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Penny’s Playland

When my sister came to South Carolina, Penny, the cat, accompanied her. In Texas, she was an indoor/outdoor cat. Now she’s indoor. We were worried how she’d adjust as she’s an active kitty. I wasn’t quite prepared for it. It means dangling her favorite toy and me running around the house. It means having her chomp on cardboard boxes and drizzle bits of it around the carpet. It means have a squirt bottle handy to thwart the sharpening claws on carpets.

We are learning to adjust.

And Penny is adjusting too.

We got her to stop using the couch as a scratching post. She knows when we shake the squirt bottle, to stop whatever she’s doing. She’s okay, so far, with staying indoors. Being still a young kitty, we can’t expect her to stop playing so we’ve gotten used to dangling toys, throwing toys, and shining a red light on the floor.

One day, I was talking with some neighbors who live with a young beagle. What a handful he used to be, always barking. Now he walks along placidly. We discussing training pets, getting them to behave. I told them about Penny’s Playland, i.e. our house. They understood.

I’m hoping that playland will be eventually downsized, but so far it doesn’t look like it will. Penny’s now appropriated my favorite sitting spot.

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Highways of Hell

My sister is moving. She’s texting me updates. The last text said she was twenty miles west of Slidell on I10, close to Mississippi. It made me think of US84/US98 in Mississippi, a road I’ve traveled twice and put on my list of Highways of Hell. It’s not really bad, but it’s so long and boring and in some stretches you don’t see another car for miles.

Driving those roads is like you’ve been transported into the Twilight Zone. It feels as if you’ll be driving along the road forever, until you die. It’s different kind of feeling than US378 in South Carolina, the road I refuse to take to Myrtle Beach. Every single time I’ve driven on it, my eyes start closing and I start fearing I’ll fall asleep. I’ll go thirty-forty miles out of my to avoid that one.

Some Highways of Hell are pretty interesting. Lake Ontario State Parkway is like driving through post apoctolyptic America. Weeds grow out of cracks in the highway and there was no one, serious, no one, on the road except me. The highway in Mississippi just stretched forever and forever and forever… you get the picture.

There’s a bit on I10, in Louisiana, that feels like it, on the bridges. My sister said thunderstorms raged when she drove it. Anyone who’s familiar with that area, knows there’s no place to stop and wait out the rain. It’s miles of bridges over the swamps. It’s even worse for her because she hates to drive over bridges.

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Audio Book Ads

In the past months, I’ve seen ads on TV for audio books. Which is pretty cool. People stroll around with happy faces as they listen to books. It’s nice to see those enjoying literature. The thing I have trouble with is where these people are – in pretty, scenic places. Like, there’s a man on the beach, staring out at the ocean. As much as I like books, I’d prefer to listen to the ocean roll in and hear the gulls overhead. Then there’s the shriek of children having fun.

Then there’s the person walking or jogging, I forgot, and I thought of how, when I walk early in the morning, I don’t start listening to music until there’s a lull in the singing of the birds. It’s so nice to listen to them, trying to spot the bird up high in the tree.

When I went to walk Hadrian’s wall one year, I brought along music to listen as I hiked. I only turned it on when I was at the hotel. I couldn’t bear not listening to the local sounds even if it was mostly cows and sheep. There’s just something about listening to nature be it the babble of the brook or a bird in the forest. Or even the wind through the branches in the forest.

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Animal Encounters

It being a warm day, the 5th of February and north of seventy degrees, I went walking. Rounding a curve, I began to think of last spring. There I was, chugging away, and as I am about to turn a corner, not this one, but another, I slow. There’s a cat on the road. How nice.
There are a number of feral cats in the neighborhood. Some of them are quite big, maybe pets gone wild. They slink away when I get close, eyes wide. Today, as I take a few steps closer, I spot movement to the side.
Bunnies. And the cat’s not eyeballing them. Strange. The last time I saw a bunny/cat encounter, my sister and I were taking a walk about the neighborhood. We’d spotted a rabbit and stopped to admire it.
Awwww, we said. How cute.
Bang.
Live bunny. Dead bunny. We were left with our mouths hanging open, not believing what just happened.
Back to my walk. I took another slow step forward, thinking the cat will be running off, scared off. The bunnies on the lawn step off and I see they are not rabbits. Kittens. This is even better.
But.
Wait.
I finally figure out this is not a cat, but a gray fox. I’ve heard there are foxes around, but I’d never seen one here and I was thinking more red fox because those are the only kind I’ve seen in the wild myself.
The fox looks at me. I think maybe I better start backtracking. The fox begins to lope toward me. Now, I really think it’s time to vamoose and thoughts of rabies and whatnot is going through my head. How fast can I climb a tree? Can foxes climb trees? I think yes.
Will the fox stay by it’s kits? It does.
After I get calmed down, I have to marvel at my encounter. Next time, though, I’ll be a bit more cautious.

