My father loved flowers; I’ve never left his shade.

There’s so much to write about this week—it’s completely mind-blowing!!!! So rather than grouse about cover-up DOJ reports, constant injustices in our tax codes, rampant, illogical behavior by large groups of Americans, I thought taking a quick look at the ‘Spring’ in Life’s force might do us all wonders! Thanks to my good friend and editor of this glob for ten years-Barbara. ( She’s responsible for corrections; I get the credit for errors.)

Meanwhile, please take a moment to view the incredible strength of the living force we all belong to on our planet. Truly, life is a wonder.

Cheers, and happy Spring! Keep blooming!

Franque23

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Goldfinch are dazzling to the eye, a 1/2 oz blaze of chirping, yellow color in the male, soothing greenish beige in the female. How, ever in the name of sanity, do these birds, no more that seven inches long, make the trip from southern Canada to Mexico or South Florida and back each year?!?!? They just do; it’s a wonder.

It started at my feeders about two weeks ago, around March 1st, with one or two Goldfinch standing on  my sunflower feeder. They’ll eat sunflower seeds, along with a diet of various wildflower seeds and even tree sap for energy, but they vastly prefer the taste of thistle.

I quickly ran out and bought several hanging socks and put four of them up.

Boom! A flock started to arrive over the course of the next few days. At first, I had four, then twelve at one time. Now? I have eight sock feeders up and about 38 to count at a time feeding on them. I suspect we have about 60 goldfinch hanging around in our yard.

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( These are pineapple plants in the background.) Goldfinch make a most pleasant sounding, high-pitched racket as they rest in trees before making their approach to eat. And their presence often attracts other birds we rarely see….

This is a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. I’ve seen the Downy and the Pileated* woodpeckers for years, and when they hit the feeder it’s quite a mess with sunflower seeds flying every-which-way, but this is my first sighting of the Red-Bellied woodpecker…. here’s a clipped photo so you can see much better how the bird looks.

Recently, I’ve gone to buying large bags of thistle to re-fill the store bought thistle full hangers they sell for about 5 bucks each. A twenty dollar bag of thistle will re-fill about 15 hanging socks…so it’s quite a savings.  Of course, the Goldfinch hang around for only about three weeks tops on most occasions , then they are off headed south or back up north as they are now for summer in southern Canada or the northern U.S.  This means you have to time your purchases just right or it’s easy to get stuck with thistle. These birds most likely will not eat any saved, old thistle during their next flew-through. Goldfinch are picky; they like the thistle seeds to be fresh.

 

I sit and watch the carnival of Goldfinch feed most mornings while they’re here.  But this shot is also to picture a super African violet growing right now by the window… neat.

Another sighting of a Catahoula being hypnotized by the Goldfinch. These windows are Shadow’s ‘TV’ and he loves it when the finch come to town.

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Shadow suffered  severe lacerations on his body on two occasions this year and both were at night in our fenced in yard. First, a foot long razor cut slit his chest through three layers of skin and then a longer, more severe laceration along his forehead and back the second time to the tune of 3200 dollars in vet bills-he’s lucky to have survived the second attack.

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I figured it was a large wild cat of some kind, and a similar attack happened to a larger dog living down the road from us two months ago. Both dogs were well confined inside fenced in yards and in each case the dogs did not even bark, but returned home with these massive injuries….the amazing night tripped photo below brings up another possibility.

Really? Just wow. I still lean to the large wild cat idea.

I’m thinking they’re about 18 finch in this picture.

It’s great to let go, relax, and watch these little birds bulk up for their up coming journey. At this point, the eight socks need to be re-filled every other day!!

Cheers from Spring in Florida, I hope. It can freeze even in April here in Northern Florida during some weird years. I think it was around 1980 when it snowed clear down to the Bahamas…so there’s that. I’m not looking that up, just winging the date from memory:-)

Franque23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here’s an interesting, reflective post by a family member. I love her use of observation and reasoning to reach her conclusion. All of us need to reflect and observe more: how were things and how are they now.  Why have things changed for the worse and how can we make things better?  Well founded conclusions need to be followed up with effective action. America, we can do this. I think a posting by the famous actress, Jennifer Lawrence,*(linked here and below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr5BPRYp8Mw) offers a glimpse into a successful process to bring about change.

