True stories with a twist!

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GIVE ME THAT ISLAND

The recent news report that President Trump wants to buy the island of Greenland gave me a great idea. He is an endless source of original ideas; not many people think the way he does. In fact he often surprises us with his thoughts.

But his offer was immediately rebuffed, with Greenland insistingly claiming that their island was absolutely not for sale.

Where did Trump get the idea that Greenland was for sale to the United States?

Certainly not through private, secret, inside information. Never would I make any accusations about our president, an outstanding businessman, he tells us, being in any way involved in insider trading. Everyone knows that insider trading is illegal. Many infamous stock traders got themselves into deep trouble, making buy and sell decisions based on insider trading. Of course Trump would never be part of anything illegal such as that!

So it must be that his information source came up with the wrong information. Was the research the work of one of the young, inexperienced winners of his former television show, “The Apprentice?” Perhaps one of those employees who, like many other Trump staff employees, were subsequently fired?

I admire creative thinkers; employees with new ideas. It must be very brave to present an untried idea to our president and run the risk of being tweeted into oblivion.

So the embarrassing offer to buy Greenland, which is clearly not now or has ever for sale, gave me an idea to boost my own investment portfolio.

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I am working out the minute details of my plan, which is to put in an offer in to buy one of the Hawaiian Islands. I don’t expect too much; just one of the smaller islands. It couldn’t have much strategic significance to our defense plans, so it couldn’t mean terribly much to the government. And the sound of young children, like my grandchildren and their friends, giggling and laughing, romping through the waves, would greatly boost the morales of any military staff within earshot. Once in a while I might even invite them over to my little island for a neighborly barbecue.

So I have great enthusiasm and high hopes that President Donald Trump will agree to my unusual request and agree to sell me one of the tiny, insignificant Hawaiian Islands.

I don’t think it would be too expensive, do you?

SUMMER WALK

“A walk in the park?’

“Sure,” I said. “It’s a beautiful day for a long walk.”

So my friend, Toni and I started along the path of Loantaka Park; the one force-shared by   rivals as competitive as Coke and Pepsi, AT&T and Verizon, and the Montagues and Capulets, otherwise known as the adversarial Walkers and Bicycle Riders.

“Why don’t those bike riders make a sound to let us know they’re right behind us?”

“Well,” Toni answered, “Those bells we had on our bikes when we were children are just not a cool accessory for this generation of grownup bike riders.”

And so we dodged the bikers and briskly walked, with step counters clipped onto waistbands. Just as our heart rates were finally raised to any cardiologist’s expectations, a site greeted us along the side of the path. A small group of people centered around the attraction as we curiously joined them,

“What’s happening?” we asked the onlookers.

“A turtle is laying eggs.” IMG_0104 2.jpeg

And sure enough, as the group cleared enough space for us to see over the side of the path, we saw the turtle mom-to-be busy in labor, laying egg after egg right into the muddy hole she had dug. IMG_0105 3.jpeg I felt embarrassed for her, out in the open, in plain view, during her private time of creation.IMG_0103 2.jpeg

But she seemed oblivious to the humans rudely goggling  at her, and went about the task at hand.

The humans gradually lost interest and opted instead for getting on with their exercising programs. We left Mom Turtle and continued our walk.

I’m sure that nature took care of the rest of the details.

 

WAITING

UnknownImpatient. Anxious. Concerned.

All those feelings make waiting more stressful that waiting needs to be. Waiting is simply the passage of time, isn’t it?

Yes, but there are different kinds of waiting. Waiting for a red light light to change is something we all have to do once we leave the house and go somewhere else. Any time there’s a corner to cross there’s usually a light that must change. Does that kind of waiting cause you much stress? Not unless you’re in a rush to get somewhere, and interpret the red light as blocking your destination.

Waiting for final exams or college acceptance letters is another kind of waiting. Perhaps that waiting is a step higher on the stress scale. Going to the right school has a huge impact on the direction your life takes: the education you receive and the friends and connections you make.images

Waiting can also be a happy anticipation: for example, finding out the sex of a baby!

