I’m releasing another book, and it’s not for everyone. It’s a memoir about my mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease and it encompasses the: frustration, guilt, fear, resentment and discouragement a daughter (me) experiences when she watches her mother’s decline. It’s also about dancing.
Mother started dancing as her inhibitions diminished with her disease. Her caretakers have been known to call her the Dancing Queen! Did you know that dancing releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our body? Dancing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, something we could all benefit from, right? I’m not saying she’s ready for the stage, but you’d be impressed by her shimmy.
My mother is one of 5 million Americans living with this disease. If you’re like me, that number means nothing to you. My mother, on the other hand, means everything to me. This is our story. It was difficult to write and “our song” continues to play. The memory care she lives in is on lockdown from the Corona virus.
Do you know what a virtual hug looks like?
An aide arranged a video chat for us. When Mom saw me on the screen, her eyes filled with tears, she reached for the phone, and then pulled it to her chest. I could almost touch the individual cotton fibers of her shirt. Next the phone traveled upward, allowing me a close-up of the parchment-thin skin on her neck and the lavender-colored veins running under its surface. She held me against her neck for some time, murmuring words that didn’t make any sense. It didn’t matter if I didn’t know what she said…I felt the love.
Dance with Me is available on Amazon.
If you are interested in the book, would you write a review? If you have a loved one with Alzheimers, include any tips you have for staying connected to someone who is disappearing before your eyes. I’d appreciate any ideas. Truly.
Let me tell you that writing a scene can be tough. Describing characters. Building tension. Reaching that happy ending and my favorite…finding a hook that keeps you interested in reading the next book.
Do you know what is also hard? Everything else associated with writing.
It’s the minor details.
Each time I write a new book, I load it on various sites. Goodreads, for an example. I add the details: my name, title, length of book, etc. and I wait.
Typically, it will inform me that the book "cannot be found" or the "author is unknown". Ouch.
But with Akbar’s Diamond, the book loaded immediately. It did the same on Bookbub.
Next, I tried to raise the book rank on Amazon. There are millions of books on Amazon so getting a book noticed is difficult. I went to Facebook and asked my friends and family to order the book. I did an interview with Book Drive for Kids. I reminded everyone when the book was released and it happened!
Akbar’s Diamond reached #15 in new releases of Dragon, Unicorn and Mythical Stories and #19 in Children’s Fantasy (I saw my book on the same page as Rick Riordan’s. I can die happy now.)
I want to say a big thank you for everyone who has:
Ordered a book
Beta read a book and pointed out errors
Encouraged me to keep writing
Took the time to write a review
Read the book for FUN.
I appreciate ALL of you more than I can say.
I was taking a yoga class before the world shut down. I chose yoga to increase my flexibility and within weeks I could bend at the waist and plant my palms on the floor. I wanted to be stronger, improve my balance, and I was starting to see improvements.
During class I realized that my goals were side benefits to what they were trying to teach me. The instructors kept emphasizing the importance of breathing. I’ve been breathing for a long time, and I’ve never paid attention to it, but they urged us to feel the texture of our breath and let our breath flow in and out of our bodies like a tide. As I inhaled and exhaled, I focused on the movement of my breath until ….
The instructor called out positions that were difficult to hold, required more strength or balance than I was capable of. Before I could maneuver my arms and legs in the right position, the instructor announced the next pose. Their recommendation to anchor myself with my breath seemed ludicrous.
The class was cancelled, but I didn’t forget the lessons. I’m doing the Downward dog and the Mountain pose. Struggling with the warrior poses. I’m keeping flexible and working on my balance.
What about the breathing you ask?
I keep coming back to that in my head. Wondering why breathing was the center of the attention. Breathing centers us. Focusing on breathing enables us to rise above our primitive responses and take control of our emotional responses. What if the positions and one-legged stances are purposeful distractions? What if we’re supposed to learn to remain committed to our breath, despite what is happening around us and to us?