Meanwhile, a family member, Cassie Anderson, wrote:

“I remember very clearly when I first noticed this. I was a home health nurse, in a patient’s house and they were watching the news. I hadn’t had cable tv for 14 years and back then the news consisted of the local Portland news stations. I remember my jaw dropping in disbelief as I heard FOX news in the background as I was doing wound care. I couldn’t believe the utter disrespect and tactless comments the people were saying about the president, (at that time, Obama). They were accusing him of being a Muslim (like it was a bad thing) and talking about his birth certificate, it was crazy to me! This patient was so engulfed in this channel that he had it on almost 24 hours a day. To him, this was normal and to me it was surreal. I thought news reporters reported unbiased facts and it was then I realized that this was clearly not the case. I continued to observe this pattern as I worked as an impatient nurse at the hospital. People would turn on their tv, directly to these “news” stations. They were used to this background noise of people arguing and debating fact less theories or the most recent gossip. Now it appears as though people are normalized to the blatant disrespect in the media and they don’t demand facts or evidence, false statements are forgotten and forgiven as soon as they are said. it’s still crazy to me. Now we have a President, The Leader of the United States, that is a walking example of this blatant lack of respect & dignity. Sadly, this is ok to many because they call it courage. To me, courage is the ability to filter yourself. Courage is the ability to do the research before you blabber. Courage is looking at all sides of a situation and seeking guidance from your cabinet and using your resources to seek truth and facts (not firing everyone around you that opposes you). Courage is taking that pause to do what’s ethically right and I think we have the media to blame for this shift on respect. Turn off your TV people! Save money and stop paying those ridiculous cable bills. It’s all propaganda and a form of brainwashing. Teach your kids respect, be kind to strangers and those that are less fortunate. Be thankful for what you have and actually try to improve the world around you. Go to Church or find some form of spiritual healing. It will change your perspective, for the better. This is what we need to focus on and stop buying into the crap on tv!”

Thanks again , Cassie, for posting.

Cheers

Franque23

 


There are many reasons I’m proud of our Franquemont family. This post below by, Dan Franquemont, is one of them. He writes distinctly to a point that seems to divide so much of our society at this day and age in American history.  The difference between Socialism, a free capitalistic market and democratic Socialism is well laid out by, Dan. And, this is very important for voters to know before terms start flying about as we approach our next Nation Election. Of course, the labeling war has begun and in many ways so has the misdirection from the Right and the Left.

Thanks again, Dan, for keeping us straight and on target.

The truth is that unfettered capitalism is as failing a system as any. For the last 50 years the largest corporations have had laws preventing monopolies and extremist capitalism undermined by chipping way at the restrictions which has led to the mess we are in. Just a little bit every few years. I am a capitalist but I recognize that it’s wrong to corner the market in one way or another and then charge whatever I want or to conspire with other providers to rig the pricing. That is essentially what has happened now. That is how drug price quadrupled over the past decade. It is what led to the system failure in 2008. Most rules of decency in capitalism (regulation) have been discarded and then they say they are just following the law and they are doing nothing wrong. With all of the layers of corporate organization no one has a conscience driving the morality of the corporation’s actions and there is no accountability. Meanwhile the middle class is shrinking. Unfettered capitalism is not sustainable. Regulated Capitalism is the only sane alternative. Some systems need more regulation than others. Healthcare companies, Internet companies, Information systems, Utility companies, Water, Land-use, and Food Supply come to mind as a matter of course. Socialism comes in to play in whatever we decide an unalienable right is. I say good health is not but healthcare is. I say access to power and clean water is. Safe roads and communities are. I say the food supply may not be contaminated either willfully or un-willfully. This is all socialism. When it is a free democracy, as is ours, it is democratic socialism.”

One Meme shows a family driving a car built at a government bailed out car plant, across government built roads using social security money to buy government price controlled gas to get to a State Park as they complain about any type of socialism…we have to laugh.

Cheers

Franque23

 


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Dogs are spirit given to our lives…. they know us, help us and protect us… There’s nothing like a dame was once a famous song…(Ha! Now-a-days it might get the deep six, thumbs down action I suspect)… Well yes, I say, there’s nothing like a woman, but there’s nothing like a dog as well:-) Not to equate the two!)

This is my dog, Shadow, smiling bright.

Try dog ownership if you haven’t; your heart-felt energy will enlarge and your life will be a richer experience. Although there are studies that find people who own and love dogs live longer, better, happier lives than those who don’t, there are also similar findings when people who associate with horses or pets of all kinds are compared to those who don’t.

My daughter on her horse, Toby.

Just a guess, but I’m thinking people who open themselves up to loving any or all kinds of life around them find fulfillment in their lives, while those who don’t short-change the scope and breadth of what their own lives might be.

