April Fools

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Flash Fiction

APRIL FOOLS

     Today, crisp cool air mingles with a blazing sun as I leave my minuscule apartment on Lexington Ave. The weather has been dreary. This morning is glorious.

     I pull my long chestnut hair into a no-nonsense ponytail, walk and think about the other woman . Damn, I am better looking, appear tall for my height and young for my years.

     Around noon, I stop for lunch at a typical outdoor New York café; the tables are round and small; the metal chairs look uncomfortable, but are not once I sit.

     A waiter fills my water glass, and announces he is my server. The menu choices are unexpectedly appealing; fennel quiche, garlic soup, and more.

     I take time ordering.

     The man on my left, glances my way. His look lingers but reveals nothing, and leaves me questioning if I know him? The feeling we have met and cannot remember where, accompanies the exchange. His thick blond hair is sun streaked and he looks familiar, a little like a friend, Sam.

      Groomed brows frame his eyes. Carefully pressed gray slacks, and a wrinkle-free dress shirt complete his polished look, but I do not know him.

        I sit back to wait for my meal and people watch. New Yorker’s are something, a biker babe dressed in leather, pushes a doggie stroller. The dog wears goggles and rests his paws on the bar celebrity style. I laugh.

       The street is increasingly active as people walk and talk loud.  

        The waiter brings my order and the man who looks like Sam stares in my direction again, his eyes search everywhere. As the tables fill up, the man gives a knowing nod my way, and almost smiles. Although he is facing me, it is hard to tell if he is looking at me, or not.

     I refrain from turning my head to look behind hearing a couple seat themselves. They create quite a stir dragging empty chairs across the concrete and arranging shopping bags. I realize the man who looks like Sam is studying them.

     “Mind your own business,” says a voice in my head.  

     When the waiter takes my empty plate, I order a Cappuccino and the ‘Chocolate – Chocolate’ cake, and listen to the newly seated couple’s angry banter.

     The woman protests, “I didn’t make you come here, Victor, you agreed it was a favorite of ours.”

     “Eve, you’re the one who loved the menu, thought the food so nouveau or something?”

      Her voice rises. “You loved the zucchini mushroom quiche, and what about the gazpacho soup? You raved, said it was the best you’d ever had!”

     His reply is slow and deliberate. “No, you weren’t listening; I said the quiche was good if you like quiche. And the soup ‘the best’ Gestapo! I was being sarcastic.”

     He leaves the table saying, “I’ll be in the men’s room.”  

     I am  stunned.  His voice sounds like Victor’s? My Victor? 

     Look-A-Like Sam rushes to fill Victor’s empty seat, firing off questions that leave no room for a response. “What’s going on? You said you would be at here 12 o’clock, alone. Why did Victor come? Drama? Eve, you thrive on drama. I’ve had enough.”

      Now, I turn my head to see and watch. Coyly, Eve removes her Hollywood style sunglasses, checks her diamond wristwatch, leans forward, and whispers, “Oh, my, it is past noon, isn’t it. Victor’s golf was cancelled.”

    Playing with her blouse buttons she continues, “When he learned I was coming to the city, he said, he would come.”

     Shaking her head, she  continues, her eyes misty. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise. You know I’m married.”

     Look-A- like Sam laughs, “Do you think I’m a fool, Eve? There are other restaurants in this town! Why bring him here? There won’t be a next time.”

     He takes a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, presses it in a nearby waiter’s hand, and leaves abruptly.

     Eve shouts after him, “Next time answer your cell, damn it!” As she tosses her hair back and adjusts her sun glasses.

     The husband returns. A tan complements his brown eyes, perfect Roman nose, and romantic lips. Approaching the table, his aloof expression becomes surprise, as our eyes meet.

     Victor sits down across from his wife, tucks in a cloth napkin and questions, “Who was that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

     Eve clears her throat, forces a smile, and explains, “Someone who goes to my gym. It’s nothing. I’m tired, and sorry. Sorry we had words.” She reaches across the table to take her husband’s hand, “Can we forget it?”

     Eve appears confident and why not? She is not his other woman.

     I linger to finish my ‘Chocolate-Chocolate’ cake, lick the remains of a raspberry garnish from the fork, and pay the bill.

   Stopping at the couple’s table when leaving, I say, “Victor, What a surprise to see you here . . . with . . . your wife? And move into the passing crowd.

. . . .  just saying

Ridiculousness

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Aging & Attitude

Ridiculous, this is ridiculous; I am telling myself, stressed about baking chocolate chips cookies.

Really! Chocolate chip cookies! Have you eaten a home-baked chocolate chip cookie that was not delicious?