But the worst kind of waiting is waiting for a call from the doctor’s office revealing the results of important lab results. That waiting is interspersed with fear, dread and foreboding. Waiting for lab results feels endless. Every time the phone rings, blood pressure soars to unhealthy levels. That is an unfortunate result of stress.Unknown

Waiting by itself, without even being given the reasons to worry about, can be dangerous to your health. So I wish you good health, good luck, and may all your test results be good ones.

 

Gobbledegook

Dr. Patrick was my first college English teacher. He had a reputation of being a bit “Weird,” but what others said about him didn’t frighten me one bit. In all my twelve years of being a student, from kindergarten to high school graduation I never met a teacher I couldn’t get along with. Maybe some of them were a little unusual and maybe some of them were tough, but they all appreciated a student making an honest attempt at learning.images-4

English was always my favorite subject. I loved creative writing, even if the only opportunity to practice and develop my writing skills was writing letters to my friends who were at summer camp. I quickly ignored my mother’s advice about how to begin a letter. She thought the proper way to start was to first ask your friend how they were feeling, followed by assuring her that you were alright. I thought that was a boring and expected way to start. It was simply not my style to start my letter with, “Dear Bobby, how are you? I am feeling fine.”

No, not me. I had to begin with an attention getting statement like “Have you ever seen a grizzly bear asleep on your front lawn?” You could go in any number of directions with an opening question like that. The story probably has nothing to do with grizzly bears on your front lawn. But a good attention getter creates interested readers.

My English teachers always encouraged me to write in my own style. I remember in fourth grade writing an assignment about “What we did on winter vacation.” Our family didn’t go anywhere or do anything special that winter, so couldn’t think of what I could write about.

After some thought about some things I did do, I finally I wrote a story about it. I baked my first cake by myself, used the mix-master for the first time, followed by scraping cake batter off the kitchen wall. The teacher read my story to the class, not the stories of students who skied in Aspen or snorkeled in Eleuthra during vacation. My classmates laughed as she read it; they liked it! So I learned that it isn’t the subject matter that is important; it’s the way the story is told.

Dr. Patrick was a different breed of teacher. He was a huge man with bright red hair, thick eyeglasses and a roaring voice. His favorite word was “Gobbledegook,” and he used it frequently to indicate his displeasure. He disliked insignificant details that didn’t further the story line. He hated anything sentimental. He sneered at corny. He despised flowery language.

He was a no-frills guy.

Today, when I am writing a story, I think about Dr. Patrick. As I read and edit it I think to myself,  “Gobbledegook!” as I erase some parts and improve others. I renew phrases and sharpen the writing. I finally learned the meaning of his word. There must have been a more genteel way to say the same thing as he did with the single word, “Gobbledegook,” but it couldn’t have given as much of a punch as that word did for him. Dr. Patrick and his special silly word made him unforgettable.

 

DR. JOY BROWNE

She was one of my favorite radio personalities, and I miss hearing her voice and her common sense advice.Unknown-3

Joy Browne was a psychologist whose long running radio program featured calls from people with problems to discuss with her. Dr.Browne’s thoughts about managing them were always to the point.

If I had known that her life would be so short, I would have paid more attention and made more of an effort to remember advice that she gave her callers.

I do remember a fairly prevalent question regarding life choices. Someone would call and say, “I’ve always wanted to be a (name any profession), but now I’m ( name an age). It’s too late to train for that position . It would take at least four years of school to qualify.”

Her answer was always,

“And how old will you be in four years if you do NOT go back to school?”

Always encouraging, always looking for a different way to look at a problem.

A common question had to do with running away from problems. 

“My life is miserable. I hate my job and don’t have any good friends. I think I’d be happier if I moved to a new community in a new state.  To this, Dr. Browne always answered, 

“Don’t forget: no matter where you go, you take yourself with you!” She clearly didn’t think that running from problems worked very well.

