V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40 “Things my Father said”

UH oh, uh oh, too big, TOO BIG!!!

My mind reels at the thought of picking one thing my Dad said that influences me! I could write a whole book about his subtle , even covert teachings.

Oh wait. I DID!

I have 52, still to be edited, chapters (short stories really) about something my Dad said or did that is still with me today. For the purpose of this challenge I will start with this.

When I was growing up, and there was conflict with my sisters, we of course would try to get Dad to solve it for us (which really meant “take sides”).

He would quietly listen to tales of woe and blame…and then, as if he had just thought of it and never ever said it before, he would say “Hmmm, Well, that’s one way to look at it…”

Period. That’s all. No solutions. No votes for one side or the other. Nothing. The implacable silence following his casual-seeming comment, I interpreted as lack of love clear into my adulthood.

But now, that sentiment is interwoven throughout my experiences, my calling.

Those words from him have fueled and inspired my stance in life. I am on a mission to teach and model for others, that we each have options about how we view things. And that it’s not just a choice, but a responsibility, to see things, especially in a conflict, from as many perspectives as we can confirm or imagine.

Thus Chosen Perspectives.

Here’s one of the Chapters (stories) I mentioned above. I feel very vulnerable sharing it so would appreciate any comments you are willing to make. You don’t have to like the story. Any kind of feedback is valuable. I would like to know if you read it. I’d so appreciate your “perspective”.

 


(working title)

The “Ruler” and the Torn Screen or One Square foot

“To this garden we were given
And always took for granted
It’s like my Daddy told me, ‘You just bloom where you’re planted’
We long to be delivered from this world of pain and strife.
That’s a sorry substitution for a spiritual life.” Don Henley- “Inside Job”

“Give a child an inch and he’ll think he’s a ruler.” Sam Levenson

When I was newly eleven years old, I decided to sneak out one night to meet my two of my friends. To achieve this daring escape, I had to tear the screen on my bedroom window.

Oh, I had my adventure alright. My fellow delinquents and I caroused a whole square block in quiet little Pacific Beach. We were MIA for a couple of hours, doing the classic deviant things of our generation…for Girl Scouts anyway. We stole pomegranates from a tree whose branches hung way out into the alley making them public property, right? And we creeped into one grouchy neighbor’s back yard to see baby bunnies in a homemade cage. This guy refused to let us see these precious fluff balls during the day time, matters into our own hands and all….

Almost sunrise, I came home triumphant but exhausted and forgot all about repairing the damage to the screen…..not that I could have fixed it anyway.

Of course, I was caught. My mother discovered it that same morning and boy, was she was pissed. I hadn’t thought to close my curtains to hide what she later called my “willful and thoughtless destruction of property”. When she found it, she didn’t say a word but I knew I was busted by how she glared at me. She was a silent seether.

Then, my Mom woke my Dad, only a couple of hours into his post graveyard-shift slumber. She insisted that he deliver my punishment…a spanking…unheard of in our household, and at eleven years old….I thought “Give me a break. Never gonna happen”.

But my extremely shy and pacifist father was apparently more invested in pleasing my mother than I had realized. Her explicit direction to him was to spank me for the torn screen. The sneaking out in the middle of the night part was completely ignored, a fact that bothered me for years.

I will never forget the look on my father’s face as he slowly entered my room and closed my door. He looked chagrined but also resigned. I was shocked that he was actually considering carrying out this task set upon him by his wife….completely out of character for him.

My Dad had never touched me in anger or punishment or, for that matter, even in love. We addressed this last much later. When I was in my forties, my sisters and I finally taught him how to hug us. It was visibly painful at first, but it finally grew on him.

But when I was eleven, he sat down on the very edge of my bed and then mumbled something about bending over his knee, the whole thing so surreal to me that I complied without question or reaction.

