This is a Weekly Coffee Share hosted by: Eclectic Alli.
Alli manages a weekly list of posts from a small group of bloggers who want to just stay in touch, chat about blogging, writing, travel, photography, children, pets, work, life hacks or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Greetings. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by for hot cup of coffee or tea. I’m very fond of my loose leaf teas, but regret that there are almost no cool things you can do to tea like the various examples of latte art that shows up as often as a barista gets an inspiration at the same time as s/he has an extra few minutes to try to execute it.
I wanted to thank Lizl from the group for her help on a step I was trying to use in my blog setup. On my own, I managed to gnarl-up a simple task and I needed someone to restart me down the right path. The result was a better home page for my story collection. I grant that it remains a work in process, but it is so much better for her help.
My goal was to build a simple Table of Contents / Index of stories with some of the most compelling photos from some of the stories. I simply tripped over myself when it came to adding links beneath each photo. Once Lizl pointed me the right direction – finishing it took me only a few minutes to do the full list. I had already re-built my standard footer with a short bio and clearer link back to this index and was rewarded to see my reader usage of the index almost triple almost overnight.
I still don’t have much in the way of SEO assistance from my free site so word of mouth and sharing my post alerts on Facebook remains my biggest source of readers.
This week proved to be a great week. About a third of the frustration of my day job resolved leaving me to worry about only 2 big projects (hey, I’ll take any fresh air I can find) and my manager waved my flag of thanks before her director for a nice kudo.
I managed to get one new story created and posted. I had a bet with myself that my readers would prove to be overwhelmingly male, just because guns tend to attract males and repeal females in my experience and this was a solid young boy with a gun story. It’s another slice of life adventure form the early 1960s as experienced by a school boy. Sometimes you use rocks or other objects that you can drop to learn about gravity and ballistic physics. I managed to survive these lessons with a variety of projectiles and one assist by the police (sigh). You can find this 10 minute memory in my story: Ballistic Buddies Adventures. Come-on gals! Don’t let the guys own this fun alone.
Did you note that Alli ran aground on that mud flat that we’ve all hit several times ourselves? I tried to shake her loose with a small challenge to write a memory of her own. The thought occurred to me that I have such a memory that’s quick and fun to share. See if this one works in your mind’s eye.
When I was about 6 years old, my parents took our family to Oregon for a camping trip. One of the attractions we visited was the Oregon Caves National Monument. It was my first encounter with real caves and set me up for later caving adventures (see my The Speleological Spiderman Incidents story for those details) but this trip was a simple guided walking tour of a wonderful natural cave.
My richest memory comes from when the guide, after leading us up through a confusing series of tubes and passages with irregular floors and walls, had the whole group in a large room deep within the main cave. “Many people rarely experience total darkness. There is almost always some kind of light to orient us to our surroundings. There might be stars or nightlights. If you suspect you will be in the dark, you normally would grab a flashlight or a candle.
“So I want to show you two things you can learn about light from a cave. The first is just how black total darkness is and the second is how powerful even a small light can be even in such a large room like this one. In a moment, I’m going to turn off the lights in the room, leaving us in – total – darkness. There will be absolutely no light. Your eyes will try to adjust and seek out any small source of light, but there will be none. If you have any kind of lighter or flashlight, please do not use it. We want to learn what total darkness looks and feels like.”
So, I’m listening to him and standing with my family thinking this will be neat to experience. Mom was next to me and lots of others were nearby. Bring it on – I thought. I can handle darkness.
“Okay folks. Is everyone comfortable where you’re at? I don’t want anyone walking or moving about because that will be dangerous. Okay – is everyone ready?”
This should be pretty cool – let’s do it, I thought.
“Here we go, in three; one – two – three.” With a click, the room went completely dark and even the silhouette images that the back of our eye balls retained for a few seconds faded – into – dark – nothing. The room went silent, then a few people uttered different, quiet reactions: “wow”, “ooo”, “oh my,” utterances all whispered but well carried through the cavern room.
After a few more seconds, our guide continued his talk explaining what many people experience in total darkness. His words were comforting because they well matched what most of us had to be experiencing. My own senses, deprived of light, automatically tried to compensate, reaching out further for any input: his voice confirmed that he was still right over there someplace, someone behind me did something with a coat zipper, the air remained the cool ambient temperature of the cave, but the darkness somehow made it feel cooler – chilling me slightly. There was no breeze, almost no motion around me that I could detect. What was that smell – some guy’s after shave?
Finally, he told us how in a few moments, he would light a single match. He reminded us how little light a single match puts out and I agreed, how could a match fill this room? He went on to describe how our eyes had been adjusting to the darkness by opening up as wide as possible to collect any pin-point of light – but of course there was none to be found.
He was trying to stretch out the experience and I realized that I was getting kind of freaked out by the whole thing. I refused to be scared, but this 6 year old brain was trying to break loose with fear. I fought it back and swallowed the urge to “be afraid”. There was nothing to be afraid of here.
I turned around, moving my feet so I could look behind me, around and around, hoping to see any kind of light to comfort myself – but no joy. What if he loses his matches and the lights don’t come back on? What will we do?
Nothing to see, scarce little to hear, nothing helpful to smell and knelling down to lick the cave floor just seemed silly, so I was left with touch to give me the certainty that all was well.
Mom was right next to me when the lights went out so I reached out and found her hip. I moved my hand to find her back pocket and dug in my four fingers. It was ridiculous, but this simple proof that she was there with me flooded me with peace and the sprout of panic quickly withered and died.
The guide seemed to be wrapping up his speech and told us that enough time had passed that we all should be ready for the match light. The room went silent – waiting to see how right he was.
Then we heard it – ptshhhhh as the match flared and ignited. He held up the match and, wow – the room exploded back into existence. It was a bright, stunning demonstration and distinction that I’ve never forgotten. My mind was hungry for images of the people, the guide, the cave walls and formations, even the hand rails that some were standing near and the ceiling. It was all so rich and oh so valuable.
It was startling how dark total darkness really is and how one match could bring so much information and comfort and how much we depend on our eyes. The point was made and not wasted on me. Score one for the guide.
It was all almost as startling as when I looked up into the face of my mom, thankful for the comfort of her being there for me – only to realize that this was the face of a total stranger – a woman who, in the dark took no offense to some kid kinda freaking out who just needed a mom’s back pocket for a few minutes.
Have a great week all.