Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summer Shorts & Odd Awakenings: Touch

Meet Mrs. Weinstock, our dear, smart, and witty friend who passed away in January 2015, two months shy of her 98th birthday. She graduated from West Philly High in 1934 and earned a scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated with a degree in History and Education. Told you she was smart.

There is so much I could tell you about Mildred... about her love of: family, travel and mementos, museums, theatre, dance, books, and daily routines, like downing a shot of whiskey at precisely 5 PM and savoring a spoonful of ice cream before going to bed. But instead, I'll leave you with this...

After 30 dedicated years of teaching History and English to junior high school and senior high school students in the Philadelphia public school system, Mrs. 'W' retired but never tired of jokingly reminding us every summer that...

"The best two things about teaching... are July and August."

'Mitz' (Mildred) this post is dedicated to you.

No more pencils. No more books: Summertime.
Time for summer shorts: factual stories, short in length.

An Odd Awakening: Princess and the 'Pebble'.

OW! A sharp pain runs through my back and in a snap, I'm no longer sleeping.

It's early morning, though I can't say for sure... my eyes are still closed and my brain's barely working. I try to lay still, hoping the pain will pass, when I sense something wedged between my back and the mattress.

It's a rock!... slightly larger than a pebble, the exact size of the bruise I'll be feeling tomorrow. And like the storybook princess rendered black and blue from having slept on a pea placed under some bedding, I bruise easily too.

Also easy is the explanation of "how" a rock wound up in my bed in the first place.

Long story short...

The rock was in my hand when I climbed into bed for the evening; but before setting it on the bedside table where it belongs, I must have fallen asleep, soon after my head hit the pillow. Then morning rolled around, and with some rolling of my own, my back met the stone... OW!... lodged in the mattress.

Which brings me full circle except for "why"... why was a rock in my hand from the get-go? Not wanting to sound like a total flake, I hope this next bit is not a mistake.

Long story, slightly less short...

Many call them prayers; I call them vibes and recite them both morning and night. It's my way of attempting to connect with the Universe, in seeking guidance, expressing gratitude, and sending positive energy to friends and family alive and deceased. I've been doing this for years but like so much of what we do repeatedly over time, some things get lost. For me, my words began to lose meaning.

Which may explain why some people attend church or temple, build altars, or burn candles, in order to rekindle their spirit. I chose a rock... from my collection of many... a small stone, imperfect, and soothing to touch.

Flickr / Wild Goose Chase

Without knowing it, I chose a 'wishing stone'... a stone with a continuous white line running around its circumference. Perfect for sending positive vibes and making some wishes.

According to Irish belief, if you wish something to happen... "Give it to the pebble," which simply means to whisper your request to the stone.

But I digress... much the way I did when I drifted off to sleep after saying my vibes without setting my rock on the bedside table... where it belonged.

May you always feel a sense of belonging.
And may the gentle spirit of summer be with you.

For a beautiful Irish poem / blessing written and recited by an
Irish poet priest go here.

XOX... Dyan

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Shorts & Odd Awakenings: Sound

Source: istock

"Happy Summer!" to everyone who's waited for this moment to arrive, to thrive.

And for those of us far less enamored with June, July, and August, a shout-out to Willis Haviland Carrier and his invention: the electric air conditioner, for without some respite from our area's intense heat and humidity, we'd barely survive.

Hot and hazy, long and lazy: Summertime.
Time for summer shorts: factual stories, short in length.

An Odd Awakening: Comforting or Unsettling?

Dawn's atmosphere must be optimum, for through an open window as I lay in bed, I hear the sweet trill of harmless birds singing, followed by a repetitious...

Painting by Roy Lichtenstein


It takes just a few minutes to exit sleep and enter consciousness before I can place the sound, a sound I've heard before... while walking far from my home, down Pleasant Avenue.

Again, another round, POP! POP! POP!, a most unpleasant sound, of gunshots
fired by police, honing their skills on a firing range: a place I've never seen, but know exists, somewhere... somewhere perhaps too close to where I live.

