U……….Umbrella ☔️

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You take it pretty much for granted, the umbrella. It falls out of the coat closet whenever you don’t need it and gets hopelessly tangled up with its cousins when you’re trying to drag it out so you can get to the car in a downpour. And the one you keep in the car? You know, the one you started to toss in the trash because its spokes are bent and it doesn’t stay open but then you thought well, it would be ok to keep it in the car, what the heck. Yeh, that one…….it’s stuck for good under the back seat, so forget about it.

The umbrella offers protection from the weather, be it too wet or too hot. Unless you’re Mary Poppins and then it’s a handy means of transportation. I wondered when my fellow humans came up with this very human tool.

imageUmbrellas appear in the art and artifacts of civilizations such as Assyria, Greece, and China going back about four thousand years. They were mainly sunshades until the Chinese created an oiled, shellacked paper parasol that kept the rain off. Off the emperor, not you or me. It was strictly a high society accessory.

The waterproof bumbershoot became more necessity than accessory in the wet, rainy climate of the British Isles. What’s more British than a man and his tightly furled umbrella? He kept it to himself for some time, racing gallantly to the rescue of helpless females caught in the rain, until women were permitted at last to carry their own, as long as theirs were dainty and pretty, not big and useful.

Speaking of useful, once women assumed control of the umbrella, they found it could make a very handy weapon, should the need arise. Keep your distance, sir! image

Umbrellas now come in all shapes (mostly still round, however) and sizes (the little decoration on your fancy drink, your huge golf umbrella) made from all kinds of materials. You can see through the clear plastic ones, such as the kind Queen Elizabeth II carries. Or you can find ones made of bullet-proof Kevlar, which can be used as shields. I mean, that’s real protection.

You can fold them up tiny to fit in your pocket when you travel, or erect a special giant size one to create your own shady spot on a scorching beach. You can shape your environment, no matter where you are.

My grandmother always said it was unlucky to open an umbrella in the house. I’ll bet it would have been, if we had, say, knocked over one of her lamps with one.

For the record, she also said you would go blind if you wore galoshes in the house. Just sayin’.

And to imagine that people just five thousand years ago used to get all wet or overheated without umbrellas. What did they do about their hair, for Pete’s sake? Their complexion? Think about those folks next time you hide under your “portable roof!”

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R……..READERS!

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imageWhere would writers be without readers! We are readers, we want readers, we love readers.

A great perk in blogging is being able to connect instantly with readers all over the world. They can read your work, respond to you, criticize, congratulate, laugh, cry, learn, teach…….all from their home to yours. Fascinating.

I have not been blogging very long and never thought much about who might read my posts. My family, of course. My friends, sure. But……Wow! Readers in more than 50 countries are checking my site!             🇩🇪🇺🇸🇫🇷🇪🇸🇮🇹🇬🇧🇷🇺🇰🇷🇯🇵

I write about all kinds of things, as my blog title indicates. It’s gratifying to know that my Musings are interesting to such a diverse group of readers.  A school student in Angola, for instance, might look in to see what’s on my mind regarding a nifty kitchen gadget I purchased: You Gotta Get One  of These!, July 2014. 20140801-113051-41451456.jpg

Maybe a reader in Italy will read my take on how Chrisopher Columbus is feted in the USA: In Fourteen Hundred Ninety Two, posted in October 2014.

What do readers in Australia, France, England find interesting? Maybe stories about the World Wars and the veterans who fought in them: Giving Thanks and Over There, November 2014. And Comanche Code Talkers:July 2014. image

I wonder if readers in Ecuador or Poland or Greece can relate to my wacky family stories, like O, Day of Labor: August 2014. I’ll bet they can. I’ll bet their families do exactly the same funny things.

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And that’s the point! Here we all are, from every part of this little blue marble planet, writing and reading about all sorts of things and connecting through the air, discovering how we’re the same, how we’re a little different, who I am, who you are…….reaching out and touching each other.

Welcome, readers of the world! Welcome to my world! I hope you will let me know who you are and where you are and what you would like to know more about my little pinpoint of our world. It will be great to ‘meet’ you!

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Q……..Quirks

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We all have quirks. Our little habits or routines. Those personal behaviors or peculiar actions we don’t even think about. You know, knuckle cracking, naming your plants or vehicles, eating only one food at a time from your dinner plate.

Green M&MS?

Recognize anyone? Not you, of course.

I had a teacher who absolutely hated mechanical pencils. She could spot one a mile away. This was particularly bad for me since I did, and still do, prefer using mechanical pencils. She kept a drawerful of used, chewed up, stubby, wooden #2 pencils and would foist one on me and confiscate my blue plastic PaperMate until class was over.