His swing was simultaneously swift but also slowed by some imaginary obstacle, like slapping his hand through a two foot thick barrier of Jell-O. From my vulnerable position, the approach of his hand made the expected whoosh through the air, but contact with my waiting butt never happened. He tried twice but could not quite muster the actual blow.

Then he startled me by smacking my bed, twice, and loudly. I was absolutely surprised but definitely not injured.

When I stood up and we were face to face, he didn’t speak a word but in a rare moment of slightly prolonged and very direct eye contact (seriously…my Dad was shy) he conveyed to me ‘Please don’t tell your mother”. I read his look loud and clear…..and played my silently assigned part to the hilt. I cried real (but exaggerated) tears for quite a while, making sure my mother saw and heard me. I was furious with her but I don’t think I had never felt so loved by my Dad.

 

One of my childhood friends was named Mary Lou Reichel. She lived two doors down and sometimes I was invited to go on adventures with her family. They had a big motor boat and I went Marlin fishing with them. They did so many things, even attending church….all together. They were Catholic. Mary Lou and her big brother even went to the parochial school. Mr. Reichel was very strict and the mom very quiet and religious. I loved their family. They were so different from my own and I longed for my parents to assume their proper stereotypical positions like Mr. and Mrs. Reichel.

I remember so clearly a reaction Mary Lou had to my Dad one sunny Sunday afternoon.

We were hanging out in my front yard while Dad worked on the car. I was complaining to him about how bored I was and why couldn’t he take us for ice cream or to the beach or…whine, whine, whine. He just looked at me, a familiar look so I knew what was coming next. But Mary Lou froze and held her breath. It was as if she knew the very words my Dad would say next, and she was exactly right. With a faintly apologetic sigh, he said, “Go get the ruler.”

Mary Lou’s reaction puzzled me. Her eyes widened, panic on my behalf all over her face, and her shoulders went up to her ears. “Go get the ruler” meant something so different to her and I know now she had regularly been on the receiving end of a Ruler Whap…on her knuckles from the nuns at her school and her father had broken several yard sticks over her bare bottom. Later that afternoon, she actually cried and whispered to me, as if her father two doors down might hear, how she wished her Dad was as nice as mine. Grass is always greener, huh?

I had envied her father taking her to church all the time. The sum total of religious teaching I received from mine was this.

“Boredom is a sin.”

So when my Dad, a consummate and camouflaged spiritual teacher, said “Go get the ruler”, here’s what he meant.

Take the ruler and some chalk or a pencil and mark off one square foot of surface…on anything….the car, the wall, the grass, and my personal favorite, the sidewalk in front of our house.

Then, he told me to stare at it until I found something miraculous. That’s it.

Do you have any idea how much life there is in one square foot of Southern California lawn? Weeds, pill bugs, itty bitty daisy-like flowers, rocks, the marble I lost last summer, caterpillars, and always, about one thousand ants. And I was convinced the sidewalk was filled with flecks of pure gold. (I bet this is why I so enjoy Macro Photography!!!

It would occupy my sisters and me for hours. We were inspired to start collections. It gave us stimulating stories to tell and write. We built complete little towns with the gathered natural debris from neighboring square foots….and this was just from the grass. The lathe and plaster walls in our house held scenes filled with animal shapes. Our brown shag carpet was jam-packed with faces. The sidewalk became a canvas for colored chalk. One time I used a square foot of beach towel and a magnifying glass to get a good look at what terry cloth really is. (That was the same time I learn about the fire starting power of a magnifier!)

It took me many years to choose between Mary Lou’s perspective and mine about my father. I had seen my Dad as distant and cold, not really caring that much about me… not that he was mean. I always did the things he suggested; “Close your eyes and count five sounds”, “Name five smells in the air right now”, “Where did all those tadpoles go?” “What happened to the Polliwogs we saw just last week?” And “Why is our favorite pond now filled with tiny frogs?”

And I enjoyed the adventurous outings he would provide. The bustle and commotion in a single square foot of tide pool is truly amazing.

