An email arrives from my father's girlfriend, asking if I'd like to chip in on Memorial Day flowers for my father's grave. The email has also been sent to my two sisters. "Sure", I write back, "that sounds nice; let me know how much money to send."
It isn't long before a second email arrives from her... "Your younger sister says she has it already covered, and doesn't feel there's a need for more than one arrangement."
"Ok," I respond, "whatever works for her is fine with me."
A day later an email arrives from my older sister, cc'ing her response to dad's girlfriend that she'd like to chip in, and asking what my thought are on it. I write her back, telling her it seems that little sister has the situation under control and I think it's best to leave it that way (a subtle way of saying that I am bowing out of the issue.)
Today a follow-up email comes from dad's girlfriend. It says she went to the cemetery yesterday and a Memorial Day arrangement is already in place, presumably the one placed there by my younger sister. Ok then, that covers it.
Any of you who've been reading hear for some time, will remember an earlier incident, not too many months after my father's passing three years ago, in which who would be doing cemetery decorations when and paid for how became an issue of contest. Then a year or so ago there was a similar showdown over the purchase of a tree for cemetery landscaping project. We all chipped in on that, but my older and younger sister sparred of which kind of tree was to be selected from the list. I bowed out on that one too, saying that I'd be happy with whichever tree was chosen.
Similar scenarios between me and my two sisters have played out for all of our lives (and we are now all over the age of fifty). Everything has to be a contest of wills, someone must be right and someone wrong, someone has to win and someone has to loose - compromise is out of the question.
In years past I was often drawn into such frays, being the middle-child I became the center-point in the tug of war; to win me over to your side was to have the advantage. In recent years, I've learned the folly of allowing myself to take sides and be sucked into the game. Whatever they decide is fine with me. I may have an opinion or a preference, but I'm not about to state it if it means that one will feel victorious over the other and yet another contest of wills, and volley of nasty email exchanges will commence.
I've learned that, in the big picture of life, who buys the flowers, or which tree is planted on the hill is incredibly unimportant. I am happy that it gets done; how they work it out is up to them to decide. Most often it's easiest to let my little sister have her way, she is the most emotional of us three, and the most likely to ramp up the level of drama. My older sister can also be quite stubborn and set on having it her way, and is prone to unpredictable outbursts. Almost always the issues at contest are as petty as who buys the flowers for dad's grave this year or who didn't handle something right twenty years ago!
I close the last email, then shake my head sadly. I'm sure mom and dad are doing the same in Heaven. Some things never change. Is it any wonder that it is so hard to bring peace to the world, when three sisters can't find a way to collaborate on flowers? Sometimes I'm ashamed to admit I'm related... and they wonder why I keep my emotional distance and have chosen for all these years to live so far away from home. They can be in charge of flowers, I will honor my father with memories of my own.
By special request, my Two Shoes Tuesday writing prompt is returning beginning May 21st! In addition to a bright new pair of shoes, I am going to implement a couple other changes...
There will be TWO word prompts each week... you can use whichever one inspires you! You are not required to use them both. You do not have to include the word in your post, but please use it as your theme. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the Mr. Linky list.
Since the intention is for this to be a creative WRITING effort, your contribution must be in the form of a poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.
In adding your post to the Mr. Linky, your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday. It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine.
I will announce the writing prompts for the coming on Sunday mornings, this gives you a little time to think about what you'd like to write and get it done! The upcoming prompt will also be posted on the Two Shoes Tuesday tab at the top of my blog for easy reference.
The official Two Shoes Tuesday post with the Mr. Linky will appear shortly after 12 AM Central Time on Tuesday mornings. You are free to add your link anytime through the following Saturday night, it does not have to be done on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to reading what you share!
Your choice of word prompts for Tuesday, May 21st are:
1) A somewhat slower week at the office, and being caught up on paperwork when I left Friday. Monday is so much easier to face when you know that your desk isn't stacked high and waiting for you!
2) If last night was a good indication, the music festival down the road isn't going to be a noise problem. We could hear the drums as we went to sleep, and Papa Bear could hear someone singing when he walked on the deck in the wee hours to relieve leg cramps, but it was distant. Whew! I love quiet and privacy so much, especially after the noisy work week, I am glad it will continue uninterrupted!
Speaking of drums, one of my favorite memories is falling asleep to the sound of drums when I attended a Sun Dance on the Pine Ridge Reservation many years ago. We were camping out at the Sun Dance grounds, and dancing continued as we fell asleep. It is true what they say, that the drumbeat is the heartbeat of creation. I think it is the most tranquilizing sound that I know.
3) Papa Bear repairing the watering system for our two little globe willow trees, meaning he no longer has to haul buckets of water to them at the end of a long, tiring day. Just in time too, as our temps are now up in the 100 range (105 yesterday), and those little trees will need big gulps to keep them going. They have done amazingly well in the last two years since we planted them, fingers crossed! Papa Bear is a multi-talented fix-it man and has saved us a fortune with his do-it-yourself skills over the years.
4) Finding a rental cottage at Ft. Davis for the three day weekend we are taking to celebrate Papa Bear's upcoming 60th birthday in June. Ft. Davis is a small town lies at the foot of a small range of "mountains" and his wish was for a nice place to kick back, relax, and enjoy the view. There are no large hotels there and rooms are booked way in advance. We lucked out in finding a perfect little spot on the edge of town. It's about a 2-1/2 hour drive from here, which isn't too bad. We live pretty much in the middle of nowhere and he didn't want to drive a great distance for a weekend stay. This will be fun. We love little getaways. Maybe we will take in a star-gazing party at the observatory there. Turning sixty is a fun reason to celebrate, although I tease him about being married to an old man. My turn is coming up eight months after his, so I really can't say too much!