I am on a mission to bake my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies and disappointed with the results.

Granny B’s cookies were more like a brownie, square in size , not chewy or gooey, just the right amount of crunch. As you can tell from the picture; not flat or crispy.

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The struggle for perfection is ridiculous, absolutely positively ridiculous.

My children, who I will be bringing them to, remember the cookies, but not the way I remember them; a special treat that accompanied a special woman wherever she went.

Remember special treats for special days. Some of us even enjoyed weekly special treats.

Ours was eating pizza in front of the television on Friday night. Pizza was tomato paste on English muffins with American cheese criss-crossed on the top. The television show was Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip. We snapped our fingers and mouthed the words to the signature song. Then mesmerized by Kooky combing his hair, and prayed he would lend me his comb.

No really, I am being ridiculous. The cookies I baked are practically almost exactly like hers.

I never watched her bake them, but asked for the recipe once. Her response was she followed the recipe on the back of Toll House package but added one teaspoon more water. In later years I pondered and pondered how an insignificant addition to a cookie recipe could produce nirvana , then recalled Granny B baked with Crisco.

Remember the movie, “The Help,” when Minny says to Celia, “The greatest invention since they put mayonnaise in a jar. You have a squeaky door hinge, Crisco. Bags under your eyes, gum in your hair, Crisco”?

I examined the Crisco can, and sure enough, when substituting Crisco for butter add one teaspoon  water.

Now the recipe is just right. Well not exactly, the taste is delicious. That is not the problem.  

The problem? The cookies are too thick and a tad too light in color.  

I get it, I am being ridiculous.

I have tried a 9 by 13 pan, too thick, and 15 by 10, too thin. One is too small; the other too big. It is possible a 9.5 by 14 pan will be just right. Unless I am being ridiculous.

. . . . just saying

Hack Saw Happiness

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 The Happiness Series

I am standing in the kitchen and Mr. Wonderful, my husband Bob, walks behind me headed for the garage.
“Can you get me the hack saw?” I ask.

“The hack saw?”

“Yes, that small saw with the black handle. Isn’t that what it’s called?”

“Why do you want a hack saw?”

I roll my eyes to heaven.

I have used the electric knife before and know the cord and blade are in the back of the silverware draw. However, it will be quicker if he brings the saw back with him when he is done doing whatever it was he was going to do in the garage.

Now he stands behind me breathing over my shoulder as I explain.

“If you saw this plastic container in half, I’ll be able to get the rest of the lotion out.”
The plastic bottle has been sitting upside down the past three days, and I have been sticking my pinky finger in the opening then applying lotion to my arms and legs.

Speechless at first, Mr. Wonderful says, “Lotion is on sale at Publix, I’ll go buy some.

“It’s not about the money.” It’s more like . . . . children in China have very dry skin, so eat your green beans. And this lotion has sun screen in it!”

“Okay, so you’re making a statement, you don’t want to be wasteful?”

“Sort of. Is recycling a good choice if a million gallons of water are used to clean the container.”

He interrupts, “Johnson’s Baby Magic  is a Bogo (buy one get one free) this week.”

“I feel better using the spatula to remove the dribs and drabs. See it practically fills this jar. It makes me happy.” I look at him and smile.

He smiles back. “Great. So you are on to a new kind of cause.”

“If I wanted a new  cause or to protest something, I’d refuse to show my license to have a mammogram?”

“Why do you need a license to have a mammogram?”

“Well, any picture identification. Some type of mammogram fraud. However, I cannot recognize my breasts now that they almost reach the floor. I do not argue.”

“Claudia, how many people would use a hack saw to get the last drop of lotion out of a bottle?”

I roll my eyes and say to Mr. Wonderful, “A bread knife really doesn’t work.”

. . . . just saying

Trump’s Sweetheart Deal

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I tuned into the ninth Presidential debate late, listened until John Dickerson questioned Trump about his use of profanity, and when Jeb Bush whined, then professed love for his mother, turned the television off. It was not a debate, as in whole wheat flour vs unbleached flour is a healthy choice, but a headache.

As a grammar school teacher I had separated first grade students fighting over bad things said about their mothers. Back in those days each one was sent to stand in a corner. There was no reasoning they never met the women.

Trump defended his use of profanity  as “a way of emphasis.” The man does not smoke or drink, and with his classic no apology look implied; cursing, although okay, not presidential. If only he would do something about his hair I could forget about the fake tan.

John Dickerson labeled the shenanigans as “a race to the bottom.” Thankfully, Trump did not retort with, “Your mama wears combat boots.” He probably has not met Dickerson’s mom.

