The Fat Lady Has Sung For Phoebe
You may or may not have read this past December the story of my granddaughter and her pet snail. That’s right, a pet snail. Who’d a thunk anyone would have a snail for a pet. Yet, these gastropods are the top pet choice over guinea pigs and other critters of that ilk. K, my granddaughter, wanted a pet that was just for herself. Their dog didn't count since he was shared by all members of the family.
Talking with K about her new pet, I learned way too much information about snails. That’s what happens when you ask questions. You are likely to learn something. Perhaps even something you did not expect.
Her number one hydropod is Phoebe of the Gold Mystery breed. Yes, snails have breeds. Again, who’d a thunk?
Over the past few months, I would periodically ask K how things are with Phoebe. It seems like her life purpose is to scale the tank wall and reproduce. Tank cleaning keeps the population under control. All except Phoebe go down the drain. Made me wonder if all of the supurfluous hydrapods ever meet up with the alligators that live in the sewers below the streets.
I recently asked K for an update on the Phoebe situation. Well, it seems that all good things must come to an end. The Phoebe phase is over. In fact, K said, “I have advice for anyone wanting a pet snail. Don’t get one. All they do is reproduce and stink up your room.”
Reality always has a way of setting in at some point, doesn’t it? How often have we wanted something sooo much; something we just had to have to make life worth living?
Now, I will make a short story long. This speaks to the myths of happiness. “If only I get that promotion… if only I can buy a new car…and so on, then I will be happy. Or, there’s “I’ll never be happy if I don’t get to play point guard for the Toronto Raptors or I’ll never be happy if I don’t find a life partner."
The truth is that even if we manage to procure one of those things we think will make us happy, that happiness has a life span of about 2 years. Then what? One important thing studies show is that adding novelty or fresh ideas to the situation can help revive the initial spike of happiness.
Another tried and true practice is a daily dose of gratitude. Noticing and reflecting on people or things in our life that we can appreciate has also been proven to boost happiness. It is true that we can’t be grateful for everything, but in any given moment there is something to be grateful for.
Comments are always welcomed.
Remembering What Matters
At one point in a conversation with a friend, the topic focused on recollections of flowers from our childhoods. Not sure how we got there, but thinking about it since, brought back a surge of random, happy memories from my youth. Science has shown that one of the ways to have happiness in the present is to revisit positive events from the past. Recalling and savoring those moments along with re-experiencing the feelings that accompanied them.
In no chronological order, I will share some of those moments that brought smiles, joy, even appreciation to the present.
I grew up in a small town, population about 5,000. We lived on Church St. so named because of the Presbyterian Church located on the corner. All of the residences were on one side of the street. They consisted of 2 or 4-family houses with the occasional single family home. I should note that there were lots of kids on my block. I lived in a street level apartment in a 4 family building owned by my grandmother. The driveway to the back parking ran between our house and another building. All along the side of the driveway grew bluebells and tiger lilies. If you followed the driveway through to the garages and behind them you would find unlandscaped green space. I remember there being one apple tree, just right for climbing, a peony bush with the most beautiful pink flowers and a patch of lilies of the valley.
Bordering the backyards of all the houses was a big field where we magically turned into famous comic book heroes, ran around or laid down watching the clouds go by on warm, sunny days. The 2 things that stand out about that field were the Indian paint brushes that grew there and a brook at one edge of the field. How we loved to cross the brook stepping on stones trying not to get our shoes wet. Visions of the Indian paint brushes, bluebells, tiger lilies, peonies and lilies of the valley have stood out in my memory all these years, bringing back some of the joys of childhood.
Back in the daymost of the girls had roller skates. You may remember, the kind that fit over your shoes. You needed a special key to tighten them. If I listen carefully, I can still hear the rumbling of the metal wheels on the cement sidewalks.
Speaking of transportation modes, my first bike was a beautiful cornflower blue and cream Columbia 2 wheeler. I do believe I traveled the entire world on that bike.