I float better with Shadow in the pool…maybe.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13: 3 (NIV)

It’s interesting that this idea be termed , ‘A new command,’ at the time of Jesus, as though the thought had never been expressed before.

The American Zen teacher John Daido Loori shows us that Zen practice should include not only meditation, the study of Zen literature and liturgy, and moral and ethical action, but should also manifest in work, artistic, and everyday activities….

Basically, you could pick any major religion throughout the world and find the same advice: love one another. But, to expand this thought, Jesus never said it’s okay to kick the dog as you’re busy loving people. No, everyone and everything is included in, “Love one another…” Of course, Native Americans understood that all of creation is sacred.

What about wars? Wars happen; people are far from perfect.

Empathy is a one to one ratio. The more we notice the life around us and it’s living condition, the more empathy we feel. Turning a blind eye to the suffering of our human condition and our Earth’s situation does nothing but blind us. None of us can solve the world’s problems alone, but the pebble thrown into a lake analogy certainly applies. Every good or bad action we do is that pebble, and the ripples that spread out from its splash may reach shorelines, people and places, we can’t even see as we throw that little stone.

My advice? Be kind to yourself: be as good a person as you can be. If you do this, you will sleep easier at night. I’m thinking if we do manage to strive to do our best (hey-I think that’s a Boy Scout motto?) then we are less inclined to worry about the future. That future will come as it may but when it does we will know we’ve done our best. No worries; you’ve done everything you could’ve to improve life.

Take that leap of faith in love.

Alfred E Neuman: what me worry? I loved Mad magazine as a boy (like now) and my Southern Baptist upbringing aligned my understanding of these words with the church teachings to not worry. Thing is, in truth, the history of Alfred E Neuman’s face and its historical meaning  is something different altogether. In fact, Neuman’s face has been used at least since 1883…and to sell mince Plum pudding.

And, later on…

Worse, another version of Alfred E Neuman’s face was used by the Germans during world War II and captioned, “Kill the Jews.” Honest. (Not the picture above.)

So, my interpretation of Neuman’s, ‘What me worry,’ illustrates how what we think about things is related to our preconceived notions, and those notions are usually based upon what we’ve been taught to think. Self realization derived from observation and deduction is a bit skewed now in the human experience. We are taught to be who we think we are. Often, this is not the case at all.  Most often, we are people just like most, people with needs, wants, hopes, dreams and empathy but we’ve been subtly taught to turn off this understanding. We’ve been encouraged to turn a blind eye to the condition of humanity and our earth.

It’s time to turn ourselves back on.

It’s time to be joyful.

My sister, Sharon Franquemont, published a book, “You Already know What To Do.” * This book, published in nine languages throughout the world, makes many points but my favorite is the concept that intuition should be taught in schools as a subject. This way, we might help our children get in touch with themselves, their inner sense of life’s order and magnitude, and how their lives relate to all growth. The world would be a better place if society expressed a true interest in our inner selves and how that inner self relates to the world around us. Point: Dogs help people do this.

Having a dog, or any pet, helps us express love for something other than ourselves and, in turn, that pet loves us back. This way, people learn how love flows from us and back to us. We learn how good this exchange of love feels. Soon, and not depending on the amount of LSD or pot you’ve smoked in the 70’s, the notion that loving the people, the animals , the trees or even the rocks we pass returns love to us becomes less remote and, in fact, a real life experience.

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Let’s put a bow on this. Yes, try loving your neighbor, but it might be mastering that process is easier done if you start with loving a doggie, or pet of any kind…. good luck.

Cheers, and I hope the ripples from my pebble reach you at a most fortuitous time and in the best of light. Namaste; to your light.

Franque23

 

*https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0874779464/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0


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Hi, Shadow’s here to help me tell you about my year gardening since August 2018

It’s one thing to plant citrus and a garden on your property; it’s another to harvest. Of course, I love it all—I love to be in touch with the changing seasons, the sun angle, the forecast and amount of rainfall. Yep, I love it all. Why? I can’t exactly say. It’s work, that’s for sure. The ins and outs of gardening and growing fruit trees takes time, attention and execution at the right time. These are things that don’t wait for me to be ready but, rather, they have ways of telling me when they are. A farmer has to ,’snap-to,’ when it comes to planting and harvest time.

