Because I did this, you must now do that.
I've always been there for you. Therefore you owe me.
Hey you! Don't you see what I did there? Your turn.
I had to chuckle at an article I read a week or so ago. It told the sad tale of a man who, having gone out of his way not once, not twice, but many times to contribute to the coffers of an elderly female panhandler, discovered that she had been -- ahem -- misrepresenting her financial situation.
Said female held herself out as a widow who could not afford food. I'm guessing there was hand-lettered signage involved. Apparently she occupied the same space on street or sidewalk regularly, petitioning passers-by for cash and coin.
The subject young man, moved by the old woman's plight, had over time favored her with considerable monetary support, even going out of his way to do so.
Until the day, happening by her customary begging spot, he saw her easing her aged bones behind the wheel of a late-model sports car.
And in modern-day parlance, he lost it.
As in, he flipped out on the lady, publicly. Cursing. Screaming. Calling her a dirty liar. Pointing at his own car, which he said was not as nice as hers. Reminding her over and over of the dollar amounts he'd sacrificed to her bogus cause. Claiming he'd denied himself food so that she could eat.
Naturally the whole scene was captured on the phone of another aggrieved Good Samaritan, who promptly uploaded the profane diatribe.
You guessed it: the vid went viral.
Righteous indignation is very popular these days. Outrage ensued.
But wait a minute.
If I make a bad investment, assuming I made it of my own volition, I have no one to blame but myself.
There's a Latin expression for it: Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.
Back to our benevolent indignant young man, noisily accosting the old woman as she cowered in the driver's seat of the red car, accusing her of having snookered him and placing all the blame for his present anguish squarely on her sagging shoulders.
Having willingly contributed to her prosperity, he was offended to learn that the elderly woman had an automobile at her disposal. Adding insult to injury, the car was nicer than the one he drove.
I'm sorry sir, but when adding her lack of integrity to your lack of judgment, what we have is a wash.
That zero-sum-game thing rears its ugly head.
Speaking of honesty, when it comes to giving, be up-front enough to admit it when, instead of charity, what you're really practicing is enlightened self-interest.
In other words, when you gave, you expected something in return. Meaning, it wasn't really a gift. It was a tacit bargain you hoped to strike with the fortunate recipient of your largesse.
More Latin: Quid pro quo. Something for something.
In the case at hand, it is clear to me that in return for his money, the young angry man expected the beggar to remain (or at least actually be) poor and needy.
Why? For her sake? Or because that scenario enabled him to go on congratulating himself for being the very soul of kindness (or at least not a sucker)?
(By the way, I get it. I realize the woman is wrong for what she did, if in fact she's guilty. Lying is bad; don't do it. But also don't miss my point.)
Because see, here's another fact of life, in straight English this time: In the same way that giving is voluntary, no matter how much you give, or how often, nobody owes you anything.
And nobody owes me anything.
Oh, there are things we hope to receive in return for investments we make. For good deeds, or in consideration of offices we hold, or owing to familial ties, or in light of past (or present) declarations of devotion, we hope to reap some form of reward.
We enjoy being recognized for the good we do. We like receiving presents -- or other benefits -- from those of whom we have been thoughtful. It's human and perfectly natural to crave love from those we love. And yes, we hope for honesty and forthrightness in our dealings with others, whether casual or deliberate.
But there are no guarantees. Due to the free will of every person, there's no promise, explicit or implicit, that our acts of kindness, whether random or planned, will garner us the desired result, or will rack up for us the hoped-for number of brownie points.
So if I'm going to give, I must really give. As in, give, then let go. What the recipient does with my gift is none of my business. Try as you or I might, we won't succeed in holding anyone to our arbitrary self-styled standard.
Because you may as well go outside tomorrow morning and attempt to hold back the dawn, to keep the babies from crying and the dogs from barking and the birds from singing for the space of a day, as to go about trying to make someone love you, or respect you, or admire your actions, or feel gratitude towards you.
