There’s Always Room for Silliness

The Wriggling JellybaggleDigital illustration: The Wriggling Jellybaggle

The Wriggling Jellybaggle and his relatives all laugh

at their own selves, each other, and at each faux pas and gaffe;

at funny things, ridiculous and silly things, and too,

at serious and sober stuff and fretful folk like you;

if you think you’re too dignified to snicker, laugh, and giggle,

you obviously haven’t seen a Jellybaggle wriggle;

and, furthermore, if you have failed to join the goofy gaggle

and goggle and guffaw a bit, your average Jellybaggle

would pity you, at best a fool, at worst, a stubborn stinker,

too stupid to enjoy yourself and thump your sullen thinker

with just the touch of tickling that takes the harm and haggle

out of your life, when you could be a Wriggling Jellybaggle.

The Strangest Kind of Strangers on a Train

The old tale of complete strangers meeting in transit, discovering they have identical problems, and “solving” the problems by trading crimes to eliminate the people they see as the root of their unhappiness, makes for a striking mystery drama, in fiction. Ask Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock fans! But I was reminded recently that we give too little credit to our commonalities as a positive solution to our problems, and end up missing crucial opportunities as a result.

The filmic version takes as its thesis that the two strangers who meet can find not other, or at least no better, solution to the problem of having bad relationships with inconveniently incompatible people than to murder them, and by ‘exchanging’ murders with each other they hope to escape detection by each having no apparent connection to, or a motive for killing, the other’s nemesis.

While this makes for startling and even compelling imagined mystery, it’s horrific if imagined in real terms. Yet we do similar things all the time in this world, don’t we? Because I tend to agree with a particular point of view in general, say, a specific philosophy or political party’s policies, or my country’s traditions, does that mean it’s wise or humane or practical or generous to follow along without question, no matter what my group, party or nation says and does? We mortals are remarkably good at noticing and magnifying our differences, as genuine and large as they may be. But we’re frighteningly weak, in opposing measure, when it comes to recognizing, focusing on, and building upon our true kinship. This, I believe, easily outweighs in both quantity and importance, our separating characteristics. Digital illustration from a photo: Opening Doors

The recent train outing in Sweden that reminded me so pointedly of this also confirmed my belief that it’s an area where youth is wiser than experience. In a railcar where a young father, not a local or a native speaker of the language, was keeping his fifteen-month-old daughter occupied and contented during the trip by helping her practice her tipsy walking, she made her way with his help to where another family, also foreign but not of the same culture as father and daughter, was sitting together. That group was of two adult sisters and their four or five school-age children. The toddler was naturally attracted to the friendly and spirited older children, and as soon as they saw her, they too were enchanted. What followed was perhaps twenty minutes of delighted interaction between them all, with occasional balance aid from Papa and photo-taking by the Mamas. And barely a word was spoken, much less understood by any of the participants, during the entire episode.

The greatest among the many beauties of this endearing one-act was that the conversation essentially began, continued and ended with the kids reaching toward one another with open hands, waving and gesturing and generally putting on an elaborate pantomime together, and above all, giggling and chortling with peals and squeals of ecstatic laughter.

Needless to say, all of us adults in the railcar grinned, giggled, chortled and otherwise became happy kids right along with them. Resistance was an impossibility and a pointless attempt, at that. And isn’t that an excellent lesson for all? Adults are too busy being territorial and fearful and downright feral to remember that the open hand of welcome and sharing is as quickly reciprocated as any gesture, and a smile of greeting and acceptance is contagious beyond any language, age, or cultural barriers. We can nurse our terrors of the unknown as supposed adults, or we can choose to laugh together like children.Digital illustration from a photo: As If in a Mirror

Resistance is Ridiculous

I could try to avoid smiling when I’m thinking about this topic, but I’m not sure it’s possible.
digital illustrationAnd is there any good reason to, anyway?