And then I looked at it from a bigger perspective. Life forces you into difficult positions, pulls from you more strength than you believe you have, and it throws you off balance. It’s happening right now. So what can you do when the world turns you upside down?
My husband and I were talking this morning about the impact of the Corona virus on our society. He’s an optimist and actively seeks to find the positive in situations that appear pretty dire at first glance.
He travels extensively and believes that this virus will reframe his business. Vendors and buyers will adapt to conducting more business online. It will decrease our carbon footprint, and he won’t have to spend as much time on the road.
My first thought, selfishly, was finding a way to store more toilet paper— I didn’t plan this well.
More restaurants, he says, will deliver or offer curb side pick-up, and families will eat at their own tables. People, who rarely left their houses in the past, are craving walks outside and they’re meeting their neighbors for the first time. Families and communities will both benefit.
My second thought was salad. Fresh vegetables don’t last long in the refrigerator and we aren’t going to the store as often as we used to. My supply line has been threatened. I’m planning a garden with herbs, tomatoes, lettuce.
Fashion will take a hit. Your hair/clothing/shoes/purse lose their importance when no one else sees them.
Parents will get a close up view of their child’s study habits and will be part of of their child’s academic support network—instead of expecting the teacher to take sole responsibility.
I’ve been thinking about the importance of our money. (it’s not as self-centered as you’re thinking) Our retirement savings took a hit, but so did everyone’s. I meant that I’m spending our money more thoughtfully. What I choose to have for dinner tonight, for instance, can have an impact on a local business. It’s always been that way, but I have to admit, I didn’t sense the gravity until now. Buy Local has taken on a whole new meaning.
I’m trying to be like my husband and take this as a pivot point in my life. I’m focusing on my breathing (doing more yoga), giving thanks for my family and friends, getting creative with the items in my pantry and trying to live each day like it was my last. Just in case it is.
What’s your pivot?
When you make a major move, things go missing. You have to expect it. In my case it was random items--two cutting boards, all of my socks, my mom's scissors (I went into a panic but after days of searching, I found them) and the bottle of Spray 'n Wash. I went to Wal-mart to stock on on cleaners and was picking this off the shelf when I heard a voice from behind me.
"Does this smell bad to you?"
I gotta say, I closed my eyes and winced. It's been my experience that if someone asks that question, you both already know the answer. I was wrong.
She held a bottle of fabric refreshener and wrinkle remover and she tilted it in my direction. It smelled pretty good.
"Some of them smell awful." She waved her arm toward the shelves and then explained. "Not everyone has the luxury of washing their clothes whenever they like. I like to use this in between so that my clothes smell fresh."
She didn't have the luxury of getting her hair professionally done either. I could see remnants of the hair dye she'd used earlier that day on her temples.
She didn't ask for money. She was earnestly trying to find the right product. I've been to a laundromat, and it can be quite expensive to wash and dry your clothes, but I'd forgotten that until she reminded me.
I guess this was God's reminder to me of how fortunate I am. All of my appliances work. I stay warm when it's cold, the dishes are clean when I take them out of the dishwasher and I'm able to wash and dry my clothes any time that I want. I may grumble when I have to make another trip to the grocery store, but I can afford the food.
Outside of the all the material things, I have a wonderful family and incredible friends. Chances are, if you're reading this, you fall into one of those lists.
Thanks for being in my life.
It’s been 98 years since the race riots in Tulsa. (You can read about them in my last blog here)
What has changed?
In 1996, the Greenwood Cultural Center was opened. Their goal is to recreate, renovate and revitalize the Greenwood district that was destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre (called the Black Wall street by author Booker T Washington). The website refers to the event as a massacre instead of the more common title of “riot”. The goal of the center is the education of Oklahomans and Americans—remembering both the victims and the survivors.
