memo to the great unwashed

Ruth Neumann-Derujinsky

There are 613 people of discerning taste, and exquisite judgement, who follow my blog. May the Big Whatever bless each and every one of you. Thank you for befriending me, idolising me, giving me my goddess dues. I do appreciate your following, your comments and your friendship. Thank you.

And if you ever stop visiting I shall hunt you down and hit you with my stick.

You can go back to your dull and joyless little lives now.

city rush

 

To blog or not to blog, that was the question

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I was in my forties when I started my blog for a number of reasons. The dreaded fear of being technologically left behind (well, if the youngins’ can do it, then so can I!) was a key motivation. I still smile to think that I bought a ”how to book” on blogging to hold my hand along the way. I chose VOX first up because the lovely lady authors stated it was the easiest for novices. Whether that was true or they were just sponsored to write it, I won’t ever know, but what followed was a sharp learning curve and soon I had a blog and a couple brave bloggers who linked with me (I think Margy and Emjay were near first starters from the VOX family). I was so proud of me, blogging with friends!

A second reason for writing a blog is that I adore the written word. I am a far better communicator with the written word, rather than the spoken word. Perhaps it is being given the time to think, edit, proof read (sometimes I proof read!), ponder and revisit that suits my brain.  I do not perform well for thinking quickly, except for humour when I am razor fast and exceptionally witty, so putting thoughts and ideas into a verbal context is not always my forte. And me a teacher! Though remember, I was a librarian before I was a teacher, so the written came before the spoken!

There was another element to my blogging decision; the need to be creative that just wouldn’t be silenced. Like every other literate person, I dream of writing a book, and the fantasy ricochets between fiction and memoir. So far, I just haven’t committed enough to achieve it. Freudian followers might surmise there is an aspect of low self-esteem and self-doubt. I pretend it is the need for a day job and family life that prevents me. Fodder for another post when the monkey voices in my head are released, perhaps!

So the need for a creative outlet was followed. Scrapbooking holiday photos just wasn’t cutting it, folks! Behind the Flamingo Dancer banner, I get to be whoever, or whatever I want. Basically, I really am me, pearls and all, feet firmly mired in the trenches of what passes for my human existence.

I had plenty of material in the early days, as I was working in the Basement of Discontent, along with She Who Will Kill Me With Kindness, and my sidekick, The Assistant. Then we all got thrown out with the bath water, the victims of takeover and the very technology I was trying so hard to stay up with. The irony has not been lost on me, or the life lesson.

Then it was a trip into redundancy, unemployment, returning to university as a full time mature student (very mature; I was older than some of the parents of fellow class mates, and a couple lecturers!) and a career as a high school teacher, then teacher librarian. The search for that elusive permanent position, oh my!

woman horror

On the days I wanted to cry, my online friends came with open virtual arms. They have been there to cry with me, laugh with me, chide me when I needed to pick myself up, bring me back to earth when I got carried away with myself (something GOF, Snowy, DDerbyDave and GOM are particularly fond of doing – keep up the good work, guys, you might best me one day!) Sickness and in health, deaths and births, they have walked beside me.  To be honest this element surprised me more than anything- the camaraderie and support, the honesty and abundance of opinions, can never be imagined, but it has been a priceless gift.

For an introvert, who finds being nice exhausting it has been the perfect place for me. The book may never be written, and my blog may never (it won’t, so no bets!) rival The Bloggess or Dooce, but I know that in some ways I have touched lives, and those lives have touched mine. No writer, creator, person, woman can ask for more.

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Would a Flamingo Dancer by any other name be as unique?

1689. One thousand, six hundred and eighty-nine. Don’t get excited for it isn’t my four digit bank account password! Not that it would benefit you in any way if it was, for my current account balance doesn’t total the sum of the individual digits of that number added together! It  is actually the number of posts I have written on WordPress.

It has been my habit to post several times a week, sometimes even daily over the years and so a mass of Flamingo Dancer information is available to the serious reader. I was going to use the adjective “committed” reader, but that might actually be a more apt description of the individual after they have rifled through my archives! Indeed, a padded cell and some medication might be just the remedy after a walk through Flamingo Dancer land!

I chose the name Flamingo Dancer after very little thought, as one viewing of the mating dance of the flamingo and I knew it was the moniker for me.

