Category Archives: Rambling Rose

In Honor…

I want to tell you about some incredible people I met at the Veteran’s Administration office building in Wyoming, MI a few weeks ago. Two nice gentleman had set up a table and were hoping to reach out to the community to invite members to join the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard through Operation Honor Guard U.S.

To be honest, I wasn’t drawn to the table by a strong desire to re-connect with my military past. No. There were other motivating factors…

You had me at ‘CAKE,’ Ron!

Ron Hayward and Ernie Fiebig may be the last of a generation of selfless individuals who go beyond the call of duty and serve their fellow men and women. In fact, they go all the way to the grave to salute the fallen and honor their memory.

Ron talked to me for a while as I enjoyed a slice of cake. He was proud when describing the dedication of the volunteers and he stood a little straighter when admitting how many ceremonies he had participated in.

“I attended over three-hundred services myself in the past year.” Ron said.

And then he mentioned that they were looking for a few good men and women to join their crew of about sixty veteran Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, as well as Coast Guard servicemen and women. (Where have I heard that before? It sounds so familiar…)

“All you need is to be an honorably discharged veteran and able to attend a minimum of two funerals or ceremonies a year.”

There was hope in his voice. Many of the members were getting up in years. It was getting harder and harder to meet the demand; they sometimes had to turn families down. I suspect he’s given this speech to hundreds of people before. I wonder how many had listened, heard the pain of not being able to serve everyone.

I hated to break his heart, but I explained how my son requires my full attention and I can’t be sure I could even commit to the minimum expected. I really hated that I couldn’t say “Yes.” So I made a promise to get the word out.

“I’ll tell everyone about it on Facebook.” I assured him.

He handed me a flyer, letting me know the history and requirements of joining. Here is a summary of what it said:

Let’s hope autobots can’t read these digitally scanned phone numbers!

According to the tri-fold pamphlet: “The Honor Guard has two units serving northern and southern Kent County by supplying members for over 500 funeral services per year as well as for participation in ceremonies on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and other events honoring veterans.”

Requirements:

“The Kent County Veterans Honor Guard invites all honorably discharged veterans who share our commitment to join this organization. It is not necessary to have served in a combat situation.”

“Prospective members are required to attend two funerals as observers and two monthly meetings before being voted in and provided with uniforms. There is a $50 copay for the uniforms.”

“The Honor Guard meetings are held at 7 pm on the third Tuesday of the month at selected American Legion and VFW Posts in Kent County. “

If you are interested, contact them at: kentcountyhonorguard@gmail.com

They can also be found on Facebook: Kent County Veterans Honor Guard

During elections, you often hear politicians and campaigns loudly proclaiming that they support veterans. Perhaps they do.

But if you really want to witness selfless support of veterans? Search out your local veterans organization. And, if you are a veteran and can stand up for the fallen, become one of the volunteers who march in memory.

So, the next time a parade goes by with service men and women, carrying the flag, holding the ceremonial rifle, please, give your attention when those sentinels go by to honor those who didn’t come home.

According to the above Facebook page, you can have the chance today, the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard will hold a parade in Grand Rapids in honor of Veterans Day:

If you think it’s cold out…just imagine trying to march in formation holding a metal flag pole in this kind of weather!

A final thought:

It is very hard to give of one’s time and energy. It is much easier to salute a flag or drop a donation in a kettle than it is to slog out in horrible weather, to face bereaved families, or, worse, a funeral where a service member had no living relatives or family left to remember them. If you cannot give of yourself by joining this community, find your own way to serve.

I’m sharing a link to a friend’s post on the topic of Veterans Day. She and I met at basic training in South Carolina thirty-four years ago. We’ve discussed how awkward we feel accepting anyone’s thanks for our service–seeing as we both served during peace time. But, as I like to think of it, I am accepting thanks on behalf of my fellow servicemen and women. Even if I don’t deserve gratitude, they certainly do.

I’ll share her post which includes ways in which to really support the troops if you want: Mythmaking and the Veteran.