In 2016, an article in Tulsa World (95 years later), said there was still room for improvement. Marq Lewis (head of We the People Oklahoma) said the “historic African-American areas are desolate. They need economic improvement, more school improvement, more grocery stores... “ He concluded by saying “Tulsa is a city divided by races that do not commingle.”
In 2018, for the first time, Tulsa schools added education about the event to their curriculum.
Now, let me tell you about a guy.
George Kaiser, according to Wiki, is the Chairman of BOK Financial and one of 100 richest people in the world. His parents left Germany due to the Nazi occupation and they settled in Tulsa and started Kaiser Frances Oil together with other Jewish refugees. Along with being one of the richest men in the world, Kaiser has a reputation for being a philanthropist on the level of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. He’s committed to giving half of his money away in a “Giving Pledge”. His special interest is childhood poverty and education, but what I wanted to tell you about is a playground.
The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a 66 acre park with playgrounds, parks, skateparks, concert venues and restaurants. It’s ADA compliant and it has desensitization areas for people who have autism and get overwhelmed.
And it’s all free.
The park was Kaiser’s idea. He wanted to turn the waterfront area into a site where Tulsans could get together. His dream turned into the largest private gift to a public park in the US history. The Gathering Place provides safe areas for children to play, adults to meet for coffee, and families to enjoy music or fireworks.
But perhaps the best part of all is the diversity of people that gather together to enjoy the new park. Maybe healing doesn’t begin with talk…maybe it begins with play.
Do you remember Tiananmen Square?
Let me remind you of the 1989 incident. Chinese students became frustrated by inflation, corruption and political restrictions so they started protesting and conducting a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square.
In response, the government declared martial law. They sent the military to Beijing—soldiers with machine guns and assault rifles. They attempted to clear the crowds, but protesters responded with shouts and projectiles. Violence from both sides escalated until the army opened fire and began killing both protestors and bystanders.
The government expelled foreign journalists and sought to control coverage of the event in domestic newspapers. As a result the true death count is unknown, but according to estimates from various sources, the figure could be anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand.
I remember when it happened and my first thought was that something like that could never happen here.
But it did.
Last Monday, scientists and forensic anthropologist started searching for mass graves in Tulsa, a result of a race riot that occurred almost 100 years ago. I didn’t remember learning about this episode in US history, so I did some reading.
According to Wikipedia, it happened like this…
Dick Rowland, a black shoeshiner, was accused of assaulting a 17 year old white elevator operator. No written account of her statement has been found. She did not press charges and the police did not feel it was an actual assault. However…
A local sensationalist newspaper released a story titled “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in an Elevator” and they implied that Rowland may be lynched (killed, usually by hanging).
White people showed up at the courthouse. The sheriff organized his staff and took steps to keep Rowland safe. Three white men entered the courthouse and demanded that the police turn over Rowland. The sheriff refused.
The black community were worried about Rowland’s safety. They took up rifles and shotguns and also went to the courthouse. Seeing the armed black people, more whites went home for their weapons. The police and local ministers tried to de-escalate the crowd but they failed. A gunfight took place killing several white and black men.
Gunfights continued through the night. Fires were set in the Greenwood district, also known as “Black Wall Street”. Privately owned aircraft, possibly carrying law enforcement, dropped firebombs on buildings and fleeing residents.
The National Guard declared martial law and were successful in stopping the violence.
Here’s where the details get fuzzy. Newspapers covering the event had wildly different accounts of the casualties. Typically both whites and black deaths were listed between 10-25. The Red Cross mentioned up to 300 dead but some now believe thousands of blacks died.
Also lost were almost 200 businesses, several churches, and over a thousand houses which left 10,000 black people homeless.
Six thousand black people were arrested but no whites were prosecuted for their actions during the riot and decades went by with no acknowledgement of the incident. As late as 1970’s, local newspapers were still refusing to publish articles regarding the riots.
Maybe that’s why I’d never heard of this before....
You can watch a short clip about it here.
The Avett Brother's said it well...
