It’s actually Friday rather than Thursday, but oh well, stuff happens. This week, the stuff included computer problems both at work and at home, along with other assorted disruptions to my usual schedule.

I’m not going to complain, though. After seeing all the damage caused by recent tornadoes in this area, my little annoyances look totally trivial. And of course, just about everything has useful learning experiences in it somewhere, even if they are not obvious right away.

Word-art that says "Sometimes you win, sometimes you (lose, crossed out) learn."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

This morning I mentioned to my husband that it was about time to sign up for a rowing sprint race in Indianapolis, which we attend every summer. The course is always windy, and we’re not the best at rowing in windy and choppy conditions; but every time we try it, we do better than before. Last year we got third place in our mixed double race.

We regularly finish ahead of another couple who are less experienced, but also improving each year. Their goal, for now, is to catch up to us. It’s kind of nice being someone’s inspiration!

Word-art that says "Try and fail, don't fail to try."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

The factory doors gaped wide on this hot and sticky Tennessee afternoon, without a worker in sight. Someone had taped a BEWARE OF DRAGON sign crookedly to the outside wall before heading for the hills. I parked my truck and walked through the doors, well protected in my fire suit as I searched the rafters for the troublesome dragon.

Yup, there she was, busily building a nest out of boxes and pallets. Her golden-green scales gleamed in the harsh light from the fluorescent tubes. She was about the size of a small horse, with broad, flaring wings. Evidently, she wasn’t at all happy with my intrusion on her nesting space. She turned her head toward me, hissed angrily, and shot a thin stream of flame in my direction.

Green dragon in side view.

(Picture from publicdomainpictures.net)

I wasn’t always a dragon catcher. Three years ago, I was working at an Amazon warehouse with my buddy Shay when we heard there were dragons all over downtown Knoxville. At first we thought it was a hoax, but then some of our friends said they had seen the dragons, for real. So we drove into the city after work. Sure enough, there they were, roosting all over the rooftops like a flock of oversized pigeons.

Nobody had any idea where they’d come from. The most popular theories were secret government experiments or an alternate universe. But however they might have gotten here, nothing was being done about them. The Feds just wanted to send biologists to study them. Tennessee’s politicians were gleefully seeing dollar signs from dragon tourism. Most folks in Knoxville were totally freaking out, needless to say; but the Feds weren’t letting anyone shoot the dragons, and the animal control officers’ union was threatening to strike if anyone ordered its members to capture them.

“What a bunch of wusses, threatening to strike,” I said to Shay, who had grown up on a ranch in Texas and was a regular competitor in the bull-riding and steer-wrestling events at the rodeos. “I bet you could catch a dragon, couldn’t you?”

“Yeah, sure, Chris. No problem. They’re just animals, right?” Shay scratched his bushy red beard. “You gotta show ‘em who’s boss.”

The next day, I asked a guy at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to help me write a business plan. He was so thrilled to find someone brave enough to start a dragon-control business, he practically wrote it for me. When I set up a crowdfunding page, contributions from the long-suffering citizens of Knoxville poured in. Shay’s cousin Wanda designed a fancy logo with a hog-tied dragon thrashing and spitting fire.

In all honesty, most of the time it’s not that hard to catch a dragon, once you’ve learned how to go about it. When I went after that dragon building a nest in the factory’s rafters, I ignored her warning flame and took another step forward. Then I tossed down what looked like a big, juicy steak on the concrete floor. I took an aerosol can from my pocket and sprayed some raw-meat scent, just to make sure the dragon would notice.

“Chow time!” I announced cheerfully. “Fresh meat! Come and get it! Yummy, yummy!”

Slowly taking a few steps backward, so as to give the dragon some space, I kept a close watch on her. Most dragons were impulsive enough that they went for the bait quickly, and this one was no exception. Spreading her wings, she glided toward the floor, opening her jaws wide to snap up the steak.

Of course, it wasn’t really a steak. Just as the dragon was about to snatch it, I pressed a button on a remote control, and a finely woven mesh net popped up and settled over the dragon’s head. She could breathe just fine, but she couldn’t see anything, which prevented her from flying away; and although dragons are dumb animals, they usually have enough sense not to breathe fire with their head in a bag.

All she did was sit there on the floor, making pitiful whining noises like a whipped dog and pawing at the net. Shay (who also wore a fire suit, just in case) didn’t have any trouble getting her outside and loading her into the custom-built cage on our trailer.