Me, I read anything. I mean cereal boxes, fine print, directions, labels….. I read an interesting toilet paper wrapper not too long ago. Fact: if you are not satisfied with or just need to comment on your TP, you may report to a street address, via email, or at a website. Please have the roll from the package. Of course I checked. There is an identifying number printed inside the roll. Reading maketh the man, or woman. I learned.

imageDo you always put your left shoe on first? Sort your French fries according to size? Say “Rabbit, rabbit” when you wake up on the first of the month? Do crossword puzzles in ink? Only eat sandwiches cut on the diagonal?

I know many of us writers have this little quirk: we mentally correct bad spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Written or spoken. Everywhere. We must. I’m so ticked when I spot this stuff in published works, I actually mark it.

Send me some of your personal quirks and I’ll do a compilation in one of my regular blog posts.

What makes your quirk unique? What’s the most unique quirk you’ve ever witnessed? Do quirks drive you crazy? Which quirk do you love best? Whose is it? Yours or another’s? Do you recognize your own? Would you change your quirks?  How do you use quirks for your characters when writing? Show me QUIRKY!

Is it quirky to do the A to Z Blog Challenge? 😏 I’ll speak for myself!

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O…………Ocarina.p

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image It’s one of the oldest wind instruments in history. My grandfather and great grandfather played one. It’s sometimes called a “sweet potato” because of its shape.

The ocarina dates back more than 12,000 years. Its flutey, high-pitched, haunting sound is found particularly in the Chinese, Aztec, and Mayan cultures.

It can be found in other examples of music, too, since it is not too difficult to make or play an ocarina. American folk music often includes the “sweet potato” as an accompaniment to songs and the German gemshorn is a direct descendant of the ocarina.

In a fascinating combination of Twenty First technology meets ancient musical instrument, the video gaming giant Nintendo in 1998 created the hit game The Legend of Zelda, The Ocarina of Time.

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The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time game

My 11 year old grandson is an avid Legend of Zelda player and he introduced me to The Ocarina of Time. Big surprise to him that I knew what an ocarina was! He thought it was a cool new Nintendo thing. Teachable moment: there’s not much new in the world, my boy.

In The Ocarina of Time, the player takes Link, the hero, through the Land of Hyrule on a quest to keep evil King Ganondorf from seizing the Treforce, a sacred relic. He uses the Ocarina of Time to travel through time.

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Music plays an important role in the game. To progress, players must learn to play and perform several songs on an ocarina. The game has created renewed interest in the instrument and melded ancient history with the world of video gaming.

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Ocarina of Time

I will never figure out the game. It’s very complicated and takes a long time to learn and play. The graphics are amazing, though, and to watch a real player at the controls is impressive.

But the idea of incorporating something as simple as a 12,000 year old wind instrument into something as technical as a video game just makes me think. Maybe the world is not lost entirely to technology. Not when we can take the old and make it new again.

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New Ocarinas!

N……..Night Owl 🌙

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image I am a night owl. Always have been, even when I have been forced to rise early. I rose, but I did not shine.

Nothing against sunshine and light and all that. There’s just something about the deep, dark, middle of the night that intrigues me and draws me in.

It’s a whole different world. Different sounds, different sights, different world view. Night seduces you and makes you part of it.

I think I inherited my night owl tendencies from growing up in the city. The neighborhood was never entirely asleep and especially during those hot, muggy, un-air conditioned summer nights, the nights that wrap around you like a damp towel……..you could sit outside til dawn, if you wanted.

Outside the city, there’s nothing so mind boggling as sitting on a starlit beach gazing at The Milky Way. Who are we? Why are we here? image

I love the solitude, the empty streets, the dark windows, the bright moon, the stillness of the night. The night creatures, the crickets, frogs, foxes, owls.  I like it in the rain. I like it in the snow, the wind, the heat, the cold. It’s mine.

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Early risers have that certain air of superiority sometimes that makes me shake my head. “Oh, what a gorgeous sunrise this morning! Too bad you didn’t see it.” I chuckle. I saw it…….just before I went to bed!

Night belongs to you. You can be alone in it. You can make it your own. It’s glorious. Step out there and grab it.

M……Musings

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For today’s Challenge Post on M, how about capitalizing on the title of my regular blog: Musings With Marianne?

I chose that title for my blog so I could write about many things: the things I think about, wonder about, know about, want to know about….Muse about. Musing helps me understand things better sometimes, kind of like explaining to myself.

I started Musings just under a year ago, just before heading to France and England to attend the big celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy that led to the end of World War II.

I mused on 21st Century travel, from extra vigilant airport security measures, crammed airplane seating, and forking over more money to board before the herd, to the first world problem of packing all the charging devices required to keep all the electronics working. Gotta be plugged in!

I mused on the crowds of people, old and young, celebrating the liberation of Europe from the Nazi terror. All ages, nationalities, sizes, shapes and voices…..one celebration.

I mused about my one and only grandson, a smart, funny young man of many talents who never ceases to amaze, amuse, and instruct me.

I posted Random Musings, collections of thoughts or ideas that popped up here and there; I related stories about my dad’s and my great-uncle’s military experiences in both World Wars; I introduced my family and friends to the Blog World; I lamented my various shortcomings and laughed about them at the same time.