Taking a Bite Out of Art

Before I went on a diet, there was the Grandville Chocolate & Art Walk. My annual attempt to be artsy as well as fartsy.

And then when I came back to WordPress, they’ve up and changed the editor on me. Gads. I hate upgrades.

Enjoy my struggles to learn a new system and, oh yes, the art. Let’s not forget the art! Continue reading Taking a Bite Out of Art

Childhood Crushes: Forbidden, Foreboding, and Formative Fictions

In conversation with a friend recently, we mused on literary and televised influences that informed our subconscious desires. (Some giggling may have been involved. Sue me.)

Listen in if you dare… Continue reading Childhood Crushes: Forbidden, Foreboding, and Formative Fictions

A Letter to a Friend

I began writing and was interrupted by life. This is an expansion of a letter I wrote in the time that came before and the inspiration that followed…

To my friend K____, who lies bored in a hospital bed waiting for things to happen. May the butterflies find you.

Continue reading A Letter to a Friend

Stupid Entropy

I have always wanted to be a smart person.  Or, at least, to feel like I was a smart person.

I have also been suffering lately from the certainty that I am not getting any smarter. In fact, there is evidence to suggest I may be regressing and losing my faculties altogether.

In other words, I am getting dumber.

How do I know this? I tried recently to be clever and failed.

I attempted to write a post. I wanted to be witty and erudite, to create a mathematical equation quantifying the values of parenting–like something you might see on a white board on The Big Bang Theory set. I wrote for hours. I struggled. I waffled. I flailed in my efforts to write what my brain kept telling me what should be a funny post.

At the same time, I have been trying to research what kind of cell phone or carrier to switch before my iPhone dies for good. The more I read on the topic, the less sure I am that I am capable of making a rational, informed decision.

To stave off complete digital death, I switched off as many features of my ‘smart’ phone so as to conserve the battery life past a nano-second. I turned off so many functions, my phone stopped receiving voicemails and texts. As a result, my ‘smart’ phone is now a dumb phone which is holding my information hostage until I turn my data back on.

Didn’t phones used to just work before ‘data’ was invented?*

Why is a phone designed to use data to send a message anyway?** 

*shouts into the abyss*

WHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYY?

In my efforts to keep my phone running while not plugged into a recharger, I even deleted Facebook from my apps.

The entire next day I learned exactly how often I have been checking Facebook. Like, every fricking time I had a break…or had to wait in line…or stopped at a red light for more than two seconds. I wish I were kidding.

So, I’ve learned two things this week: I am not getting smarter and my phone is possibly making me dumber.

In my research for ‘smart’ terminology, I found a physics term that I feel describes my mental state:

En·tro·py, noun

/ˈentrəpē/

PHYSICS

  1. a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
  2. lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

Apparently I am suffering from a terminal case of entropy.***

Let’s just hope it’s not stupidly fatal.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*C’mon conspiracy theory junkies, give me your best explanation for why phones cost ten times as much to do half as well for less years than you’d like. And then tell me why we fall for it?

**GROUP BREAK-OUT SESSION: What exactly is DATA and why is it the new gold standard for the inequalities between the haves and the have-nots? Discuss.

***Additional proof of my stupidification is denoted by the fact that I have to use the second definition of Entropy to understand the meaning of the word.

*—*—*

The Image Stolen for this header comes from a site that did a much better job of actually explaining entropy–in case any of you are smarter and want to read up on it.

 

 

monster rock
Word Monster Says: “FOCUS!”

I’m trying to do a thing.

Writing.*

That thing I swear I want to do.

But words are hard.

And will not come.

Until they do…enjoy this:

In harmony with my mood,
Here’s a song for a writer’s melancholy day:
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*I’m only posting this so you can stop wondering/worrying that I (or my computer) have died.
P.S. You can stop taking bets now.

Getting Disciplined

“Desire is the root cause of all evil.” Buddha

I try to remind myself of this every time I see something that my avaricious soul desires.*

But it is so very hard to be good.