Case in point, this first picture above. Thing is, it was a mild winter, but one day they put out a 28 degree forecast for extended hours(never came to be at all) So, I raced out after work (I work til about 9:15 PM)with flashlight held in my mouth as I picked a hundred plus tomatoes before they froze. I also picked the lemons, large and small, eggplant, sage and basil….it was a hard night that ended about at midnight. I put these green ones into large super market brown paper bags, about twenty or so in each, and they ripen in them….Some will rot, but if you check every few days and pull out the ripening ones to put on a counter, you’ll get most of them ripe.

But that wasn’t the start of the season, a planting that was made in mid August.

I got a soft(small) crop of bush green beans this fall(why? When I’ve yielded twenty-three pounds recently-that’s farming) but the foot long Asian beans took off. Cheers for my one yellow squash! This was around Oct, 2018

 

The tomatoes starting coming in as well

I started an outside fence line of marigolds early on,,,and they might be part of the reason my tomato plants ended up nine feet tall with up to 25 tomatoes on them per bush in January..I’m not sure,, it may have been more due to this year’s endless growing season.

About this season…from August 2018 until now, Feb. 2019…I’ve never seen anything like it…The garden is still producing lettuce, collard greens, Kayla , and eggplant and a tomato or three here and there.

BTW– have you ever looked at an eggplant flower? Here’s one. I say hello.

Another gift of the weather is a robust growing season for the pineapples,,,.. I’ve about 40 plants growing here and there around the property,, and all from cutting off the tops of one’s I bought, or from a box full from Ward’s who gave me their top cutting on the day they cored their selection of pineapples for the public (you can call them to find out when they might have a box of cut-off tops)….do it.

To a great satisfaction, the pineapples may have done well so far this winter. They take two years to fruit, so getting thru a winter is a must for them… BTW– if you have never eaten a hand-picked ripe pineapple that’s truly golden  deep yellow, you’ve never really tasted one. That’s another thing that gardeners get back: the taste of fresh food ,, like the taste of food picked that day or a couple of days before eating is AMAZING…..much different than even from most farmer’s markets….

and oh, the Camellias—how wonderful. We’ve red and white. We need a blue, right?

Herbs are easy to grow, and don’t take much space. Pots on balconies work well, even. I do use mine fresh-that’s best, but you can dry them on tin foil in the sun to keep year round… just get them totally dried, and crunch them up into old spice bottles..so far, after several years, I haven’t had a problem with this method.

(Basil and a bit of Thyme)

Shadow follows me everywhere I go during the year,, whether I’m working the soil, picking oranges, or smelling flowers.. he is my, Shadow! How could I be so lucky to have gotten him?

Of course, when I read how much nutrients levels drop off from food so many days out of picking, or read about roundup being in our food chain, or any other added chemicals, it spurs me on to get the soil ready without chemical to plant, and then harvest. All of us in Florida, at least, should have a range of food planted around their dwellings—it really doesn’t take much space; just work, patients and some hand done bug squashing.

There’s nothing like listening to the birds chatter as hawks cry from above while being out there working the soil.

Greening is a major problem throughout much of the world now for citrus, and my small 2 acres or less is no exception.*  This means more work for me, and not only in that about 500 hundred citrus won’t ripen this year, but guess who has to pick up all that fruit off the ground? Oh yeah, full-time job now. What had been a 1500 piece citrus crop two years ago is now about 1000, and it will only get worse until the trees only bear blooms(which are heavenly) and sour fruit. But this is what it is.

I bring fruit to work for my workmates several times per week, Nov 1st thru about March 1st;…My grandchildren and their parents get more than they can eat, I think.  My neighbors all get fruit and my doctors do as well! Even my Tax guy gets some:-)  The mail guys and garbage technicians do as well….this makes it all worth the effort.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of planting a pecan tree…seems reasonable. Yes, there are blue berries and pears and apples as an option but, so far, I’ve found the squirrels like those options as well…and they clean out the pickin’s on them.

We recently put in Avocados and have two papayas growing that I hope make it.

Go ahead,,, look into planting this spring. Write me, if you like. Growth is a miracle; join in the effort.

Cheers, and keep growing.

Franque23

 

see you later…

*https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2016/10/12/citrus-production-continues-to-decline-in-florida


I’d split from work ready to let loose and let my freak flag fly! I’d a foxy old lady hanging at home; it was gonna be a gas(we’re pretty old…). I was sure she’d give me some skin. Can you dig it? Far out.

I’m not sure many of you know the phrase: “A spankin’ good time!” Yep, we used to say it and mean it in a fun way. So much has changed now-a-days, but this here tickle monster rumbles on!

