Musings and Amusings

Archive for the ‘2014 A to Z Challenge’ Category

Bittersweet and Applause

The A to Z Challenge is coming to a close this Wednesday. Like most endings, I find this one bittersweet. There will be plenty of time for de-briefing on the experience and shout-outs to all my cherished new blogging companions, but I’m one of those people who needs to prepare for transitions. Life after A to Z is on my mind.

I realize I should change my blog name to “That Got Me Thinking” because I have an entire notebook filled with words, phrases, quotes and scribblings for the “bemuzins” I want to write from triggers coming from your remarkable A to Z posts.

Thus fair warning, dear readers. If you are so sick of writing your A to Z’s and visiting A to Zers that you never want to hear the phrase A to Z again (at least until next March), you should stop following me 🙂 because I have a feeling many of my posts in the months to come will begin with “xxblogger from A to Z got me thinking about ….”

What a glorious journey this has been!

A standing ovation for each and every one of you.

W is for Wheelbarrow

W Letter


Wheel barrow races across the living room floor were a nightly activity with Dad and my siblings in my early childhood. It took strong arms and a will not to laugh or fart, which would cause the barrow and handler to collapse in a heap on the floor, inciting other competitors and spectators to pile on.

Wheelbarrow pileon

It was years before I made the connection between that two-person transport and the real wheelbarrow Dad used in the garden. I was a little slow connecting the visual.


An odder visual I had of wheelbarrows occurred during my short visit to a small village on the coast of Turkey. Early one morning as we wandered, the market was just beginning to come alive with vendors slowly and deliberately swinging wide the doors to their stalls – just so – and hanging their richly colored goods on the makeshift walls.

We stood patiently on a side road, taking in the scene, then I approached the first stall.



Suddenly a small tractor with a front loader attached rounded our corner and sputtered past us. It looked like the one in this picture (click on picture to enlarge it):


Seated in the now-upright front loader were three women – one elderly and two middle-aged – all with colorful head scarves but dull, shabby clothing, clinging tightly to the edges of the loader as the tractor rumbled over ruts and rifts in the dusty dirt-hardened road. An elderly man wearing a beige-colored robe squeezed onto the driver’s seat alongside the younger male driver who was dressed in brown pants and heavy, dark green jacket.

I flashed on our childish wheelbarrow antics from so many years ago. As odd as the scene in front of me appeared, I knew this was their normal mode of transportation, and I wondered how I would fare if “barrowing” was my only option for transport.


Click here for a link to other A to Z bloggers.

V is for Vintage

V Letter

At first, I was taken aback to think of the ‘60’s – the 1960’s, not the 1860’s – as vintage. Heck, I remember the ‘60’s like they were yesterday. How can they possibly be vintage?

Then I did the math. OK, half a century ago. But who’s counting?

These bracelets, which I’ve purchased on Ebay, are made of silver or gold metal composite with plastic inserts called thermoset. Coro, Lisner and Miriam Haskell are three of the costume jewelry companies of the ‘50’s and 60’s that designed and sold these then-trendy thermoset bracelets and necklaces.


I like wearing them, fantasizing about their previous owners. Sometimes I imagine I’ve inherited family heirlooms from eccentric great aunts.

Until a week ago, I planned to end this post with the sentence above. All that changed when I was checking in at my orthodontist appointment, and the receptionist complimented me on this bracelet.



I explained to her my hobby of acquiring them on Ebay, and she told me about a store called Charming Charlie, which is “all the rage” as she described it. She said they sell inexpensive jewelry remarkably similar to my bracelet; in fact she said she’d seen one just like it.

Apparently everything old IS new again.


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U is for Useless


U Letter


You don’t have this object?

Useless stuff?

Never bought anything on a whim? Because it was on sale? Because you’re positive you’ll fit into it next year?

On Sale: Size 6; I wear Size 12

On Sale: Size 6; I wear Size 12


Never succumbed to your friend’s, “You gotta get one of these!” and then wondered, “What was I thinking?”

A mandolin? I don't even cook!

A mandolin? I don’t even cook!


Never been so immersed in a cultural celebration or a foreign land that you bought “the outfit”? Wrestled to fit it in your suitcase? Then hung it in the back of your closet, never to see the light of day?

A purple kimono? In Colorado?

A purple kimono? In Colorado?


Never dreamed up a project and bought the goods, only to be distracted by another project before you even get started?

2010 Ooooh let's learn Mah-Jongg

2010 Ooooh let’s learn Mah-Jongg

2014 - unopened 2010 ambition!

2014 – Unopened 2010 ambition!


Never scooped up the lotions and sample packets because “they’re free” or “I paid for it; might as well take it” and then they clutter up your drawers – unused – for years?

Blistex? Burns my lips. Shampoo for swimmers? I don't go in the pool.

Blistex? Burns my lips. Shampoo for swimmers? I don’t go in the pool.




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T is for Tugboats

T Letter

Anybody been on a cruise? People seem to love them or never want to set foot on a cruise ship. I’m somewhere in between. I had no interest – other than an Alaskan cruise which is still on my bucket list – until our friends Coco and Lou suggested we join them on their Mediterranean cruise. What fun we had with a group of 16 friends from Colorado and Pennsylvania cavorting among the 1,500 on the Brilliance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean).

While the cruise didn’t change my mind about future cruises, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of long lines, interminable waits and crowded conditions we had been warned to expect. Those simply didn’t occur on our ship.

We started in Barcelona and round-tripped it through ports in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before flying home from Barcelona. One of the small asides I enjoyed on the water was watching the tugboats at each port of call. Those tiny little boats belied their strength and agility; and the men who worked the tugs had to be the hardiest stock to brave those waters and perform that unsteady, heavy manual labor day after day, cruise ship after cruise ship. Watching them position themselves – sometimes scurrying to realign – reminded me of a border collie herding sheep: all watchful eyes and quick, deliberate directional changes to keep his flock in position. Each tug was brightly painted; I suppose more to protect against the sea salt than for my viewing pleasure. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the brilliant blues and reds, and also took special notice of each boat’s name, proudly displayed on the side of the tug. Some appeared to be family names.

Not everything goes according to plan. The day we were scheduled to arrive on the island of Mykonos – despite bright blue sky and sunshine – the wind was fiercely gusting, and the sea was very rough. Our captain had warned us ahead of time that docking was “iffy”; the pictures don’t do justice to the size of the waves those tugs faced in their quest to deliver us to the island.



After several attempts, the captain came on the loudspeaker and announced that one of the lines between the ship and a tug had broken, a sure sign we weren’t safe to continue. Regretfully we turned away from Mykonos, and the tugs chugged their way doggedly back to port.

I started musing about the complex, behind-the-scenes planning and co-ordination just to bring one cruise ship to port. How many people, supplies, pieces of equipment, and boats are utilized every time a large ship comes to port? Who co-ordinates the comings and goings; who assigns the tugs; who monitors the weather; who allocates the supplies? Where do they gas up? Do they perform their own repairs? How many families are employed in that industry? How many young men follow their fathers footsteps or inherit their livlihoods? The list goes on.

When we approached the port of KusaDasi, Turkey in late afternoon, I stood on our narrow balcony watching the tugs come to greet us. The two on my side of the boat were a large bright blue one and a tiny flashy red one. He looked like the litter of the runt, just spunky enough to keep up with his big brother. But they were all business, and it was no time at all before we were securely docked and off the boat to hear the wail from the muezzins at nearby mosques calling their followers to prayer.



Watch for that little red runt pulling his weight on the right hand side!


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