresponded for a few years, but I never got past the beginning stage. I’ve often wondered what happened to him.

There were two things, though, that flummoxed him no end: television and photographs. Every day, at least once, he would get out of his chair and go to the tv, and gently run his fingers over it. He could hear the horses galloping, the gunfights, whatever, but couldn’t ‘see’ them. And the same things with photos. He knew, on an intellectual basis, that both televisions and photos were flat, but they had pictures that showed depth. He just couldn’t imagine how something flat could have depth.

The kids would bring school photos to him, describe them, and he’d feel them, and smile, and tell them they were nice photos. I’d bring photos for the kids to see, and describe them to him; he’d feel them, smile and go back to the television. Until one day, I brought a postcard showing a photograph of Coach Bear Bryant. It was a glossy, and had absolutely no ridges or bumps. Believe me, I checked before I have it to him. John ran his fingers over the photo. He stopped. He felt it a second time. Wonderment covered his face. He said, (and yes, this is a direct quote. I will never forget it, as long as I live!) “Why, that’s Bear Bryant, walking on water!”

How did he know? The photo was kept in my purse and I told no one I was bringing it. He would never tell me how he knew, either. To this day, I wonder, how blind was he?

For those of you who don’t know, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was very close to being part of the Holy Trinity in Alabama. He was certainly revered as the Coach of the Crimson Tide. Roll on Tide!

April is National Poetry Month, and once again I will be hosting the month-long Postcard Poetry exchange. Postcards may be handmade or store-bought; they may even be 4” x 6” file cards. Whatever you choose to use. The object is to challenge yourself to write a new, and short, poem everyday for a month. I know some of you freeze on that part, and it’s also OK to write a couple of small poems and copy them. I use store-bought cards, usually found at truck stops or and use the photo as my prompt.
Stay tuned for more information. It’s coming.