I've been to every state and seen shore to shore
The still open wounds of the Civil War
Watched blind hatred bounce back and forth
Seen vile prejudice both in the south and the north
And accountability is hard to impose
On ghosts of ancestors haunting the halls of our conscience
But the path of grace and goodwill is still here
For those of us who may be considered among the living
from the Avett Brother’s album: “Closer Than Together”
Ragnar is an artist whose work is installed in the Dallas Museum of Art. His last name is patronymic. (I didn’t know what that meant either) A patronym is when you incorporate a portion of your father’s name into your own name. Like Johnson, for “son of John”. So I think the second portion of his name means “son of Kjartan”. According to Wikipedia, it’s not actually his family name. Interesting.
Wikipedia says he does video installations and “collective emotion is a hallmark of his practice.”
Nine screens are suspended in a dark hallway in the DMA. Each screen is shot within a different location of the same house. A musician may be sitting at a piano in an elaborate living room or strumming on a guitar in a masculine study filled with books with similar colored spines. A group is gathered on the porch in another video, singing behind a disinterested man beneath an umbrella.
It’s easy to get distracted by the scenes that unfolds in front of you.
I wondered if the man playing a guitar partially submerged in his bubble bath would ruin the instrument. I questioned why some rooms appeared extravagant and in others, the paint was chipping. And what was that man doing in front of the porch…was he symbolic of something?
It takes a moment to realize that each musician is wearing headphones and is creating the music I am listening to. Without seeing each other, or even being in the same area, the melody rises up, drifts back down again, in perfect unison.
It’s beautiful. Haunting.
You should definitely go see it.
What’s the lesson? In the beginning, I was caught up in the visuals. The superficials. I worried about insignificant details and didn’t recognize what was happening.
Ragnar allows you to be a part of the emotional experience of the music. It’s a sensory experience unlike anything I’ve ever done.
You should definitely go see it. (It’s free!)
I've been busy. Not just a little busy. More like hustling to keep my task list from pouring down over me like a tsunami. Slaving to pull myself out of this swamp of duties. You get the idea.
So I've backed off of the blog. Sorry about that!
But what I haven't stopped doing is writing about a new story centered in India. This tale has been swirling in my head for some time and it has more than a fair bit of monsters, mythology and magic. It goes without saying, there will be unicorns, too.
It won't be just one book. Nope. Pack your bags. We might be gone for awhile and I can already tell that India won't be our only destination...
As penance for my lapse in blogs, I'm giving you a taste of what's coming next:
Augustus Hithersby adjusted his notes and looked over his reading glasses at the audience before him. “The Roman author, naturalist and philosopher, Pliny the Elder was probably actually describing a rhinoceros when he said that the unicorn had ‘the feet of an elephant’ and ‘the tail of a boar.’ He described the horn as black, instead of the more common white color demonstrated in most art works. Pliny, you’ll remember, wrote the Naturalis Historia, the model for later encyclopedias. He was an investigator of botany, zoology, astronomy, and geology, so his writing has credibility. But while Pliny and the rest of the Romans reference unicorns in their literature, it’s not likely the same creature we think of in modern times.”
Augustus clicked the remote and a slide appeared overhead with a rhinoceros on the left and a unicorn on the right.
“What about the Greeks? Multiple accounts of the animal were found in their study of natural history. Do you know where they believe the unicorns originated from? I’ll give you a hint…It’s the final stop on my speaking tour.” Augustus smiled when a young woman in the second row called out the answer. “India! That’s right. India was regarded as a land of magic and the unicorn was considered a mysterious creature that commanded respect.”
Augustus took a sip of water and winked at his wife in the front row. She’d always been constant fixture in his lectures, sometimes the only occupied seat in the auditorium. Octavia smiled back at him with a sparkle in her eyes. Her face might have a few more lines and her hair might have a hint of silver—wisdom locks she’d informed her husband—but she was the best wife and research assistant that a man could hope for.