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R.I.P. Stan Lee

After listening to a piece on NPR about the passing of Stan Lee, the man who helped create who knows how many Marvel Comics characters, I had to wonder how exactly he influenced me. He and others like him in the comic book world.

I’d always thought my main writing influences came from science fiction writers like Andre Norton, Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury and them. Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan was a big one. But, as I dig deeper, comics have as well.

I was lucky growing up, unlike a number of my friends, my parents didn’t believe comics to be ‘evil’. My Dad gladly gave me comics. He didn’t read them himself, but I was the recipient of boxes of comics from his fellow workers when they moved to another post. Very occasionally, I’d get a brand new one with stiff pages and the smell of ink still wafting from it.

In those boxes, were DC and Marvel comics. These were different from my regular diet of Little Audrey, Baby Huey, and Archie. I had my favorites like the Fantastic Four and Captain America. Superman was rampant in the donations. Regular superman, Superboy, and the green monsterish one. I read them all, Thor and Aquaman and Dr. Strange, whom I never quite got.

All those stories seeped into my head along with the fairy tales my parents read to me. I do like writing about superheroes and prefer superheroes with faults. While I like Superman he is, well, Superman. He’s invincible even with the kryptonite weakness. So, I guess I’m more of a Marvel reader. Which leads me right back to Stan Lee.

Thanks for the stories.

I’ll miss your cameos.

Thanks for the legacies and all the people you’ve inspired to carry on.

Thanks for the positively, the hope that everything will come out okay in the end.

Excelsior!

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Lost Landmarks

There’s a spot in West Columbia I always wanted to stop at and take pictures. They used to make bricks there and the brick kilns stood as monuments of the work.

I drove there a little while ago and they were gone, the ground dug up, paved with bright new sand and flattened and bulldozers standing ready to continue their work.

For a moment I thought, maybe I have the wrong road, but I didn’t think so. I looked it up when I got home and saw I was right. Someone bought the land and bulldozed them over.

Did they move them? I googled the brickworks, but there was no mention of their demise or relocation, only that more high end apartments were going up.

Progress. Good for some. Sad for me.

I’ll double check again when I go by, but I’m sure they’re not there because I made a point of looking and thinking that I should have brought my camera with me so I could stop and take pictures.

It kind of reminds me of my Great-Aunt’s house. She lived in a small house with a tin roof in Germany, it wasn’t much to look at, but it was one of the few of its kind left. Since she was old, and with no children, the bank or town offered her a place in a senior’s home in exchange of the house and they’d safeguard it. Not to long after, gone it was. Torn down.

Progress.

P.S.

Did go back by and, hooray, they are still there, the kilns. The rest of the area has been bulldozed down.  I did see that developers have torn down one of the few remaining buildings in the historic African American business section along Washington St. While, yes, it wasn’t much to look at, it was part of history and a unique bit of commercial architecture.

 

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Holiday Decorations

Holiday Decorations at School

Here in the U.S., overt Christmas decorations in public schools are essentially verboten, but that also depends on the school district. Being in the Bible belt, and in a rural area, we do decorate for Christmas. Still, with keeping up with the separation of church and state, I put up Winter holidays displays which usually had an emphasis on Christmas. Being the librarian, I was responsible for the main hall bulletin board, until it was taken down. When that happened, it saved me from having to think of themes each month, but I was also sad because every year the kids looked forward to my May board where I highlighted all the seniors.

One year I put how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in languages around the world. Another year I had Christmas customs around the world. There was also Christmas cards from around the world. Several times I did holidays around the world. I didn’t know what an impact the latter would have until a new teacher from India came, all excited that I had included Diwali My Christmas themes never elicited such a response and I was quite pleased with myself.

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