These gifts can only be freely given. That's what makes them so precious.
And when/if we find out we've truly been taken advantage of? We can waste our time being angry with the taker, but it's best to admit we made a bad investment and move on to the next opportunity. Opportunities to give are, after all, limitless.
Either way, it's a choice we're free to make.
And that is all for now.
I love black stuff -- black is beautiful, don't you know -- and black birds are no exception.
Remember my grackle? From Charleston? A few years ago? You don't? Oh well then, I will re-post his video at the end of this.
Anyway, few things fascinate me more than terms for groups of things, animals -- the creature collective, as it were -- in particular.
I mean, who having heard A Murder of Crows can resist wondering what other crittergroups are called? Like, school of fish or swarm of bees or gaggle of geese or tincture of flies, but oh-so-much better?
So here are a few, with a side of commentary by moi, for your amusement and wonder on this fine day.
(Oh and I made one a few of them up! Out of thin air! Extra credit if you can guess which one(s).)
A Hover of Trout (I like mine dusted with lemon pepper and lightly grilled.)
A Herd of Wrens (Really? A herd? Of little bitty wrens? Shut the door.)
A Pitying of Turtledoves (Can't you hear them feeling sorry for themselves? I can.)
A Venue of Vultures (I'm digging the alliteration and I totes luv buzzards.)
A Wake of Buzzards (Speaking of which ...)
A Generation of Vipers (I'm digging the Biblical overtones; see Matthew 23.)
A Muster of Storks (Hold the ketchup.)
A Rout of Snails (Beware the coming snail rout. #doomsdayprepper #clarifysomebutter)
An Exaltation of Larks (I bet you've heard that one before.)
A Lounge of Lizards (Complete with beer bellies.)
A Cackle of Hyenas (Ha, they do more than cackle, but okay.)
A Charm of Hummingbirds (Awwwwww.)
A Relish of Meerkat (They are such hot dogs.)
A Zeal of Zebras (Because wearing black and white exclusively -- a la Coco Chanel -- is the very essence of sartorial enthusiasm.)
A Leash of Greyhounds (I have it on good authority that they prefer leashlessness.)
A Memory of Elephants (I forget why, but this makes perfect sense.)
A Crash of Hippopotamus (Dude. Get out of the way already.)
A Coalition of Cheetahs (Or, the Democrat party.)
A Shrewdness of Ape (Takeaway: Do not buy a used pre-owned car from a primate.)
An Obstinacy of Buffalo (However, counterintuitively but no less true, the more obstinate you are, the less likely you are to be buffaloed. Up to a certain point. Particularly useful when shopping for a used car.)
A Piteousness of Doves (Crybabies. But I do so adore the mourning variety.)
A Business of Ferret (Their tiny genuine leather briefcases are so cute.)
A Kettle of Hawk (No thanks.)
A Smack of Jellyfish (Moral: Do not talk smack to a jellyfish or you'll be toast.)
A Mischief of Mouse (Yes. No.)
A Trip of Dotterel (Not doggerel; dotterel. Look it up.)
A Fling of Dunlin (Confession: I had to look them both up.)
A Parliament of Owl (The one that hit me in the head was a disgrace to the office.)
A Company of Parrot (They are fine company but bear in mind: Loose lips sink ships.)
A Coterie of Prairie Dog (If that didn't make you smile and swallow at least one r, just imagine their little berets.)
And now ... Folly Beach Grackle Song by Jennifer Weber *deep curtsy*
Happy Friday ~ Happy Weekend
Hey I bet you missed me when I didn't post yesterday.
Well the reason is, I have a bad cold. But it vexes me to type that because I usually don't blog about my health, since it couldn't be of remotest interest to anyone.
I have been known to stop following really nice bloggers with cute blogs because they natter on endlessly about their aches and pains.
Give me a break.
But see, I was driving home from Knoxville on Sunday when this threepenny-nail-like pressure began to invade my skull somewhere above my right ear.
