The day

I am healthy. In fact, I’m better than that. I almost fit – even fit as a fiddle. I don’t know how often I take the time to be thankful for that.

Today’s prompt comes from an email sent by a friend concerning a mutual friend of ours. “… has been diagnosed with cancer” was what was in there. Our friend. My younger friend. A lovely woman who brought smiles to all those around her. A woman with an infectious laugh and perpetual delight in the world around her.

Has been diagnosed with cancer.

How frightening, how scary, how terrifying. We all know we are mortal, but we don’t really ever expect to find the limits of our mortality. Or perhaps it is just me. I intend to live forever – so far, so good.

I hope that the joy my friend brought to world will have been recognized and Karma will return the joy to her and her family.

I suppose this should be some moral tale about the fragility of life and the uncertainty of our tomorrows. But instead of urging any readers to go all carpe diem or YOLO or whatever, what I really want to do is sit down and just cry.

I understand the need to live authentically in the moment and there are some days when it is more apparent than others. Mostly, even though I know it isn’t possible, I want life to be easy. I want each and every person to have health and happiness, fulfillment and purpose, joy and love. I know there is untold suffering in the world. I just wish it wasn’t so.

I wish my dear friend the best possible outcome for her treatment. I am content in knowing that she lives in a region with great medical facilities and has a family to wrap her in love and provide safety and comfort.

To you, my friends, may you find peace and comfort in this new year. My prayers, my heart, my love, and my bestest wishes go to you.

Always, your neighbor.


“I don’t know any other way to lead but by example.”
 —  Don Shula

Many of us would like to lead by words alone. “Do as I say, not as I do,” seems to be a popular cry especially among parents. They are permitted many more behaviors than their offspring and some of these are even appropriate. It is, in fact, the most likely way to get the offspring in the first place. But if a parent smokes (even though it is legal), it is far more likely that their children will also pick up the habit often while still underage.

The best way to show your children how to live a good life is for you, as their parent and best example, to live a good life. Of course, this doesn’t always take as children are not carbon copies of their parents and in their teen years are genetically built to rebel against the establishment.

Even so, they will outgrow their teen years (we hope) and look back and realize that your example is the continually singing siren songs to them. Your example is the tape that plays in their head. Your life is the measure against which they view their own.

The way to have children who behave in such-and-such a way is to show them the behavior and the positive results from practicing it.

The way to have children who eat healthy and balanced meals is for the parent(s) to prepare and eat healthy balanced meals with them. The way to have children who do more than sit in front of a screen, either television or computer, is to show them all the fun things that can happen when you turn off the electronics. The way to have non-smoking, sober children is to show them what a non-smoking, sober adult looks like.

They will still eat pizza and watch You Tube. They will still sneak a ciggie and a shot of whatever booze could be hijacked from a parent’s liquor cabinet. Hopefully these will be occasional quirks and not life style choices.

Live your best life and rejoice in it and perhaps your children will think it is the way everybody chooses to live and they, in their turn, will also choose a life of abundance.

Just wrong


Well, plenty.

Comment from the poster of this to my news feed: Perspective.

Following comments: Person 1: Disgraceful!

Person 2: and yet that man is telling that child’s parents that it’s a sin to use birth control and that it’s god’s will they have more children although they can’t feed that one.

Person 2 again: if they’re even still alive themselves.

Person 3: Everything. Everything is wrong with this.

Well, I agree with this last statement. The colonization of Africa by European nations who exploited the natives and the land caused untold suffering and destruction to the continent.

A better picture to have up there instead of the Pope would be Queen Elizabeth. Much of the African continent was subjugated to the British throne with plenty of badness going around. The House of Windsor certainly has more personal wealth than the German guy who was the son of a local cop and rose in the Church to such a high rank.

Today, the biggest religion in Africa is Islam with 47% of the continent Muslim. But there is no chief honcho for Islam, would a picture of Mohammad suffice? Perhaps a sheik’s picture would be more appropriate.

To be fair, the second most popular religion is Christianity which is not the same as Catholic. The head of the Church of England is once again Queen Elizabeth and one would think that as the British colonized they would be somewhat loathe to import Catholicism in place of their own state religion, created to spite the Catholic Church. A few countries are higher percentage of Catholics as they were colonized by the Italians or Spanish, the Catholic countries.

As a response to Person 2, you are assuming, statistically incorrectly, that the child’s parents are Catholic and that the Pope actually had something to say about their reproductive choices. The more likely scenario is that the child’s parents are Muslim and that religion also encourages lots of procreation.

So this offensive picture might be more accurately portrayed with the Queen of England on the one half. Or we could put up some central target for Islam or even Mohammad rather than one for Catholicism. Maybe some oil field or sheik would suffice.

But I do agree, everything is wrong with this picture.

Draining away


Just think how carefree life would be if your cares could wash away as the waters cascading into the abyss of the Ladybower Reservoir overflow.

Instead of trying to hold on to the “shoulds” or “oughts” or even the “used-to-bes” we could live in the present enjoying the moment of now. If we could let go of the wishes, we could embrace the reality.

The now of our lives deserves our attention. Letting go of the unnecessary things would allow us the energy to find what is real. Simplifying our lives doesn’t just mean getting rid of unused items, it also means getting rid of unused dreams.

Life is what it is. If you don’t like it, change it. Let the cares of dashed hopes drain away so you have the space and power to create new, possible, reachable dreams.

Out, out damned spot


Writing stories can be hard work. Eons ago, all that was available was paper and ink and the paper was very expensive to create. Then technology advanced and paper was much cheaper. Part of this advance had to do with the printing press. The demand for more paper and the possibility of selling more paper interwove to create a better paper source. Books were now able to be mass produced but that meant paper was needed. But with more books sold, it became economically feasible to produce more paper.

