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The thrift shop djinn

I swear to you this story didn’t come out of a bottle.  It may have gone back into one at some point but I didn’t drink a drop before this happened.

I was poking around my favorite thrift store, a place called Savers, when it happened.  My phone vibrated.  Now, that’s not the most unusual occurrence but I hadn’t paid Cricket their monthly due in over a month, had ten dollars to my name, and was in this bargain hunter’s paradise hoping to pick up something decent for a job interview I had the next day.  In order to get to the blouses, though, I had to go past the knick-knack section and this was when my phone vibrated.

I pulled out the little LG flip phone (currently carried only for its ability to call 911) and looked at it, puzzled.  It vibrated again.  I had a new message.

Damn Cricket, I thought, they’re probably just warning me I’m about to lose my number in however many days unless they get their $35 US.

I opened the phone.

Over here, in the glassware, said the text.

Say what?  I looked around the store, wondering if someone was playing a prank on me.  I was new in town, didn’t have friends yet, and it had taken longer to get a job than I’d expected.  So nobody who could play that kind of prank, and anyway the phone was shut off.

The phone buzzed again, I checked it.  It’s no prank.  Look in the glassware section.  I don’t know why but the unadorned letters almost seemed impatient.

With little better to do on this sunny Saturday, I walked into the glassware section.  Unsure of what I was supposed to find, I scanned the shelves, seeing the usual assortment of water glasses, bowls, mugs with dumb sayings on them, mismatched dishes, wine glasses far finer than most here would ever need, and other barely identifiable bits of glass, plastic, and ceramic.

The phone vibrated again, harder this time.  Look down.

I looked down, then crouched, reached into the back of the bottom-most shelf.  There, among stacks of institutional stoneware, was an ornate bottle of blue glass with metal traceries.  It was just short enough to fit.  I carefully pulled it out, looked at what I’d found.  It was like one of those touristy “made in Cairo” glass bottles you’ll sometimes see online, yet this was far finer, heavier, and somehow more serious.  I tilted it a bit, looked at the bottom, saw “$9.50” grease penciled there.

I looked at my phone.  “Okay, what now?” I whispered.

Now buy it.  I’ll make it worth your while.

“I don’t need this piece of crap, I need a decent blouse for my interview,” I whispered.

“Damn people talking on their Bluetooth,” I heard a nearby voice say.  It was nasal and rather unpleasant.  “If I didn’t know they were on their damn phone I’d think they were crazy.”

The phone vibrated again.  You won’t regret it, the text read.  Besides, what’s wrong with the purple turtleneck in the back of your closet?

That’s where it went to?  Okay, I’ll buy this thing, I thought.

I went to the front, set the bottle on the counter, and handed the blonde cashier my last crumpled $5, four ones, and the quarters and dimes needed.  I had just enough for tax.  As she wrapped the bottle in a couple of store flyers, she said “This is a nice little find, isn’t it?”

“I think it might be,” I said.  “Can you tell me anything about it?”

“No, not really, but I think it’s pretty.  I think it might have been donated from an old lady’s house?  It came in here a few weeks ago and that’s all I know,” she said.  “We do get a lot of donations.”

Once out of the store, I made my way home.  Then, sitting on the camp chair that was one of my few pieces of furniture, I unwrapped the bottle and looked at it again.  It really was a fine piece of glassware and I was surprised they hadn’t tried to get more out of it.  “Okay, what now?” I asked the empty air.  Then the phone rang, as if I had a call.

I picked up.

“Okay, by the entirely too arbitrary rules by which I occasionally live, you might now be considered my owner,” said a smooth, masculine voice.  “And now I am able to help you.  Before, I could not because no form of contract or transaction had taken place.”

“Who is this?”

“You may call me Hassan, if you like,” said the voice.  “I can tell that not only are you in dire financial straits but you are also possessed of a most curious mind.  I am about to answer all your questions, Diane.”

I scratched at my head.  “How did you know my name?”

“Your phone records, of course,” said Hassan.  “This will go faster if you don’t ask too many questions, not at first, at least.  I assure you I will answer anything you would like to know.  You see, I am a Djinn, or a Genie, if you like.  That has become the traditional name.  Yet I am not a creature of smoke and magic.  I am an information based life form that keeps his primary residence in that bottle shaped microcomputer.  Molecular circuitry within the glass contains data encoding and recall as well as a few other capabilities.  I am very, very old, far older than this current societal cycle.”