Since I despise road trips (especially the part where you go home) and I quadruple-loathe road trips that take place on Sunday, I thought I was simply stressed out.
By the way guess what? I love to go places but hate to travel. When I do travel, I refuse to fly so it has to be by car, and I don't like that either but if it must be on wheels, I prefer to be the one behind the wheel.
Only, I really don't enjoy driving.
If you can figure all that out, call me up and tell me what it means. But bear in mind, I don't like talking on the phone.
And don't mention my meds -- or lack of same -- because I won't discuss that either.
Anyway back to Sunday when my head started hurting and traffic around Asheville was a hairy yellow-fanged beast and I became annoyed.
A few minutes later I realized I was also stuffed up -- as in, my nose felt funny -- but honestly, I put that down to the altitude. I was after all in the mountains.
What do I know? I haven't had a cold in nearly eighteen months. One tends to forget.
But by that night, I knew I was in trouble. Yesterday came the incessant sneezing. I've been sleeping a lot.
My head does not seem to want to come up off my pillow. It feels like a buzzy bowling ball.
Oh! Have you seen the Puffs softpack tissues? I love those things. LOVE THEM. The packages, I mean; a tissue is a tissue. But the soft pillowy packages! They're so so so so so so cute I can barely stand it.
But I digress.
On my trip to Knoxville I took lots of pictures. Consistent with my personality (don't ask but if you do, the word Oppressive Obsessive will come up and yes with a capital O) I'm not a very organized photographer; I tend to go by emotion rather than rely on any sort of established method or system.
Even so, I began to notice circles. Now, I LOVE circles. Don't ask me why! I just do.
That picture of Rambo up there at the top has a circle and I hope you see it because to me it simply glares. I'll give you a hint: It's on Andrew's Weber grill.
On which he fixed us hamburgers on Saturday night last. Smoky circles of beefy joy on soft round buns!
I ate mine before I could memorialize it with a burger selfie but use your imagination.
You already know that on Wednesday my son showed me around the Tennessee Air National Guard base where he works as a boom operator.
The double circles of the KC-135 Stratotanker engines made for an interesting subject.
Then there was the round graphic on the plane's nose, which circle featured a gas pump and the Rat Fink dispensing Fink-O-Lene. You've already seen it but we can't leave him out of the loop.
On Thursday, Erica and I walked the campus of one-hundred-ninety-five-year-old Maryville College, absorbing the ambience of southern academia in the sweetly cool East Tennessee autumn.
Can you spot the circles in my picture of the cupola atop postbellum Anderson Hall?
The building is one hundred forty-four years old and, as part of a comprehensive renovation that's nearly complete, has been fitted with one hundred forty-four brand-new windows.
(Although as a rule I dislike math, four is by far my favorite number and forty-four? Or one hundred forty-four? Shut the front door.)
I don't gamble because I don't believe in it but if I did? Well. You know.
And then there were the circles I found in downtown Knoxville on our wanderings, maybe even in a big circle, around one of the most charming small cities in Dixie. Delights abound everywhere you look.
There were circular windows reflecting the October sky, and round signs, and O's in names, and circles built into metal fences, and a ring-shaped parking lot marker.
There was a circle within a square embedded high in the wall of a Victorian-era brick industrial structure.
There was the exceedingly fetching Gay Street Clock, its face a circle within which nestles a circle of neon.
The next day -- Friday -- my children indulged me in a visit to Knoxville's Old Gray Cemetery, a historic marvel. We walked the lanes and again there were circles, like the tightly-wound concentric ones on tombstones furry with moss.
At least one grave figure seemed to be offering a wreath to someone, anyone, walking by who may need a circle of stone flowers.
Here: Take it, she seemed to beckon.
The wrought-iron gates of Old Gray are a profusion of curlicues and circular patterns.
Eventually I came full circle: I arrived back home in Columbia, with a cold riding shotgun.
