Tag Archives: Violet’s Vibes

Punxsutawney Phil’s Weather Predictions

The second day of February isn’t a holiday, but tradition has named it Groundhog Day. After more than 130 years, Punxsutawney Phil continues to make his prediction of an early spring or six more weeks of winter.

That unreliable groundhog has been wrong more than half of those years. I gave him the benefit of the doubt because his mind must have been foggy when he was pulled from solitary darkness and held aloft before a large crowd of people.

Less than forty years ago, Staten Island Chuck, another groundhog, began his predictions. Chuck has a better record than Phil. Today, Phil and Chuck agreed on an early spring.

My father had his own weather prediction method. On Groundhog Day, he sat at the breakfast table in our kitchen warmed by the oven where Mama’s biscuits waited on the pulled-down door and consulted the Farmer’s Almanac. He checked the moon cycles and early planting dates before Easter. Often, when Phil predicted an early spring, my father shook his head in dismay and mumbled, “Six more weeks of high PG&E bills.”

 

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The Storyteller

During prep for a recent medical procedure, gowned and lying on a bed in the hospital surgical center, I listened as the attending nurse told me the side effects of the sedatives. “You may have slight amnesia when you wake up,” she said.

She rolled my bed to the procedure room. The last thing I remember is “I’m starting the medication now.” When I awoke, I was dressed, sitting on the side of the bed in recovery, and that nurse was putting my shoes on my feet. I still have no memory during the gap.

Later, I consulted the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the full scope of amnesia.

1) Loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness
2) Gap in one’s memory
3) The selective overlooking or ignoring of events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one’s purpose or position

My brother—I’ll give him the fictitious name of Josh—disappeared from California many years ago leaving his wife and children destitute. When a friend recognized him operating a business in Washington state years later, Josh’s explanation was that he’d been in an auto accident in Arizona and surgeons had removed a brain tumor. He’d had amnesia ever since. Or so he said as his explanation for why he had remarried in Oregon, moved to Washington, and had two more sons without divorcing his first wife.

Mother, a brother, and a sister went to see Josh, sure that would jog his memory. He was undergoing a federal clinical trial of shock treatments. It wasn’t working, he said. He didn’t recognize any of them. My mother was devastated.

I searched for the accident. No similar event in Arizona for the time and place he said his car went off the side of the mountain. But wait! If Josh had complete amnesia, how did he know the location when I couldn’t remember getting dressed after mild sedation? Josh had selective memory (Merriam-Webster definition #3).

My mother received a call from the treatment center after that distressing visit. Josh and his second family had moved. Did she know where to reach him? But wait! If he had no memory of his past, how did her name and phone number get in his secondary contacts when he registered at that facility? She couldn’t understand why Josh had always been a storyteller—her gentle word for liar.

The Social Security Administration notified Josh’s first (legal) wife of his death about thirty years later. Determined to find his burial place, I called mortuaries in the nearby towns.  Success on the third call. Josh’s ashes were still at the mortuary months later. I had his cremains returned to California for burial in the cemetery near his parents and brothers.

Josh was an amiable charlatan, a great main character for a mystery book. He hid his past and controlled the present with convenient lies. I’m a storyteller, so perhaps there is a bit of Josh in me. If the detective in the novel asked me how I skirted the mandate that Josh’s ashes could only be released to his youngest son, I would claim amnesia.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year’s Resolutions 2019

Lose weight. Exercise more. Learn something new. All these are popular New Year’s resolutions according to Peter Economy on Inc. Statistics show that many abandon their goals the first week. Some manage 21 days. Even some of the hardy falter after 90 days. The stalwart hang on but few accomplish their goals.

I’ve been successful at keeping my New Year’s resolution for many years. My secret to success? Skip the resolutions. This year, a few celebrities have expressed that mindset.

Melinda Gates chooses a word for the year. Last year, her word was grace.

Oprah Winfrey reminds us to be careful what we chose. With a twist of humor, she advises not to ask for courage because you don’t know what you’ll have to go through to get it. She says she “lives in the moment.” Instead of making resolutions, she has written five things in a grateful journal each night since 1995.

I began my grateful journal with three things each night on New Year’s Day 2017.  I made it through the next day. I skipped a week, then a month. The last entry on May 24, 2018, was a single line. “I am grateful for the stability of a cane.”

This year, after a thirty-month absence from my journal, I wrote my chiropractor’s name.  Those treatments have made it possible for me to walk cane-free on most days and to sit at my computer for longer periods.