NYPD Target called "The Thug"


For the story behind the NYPD paper target "The Thug" go here.

"Have Gun Will Travel" was also the name of an American Western television series that aired from the late 50's to early 60's, starring Richard Boone, as Paladin, a gallant gunman for hire who made it his job to help others. To listen to the show's theme song go here.


"May all your sounds of summer be pleasant ones."

XOX... Dyan

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Text & Emoticons


I'm probably not the best person to be doing this... using emoticons to inject 'feeling' into a factual story. I own and operate a discontinued Motorola RAZR V3 flip phone with text messaging disabled. Enough Said.

And while I know little about emoticons, I do know that the sideways smiley face :-) (colon-dash-parenthesis) was first used in an email sent on September 19, 1982 by Scott Fahlman, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science to indicate light-heartedness in a text joke that might be mistaken for being sarcastic or serious.

And so, these quirky little keyboard strokes not only function as cute symbolic shortcuts, but can also suggest intent in text when facial expressions and body language are not present.

Here... I present a series of events... with emoticons and their meanings.

In the words of Stravinsky to his orchestra... "Once more with feeling."

April 9, 2017... Sunday

Bruce died.
Our 20-year-old, metallic champagne-colored Chevy van, with 155,973 miles on its odometer, has died from massive engine failure.
:( (sad)

Michael, my husband, is both capable and confident that he can make the necessary repairs himself and bring Bruce back to life.
:) (happy)

The repairs will take weeks to complete.
:O (shocked)

It's now three weeks. Bruce is still in a coma. And I've been holed up at home with a loop playing in my head of Willie Nelson singing, "On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again."
:-[ (pouting)

May 5, 2017... Friday

We decide to rent a car for the weekend. We're told by the dealership that the only car they have left, isn't the compact we reserved, but a brand-new Infinity QX80 SUV (purchase price starting at $63,000 and renting for about $200 a day). They're giving it to us for the originally quoted price of a compact: $9.99 a day, for three days.
:@ (exclamation "What???")

Knowing we'll probably never be in such an elite vehicle again, we run errands, lots of errands: post office, library, three supermarkets (Acme, Fresh Market, and Whole Foods) three craft stores (Michael's, AC Moore, and Jo Ann Fabrics) Bed Bath & Beyond, Bob and Ron's World Wide Stereo, and Target... more errands than we should attempt in one day, but this vehicle, which we've named 'The Behemoth,' demands to be on the road, not sitting idly in a driveway at home.
:D (big grin)

Once home (7:30 PM) we realize we haven't eaten all day. Beyond starved and too tired to cook, or dine in a restaurant, we discuss take out.
>:( (grumpy)

Only we can't decide what to eat. Fifteen minutes pass. We narrow our choices to pizza or pasta. But which? I suggest flipping a coin. Michael tosses a quarter. It lands on tails. We're running on vapors and forget to assign heads or tails to each item.
%-/ (braindead)

We declare pizza, heads and pasta, tails. One flip and it's heads... pizza. Michael reaches for the phone to place an order, but an order where? Salerno's is out, too far away. Whole Foods? Pizza Box? Trios? The clock keeps ticking. We return to the coin. Heads, Whole Foods, tails, Trios. Heads again. Now it's heads, Whole Foods, tails, Pizza Box. And what about toppings???
:l (indecision)

Instantly, Michael and I have the same thought... that this could go on all night into the wee hours of the morning. And by morning, someone might find us: splayed out, laying side by side, on the kitchen floor, with a shiny silver coin between us and the day's headline.. "Couple Found X_X (dead) From Hunger."
:'D (crying with laughter)

Two more weeks pass...