If the other kids were not around, there was always hopscotch. Out came the chalk to draw the numbered squares on the sidewalk and I entertained myself, always the winner.
There are so many memories. I will just share one more. The church on the corner had a rather large yard enclosed by a chain link fence. In Autumn the yard filled up with fallen leaves. Since the minister’s daughter was my best friend, She and I and some other kids would go into the yard and pile the leaves up against the fence. Next, we went outside the yard, climbed up on the fence, jumped into the piles of leaves and burrowed underneath them. Uber fun.
What situations, experiences in your past bring joy and happiness to the present as you revisit them? Those memories matter.
Comments are welcomed.
Have you heard of Spring Valley? You surely know that the North Pole is the homeland of Santa Claus and all things Christmas. Well, Spring Valley is the homeland of the Easter Bunny and all things Easter. Who lives in Spring Valley and what goes on there?
Spring Valley is a very beautiful, very busy place. It is always Spring there. It is where Peter Cottontail, the head Easter Bunny resides along with many other bunnies who will be in training for Easter duties.
The Rue de Fleurs (Street of Flowers), runs through the center of Spring Valley from one end to the other. The street is lined on each side with tulips, daffodils, crocuses, iris, hyacinth, primrose and many more. Their scents and colors make the Rue de Fleurs a very unique thoroughfare. The local businesses on either side of the Rue are essential to the success of the Easter mission.
On one side of the street is the Easter Basket foundry. All sizes, shapes and colors of Easter baskets are manufactured there. Near the foundry is Rebecca Rabbit’s Easter Bonnet Bazaar. Rebecca and her assistants create every imaginable style of Easter headware.
Just past Rebecca’s is the Paint Plant. Inside the Paint Plant are vats of every possible color of paint which are used to decorate the Easter eggs.
On the other side of the Rue, often called the ‘sweet side’, are all the confectioneries. There is Jelly Bean Junction, the Easter Egg Emporium, the Marshmallow Mart and the Chocolateria.
A sharp right turn just past the Paint Plant takes you to Lapin Lane. This is the main shopping district for Spring Valley residents . You will find the Country Bunny Clothiers, Cecily Parsley’s Green Grocery, Betty Bunny’s Bakery, the Velveteen Rabbit’s Veterinary Services, the Energizer Bunny’s Yoga Studio, Uncle Wiggley’s Bookstall, Peter Rabbit’s Gardening Center, Harvey’s Haberdashery, the March Hare Tea Room, Bugs Bunny’s Novelty Shop, the White Rabbit Clock Works and Watch Maker to highlight a few.
A left turn just past the Jelly Bean Junction locates the residential area of Spring Valley. Most of the rabbits live in a very expansive warren. Spring Valley’s high society live on Hare Hill.
At the far end of the Rue de Fleurs is a large egg-shaped building which is, of course, painted egg-shell white. Over the entry way are the words Haus der Oster Has in large, bright, multi-colored letters. They are the German words that roughly translate to House of the Easter Bunny.
It was German immigrants to North America, Pennsylvania in particular, that began the tradition of the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs as we know it. However, what people did not know was that Spring Valley as described above, existed long before the recorded history of Easter everything - similar to Santa, and the entire North Pole village which existed long before people discovered them.
Let us talk about the Oster Hase building, the most important part of Spring Valley enterprises. The “Hase House” as the locals call it, is where all rabbits go to train to become Easter Bunnies. This training program was designed and implemented by Hare Hoppelmeister the original Easter Bunny, himself. He rarely goes out in the field anymore. It would have to be some kind of emergency for H.H. to go out on the circuit. You see, after a few hundred years of doing Easter Bunny stuff, Hare Hoppelmeister felt there needed to be a contingency plan in case some unexpected phenomenon prevented him from doing this important work. Consequently, Hase House came into being. Hare Hoppelmeister developed the training program for future Easter bunnies and remains Head Master in perpetuity.