Sunday morning, according to Nielsen,  the debate was the highest rated with 15 million viewers. Analysis claim;

“Marco Rubio is the clear favorite among Republicans, while independents are largely divided between Trump, Kasich, and Rubio.

But get this;

“Donald Trump is the clear leader on values. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans and independents who watched the debate pick Trump as the candidate who most shares their values, with Ben Carson and Marco Rubio tied for second place, each with 16 percent. Rubio does better than Kasich among Republicans, while Kasich does better than Rubio among independents.”

Today I have been remembering the candidates standing in front of a pink and red CBS back drop, many wearing red ties. My headache became a migraine.

Trump says he is a businessman, not a politician. His goal is to win. When asked how to achieve winning, he say by consensus. He does use the pronoun we.

Obviously, Trump is making sweetheart deals and I am not entertained.

. . . . just saying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acerbic (Flash Fiction/Short Story)

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Polar Fox

“Acerbic” draws on personal experience and is published in FWA, Let’s Talk by Peppertree Press.

The inspiration for this story came after a doctor’s appointment. His nurse is habitually terse and abrasive, so much so that, I asked, “Have I offended you in some way?” She looked at me strangely having no idea she treatment others poorly.

The challenge for the Anthology was to use a dialogue format to present your short story.

The conversation below is between two women in a doctor’s waiting room.

                                                                                                                                                                                    

Acerbic

“This is unacceptable!  My time is of value, too.  Why aren’t you complaining?”

“I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”

“This is ridiculous.  I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes.  My appointment was for nine fifteen.  What time was your appointment?”

“Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?”

“It’s better if everyone is out of sorts.  I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”

“Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”

“Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”

“You’re upset.  Why don’t you thumb through a magazine?  There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one.  Have you been there?”

“You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what?  Be happy I have to wait for a man, I pay to tell me I’m sick.  And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either.  I’m Acerbic.  My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”

“Acerbic?  Is that … American or … a religion?”

“Acerbic is a way of life.  You got a problem with that?  Our dispositions are generally crabby.  We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”

“Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”

Golly gee?  Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour.  Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed?  That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable.  These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”

“His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious.  Are you really Acerbic?”

“Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic.  We don’t like friendly.  People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’  Although things are changing.  Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”

“You don’t mind if I read my book?’

“Of course I mind.  I get it.  Why not say shut-up?  Add please if you have to.  It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”

“No, tell me about your life.”

“Actually I had a great childhood.  We owned a small cabin not far from Route. 95 below the Georgia border.  Dad named it Acerbia.  It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations.  You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”

“Was that fun?”

“Are you kidding, of course, the best.  By the way, they call me Unfortunately.  I’m Unfortunately Fortunato.  What’s your name?  Not that I care.”

“Unfortunately is a first name?  And Fortunato your family…?”

“Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”

“That had to be a difficult name for a child.  Did she think it was a mistake?”

“No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers.  Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”

“Was that a surprise?”

“They still haven’t called anyone.  All they do is talk on the phone.  Someone else has to complain.  You can do it.  I like your pink eyebrows.”

“My eyebrows are pink?”

“Yea, they match your lipstick, compliment that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”

“My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”

“Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”

“It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”

“Most seniors get a little forgetful.  It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are.  You know glasses magnify things, right?”

“I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them.  I do not need them to read a large print book.”

“Did you hear that?  The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato.  That’s me, Unfortunately.  Doc’s ready for me.  Have a rotten, day”

“You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!”

P.S. I welcome your comments.

The Silent Sound of Snow – Happiness Series

I really miss snow.

Family and friends remark, “Easy to say from Florida.”

They may be right; nevertheless, beautiful winter scenes created by the recent blizzard bring me happiness and serenity.

I found myself reciting Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening.”

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Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Poem by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Frost found words to express a feeling so special it has ownership. Not his, but one to be shared.

The line, the only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake, sparked my poem;

 

Sounds of Snow

     by Claudiajustsaying

The sound of snow after falling
A quiet stillness penetrating crisp air
Listen intensely for snare drums not there

The howl of the wind mimics French horns
Stop in soft snow tracks
An acoustical silence alone

An absence of flurry
Close your eyes
Hear the gentle whispers of nature singing

Remember that sound after snow falling  . . . never there

. . . . just saying

The Short Straw Fix/ The Happiness Series

 

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The Short Straw Fix

I am smiling at least three times a day, complimenting others and hunting for opportunities to do a random act of kindness. All the same, I find myself still leaning on the horn when cutoff driving, grumbling if Mr. Wonderful corrects me, and ranting about short tubing in spray bottles.