Perhaps I will end 2019 with gratitude that my novel has been published. Along the way, I will be grateful for my novel critique group who have helped me over the rough spots.

 

 

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Thoroughly Broken at the ATT Store

Last week I blogged 2+2=5 at the ATT Store. This is the postscript, “Read my next post to see how my interrogator left me thoroughly broken.”

Slippy Pants looks at the screen where my name blazes alone. She approaches me but doesn’t sit as she had with all the previous customers. She looks down at me. “What can I do for you today?”

    Wikipedia

“My modem quit. I need to buy a new one,” I said.

Slippy Pants (SP) takes on a role similar to O’Brien, Winston’s interrogator in George Orwell’s 1984. “How old is your modem?”

Me: “Six years old. I bought it in this store in 2012.”

SP: “What kind is it?”

Me: “ATT.”

SP: “I mean what type?”

I hand her the note with the information I had copied from the Device Manager file on my hard drive.   She draws her heavy blackened brows together. Her ruby mouth painted larger than her lips frowns into a deep scowl. “I can’t read that.”

I stare at the associate young enough to be my great-granddaughter. “Oh, I guess  you can’t read cursive.”

SP: “Oh yes, I can read cursive. Just not yours. It’s messier than most.”

Chastised—broken—I read the details aloud.

SP: “Never heard of that modem.”

ATT probably stopped selling it when she was in ninth grade.

SP peppers me with more questions. “How do you connect? Is it dial-up? Broadband? Do you have to use the yellow cord?” Before I can respond, she says “One minute while I check something.”

SP stops Smiley, the other associate still assisting the puzzled man with the iPad. “A quick question,” SP says. She hands the cursive note to Smiley. “What kind of modem does she need?”

Smiley reads my written note, or perhaps she overheard the conversation and pretends to read it. “The standard modem.”

SP: “I wasn’t sure because she doesn’t know how she connects to the internet.”

Me: “Wi-Fi.”

SP: “Oh.” She turns to Smiley. “Does the regular modem work with wireless?”

“Yes, it should work with all connections,” Smiley says. She hands the note back to me without speaking, an apology in her eyes softened by wisdom.

“I’ll be right back,” SP tells me. She tugs her pants up, strides to the back room, and returns with an unmarked plain brown box. She processes my credit card and hands me a receipt, staring at my silvery hair. “Keep the receipt in case this modem doesn’t work, and you have to return it.”

Why wouldn’t it work?

SP continues her lecture. “But first you have to call the number on the instruction sheet.” Staring at my hair again, she says, “If they can’t help you, they will send a technician to your home. But, you’ll have to pay for that.” She thrusts the box into my hands and turns toward the exit. Dismissed like a misbehaving child, I follow. She pushes the door open and says, “Have a nice day.”

I leave not only convinced that 2+2=5 at the ATT store, but with my confidence to install a new modem thoroughly broken.

Side by side on my desk, the identical Net Gear/ATT modems remind me of an old perm commercial, “Which Twin Has the Toni?” With no curls to guide me, I’ll keep the twin with the green lights. The one on the left will go to the hazardous waste recycling facility.

Can you read cursive? I aced the test. (Could it be because my handwriting is so poor?) Let me know how you fared.

 

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Thursday’s Child

Thursday is blogging day for me. Fingers poised on the home row of a QUERTY keyboard, I stare at the blank white sheet my laptop screen. Thursday’s child with far to go hammers at me.

When I was a child—not a great hook, but true—more than a century after the nursery rhyme about fate  the day of the week a child was born, still brought accolades and commiserates.

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe
Thursday’s child has far to go
Friday’s child is loving and giving
Saturday’s child works hard for his living
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

“She’s beautiful. She must have been born on Monday.” Or, “That kid works hard. He was born on Saturday, you know.” The saddest day for births was Wednesday because the nursery rhyme declared that misfortunate baby to be a child of woe.

What about blogging? Do Monday’s bloggers produce the best looking blogs? Do Saturday bloggers struggle more to monetize their posts? Are Sunday bloggers happier than others?

I chose Thursday as my WordPress blogging day years ago. I try to post about lunchtime in California. I don’t worry about Google Analytics statistics because my goal isn’t about monetizing (Those ads you see are a WordPress tradeoff for a free site). I’m more interested in where you live than how many clicks. Now and then, one of my blog posts will resonate worldwide, but more often within the northern continent.

