Monday, February 19, 2018

Winter, Marshmallows, & Pillows

Photo: Dyan Titchnell

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"
~"Let it Snow" lyrics by Sammy Cahn

Growing up on Long Island, New York, no adult I knew would dare tempt fate by singing, "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!" for we had more than our fair share of frightful winter weather without encouraging more.

Sure, the term "Cyclone Bomb" hadn't been coined yet, but the mere mention of a "Blizzard," and one headed our way, was scary enough for it often brought extremely high winds, massive snow accumulations, and power outages that were deadly.

Source: governor.ny.gov

And when a fierce Nor'easter hit, all anyone could do was ride it out as my family did... hunkered down in our basement, huddled together in our hats, coats, and scarves with canned rations that were heated over a Sterno: a small tin of fuel with a flame the size of a candle... hardly a roaring fire and definitely not delightful.

Thankfully, not all our snowstorms were blizzards. The modest ones, that closed schools, businesses, and roads but left power intact, were my favorite for I'd spend hours outdoors, like most kids, building snowmen and having imaginary adventures with real friends.

And when my cheeks got beyond rosy and I could no longer feel my fingers inside my gloves, I'd head indoors and...

Toast marshmallows!... on our electric stove!

Source: Wikipedia

So messy I know, but I'd grab a fork anyway, jab one of those square puffs, and dab it to the red-hot coils on the burner, where I'd watch my marshmallow go from white to soft ochre, seconds before bursting into flames and turning black. Just the way I liked it... burnt on the outside and liquidy on the inside.

Marshmallows, Yum!

Besides being tasty when toasted, they were also fun to eat straight out of the bag... all squishy and cute, like little pillows perfect for small creatures.

But now, as an adult, those squishy marshmallows, like little pillows, remind me that I missed January's White Sales when bedding and linens were deeply discounted and that...

The pillow I'm sleeping on is now dead!

Source: Getty Images

I know this because I read that if you can fold a pillow in half, there's no life left in it and it's time to buy a new one instead.

But why do I need to buy a new pillow when the one I have is only months old? Pillows used to last years!... and came in just feather and foam.

Now the choices are vast: down and down alternatives, poly and memory foam, feather and fiber fill, microbeads, cooling gels, water pillows, shredded latex and lofts: light, fine and lux, all which come in soft, medium, firm and extra firm densities for back, side, or stomach sleepers, but few for people like me who sleep in all three positions... and none, if any, that last.

Source: dallasfeldenkrais.com

And although my pillow didn't have a very long life, it was a comfortable pillow until now. Only now, I can't find this exact pillow anywhere, in a store or online.

But I did locate the manufacturer and sent them an email with images of: the actual pillow with its diamond pattern printed on the fabric, the original plastic bag which held the pillow and included additional information on fiber content and size, the UPC from the store where I purchased the pillow... plus my request for a duplicate pillow and where I can find one.

Source: qcpsigns.com

Rebecca, from customer service responded immediately and said...

"Thank you for the information provided. I have included a link to a pillow that contains the same fiber fill as the one you are in search of... included is a link to a 'Classic Hydrogel Cooling' pillow."

But my pillow is a regular pillow, not one temperature controlled and I relay this to Rebecca who replies with...

"I apologize. I have included two pillows with the same fill you are in search of... one is medium to firm density, the other is firm to extra firm... included is a link to two 'Gusseted' pillows."

Immediately I email Rebecca and remind her again that I have a regular 'king size' pillow and not a gusseted one.

A few days later she replies...

"Hello. After much research, I have found a pillow that does not contain a gusset and has the same fill that you have been in search of... included is a link to a lux-loft, firm density, down alternative pillow sold in 'Standard' and 'Queen' sizes."

Standard? Queen? Hellooooo, are you not listening? I'm looking for King! I keep those last bits to myself and wonder if I'm communicating with an actual human or perhaps Siri or Alexa.

Instead, I thank Rebecca for her effort and let her know that I'll be following her last lead. A lead that is useless, for apparently the pillow I'm looking for is nowhere to be found.

So, it's back to the mall to test out each and every king size pillow. UGH!

But I did get some advice from a magazine: that when shopping in a store for a comfortable pillow, stand with the pillow between your head and a wall.

Like a bed gone vertical... like my brain right now.

Maybe I should make my own pillow... perhaps out of marshmallows, hundreds and hundreds of them hot-glued together... all squishy and cute like a big pillow perfect for large creatures, like me.

I don't know, it's winter... and I think I've lost my mind.

"Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"


May your Winters be cozy
and your
Pillows be comfy.