Still time moved ever onward. Books were now ubiquitous and because there was so much printed material, it spawned ever growing numbers of literate consumers. All these various readers demanded more books to be printed so they would have something to read. And that meant more books had to be written to meet the demand.

Eventually, new ways of producing the written word were introduced and they had nothing to do with writing. Instead, one needed to type. The machines were clunky and the mechanics were such that fast typing could actually make the keys jam. At least that is the story behind the letter placement on a standard QWERTY keyboard. Slow typing down to make it possible for the mechanics of the time to keep pace, goes the standard wisdom.

The basic problem remained. As every writer knows, there is a bit of a problem with deciding WHAT to write. No matter how good (or bad) the method of documentation was, the issue of what to document continued to haunt authors.

The owner of the typewriter could start with a stack of fresh, crisp, pure paper. There was nothing there but space on which to write. The method of creation remained forever the same. Think of something to say and then say it. Learning to type quickly without looking at the keys meant the writer could focus on the words placed upon the page rather than the method for placing them there.

What words? That was and remains forever the problem. With typewriters, there was no backspace key and once a word or even a letter was typed, it was forever there on the now no longer pristine paper. Therefore, accuracy was even more important than it is for today’s authors. With enough mistakes, one could rip the page from the machine and start over. This led to crumpled sheets of black smudged paper lying around the workspace.

As can be seen in the picture with the crumpled paper, mistakes were made. The process of editing was even more onerous and the whole work would then have to be retyped before one could present it to the end-reader, whoever that may have been.

The most intriguing part of the picture remains a haunting mystery. There is a stain on the wall. It is a dark red stain. Where did it come from? How did it happen to appear so close to the author’s workspace.

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Gene Fowler

Ah, an answer.

Be free

I love the act of writing. I love seeing words appear on the page as I type or scratch with pen or pencil. I often also simply enjoy the sense of wonder at seeing what I am thinking and can find that by reading what I have written. I don’t know if other writers do this, too. I am often astounded by what appears on the screen or paper as I write.

I set myself a new task. I’m unsure how often I will be able to actually do this and I make no promises to myself or to readers about the frequency of posts here. But the task itself is quite concrete. I will take an image, quote, or news article and use it as a prompt for writing.

Today, I searched the web for a picture by using the term “new beginning” and there were thousands of pictures out there. “New” wasn’t nearly as good a search term since all I got was pictures of the word NEW written in all sorts of colorful ways.

I selected the following picture for a start because I found it interesting.

The image is intriguing, not for accuracy but for content. That may be a metaphor for my own writing. At Little Bits of History I strive for accuracy, but I have no such plans here. Here, I hope to creatively capture a thought or idea without the constriction of accuracy or veracity.

Since this is the first of these posts, I’m making more of a statement of intention and do not plan this as the writing assignment for myself as time goes on. Instead, I plan to take a prompt and write more about the inspiration gleaned from it than about what it is I’m trying to accomplish.

Something more like this perhaps:

Cornelius set free

Cornelius set free

Stanley, Cornelius, and Marjorie had strong wishes for fishes. They wanted more from their life but their world was so constricted. They talked and talked about how to enlarge their space, how to get more out of their meager lives. But the edges of the universe held them in. They were trapped in the box of old thinking and were unable to decide upon a strategy to broaden their horizons.

Cornelius was a bit younger than the others. He was the least content and complained bitterly and loudly and became a nuisance to his friends. They were tired of listening to Cornelius complain. Life was small and there was no other option. One should learn to make the best of it. They had fresh water and that was enough.

Cornelius was never satisfied. He thought and thought. He looked out past the horizon of limitations and yearned for a bigger space, a land of more opportunity and greater challenges. He was one of those fish who just couldn’t be happy in a small space. He had wanderlust and the feeling of entrapment built inside him.

He swam discontentedly and stared outward, ever outward. Then he glimpsed it. A whole new world was out there. He saw it off in the distance. Large and inviting; full of all the things Cornelius found lacking in his confined space. He plotted and planned.He studied and learned. He hinted to Stanley and Marjorie about this distant land, this place of unrestrained glory. They scoffed at Cornelius, made fun of him, shunned him. Finally, as his small space grew ever more confining and less pleasant, Cornelius formed a strategy. He studied the physics behind his scheme and practiced as well as he could.

Finally, he felt ready. He told Stanley and Marjorie exactly what he planned to do and they were both upset and yet gratified. Maybe this would shut Cornelius up. Cornelius made sure his friends understood where he was headed, pointing to the ephemeral space beyond the confines of their world. He gave each of his friends a hug and shyly kissed Marjorie on the cheek. He said his goodbyes.

He swam faster and faster, he swirled and twirled and then, with all the power he could muster, he sprang from the world of the known and plunged full speed ahead into the abyss.

There would be no turning back and while in midflight, the first for any fish of his kind, he felt panicked and frightened. But the force of his jump carried him across and the feeling of terror vanished into the thrill of accomplishment and exhilaration as he felt the soft caress of water against his scales once again. He swam and swam and swam, almost exhausted before finding the limits of this huge new world.

He returned to the other side and could see, far off in the distance, his two friends staring in amazement back toward him. He had made it. He was now here in a huge new world. There were giant spaces of unknown territory and much to discover and learn. He waved to Stanley and Marjorie, missing his friends already and hoping against hope that they, too, could gather the courage to take the leap into the unknown and join him in this glorious, luxurious new place.