“Does anyone know what makes unicorns different from any other mythological creature? Anyone?” He paused theatrically, adding suspense, he hoped, to his presentation.
“There’s no myth associated with the unicorns. None. There are stories about centaurs and winged horses, minotaurs and Medussas, but no stories centered around unicorns. Just like there are no myths about rhinoceros or elephants. Various cultures around the world describe the unicorn as if they’re describing any other animal that walked the earth. It’s clear, they considered the unicorn a real beast.”
“But a beast with an important difference. In all civilizations, and all time periods, the unicorn was both revered and respected. A symbol of purity and goodness.” Augustus raised one brow and tapped his finger on the podium for added emphasis. “So the questions remain…Were they real? Could they have actually existed?”
“I’ll take a few questions and then I’ll have to go.”
A man in the back stood up, but Augustus was quick to stop the man when he started talking. Putting a cupped hand by his ear he said, “Louder, please. My wife claims that I forget what she says, but I suspect that I don’t always hear the dear woman.”
Augustus scratched his beard as the man posed his question and then he sorted through computer files until he found what he was looking for.
“Ah, yes. There is a theory that those pictorial representations only show one horn because we’re seeing a side profile. That the closer horn obscures the second horn. Let’s take a look at an example of that.”
A plaster relief of a unicorn appeared on the wall.
“Here,” he demonstrated with a pointer. “Look at the detail of the billowing mane on this Roman etching. Two front legs. One horn.” He squinted, studying his own slide for a second, before clicking to the next image.
“French tapestry from around 1500 AD. We can see the profile of the body, but the head…see how it’s turned to look at the viewer. One horn.The craft of both of these pieces goes against the argument that the artist did not incorporate a second horn.These have dimension, they are not simply flat pieces of art. Presumably, like the legs in the first example, the artist could have included a second horn if one existed.”
He acknowledged the woman with the note pad when she stood up next. “Thank you, madam, for speaking up so that I could hear you.” He flashed a mock stern expression at his wife. “Do you see how well that works when a person speaks loud enough so that they can be heard?”
“The argument about the unicorn being a composite of other animals is a common theory, but it’s got one rather large flaw.” Augustus caught himself staring over the rows of faces, still finding it hard to believe so many people were interested in his research. The sound of his wife clearing her throat brought him back to his subject.
“There were no horses or camels in the Indus Valley so what could that composite be based on? By the way, the Indus valley is what we now refer to as the modern countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and a large part of India. Excavations of the Indus Valley have been primarily in Harappa, a small town in the Punjab province of India. The site is thought to be 8,000 years old—older than the Egyptian sites that we’ve uncovered thus far.”
“What did they find there? Great question. Fascinating stuff.” Augustus brought up another slide. “This. It’s a unicorn seal that’s currently in the museum in Karachi.”
He switched to another image, his voice growing more and more animated. “Here’s another…and another. Harappa is the hot spot for unicorn research right now.
When he switched his attention away from his own slides and back to his audience, he saw that his wife was waving to get his attention.
“Ah, it looks like my time is up. My wife is pointing at her watch and giving me that universal ‘look’ that all husbands around the world recognize. I’m a smart man and I’m going to prove it by stopping now. If you’re interested you can read ‘The Harrappan Unicorn in Eurasian and South Asian Perspectives’. You can find the article in Current studies of Indus Civilization. Should be easy to find. Thank you again for your kind attention.”
“Do you have your bag? This might take a bit of time.” Augustus patiently stood by the door of their hotel room waiting for his wife to gather her things. “You can always go shopping if you’d like instead. I know this must be dreadfully boring. It’s just important for me to be prepared before the last big lecture.”
Octavia pointed to the bag already hanging from her shoulder and then finished fastening her earring. “You know I like to pick my seat in advance.” she teased. “I’m going to have to start fighting off your groupies if I want to be anywhere near you.”
“There’s not much in here.” Augustus peered in her bag before slinging it over his own shoulder. “You sure you have everything?”