May 18, 2017... Thursday

Truck repairs are complete: the engine has been restored, front shock absorbers, spark plugs. and wires have been replaced. Bruce is resuscitated and lives to run another day... hopefully years, not days.
:)) (very happy)

May 19, 2017... Friday

With today the last of the promotional weekend deals until after Labor Day, we decide to rent one last car, another compact, this time to do more tootling around and less running of errands. We're given a new Fiat 500X... and for just a second, I think I hear the voice of a young boy (from the Mazda television commercial) whisper in my ear... "ZOOM ZOOM."
:<> (surprised) and :) (happy)

Safe and :) (happy) travels to you!

XOX... Dyan

P.S. Watch ZOOM ZOOM here. And if you're still wondering... we eventually ordered that pizza... a pie topped with: mushrooms, olives, roasted garlic and sausage... from Whole Foods.

More tales next month
"Here and Next"

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Toys, Stuff, & Kids

"What about the prizes?"... Four words that often slip from my lips to my husband's ears, when I'm bored, stressed, or need to smile.

The exact translation: "Time to buy my next toy."

Not a grown-up toy like a giant screen TV, luxury car, or digital gadget, but a toy-toy, a kid's toy, something small, made of plastic, cheap and often found in places like: vending machines, dollar stores, Five Below, and Toys "R" Us. Objects that can easily be held and displayed, provide levity to gravity, and are capable of waking the child within who has long been asleep.

Unfortunately, today I woke up early, 4 AM early, due to 'mind chatter': the constant bombardment of thoughts and the inability to turn them off. Thoughts about our government: the deception, nepotism, fabrications, leaks, ties with Russia, power for personal gain, the eroding of our Democracy and human decency, and sheer incompetence, to name a few, compounded by...

Thoughts of having to relocate, after learning that our lease which expires next year will not be renewed. Instead, the house we've rented for 10 years will be sold, forcing us to find another transitional home, who knows where, until we eventually move into the building we bought years ago... a building that's still being gutted and sure to be angst for some other morning.

But for now, I'm in Target, ambling the toy aisles... as a distraction, to feel kid-like unburdened and carefree, to smile, and buy my next toy!

I pick up these Li'l Woodzeez... small bobblehead animals nestled in cute plastic-shaped acorns. And... they're on sale! But the containers appeal to me more than the fuzzy composite critters inside.

So, I pass on the Woodzeez, and gravitate toward these...

12 little, hard plastic characters pressed into one package! Not cheap, but HEY!... I've had a difficult morning AND... it's almost MY BIRTHDAY!... SOLD!


Once home, I give my new friends time to settle into their new temporary digs, while I.... 

settle down in front of the computer and track this story...



APPARENTLY... Jamie, a clever 3-year-old boy who loves toys, managed to get inside a giant claw machine and retrieve the prizes of his choice, but wasn't quite clever enough to find his way out! Ya gotta love this kid!

Here's a better look at the "Great Toy Machine Caper" with 5-year-old brother Shane checking out the situation.

And here's Jamie, safe and happy at home with his nabbed toys... 2 green dragons: one for him and one for his brother. Sweet!

I'm not sure the last time I belly-laughed so hard, but between my new Peppa Pig toys and this story, I'm in a much happier place.

Watch a snippet of the arcade video here. And read the complete story, much of it told by Jamie's dad here.

And just when I couldn't imagine my day getting any lighter and brighter, I discover this odd little video by 'Disney Car Toys'. To some it might seem as interesting as watching paint peel off a ceiling, but to those like me, who love little plastic toys and vending machine prizes, it might just put a smile on your face, too. Watch Sandra & Spidey make a roll of quarters disappear here.

Here's hoping our next and hopefully last transitional dwelling
My wish when I blow out my candles.

XOX... Dyan

Update: The day after publishing this post, I came across this short video: "Chen Zhitong Wins 15,000 Stuffed Animals from Claw Machines." It's worth a look here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Politics, Six Words, & Advice

Photo: Win McNamee

"A White House built on fabrication"... six words (my words) used to describe the political situation in our country today.

A country, that in the span of just four days, bid farewell to one president, witnessed the swearing in of another, while millions of women in pink hats from the United States and around the world marched in opposition to our newly formed government...