What I need is a little Christmas Discipline.

Ginger Fetish
Buy local – and if you’re into S & M and live in San Francisco, this link is for you: https://sf.funcheap.com/sf-fetish-flea-market-citadel/

<*>

I am currently enjoying a period of forced minimalism, otherwise known as being broke.

I have never budgeted. As a result, I have also never saved much money. I just let the paycheck drop into the account and spent said moolah on whatever I wanted and periodically looked to make sure I wasn’t dipping below the fill-line, so to speak, trusting that the bank will never run out of money.

But it did…for about three days.

November had five Thursdays in it.

FIVE!

Did you notice? I certainly didn’t.

Fun fact, our social security payment arrives on the last Thursday of the month. I auto-pay my bills electronically on or around the 25th because, usually, by then the check has hit the bank.

Unless there are five Thursdays.

Five Thursdays spells disaster with my current un-budgeted way of life. If I’m not careful, the money doesn’t quite stretch to cover the month unless I pay attention and not buy every indulgence that catches my eye.

Discipline
The Victorians had a very odd notion of discipline if this is what they think it looks like!

I had no idea what a spend thrift I could be until I realized I couldn’t spend ANY money for three days.

I mean none.

I got through the days of parsimony and rue recognizing that I have some really bad habits.

Elf on Shelf Naughty
It was about this point of writing, I began to regret Googling “Naughty Elf.”

It was time to enforce some strict discipline…

I looked at my love of fancy compressed curds and altered my favorite Thanksgiving side dish to omit the Grueyer and Emmenthaler cheeses.** 

Turns out, I might just need a cheddar-vention.

cheese_addiction

I have some expensive, thoughtless, habits that I now need to pay attention to.

A sudden need for a french fry fix makes me commit a fast food drive by almost without thinking about it. The doctor, at least, will be happy to hear we are cutting back on our deep-fried addictions.

The road to my personal hell is paved with indulgences that would make angels weep.***

So, I’m submitting myself to some long-needed tightening of the purse-strings.

The Little Vanilla Book
Add a little Vanilla Discipline to your life!

I am become an acolyte for pleasure through self-deprivation.

All books will come from the library for the foreseeable future.

…Or a regional Little Free Library /black-ops drop site.

Little Free Library
I didn’t notice the Ayn Rand book front and center until I downloaded the image. Mea Culpa.

No more wine.

We won’t mention over-priced chai lattes that you can get at Biggby’s.

And I’m going to cut back on the diet cherry coke habit, though I worry I might actually kill somebody for a taste of the sparkling poison, so be warned.

I am now faced with the consequences of life-long bad habits. I must buckle down and pay attention to my finances and make fiscally restrictive choices. Or, find another way to make income.

Which brings me to my brilliant sub-theme.

My New Year’s Resolution will be to find out which of the following jobs is the least repellent way to bring in extra cash:

Will Humiliate for Food

I once read a profile on OKCupid for a guy who was willing to pay women to come out to California, dress in appropriate costumes, and humiliate him for hard cash. I’m not entirely sure if this one wasn’t an invitation to join a sex-trade, but maybe he has Skype?

Phoning It In

Sex phone operator. In which we find out whether I can suppress the giggles long enough to achieve a quasi-sultry conclusion. Also, where exactly am I going to do this in a house full of therapy techs and my ever-present child? I’m yawning the minute it hits 8:00 pm…this will take some thought.

Lashing the Page

Or, based on what I’ve seen while Googling images for this topic, there’s an aching void waiting to be filled in the Christmas-based sadomasochism/erotica market. Now how shall I plug that hole?

Santas Naughty List_0001

With such exciting job prospects, I’ll be sure to report back I am once more swimming in something festively green…hopefully it’s money and not jello with marshmallows on a pay-per-view fetish site.

Oh, and could someone remind me in the third week of January that the month has five Thursdays?  Thanks.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Which, at Christmas, means everything. My inner child is a window-shopping glutton.

