Do You Remember?

Do you remember the first car you drove that had the high beam switch on the steering wheel column instead of on the floor? Everyone wanted a new car so you no longer had the dilemma of which to do first – step on the brake or depress the clutch, or dim the headlights.

Do you remember the first television remote? How it came with a cord that plugged into the TV? You didn’t have to get up to change channels anymore, but you had to sit on the carpet in the middle of the living room floor because you only had the length of that cord to work with. Everyone had to buy new televisions that had holes to plug remotes into.

Do you remember when VCRs came out? You could rent movies and keep them a few days. Everyone had to buy VCR machines and new televisions that were compatible.

Do you remember when Hi-Fi stereos came out and how everyone had to buy new record payers and albums that were 33 1/3 speed instead of 75s? Or when 45s came out and everyone had to buy those little yellow plastic centers so the 45 would play on the record player? Oh, the grand day when those hard plastic pieces came out that allowed you to play a stack of 45s!

Do you remember when 8-track tapes came out? How you had to buy all your favorite albums again, in 8-track format. Plus the player. Plus a new radio for the car.

Do you remember when cassette tapes came out? How they were so much more compact than 8-tracks. How you could now record your favorite song off the radio. Everyone had to buy their favorite albums again in the new format.

And then CDs came out.

And then digital came out.

And then Kindle appeared.

Little did we know, back in the days of high beam switches on the floor, that we, as a society, were being trained to not just buy the next new thing, but to buy all the paraphernalia necessary to operate the next new thing.

Little did we know that we were being trained to become a throw-away society, and that repairmen were a thing of the past. That one day it would become cheaper to buy new than to fix.

Little did we know that we were being trained to forget how to exist without all the fancy new things. How to light a room without electricity. How to cook without an electric or gas stove. How to have warm scarves and mittens for winter without buying them.

An Amish man once told me that he had nothing against modern conveniences. He just didn’t like not knowing how to live without them.

I wonder what new technological advance is on the horizon, and what it will cause us to forget.

The ‘Soliloquies Of A Goldfish’ Blog

When my son was little, he loved everyone. Each person that crossed his path deserved a huge hug as he pronounced his full name. Anyone he was introduced to, became a fast friend within moments.

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Arthur and his best friend, Abby

I used to dread the day when he realized that not everyone loved him in return, that not everyone could be trusted, that not everyone would be his friend. I wanted him to retain that simple belief in the goodness of people for as long as he could.

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Arthur and his still-best-friend Rowan

These days, of course, social media has redefined the word ‘friend’.

‘In my day’ (a phrase I never thought I’d be old enough to use) we had pen pals that we sent letters to. A much slower process than accepting a friend request by hitting a key on the computer. Now, instead of our pen pals existing on paper, with distinctive handwriting, and if you were lucky, a photo, our pen pals exist on a screen, with their lives displayed in high-digital clarity.

But here’s the thing. I kind of feel like I’ve turned into my son.

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Arthur and best friend (and aunt)

Putting myself out there publicly is necessary as a writer, but it comes with risks. It also comes with friends. I have met so many wonderful people. Both in the real world through writing events, and online through this blog, social media, editing jobs, and emails.

With WordPress, when someone new follows your blog, you get a short notice that links to that person’s blog. And sometimes WordPress will suggest a site you might like.

That’s how I’ve met other artists, including artist Jaime Haney, Bear’s Photography in Cornwall, writers, herbalists such as Whispering Earth, and many more. Typically the name of the blog catches my eye and that’s what makes me click on a link.

Today, I noticed that I have a new follower and she has a blog called ‘Soliloquies Of A Goldfish’. I couldn’t resist that name and clicked on the link. I read her ‘about’ page and found myself grinning at her great sense of humor. I read her short story Olivia and was impressed by the deeper layers and multiple meanings within the short story, and how she had a fully developed character in a short piece. And this is a young woman still in school. Wish I wrote half that well when I was her age. I wanted to jump up and wave and yell ‘Hi! Let’s talk writing!’

I suddenly realized that…hmmm…maybe my son inherited that trait of hugging everyone and making immediate new friends from my husband.

The internet has a lot to answer for, but it also is responsible for broadening our horizons, not just in meeting new people, but in finding art, in the easy access to learning, and in putting the world right at our typing fingertips.

I look forward to the next person I ‘meet’. In the meantime, look up Soliloquies Of A Goldfish and read some short stories by a talented young writer.

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Two Dogs In The Woods

Jack was a well-known dog in a small community and one of those dogs who could smile. He spent a lot of time out on trails with his family.

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Wild forest creatures

Almost ten years ago my son and his friend went hiking and asked if they could take our young dog, Arwen. Most of you know this story so I won’t go into detail. The boys went bushwhacking off trail and Arwen ended up stuck on a boulder on the Index Town Wall. Luckily she was smart enough (or scared enough) to stay put on her boulder until help came.

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Morning Star climbing route on the Wall

But back to Jack. The search started late so it was getting dark. And it was raining. At one point I was waiting for Jack’s mom, who was coming with a backpack loaded with ropes and gear.

I sat in the middle of the narrow trail in the woods. The rain fell steadily, pattering on leaves and ferns, on raincoat, and dog. The light was that misty twilight where you can still see, but not that well. And being in the woods, it was that special shade of shadowy green that you only get in the rain. The woods stretched out above and below me as we were in a steep area. Everything around me was wet and lush as only a temperate rainforest can be.

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Jack pressed up against my side and I had my arm around him. I was worried and scared for our dog, and getting a bit scared for those out looking for her. Eventually we agreed it wasn’t safe to go further in the coming dark, especially when we didn’t know exactly where she was and the terrain was steep. But at that particular moment, there Jack and I sat.

Every so often Jack would let loose with a single bark that would echo away from us. And off in the distance I would hear a plaintive little bark echo in return. Arwen was out there somewhere alone. Except that Jack was talking to her. I wondered at the time what he told her.

‘Stay put, we’re coming for you.’

‘What kind of idiot dog gets stuck on a rock?’

What makes that particular moment such a vivid memory is that in spite of being almost sick with fear for our dog, it was oddly peaceful. I could have sat out there forever, with the sounds of water and the smells of wet forest and wet dog. I remember shivering, and feeling Jack occasionally shiver, but there was a stretch of warmth between us where we sat against each other. There was the sound and scents of rain and earth. And the quiet peace of being alone in the woods.

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Well, except for the barking conversation going on.

When I was in Denmark in July it was dry and hot. Record-breaking heat, relentless sun beating down on my head, unending crowds of people. I craved rain and rushing rivers and water.

And I remembered that twilight with Jack. Fear and worry and stress aside, it was a perfect moment.

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Getting old, sometimes not too bright, but still a sweetheart