XOX... Dyan


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love, Hate, & Morning

Photo: Dyan Titchnell

If you asked me if it's possible to both love and hate something equally at the same time, I'd probably say no.

But it's how I've come to feel about 'Morning'.

When unresolved issues silenced during the night resurface at first light adding to the dread that another day will soon be over before it's begun, and that I'll never accomplish all that I hope in the time I've been given... for once the sun sets... I'm done.


Photo: Dyan Titchnell

Yet in this light, soft and soothing, which permeates the room, there's also the freshest of air falling gently upon me from a sliver of an opened window where I hear birds, near and distant, tweeting and chirping among all that lies silent.

Ahhh... s i l e n c e

Restorative and suffocating... 'Morning' has me both loving and hating these times.


May you love and be loved
today, Valentine's Day,
and all your days.

XOX... Dyan


Monday, January 1, 2018

A Year Ago: Truth & Dreams

Source: Finleyholiday.com

Do you remember last year...

on January 20, 2017, when the United States inaugurated its 45th President

and...

the very next day millions of women here and around the world resisted our country's new leader, of questionable morals and divisive rhetoric, by marching in protest?

Of course you do... who could forget?

What you can't remember, because you never knew... is that two days later...

I woke up early with my heart racing from a dream of trying to catch a train to New York.

The sign on the train pulling into the station read "Greenwich"... an implausible destination for New York City, yet I jumped on anyway.

Source: Shutterstock

But the car was empty.

I raced down the aisle into the next car... but it was empty too. Three, four, train cars more... all empty... until I reached the front of the train with its few seated passengers.

With my heart still pounding, I questioned the first woman I met, "Is this the train to New York?"

"No!" she replied emphatically.

But could I trust her?

I couldn't afford to pass on this train if she was wrong. It would be hours until the next one left for New York.

In a panic, I exited the train and ran along the platform where masses of people were gathering.

Among the crowds, I spotted a woman conductor and breathlessly shouted, "Is this the train to New York?"

Her nonchalant nod implied, "yes".

Relieved but frazzled, I joined a queue waiting to board the same train I exited just seconds ago... and then tried to catch my breath.

When I woke from the dream, the wind was howling.

Perhaps it was the constant hum of fiercely moving air outside my window that conjured the rushing sound of an approaching train in my dream.

But dreams are rarely simple.

Why the urgent need to "depart"?

Photo: Elizabeth Low

Maybe it's due to an underlying issue stemming from a strong desire to escape from a government that spins lies into false truths.

If so, this dream is less about travel and more about "trust"... or the lack of it.

Why didn't I trust the first woman I met on the train? Did she deliberately tell me a lie because lying is now the new norm? Or if she believed this train wasn't going to New York, where did she think she was going?

If dreams are the means to solving the problems we face in our waking lives, or the methods for making sense of the disjointed and often random occurrences we experience daily, or are the producers of surreal stories manufactured from our hopes and wishes, then here's a more direct connection to my dream about trust.

Source: Dreamstime

Before going to bed and dreaming of my departure to New York, I had just finished reading: Happy as a Dane:10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World, where the author, Malene Rydahl, credits the people of Denmark as being not only the happiest people in the world, but also the most trusting. And it's their strong sense of trust for each other and their government that contributes to their well-being and happiness.

Interestingly, Rydahl sites these examples:

"In Denmark, it's normal for babies to be left in strollers outside restaurants and cafes while parents dine inside. In one respect, no one is keeping an eye on these children, but in another, everyone is because people have trust in those around them.

And if you drive out to the countryside for your produce where there are roadside stands of fruits and vegetables, there'll be little pots to leave your money for the items you take. It's an honor system where no one ever thinks of stealing."

Imagine that!

And imagine this...

A government that stands by its words...

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
               
                ~Preamble to the United States Constitution, September 17, 1787

Then maybe it won't be so hard to imagine...

A life of trust, a life of truth, a life of fairness, kindness, happiness, and peace for all.

One can dream...

If not on this first day of the new year, when optimism is at its highest and wish lists are the longest... then when?


In Both Reality & Dreams,
May You Trust and Always Be Trusted.

Wishing you the very best 
in
'2018'

XOX... Dyan


Friday, December 22, 2017

Ho, Ho, Ho! & Home Depot

Photo: Viktor Gladkov

"Hello"

How nice to be warmly greeted while in a vast entryway of concrete floors, harsh lighting, and merchandise stacked skyward on massive shelving.

I'm in Home Depot, the mega home improvement store.