There are dozens of posts about the best day and time to blog. None seem to agree. For me, success is measured by your likes and comments that tell me how many smiles I created on Thursday.

 

 

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Shades of Gray

I dream in color. Only once did I dream in black and white. The absence of color jolted me awake. I don’t remember the dream—only the starkness.

I climbed out of bed and bolted to the bathroom mirror. All I saw was a disheveled white hair above snowflakes splattered across gray pajamas. What happened to color? Then I noticed the red drawstring. Whew! I returned to bed and snuggled under a purple rose patterned comforter with the assurance that the only place absent of color was my dream.

My mother’s hair was called jet black in the twentieth century. Following present writing trends, I would have to call it coal, ebony, jet, licorice, onyx, or raven. When it grayed then lightened in her advanced age, it was would have been designated as salt and pepper before it turned white. Today, a wordsmith might describe the silvery strands as argent.

I imaged blogging about my her hair or my black and white dream using synonyms. Licorice and lily or licorice and magnolia sounded like a southern writer’s work-in-progress title. Blending licorice and snow gave me shudders. I searched for wider options. Licorice and pearl? Nope. Coal and oyster? Ugh! Raven and milk. Definitely not. Ink and ice. Not so bad, but still nondescript compared to a color palette created from my HP printer in less time than trying to remember the drab dream.

Writing, like dreams, needs color. I experimented with azure, sapphire, cobalt, or indigo for shades of blue. I splashed crimson, scarlet, ruby, carmine, and magenta as stronger shades of red. I daubed flecks of gold, flaxen, lemon, and mustard for yellow. I skipped Princely Purple aka Ultra Violet (yes, it’s two words), Pantone’s color of the year.

CMYK printers diminish the value of black by designating it as K, supposedly for key color.  Digging for truth during the California political campaigns is a good time to advocate for writers to join me in a revolution to return to plain color names like red and blue and yellow. Writing advisors may tell me how to shape my novels, but like my dream, all blog posts can’t be CMYK, PMS, or RGB. Some words are like shades of gray paint—rich, warm, soft, airy, wispy, or charcoal. Other words must be bold statements in black and white.

 

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New Year’s Superstitions

Our family celebrated religious holidays like Easter and Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, the day of gratitude, with abundant meals—except for the year we picked cotton on Thanksgiving (see my blog post  https://violetsvibes.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/thanksgiving-memories). Even with this strong dedication to faith and family, my mother harbored a few superstitions. She made us turn around if a black cat crossed our path while walking. A broken mirror brought seven years of bad luck. Visitors had to exit our house through the same door they entered to keep life on an even keel.

New Year’s Day, the first holiday of the year, began as usual. Mama woke us early even though there was no school. Then she made a hearty breakfast of fried eggs from the backyard chickens and homemade biscuits with butter and jelly. Thick slices cut from a slab of bacon filled a small platter in prosperous times. All routine until the breakfast dishes were washed, dried, and put away. Then superstition blew in like a gust of chilling wind on a winter morning.

“Be careful what you do today because you’ll do the same thing all year,” Mama said. That sounded great to me. My father guffawed and went about his daily chores like any nonworking day.

I wanted to read—my favorite pastime—but Mama insisted we do something productive—to “ward off laziness,” she said. Then she set about finding ways to bring a year of prosperity to us. She cooked black eye peas with ham hock or bits of bacon—a southern tradition for good luck. We’d been eating that main dish accompanied by cornbread and home-churned butter as far back as I could remember. It hadn’t brought us any luck that I could see.

She cooked greens because superstition emphasized a healthy year by eating that food on the first day. Nothing new there either. She’d served cooked mustard greens, collards, or poke salad for more years than I’d seen. I hated greens. I only ate the small amounts required by my father who insisted we “eat what was set before us.”

Most evenings after supper, Mama swept the linoleum floors in the kitchen, then the pathway across the dining room to the back door. She propped the screen door open with one foot while she swept the wooden threshold and the steps. Not on New Year’s Day. After supper, she swept the kitchen floor and emptied the dustpan in the trash. She stopped there. I thought it was to minimize her workload. Only later did I realize that she might have been clinging to the superstition of not sweeping out good things with the bad on the first day of the year.

I don’t follow Mama’s New Year’s superstitions. Well, maybe one. I’ll leave the broom in the closet today so I don’t sweep out the good with the bad from 2017.

 

 

 

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