“Not much different from loading steers for market,” Shay observed in a satisfied tone, after we’d merged onto Interstate 75 and were heading north toward the dragon study facility up in the mountains. Passing drivers gawked, snapping photos with their cellphones. The dragon, with the net still over her head, mostly had settled down by then, although we still heard the occasional high-pitched shriek from the cage. Just another ordinary workday for us.

On Monday night there were multiple tornadoes here in the Dayton, Ohio area. One of them came very close to my house. My next-door neighbors lost their flagpole. My house and yard had no damage, which was very lucky. We didn’t even lose power.

It took my husband (who usually has a short commute) about two hours to get to work Tuesday morning because there were fallen trees and other damage all over the area. Meanwhile, I was sitting at my desk working from home. There was no water because Dayton’s pumps had lost power. I had a plastic water bottle on my desk, next to a bowl of first-of-the-season cherries, and I was counting my blessings.

A bowl of cherries and a plastic water bottle on a desk with a computer.

Water was restored to my area Wednesday afternoon but was still under a boil advisory today. My husband mowed the lawn this afternoon when he got home from work, and he told me that he had to pick up several pieces of debris from other people’s wrecked houses that had blown into our yard. Some residents of ruined apartments were standing outside in the rain with all their belongings, which they couldn’t even move because there was such a long wait for rental trucks. Meanwhile, some of our not-so-thankful neighbors were complaining about how long it took before they got back their water.

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

Earlier today I spent a few minutes looking at my rose bushes. They are not in bloom yet, so I wasn’t literally taking time to smell the roses; but they do have healthy-looking buds and appear to be flourishing in the damp and cool spring weather, which was good to see.

I had to replace some rosebushes three years ago, as I mentioned here. The replacements are still rather small, probably because the past few summers have been hot and dry. They’re making good efforts, though, so I gave them an impromptu pep talk.

“You’re doing just fine, roses, keep on going,” I said.

Maybe that was silly—but then again, maybe we can all benefit from getting more words of encouragement. So I decided to share some this week:

Word-art that says "You ARE going to be GREAT! KEEP GOING."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

May 18, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

One of the suggestions that financial advisors often make, for purposes of motivating people to save for retirement, is to imagine how an older self would view today’s decisions. That is to say, at 80 or 90 years old, will we feel confident about our finances and believe that we planned well in our younger years?

I haven’t actually done anything that resembles conventional retirement planning because I look at saving in more general terms, as being about future flexibility to make choices. Trying to construct a detailed list of everything that I might need or want, many years from now, doesn’t strike me as useful in such a fast-moving world. The future could—and likely will—turn out to be very different from whatever we envision now.

It’s a pretty safe bet, though, that having more money will improve just about any potential scenario set in this century. Even if the future turns out to be a sci-fi utopia in which robots cater to our every whim for free, it’s going to be a long time before we get there. That being so, I decided to go ahead and try the older self exercise, given the fact that I already have an imaginary 119-year-old self—known as Fannie on this blog—with whom I’ve had several creative conversations.

At first I thought about picturing Fannie at a bank, to be consistent with the topic; but she had her own ideas about that. I found her taking a leisurely walk along a well-kept path in a public park. It was a cool spring morning, and she wore jeans and a light sweater. New leaves and lush grass made everything around us look beautifully green and refreshing.

Path surrounded by greenery in a park.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

A black poodle trotted next to Fannie, with impeccable grooming and a remarkably even gait. It had no leash. A closer look revealed that there was no need for a leash because the poodle was, in fact, a robot. Fannie turned toward me and smiled, opening her hands as if to embrace the surrounding landscape.

“Seriously, a brick-and-mortar bank? I can’t remember when I last saw one of those. Decades ago, I’m sure. Don’t you think this is more pleasant? I was transferring funds with my phone just now, before you arrived.”

I took a breath of the fresh air, which was fragrant with spring blooms, and had to agree that managing bank accounts while taking a stroll in the park certainly was more pleasant than doing it the old-fashioned way.

“So, would you say that the money I saved was enough for you to be comfortable?” I asked.

“That question has both a simple and a complicated answer, as with most things.” Fannie grinned. “By now, you’ve had enough conversations with me that you probably already figured I was going to say something like that.”

A bird trilled cheerfully from somewhere in a nearby tree, as if to share in a little good-hearted amusement.

