Philosophy With A Texas Twang

It’s the only way I can tawk.

Serendipity of the Dragonfly

twelve spotted skimmer

I only noticed the dragonfly on the screen this morning because the internet connection was broken. My morning modus operandi is to make a pot of coffee (strong enough to walk to the cup by itself), then wander into the office to check my two e-mail accounts, my two Facebook accounts, and my site statistics for the blog. Then I squander an hour or so rambling around the internet and posting ridiculous pictures and quotes on Facebook. I rarely see the beauty that Mother Nature provides until after 9:00 a.m.

This morning, however, the Internet gods had abandoned me. When I plopped down at my desk, I opened my browser to find that I couldn’t get an internet connection on my computer. Frantic, I raced for the iPhone for a 3G connection, but got zip, nada, bupkiss . I got the same story with my iPad. It was a conspiracy! Both Charter Cable and ATT wanted to drive me out of my mind. I thought it was the Apocalypse, but that doesn’t happen until December 21st (so they say). “What has happened to my world?” I wailed, as the five felines at my feet joined in sympathetic caterwauling.

Despondent, I sat on the porch with my coffee pondering my predicament. “Without the Internet,” I wondered, “what is the meaning of life?” Clearly, I need some intervention, because I’m addicted to the Internet!

I struggled to remember what I did with myself before the WWW took over my world. Yes, I’m ancient enough to remember life before the internet (and there was life), but I’m old and my memory is shot. Feeling bereft, I opened my eyes and saw the battle-scarred beauty clinging to the window screen and was instantly enchanted. I grabbed my camera to see if he (I think it is a “he”) would “pose” for me. You can click the picture to see a close-up, if you so desire.

As you can see, the Internet eventually came back, and I was able to discover that my visitor is a “Twelve-spotted Skimmer.” Obviously, his life has been a hard one recently, for you can see that his wing is torn. Even so, he is quite lovely.

“Don’t dragonflies have some kind of symbolism?” I thought. This led me to look up the folklore of the dragonfly, where I found this passage:

The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

As we said in the Sixties, “Heavy, man.”

Was it serendipity or synchronicity that I should find a dragonfly on the morning that I am pondering my internet addiciton? I have no clue. However, I am interpreting my meeting the dragonfly this morning to mean that perhaps the Universe is telling me to turn off the computer and discover the real “WWW” — the Whole Wide World! It’s a day to discover what to do without the internet!

What would you do?

Where’s Waldo?

anole hiding in aloe vera

I call him “Waldo.” He blends in pretty well, don’t you think? Like a chameleon, this little guy can change colors. In fact, when we were kids we thought these lizards were chameleons, but they aren’t. This green anole has been enchanting me all summer as he hides in different plants on the porch. Mostly, he hides in the aloe vera plants, because I guess he has the change to bright green and dull brown (depending if he is on the healthy part of the plant or the part that’s dying) down pat.

He didn’t fall for it when I put the purple plaid tablecloth down on the deck, darn it. I didn’t tell you that I have a wicked sense of humor, did I? Bless his heart, that would have driven him plumb crazy. I should be ashamed of myself.

Waldo seems to be as curious about me as I am about him, because he has been known to sneak up on me to watch me. He gets bored quickly, because I am not very interesting. Right now, like my little anole buddy, I am just hiding in plain sight while pondering my next moves (or which insect I plan to pounce). I’m remembering an Asian proverb:

“A chameleon does not leave one tree until he is sure of another.”

I suppose that’s true of anoles, as well— and perhaps it applies to a certain starving artist who doesn’t know which “tree” to choose. After two and a half decades of making my living as a storyteller, I’m loathe to let it go, but the poor economy is forcing me to change profession or at least to add another so that I can make ends meet. Along ’bout now, I feel as if someone put a purple plaid tablecloth down in front of me. I reckon that the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, too.

So, I’ll think on it some more, and then I’ll take a leap of faith.