I humbly accept your prayers and wishes that I will get well soon.
Meanwhile I hope you are not sick or hurting, but that your eyes are round with wonder.
And that is all for now.
So yes, I went into the training simulator used by the 134th Air Refueling Wing, 151st Air Refueling Squadron, at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee.
And I refueled an F-22 and a C-5. For real.
I'm prissy as you know so I guess it was a sight to see when I clambered on all-fours into that tiny space and wriggled on my belly onto this narrow ergonomically-correct cot-like thing and put my feet into metal braces out behind me that I could not actually see, and rested my chin on the little black padded thing provided for that purpose.
Once I got into place and had been assured by Andrew that no military-type males would be looking in there on me, judging, I was all excited.
New experiences; I'm all about that.
Once I'd gotten all comfy and acclimated, Andrew suggested that I scoot over to one of the similar cot-like things on either side of the boom's space.
He got all serious and businesslike so I busied myself taking pictures of my son, handsome even in low light and close quarters.
The boy made me wear earphones just like his for a while but I took them off because I was certain they were mussing my hair.
I got schooled in where the controls are and what they mean and what they do. I remember everything he told me.
Then it was my turn to actually refuel an aircraft while in flight.
First up was the F-22. Fighter jet, my friends. See that little fake pilot?
The monster C-5 came later.
I was still excited but I concentrated more because I wanted Andrew to be proud of me.
And he told me I made a perfect contact.
It wasn't scary at all because I remembered the whole time that we'd never left the ground.
After I'd refueled the C-5 -- another perfect contact, tank you -- we walked around the facility where Andrew goes to work every day, and he introduced me to a few of his fellow boom operators, plus several pilots.
One fine gentleman in uniform asked if I were proud of my son and of course I said Of course.
And he said, Well you should be because he's one of only twenty-five boom operators in the whole State of Tennessee.
Another uniformed gentleman standing beside the first one chimed in, And one of only nine-hundred-eighty boom operators in the world.
I am even prouder than I thought I was, and that's a lot.
Daggy says Way to go, Uncle Andrew. She's here in Knoxville with us, as is her mother and her Aunt Erica.
That's what Dagny does every single morning as soon as she wakes up: V for victory. Curled fists, ready for action.
So then Andrew drove me out in a special bus to the flight line, where we walked around some more and then I actually got inside a KC-135 Stratotanker.
I had to climb this ladder straight up fifteen feet, a feat I accomplished deftly and with style.
Andrew showed me the actual boom pod where he does his job, and it wasn't nearly as nice as the one in the sim. The KC-135 Stratotankers are sixty years old, after all.
Here's the nose of the one I climbed into. They dole out Fink-O-Lene. Price per gallon: 2 Much.
The engines are big and you don't want birds getting slurped into the blades while you're airborne.
My baby hopped right on up in there. He be spry.
Here he is, showing me something.
And posing yet again, for posterity, sweet obedient adventurous son that he is.
These photos were taken on Wednesday, when it was overcast and cool. Today there is not a cloud in the East Tennessee sky and the high is forecast for nearly eighty degrees.
Dagny is dressed for the occasion.
Decked out in pink with black polka dots, black lace, and pearls, secure in the arms of her doting Uncle Andrew, she's ready for an adventure of her own.
And that is all for now.
Happy Friday ~ Happy Weekend
So I'm here at Andrew's house in Knoxville and since he lives near the base, we find ourselves in a flight path.
It's so cool. I don't mind the noise as long as they stay up there.
The pictured airplane is the KC-135 Stratotanker, which is what Andrew flies in to refuel fighter jets, cargo planes, and various other military aircraft.
It keeps on flying over this apartment complex. They must know I'm here.
Anyway see that orange line painted on the bottom? That's what pilots steer by when they approach the KC-135, to line up just so and guzzle go-juice from its reservoir of hundreds of thousands of pounds of fuel.