“The simple answer is yes, I live comfortably, and in part that’s because of your discipline in saving, which I do appreciate. As you know, I have a self-navigating flying car; they’re pricey even in 2083. And of course Maxie here,” and Fannie reached down to pat the dog, “wasn’t cheap, were you, sweetie?”

The robot dog gave a very realistic happy-sounding yip and wagged its tail.

“But the more complicated answer,” Fannie went on, “is that the culture of your time had tremendous uncertainty about the future, and nobody had a clue how to deal with it. Although people had started living much longer, they hadn’t yet created new stories to shape their expectations. So they tried to plan for everything imaginable, which of course stressed them out. Let me turn this conversation around for just a moment, if I may, and give you a question instead: Do you feel totally responsible for my comfort?”

“Well, yes, or at least mostly. Sort of. What I mean, I guess, is that I wouldn’t want to mess things up and leave a future me stuck in a bad situation. You know, this question is a lot harder than it seemed at first.” I made a frustrated gesture, which caused a squirrel in the grass nearby—though evidently unafraid of the robot dog—to hop back a few steps.

“That’s why I asked it,” Fannie calmly informed me. “Now, what would you say to past versions of yourself who felt afraid of making bad decisions about raising children, for instance, or finding the right job?”

“I’d tell them not to worry because the kids and the job turned out just fine.”

There was a comfortable-looking bench to our left, and Fannie took a few steps off the path and sat in it. She gave me a smile. “Sit down and take a load off your feet, both here and in real life. Just relax—you know it’s going to turn out fine, right? You’ve got this.”

Maxie, now sitting next to the bench, yipped again as if in emphasis. I sat down next to Fannie as the scene began to fade; and then, just a moment later, I found myself back in my own time.

The rowing club had a board meeting yesterday. My husband (who has been one of the trustees for the past two years) told me that the meeting might run long because there were several things to talk about, but that he’d like to meet me at the boathouse after the meeting and go rowing in our double anyway.

I wasn’t sure how realistic that was, considering the fact it would get dark before we could do much rowing. I was picturing a chilly, windy night on the river, with mosquitoes, skunks, and other undesirable nocturnal wildlife. But then I decided to change my mindset and imagine having a pleasant evening instead.

The meeting did indeed run long; but as it turned out, we had a good row. There was very little wind, it was still comfortably warm even after sunset, the water was calm, and there was plenty of moonlight. We had the river all to ourselves (though we made sure to put blinking lights on the boat anyway, just to be safe). A mosquito did get my husband once, but they left me alone, and we did not see any skunks.

It all goes to show that, even though negativity may seem like reality, there generally are many other ways to frame our experiences.

Word-art that says "I create my own reality."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

My husband mentioned today that one of the rowing camp members had said, in a recent conversation, that I seemed to be the kind of person who would be good at whatever I did.

It was quite a nice compliment, and somewhat unexpected because I see myself as someone who takes a while to feel confident when I do something new. I don’t often jump into something and find it super-easy from the start. Usually I do keep at it until I’ve given it a fair try, even if I feel anxious, because I know that it will get easier with practice. I suppose that’s a kind of confidence too.

Word-art that says "Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.

May 9, 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Over the weekend I attended a rowing camp. The local rowing club arranged for a professional coach to visit and hold a three-day camp on our river, with morning and afternoon sessions each day. The forecast called for rain and high water on Friday, however, and that left us concerned that we might have to cancel the rowing camp if the river got too high.

The weather turned out all right, although the morning group spent part of their time on the indoor rowing machines on Friday because of heavy rain and debris in the river. The rain had mostly cleared up by the time my husband and I arrived for the afternoon session. Although the air was still a bit chilly and the river was flowing faster than usual, the water was very smooth and calm.


We learned some useful tips at the camp that should make us better rowers, and everyone had a good time. I was glad that we hadn’t let weather worries deprive us of the opportunity!

May 2, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

When I opened the dishwasher yesterday evening to put in a cup, the door suddenly fell down with a WHAM! I looked down and saw a big spring on the floor. The spring itself was in one piece, but the part that attached to the spring obviously was broken. Not a good day, I thought.

Then my husband came home from the gym a few minutes later. After looking at the broken piece, he checked online and told me that a local store had the replacement kit, it wasn’t expensive, and he would fix the dishwasher door when he got home on Thursday.

Then we went out for a walk. It was getting dark, and there was a bit of light rain, but we enjoyed getting outdoors in the fresh air anyway. It turned out to be a good day after all, with no need for worries.

Word-art that says "It's a good day to have a good day."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.