I got home late last night after work to find my five grandsons sleeping over. You know what this meant! It was,’spanking time,’ for everyone! The mad scramble to escape ensued. I’m usually a tickle monster like my dad had been as I grew up, but, no, tonight these good kids needed the spankin’ of their lives to control the silence!!!

“Ah-run for your lives!” I heard their attack call loud and clear.

I saw their strategy immediately. They decided to form one huge pile of boys whereby only one would be left on top to get a pop on the butt! Even Shadow realized he’d better get in that pile, pronto!

It was an out of control battle, perfect for bedtime calm down moments—the kind my wife loves me to start. She doesn’t have to tell me this, I just know by using my secret, ‘Manly,’ instincts. Once she has read to the boys, snuggled them down to soft thoughts and music, it’s time for me to start an all-out rumble!!! Butt why does she always yell, “I’m calling a lawyer! I’m calling a lawyer!!”, at times like this?  Ha! That’s a funny thing to say, don’t you think? I never understand how this fits in to a rumble but as I always say, “To Each their own.”

Anyway…

I roared, I blew air out of my nostrils-that was horrible to do during pollen season-I approached with hands clapping with delight!

“But honey,” my wife explained,” They’ve been good all night!”

“Ha, ahaha, ah,,,,” Said the mean ol’ man, me, “All the more reason for the spankin!” (This is the best way to teach logic 101. I bet they do well in the subject).

More wiggling and screaming went on…butt not a one would get away from the tickle monster now gone raving, spankin’ mad!

At last, it ended as I knew it would from the ,’Daddy’s home,’ get-go. Arron, the youngest, known as the, ‘Padded one,’ was to be sacrificed. Bottom’s up!

Of course, this could only mean one thing of many. The fun-time rumble was over and now it was time to brush our teeth and begin the get-under-the-blanket wiggles, to begin the, no, don’t go into the kitchen, no, get off the floor, no, we aren’t watching t.v., no, we can’t go out, nope, this is not a time to draw!, we’re done eating—we’re completely done with food of any kind!  Yep, a new phase was upon us, the who’s sleeping where, in what room, on the floor or bed and with which brother or two ordeal of an hour longer had begun!

Then something happened…Me, as the last man standing as my wife snuggled on the couch, the house got spooky quiet. The quiet aliens had landed, slithered in the house and stolen all sound. The silence was loud, or maybe my ears were still ringing, yes, that was it. But none of that explained the aliens. I thought of waking my wife to consult about the quiet but I preferred to live.

The night had ended…sob.

Somehow, with the help of beer(s), I forgot about the aliens and went to sleep.

The next morning I awoke to two-year old, Aaron, standing in my doorway. “Goo morrring,” he beamed a smile.

The breakfast was basically the sound of morning children-birds who’d become a herd of munching faces. A pound of bacon, a dozen eggs and quart of home squeezed OJ consumed and heck, look!, we had room in our frig!?!?!

Then, the children went home; the sky cleared. I looked to my faithful buddy, Shadow, as he rested by the window, peacefully collecting himself after being roughed up the previous day  by the Bell gang of five. I looked at him lovingly; he looked at me.

I held up my arms and proclaimed it: ” It’s time for…..a doggie spanking!!!!”

“Wait! Did you say, “Doggie spanking?”

Cheers….nothin’ like having a, ‘spankin’ good time!’Please send any complaints about spanking to Santa Claus—but don’t mention my name.  I’m still waiting on the Lamborghini. Thanks.

Franque23

 

 

 

 


Sometimes, we might hear an idea and it just feels right.  We might go to a place, see a work of art, listen to music or experience a thought and our gut cries out for joy.  We’ve all had these moments and they always feel good; refreshing.

(This was done by my Niece, Megan Carlock. I used this as the background to the cover of my first book on kindle, Avatar Magic. Why? It feels right.)

Thing is, it’s not every day that we have these types of experiences; we don’t feel good every day, but could we?

Those who meditate often express a profound sense of peace when they do. But through many years now, only once did I ever meditate and feel a rod of energy sink from my stomach through my sitting butt while also stretching thru my head up beyond the sun and stars until my mind remained suspended in speeding air full of white clouds. It was  miraculous! Seven hours slipped by as though it were a minute. The last I remembered before awakening was the sun had warmed my face, the hard ground I sat upon softened, the wind blew and the waves were lapping the shore before me. I’d done it!

I stood up after that moment of seven hours keenly aware that I’d just experienced the most amazing moment of my life. So, did I go on to meditate daily, or most often? Of course not!  No. Not at all!