Have you ever watched a flock of flamingos performing their mating dance? They bunch together, heads held high, each individual bird lost in their own moment, but at the same time in total unison with their flock. First they dance in one uniform direction, and then by some unseen form of communication they sense that it is time to turn and dance back in the opposite direction; perfect, beautiful, graceful symmetry. Breathtaking.

The flamingos and their dance represent my perception of the human condition. I am alone, singular, and at the same moment I am part of something larger: family, community, world. Hence, I am Flamingo Dancer.

Come sway, spin, whirl, twirl, pirouette as you desire in your singularity and your plurality. Will you dance with me?

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a family story…

Our first grandchild is due next week. She already has quite a sizeable library as friends were asked to gift books at her baby shower, but I may have added one more this week…

Flora

In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humour and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

The reason I chose the name Flamingo Dancer is because of the synchronised mating dance that the Flamingos perform; all moving together,  yet each in their own moment. Harmony with the community, individualism still valued.

Of course I would be the leader of the flock!

It’s been deflating

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It started as a blue spiky child’s ball. It came home in the weekly shopping. On Saturday morning the Goddess known as Flamingo Dancer raised herself from the couch and also rose above her concept of exercise as being the movement from one end of the couch to the other, took the blue ball out to Augie Dog’s yard.

Using foot work that David Beckham would envy the Flamingo Dancer introduced the ball to Augie Dog who promptly took fright and raced through the open door back into the house to quiver beside Mr FD’s chair.

ball with woman

The quest to make a man out of a puppy accepted Flamingo Dancer kicked the ball about the yard, bounced it off the side of the house and gradually enticed Augie Dog to return to the great outdoors. Augie Dog accepted the ball to the point that he would chase after it, but refrained from physical contact. He often retreated back to the safety of Mr FD’s chairside.

The Flamingo Dancer continued to the point of dewy forehead and racing heart; longer than three minutes, before leaving the ball on the patio and reclaiming her couch position.

The ball sat unloved for the rest of the day.

In the dark of night, Augie triumphantly trotted into our bedroom carrying a deflated blue spiky ball. He had fought the enemy and won.

Now he plays non stop with his blue spiky ball. Flamingo Dancer gets to sit on her couch non stop. Win Win situation all around!

Except for the blue spiky ball …
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self indulgent prose

Her arrival was unannounced. One morning the old man had opened his apartment door to walk downstairs to buy a coffee at the corner coffee shop, his one self indulgence each day and she had been in the hallway. He had heard no sound, but she must have been at work for some time as already there was an oil sheet covering the floor, and she had opened a can of white paint and was painting over the tired salmon coloured hall way wall behind which the old man lived.

She was young, perhaps no more than twenty three or twenty four, he surmised. Dressed in jeans and a long sleeve white tee shirt, her long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, she smiled at him as he stepped through his doorway and turned, a little stunned at finding a young woman on his threshold, before edging his way around the paint can that blocked his path.

“Oh sorry,” she said, bending forward and moving the paint can out of his way.

“What are you doing?” he asked, though it was obvious that she was painting the wall.

She smiled as though she knew something he didn’t, but was quite happy for him to take his time in learning what it was. “I’m here to make a few changes; to paint the hallways, brighten the place up a little.”

“What?” He gestured towards the area that had already been painted white. “Is that the colour?” He wasn’t sure if he didn’t prefer the salmon, despite its depressing hue over the sterile hospital white.

“Not your colour of choice?” she laughed, rolling more paint on the wall. “What colour would you prefer?”

Now paint colour had not been something on his mind that day, or any of the many proceeding days for a very long time, so he had to think a moment before he replied. A long forgotten memory suddenly came back to life and provided him with an answer, “My grandfather was a beekeeper and when I was old enough to stand still and work quietly with the hives, he would take me along to collect the honey.” His words brought the smell of the smoker used to dull the fury of the bees at being robbed back to his senses and he breathed deeply as though he could indeed smell the essence of that smoke right there, in the hall way, right then. “The honey was the most delicious golden colour, it was rich and deep…it was, it was the colour of…” his voice trailed away as he sought the exact description of the smooth sweet honey that flowed at the hands of his grandfather

“Um, honey?” she supplied. Honey coloured walls; that was a new one, especially from a man. Usually they wanted red like some racing car they dreamed about owning one day, or the green of a golf course; all very pedestrian and mundane, but no, not this one, this one wanted honey. Well, at least the job was looking up at last, this one had a bit of imagination, and she guessed was a little something of the romantic too.

