Who am I Kidding? I can’t carry a tune.

Musical prompts are difficult for me. My iPod has more than 785 songs loaded. Some are organized into playlists to provide background sounds at work. Most are not grouped at all. The “shuffle songs” option is probably the most used selection on my device. If I hit a song that seems out-of-place for the moment or mood, I skip it and keep going.

Thinking back over this past week to summarize and identify a single song to represent each day seems pointless. The title may have meaning, but the lyrics wouldn’t fit the theme for me. My days involve phases of variety and monotony. A single song for a day seems insufficient to capture the complete richness of my life. At best, a song per day would represent only a time slice of that day and leave too much unrepresented.

Tell us how your week went by putting together a playlist of  five songs that represent it.

Too Tired to Save Anything Else

Well, we made it out alive. The fictional situation has the house on fire. What to rescue?

After all the animals and people are safe, who has any energy left?

One rabbit. A Siamese Sable Lionhead who has won ribbons at shows. Now, he’s my evening buddy. I come home from work and open the ramp on his cage to let him run around the living room for exercise. He hops out around 7 p.m. and goes back in by 10 p.m. During his three hours out, he will run, hop, stomp, nibble, and check the perimeter for any potential intruders into his space. If I’m on the couch, he will climb the puppy steps (purchased just for him) up to the couch and sit with me.

One guinea pig. This overblown fluffy squeaker lives in the (former) dining room. I say former because the entire room is taken over with critter cages. No table. No chairs. A short sofa and cages. The chandelier has been replaced with a ceiling fixture to avoid head bumping. The chubby guinea pig gets exercise time each day and occasional lawn grazing outside on nicer days.

Chinchillas. 15? 18? 20? 22? I’m not really sure. There were 15 before the breeding program began. First one baby, then three more, and more pregnant females in progress. The plan is to sell some of them off, but it has been a slow venture. The chinchilla cages take up most of the wall space in the room and if we had to rescue them from a fire it would take the whole family longer than I think we would have.

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

Yours and Mine

There are many stupid events in my life. Times when I proceeded to take actions that hindered our financial progress or caused unnecessary family strife. One of these occurred within days of my daughter’s birth.

The arrival of each of my three children are shrouded in activities and memories. For my first child, I was in California when my wife went into labor in Virginia. I performed a frantic dash across the country and arrived for the final hours of labor. (See First Birth Part 1 & Part 2).

My daughter’s birth was less hectic. The crisis leading up to her appearance revolved around finishing her bedroom in time. We had purchased a three-bedroom house a few years before. Our finances were thinned to the point we could not replace all the carpet and curtains in the bedrooms.

Shortly after moving in, we found out my wife was pregnant with our son and we scrimped and prioritized finances to get carpet and drapes in his room. We received gifts of furniture and baby items from family and friends in time for him to have a place to sleep.

Our finances continued to be tight, as they are for many young families, and the looming arrival of the baby girl increased the pressure on us to carpet the bare concrete floor in her room quickly.

Another mixed blessing was the gift of a new dishwasher from my parents. They generously bought a very nice unit that promised to be QUIET. We just needed to install it. We could have had it installed for us, but wanted to take the opportunity to change the kitchen layout a bit. The location of the old one was inconvenient for emptying and my wife preferred it to be somewhere else. (Yes ma’am)

The new location required cabinet removal that revealed tile floor irregularities. While fixing those, we discovered a sink drainpipe leak. New counters, new sink, new pipes, new tile, and new dishwasher all got installed the weekend before birth. (Whew!)

That same week, a brand new credit card arrived in the mail. Somebody out there thought I was good enough for a gold card. I was stupid enough to believe I deserved it and could afford it. Within days after my daughter’s birth, I went out and purchased a brand new computer on it.

I picked up the car keys and moved towards the front door.

“Where are you going?” my wife asked.

“To buy a computer on the new gold card.” I answered.

The look of shock and exhaustion on her face was not warning enough for me to register my stupidity. I was a MAN. (Young and stupid to the maximum possible)

“What? You got a baby. I’m getting a computer.” I proclaimed in one of the most idiotic statements of our lives.