A government that apparently lies and calls their falsehoods, "alternative facts."

The fact is... this new President and his staff of advisors are beyond belief.

Gone are the principles of Superman: "Truth, Justice and the American Way."

And like so many Americans, I am way unhinged... so much so that I contacted: CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and several fact-checking organizations with this question and my own reply.

"What are the people of this country to do with a government that lies?"

"Rely on the Press!"

Then I offered these six words of advice, encouragement, and a cry for help.


Quote by Mahatma Gandhi / Source:

The power of words and the 'constraint of 'six' often speaks volumes.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged in a bar to write a story in just six words. On a napkin, he wrote, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

I first became intrigued with the power of 'Six' in 2008 when I joined Smith Magazine: Home of the Six-Word Memoir. To best explain things, I'll share this copy of a letter I sent to President Obama in December 2016 expressing my gratitude for his eight years of service.

Photo: Jewel Samad

Dear Barack,

Just prior to your inauguration in 2009, Larry Smith of Smith Magazine's "Six-Word Memoirs" ran a contest asking the nation to provide six words of advice to you, our soon to be 44th President of the United States.

I never imagined that my six words would be among the winning entries or that my six words: "These are testing times, study hard" would ring so true.

Never in our history has any President had to face such unjust adversity from party opposition; yet throughout, you managed to persevere, endure, and lead this nation with great integrity. You supported this country when it was down and almost out, you provided health care, jobs, and increased wages. You boosted the economy and fostered equality for women, LGBT partners, and people of all nationalities. And above all, you kept us safe.

Historically, I've admired leaders who exhibited intelligence and compassion... people like John F. Kennedy, known for his passionate speeches, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. known for his incredible dream. I believe history will prove that you not only possess these same traits and more, but that you will be known for your impeccable character.

These are testing times Mr. President, and you've scored an "A+ Outstanding!"

I thank you! Millions of others all over the world... thank you too!

And for my last set of "SIX"...

"Be Proud! We're proud of you!"



Advice isn't something I give often. Born into a family of non-communicators, advice wasn't something imparted, but rather picked up through osmosis. But even a few words mentioned often enough over an extended period of time will eventually stick.

Here are a few that stuck with me...

"Breathe Deeply"... My grandma Fanny led by example. So often I'd watch her take a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale forcibly. She was a bit of a health nut in her day despite cooking with lard. Aside from conscious breathing, she attended a few wellness spas and exercised daily in her living room with Jack LaLanne (fitness guru) on television.

"Money is Round"... The idea that if you spend it, it will come back to you... another saying by grandma Fanny who rarely spent money on herself but gave to many others and whose heart was as good as gold.

"This Too Shall Pass"... Consoling words from my grandpa Mickey (Fanny's husband) who lived through the depression and experienced difficult times that were never mentioned.

"Don't Get Pregnant"... Mouthed by my mother, Edna, though I don't think she meant it as in never ever. "Sorry mom"... both my brother and his wife and my husband and I chose not to have children.

"Use a Tissue Just Once"... What an odd thing for my dad, Jerry, to say. So odd, that I still hear his words every time I blow my nose.

And for a poignant bit of advice... from our dear friend Mrs. Weinstock, who passed away two months before her 98th birthday...

"Write Everything Down. One Day You Will Forget."

Well, I've written down everything. And if there's one thing I would like to forget... it's the entire 2016 Presidential Election!

As my cousin Carl would say... "Good Luck With That."

And as I would say in

"Good Luck To All Of Us!" 

If interested...

For an article written in 2009 by our local paper regarding my Six-Word win go here.

To visit Smith Magazine go here and to learn about their latest book, The Best Advice in Six Words, which includes a new set of my six go here.

And for a little rant, if you haven't already seen and heard enough, read Dick Polman's article from Newsworks here.

After reading Polman's piece, 
you might want to take grandma Fanny's advice and take a... 

"Deep Breath"

XOX... Dyan