I can be a silly goose in so many ways; I can duck the inevitable for great lengths of time, and I’m certainly bird-brained enough to think myself above the flighty affectations and affections of lesser beings. But one good thing I learned pretty much when I was still quite a little hatchling is that letting my spirits take wing with every avian in sight is a fine and healthy practice. When I let my thoughts go to the birds, my well-being begins to soar. Who am I to argue with the brilliance of our feathered friends?

Sonnet for Sisters

restored antique photoMy Sisters’ Names

Three sisters, three have I, each one a star

to light the night or day with brilliance new,

a spark these shining few, though rare, bring to

the darkest, deepest places where they are–

Fair Wisdom bears a gleaming cup, as thirst

for knowledge waits in ev’ry darkened realm

to sip the learning springing from her helm,

sweet Wisdom bringing in this treasure first–

The next is gracious Kindness, in whose charms

of sympathy and care is safety found

when she with gentle strength wraps all around,

encompassing the world within her arms–

The third with equal radiance inclines

to lighten hearts as much as sun can do;

Laughter‘s her name, and like the other two,

her sparkling wit enhances how she shines–

All three, my sisters light the corners of

The universe: their other name is Love.digital artwork from an antique photo

Beauty Sleeps

Masked Olivia

The sleeping lady whose closed eyes

Conceal the wisdom of the wise

Contain the laughter children know

And barricade a world below

Keeps in closed eyelids cool release

And in her heart a realm of peacegraphite drawing

Dear Me! What was I Thinking When I Wrote That Thing?

graphite drawingHere Lies a Loon

Once upon a tombstone

I read an epitaph

whose sentiments ridiculous

were prone to make me laugh;

the information set thereon

gave me to ridicule

the marker and the makings of

some great exquisite fool;

now lest you think me callous and

a soulless Frankenstein,

you ought to know the coup de grâce:

the epitaph was mine.

Foodie Tuesday: Birthday Dessert (and Boy, Wouldn’t This Taste Great with Some Chocolate Ice Cream!)

He’s a wacky fella, my dad. One of his finest features has always been his excellent and distinctive sense of humor, and there was never any question that having a father who’s delightfully silly is one of the finest advantages a kid could have in her upbringing. No surprise that, with Mom being the sort of hospitality genius that everyone loves and Dad providing much of the comic relief in that hospitable package, our household was always a popular place among the friends and classmates of all of their children. Both were also compassionate and reasonable and practical parents, and I don’t have to tell you what a rarity that is in general, so our home was a kind of hangout-central among the school-kid cognoscenti.

Since today is the anniversary of the birth of that Hardest Working Dad in Showbiz, I am drawn to reminisce on the many years of service that my father has given as the resident chief goofus in our family.photoThat in itself is gift enough, but his life of service has always been so much broader and deeper than mere lightheartedness. As a pastor, as Chairman of the Board of Regents for a university, as bishop, and as president of a hospital board, among many other roles he’s filled in his life’s work, Dad has never taken his labors lightly, even when the best tool he had for doing any or all of these jobs may have most often been the humor he brought to the table. He’s just never been one for sitting around and letting the world rush on around him.

photoI wish I could say that I inherited a tenth of his sense of humor, let alone a hundredth of his ambition and work ethic. Instead, I guess I should thank him once again on his birthday for not only being a dandy dad but also helping to fill the requirements of the universe in these services where I may have left some gaping gaps. So thanks, Dad, from the bottom of my full heart, and may you have not only a very happy birthday but all the warmth and laughter that can be wrung out of many more years. Oh, and cake. And, since you clearly are your father’s son when it comes to all of the characteristics noted above and we all know Grandpa would have felt the cake was best completed with some, have your cake with a couple of sizable scoops of chocolate ice cream.

photo

Okay, this one’s not ice cream, but it’s chocolate dessert and it’s homemade. And it tastes pretty great, if you ask me. (1 ripe avocado, 1 ripe banana, 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and honey to taste, all blended together until the pudding is smooth.)