Halcyon Days

Kingfisher

My ears threatened to go on strike.  We almost starved because I couldn’t stand to go into stores.  Within ten minutes, in one shop, I heard the song “Santa On The Sand”, and then “Christmas in Hawaii.”

We have entered the Festival of Conspicuous Consumption – otherwise known as the Christmas Season.  It began in November, right after Black Friday, a vile American ritual which has oozed into Canada like toxic waste.  It has even floated across the Atlantic like an oil spill, to infest the U.K.

This is the time of year when even the Good Christians forget the Christ Child, and enter into the frenzy of Too Much – too much food, drink, cooking, buying, spending, wrapping, visiting, travelling, and stress.

I was researching the word halcyon, when I came upon the term ‘Halcyon Days’.  There once (allegedly) was a minor Greek goddess, Alcidine, whose name has come down to us as Halcyon.  She fell in love with a minor god, and they shacked up together.  They were enjoying immortal life, and having so much fun, that they compared themselves to Zeus and Hera.

Zeus, whose Grumpy-R-Us franchise I inherited, threw a giant snit-fit.  He huffed and he puffed, and he blew up a powerful storm, and a huge wave crashed onto her lover and drowned him.  When she saw his dead body in the surf, she threw herself into the waves and also drowned.

Some of the other gods felt sorry for them.  Zeus’ magic could not be reversed, but it could be modified.  They were brought back as birds – kingfishers.  The modern scientific name for kingfishers is Alcidines.  The ocean kingfisher builds a little raft of a nest, safe from most predators because it floats upon the waters like Moses’ Magical Basket.

Aeolus was the god who controlled the winds and storms – except when Zeus used them to bump somebody off.  Because kingfishers breed and brood about the winter solstice, he promised two weeks of calm waters, so that the eggs would safely have time to hatch – one week before the solstice, and one week after – the Halcyon Days.

Inspired by this tale, I went into my back yard, and found a small nest-building-type stick that my new pair of Scottie Terrier puppies had wrenched off a shrub.  I brought it into the house, and jammed it into a bowl of semi-precious gemstones.  I printed off the photo above, cut out the outline, and hung it from the twig.

I have no giant, overstated Christmas tree that takes me three days to assemble and decorate, and another three days to put away.  It’s just a little tribute to peace and quiet, something which I feel many of us need during this frenetic time.  Give it a try.  You don’t have to believe in, or worship Greek gods – or any God – you just have to believe that you deserve a couple of weeks of tranquility, “while all about you are losing theirs.”  Peace be unto you – and peace on the rest of the idiots, too.  😉

Don’t Get All Emotional

Emoticon

23 Emotions people feel, but can’t explain

http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/post/122182141428/23-emotions-people-feel-but-cant-explain

Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Opia: The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

Énouement: The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

Kenopsia: The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.

Mauerbauertraurigkeit: The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.

Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

Vemödalen: The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening

Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.

Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.

Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.

Rückkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.

Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, which inhabits only one place at a time.

Liberosis: The desire to care less about things.

Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.

Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.

There’s no sense asking if you’ve experienced any of these.  We’ve all experienced them all, and will continue to, only now we’ve got a label that we can point to.  I will experience my usual, clearly-labeled pleasure if you visit, read, comment….  You know – the usual, happy déjà vu.  😀

 

 

Silence Is Golden

monitor

The preceding period of peace and quiet has been brought to you by….  MY NEW COMPUTER!

No 100-word Flash Fiction, or even a WOW, this week.  They say that people begin to look like their pets.  Maybe, but my now-old computer was beginning to act far too much like me.  It was sated, stuffed, glutted, over-filled, crammed – over 900 blog-post files, and more pictures than an art gallery.

My poor, old H-P Compaq was almost 7 years old. I got it shortly after I began blogging, and even published a story about being without a computer for three days while it got trained.  Never terribly powerful to begin with, it has become subject to Moore’s Law, which says that power doubles every 2 years.

In dog– computer-years, it was…  let’s see.  Holy Crap, it’s pterodactyl-time.  The thing was older than me, practically prehistoric!  We considered adding more RAM and/or memory, but it would be like ‘souping up’ an old car.  We’d be putting soup in a sieve.  My new Acer has 10 times the process strength, and 2 terabytes of memory.

The old Compaq was like me after a big meal, just sitting there, mumbling to itself, and not really accomplishing anything.  I asked the son to have it do a complete security scan, when he arrived home in the morning.  We wouldn’t be getting out of bed for 2 or 3 hours.