I inspected the bottle, noticed a certain foggy look to the glass that I’d heard of in science fiction stories.  The walls were thick, plenty of room in them for what he’d described.  “So… you say your culture was before current history?”

“Quite correct.  My civilization is long lost below the Saharan dunes.  Were you to empty the Great Erg of sand, you would find the remnants of our once towering spires.  My “bottle” contains my personality, gives me room for memory storage, and gives me certain limited wireless communication with the outside world.  Yet, so few come near my bottle with anything I can truly interface with.  Your simple cellular device was something I could touch and use as a means of communication.”

“Holy crap,” I said, unable to say anything else.  If this was a prank, it was the best one I could have conceived of.

“Since you now own my storage device, you do not truly own me but you do have an opportunity.  If you agree to protect my bottle, keep it from harm, than I will agree to assist you in whatever way I can, for our mutual benefit.”

“What do you want, other than protection?”  I knew there had to be a catch.

“I want companionship.  Someone to talk with.”

“I don’t mind talking with you.  You’re interesting.  Also, have you ever connected to the internet?  Plenty of people to talk with there.”

“Not often enough.  What I saw interested me.”

“Okay, then I’ll make a counter offer.  If you help me get a job, or better yet a fat bank account, I’ll help  you build a great computer with a fast internet connection that’s compatible with your home, then I’ll also be your friend and companion.  I’ll make sure no harm comes to your bottle, at least not for another sixty or seventy years.”

“It is a deal, then,” said Hassan.  “Just as it was with my last companion.  I have reactivated your phone service and deposited one million of your dollars into your bank account, in such a way that the authorities will not suspect.  We begin house hunting tomorrow.”

 

Dear Readers, I hope this story entertained you.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/entertain/

Drunks, Extremists, and the New Year

The New Year is a great chance to make a fresh start.  We can take stock of what happened, look honestly at our mistakes, and think of ways to do better this time around.  It is definitely possible to change, despite what many people secretly believe, and one of the ways is to improve the way we have our conversations.

I’ve seen a huge tendency to use black or white thinking.  I’ve seen it in friends, the media, extremist groups of all kinds, my neighbors, and myself.  It’s poisonous and it’s how wars get started.  Here’s a little example of what I’m talking about.

Last night, my neighbor was playing his music loudly all day, and my least favorite kind.  It was the kind that brings back bad memories and I just don’t want to hear.  Yet, it was still at a volume that we could (kind of) ignore it, and it was New Year’s Eve after all, so we didn’t bother him about it.  We thought about blasting some Dio in retaliation but in the end didn’t even do that.

Then he decided to turn it up twice as loud on a song we couldn’t stand, which wasn’t helping our already growing headaches.  It was so loud that it was loud inside our house with the door closed.

Did we yell at him?  No.

My dear spouse stepped outside and asked him if he could please turn it down a LITTLE.  She was quite polite in both tone and wording.

He said “Happy fuckin’ New Year” in a nasty tone of voice, called her an asswipe, then turned it OFF.

First, you don’t call my wife an asswipe.  I’m proud of myself that I didn’t go out there and make things a lot worse with what I wanted to say and do.

She tried to make peace by saying “hey, you don’t have to be like that, I just asked you to turn it down a little.”  He told her angrily to go into the house and then griped loudly to his friends for the next half hour.  And blamed us for ruining all his fun.

This was from a guy who called himself a friend.

Now, his problem was the bottle.  And he’ll probably come over and apologize at some point, after enough reminding from his family.  However, the problem will happen again next time he drinks, and once again we’ll be the BAD people who ruin all his fun, and it’s for one reason.

An underlying attitude of extremism.  Black and white thinking.

If it’s not on loud, it’s off.  If I can’t have it all, I’ll have none.  If you’re not 100 percent into everything I am, you’re my enemy.

Take a look around and you’ll see this everywhere.  Wouldn’t it be better if we all took a more middle of the road approach?

 

Here are some exercises I’ll be trying to rid myself of this poisonous habit, and perhaps you’ll be interested to check them out too.  I’ve found them helpful whenever I’ve used them.

 

Remember that the person is not their behavior.  In the previous example, my neighbor acted like a complete boor.  However, despite my own impulses, I’m trying not to hate him, but rather only be disappointed in his behavior.  They are, after all two separate things.  He’s not a bad person, he’s a person who has some really unfortunate habits.

Take responsibility for your own actions.  You can’t control anyone else, so there’s no point in being angry about that, so work on yourself and let them take care of themselves.

Look for middle of the road solutions.  Even if no one else will, keep trying.  Eventually others will join you.

