Reena’s Xploration Challenge #248- Excavating History

We have a phrase this week to serve as your writing prompt.

…passing through a doorway in history

There is no restriction on format of the piece. There is no last date either, unless you wish to be featured in the Weekly Wrap. 



Duncan’s head hurt.
His pursuit of truth is a hunger he knows can never be satisfied in a conclusion. He wonders, “Is the past truly a mosaic of endless opinions or is there more?”
To become an observer by passing through a doorway of history would give him more evidence but trusting his eyes and ears has limitations. The “who he is”- a being marinated in modern day culture and sensibilities- would be a tremendous disadvantage to an unbiased reenactment. He knows that the understanding of history is disserved by only studying collections of modern intellectual interpretations after the fact. It needs to be excavated for evidentiary fossils that prove each past moment was once alive and three-dimensional.
So, Duncan reads everything he can find… journals and diaries, essays and articles.
His focus is on the founding of his country. Not from any patriotic duty or political position, as one might guess, but because he has Spatial Sequence Synesthesia, and his personal ‘mental map’ oddly always balances on a fulcrum in the late 1800s. His internal visual timeline stretches to infinity toward the past and future from the 1860s every time he withdraws his focused perspective and tries to ‘see’ all of Time. His ‘gift’ is either a peculiar mental defect or a sign of something special and Duncan doesn’t believe in coincidences, so he feels compelled to understand more. He’s somehow tied to that period.

I wish him well.
He may never find a full understanding, but Duncan doesn’t care as long as he collects knowledge that he can absorb through his 5 senses and his heart, bringing the past alive again.
He’s a guy I’d like to talk with!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks…Book Review

51fQ2i0cc+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
An amazing story that needed telling!

This book is a non-fictional glimpse of scientific advances and the horrid racial inequality in our “not very distant” past. It is a riveting read. The story chronicles the struggles of poor black folks during the 50’s and 60’s, in a way, that will leave you forever changed. The sacrifices of those who advanced medical research are present, along with, the greed which always follows the money.

Many of the legal, and ethical, dilemmas, exposed in this text, are unresolved to this day. The author does not attempt to decide the “right” from “wrong” but, very effectively, invites the reader into the lives of real people. I laughed, I cried, and I feel enlightened by this book. A must read for those who endeavor to be educated and informed.

Ignorance Perpetuates Prejudice

crow
crow (Photo credit: crowdive)

There’s so much outrage these days. Something has stirred up our emotions and I’m at a loss to find one single cause. The overall theme of this simmering pot is misunderstanding with a big helping of mistrust on top. The visible combatants, via our sensationlizing media, in these divisions are claiming the ability to divine the intent of anyone who has a differing opinion. The core element to the outrage seems to be a misguided philosophy that assumes, those who differ, do so from a purely mean-spirited inspiration.

I’d like to offer a true story that helped me to realize that most prejudice comes from ignorance not an evil agenda.
A few years ago, I witnessed one of Nature’s violent “goings on”. I was alerted to a “bird battle” in my back yard by dozens of squawking crows. As I watched the commotion, there was a flailing of wings and seeming screams coming from a gang of large birds on my lawn. One red-tailed hawk emerged from that pile, and flew off, followed by more crows than I could count. My curiosity brought me straight to the, now abandoned, crime scene to discover three dead fledglings on the ground. My human heart was saddened but I returned to my daily routine.
A few hours later, my neighbor had taken up the task of burying the victims and joined me at my doorstep with his tale of the tragedy .
Before I tell you about his understanding of the bird “murders”, I’d like to point out that most people have a small knowledge of birds, and Nature in general. In fact, until my curiosity of natural things had awakened, I was among those folks who could identify only Robins, Crows, Blue Jays and the, occasional, Cardinal. These birds are of the highly visible type that most people come to know. With that commonness , there also comes wide-spread folk-lore about them. Blue Jays are brash and bossy, Robins are sweet, Cardinals are special and Crows are murderers. In fact, a group of crows is referred to as a “murder of crows”. (In defense of crows, they are actually primarily scavengers and highly intelligent to boot. I’m sure, the common place sightings of these fellows eating carrion was the impetus of the “killer” label.)

Now, back to the story:
My kind neighbor broke into a tale of murderous crows who attacked a red-tailed hawk nest, leaving baby hawks littered in our shared yard. It was true that we witnessed the same event but ignorance was there too.

I proceeded to tell him my version. The dead babies were crows. I showed him the straight beak of one of “the fallen”. It was easy to understand his confusion though. Crows are big birds and are about the size of many hawks. The dead babies were very close to leaving the nest, therefore, they were almost full-sized.
My tale continued with the murderous intent shifted to the hawk. By the time I had finished, his sympathy had done a one-eighty. My tale ended with an admiration for the community and brotherhood which had brought so many crows, out of nowhere, to aid in the rescue attempt.

So you see, my neighbor was not being mean-spirited in his inaccuracy. It was his ignorance that perpetuated the prejudice.

I’m hoping this story, inspires you to take a moment to explain yourself when someone has a different opinion and refrain from judging others as mean-spirited. Overall, the most important message, here, is to stay informed and curious.

The Heart of Things

seeds 002between

When children don’t like green beans,

I ask them just to taste.

There are so many new things,

So little time to waste.

A new idea’s a wonder.

Embrace it, oh so, much.

The world is ours to play with,

We must reach out and touch.