Tom, the one welcoming me, isn't normally the store's designated greeter, nor is he a total stranger. He just happens to be friendly.

And we happen to be acquaintances from way back... when we both lived in the same Borough, where Tom also operated a storefront floral shop, and later, the floral section in an upscale Farmer's Market that was forced to close when Acme, a giant supermarket chain, inhabited the complex.

And it was there, at the Farmer's Market, among his beautiful and often exotic fresh-cut flowers where we'd stand and make small talk.

Much like we're doing now, only now, Tom is wearing an orange workman's apron over his street clothes, and instead of Peonies and Calla Lilies we're standing and chatting among light bulbs and outlets in the 'Electrical' Department, which is a distance from Home Depot's 'Garden Center' where Tom usually works. But regardless of where or when, we still converse a bit whenever we meet. Which is what Tom is doing now... filling me in on his son's recent marriage.

Half-jokingly, I interject, "You mean Home Depot let you out to attend your son's wedding? It seems like you're always here... working!"

"Yeah, it seems that way," he said with a slight chuckle, "but really I do get two days off each week. I take off weekdays. Selfishly, I like time to myself at home when everyone else is working."

"So, what do you do with your days at home?" I ask.

"I meditate and do Yoga... three times a day," he replied.

"Really???... Three times a day!!!" I didn't dare tell him I'm currently taking a meditation class and can barely manage to practice once a week.

Then just as I'm ready to say goodbye and join my husband who's somewhere in 'Hardware' looking to buy a 10-millimeter washer, a part, that should have come with his new brick-cutting tool, but didn't... Tom looks around, and signals me with his hand to follow him.

I have no idea where we're going or what's on his mind, but I try and keep pace as he leads me through a maze of boxes, boxes filled with seasonal items: artificial Christmas trees, holiday lights, ornaments, reindeer statues and more, to a place (surprisingly for this time of year) without any customers.



It's here where Tom stops and turns towards me, while mentioning some kind of animal. And in a flash...

Tom is airborne!

In one swift motion, he manages to rotate 180ยบ and land: head down, hands flat on the ground, one leg pointed straight up to the ceiling, the other bent at the knee and off to his side, in such an extreme angle that it doesn't seem humanly possible!

"Not bad for a 62-year-old man," he boasts while upside-down and trying to remain frozen in this odd contortion.

"AMAZING!!!" I say, as the blood rushes to his face.

Cat, camel, cow, monkey, peacock, goose... I don't know what pose he called it, but apparently... it's YOGA!

"IMPRESSIVE!!!" I say.

Though less impressive is his dismount... a 'Jenga'-like action thing... that has him close to crashing into some inflatable Santas!

Now upright, somewhat dazed, and ever-so-slightly embarrassed, he mumbles...

"I probably should have warmed up first."

I didn't say a word... just watched as he began lifting and stretching his arms and legs, twisting his body from side to side, and finally bending over at the waist.

Which I almost did... bend at the waist with admiration and laughter... Ho! 
Ho! Ho!

And in that moment, my holidays became more... Merry & Bright.


'Tis The Season To Be Jolly!

May all your shopping experiences
and friendships
be merry
and full of fun surprises!

XOX... Dyan



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Bottles & Synchronicity

Photo by: Dyan Titchnell

So sorry for the long delay in writing.

I've been here, but my thoughts have been elsewhere... bottled up obsessing over our next move, to who knows where, when our lease expires in April.

That and the enormous task of trying to pare down on possessions in hopes of making the move more tolerable and less cumbersome, has me somewhat immobile and totally unmotivated.

And it's not like I haven't been here before, facing a move or decluttering tons of stuff from my life. It's just that this perpetual cycle: acquire, attach, and accumulate, has a life of its own.

Oh, so many rooms and drawers! So many objects and each with its own story. Most shouting, "Keep!" others murmuring, "donate"... while a few sit silently avoiding the word 'toss' entirely.

And so I plod on, like a passenger held captive on an endless road trip forced to endure the cacophony of others jamming...

"99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer!
If one of those bottles should happen to fall, 98 bottles of beer on the wall," on and on down to zero... after opening a kitchen cabinet and finding these buried behind some small appliances.

Photo by: Dyan Titchnell

Photo by: Dyan Titchnell

Bottles and bottles of Root beer! And I don't even drink soda!... not in the last 10 years anyway.

Bothered by what else might still be hidden, I dump the sugary liquid down the drain, rinse, then toss the 'empties' into the recycling bin... and call it a day.

Another day, another cabinet.