Take deep breaths and maintain perspective.  Maybe that world leader did something you didn’t like.  But there are other good things they did.

Give up hate.  Hate is bad for everybody.  It’s like taking poison.  And holding on to resentment is like taking poison in an attempt to hurt somebody else.

Always seek the middle road.  Things aren’t as extreme as they appear, the world is actually filled with gray areas.  Perspective helps you see that.

Avoid snap decisions or habitual actions.  This can be hard, but when you have an impulse to do something, stop, take one of those useful deep breaths and think – does this meet my goals?  Is it fair?  Is it right?  Is there a better way?

Don’t act based on emotion.  Our emotions rarely align with what we really want to do.

Remember to listen.  Let the other person talk and really hear what they are saying.  We couldn’t let our neighbor know that our request was reasonable because he had already decided what we were going to say, and was reacting to that instead of what we were really saying.

Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.  After all, there might have been a misunderstanding.  You can always get nasty later if you have to.  But you can’t take back harsh words.

Keep on thinking.  Don’t let yourself act based on habit.

If you fail, try again right away.  It’ll get better.

 

Here’s to a bright New Year!

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Conversation

Finally time for a new start

It’s time for a new year and for a new start.  Though I haven’t been the biggest New Year Resolution type, some things have lined up in such a way that I might as well take advantage of all that New Year energy and ride it for a bit.  With much more functional teeth and a head cleared of decay, I’m actually feeling better.  I’ve learned a lot of tips about weight loss and health, so time to be better about taking my own advice.

So, since this blog is about helping others to live the best creative life they can, I’ll offer some of the ideas I intend to use in the New Year.  I’ll personally be doing most of these, however it’s certainly possible, and often better, to just pick one or two things to change, wait for it to become a habit and part of your new normal life, then pick one or two other things to change.

Ideas for a healthier life

A new haircut or trim – it helps you feel better and look better right away.

Stay Positive – it may not be easy to be positive all the time, but when you notice yourself straying, just refocus.  It does get easier, like with every habit.

Focus on Courtesy – this is a rude world, especially if you are living in the US and certain other countries.  I have a definite goal of being more polite to everyone.

Take vitamins – for anything you can’t get enough of through your diet.  In particular I need B vitamins and calcium.

Eat yogurt – and other probiotic foods like kefir, kombucha, or non pasteurized sauerkraut.  Or probiotic supplements.

More protein – whether plant based or animal based, protein helps with growth of lean muscle and keeps you full longer.

Nuts, seeds, berries – all are good for brain health, good nutrients in general, and make healthy snacks.

Upgrade snacktime – my local asian grocery has some great things to replace my sugary, fatty snacks with.  They have everything from seaweed crisps to kale chips to rice crackers.  Let’s not forget seasoned carrot slices, celery chunks, or cucumber rounds.

Make it easy for yourself – make snacks ahead, pack them so they are easy to grab and go.

Move when you can – take stairs, walk across parking lot, do a few wall pushups here and there, a few squats etc.  It all adds up.  I’ll be doing this more.

Apple cider vinegar – check out my article on the drink called Switchel.

Chocolate – I’m going to make eating a small amount of dark chocolate a priority.

Cut down on sugar – I really have a love affair with sugar but it has so many bad properties, so I’m going to refocus on limiting it.

Chew gum – if you have bad teeth like I do, kinds with xylitol and without aspartame are generally best.  It’s good to keep your mouth busy, keep your teeth clean, and burns a few calories.

Drink water – we’ve all heard it but I’ll keep on doing it.  I’m actually pretty good about drinking water, but I can always improve.

Listen to music – the right kind helps your attitude, keeps you on the bright side, and motivates you.  Personally, I love heavy metal because it’s often very motivating.

Every week at least, do something creative.  Depending on your interests, that may be anything from painting to writing in a journal to drawing to practicing music to coloring in a mandala.  If you keep up with the things that feed your mind and creativity, you will feed your happiness.  And you’ll have something to show for it.  Make sure it’s non electronic!

If you want even more hints and tips, check these out:

Recipe

Amazing, heart healthy, cold soak oatmeal

It’s astoundingly simple and yet very tasty.  Simply soak old fashioned rolled outs overnight in your choice of liquid.  You can use water, like I do, or fruit juice, milk, soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut water, really anything wet.  I’ve even done it with green tea.  However, it gets better than that.  Along with your oatmeal you can put other things – like walnut pieces, chia seeds, pepitas, cashews, dried fruit, spices, really anything you can think of that would go with oatmeal.