**For those interested, here’s the recipe: Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

***It doesn’t make angles weep–which is what I originally wrote–but then I decided the heartless bastards would just laugh for 90 degrees in their corners until it was no longer funny or acute. How obtuse!

***

You’ve read this far bonus:

 

 

Pier Review

IMG_2896
Anemic sun halo captured at Holland State Beach, July 19, 2018

 

Walking the public pier along the Holland State Beach allows one to appreciate both an exercise in free speech and the quasi-felonious joys of graffiti expressionism.

I have never been so brave or confident in what I had to say that I was willing to risk a $250 fine and possible jail time to tag a public edifice in order to say it.*

Vandalism is, at the very least, a misdemeanor offense, but what I want to know is…is it art?

And if it is art, what is it saying?

Based on my hour spent cataloging this year’s liberal art tributes on the rusting canvas of the masses, the message depends on the viewer:

Positivity Abounds:

Travooo
Travooo captures the elusive qualities of LOVE  in swirling suggestions while boldly stating that it is all underscored by the balance to be found in the harmony of Yin and Yang.

 

If you look hard enough, you can find answers.

Although….you may also be left wondering what the question was.

Thoughts from Danny Duncan!

Danny thinks “It’s fine!”

But, he scrawled his sentiments in a tucked away place on an overhead pipe, so I suspect he’s playing it cool.

I Think It's Fine Danny Duncan
I bet Danny knows where the milk is!

 

Some people put themselves out there, courting ridicule…possibly unaware that a Tinder Date may be using a pseudonym.

Steve and Edelweiss Sipipill 4 Ever
If you know of anyone actually named Edelweiss, I will retract my skepticism.

Everyone has an opinion…whether that opinion is worth scrawling on a pier support is in the eye of the beholder.

Dude She s hot
Watch out, Amos Kiks.Palmbos, you have an admirer. 

Dreams are apparently dictated with impermanent ink scrawled on a blue-green background and will melt with time and the coming rains.

This is What Dreams are Made Of
Actually, this was one of my favorites…googly eyed smiley face not withstanding.

Lacking the words to express their deeper emotions, some fall back on a classic:

!!!HIGH 5!!! 

Friends slap high fives (or low ones) wherever they can.

Hands and Names
The Green Hand Gang numbers at least five!

 

Some HIGH FIVES bury the headline:

img_2921.jpg
Amos Kiks.Palmb Strikes again.  

OTHER HIGH FIVES come with best wishes from ON HIGH!

IMG_2931
Apparently the Green Hand Gang are followers of the BIG PINK HAND IN THE SKY.

 

Emotions run high…leaving some confused…knotting their hair with suspense.

Will Jeffrey or Won’t Jeffrey?

Will Jeffrey or Wont He
This strange smokestack-like object serves no discernible purpose. Does someone out there know what this does?

 

Perhaps the message echoes an earlier time—a plea for Peace, Love and Hope symbolized by a badly divided pie chart?

Hope
All you need is a Sharpie marker and an earnest sentiment and the sky is your oyster.

The VEGANS were a bit demanding and psychedelically so:

IMG_2912
Spred Luv…and dictionaries!

Go Vegan - Hallucination
Cock–the other white meat. Now comes in vegan flavor. (This is where we find out who really reads the subtitles.)

 

Some pier polluters promote poignant pleas:

Kiki Do U Luv Me
Ignore the scrawled ‘Anus’ overhead. Focus on the question, Kiki!

Perhaps what you take from the message boardwalk is only that which you brought with you?***

For example.

FORSOOTH, FIE, ALAS

One word scrawled among the masses stood out. I was astounded that classics such as Shakespearean language describing a two-week time frame have made it to modern vernacular (even if the spelling hadn’t):

Fortnite

Then, later, during a rare session of live tv watching, I was bombarded by a commercial which dispelled my illusions. (And possibly also my allusions.)

I almost despaired to have lost a belabored delusion of the persistence of language.