I went on to play music surrounded by clouds of pot smoke, to eat gobs of ice cream, cakes, candies, to slurp down drinks, step in dog poop, to laugh my ass off regularly with friends, to sit in ant piles, to become a man, have jobs, raise a family and be a dad, to hit my fingers with hammers, and, more importantly, seldom , if ever, did I mention my, ‘meditation moment.’ It’s interesting what can get left behind during the consumption of half gallons of ice cream and a busy life of waiting in lines, seeing doctors and having traffic accidents.

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So what?  Sure, I need new flip-flops, but what does any of this mean now? It’s all about grounding, a sphere of thought perhaps old- hat to many but new to me. See, in 1960 sneaker manufacturers started using synthetic rubber souls in a major way* and people were no longer,’grounded,’ to the earth as they walked as zombies through life. Maybe if I hadn’t read Wilhelm Reich’s** theory of, Orgone, in my mid-twenties I’d not be so keen on this theory of grounding now-I don’t know. Thing is, it’s a fact that Wilhelm Reich studies of the life force fields that surround our bodies and travel throughout our atmosphere and the entire universe were Earth shaking rattling! His ideas were so novel when compared to our basic understandings of life that the results of his work and his findings were sealed for 100 years! Let’s face it, the man was so threatening, especially his ability to make it rain which annoyed more than few neighbors, that he was jailed.

Then again, there’s this: so many say they don’t sleep well, or don’t  eat well, or have no energy during the day, or just can’t seem to focus, to thrive, to survive our environment’s one zillion pollutants or put up with so many different kinds of joint pains or people like me that it just might be there is one or a few underlining causes for all of our chronic conditions. Curious.

Could  what we wear on our feet or the asphalt we often walk on keep our bodies from experiencing the recharging effect the universes’ flowing electricity could give us on a daily basis? Are we short circuited from the recharging, magnetic flow of the earth’s electricity simply by what we wear on our feet? There are reports from studies that show merely walking barefoot for as little as one half an hour per day might alleviate many chronic symptoms so many people live through today.  Like that special place, special tune, the face you love, this idea feels right, and a bit like coming home after a long day at the office.

I used to run barefoot through the clover in the grass as a child.  Looking back, that all seemed to be about bee stings. Maybe, though, that was about one of the best things? My mom would ask as she dressed the sting, “Why do you run barefoot through the grass?”

All I could say is, “It feels right.”

Children say the darnedest( or darndest) things, but what do they know?

Here’s a link to an article about being grounded, the studies, and hypothesis.

*https://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/08/24/studies-show-what-happens-to-the-human-body-when-we-walk-barefoot-on-earth/

Cheers

Franque23

** Read about Wilhelm Reich,,,https://www.famousphilosophers.org/wilhelm-reich/

bye for now. ( View from our lake house in the Adirondacks.)

 


“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 193–206.)

 

The years have passed but reality still begs the question in my head: who was Eleanor?

The year was  about 1977 and the  Waldo Farmer’s and Flea market was operational. I recall a bigger horse standing at its entrance than the one they use now, pictured here.

But, the ads, “Look for the Big Horse,” were already running on T.V.

It was the start of a profitable 14 year-long  leather crafting career, a path filled with lean times that would eventually get lucrative. At the time, I crammed all I could into back packs and used my thumb to hitch the 13 miles from Gainesville to Waldo to rent five dollar per day tables to display my wares.

It’s true, I went for the money but in the process I learned the lingo needed to attract customers. I was from up North so I entered the realm of southern dialect from another world’s banter: slow worked better than NYC Jewish Deli ordering speed; a friendly greeting was mandatory; conversations about the weather were important. Selling leather as real leather fell flat compared to saying, “It’s Pure leather.” Items could not be broken but were ,’Subject to wear.’ Nothing lasted forever, but they could last for a ,”Good while.” These terms people believed.

There was another advantage to speaking slowly and taking my time when selling leather goods. I actually got to meet my customers and know their stories. This is how I got to know Eleanor…

Eleanor and her husband seemed to be from old money, English I gathered, and so proper. Age was the only thing that would’ve ever gotten the best of her. She often stopped by my table and bought hair barrettes. She’d talk about any improvements she noticed in my tooling,  better prices, or variety. It felt that they both liked to see a young man in his early twenties trying to make a go of it. I always believed they bought things to help me out. That was good, but there was another part to this seller/buyers deal that took place.

