Arms Wide Open

They are on this planet and although they are not alive, they are filled with affection, readily giving you hugs and kisses to express their love, and show their physical and emotional warmth.  Everybody needs a friend or two, and better idea would be to adopt a whole community of these lovable characters.  Hillary said, “It takes a village” to enable your children to become smart, able, and resilient adults, but if you purchase these toys for your kids to play with, you are well on your way to building a village.  Each one comes with their own story and the captain who is dressed in white has just come back from a sea adventure, and he has loads of stories to tell your children about his adventures.  The mechanic is dressed in red wearing glasses and a blue cap and he checks your oil with his towel and adds another quart when you get low.

The school crossing guard is wearing a green top with a blue skirt and she will always check all the students to make sure that they packed their lunch and if not, she will call your mom.  The train conductor is wearing a light blue hat and he has a red bandana tied around his neck.  He is holding up a clock and he wants to teach everyone how important it is to be on time.  Sally sunshine is holding an ice cream cone and she wants you to come out and play with her.  Not shown in the picture, but available for purchase is the baker who is dressed in white and he bakes the bread and makes the cakes, which all children love.  You can also get the astronaut, the cowboy, the fireman, the rock star, the librarian and the graduate who doesn’t look like Dustin Hoffman.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Community.

Cajun Swamp Chicken

The Cypress tree tunnel is a dirt road, where the trees on each side form a continuous overhead canopy, giving the illusion of it being a tunnel.  It is a glorious place for photographers to go and take pictures, but because these trees grow best in swampy, wet soil, an alligator took over this tunnel and claimed it as his territory.  The good news is that the gator was captured today and tonight there will be a barbecue.  The chef will be serving Cajun Crawfish Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes along with some Cajun Cornbread Dressing.  We have utensils, but you will need to bring your own drinks.  The bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss will be bringing her fiddle and it should turn out to be a real hootnanny.  The ducks have come back now that the gator is gone, but don’t try to eat them, as they are pets.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Tunnel.

Where We Met

I will never forget the day that I first met you as I climbed up those steps and saw you on the bridge wearing your decorative bra, or bralette without a blouse.  You were the first to make this bold fashion statement challenging the style of what was acceptable.  I thought that you were unapologetically being yourself, doing your own thing and it was amazing.  You put yourself out there by being unique and not following established trends.  You were totally badass, and even Madonna didn’t make her cone bra statement till 1990, which was five years after you were doing it.  This was the perfect summer look and it made everything that you wore with it seem that much more exciting.

Before you started rocking this look, lingerie was only seen in the bedroom, but now this look has made its way into the streets and it allows women to feel more daring.  Lingerie will always be a secret weapon for seducing men and you won my heart from the instant I saw you that day on the bridge.  You were exuding confidence and this was a big step from the tank tops and tube tops that girls were wearing in the 1970s.  With out your influence, girls wouldn’t be wearing those cute handkerchief tops and bandana tops that became fashionable in the 90s.  The fashion industry is completely enamored with the bra top look and they are flying off of shelves in many stores and it keeps gaining momentum.  It is no longer controversial, but you still have to be brave to dress this way.  This look obviously draws the attention of anyone who sees it, because it is so difficult to ignore.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday photo prompt – Steps.

Unwanted Houseplant

Jim said, “This looks like a great conversation starter, but sadly I can’t keep it, as my inquisitive and playful cats will most likely destroy it.  They won’t be able to resist the long, shiny green leaves on this plant, which will quiver in the gentlest breeze.  It may not be toxic to cats, but if they were to ingest it, they would most likely end up win an upset stomach and then they would be puking up those nasty fur balls all over the house.  The flexible ornamental trunk would make it a tempting invitation for them to start climb on and I could just see all of them up there jumping around on their new toy.  With those multiple trees planted and their trunks entangled together, this would provide the perfect ladder for my curious cats, so I just can’t accept your thoughtful gift.”