Just five blocks from our house they were excavating deep into a hillside in preparation for a new subdivision of homes. My Dad knew this would be a once in a life time opportunity so he packed up the tool box and took us there on the weekends when all the big machinery was silent. Our tools were our beach buckets, some old paint brushes, the fancy grapefruit spoons (“Don’t tell your mother”), and of course, the ruler. I still have beautiful and amazing fossils from those expeditions.

When I was young, I thought my father was just weird, but now, I see him through Mary Lou’s longing eyes. He was a gentle, loving, unassuming and brilliant Master Parent and Spiritual Guide. Completely out of our awareness, he was training us to be biologists, artists, ecologists, archaeologists, maybe even Buddhists.

As I look back now, I can only imagine what that “spanking” over the torn screen must have cost him.

 

 

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40: Things My Father Said*

Square Spikiness for March…interesting challenge

Spikiness for March

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rescued inside the Toyota dealership!

As soft as the one on the left looks, it’s quite Spiky! As for the one on the right, I can’t say.

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You’ve met my Bugs. Here is their Playground!!

Both of these are quite spiny and spiky…ouch!

PS Sorry for the Featured Picture at the top. I should have warned you about the X-Rated carnage of that shot of a murdered tree.

March Squares; the theme is #SpikySquares

Another new (to me) photo challenge!! This one is from a lovely blogger named BeckyB. I’m an instant fan because I see lots of cat photos on her site.

 

So you want “SPIKY“, eh?? I’m pleased to introduce you to my SPIKY pets! Well, SPINY anyway.

Now I just have to figure out how to make a photo square!

 

 

 

We always have a large crowd of mourners when one of our Spiky friends passes on…

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could NOT get this one square!
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We honored the Queen

For more on these Giant Spiny Australian Leaf Bugs, please visit my blog. I write about them shamelessly…a lot!

https://chosenperspectives.com/2018/10/29/lens-artists-weekly-photo-challenge-10-28-18-theme-just-for-fun/

Thanks for the Challenge! What FUN!

 

 

 

Don’t let the barbed wire put you off!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #34: Close-Up

https://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/lens-artists-photo-challenge-34-close-up/

I love close-ups. I’m really hooked on macro and still learning the difference between the two.

I know in photography-speak, it’s about the lens but the only specifically macro lens I have is for a glorious, old Nikon film camera.

So these days, everything is just an experiment for me.

This is what my phone camera can do macro-wise. (I do love a photograph where the content is interesting, but impossible to identify.)

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Sometimes, I miss what could have been a great close-up until I mess with the crop feature in my editing program, turning it into a close-up. Is this cheating?

Of course, there are those photos you never, EVER want to see any closer or bigger!

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But there are the really fun shots too, like when the subject just cries out to be photographed up CLOSE!!

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I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille (as in Cecil B.)

And last, but definitely not least, my favorite all-time close-up, courtesy of my dear friend Tracie!!!

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Photo a Week Challenge; PINK 2/14/19

I can be so judgmental sometimes….

Like Nancy says in her challenge for us this week, I’m also not much of a girly girl. And unlike Nancy, for whom pink  “is never my first choice of color for anything”, in days passed, I actively disliked and avoided PINK.

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But I am cursed (yes, and blessed) with the drive to find a lesson in anything I “actively dislike”.

I wrote about PINK once before.

Some one gave me a gift…a polar fleece vest…in the ugliest color…bright fuchsia?! Not a color I would ever choose or wear…too fake looking….I didn’t even like people who wore this color. AND, didn’t the person who gave me this ugly thing, know that pink is way too “girly” for me? I put it in the closet…way in the back…

A couple of years later, I am on a Spring walk with my camera, in search of new flowers. I come across a stunning flower, the brightest color for miles around (or so it seems). I have these thoughts, “there are so many colors in Nature that we just have not been able to duplicate. We don’t even have names for some of the colors we see in a sunset or a flower. This flower is a spectacular color!! I wish I had something to wear in this color…”

I pick just a blossom leaf or two to take home. I put them in my pocket.