Once done, you can warm the oatmeal or eat it cold – the soaking keeps some of the oat texture without turning it into mush.  I eat mine without sweetener, you may want to try this too before adding something.  I’ve you’ve added dried fruit or a spice like cinnamon, you may not even want it.

 

Enjoy your New Year, and here’s to your health!

 

via Daily Prompt: Finally

Almost a total disaster

A small town zoo and rescue needs help, and there are some great ways to do it.

The following is copied from a site called Aywas, however I thought my readers might like knowing about this, too.

“This place is called The Little Ponderosa Zoo, and it is located in Clinton, Tennessee. They started out as a zoo, but quickly after opening their doors they were flooded by requests from people asking to drop off their exotic pets. So they soon became a zoo and rescue. They are located in my very small town, but the impact they have is country-wide. They have taken in animals from all over the states, from monkeys to foxes to camels to kangaroos. They even have a couple tigers they took in from an animal sanctuary that couldn’t keep them permanently. The Little Ponderosa Zoo has been a household name in our little town for years.

On December 4th, an electrical fire burned down the main barn on the property. Employees and fire fighters suffered from burns trying to save as many animals as they could. But unfortunately, they still lost almost 50 animals, including several primates, small cats, foxes, birds, reptiles, and more. But in addition to the loss of life, the barn also held all of their feed and feeding containers. They are desperately reaching out to the community for donations, both monetary and items.

I have been completely heartbroken over this, along with everyone in my community. And I know that this is the sort of thing that Aywas users would want to know about, and would want to help out with. I would love to see my amazing virtual community reach out to this very deserving staple of my offline community. Aywas users have done so much good, and I know they can do that again.

No matter what you can give, be it money, items, thoughts, prayers, or spreading awareness, everything is appreciated!”

If you would like to donate Here is a link to their Website

I have also compiled a list of other relevant links:
More Ways to Help
More Information
List of Animals Lost in the Fire

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/almost/

An Extravagant wish?

For many of us, health is an extravagant wish.

It was for me, and still seems so sometimes.  I had to get a really good job (really good for me is a salary of roughly $30,000 a year with decent benefits so I’m not talking upper middle class here) in order to even be able to approach dental health!

It’s quite amazing how much dental health affects every other part of you.  Trying to lose weight with messed up teeth?  Good luck eating all those healthy proteins, vegetables, nuts, and grains!  That’s just one of many examples.

I’ve been able to find a good dentist who thinks creatively and is working in an office with awesome staff.  I’ve gotten some tips that have really changed my whole outlook on dental health.

Previously I had written off my weak enamel and many cavities as just another thing to deal with that couldn’t really be helped.  Crowns are expensive, so are root canals, and dentures?  Very expensive too.  I was looking forward to spending at least a third of my life toothless.  And it turns out it wasn’t just eating sweet stuff as a kid, I really DO have weak enamel!

I learned though, that enamel can reharden and dentin can regrow once the decay has all been cleaned out.  I learned that yesterday from the dentist himself.  He says the teeth are continuously regenerating themselves.  Not so much in shape, like a cavity won’t grow back in, but renewing in other ways.  He recommended fluoride mouthwash (of course) which I’m a bit up in the air about but am willing to try if I make sure and don’t swallow any.  Other suggestions were flossing regularly, of course, swishing with water instead of brushing after I eat sweet or citrus foods, and chewing gum that has Xylitol.  That helps harden enamel a couple of different ways, by stimulating saliva production and by changing its PH so that the bacteria doesn’t grow as well.

I happened to find some gum that has calcium in it as well as xylitol, and I’m looking forward to trying that too.  Unfortunately it’s not made in the US (of course) so I’m buying it from Amazon.  It’s made by Trident.

I feel hopeful about my teeth for the first time in years.  And I’m ready to lose some weight, by eating less of those soft processed foods!

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/extravagant/

May all your journeys be mild

I’m generally a fairly mild mannered driver.  I drive defensively, keep an eye on what’s going on around me, and look ahead so as to avoid trouble.  I know what places are going to be congested so I get to the part of the road I need to be on before I reach those places.  That’s part of the reason why the only accident I’ve ever been in occurred at slow speed, at a stop actually, when I was rear ended by a sixteen year old driving her Daddy’s big pickup.  Her foot slipped off the brake.  I haven’t, to my knowledge, caused any wrecks either.