I hope you will check back in my Archives and see some of these posts. I would like to know what you think!

I am now a thoroughly hooked Blogger. A cyber-diarist. I welcome people all over the world to peer into my world. Amazing! Hello, Singapore, Russia, Phillipines, Belgium, Scotland, Ghana! Argentina, Mexico, Canada! Australia! China! Japan! All 50 United States! Great to meet you!

My next regular Musings  post will continue the story of my experiences as a movie extra: So You Want To Be In Movies, Part 4. Maybe I’ll see you on the set! It’s just getting good…….

L………Laugh! 😂

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Ya gotta laugh. If you don’t laugh you will become old before your time. If you laugh, you will never be old!

image There are so many ways to laugh, from the smug chuckle to the tear-inducing, out of control, belly laugh. You can cyber-laugh: LOL. You can graphic laugh: 😋. But there’s always something going on somewhere that is a  laugh-er of a situation. Even if it only rates an Angry Sneer (see chart). Politics, for example, could be a treasure trove for that kind of laugh.

This little chart (below) shows various laughs and where they originate in the body. It’s not a human body but you get the idea. I can say that personally, I have laughed most of the laughs listed, though I’m not sure about the “Sign of the Apocalypse” laugh. Was that like when my friend’s husband was explaining about murders and football in play she and I were going to and we were actually going to The Calamari Sisters? Because, wow, that almost had us til we realized he was confused, not us.

image I don’t have a favorite laugh unless it’s the “Oh, dear, I shouldn’t be laughing in this situation” laugh that makes your belly hurt and you can’t show that you’re laughing and you cry. You know, like when the dinner theatre lead singer flattens the first few bars of The Sound of Music to a pulp and your wine glass is empty.

You can laugh at people once in awhile, but always try to laugh with them as a rule. Again, politics can skew this concept but, as a rule, yes, be nice.

You can laugh til you cry (see above), you can laugh to keep from crying, you can laugh til you wish you wore Depends, you can laugh at the ironic, at the absurd, at the incomprehensible, at the just plain funny. Are you laughing yet?

How do you laugh best? Doesn’t matter. Just do it. You’ll feel good.

Stay laughing, my friends.

J……..this is a tough one.

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JOKES! That’s it! I love jokes. I love joking…..I’m always joking. A joker, that’s me.

In fact, I come from a long line of folks who joke.

Here’s one my brother always used to tell when he was a kid:

“Two little boys were sitting on a fence and one said to the other one, ‘Oh, you’re so dumb you don’t even know George Washington is dead,’ and the other one said ‘Dead? I didn’t even know he was sick.'” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA……..hilarious! He told that joke about a kajillion times.

Jokes can be good, bad, corny, dirty, pithy, long or short. Here’s a one-liner: A mushroom walks into a bar and the bartender says, hey get outta here, we don’t serve mushrooms and the mushroom says Why not, I’m a fungi.

Jokes and jokers have been around for thousands of years. The Emperor Augustus, for instance, was quite the funster. Here’s one of his: a nervous man was trying to give him a petition and kept drawing his hand back. So Augustus quipped, “Do you think you’re giving a penny to an elephant?” I don’t get it but who would NOT laugh at Caesar Augustus, right?

What goes Ha, ha, thump? A guy laughing his head off.

You got your blonde jokes, your knock knock jokes, your political jokes…..well, that’s a no brainer.

Stay joking, my friends!  And I’m not kidding!

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G…..Gardening?

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Subtitle of this post: Things I Am Not Good At.

If you are a follower of my regular blog, you have heard about my frustration with growing things. And maybe you remember how my grandmother, who shook her head despairingly over my black thumb, could resuscitate totally dead plants into thriving botanical wonders.

I try. Herbs in pots, who could go wrong with that? Here they were in a sunny garden window, last fall. imageimageimage

 

Here they are now. Oh, bitter day.

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My brother gave me a book for Christmas: Urban Gardening for Dummies. And I’ll try it, really I will. But I face the fact that I’ll never be mistaken for a gardener, urban or otherwise. Sorry.

I……….Who, Me?

imageWell, my personal blog, Musings with Marianne, is Me by Me. It is I.

I use my blog to Introduce myself to people I‘ll likely never meet. I talk about things I like, I don’t like, I know, I want to know…..it’s a microcosm of who I am.

I never stop moving on. I can be paused but not stoppedI am Inquisitive. I am Intelligent. I find Inspiration for posts and other life bits all around me. What a world! Tell me more!

I have very few Idols because I have very high standards. I am an All American mutt of many Immigrant forebears whom I discover from time to time in the online world of ancestors and I wonder how much of them I have in me.

I am sitting in my home using three electronic devices to connect to the world….how can I not learn and grow with all that support?

I am a woman, a mother, a grandmother, a sister and a friend. I am part of Infinity. I am happy to be here.

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