A Serving Of Jelly And Philosophy

I scanned the road as I drove down Highway 105, searching for my jelly vendor. The gorgeous faux-spring weather seemed likely enough to bring a roadside vendor out to play. I certainly hoped so, because my sweet tooth was aching for jelly like Mamaw used to make (although she never made mayhaw) slathered all over a biscuit.

mayhaw jelly on a biscuit

I told you about finding FatFrog’s lip-smacking-good mayhaw jelly a couple of years ago, but maybe you never read that. If you want to know what a “mayhaw” is, click that link. Today, I was in luck. Mr. and Mrs. FatFrog were set up at an intersection. She was working sudoku puzzles while he waved at every single car that passed. I swerved right in and screeched to a halt.

After we howdeyed and shook, I reminded them that I had visited them before and blogged about them. Mr. FatFrog said, “Well, thank you for that. We don’t have a computer, so we never saw it. But, our family told us about it.” Indeed, several of their family members came in to comment on that post.

When I mentioned that I was probably going to blog about them again, Mrs. FatFrog looked up from her puzzle. She smiled at me sweetly and said, “If you do then tell them that the FatFrog lady has Alzheimer’s.”

Do whut?

I looked into the intelligent eyes, and happy face, of a woman about my age. “You’re kidding, right?” I said hopefully. She looked perfectly healthy to me.

Mrs. FatFrog shook her head no. She was totally serious. Terror struck my heart as I looked at her. I joke when I lose my keys that I “have Alzheimer’s,” but in truth there is no chronic disease that frightens this storyteller more (not a single one).

“How old were you when you were diagnosed?” I asked, hoping that she was really a well-preserved 70 year old. This just doesn’t happen to people my age.

“I was 54,” she said. She told me she had been a math teacher in a middle school (which shows right there that she was always a pretty special person). One day, she couldn’t do an ordinary math problem … and it got worse. That’s when she went to the doctor and was diagnosed.

Her husband told me that they hoped that someday soon the Alzheimer’s Association walks will get as much attention as the walks for cancer so that money can be raised to find a cure for this insidious disease. Mrs. FatFrog agreed. She said, “I like to tell people about it, because it can happen to anyone and if you think you have it you should be tested.”

Mr. and Mrs. FatFrog are retired now, and they sell mayhaw jelly on the roadside as a hobby. They stay busy, and she does sudoku puzzles to keep her brain active. In the summer, they will go to England to visit their daughter … and the very first grand-baby.

They lamented that the child wouldn’t be born in Texas. I snickered, “Oh, just send a jar of dirt for them to put under the hospital table and the kid can say he was ‘born over Texas soil.'” Mrs. FatFrog laughed, turned to her husband, and said, “Help me remember that.”

“This has its perks,” she joked. “When I goof up, I just remind folks I have Alzheimer’s and they forgive me just about anything.”

She must have seen that I could barely manage a crooked smile to hide my fear.

“It’s really not too bad,” she said. Then she leaned forward and peered over her glasses at me. “I actually do very well on just a little medication … and I know why. It’s a God thing,” she whispered. “I’ve got more work to do right here before I’m gone.”

We said our goodbyes and I came away with two jars of mayhaw jelly … and something to think about. I realized that part of the reason this woman seemed so healthy is her optimistic attitude … and her faith that she has a reason to live.

I don’t talk about religion much on this blog. What I believe, as Hopalong Cassidy might have said, “comes under the heading of my business.” It doesn’t matter to me what you believe … that’s between you and your Maker (or if you are an Atheist, it’s between you and the gatepost over there). This perspective works whether one is Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, a Scientologist, a Raëlian (or any one of the many different religions out there), or even if one is an Agnostic or Atheist. It’s universal.

Mrs. FatFrog taught me that if you wake up every morning sure that there is a reason that you are walking the planet then you can muster the optimism to face any adversity. Some days, it might be difficult to see exactly what that reason might be, but we have to believe we live for a purpose.

I’m going to chew on that with my biscuits and jelly.