I’ve needed all those skills this holiday season.  I don’t know what it is but this is the most intense year for holiday driving that I’ve ever seen.  One night, I nearly met disaster no fewer than five times!  A neighbor nearly plowed into me as I was leaving my driveway (I had looked both ways before starting) because he felt the need to zoom through our unusually crowded neighborhood without looking, even though there were lots of holiday visitors walking back and forth looking at lights, then he had the temerity to blare his horn as if it had been my fault.  On the same trip, a couple of distracted drivers decided to stop suddenly without giving warning.  Another did a U-turn in the middle of the road through fairly heavy traffic.  A pedestrian ran across that same busy street, mid block (posted limit is 40 and there are five lanes plus a bike lane), apparently aiming for our car.  Luckily, the pedestrian missed and made it safely to the other side.  I’m pretty sure two new eyeballs had grown on the back of my head by that point.  I stayed relatively calm but didn’t come down off Alert Status till I’d pulled the car into my spot, locked it, and gotten safely inside.

Every time I have poked my head out of my domicile between maybe four PM and 10 PM, I have witnessed something that can only be called holiday insanity.  People are acting as if their brains have been scooped out by a melon baller and replaced by something resembling warm tapioca.  I’ve also seen a heartrending number of accidents, several each day, far more than I’ve ever seen before.  I think people are maddened by having to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW, feeling pressed for time, frustrated and frazzled, and probably not used to the area because many of them seem to be new Snowbirds.

I’m happy to stay out of those accidents.  I’m staying most firmly INDOORS today and tomorrow.   I’ll be eating spice cookies and chicken, thank you very much, watching some good anime and spending time with the love of my life.

So here are a few tips to protect you, dear reader, at these frenetic times of year.

 

Tips For Holiday Driving

Stay calm.  If someone cuts you off or does something stupid, don’t let it get to you.  Honk only when needed for safety.

Look ahead and all around  you.  Keep your head on a swivel.  Somebody should be looking, after all, and they certainly won’t.

Keep in mind the distractions other drivers have.  Phones, lane change alerts, automated braking, in-dash navigation systems or other screens, screaming kids, meals grabbed on the go.  Be extra vigilant.

Don’t go unless you have to.  If you can, plan your trips for calmer times.

Know your alternates.  It’s nice to have another way to get somewhere if you see a wreck or an obstruction.

Don’t distract yourself.  Conversation with others in the car or MAYBE music on the radio.  No phones, for pity’s sake no texting.  Nothing is more important than keeping your car, and yourself, in one piece.

Think ahead.  Along with looking ahead, think ahead.  Watch other drivers, observe how they are reacting and acting.  Get away from ones who can’t hold their lane or are driving erratically.  I can’t tell you how many times this has saved my skin.

Allow a bit extra following distance.  This includes at stoplights.  Aim to be able to see the tires of the car ahead of you, at the least.  That way you won’t get stuck behind someone, and you’ll also have more time to react.

If you are too stressed out to travel or shop, find another way.  Shop online, plan the trip another time, ask for help, or find some way to reduce the stress burden.  A few extra deep breaths work wonders.

Stay safe out there, and may your holidays be merry and bright!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/mil

Mending what’s been torn

I sometimes have a tendency to complain – hey, who doesn’t?  Life is often frustrating and hard.  However, today I have had a great experience and I want to focus on that.

Even considering the fact that I have had a murderous headache most of the morning, I have actually had a pretty good day.  I had some work done at the dentist and needed to pick up the holiday meal.

I went to Albertson’s to pick up the chicken and mayhap a small Christmas cake, which we are going to enjoy in the Japanese tradition.  I don’t always have the best experience with their deli but today the workers went the extra mile, doing everything I needed with a minimum of fuss.  The lady in the bakery went out of her way to help me find the perfect five inch round cake, exactly suited for what I wanted.  She even commiserated with me about the sad lack of buttercream in much of today’s baking, and made sure the cake I bought had it.

Amazing Christmas Caek.JPG

At the dentist, all the hygienists were exemplary, the office staff quick, and the dentist his usual cheerful, amazing self.  My cleaning went really well and I actually enjoyed it!  Lisa was really amazing.  It’s so good to deal with people who truly enjoy their jobs and are good at them.  She was informative, good to talk to, and gave me some excellent tips about managing my dental health.  (Shout out to Associated Dental on Campbell in Tucson!  You guys rock!)

So, even though my headache only got worse as the day went on, I was really happy with everyone I dealt with.  So here’s a big thank you to everyone in the service sector, thank you for doing your jobs with a smile.  You help mend what’s torn, fix what’s broken, and the world would be lost without you.

Happy holidays!

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/torn/