White Resigns

Prompt: Never

blue-choppermartineau

Dear Wednesday,

Smoke fills the air today as firefighters battle with a fire on the mountain side. At the moment they are concentrating on preventing the spread of the fire and letting the centre of it burn out— and that makes for billowing clouds of pale smoke that drifts and settles up and down the valley.

The roar of helicopter engines fills the air today as they dip down into lakes and then carry their cargo into the fog. I can’t help but feel this is putting out a bonfire with a teaspoon, but I trust they know what they are doing. The heat is scorching and the fire hops from perch to perch, jumping lines in its hunger for fuel.

Meanwhile we float on the lake, lazy spectators of a massive natural drama.

And I ponder today’s prompt, “never” by presenting a few of my favourite cartoons, which may or may not relate to the topic:

two-polar-bears

bigfoot

white resigns


Peace and love,

~~FP

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Adventure, Old Age, and Special Interests

Prompt: Adventure


Dear Wednesday,

They say growing older is an adventure, though who is “they”?

Today is my birthday and time to reflect blah blah blah… Nevermind, I had a great day and a fine feast and my brother drove up to surprise me— coming to the door just as I was cleaning the toilet. The roads were clear despite frigid weather, bitter winds, and a frozen lake. Only last week a dozen blindingly white swans were our companions, wondering whether to continue their journey south. This week they decided: yup.

But what was I doing cleaning the toilet on my birthday? That is a question for the ages and for aged, of which I am not; though someone tell my body.

Ursula Le Guin had this to say about old age:

I’ve lost faith in the saying “You’re only as old as you think you are,” ever since I got old.

I’ve known clear-headed, clear-hearted people in their nineties. They didn’t think they were young. The knew, with a patient, canny clarity, how old they were. If I’m ninety and believe I’m forty-five, I’m headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub. 

I’ve never heard anybody over seventy say that you’re only as old as you think you are. Younger people say it to themselves or each other as an encouragement. When they say it to somebody who actually is old, they don’t realize how stupid it is, and how cruel it may be. At least there isn’t a poster of it.

But there is a poster of “Old age is not for sissies”.

Look at me, I snarl. I am a sissy. I always was. Who are you jocks to say old age isn’t for me?

Old age is for anybody who gets there. Warriors get old. Sissies get old. In fact it’s likely that more sissies than warriors get old. Old age is for the healthy, the strong, the tough, the intrepid, the sick, the weak, the cowardly, the incompetent. People who can run ten miles before breakfast and people who live in a wheelchair. 

If you eat your sardines and leafy greens and SPF 150 and develop your abs and blabs or whatever they are in order to live a long life, that’s good, and maybe it will work. But the longer a life is, the more of it will be old age.

The compensations of getting old, such as they are, aren’t in the field of athletic prowess. I think that’s why the saying and the poster annoy me so much. They’re not only insulting to sissies, they’re beside the point.

I’d like a poster with two old people with stooped backs and time-worn faces sitting talking, deep, deep in conversation. And the slogan would be “Old Age Is Not for the Young.”

I thought of that passage from the book No Time to Spare today, on my birthday. I thought about how I treat old people, and how people may soon treat me. Then I got drunk. Happy birthday!

In keeping with Wednesday tradition, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is loosely connected to today’s prompt, “adventure”?

cartoon chess horsey

cartoon flight on time

cartoon special interest


Now I’m off for a ten mile run!

Love and peace,

~~FP

Veep

Prompt: Vice

chess-pieces-dramatic-lighting

Spiro was late getting into the office, which was unlike him. But it was not everyday that Frank breezed through Washington and hosted one of his irresistible private parties. Who knew who would be there or what would happen?

There were some beautiful young women there, to be sure, and that was what the jackals in the press would concentrate on, if they got wind of it. But there were also congressmen, actors, lobbyists, artists, and television stars. Spiro wasn’t one to get star struck, but for goodness sake, Columbo was there. And The Fonz!

Fran breezed into his office, after allowing him time to remove his jacket and put it on the coat tree, settle in his chair, and admire the clean, polished bare surface of his mahogany desk. He ran a tight ship, desk-wise. Everything seen to and disposed of by end-of-day. Or at least, put into an appropriate folder and tucked into a drawer.

“Golf,” said Spiro, leaning back and putting his hands behind his head.

“Two-twelve,” said Fran, flipping through the pages of his diary. “A foursome including Mr Sinatra, Mr Lebowitz, and Mr Spalding.”

“Have a seat, dear,” said Spiro. Fran eased into one of the small leather chairs in front of his desk. “What about this morning?”

“Well, you are clear until 9:45, then a meeting/photo op with that Boy Scout troop, 15 minutes set aside. Then, ironically, nothing until 10:30, meeting in Haldeman’s office, required attendance… then you speak over lunch at the Water Carrier convention: topic Freedom of the Press Ha Ha, and then… cocktails, golf, more cocktails, then dinner….” She smiled. Spiro believed Fran was too thin to be truly sexy, too old to be truly pretty, but she had a mischievous way about her which, combined with her blind obedience, Spiro found immensely charming. And she was smart, usually.

“What about the Maryland mayors?” asked Spiro. “I thought that was today.”

“Oh drat,” said Fran. “I forgot. “That should have been half an hour ago.”

“Call them now, and tell them I was called away by The President. Urgent, confidential consultation. Reschedule, tonight is ok, but tomorrow morning better. …Now, Fran.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Send Felix in.”

“Yes, sir.”

Spiro went to the cabinet and got out the box that contained the chess board and all the pieces, beautiful black and white marble. He set it up on his desk.

Felix popped his head in the door. “Everything ok, Mr Vice President?”

“Of course, no security problems when you boys are around. Feel like getting whomped at chess? It is good training for you, you know, protecting the king and queen. I’ll let you play white this time.”

“White? Ok, Mr Vice President.”

“Only until 9:30 though,” said Spiro.

“Check,” said Felix. He chuckled to himself. He made his moves almost as quickly as if it were blitz chess. It was the Vice President who mulled and stalled, humming, moving pieces around without taking his hand off them, before finally settling on where to set the piece. And then erupting in a fury if Felix promptly took his man.

“What happens if the pawn gets to the other end, again?” Spiro asked.

“They become another queen.”

“See Felix? That’s where hard work can take you. A pawn to a queen.”

“Yes, Mr Vice President.”

Poor Loser

Prompt: Fandom
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.

chess

I am very competitive. That’s why I don’t play sports any more; in fact I stopped competitive sports in elementary school, when I didn’t make the first string volleyball team, despite being the most consistent server and best spiker on the squad.

It hurt too much to fail. I would put my heart and soul into a sport, become frighteningly single-minded— which I didn’t like either— and become despondent if I made a mistake, or someone else made a mistake, that caused us to lose.

To hell with sportsmanship, the social value of teamwork, and the thrill of the play. I only want to win.

I know it’s just a game. I know that that fear of failure affects all competitors. But for me, that little ball of stress and dread of loss always casts a deep shadow.

 

P.S. Go Cubs.