“I don’t need much. Water bottle. A few books to read. Yarn.”
Augustus rolled his eyes. Knitting was his wife’s latest preoccupation. Fortunately, her failure was so spectacular that she’d yet to finish an entire row. So he’d didn’t have to worry about disappointing her by not wearing the sweater she’d planned. In the meantime, he’d been jabbed more than a few times by the needles she’d left laying around the house. “I’m not sure we’re going to have that much time…maybe you want to leave the yarn here?”
He shook his head this time. She’d recently been on a chat room for knitters and discovered that a non-knitter was referred to as a muggle. She thought the term outrageously funny and had been referring to him like that ever since. Please let this obsession end soon.
She pushed the elevator button before he had a chance. “Do you have your list?”
He waited while she walked through the open doors. “Don’t need it.” The door closed and the elevator started its descent. “By now, I’ve got everything memorized.”
“Podium. Screen. Electricity…”
“I remember. My laptop is fully charged but we’ll check and see where the nearest plug is too. Just in case.”
“And let’s make sure that someone can help in case…”
“We have a temperature problem in the auditorium. He put his hand on her back and guided her out to the lobby. “You almost froze in Italy. What was that thermostat on anyway? By the time I finished by lecture, I could swear that everyone’s lips were blue.”
“That reminds me. I’ll pack a sweater in my bag for tomorrow. Just in case.”
“The National Museum, please.” Augustus waited till his wife got into the car and then slid in next to her.
“Visiting, Sir?” the driver asked.
“Preparing for a lecture tomorrow,” his wife answered. “He’s been invited as a special guest speaker.”
Augustus hid his smile at the obvious pride in her voice. It was only recently that unicorns had become a serious topic of interest and not simply a child’s toy.
“Very good. I’ll have you there in no time.”
It wasn’t long before the car pulled up in front of a curved tan building with gold letters announcing the National Museum. Red steps, divided by round columns, led to the front doors. Augustus helped his wife out of the car before pulling out his wallet to pay the driver, but the man waved the money away and slid back into the car.
Augustus still held the money in his hands as the driver pulled away.
“Did you notice his eyes?” Octavia asked.
“What? Wonder why he didn’t take any money. Eyes? Now that you mention it…”
“Startling blue, weren’t they?” Octavia turned when his hand directed her toward the steps.
They’d only climbed a few when Augustus heard his name.
He thought about ignoring the voice. He had an agenda this morning and it was important to make sure everything ran smoothly tomorrow. But his wife didn’t seem to agree.
“Augustus, that man is trying to get your attention.”
The stranger came to a stop beside them. “I was right? You are Professor Hithersby?”
“That’s correct. What can I help you with? I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of time.” From the looks of the man, he was likely another wanna-be archeology student. He was younger than one would think of a university student, wore a faded tee-shirt over jeans, and spoke with an accent that implied he was a local.
“A thousand pardons, but I wonder if I might disturb you for a moment to examine a few photographs? I’ve been sent this by my brother and I’d like your opinion. He found this at a market and purchased it and we both think that it’s possibly from the region of…”
The photograph was of a golden deer and the workmanship was exceptional. There were several different view points, some close-ups of the detail of the twin horns that flowed over the length of the animal’s body.
“Where did you say your brother found this?” The artifact was stunning, but also familiar. Something tugged at the back his mind.
“A market outside the city.”
Augustus held the photograph a little further away and then used his opposite hand to search his pockets for his glasses. He glanced to the left, where his wife stood a moment ago, but she was gone. She usually carried his spare pair in her purse and he squinted at the photograph trying to make out the details. So familiar. His fingers touched the familiar lens of his glasses just as he was about to call out his wife’s name.
Must be exploring the statuary on the sides of the building. It wasn’t unusual for Augustus to get called away from his wife’s side and she’d gotten quite good entertaining herself.