On his computer, that would take an hour/hour-and-a-half.  Like a contented cow chewing its cud, it sat there, happily burbling away for over 9 ½ hours, stealing most of a day’s work time from me.  Finally – ‘Can I go to WordPress now?’  Moooo.

It’s been another 3 days without a computer, and I’m getting trained on lots of new (to me) computer tricks.  I know enough to be able to retrieve Word files, and publish them on my blogsite.  My new electronic best-friend is doing things much quicker.  Just don’t expect the quality of the posts to improve.  By Monday we’ll be back on schedule with the A To Z – Challenge post for the letter C.  I hope to C you there.  🙂

Flash Fiction #142

Walk The Walk

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

WALK THE WALK

Bobby liked his father as a child. He loved his Dad, as a young boy could.  He spent a lot of time with him over the years – rather, his Dad spent a lot of time with him.

He never idolized his Dad, never thought of him like Ward Cleaver, or Father Knows Best. He was just always there, an ordinary, work-a-day kind of guy.

Now that he was grown, and had a wife and children of his own, he saw the many things, great and small, that his father had quietly, competently done.

He had some big shoes to fill.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Silence, Blessed Silence

Cabin

Our ancestors enjoyed silence.  At least I hope they enjoyed it, because every invention they produced – every mechanical and electrical advance they made – has led to the constant thrum of noise that we in the developed world are immersed in.

Our forebears worked their asses off 16 hours a day.  When they finally huddled in their huts and cottages and cabins at the end of a long day, these hovels were not the insulated and breeze-resistant wonders we live in today.

It wasn’t so quiet that they could hear the grass grow.  There would have been the sounds of birds and animals and insects – all hopefully outside.  Then, along came technology, and constant, growing noise.  We have become inured to it, and most of us never even notice it.  It’s just part of our lives.

I had one of ‘those moments’ the other day.  Like the digital clocks and power indicator LEDs spewing light around my house, I became aware of how many things were constantly pumping noise into my ears.  I have four analog clocks spread around my house.  They’re all electric, running on batteries, but they all tick, tick, Tick, Tick!

The son doesn’t want the cats or dog messing with stuff in his room, so he keeps the door closed 24/7.  It could get a little funky in there, so he has set the thermostat so that the circulating fan on the furnace runs on low, constantly.  In the summer when the air conditioning, or in the winter when the burner kicks in, the fan ramps up to high.

In the winter, the air in the house gets so dry that I raise half-inch blue sparks, reaching for doorknobs or light switches, so we have a humidifier pumping moisture (and noise) into the atmosphere.  The mechanical timer on the water softener clatters away to itself in the basement, and the softener itself howls for about two hours, twice a week.  Beside it is the chest freezer, beside that is the ‘beer fridge’, plus the big one in the kitchen, none on constantly, but regularly.  Even the water heater burbles away to itself when hot water is used.

In an attempt to conserve electricity, Ontario has banned incandescent light bulbs.  The new CFL, compact fluorescent light bulbs are cheaper on power, but each has a starter built into the base.  These emit a faint 60-cycle hum when turned on.  I sit beside a tri-light bulb when I do my crosswords.  The greater the light output, the more pronounced the hum.  Two or three of those in a room, and the cats have their paws over their ears.

The tower for my PC sits below my desk, down in cat-hair country, so we decided to add a second exhaust fan, just to be safe(r).  The son’s PC is not always on, and only has one fan.  The wife’s laptop has one exhaust fan, but she plays a lot of games.  No Grand Theft Auto – more Canasta and Monopoly – but it was overheating, so now its single fan sits above a cooling pad with two more fans running.

Laptop

The wife has tinnitus – overactive nerves that make her ears ‘hear’ squeals and whines that aren’t there.  To cover up the fakes, so that she won’t go crazy, she often has the stereo on low, or a play list running on the laptop.

There’s the exhaust fan above the stove, when we’re cooking – the washroom exhaust fan – the washer and/or dryer – the dishwasher – the microwave – the stove-oven exhaust fan – the toaster-oven fan – the traffic noise from the four-lane Regional road, 100 feet from my back door – the four-year-old boy who lives in the other half of our semi-detached house, with his collection of bowling balls that he rolls down the stairs, and his seven-year-old sister who walks like a rhino.

I’m going mad – MAD I tell you!  (What?  Too late??)  It’s a wonder that the kids playing road hockey outside don’t tell us to keep it down.  I moved from a quiet small town to the big city (500,000) for jobs and amenities.  I shouldn’t complain, but I’m a Grumpy Old [retired] Dude, what else do I have to do?  If any of you want to comment about the levels of noise you have to put up with, YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP!  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!   😉