Kathie said, “Jim nobody turns down a money tree, that is like spitting in the face of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune.  Good fortune can easily turn to bad, as the ball of luck is capable of rolling in any direction and a path toward riches and wealth could suddenly change and you would end up on the path of misery and bad luck.  The Crassula ovata is not toxic to cats and it is commonly known as a jade plant, lucky plant, money plant or money tree.  It is a succulent plant with parts that are thickened, fleshy, and engorged, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions.  It is the most popular plant for “Feng Shui” meaning “wind” and “water”, a concept derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it and thus it creates positive energy (Chi or Qi).  They can grow quite tall, up to seven feet and each tree is actually four to five separate trees with their trunks braided  together.  Supposedly a poor man prayed for money, and then he found this odd plant, took it home as an omen, and had great fortune in selling plants grown from its seeds.  It has small pink or white flowers that is native to the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa, and Mozambique.”

Jim said, “I don’t know your goddess Tyche, but I am sure that she is no match for my God.  My God is the real God and if I wanted to know my future, then I would consult with my true God.  I have never heard of this Feng Shui chop suey nonsense before and I think that some people go around telling everyone what they want to hear, just to make them feel good.”

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday photo prompt – Money Tree.

Throw Down Your Hair

Gilliame of the Green Woods approached the tower where Lady Marable was locked away and he shouted, “Thrown down your hair Marable, I am here to save you.”  Lady Marable looked out the window of the tower and she said, “That didn’t work so well the last time, as when you tried to climb up my hair you were shot with an arrow and I had a throbbing headache for a whole week after, and besides, my father made me cut my hair, so you will need a ladder to reach me.  There is another problem Gilliame, as my father has me wearing a chastity belt and it is extremely uncomfortable.  It is a very inconvenient device, and my father just wants to ensure my virginity, so I will have to lead a chaste life, till he can find a suitor for me.”

Gilliame shouted up at Lady Marable, “Your father can’t stop the cycle of life and he can’t keep all the evils of the world from harming you.  I am not afraid of your father and I am wearing a suit of armor today, so no arrows will deter me.  I can get a ladder and I know a blacksmith who can remove your chastity belt.  Your father is a big jerk for thinking that he can enforce fidelity on you, as I feel that you should be able to date or have sex with anyone, even while you are in a committed romantic relationship.  Monogamy is only a temporary state, until you see that the grass may be greener on the other side.  Most marriages don’t last because sexual satisfaction declines if you stay with the same partner, so you have to flirt and find somebody new, to get that excitement back.  I think that we should be faithful to each other, but an occasional extra-marital affair has never hurt anyone.”

Lady Marable said, “I don’t think that my father would ever approve of you, but I hate the bastard for locking me in this tower and making me wear this damn contraption, so go get the ladder and alert the blacksmith that we will be coming, as I can’t stand wearing this another minute.”

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday photo prompt – Tower.

Written In Stone

Stones have been used as markers all over the world and in every culture from the beginning of time, and as long as people have been alive, they’ve have been buried after that were dead.  By their very nature, stones are cold, and so are the dead people laying in their graves in cemeteries.  Mourning the dead, marks a big difference between us humans and animals, as people enjoy remembering their past and they often imagine a future in which they will also die.  Stones were originally used by prehistoric man to keep wild animals from digging up the gravesite.  Burial has been a part of Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions surrounding death for as long as the religions have been documented.

Grave markers changed over time and many of the early ones were megalithic monuments that were used to mark an entire burial chamber rather than a single grave.  In earlier times cemeteries did not exist and people were buried near their homes in plots where all their family members would be buried together in a group burial site.  A grave stone was thought to have the ability to keep the soul down in this world which some people found comfort in.  Other people felt that the stones would be able to keep demons and golems from getting into the graves.  Since stone is grounded in the Earth, it has a stabilizing presence, which offers a permanence of memory and leaves us with the feeling that it will not die.

Within a great slab of stone lies all the mystery of the universe offering us a kind of capsuled history of something noble.  This becomes a reflection into the past, something that is not easily understood and remains open for interpretation.  Stones have this solidarity of permanence about them, because they remain both immutable and unchanging.  People wanted to know where their loved ones were buried and since stones last a long time and they mostly stay where they are placed, using stones for grave markers helped to establish a great rapport between man and his environment.  Over time man was able to improve on their stone craftsmanship to honor their dead.