That same week I am doing a closet downsizing for a Goodwill run and find the never worn, long-forgotten ugly pink vest tucked way in the back…..and then I remember those bright colored petals!

 

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Can you see the petal??

I blushed about the same color!

Needless to say, it has become one of my favorite things to wear. I even got socks, a scarf and shoes with a stripe in the same color!

Now I’m wondering if I owe my gift-giver an apology…….

 

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So I had to get to the bottom of this. Why such a strong reaction? It’s just a color, right?

Way too long a story (including a couple of years of hard-core therapy) later, I traced my prejudice back to a relatively off-handed comment from my Aunt. I had run away from home at 15 and ended up living with her in high school. She sewed these beautiful clothes for me, whole outfits for daily and church wear, as well as various Prom-type formal dresses. Always in hues of pink.

My favorite color is blue, since very early childhood, and my Aunt knew this so one day, I asked her to make me some thing BLUE. Her response, the casual remark I mentioned above? She said, “No, pink is better. Then the boys will all think you are still a virgin….”

I was shocked and protested, apparently way too much, because it was a disagreement we were still having when she was on her death bed. She never believed me and I never forgave her for that.

Still painfully ironic today because no budding young Flower Child, Hippie-Chick, California Girl in the 1960’s ever successfully fought harder to “save herself for marriage” than I did.

Talk about swimming against the tide of the sexual norms of those days!

So when I finally became more “enlightened” by the late 60’s and early 70’s, apparently I buried the reason for, but still held on to the active dislike of all things PINK!

Aren’t you glad you asked??

Oh wait, you didn’t…another bright pink blush here…

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I have since fully embraced PINK in all its hues and tones, in nature, as well as in my decorating choices.

 

Here’s an example, if you feel inspired to read more about it. I wrote it to anchor the gratitude I have come to feel for my ancestors (especially my Aunt) and all their powerfully feminine (and PINK) influences in my life.

https://chosenperspectives.com/2017/05/24/heritage-for-wpc-5-17-17/

 

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Faded photo from 1965…outfit all pink, including the shoes!

Thanks for reading and I really love comments, especially when my vulnerable, pink insides are kinda hanging out there for all to see….

 

https://nadiamerrillphotography.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/a-photo-a-week-challenge-pink/

V.J.’S WEEKLY CHALLENGE #35: BALANCE

Balance, eh. Makes me think of so much, although the priority for me these days is much like V.J.’s when she talks about being wobbly. Healing from a balance related fracture myself here!

But really, the most amazing feat of Balance I ever saw, I have no proof of.

Oh how I wish I had a photo. I even googled this to see if anyone else had a picture I could borrow, so I don’t wonder if this whole thing was just my imagination.

No luck finding photographic proof, but I SWEAR one time along the California coast, just below Carmel by the Sea, I saw 10 or 12 birds balanced on a telephone wire (remember those??)

Not unusual, right? Birds balanced on a wire!!

But these were Pelicans. PELICANS, with their huge webbed feet, all balanced in a row on that wire!!

You’d think the weight alone of these big birds would have snapped that wire in two.

This was pre-camera phones and anyway, I had not, at that point in my life, become obsessed with photographing birds, so it didn’t even occur to me to snap a quick one with my little point and shoot Canon. I just stood there, mouth hanging open, and watched for a long, long time.

The mot impressive part was watching them launch into flight, one or two at a time, and the remaining ones, simply riding the swinging wire. Talk about Balance!

You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Here are the only photos of mine that even indirectly relate to my story.

Hope you enjoy them!

 

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And just for good measure, although it may not look like BALANCE is required in this last photo, we’re talking precision here!!

 

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Can anyone tell me why the “Featured Image” is always partly cut off??

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #35: Balance