We have pictures of me holding my daughter on my lap as I struggle to type around her. You all know how much I spent–way more than I had planned. It’s never just the machine, is it? There’s memory to upgrade, accessories to collect, software to buy, connection to the outside world (phone line, modem, router, cable,…)

The Perfect (Snow) Storm

The powerful storm skipped most of New York today and provided the bulk of its offerings to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Boston received more than two feet of snow and strong winds are pushing it into deep drifts.

I enjoy living in Virginia.

I walked out the front door to my driveway this morning where the pavement was bare and only a thin layer of puffy snow coated my car. There was no ice to scrape and it took only minutes to warm my car and clear all my windows.

The ground was not frozen. Roads were clear. Traffic was light on the way to work. Schools were delayed opening and most people seemed content to wait for their own morning commutes as well.

By noon, the temperatures warmed enough to melt all the ground snow remaining in the grassy areas.


The Ring

The gold souk spanned four floors in the modern building. The main door was like that found in a bank vault. Nothing else was sold at this place. Nothing but gold.

Every shop displayed ornate necklaces, bracelets, pendants, earrings, rings, and decorative pieces in abundance yet somehow each store seemed to have unique items. The creative variety seemed endless.

Merchants offered tea to prospective customers. Young boys walked the hallways with tea trays always ready to stop and serve at the gesture of the shopkeeper.

Tim had visited this souk once before and spent four hours browsing, inspecting, choosing, and purchasing various items at several different shops. He had politely accepted too much tea then and experienced the luxurious opulence of one restroom.

He strode purposely this night to the escalators and ascended to the third floor. He moved to the specific shop intent upon a single purchase, his ring. On the previous shopping trip, he had found a beautifully patterned wedding ring the perfect size for his future bride. Today, he was seeking a matching one in his own size. The shop owner had said he could get one made to his specifications, in the proper size, in a short time. Tim was back to see it through.

The owner recognized him from the visit only a few days before and knew exactly what Tim wanted. After a greeting and short conversation to confirm Tim’s intentions to purchase the desired ring, the man called over a young boy. It was not one of the tea boys, this one appeared to be an errand boy. After a rapid string of instructions in their own language, the young boy ran down the hallway toward the escalators.

The owner turned to Tim and told him the boy was on his way to the goldsmith to pick up the ring. It would be less than one hour and then offered tea. Tim smiled and accepted. He sat at a nearby table and a tea boy served him a steaming cup. Tim and the owner sipped their tea and talked little. The owner hopped up to wait on another customer and Tim turned to watch the shopping activity.

The view in the souk was stunning. Floor after floor with every shop selling gold. There were millions of dollars worth on display in this one building alone. Tim had been told there were several more buildings like this in the city. The concept staggered him.

He watched as customers accepted offers of tea at various shops. The tea boys moved constantly. Tim could not determine their resupply location. There were too many running about to track accurately. Scattered outside shops were other tables where men played chess or backgammon to pass the time.

The patterns of people moving, tea boys running, shopkeepers smiling and chatting with customers played out over and over on all four floors. Like an intricate hive of people engaging in commerce.

People? Men was more accurate Tim realized. There was not a single woman in view in the entire building. None among the shopkeepers or customers at all. He did not understand why that was but felt it would be inappropriate to ask. He sipped his tea again and waited patiently for the runner’s return.

The errand boy darted through the crowd and up the escalator at just under one hour’s time. He reached the shop and handed over a folded pouch to the shop owner. The man unfolded the soft cloth and held the ring out to Tim. Tim took the ring and looked at it, comparing it to the smaller one he had already purchased for his bride. The patterns matched exactly. The only difference was the larger size of his ring which fit perfectly.

The shop owner smiled broadly and told Tim the goldsmith had just completed making it that afternoon. Was there anything else in the store he would like to buy this evening? Tim smiled back and expressed his thankfulness for the special attention and offer for more, but no. The ring was all he needed tonight.