This elaborate unmarked stone slab in Rouen, the English-controlled Normandy has been a curiosity for centuries.  Recently archaeologists, historians, geologists and forensic experts have petitioned to get permission to investigate the remains buried below to see what it would reveal.  This historical marker is thought to date back to the 1400’s and when the stone was lifted, French scientists were hoping to discover a skeleton, but they only found ashes and a piece of clothing.  One of them surmised that these could be the ashes of Joan of Arc, who was burnt to death as a witch by the English.  They also discovered the femur of a cat in this grave and it was a common medieval practice to throw a black cat on a witch’s pyre in order to appease the devil, however this femur was not burnt, which opens up another mystery.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday photo prompt – The Secret in the Stone.

What the Flock

This whole flock of sheep was mated by a single ram who I named Ram-alama-ding-dong. This guy established his dominance over the flock through his physical abilities.  I only keep two other rams which are still too young to challenge him, but next year I expect there to be some competition between Ram-alama-ding-dong and Rambo and Ram-Rod.  Rams will charge at each other which gets them into physical shape for the breeding season.  They will ram into each other at speeds up to 20 mph in order to establish dominance.  These sparring matches can last all day but rams will only spar with animals of equal size.  They only seem to engage in the headbutting contests when they sense that ewes are around.  The winner gets all the ewes and will ultimately mate with all of the females, because he has established himself as the leader of the herd.

Young male lambs will practice their headbutting technique when they play with each other, and ewes do it, too.  It is thought that this headbutting is not harmful to the rams, and woodpeckers are able to slam their heads against trees thousands of times a day without sustaining concussions or even getting much of a headache.  Scientists have termed this the Bubble Wrap effect and the NFL is working on football helmets that will offer the same type of protection.  At the moment when rams headbutt each other, their blood flow from their head back down into their body is slowed, maintaining a higher concentration of blood in their brain.  This protection stops their brain from rattling about in their skull, preventing them from being bruised or suffering a concussion.  What’s more, the core of a sheep’s horn is hollow, further distancing the brain from the point of impact.

On our farm we breed sheep and most of the young we sell to other people, which makes a great side income for us.  We enjoy raising our sheep because it is fun and rewarding and we have the available pasture space.  They are docile, gentle animals, and their wool can be used in a large variety of manufacturing processes, making it an extremely sought-after and versatile fiber, it is almost like they are our own personal money trees, because their wool never stops growing.  We use sheep’s milk because it is super nutritious, as it contains twice the amount of calcium that cow’s milk does and it can also produce more cheese per fluid ounce.  Our sheep will graze on tall grass which makes them perfect for lawn maintenance, these natural lawn mowers are much more peaceful and they save us maintenance on our tractor.  We are not against eating their meat, but mostly they are our pets.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday photo prompt.

Purple Mountain Majesty

Katharine Lee Bates was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and in 1893 as a Wellesley College professor she traveled to Colorado Springs to teach summer school.  While there, she visited Pikes Peak, the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.  The view inspired her to write the poem that would one day become the song ‘America the Beautiful’, which is one of the United States’ most famous patriotic songs.  The words, particularly the phrase “purple mountain majesty,” are said to have been inspired by Bates’ stay in Colorado.  ‘America the Beautiful’ first appeared in print in the weekly journal The Congregationalist, on July 4, 1895.

As Katharine Lee Bates was looking at the view of the Rockies from Pikes Peak, she saw the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into her mind.  When she left Colorado Springs the four stanzas were penciled in her notebook, together with other memoranda, in verse and prose, of the trip.  The Wellesley work soon absorbed time and attention again, the notebook was laid aside, and she did not remember paying heed to these verses until the second summer following, when she copied them out and sent them to The Congregationalist magazine which was founded in 1872 and contained Methodist stories that inspire, inform, and uplift used for people to connect.  The hymn attracted an unexpected amount of attention and it was set to music by Silas G. Pratt.  Other tunes were written for the words and so many requests came to her, that in 1904 she rewrote it, to make the phraseology simpler and more direct.  The poem was sung with a variety of tunes, but a tune composed in 1888 by Samuel A. Ward ‘Materna’ that was previously known as ‘O Mother Dear Jerusalem’ was adapted as its melody.