The image came into sharp focus once his glasses were in place. “This isn’t from India.” He tapped the photograph with his finger. “I’ve seen this somewhere….” This time he spun and called out for his wife. “Octavia, come look at this photograph, would you?” It was when he looked down again at the golden deer that he knew. “The golden deer of Zhalauly, that’s what this is,” he said with satisfaction. “Zhalauly is in Kazakhstan.”
When he looked up, he expected the man to look disappointed, but instead he was looking somewhere past Augustus. And he looked pleased.
“Interesting story. A bunch of children found a felt sack lying on the side of the road, presumably brought in by snowmelt waters. Inside…golden treasures like this.” He was in the act of returning the photograph when something dawned on him. He held the photograph up again and examined it closer. This was no random photo taken by someone who had an interesting find at a market. This was a professional shot. The black background, the reflection of the light on the gold, it looked like Oleg’s work.
In the corner of the shot, it looked like the characteristic…
“Look here, sweetheart, doesn’t this look like Oleg’s work?” He called out louder since she didn’t hear him last time, but she still didn’t appear. It was closer to the time when the museum would open and more and more people were milling around the stairs, waiting to enter the building. He spun around, feeling a tightness in his chest.
“Octavia!” he called out, anxiety making his voice a little higher in pitch. “Did you happened to see where my wife…” When he turned around, he only caught a glimpse of the young man’s back as he faded into the crowd.
Augustus Hithersby was alone and his wife was no where to be found.
If you're interested, stay tuned. Or better yet, sign up for my newsletter to get updates on upcoming books HERE.
Not long ago, I read about Maurice the Rooster.
He lives in Saint Pierre D’Oleron in France and he’s caused quite the uproar. Vacationers, renting a home near Maurice, were disturbed by his morning vocalizations and wanted it stopped. So they took him to court.
Stopping a rooster from crowing is not an easy task to accomplish as it turns out. Researchers in Nagoya University of Japan discovered that roosters don’t need light cues to start making noise. They kept the roosters in dim light and despite the lack of changing brightness—roosters still crowed on 23.8 hour cycles. (Current Biology March 18). Putting Clarice in an unlit shed wouldn’t do the trick.
Aside from an understanding of the circadian rhythms of roosters, it brought up the problem of intolerance. Which, by definition is, an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs or behaviors different from your own. Picking the countryside to vacation and being intolerant of the very creatures that define a countryside is a problem to me. It took two years in the courtroom, but Maurice eventually won the right to crow.
There’s more to intolerance than I realized. Apparently Intolerance is also 1916 Silent Film directed by DW Griffen and it’s regarded as one of the great masterpieces of that era. It follows four story lines (Babylonian, Judean, Renaissance and Modern) and it demonstrates man’s persistent intolerance through time. A leading film critic of the time, Theodore Huff, called it the only motion picture worthy of standing beside great works of art like Beethoven’s 5th or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97%.
It sounds like something I should check out, but I’m not really fond of silent films. Hmm, does that make me intolerant?
Sometimes it feels like there’s no escape from all the drama, unhappiness, and intolerance…but then I read this.
In Bhutan, between India and Tibet, they’ve come up with a concept called the “Gross National Happiness Index”. As the article points out:
"When we say Gross National Happiness, it is not the celebrative 'Ha ha -- Ho ho' kind of happiness that we look for in life," Lotay explained. "It only means contentment, control of your mind, control of wants in your life. Don't be jealous with others, be happy with what you have, be compassionate, be a society where you can be more than happy to share.
In Bhutan, they measure happiness.
It sounds a bit crazy right? They do regular surveys that pay attention to health, education, governance, ecology, time use, community vitality, living standards and psychological well-being. And they developed a clear plan to approach what they saw as deficiencies.
Is it working?
It sounds like it is. They produced a politically and economically stable environment, increased the life expectancy of the their residents, protected wild-life, banned tobacco and plastic bags and increased access to both healthcare and education.
That’s certainly something to crow about.