Kid Things and Adult Reflection

Did you know that Play-Doh was originally an all white moldable wallpaper cleaner? There was a lot of soot on the wallpaper back then. People used to make a cleaning mixture mixing flour, salt, water and some chemicals to roll up and down the wall to take off the soot. Then Kutol, an early Play-Doh came along and made a fortune. So this is sort of true. So many people started using Kutol for crafts that Play-Doh was born, or so they say…

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Two early books I enjoyed growing up were Meg and Tomorrow Will Be Bright. Let’s start with Meg, The Mystery of The Witch’s Staircase, by Holly Beth Walker (She created about 6 books in the 1970s but I didn’t know that at the time and only read that one). I won this book for flying the highest kite in a Girl Scout kite flying contest which took place in a field next to a church. I’d always been an avid reader and writer but this book was a real page turner. To this day, I do not remember the storyline, but I do remember the rushing through dinner so I could pick the book back up where I left off.

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The other book that had me completely engrossed was, as I mentioned, Tomorrow Will Be Bright by Mabel Leigh Hunt. This book was required reading in my fifth grade class and like Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (which I loved in fourth grade)- about one chapter of Tomorrow Will Be Bright was read aloud in class every day. We didn’t take that book home so I would go home and think about what was going to happen next. Fifth grade was a tough year for me but this simple book made it not only a little more tolerable but actually worthwhile.

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Tomorrow Will Be Bright was published in 1958 although it was 1975 when I read it. It was about a Quaker family, “Betsy-for-short,” and a cowbell; and was set in 1806. Again, I don’t remember the storyline (I gleaned the aforementioned facts from the amazon description and part of it comes back to me, but certainly not all of it), but I remember the concluding sentence like it was yesterday. I remember reading it, being sorry the story had ended, and being especially moved by the last line which I’ve never forgotten. The last sentence in the book was:

Tomorrow will be bright.

Perhaps I needed that sentiment then. Actually, don’t we all need it now? I plan to purchase these books, which I found on Amazon. I’m going to reread them, and offer them to my 7 year old grandson to read. Perhaps the stories of one’s youth can become one’s life themes.

An interesting fact I learned recently in a book called Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson is about bluebirds. Did you know that these birds never ever build the entry point to their nest any larger than an inch and a half? Why? Because somehow they know that if they do, starlings will be able to squeeze through and steal their eggs. How do they automatically know this? It’s hardwired in their brains and that is intriguing, at least to me.

Take matrixing for example. We all do it. We look at a craggy rocky mountainside and we pick out the lines of a human face. An old man’s face. We look in a smudged mirror and see a colonial woman wearing a bonnet… in the smear there. As babies we are programmed to look for faces and we continue to see them, to look for them where they are not. And we see them. Why do cats become excited and alert when we make kissy sounds? That’s hard-wiring too. The kissing sound, which most of us are naturally inclined to use in the presence of a cat, actually sounds like the screech of a mouse, or a bird, which is of course programmed into the cat as prey sounds and so they take notice…

The world is a profound place. I’m a product of environment, genetics, (nature and nurture,) and so are you.

“A dog will never forget the crumb thou gavest him, though thou mayst afterword throw a hundred stones at his head.”-SA’DI, A.C.E. 1258

I have to say, when I came across this quote I thought several things of which here are two: People really understood the nature of dogs back in 1258. And: Who the heck is SA’DI, A.C.E. ?

So I looked him up. Of course. I learned that he was a writer (no surprise) whose writings appear in the Gulistan. I thought, what’s a Gulistan? So I looked it up, of course. It means “life work.”

One thing that never changes is that things are always changing. Right? For example I had to switch cable companies. I hate learning new remotes and DVR systems. My fingers have apparently retained the muscle memory it had learned while using the other remote. My fingers go, of their own volition, to the fast forward function or the GUIDE button, but alas my fingers find the pause button and the rewind button instead. Muscle memory can be rewritten but it takes a lot of failed attempts. The procedural memory (or muscle memory) is really inside the brain, not the muscles, of course. It involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.

One thing I know for sure: The more I know, the more I want to know. It’s easy to look out my smeared window at the limited view of dead grass, the dog poo not yet shoveled away, the naked trees with the unhealthy nicks and branches, the cold feral cat that skulks and breaks my heart… Depression is VERY easy. So is hopelessness. I suppose there’s an innate strength in me (maybe you have it too) and like muscle memory, the more you exercise the hope, the lesser depression gets.

Harriet The Spy must’ve appealed to me because the young girl was always trying to figure out “why.” Meg thought her summer would be boring, but she unraveled a mystery because she was curious and motivated to uncover a mystery and find truth. As for that other book I mentioned, I have to believe tomorrow WILL be bright.

I saw a commercial aimed toward kids (at the beginning of a Diary of A Wimpy Kid movie dvd, which I recommend highly as a hysterical movie series, regardless of age) involving technology. The commercial encouraged youth to watch movies on your phone, tablet, etc. anywhere you happen to be: the playground, the park, riding in a car… If I was at any of those places, I’d want to sit on the swing, throw a ball to my dog, LOOK out the window at scenery! Is society teaching kids and adults alike to tune out of the world and tune in to technology?

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Sure it is. Maybe that’s why simple things, like Play Doh, books, pets, comedy… are so important. I’ve been sick since October off and on with so many things! Then I saw this quote by Mark Twain and laughed aloud:

“I am able to say that while I am not so ruggedly well, I am not ill enough to excite an undertaker.”

Where did I see the quote? In a very funny interesting book I’m currently reading called: Mortuary Confidential, Undertakers Spill The Dirt, by Ken McKenzie and Todd Harra. Ken, seen below actually is known for creating a calendar of undertaker “beefcakes” which benefited breast cancer..

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“hey what you think
Is you’re not getting any younger
What I know is that you’re not really very old

I know you wanna say no, no, no
It feels much better in the summer
Well, if it isn’t warm where you’re sittin’
Then kitten come on in out of the cold”—- KID THINGS lyrics, Adam Duritz

So….that’s my current frame of my mind, my musings for today! Thank you for reading. Stay curious!

Harriet-the-Spy

Today’s Kutol may just be tomorrow’s Play-Doh

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