The shop owner nodded, pulled out his calculator and held his hand out for the ring. Tim handed it back and watched it get placed on a small scale. The owner tapped out the price of gold as listed in London that day and multiplied it by the weight of the ring with a slight adjustment as this was not 24 karat gold, “only” 22 karat like the other ring. He showed Tim the numbers and they exchanged currency, smiles, handshakes and the ring.

Tim put the carefully wrapped rings into his pocket and turned to the escalators. He walked with a relaxed pace through the city to where he would lay his head that night. The bright city competed with the stars tonight but the moon outshone them all and his heart brimmed with the joy of his upcoming wedding.

Getting to Know Blogging Friends Through Travel

Oh! The possibilities that exist for dreaming.

There are several bloggers I follow based upon their subject matter and writing style. I look forward to their posts, engage through comments and emails, and am slowly getting to know several. My 2014 Annual Report from WordPress said my own site was visited from 81 countries.

Some of the ones I follow are around the globe as well. The prompt asks who I would like to have over for a chat. I’d prefer to go to them.

Where should it be? Most of my site visitors are from my own United States. It is a big place with lots to see and do. But if we’re playing the “what if” game, perhaps a different nation should be the choice.

India? Switzerland? Australia? Thailand? Japan? South Africa? Brazil? France? Italy? Spain?

My wife and I could pack light, sleep on a floor, and spend a couple days exploring your hometown with you as our guide.

Who’s up for a visit?

What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?

Morning Attempt

“Honey?” he inquired in a low voice.

“Sleeping.” she mumbled.

“I want to…” he started

“No.” she stated.

“But…” he said

“Stay on your own side.” she ordered.

“I only need to…” he went on.

“No. You don’t.” she answered.

“It’s time for…” he tried again.

“No. It’s not. I’m tired. I have to go to work today. Leave me alone.” the snapped.

“I have to…” he insisted as he reached over.

“Get away from me. Stay on your own side. I told you I’m tired and have to go to work today.” she rambled.

“It won’t take long.” he stated.

“No. Now get on your own side and stay there.” she insisted.

beep, beep, beep, beep, beep…Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep…BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…

“I was just going to shut off your alarm before it went off. The beeping is annoying.” he said.

What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot? What happened the last time you didn’t do one of these things?

Captain Kirk meets Darth Vader

“Red Alert! Shields up, Mr. Chekov!” Captain Kirk ordered.

“Mr. Spock, what do your readings tell us about the alien craft?” he asked.

“Well captain. What appears to be a moon is not a moon at all. It is a space station. Heavily fortified, fully operational, and capable of destroying entire planets. Sensors show a nearby planet recently exploded. Fragments are radiating out from the point of origin.” Mr. Spock replied.

“We’re being hailed captain.” Lieutenant Uhura said.

“On screen.” he ordered.

[Main viewscreen activates and changes from a star field to the image of Darth Vader standing in a command center.]

“I’m Captain James T. Kirk commanding the USS Enterprise of the Federation of Planets. Who are you and what do you want?” Captain Kirk asked.

“You can call me Darth Vader. What is your purpose here? I sensed a disturbance in the Force when you arrived.” Darth Vader answered.

“We are on a peaceful mission of exploration.” Kirk answered.

“Peaceful? Your puny weapons are powered up, your shields are raised, and your weapons officer seems anxious to push the buttons on his console.” Vader stated.

[Vader raises his hand in a choking gesture and Chekov beings gagging, unable to breathe. Vader holds the gesture until Chekov falls over dead.]

“Fascinating.” says Mr. Spock.

“Where is the rebel base?” Vader asks.

“The what?” Kirk inquires.

“Do not be coy with me, Kirk. I have the princess. Where is the rebel base?” Vader continues.

“Princess? There’s a princess nearby? I like space princesses. Red, green, pink, purple, yellow, it doesn’t matter. Dr. McCoy can cure almost anything I might catch.” Kirk blurted.