At this point, we must bid adieu or auf wiedersehen Perhaps one day we will let you into the Hase House archives and share some of the escapades, shenanigans and near disasters that transpired over the centuries. Until then, Happy Easter.
Comments are welcomed.
Was Mercury Being Mercurial?
I had the most forgettable telephone experience the other day. Even A.G. Bell would have found it distressing. I’m teaching a course via a conference line as the enrollees are international. The procedure is to phone into a bridge line, dial an access code and there you are with everyone in a virtual classroom. Many of you may be familiar with this. I’ve taught and taken many courses via the conference call. Getting an education in the comfort of your own home is sometimes a great option. It beats going out in a snowstorm to get to class or having to go out when you are ill, etc.
Here is the Cliff notes version of the technological debacle that ensued. Upon dialing in, a message came up that the call-in number had been changed. Yikes! Class was to begin in 2 minutes. I phoned Mary, our tech person who patched me in through her cell phone. All was good for about 5 minutes when I lost the class. Phoned back Mary to get re-patched in. Couldn’t get through to Mary. Another 10 minutes went by before getting reconnected. I presented the material, pausing for questions or comments. No response. I continued. Next pause, No response. I tried calling on people by name. Still no response. I hung up and called Mary yet again. It seemed like I’d been talking to an empty space for at least 20 minutes. Apparently, the class could hear me, but I could not hear them. There was much more, but you get the picture. Happy to say things should be resolved for the next class.
Recent conversations with several friends, revealed they, too, were having or have had some sorts of communication problems. Whenever such issues crop up, we immediately love to blame the planet Mercury. After all, those issues couldn’t possibly be our responsibility in any way, could they?
In astrology, Mercury rules communication, travel, and technology so all of these areas can go haywire for about three weeks. To top it off, Mercury retrograde also has what’s called a “shadow period so you may feel the retroshade a couple weeks before and after the official time is over.
The most recent retrograde occurred from March 4-March 28. I suppose we can claim we are still in the retro-shade. Sure. let’s go with that.
Comments are welcomed.
April Fools Day has rolled around once again. Did you know that April Fools are not limited to only April 1? As you ponder that truth, I’ll continue. Being momentarily bereft of an original idea, I decided to reprint last year’s blog. Heck, why not? It is still au courant. Here we go. Enjoy.
April Fool’s Day started with a glitch in the calendar. Specifically, more than 500 years ago, when the Gregorian calendar shifted to the Julian calendar, there were some folks (those people who apparently did not get any social media updates) who were unaware of the shift in New Year’s dates from April 1 to January 1. So, these unsuspecting souls became the brunt of April Fool’s day pranks and jokes, always at their expense.
One of the most memorable pranks was the BBC broadcasting a “fake news” story about Italian farmers harvesting spaghetti crops, which motivated hundreds of listeners to call the station to inquire where to purchase the harvested spaghetti crops or to observe the harvest in person. Seriously.
Here’s a little about the science of smiles. Did you know that there are 43 muscles in your face, accounting for 7% of the muscles in your entire body? These muscles enable you to make more than a thousand facial expressions. Even though everyone’s face is unique, there are only five universally recognized expressions, the ones for anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, and joy.
Smiles Can Be Sources of Joy
Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Smiling when you aren’t really happy could actually change your mood. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis.
What happens when we see other people smile? You’ve probably heard the expression that laughter is contagious. Well, because of mirror neurons, smiling is contagious too. These mirror neurons play a central role in imitation. They’re activated both when we perform an action and when we see someone else perform the same action. Mirror neurons are also important in empathy and recognizing emotions in other people.
So folks, it seems we are wired to feel good when we smile and when we share smiles and laughter with others. Laugh away not just on April Fool’s Day but every day. After all, laughter is the best medicine for health and vitality. (Based on an article in Positive Psychology News Daily by Lisa Buksbaum)
Comments are welcomed.