The Ephemeral, The Eternal & Trash

Texts, phone calls, video chats and, to a large extent email, are ephemeral. My sister was going through some papers recently and found the telegram my grandmother sent telling my grandfather that mom was born, he was in the service in the South Pacific at the time. Today that communication would have been an email, text, phone call or video chat…and we wouldn’t be coming across it 70 years later. We have both gained and lost something in those 70 years.

Telegrams were the original text messages and, since every word cost dearly, people cut to the chase. But they differed from texts in that they had a physical product that was something precious to save and cherish.

Then the telephone came along. That added two aspects to communications: It was still only words but, depending on the quality of the line, you could hear tone of voice, and you could respond immediately. The communication became the creation of two people interacting. A pas-de-deux, not a solo. And ephemeral, just the memories of the two in the conversation shifting and changing with time.

When I was growing up we were on a party line. There was an etiquette: we kids were always told to keep it to the minimum so we didn’t tie up the line, no chit chat. My regular Saturday morning phone call, at 10:01 because it wasn’t polite to call before that, was “can Kim come and play?” My husband asked me for Kim’s mother’s phone number a while ago and it rolled off my tongue like it was yesterday, actually it was a whole bunch of yesterdays.

We were also taught to not say anything much because a neighbor could pick up at any time and hear what you were saying. Calling Dad at work was long distance and only to be done in cases of emergency.

To this day I do not like to talk on the phone. I think some of it is due to my early training that phones are for emergencies and expensive to use, keep it short and don’t say much. But, lately, I have been pondering whether some of it is because when I talk on the phone the other person takes over the conversation and, between being quicker with words and biased in hearing morphs my message into something that isn’t what I want to say. 

I really like email: I can write a draft, hone the words, and add a strategic photo here and there. I can take my time and send the message whenever and it will not interrupt the receiver, who can read and respond in her/his own time. Like an old fashioned letter with a quicker delivery system.

But an interesting phenomena has happened: people no longer read. They scan. I noticed this a little over ten years ago when communicating with folks in my son’s Boy Scout Troop and at church, most people are functionally illiterate. They can read, but they do not. At least not the longish, and, I like to think, well-crafted compositions that I wrote.

I think this is because of busyness combined with information overload: there is so much information available to us that we have to screen for what is actually relevant to us in accomplishing the current task. We no longer have time to delight in clever ways of putting things or to savor beautiful wordings that come to life in our imaginations. I think this is why we have moved to the tweet and text message. People are possibly reading more now than ever, but in short bursts.

I do not have a smart phone. Texting is painful for me. Being near sighted, I either have to take my seeing glasses off, or find reading glasses, to read the little buggers. Then I painstakingly push the dinky little buttons to respond. Since I am unfamiliar with the jargon, I type full words and use proper punctuation.

Both of my sisters have smart phones and prefer texting over talking (this is really great most of the time). They often send two or three texts while I am still responding to the first one. Then my phone’s memory gets full and I can’t receive any more messages in the middle of a “conversation”, so I delete all of the texts since I do not have time to go through and figure out which are important.

So, with a few pushes of a tiny button, out go the treasures along with the trash.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ephemeral.”

Fool me once…Fool me twice.

I am not big on April Fools Day. I have been fooled too many times with the stakes much higher than a laugh, so I am a bit touchy about lies.
Fool me once = shame on you.
Fool me twice = shame on me…and yet why should I have to spend a bunch of time and energy figuring out what is going on if you are lying to me? I am not the one who is lying.
I wasn’t always so cynical so, in the spirit of fun:
The best April Fool’s joke I ever saw was this. My co-workers Don and Chris, created a fictitious woman named April Eintz who left messages throughout the day for a single guy in our group about wanting to meet him. (This was before email was ubiquitous, so these were hand written phone messages).
At the end of the day a woman came into our cubicle farm and asked Don and Chris where John was and said “tell him April Eintz stopped by.”
Wouldn’t it be fun if I was clever enough to figure out a response like that to real life situations?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fool Me Once.”

Desert in Bloom

Here are a series of pictures playing with desert wildflowers,  landscapes, scale and observation. The flowers are quite small, the dandelions were the largest, so it was difficult to get a viewpoint that has both the flower and the overall sense of the desert that I wanted, to show the flowers as a frail and fleeting bit of color in a harsh environment.

These two are both taken with the same stand of dandelions at approximately the lower right rule of thirds intersection point:

These flowers are shown first looking down from above, neither is particularly obvious in the shot of the desert floor. But they are pretty and colorful when I put the camera on the ground beside them.

This blue flower was more noticeable from a distance. I deliberately did not try to exclude the piece of debris as the desert is full of it after being used as an informal garbage dump for so long.

Silence…Is it Golden?

The things going on in my life of late have been causing me lots of negative emotions: frustration, sadness, anger. Those emotions tend to silence me.

At one point this past week, I was tempted to go and shout at a couple of people, in a very sarcastic tone, “Heaven forbid that anyone ever do anything that is easier or more convenient for ME!!” Followed by the suggestion that they should take a long hike on a short pier. I did not do that. I do wonder a bit what the shock of the worm turning would have done to them.

Why didn’t I do it? I recognized that they were not sole source of the negative feelings and not truly worthy of all my wrath, although I did eventually say this:

I realize that my time and feelings are of no value in the grander scheme of things, but I am trying to train myself that they should at least matter to me and get out of frustrating situations that I can avoid, since there are plenty I can’t.

Hopefully I did not go too wrong in saying that. Most things do pass or get resolved without saying anything, and saying hurtful things doesn’t usually ameliorate a situation.  But I am trying to learn how to take care of me, and just letting people roll over me without saying anything at all doesn’t seem right either.

I don’t think it is wrong to walk away and just leave a confrontational situation much of the time. Frequently people are simply not interested in anything except their own viewpoint and showing they are right, they just want the eye-of-the-tiger adrenaline rush of rising up to the challenge of a rival. Letting that fall flat is enough. It is not really worth the time and effort to correct folks, or stand up for yourself, most of the time.

One thing that always puts me at a disadvantage in stressful situations is that my feelings are feelings, not words, and it takes me a while to figure out how to put them into words. By the time I figure out what to say, the more verbally oriented have manipulated me and/or the situation or ranted until I am cornered, feeling wronged and inadequate and all I want to do is go away and be left alone.  A week or so after the fact I  often come up with a brilliant retort. But, like my tiny bit of Mandarin, the brilliant rebuttal never comes to mind when I really need it.

This isn’t a very happy post, but I am starting to plan a couple of humorous posts about some of the past week’s dramas. Just starting to see the humor in the situations is a sign that I am starting to bounce back. But it is going to take me a bit of time to find the right words.

 

Light and Warmth

This is an experiment. I took three pictures of each subject one with the sunlight coming from behind, one from the side, and lastly front lit.

Driftwood and crocosmia leaves:

Dandelion:

Cherry blossoms:

Daffodils:

It is interesting to see the effects side by side. In general I tend to like the back lit and side lit ones a bit better. What do you think?

Big Point of View

The first wildlife I saw at Kichwa Tembo was these elephants:

Elephants.
Elephants.

I got really excited going through my pictures that evening to find that these same elephants were in the top photo, one that I took as the plane was descending.  These photos are a few years old, but I thought the difference in point of view was interesting. I seem to have Africa on the brain lately, this is my third post in a week from that trip.

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