“I sense you are a blithering idiot driven by your ego and overdeveloped libido, captain. You are of no use to me and your puny ship is no match for the Empire.” Vader responded.

“Empire? Whatever. Where’s this princess?” Kirk asked.

“Captain, I recommend we retreat. We are no match for his space station or telekinetic powers.” Mr. Spock stated.

“Very well. Mr. Sulu, plot us a course away from here. Mr. Scott, we’ll need full power from the engines to reach maximum warp.” Kirk commanded.

“Aye, captain.” Mr. Sulu answered.

“Now! Mr. Sulu, engage maximum warp!” Kirk ordered.

“We’re not moving, captain. We appear to be in a tractor beam.” Mr. Sulu answered.

“Scotty, I need more power.” Kirk urged.

“I’m giving it all she’s got, captain.” Mr. Scott said.

“Captain, another ship just appeared on sensors. Configuration unknown.” Mr. Spock stated.

“Captain, the tractor beam has switched from us to the other ship.” Mr. Sulu said. “We’re freed.”

“Get us out of here!” Kirk bellowed.

“Aye, captain.” Mr. Sulu answered.

“Uhura, hail the other ship.” Kirk commanded.

“Both are on screen now, captain.” Uhura responded.

[Main viewscreen shows Darth Vader and the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon side by side.]

“This is Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise of the United Federation of Planets. We’re on a peaceful mission of exploration. Who are you and what are your intentions?” Kirk asked.

“Will you shut up?” Han Solo barked. “We’re trying to sneak in. Chewie, cut the comms. The rest of you, time to get into my smuggling holds.”

[Transmission ends]

Write a post in which the protagonists of two different books or movies meet for the first time. How do they react to each other? Do they get along?

Always and Forever – Penned by Hand

On a flight from San Diego, California to Hartford, Connecticut I penned this poem.
It was one week before my wedding day.

Always and forever
My love for you will grow
Together or apart
It’s you I love, ya’ know? 

Away from you
My heart grows weary
Apart from you
My joy is low

When you’re near me
My heart lights up
When you’re close
My insides glow

Soon that day will be upon us
Soon our lives will be joined

I cannot picture my life without you
I can’t imagine being so alone
Now we’re together, reunited again
This time forever, forever my friend

Most of our courtship had been spent apart from each other. We developed our relationship through many letters and phone calls. My wife says my letters are what captured her heart.

I believe it was that and the fact I had full employment and benefits. The rest was merely potential and the desire to work with raw materials.

Admit it ladies, every woman who looks at a man as a future mate says to herself, “Hmmm. I can work with that.”

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

Friendless is the Best Way to Go

“YOU! OFF my planet!” Tim shouted at him.

The visitor from another world stooped a little and shuffled off to his ship in sadness. He had come to offer humanity such advancements. Medicines, vaccines, inventions, and absolutely amazing technology the people of Earth had never seen. All his people wanted in return were the delicious bite sized peanut butter candies with a sweet crunchy shell.

Tim refused to negotiate. The disagreement started from a simple misunderstanding about toilet water that grew into a flooded bathroom and a stinky mess. He was done. Whatever fantastical technology was promised could not be worth cleaning up after the visitor passed through each room. The visitor touched everything it could reach. It knocked over decorative items, broke porcelain vases, and smudged glass surfaces.

Tim’s stubborn ways had cost him a lot of friends over the years. He didn’t care. They were all nuisances in one way or another. Always wanting a drink of water, light snacks, meals, or hours of his precious time. In return, they offered inane chatter, empty laughter, and frequently put the toilet seat down if it didn’t flush. If only they could learn to properly jiggle the handle life could have been so much better.

Instead, here he was being the gatekeeper for all humanity as yet another space-based visiting race failed to grasp his cultural nuances. Sending them packing was his only logical choice.

“And tell your other deep space friends that if they want to visit here they need to learn how to flush and wash their hands!” Tim shouted after him.

Do you have a good friend or close relative with whom you disagree on a major issue (political, personal, cultural)? What’s the issue, and how do you make the relationship work?