Inevitably, as I bantered with Eleanor she’d ramble a bit longer than her husband had patience for . He’d thump his cane, “Now, Eleanor, that’s enough now.”  Eleanor would clutch her purse, “Why, I’m just making conversation on this lovely day. ” Thump, thump, thump went her husband’s the cane. ” Come on, Eleanor, your wasting this man’s time and mine!” This difference of opinion would lead to quicker paced phrasing not so much of the agreeable sort until they both offered that being married too long was, well too long. Finally the pleasantly warring couple would move on having helped me out once more.

But there was another day, another conversation, one you need to read about.

Eleanor and her husband came strolling up to my booth on a weekend day like every other. Her husband had this annoying habit of whistling poorly as Eleanor picked up a few items to buy from my table. It was a surprise when Eleanor paid me and then pulled out an item I’d never seen…”Do you know what this is.” Eleanor asked with a gleam in her eye. “Eleanor, where did you get that?” Her husband seemed to laugh, but through the side of his mouth, as though this was not a laugh at all. Thump! went his cane. “Oh dear, you know I have these items.” Then Eleanor turned to me,” Well, do you know what this is?”

I took the item in hand. It was a clasp of sorts that opened and closed on either end all joined by an elaborate beaded straight 4 inch long center piece. The entire piece was no wider than five inches and it was heavily laden with small Amethyst looking stones throughout. “Well, it’s too heavy , too large to be a barrette?” I marveled at an object I couldn’t identify.

“Eleanor, leave this man alone. Now take that back and let’s go. I told you not to do this sort of thing.” The husband motioned to me that Eleanor was losing it—I figured their daily squabble was not far off.

“Eleanor smiled as she took back the object. “Well, one day this is something you will need. And,” Eleanor paused, “I think it’s the right color, too.”

“That’s it!” Stomped her husband. ” Go, Eleanor, go!” The husband push guided Eleanor away but then he turned and came back to me. “She just a bit nuts; pay no attention to her.” I watched him leave and take with him this memory forever, or so I thought.

Thing is, twenty-five years later, in 2000,  my wife and I bought house in Gainesville that featured fine Levonor blinds to cover the two front living room windows. They worked great until about 2008 when the apparatus seemed to break down. Soon, we just left them open and my wife added beautiful drapes we might close at night or open by day. Things went along fine until about 2012 when I noticed how much I disliked the two drapes remaining spread apart at the top when I tried to close them at night.

IMG_20190206_241524122 (1)

 

Bingo.  I looked at the color scheme of the drapes and remembered: “This is something you’ll need…and I think it’s the right color, too.” Eleanor’s words hit me like a cold arctic blast blowing on a hot summer day.

“There’s no way….” I stared in disbelief stunned by a memory that now stared me in the face. The butterfly clip Eleanor had showed me was for the purpose of holding the two tops of split curtains together when you spread them apart in the day.

Thing is, it’s been six years since that day. I’ve waited to tell this story, one I’ve thought often to not tell because it is too wild, not reasonable, undocumented, and also I’d waited so long tell it. Why? Well for 25 years the remembrance of the conversation meant nothing, it remained like an unmatched soggy sock in my head mixed in with so many other memories of selling over the years. Then, the match to the experience appeared before me in these curtains. It brought the conversation to my head as though a pin had pierced my brain.

“Something you will need one day…” Eleanor was certain.

“I told you not to do this sort of thing.” Eleanor’s husband.

“I think it’s the right color, too.” Eleanor had been right.

“Don’t pay attention to Eleanor; she’s a bit nuts.” Really?

I watched Eleanor and her husband walk away that day but now I wonder—did they? What is time, and how can someone see the future if it doesn’t already exist? There are thousand, maybe more, recorded situations where people have known the future, but how?

As to Eleanor? Perhaps, she was a bit nuts, I don’t know. But Shakespeare wrote it right: “Madness, but there is a method in’t”

Eleanor knew, but how? Who was she?

Franque23

Tell me, how did so many people know before hand not to board the Titanic? (look that up). What is time…?

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“Just keep the drapes open during the day and we’re good!” (Shadow…)


“We have to use time wisely.” I heard that.

 

(About 1973: Santa Fe Spring Art Show.)

The pillow’s story started for me with a 14 year-long leather crafting career. But it was not so for the pillow. No, the pillow had another story, one that found its way into my heart and mind to never forget. How could I ever forget?

 

I traveled to art shows in the southeast for the Southeastern Hand Crafter’s Association for about 6 years, between 1978 and 1984ish…Thing is, I was scratching to make a living back then—every dollar was counted and hard-fought to earn.  It was back then a plumber we would use at home for the next forty years told me, “I’ll charge you the lowest rate: you children are barefoot.”