 

But then, after watching King Lear drop bodies at Grand Valley State University, I decided that Fortnite actually is a modern variant of Shakespearean storytelling—if only Shakespeare had lived in the age of the rocket launcher.


GOOGLE FAILED ME. WHEN I TRIED SEARCHING THE TERM ‘SHAKESPEARE’ AND ‘ROCKET LAUNCHER’ I GOT AN ARTICLE FOR THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY LAUNCHING A NEW VEGAN MENU:

I TOLD YOU THOSE VEGANS WERE PUSHY!

It seemed an obvious thing to me that there should be an image of Shakespeare with a rocket launcher…SO I MADE ONE:

Shakespeare with Rocket Launcher
I make judgments about people writing graffiti but, apparently, I have no problem stealing copyrighted images to abuse my own artistic license.

Z’WOUNDS…that was a long way to go for a laugh.
Now, back to the boardwalk…

IMG_2967
Lost in a Sunset

If art is a medium of expression, then I believe those who congregate at the water’s edge to exchange selfies and tag nearby crumbling infrastructure are at least trying to get a message out.

Or, maybe they are all just succumbing to…

Pier Pressure
I wanted this for my title, but that seemed like cheating.

Maybe this isn’t art.

But I say, “Let he who is without talent, shut the hell up.”

And let it be what it is.

Breathless

Endless

Speechless

Timeless

*-*-*

THE BEST

Artist Face
I too will be “Forever Faffi”

The need to express ourselves, our souls, may be the most human characteristic.

That we do it in a destructive, transitory medium is even more so.

Will words someday become anachronisms?

After digital communication leaps past verbal utterances to an all-emoticon communication system—how will we express nuanced emotions?

The phrase a “picture is worth a thousand words” takes on a scary new meaning when all you have is a demented smiley face to look at.

CREEPY SMILEY FACE
Be grateful it’s not an eggplant.

Until that day, cherish words, however they are conveyed.

Whatever cryptic message they share may be just for you!

Maybe the mystic words will heal what is broken. 

Release what is hidden.

Find what is lost!

OR MAYBE NOT…

Maybe a body just needs to scream into the void and hope that someone, somewhere, is listening:

IMG_2898
I’m sorry?

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I vandalize the internet from the safety of my blog instead.

**The internet laws have not yet caught up with the violations of free speech rampant in the digital stratospheres. When I become dictator of the universe, trolls will be hunted for sport.

***I suspect I’m stealing this line from Yoda. Or Harry Potter. A writer somewhere is feeling a sharp pang of plagiarism.

 

Eighteen Years to Tumescence

Do you like a stinking good time?

Do you appreciate the rare? The exotic? The exceedingly slow burn to coition?

Do you savor the anticipation an eighteen-year wait brings?

Then you may be ready for the giant phallus. The amorphophallus titanum to be precise.

*

If you happened to wander into Meijer Gardens this week, you may have stumbled across the shy and retiring Titan Arum–a bloom colloquially referred to as a Corpse Flower.*

I’ve been a long-time fan of the gardens, but even I was caught by surprise about the arrival of the local beauty–nicknamed Putricia for her odiferous nature. On impulse, I dashed to the gardens on Tuesday to get this shot of her before she made her full-blown debut. The garden staff estimated that she wouldn’t fully bloom until Friday…but they were to be caught off guard.

Tuesday
Putricia on Tuesday, spathe still tightly furled like a virgin’s nightgown before deflowering.

Wednesday night, the spathe–or giant solitary petal that goes around the spadix (the stabby, sword-like center spike) was still tightly closed.**

For a better description, you can go to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website for a great breakdown of the particulars. The site was extremely helpful in providing the follow image to steal:

Life Cycle of Titan Arum

Rumors abound around this hard-to-get coquette. According to this chart, it may bloom every four to five years. I’ve read elsewhere, it can take much longer because it relies on perfect conditions being met in order to propagate. The flower is in danger of becoming extinct in nature because of habitat loss and other causes.