You know how it goes, starts slowly with minor annoyance, a near empty spray bottle that sprays air instead of cleaner. I shake the bottle, hear the swishing sound of liquid, and then pump the spray to no avail.

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 Mr. Wonderful says, “It’s not empty, try tilting the bottle,”and takes the spray bottle from my hand.

Taking it back, unscrewing the sprayer, and putting my eye to the hole, I say, “I see liquid in the bottom.”

Now this is when the ranting starts. “Why do they do this? You don’t need to be a rocket scientists to know the tubing is too short. How much would it cost to make it a quarter inch longer? Everything is all about corporate profits, forget about customer stress and convenience. A person could have a heart attack trying to get it to spray and thinking about toxins.”

“Claudia, you paid a dollar for it at the dollar store, let it go, there aren’t any big profits. It’s probably a minuscule amount, throw it out and forget about it.”

I answer. “It’s wasteful! What’s wrong with these people? Haven’t they heard about global warming? We could reuse the plastic bottle if the spray worked right. I’m sure it’s more than a minuscule amount.” And grab a measuring cup from the cabinet to measure the exact amount. The liquid pours to the quarter cup line.

In a high pitched voice I say, “See more than you think,” feeling stressed.

Then a quest for happiness returns and I see Shawn Achor’s face and recall something he said in his Ted Lecture.

“Happy people view stress as a challenge.”

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Bang

Adopting an I’ll show you attitude, I grab a colored straw, unscrew the top and attach the straw to the tubing.

It is not perfect but it works better than ranting.

. . . . just saying

P.S. I had to trim the straw.

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband

The Happiness Series, “From Crappy to Happy”

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From Crappy to Happy

 

      It is a possibility the road from crappy to happy is much shorter than I think. I took the Customized Habit Survey at Goodthink to find out what happiness habit was best for me. After answering questions I was emailed my score along with a score range for recommended activities that will increase happiness when made a habit.

• Score 1-15    You are drained, and smiling three times a day for 21 days you will make you happier.

• Score 16-24 Defines a person as energized, and writing or saying aloud 3 new things you are grateful for, trains your brain to be more positive.

• Score 25-34 you are charged and will realize your power by complimenting three people a day.

• Score 35-50 Supercharged, challenges you to recharge others by doing an act of kindness daily.

      Apparently, I am happier than I thought. My score, 39 points, indicates I am happy, but do not know it. Therefore, I started singing “If You Are Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” and putting a strip of toothpaste across *Mr. Wonderful’s toothbrush (so he does not have to do it in the morning) in the middle of the night .

      Although I am not opposed to doing random acts of kindness to be happy, it is harder than you think to do a “Good Deed Daily,” when you have not left the house. And the toothpaste thing left Mr. Wonderful thinking he has early Alzheimers.

      In retrospect, feeling not as happy as I am, I thought my score would be lower and the cure would be writing about happiness.

     Which poses another quandary, what makes me happy?

     I thought long and hard over the past week and found my choices, (other than family and friends) of wine and ice cream, shallow. Although wine and ice cream are pleasurable, would gaining ten pounds bring real happiness? On the other hand, what difference does it make what makes you happen as long as it produces an increase in dopamine?

        Oy vey, happiness is getting complicated.

     So back to the original premise, reliving a happy experience will increase happiness. Would writing about eating ice cream, bring the same happiness as eating a double scoop cone?

        It is worth a try and calorie free.

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I Want a Cone

What is so special about ice cream? Is it the tantalizing fancy names like Rocky Road, Chunky Monkey, or Vanilla Fudge Twirl that conjure up images and make you want to swirl? Ice cream so delicious it makes our tongues dance and our hearts sing.

      Maybe, it is an association with happy times, birthdays, graduations and that kind of thing. Memories of a Good Humor truck driving through your neighborhood, and running home to beg for fifteen cents. Then as the jingling bell sound grew distant, hoping the truck would drive back again.

     Deciding, how to spend your fifteen or twenty-five cents, was a big decision. Would it be a vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate on a stick, or a sugar cone filled with ice cream, coated in chocolate with roasted peanuts decorating the lip?

     Ice cream makes me happy.

. . . . just saying

 *Mr Wonderful is my husband of 45 years.

Potty Singing and Happiness

One of the most powerful forces in human nature is our belief
that change is possible. ~ Shawn Achor

thThe Happiness Series

     I am limping into 2016 determined to make the year less crappy. We retired in 2007 and every year after has had a good deal of crappiness. This year I said, “Enough is enough!” and have declared this year, one of happiness.