 

That plumber was right.

 

Simply put, I was determined to make it and no amount of cramped fingers or sore arms could stand in my way of earning a buck. Unlike most exhibitors, I kept busy actually doing my leather work during show hours, making a racket hammering out belts while selling them to those who stopped by.  The noise from me tooling leather belts peeved some exhibitors—I don’t blame them. Perhaps, this is why an exhibitor, an elderly women, who sat stitching pillows as I walked through the exhibits caught my eye!

 

It was in the Bradenton Mall, Florida…

 

She sat behind her table piled high of hand-made pillows just stitching away.  Her head covered in grey hair mostly turned down to watch her stitch as she spoke; her fingers never stopped nimbly pushing her threading needle in and out of fabric she held tightly in hand. I felt an instant kinship with this fellow worker and struck up a conversation.

 

“How did you learn to make such beautiful pillows?”

 

There was a twinkle in her eye but also a soft , maybe sad smile of remembrance as she laid her work down in her lap and looked to my face.

 

“You’re the one tooling leather, aren’t you?”

 

“Yes. I can’t see wasting all my time just selling.”

 

She laughed, sighed and moved her head left and right. “Of course, we don’t have time to waste; we have to use our time wisely.”

 

The woman proceeded to tell a sad tale I hadn’t expected. She said she and her family had been rounded up by the Nazi’s and put into a concentration camp—Auschwitz—I recall her naming the place. It is perhaps the only name I would’ve recognized of all the concentration camps. She quickly added that her entire family, sisters and parent had died in the camp—she alone, a young teenager, had been strong and able to survive the torture of the camp. Her younger sisters and older parents were either too young or too old to make it through.

 

It seemed were it not for this woman’s stitched pillows she might be alone. Silence fell between us, then she spoke again.

 

“I was freed and located in a home of sorts but there was rent to pay and I had little money and no jobs were to be found.”

 

I flashed on a town filled with rubble and debris just after the war had ended. I’d seen pictures of so many European towns left in ruins in my dad’s set of World war ll encyclopedias.

 

“The only thing I had was the memory of mom teaching me how to sew by hand with needle and thread.”  Her words flowed easily and set me adrift as though on a stream. She picked up her material again and started to stitch. “I had nothing but that memory, then. I searched through discarded materials throughout town and collected pieces of fabric and anything to use as stuffing.  My first pillow sold on the street for an amount equal to one week’s rent.”

 

“That must have been tough.”

 

“Well,” the woman smiled my way once more, “I heard my mother teaching me how to stitch as I worked, so pillows gave me comfort.”

 

“I’m sorry you had this happen to you and your family.” I thought my life had been difficult up to that moment-Ha! What a laugh !

 

“It’s not your fault.” the women sighed briefly. “I never stopped collecting thrown out fabric to use until I’d gained enough to buy new or used materials to fashion more pillows.  There was a furniture factory nearby; thrown out stuffing was to be had.”

 

At the time, I pictured her as a child of twelve when she was in the Nazi Camp. I tried to imagine what that must have been like…

 

Pillows in her finished pile varied in theme but ones with birds drew my attention.  My dad had a particular love for birds and knew their names and songs. The pillows were not cheap. I traded two 12 dollar hand-made leather belts for two matching bird pillows.

 

I never saw the woman again, but gave the pillows to my mom and dad who placed them on their living room couch for 25 years. Finally, one of the two became very worn and was thrown out.

 

My mom died in 2011 and one of the few things I kept from her home was this pillow. I stashed it in my bedroom closet where I saw it for six years every time I opened the closet door . Time to time I would pick up the pillow and hold it. I’d think about the woman who had made this pillow, about her life, her struggle, her beautiful art work and her success.

 

Then, I’d hear the pillow come to life. “I was a young girl; my family all died.” Silence. “The one thing I had was my mom teaching me how to sew.” I’d hold the pillow close. “There was a furniture factory nearby; thrown out stuffing was to be had.”

 

One day while holding the pillow it came. There was a flash, and I knew that I had to give this pillow to a lifetime friend, Marc, who’d spent much of his adult life working in Jewish affairs in the NYC area. He was the one this pillow had to find now.

 

 
“We have to use our time wisely.”

 

I got the pillow to, Marc, as soon as I could. And it’s good. I believe it’s now in a holocaust collection, safe, still well made, still there, speaking for its maker, a survivor.

 

None of us should ever forget.

 

Franque23

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