Interpersonal relationships were always hazardous. 

She frequently took calls from people who were angry with someone and wanted to insult and fume at them; a fellow worker, an old friend, or a relative. “If you tell him what you really think of him, you will gain the great momentary satisfaction of telling him off. And that will feel good. Is that momentary satisfaction worth destroying your relationship with that person?”

Instant gratification vs. long term strategy. The old “Count to ten before saying anything” strategy.

One of the interesting ideas Dr. Browne told her radio audience was the “Obituary Party.” She felt that nobody will never know the things that are said about you after your death. Wouldn’t it be nice to know those things while you are alive? At an obituary party, everyone would have the opportunity to give an obituary speech about you so you know the things that people appreciated and admired.

I hope Dr. Browne gave herself an Obituary party, because she would surely be pleased to hear from some of the many who were grateful for the help she gave them. She turned many lives around and made them tolerable. 

I hope she knew how much her audience valued and cared for her.

I DON’T WANT TO JINX THIS

Do you think that words you use have some sort of magical power?

imagesHave you noticed how many people begin their statements with the expression, “I don’t want to jinx this, but…”

“I don’t want to jinx it but cross your fingers; that vacation rental might become available.”

‘I don’t want to jinx it, but your dog has a good chance to win “Best of Show” this year.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but the Yankees look like they might win the World Series.”

Do people really think that words have the power to change anything? 

Do they think if they comment on an event their words can change the outlook?

Do they think that their words can stop the track of events?

If you were to ask them whether they are superstitious they would probably say “No; certainly not. I have never been superstitious!” Most  people don’t think of themselves as being influenced by the occult. And if they do they don’t want to admit it.They prefer to think of themselves as intellectually, not superstitiously directed.  

They wouldn’t want to accept the premise that words they speak have the possibility of changing the course of history.

So if they’re not superstitious why are they uncomfortable about making a statement without apologizing in the first place? Why do they feel it necessary to first add “I don’t want to jinx it but…”?

Of course I don’t think any of you believe in that stuff. Not you! But just in case, because there are no guarantees, what subjects do you introduce by starting with:

“I don’t want to jinx this, but…”Unknown

READ THE LABEL

Since it is June, and time for gardens, I present an important tip about gardens. We are always told to “Read the Instructions” before using any garden product. Especially products containing poisons. That would include products made for the elimination of garden pests.

We cannot be the only gardeners with the frustrating issue of chipmunks. We all say that we wouldn’t mind sharing our garden produce with these irritating and destructive little animals, but they won’t share. These cute curmudgeons take little bites out of tomatoes, ruining a tomato from ever bring enjoyed by the grower. That makes us angry. So angry that we forget our humanity and want a way to destroy these pests, At any price. Just get rid of them, we beg to the Gardening Gods.

One summer afternoon, in a fit of rage over terrible damages to our beautiful Hibiscus plants,

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Harried Husband furiously decided to find a way to get revenge. So off to the gardening supply store he went, determined to do away with the pests and make them regret ever cavorting in our garden. Shades of the children’s tale, “Peter Rabbit” floated through my mind. In those childhood days I always rooted for the rabbit. The farmer, whose crop he stole from, was the villain. But not any more. Now it’s “Go Farmers: down with Varmints.”

He came home determinedly, unscrewed to top of a strong looking, dark colored bottle and started pouring the noxious brew directly onto the hibiscus plant. The healthy, bright, cheerful Hibiscus.

That was the end. The leaves of the plant blackened, the flowers wilted, and we gasped in horror.IMG_0222.jpeg

The potion that should have deterred furry little animals from nibbling on hibiscus flowers destroyed the plant instead. Chipmunks: 10, humans: 0.  Is there no retribution for the damage they foisted on those innocent flowers?

 All we know is that beauty was destroyed in the hope of taking revenge on perpetrators of a crime against nature.

So who won? And what was the message we can take away from this incident? And what should we do about those darn chipmunks?

 

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