Katharine was a prolific author publishing many volumes of poetry, books on her travels to Europe and the Middle East and stories, verses and plays for children.  She also published several books on Shakespeare and pre-Shakespearean English Religious drama.  Perhaps her second most famous piece of work Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride, which was written in 1889 added to the legend of Santa Claus by giving the fabled old man a wife who actually accompanies him on his Christmas Eve delivery rides.  Katharine Bates invented Mrs. Claus because she thought that Santa could not possibly do all of this work by himself.  Mrs. Claus takes responsibility for the sleigh and the reindeer while her husband makes his deliveries via the chimneys, but on this one occasion she was actually allowed to descend a chimney herself to spread her own bit of Christmas magic.  Bates died on March 28, 1929 at the age of 70.

Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

Take Four Birds

In the Koran, Abraham questioned Allah as to how he would give life to the dead.  Allah told Abraham to take four birds, tame and train them so that they depend on you, slaughter them, cut them into pieces and the set a portion of them on each hill, then call them and they would come flying to you with haste.  Maybe I have gotten this all wrong, as for me the Koran is not very easy to read, but it seems like a very similar story is being told in Genesis.  The descriptions of Abraham’s life as found in the Koran are strongly influenced by Jewish traditions, as they both incorporate Abraham’s disputes with his idol-worshipping father and his conflict with the wicked king Nimrod who cast him into a fiery furnace.

Abraham was told by God that he and his offspring would possess the land as God had promised, and when he requested some reassurance the Lord told Abram to bring five specific animals before Him, which Abraham did.  Abraham carries out a bloody-but-purposeful covenant ritual as he cuts the heifer, goat, and ram (all three years old) in half and he to lays each half opposite the other.  He did not cut the turtledove or pigeon in half.  The birds were able to soar up to heaven, thus representing salvation and healing and meaning the covenant could not be separated.

Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

Sinks with the Boat

You only need to know a few folding tricks in order to make your own vessel to navigate the water’s currents.  I wanted to watch my paper boat which I painted green, as it made its way out to sea, that is if it didn’t get stuck in those waterlilies.  I opened up a bottle of Yoo-Hoo, because I wasn’t able to get hold of my dad’s rum and I poured some of the contents onto the bow to christen my boat Sea Biscuit, but I was not sure if would sink or float.  I launched it in the creek just under the bridge and since my favorite toy was Gumby and I knew how much he enjoyed going on adventures, I put him in my boat.

Gumby was flexible enough to pilot Sea Biscuit past the waterlilies and he looked like a champion as he steered past the rocks that were jutting up, making a classic move around them that showed his skill.  The rocks created turbulent zones, but Gumby maintained control as he went past a frog that just grabbed an insect with his long tongue.  I ran through the field alongside of the creek and I almost stepped on a snake which made me fumble my candy bar, which I got from the market.  That sneaky snake was a master at deception, but I was sipping on subterfuge as I knew his camouflage was no match for me.

The water started flowing more rapidly and I could hear the water falls ahead and I wanted to have a good spot to watch Gumby plunge over the falls.  Gumby was my favorite toy, but I had grown tired of him and besides that my friends made fun of me for having a stupid toy that didn’t ever do anything cool.  Well this would be a cool end for him and it would make me happy to see him bash his rubber head and drown.  I would not miss him, or get the Blues from him not being in my life, but on the other hand we were friends for many years and he would not be forgotten.  I wondered if Gumby might be eaten by a lobster after he sunk with the boat.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Fumble, for the Daily Spur prompt – Champion, for FOWC with Fandango – Classic, for May Writing Prompts – Sipping on subterfuge, for Ragtag Community – The Blues, for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #136 prompt – Painted “Sinks with the boat” where we are supposed to write about any one line from her poem, for Di’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Field Skill Market, for Sue Vincent’s May 21, 2020 Thursday photo prompt and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Forgotten.