     I started by watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday television program, hoping to be inspired and I was. The show is a mixture of interviews with and lectures by Spiritual Gurus designed to improve your life. It airs Sundays, on OWN.

     I was most taken by Shawn Achor who along with Elizabeth Gilbert author of “Eat Pray Love” has admitted to crying on the bathroom floor. Shawn has studied the Science of Happiness since his days at Harvard and talks about Positive Psychology and redefining Happiness. I was unaware that Happiness is a science, but what he said makes sense.

     The traditional formula, Hard Work = Success = Happiness, does not work because happiness is on the backside of success. We are always chasing the carrot because it is moved continually . Since 90% of happiness is derived from how the brain processes the world, we can train our brain to be happy just as we train our body to be strong, with exercise. The train your brain exercises he recommends are; a gratitude list, journal about what makes you happy, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness.

     You can watch his lecture on Super Soul Sunday or visit his website for particulars.

     While we have heard some of this before, Shawn supports the “Happiness Advantage” theory with findings. He found that people engaging in any of the activities for 21 consecutive days, were happier. In other words, happiness is a habit and good habits, like smiling, make a difference.

     Since writing make me happy, and writing about what makes you happy is on the list, I am introducing the Happiness Series, with “Striped Sweater.”

 

Striped Sweater

      Snow falls throughout the night into the early morning. Soft sugar like flakes that tickle your face then flutter gently to the ground, remind me of creating angels in the snow. We are snowbound. The roads are driveable but it is safer not to. The accumulation is six to seven inches and the air crisp.

     Our eleven-year-old granddaughter is playing computer games with Aunt Janine and doing handstands on the living room floor. The Christmas tree is still standing with scattered presents beneath the artificial branches.

     Alexandria Antonia resembles my side of the family: fair skin, freckles, hazel blue eyes, and her dad’s auburn brown hair. She will more than likely be tall.

     Alex, as she prefers to be called, sings throughout the day, off tune. Her voice is wonderful to hear. She sings, “Striped Sweater, a sweater with a stripe” a song she wrote. There are no other words just this simple refrain. Papa wears an old green sweater that inspired the catchy tune. She denies liking to sing and in between handstands excuses herself to use the potty.

      We then listen to her joyful rendition of Jingle Bells from behind a closed door.

      This is happiness.

. . . . just saying

 

Praticing Optimism in 2016

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Aging & Attitude

Happy New Year!

      The year 2015 was crappy. Although it is not politically or otherwise correct to say so, it was; and became more crappy and crappier.

     Remember; it started with Tom Brady and an inflated, uninflated or deflated (whatever) football. Then as shock and dismay about Bill Crosby unfolded, we almost forgot about Hillary’s emails.

     Let’s not revisit the numerous mass shootings, police killings, plane crashes, and weather related disasters. You can read about them at abcnews link, factor in any personal crappiness and evaluate the year yourself. For me, it was one of the crappiest.

     Thank goodness Donald Trump added some much needed humor, Prince William and Kate appear to be a happy family, and Pope Francis’s visit to the United States prompted John Boehner to resign.

     Mr. Wonderful and I were asleep by 9:30 pm on New Year’s Eve. We took a 6 am flight home to Florida, having spent Christmas in Albuquerque with our kids and grandkids, and exhausted.

     I slept until 8am the next morning and while enjoying a cup of coffee viewed Dr. Oz. He discussed the glass half-full or half-empty approach to the New Year and a solution for cynicism. “Practicing Optimism,” is the catchy expression he used.

     Although a sunny disposition is to some degree a byproduct of genes and life experience, there is increasing support that thoughts have a cognitive effect on the mind. Specifically, meditation and mindfulness are being studied.

     “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

    In the March 2014 issue/Meditation Research Psychological Science  of Meditation  the following findings are listed from articles:

  • Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness
  • Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem
  • The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: larger hippopotami and frontal volumes of gray matter
  • Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density
  • Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation

 

     Sounds promising. Previous research indicating jumping up and down was the way to reactivate a shrinking hippocampus. Now we can achieve the same, if not better, improvement in a prone position.

     Things are looking up. My Christmas cactus is in full bloom and being an optimist, I believe it to be a sign that 2016 will not be as crappy.

. . . . just saying

     These articles  discuss the benefits of practicing meditation and mindfulness. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mindfulness-research-2015_567865b6e4b06fa6887e3f1d

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/meditation-apps-inner-peace_n_2900544.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/12/12/how-to-meditate-in-five-m_n_8779824.html

Global Positioning System and the Hippocampus.