Maybe today, I'll tackle the one known to be full of glassware: bottles chosen for their interesting shapes and sizes, for storage, to contain flowers, and these 8 oz. jam jars with labels removed, that make cute drinking glasses.

Photo by: Dyan Titchnell

Photo By: Dyan Titchnell

But instead, I get sidetracked. This time, by books... piled high and wide, most read and some like this one, waiting to be read... Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities & Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed & Found items from Around the World, edited by Davy Rothbart of Found Magazine.

Intrigued, I flip open the paperback to a random page and land on an essay by Tad Friend titled, "Message in 1,000 Bottles." I kid you not!

Here are several excerpts, the gist of the story, stated by the author:

"Seven years ago, my wife and I moved into a brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. Roughly three times a week, I'd find a white or green plastic bag filled with bottles that someone hung over the black fence in front of our building during the night.

... They'd leave the bottles dangling there and I'd take them out and add them to our recycling bin. No other bags were left on anyone else's fence.

... This has gone on for nearly seven years now, and I've never figured out who's leaving the bottles.

... The weirdest part is that I've left the bag there to see what happens, and the mystery person always waits until I've taken down the bag before he or she adds another.

... Even when we leave town for a week or more, we return home to a single bag on the fence, never an accumulation. I imagine that while we're gone, the person is sadly disappointed to see that I haven't been keeping up with my job of taking the bag off the fence.

... It's like the bottles are being placed there not by a person at all but by a mischievous universal force.

Photo by: Dyan Titchnell

...Taking the bag down on my way to work is annoying, but I'll admit there's something delightful about it too.

... There's a strange pleasure in the appearance of each new bag---it's like a Rorschach inkblot, where you can read into it what you like. If there was a little note attached to the bag saying, I'm Bob; we don't have a recycling bin. Can you please recycle these? You would probably answer him, Dear Bob, no, or Dear Bob, okay, and that would be the end of it. But the idea that there's an inscrutable message in these thousands of bottles--- left without a return address, written in gnomic and invisible language you can't understand---is what enables you to dream."

Then later that evening before going to bed and entering my own world of dreams, my husband and I watch a movie on DVD: the third part of a trilogy, a Danish crime thriller, called 'Department Q'.

Having seen the first two parts earlier in the week, tonight's final installment: A Conspiracy of Faith (to my disbelief) opens with a scene of a bottle bobbing in an ocean and the episode title, "Message in a Bottle"... with my take on the storyline being: "When an 8-year-old message in a bottle, written in blood, washes ashore, detectives open the cold case and begin searching for a killer."

A good bedtime story, I know.

But why these two odd bottle connections?

Make that three... for it's now morning and I'm on the computer when I come across several images from a series called, "Jarred & Displaced," by photographer Christoffer Relander.

Photos by: Christoffer Relander   Source / thisiscolossal.com

Photos by: Christoffer Relander    Source / buzzthisviral.com

For the past three years, Relander has been revisiting his childhood environments in Finland to capture them and create a collection. While the containers for the environments come from used jar bottles, the images are not put into these physical jars, but instead are blended into one photograph through use of double exposures shot in the camera, without using any external software, like Photoshop.

Well there you have it... a good picture, I hope, of where I've been and what I have or haven't been up to... except for the unexplained mystery surrounding the occurrence of bottles.

Perhaps it's as Tad Friend expressed in his essay (Messages in 1,000 Bottles) that it's not a person, but a 'mischievous universal force' that's responsible, or in my case, a benevolent one who has masterfully found a way to provide levity, inspiration and motivation to what I perceived as a hopeless situation... to which I am thankful.

So much still to do here, but at least I've started doing something... purging a few things, taking a few photographs, and finally... writing this post!!!

It's a start!

And for those of you looking for a diverson instead of starting into that long "To Do" list, here are a few links you might find interesting:

"10 Message in Bottle Stories" here.

Video: "How This Guy Found 83 Messages in Bottles" here.

Video: "Meet Elmer Long and his Bottle Tree Ranch here.

View more of Christoffer Relander's "Jarred & Displaced" images here and how his photographs are made here.

Listen to "Message in a Bottle" sung by a young Sting here and a more mature Sting here.

A special thanks to: my Benevolent Universe and also my friend Bradford Richardson, a super creative individial and writer whose mere mention of the words "road trip" triggered a chain reaction. Specifically, he said, "Motivation is one of those illusive things. Creative brains need a really good 'why should I'? Take your brain someplace new. Ooh, a road trip."

And immediately I became that passenger listening to "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" being sung.


Happy Thanksgiving!

And may the 'Universal Force'
Always be with you!

XOX... Dyan