At the Meijer Gardens, Putricia took eighteen years before she was ready to blossom. But she is finally strutting her stuff. And perhaps because she was so slow in arriving, she hurried up her appearance in time for me to dash over to meet her on Thursday. And, I have to say, she put on quite a stately show.

IMG_2806
At this point in the line, you aren’t even half-way there.

I couldn’t say how many people came, but the lines curled throughout the building when I was there. If you are brave, you might get to see her yourself–at least, for the next 24 hours anyway.

If you want to save your feet (and nose) the effort, a link to video of the flower’s expansion, you can find it in this article located in the Detroit News.

Here’s the picture I snapped with my cell phone:

Thursday
Thursday, a mad crush awaited anyone who dared to visit the Queen of Meijer Gardens!

Personally, I wasn’t overwhelmed with the stench by the time I got to her. She’d already lost some of her bloom. (Probably being visited by thousands of people takes a toll on a girl.)

Whether standing in line for over two hours for a minute in the limelight with this sultry Sumatran Stinker is your idea of fun, only you can decide.

As for me, I am happy that I went and hope we can look forward to a bright future ahead.

And now, I have camping to get packed for.  My son is totally puzzled as to why I would bother to stop and chat with you for this long anyway. For this reason, I’m attributing any typos to his impatience.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Strangely enough, no one requests a corpse flower for their bridal bouquet. Probably due to having to wait decades to ensure you’ll have one in time for the nuptials.

**Look, I’m not a botanist. There’s plenty of sites you can go to for actual plant terminology and description. But we both know you aren’t going there, are you?!

 

 

 

Good Grief

Sometimes I am caught unawares by the shock of death.

Even thirteen years later, I still grieve.

It catches me in odd moments.

Like today, watching the Monk series finale.

Where, eight years after the show ended, I have my own Monk moment.

 

*

Monk was a silly crime dramedy about a detective so torn by the death of his wife, he is unable to function without a massive number of coping skills that seem laughable to the world around him. These mechanisms for survival include: obsessive compulsive neatness, rigid need for control and cleanliness and order.* These tics are detrimental to his mental health and impede his ability to work in a normal job. They make for funny television, but a miserable reality.

I never saw the series when it was running. Back in 2002 I was living in Chicago, alternately trying to be a teacher and trying to get pregnant and failing at both. Then I succeeded in pregnancy, but completely tanked at teaching. But I had a husband and a son, so I kept going.

Until 2005, when my husband died.

And I stopped.

I stopped functioning, except at a nominal level where I met basic needs of my son and I cocooned myself from any changes that meant I had to face life.

I missed the entire span of the eight Monk seasons and only stumbled on it in its rerun afterlife where nothing ever truly dies.

And, today, I got to watch Adrian Monk resolve the death of his wife.

The scene that no one else probably thought two cents about was the fact that Monk couldn’t sleep in the center of his bed. He hugged the side, leaving room for Trudy, the memory of his wife forever impressed on her side of the bed.

When all the secrets are revealed in the last episode, the series is wrapped up in a tidy bow. Monk is sleeping, stretched out, in the center of the mattress and is seemingly unaware of the change in his rituals and patterns of behavior that have subsided with the peace of finally knowing. He is able to go on.

I still sleep on my side of the bed. I have never moved from it, no matter what bed I choose. It is probably just habit. A comfortable placement of nearness to the shelf where I put my glasses. The fact that I can only sleep facing one direction.

But it’s true, I can’t move to the center of the bed. Even if it is a small twin-sized mattress. I cling to the edge as if it were a thread from the past. Where I shared a space with someone else.

And that never goes away.

So, today, I cried. Because I remembered.

And never can forget.**

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I am not like Monk. If anything, I am the anti-Monk. I do not clean, and obsessively hang on to everything, creating piles of junk that might possibly qualify me for a hoarders episode. I do however have an obsessive compulsive need to watch television that makes me cry, apparently.

**And the next day my period started with a raging bang. I suspect I was also a target of my hormones.