5) Our office closing early yesterday - at 1 PM, giving me time to go and get my Escape washed, it has been begging for a bath for almost two months. The only time I am usually able to go to the car wash is on Saturday, and the lines are even longer then. If I ran a business, it would always close at 1 PM on Friday, it gives a nice start to the weekend! If you haven't taken care of your business by then, it is probably something that can wait until next week. (Though I am always surprised by the number of people that call our office five minutes before closing everyday.)
6) Making it to our tiny town Post Office customer counter with just fourminutes to spare to retrieve the package my son sent me. They close at 4 PM, so I am never able to go during the week. My car wash took much longer than anticipated, but now that I am done grumbling about that , I am thankful that I was done just in time to make a flying trip to the PO. The reward was sweet... a delicious box of fudge sent by my son! He ordered it from River Street Sweets - the shop we both enjoyed so much when we visited Savannah... good treat, great memories!
Ok, it doesn't take much to get me grumbling, that's already well-documented on my blog. Usually I start to grumble when I get frustrated about things that I have no control over... because we all know that - in a perfect world - everyone would do things in ways that I would please me. Right? :-) Well, ok, maybe not, but there's just a few little things bloggers sometimes do, or in some cases don't do, that make me grumpy... you know - like that now famous cat with the permanently unhappy face. I'd appreciate it if you'd take a minute to consider these notes, for what they're worth... my opinion. Rebuttal comments are welcome, if done respectfully.
If you want me to comment on your blog, PLEASE make it possible for me to do that. I had to obtain a Wordpress ID (although I don't actually maintain a Wordpress blog) just so that I could comment on other Wordpress blogs without filling in all the blanks on the comment form each and every time. Ok, I did it and I got over it, because there were some good thing out there to read that I wanted to respond to. Now we have a new thing going - Google+. It appears that the only way I can comment on Google+ blog posts is to have a Google+ ID, so I tried that. But... Google+ will not allow me to set up an ID under the name Josie Two Shoes, because it doesn't accept it as a real name. Humpf! Maybe it's not my given name, but I've been using in for several years now and it is the name I'm known by in Blogland. I have an email address for that ID too. I tried to explain the desire/need to keep my given name disassociated with my blog, but frankly my dear, they didn't give a damn. Sooo... if you are blogging with Google+, and you are linked up on any of the writing prompts or blog hops I participate in, be aware that I do read your post, but can't comment, and eventually I'll quit reading your blog altogether because it frustrates me to be excluded.
I think plenty has already been said about word verification/captcha crap on commenting. Bottom line, yes - I understand that spam can be a problem, though it hasn't been in my experience, but if you must use word verification, choose some kind that can be easily deciphered. Blogger's captcha with the fuzzy made-up word and blurry number photo is one of the worst. Usually, I'll give it one try, maybe two for something I'd really like to say... after that, forget it, I'm moving on to other blogs. Why should I have to be tortured just to tell you that I really liked what you had to say?!
While on the topic of blog communication - here's another that bugs me. No email address to be found on the blog or the blogger's profile. Why not? Yes, I know... it's the spam thing again, and it can be a problem with publicized email addresses. There is a very simple solution... get a separate email address that you use strictly for your blog... such as my jts.2000 address listed on my blog and profile. Then the pea brain spammers can send all the crap they want, you will still be able to receive things like emails from me telling you how great I think your blog is, or about an broken link, or some such important communication. Maybe I even want to invite you over to my house for BBQ!
Another note on profiles... and this is just my personal feeling... I sure like to be able to go to someone's profile or About Me page and learn at least a little something about them as a human being. When there is nothing that tells me a single thing about you it begins to feel a little too mysterious. You don't have to add your photo, street address and phone number, but just a little bit of personal info makes it feel like I am connecting with another person and not a robot or some creepy guy who pretends to be the sweet ol' lady down the street. Are you young or old? What part of the world do you live in? A little bit about your background or personality or something?? Please!
Final complaint, and then I promise to call it enough... If you are participating in a writing prompt or blog hop, for Heaven's sake link a post that actually has some relationship to the prompt or theme. People don't go thru the effort to set up these prompts and blog hops just to provide you with a way to publicize your own blog disregarding any rules/requests they post about participation. I can't tell you how many times I click on a link and find myself searching for a related post and end up scratching my head, thinking WTH! This is NOT an effective means of increasing your readership. I can guarantee you that I won't be staying or commenting, I don't enjoy blogging with folks who are self-serving and who never come around to visit, just want you to visit them. It's supposed to be a two-way street, that's the whole concept... SHARING!
An additional note on linking to prompts... if you write one post and link it up to four or five different prompts, you are either amazingly good at covering all the bases in one effort, or you're really stretching on finding a connection to each prompt. How about pick your favorite one or two for that post, where it fits best, and go with that. I don't want to have to guess how your post relates to the theme of the week. Abstract is cool but sometimes it seems to be exceeding the limit, and once again using someone's blog hop or writing prompt for self-promotion. Think PARTICIPATION!
Note to those who manage blog hops or writing prompts... please delete links that lead to an entire blog or a post that has absolutely no discernible relevance to your prompt/theme. It's YOUR game, you make the rules... and you have the right to enforce them! It will make it a more user-friendly place to visit for those of us who want to participate but don't have a lot of extra time or patience to sift thru all the riff-raff to find the good stuff!
Ok, Josie climbing off her soapbox now, I feel so much better for having gotten all that off my chest! You may return to your regular blogging rounds, I'm done grumbling... for today! :-))