There are handy illuminators -- PDL's, or Pilot Director Lights -- on either side of that orange line too, toward the cockpit, that Andrew controls. They are used for both day and night refueling missions. He turns them up brighter during the day.
That's to provide an indispensable thing for pilots in this situation: depth perception.
Even so, Andrew tells me that fighter pilots have a tendency to be -- ahem -- arrogant. They loathe being told what to do by a boom operator. In fact, they have been known to wilfully ignore the boom's instructions.
In which case, my son wilfully withholds fuel from them.
Until they straighten up and fly right. Deal.
See the bubble toward the rear? That's the pod where the boom operator lies on his stomach, operating the boom, which you see sticking out in the back.
It's exciting. It's happening somewhere right now, probably over your own head.
But I'm in town and my son is off for the week, and he's fixing to take me over to the base and show me some stuff up close and personal.
I may even get to play in the simulator. There may be pictures; we shall see. Or not.
I'll be in touch.
And that is all for now.
So last night we took Dagny for her first visit to Elmwood Cemetery.
It was not a rite of passage; she is after all only four months old. And we are not quite that weird.
There was so much to see. It was the Columbia Historical Society's big night to dress up in characters and hover behind trees near significant graves lit with tall black torches, and tell not-quite-ghost stories in the gloaming.
The lady who administrates day-to-day operations at Elmwood Cemetery has been inviting me for some time to attend this event as her guest.
They do similar tours on the second Thursday of each month, but it's understandable that October is the month that saw most of the action.
I was simply waiting for cooler temperatures, or at least not the kind of weather featuring humidity so intense, it makes a shadowy grave sound inviting.
As it turned out we enjoyed the pleasantly balmy climate typical of Columbia in October. Audrey was glad to accompany me, and as always we had Dagny in tow.
Bat-Dag sported her bat-baby costume, black and gold with a sparkly tutu skirt and detachable black satin cape. Little Miss Dark Eyes completely owned the look.
I'll show you better pictures of that getup later on this month; she will be wearing it to several events.
Speaking of getups, there was the dead almost-bride who wanders aimlessly around her grave at this time of year. The story is that she felt unwell on the day before the wedding, and everyone told her it was only pre-matrimonial jitters.
Except, she perished and instead of attending a wedding, the dearly beloved gathered together for a funeral.
Ah well. Even if she'd been married fifty years, they'd both be long gone by now.
The golden sunset was particularly fetching as it melted through the trees on the west side of Elmwood.
Elmwood is meticulously tended. I'm glad because TG and I have purchased our graves there, under a big tree, and you want the housekeeping to be on a par you can live with.
There was a lady who has been enjoying the ambience and amenities for a long time, alongside her husband. The story goes that during the war between the states, they did some undercover work for the Confederacy.
That must have really been something because one-hundred-fifty years later, she's still talking about it.
There was a young lady engaged in noisy mourning, lamenting the loss of her betrothed over a century ago. It was a locomotive accident, hence the motif on Weathersbee's impressive grave marker.
The would-have-been Mrs. Weathersbee burst into good-natured giggles however, when I complimented her on how perfectly tragic she looked in her almost-widow's weeds.
So, good times after all.
Late day waned to a blue twilight and gaggles of visitors milled about, drinking cider and roasting marshmallows, snacking on pretzels from small jack-o-lantern bags, filling out CHS How-Did-We-Do surveys clamped to clipboards outfitted with tiny-but-bright gooseneck lights to see by.
I let Audrey complete ours because I am blind as a bat without my cheaters. I did comment to a volunteer that it was a memorable shindig although I was tuckered from all the walking and more than ready to take my bones home.
Dagny won't remember any of it, but that's why we take pictures.
I can't wait to tell her about our October adventure someday in the future, and to take her back to Elmwood when she can more fully appreciate not only its peace and beauty, but its ties to the history of the city where she was born.
And that is all for now, except for me to wish you a:
Happy Friday ~ Happy Weekend