“Seeing is believing”,

That’s how the saying goes.

Appreciate those pictures from

The part of life that shows.

Give everything a sniff test.

Aromas stir the mind.

 What’s good or may be rotten,

Applies to all you find.

Best of these, you listen.

Collect, then take apart.

Senses are your data bank,

but,

Actions need your heart.

——————————————–

This is my 600th post in my blog.

I wanted it to be special…

Labels are for Canned Goods

A can of Koo baked beans.
A can of Koo baked beans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We use labels, and need them, to organize and keep track of things. Ever have an unlabeled can? I have. Once when the label fell off of my green beans, I just put it on the shelf with my vegetables. My cupboards are subject to much shuffling. OK, I’m pretty unorganized and put things in my cupboards in order to stash them away from little kids (I do child day care.).

After awhile, I couldn’t remember if the beans were french style or whole. A small detail but something that I had thought I’d remember.

Then much more time went by. Yes, I was sure the unlabeled can was a can of beans but they were “hanging out” with my baked beans. It didn’t take very long before I was convinced the unlabeled can contained baked beans.

When putting together a meal, I avoided the unlabeled can. I like sure things and began to wonder what brand and flavor the shiny metal mystery held.

Finally, a day before doing my groceries, I was in need of something to accompany hot dogs. I felt adventurous and could see the time stamped expiration date on my mystery beans was rapidly approaching. Why not? I opened the can.

Carrots. What the heck?

I cannot explain what happened. In the imperfect world where labels come off, I had lost track and was operating under an assumption that I would have wagered money on. I was a victim of the old “shell game”.

As amusing as my untidy can goods cupboard is, I thought it held a lesson.

People don’t only use labels on can goods. We try to organize most everything…even people, into categories. The current state of politics has my head reeling. Liberal, conservative, libertarian, tea party, democrat, republican…Yikes. So many labels and, quite frankly, I don’t know which are green beans and which are baked beans anymore.(They might even be carrots!)

Every time I think I know the definition of these political labels, I find they don’t fit the individuals that I want to stick them to. Certainly, none of those labels describe me.

Even the one label, American, has its little asterisk. I read an article about the proposed Dream Act in Time magazine. It was written by an “illegal alien”. I must admit. The label Illegal Alien reminds me of short video clips of Mexicans rushing our borders which then brings the subject of drug cartels to my mind. “Hold on!”, my inner self said. “Read the article first. There just may be carrots where you thought were beans.”

The writer of the article was originally from the Philippines. He was brought here as a kid, has paid taxes, has gone to school, and has said the Pledge of Allegiance (and meant it) . Most of his family is “legal” and upon asking government officials how he might become legal they just plain don’t know how to answer him. You see, the immigration system IS and always was a mess of bureaucracy that they themselves cannot navigate. Kinda like our IRS by the way.

This cover story opened my eyes to one of the human issues involved with “illegals” and how the system is our greater enemy. I’m not in favor of an open border policy, by any means, but I’m glad I took the TIME to check my labels. 😉

NATURE KNOWLEDGE:Crab Spider

I enjoy watching these spiders. Crab spiders , well, resemble crabs. They have longer front legs and stick them out. Their bodies are flat too.

The one above is a Flower Spider. 200 species of crab spiders, including this one, live in the United States. The coolest thing about them is that they are “free-living” spiders. No webs for these guys. They just wait to ambush prey while sitting on flowers. Although their jaws (chelicerae) are very small, they have potent venom to immobilize their prey and eat at their leisure.

Goldenrod Spider (belongs to Crab Spider family)

These spiders are able to change color over several days. Of course, I assume the color is supposed to help them blend in. Think the Goldenrod Spider (above) is on the wrong flower? What a show-off!

The crab spider (below) has the right idea.

Look for these amazing hunters on daisies and other wildflowers. (Especially if Mom or Dad tends to be a little creeped out over spiders. Check those wild bouquets!)

I am especially fond of “free-living” spiders. Jumping spiders and Wolf spiders are among them. These guys turn to face you as an adversary even with their size disadvantage!  Gotta admire their spunk 🙂

Remember: You can click on these photos (more than once) for a better look.

NATURE KNOWLEDGE—Frog Gender ID

There are people who just never pay attention to the gender of animals.  You know some of them, I’m sure.

The folks who insist that all cats are female and all dogs are male. (What do you suppose they think about Lady Bird Bugs?)

Well, I figured that they just haven’t had “easy access” to information that they really could care less about.

Since, parents,grandparents and caregivers are the earliest teachers for our kids and, kids knowing about nature ,is a passion of mine, I decided to offer quick posts of scientific facts for Kids of All Ages. Your kids will ask questions and wouldn’t it be great to have some answers “at the ready”?

I’m starting with frogs today.

How can we tell a girl frog from a boy frog?

Green frogs are easy once you know what to look for.

Frogs have circles behind their eyes. These are called tympanum. (a hearing organ/gland in frogs and toads)

Tympanum is also another term for drum. So a tympanum is a frog’s eardrum.

——————

In females, the tympanum is about the same size as her eye.

In males, the tympanum is larger than his eye.

In Green Frogs, mature males have bright yellow throats. They puff these up to show off and to let everyone know who’s the boss in the area.

Green Frogs are not always green…they range from many shades of green to shades of brown.

These posts will be compiled under Nature Knowledge in my categories. Hope they are helpful and interesting. 🙂

* Unless otherwise noted, all photos are my own.