The old man snapped back into the moment and laughed. “Don’t listen to the ramblings of an old man,’ he said. “White is fine. I don’t suppose at my age I should worry about the colour of walls anyway, I should just be content to be live long enough to see the paint dry!” He walked to the stair landing before stopping and turning back to the girl. “I’m Ordell” he said, surprised that he wanted her to know his name.

“Hello Ordell, I’m Marigold.”

“Would you like a coffee?” he surprised himself by asking. “I was just going to go and buy one, and I could bring one back for you if you like.” He expected her to say no, only too happy to be rid of an old man, but something deep inside of him made him want to reach out to her.

“That would be lovely, thank you Ordell. I must say that a flat white is one of my earthly pleasures!”

The woman who had been making his daily cup of coffee for the past nine years couldn’t mask her surprise when Ordell not only ordered two coffees, but ordered them to take away. Why, every morning he would come in, order his mug of black coffee and then wander over to the table near the window where he would take up his position and watch the world walk by as he drank his brew. He never lingered passed the last sip and he never ordered another mug, or any food, just one coffee that he drank in silence before walking back home. Today was a stunner, two coffees and take away at that! Well, old dogs and new tricks! She wondered if this was the start of something new as she placed the two lidded cups in front of the old man.

“There you go,” she announced. “Got a hot date?” she couldn’t help teasing him.

He took a cup in each hand and made to walk to the door without answering, but he stopped and smiled, “A young woman who reminds me of honey!” His answer only mystified the woman more, but he halted any chance of further questions by walking out of the café.

When he returned to the hall way outside his apartment, Marigold had finished painting the wall with white paint and had in fact another three or four more pots of paint standing near her feet. They were smaller than the pot of white paint, but Ordell couldn’t see what colour they were. Except for one which Marigold had already popped open and was now bending over stirring with a short piece of doweling. It was the colour of honey.

“That’s the colour,” Ordell exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief.

“What colour?” she asked as though she had no recollection of their earlier conversation.

“The colour of Grandfather’s honey!”

“Really?” she smiled, reaching out to take a cup from Ordell’s hand. She was playing with him, she had known all along exactly what colour it was. “Who would have thought?” She bent down and clamped the lid on the white paint tin with one hand, thumped it with a closed fist and then moved it to the facing wall, still salmon pink. She gestured towards it, indicating that Ordell should use it as a seat, as she sank to the floor, crossing her legs and took a sip of her coffee. “You must have loved your Grandfather very much.”

“My father died when I was a baby, so I never really knew him. My mother and I went to live with my grandparents. Mother worked as a domestic and so it was often left to Grandfather to see to me. Mostly I just followed him about as he did his chores, tended his vegetable patch, feed the chickens. I reckon he just about fed the family on what he grew in the back yard. Kept a few ducks too.” He was no longer with Marigold, for his memory had taken him back through the years to his boyhood.

She sat quietly, leaving him to his revelry as she sipped her coffee. Not the best cup of coffee she had ever had; the milk had been overheated so that it had a scalded taste. Marigold was a recent convert to coffee drinking and in a very short time had grown quite addicted to it, to the extent that she had quickly developed into somewhat of a connoisseur of the various beans and roasts, and was now quite particular about her coffee. She had found that a good cup of coffee was one of life’s little pleasures and she enjoyed it very much.

A couple of nights previously she had watched an advertisement on the television in which a well known movie star was spared a sudden death by handing over the coffee machine that he had just purchased, along with his favourite brand of coffee, and it had set Marigold to thinking if such a thing were possible. Would God bargain for a good cup of coffee?

Not this time.

 Flamingo Dancer 2012

mixed messages from Mr FD

 

The nose knows no nos. It accepts yeses, though.

Mr FD.

I purchased a new deodorant, but when I needed it I couldn’t find it anywhere. Eventually it was found – Mr FD had stored it with the household cleaning products.

I will give him the life saving grace of assuming his actions were a matter of mistaken identity, rather than a lesson on hygiene requirements.