About this time of year in the spring, when the weather warms up, the blooms are off the stone fruit trees, and the new fruit are just beginning to grow, the ants start to stake their claims on the trees. You can see them marching up the trunks and disappearing into the foliage. What are they doing? Most likely building their scale nurseries. The ants nurse and protect the scale insects, which, tapped into the sap of the tree, produce a sweet nectar that the ants love to eat.
You can pick off the scales one by one (they’re squishy underneath their hardened shells, like baby snails, yes eww gross, wear gloves) but unless you tackle the ants, the scales will just come back.
So, what to do?
The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.
~ Henry Ward Beecher
Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they’re really not. They’re companions – the hero and the sidekick.
~ Laurence Shames
Iris, a single young woman with relationship problems, discovers that she has a great aunt who has been locked away in a mental institution for 60 years. Esme Lennox is the great aunt and because the institution is shutting down Esme is handed over to the care of Iris, her one remaining, functional relative.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell is a beautifully written, haunting story of family secrets, denial, tragedy and betrayal. As the story unfolds the author carries us further and further into psyches of Esme, broken but not destroyed, and her sister Kitty, who is still hanging on, though wrecked with Alzheimer’s. Why was Esme shut away forever at age 16, never mentioned by her family again?
I first met Allee Willis in the mid-nineties when we worked together on “Willisville”, a virtual world of 19 or so wildly amusing fictional inhabitants of a town by the same name, accessible only through the Internet. It was a grand experiment, funded by Intel, and like so many things that Allee creates, years before its time. Allee is one of the bravest, truest artists I know. Brilliant ideas come hurtling out of her faster than most of our brains can process. She seems to thrive teetering on the edge of either disaster or brilliant success, ready to leap fully into the next thing, forging ahead wherever her creative juices take her.
Recently Allee teamed up with recording artist Holly Palmer to create and publish their own music, skipping the established record labels all together. Their video It’s a Woman Thang was featured on YouTube and has had over 800,000 downloads to date. Allee is a grammy award winning songwriter, over 50 million songs sold, used to write a lot for Earth Wind and Fire, wrote a lot of the music to Beverly Hills Cop (remember Neutron Dance?). She co-wrote the music to the Broadway show “Color Purple”, produced by Oprah, based on the book by Alice Walker. I’ve always been awed and amazed by Allee Willis and am delighted that she agreed to be interviewed about what motivates her and the latest stage of her career:
“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship…
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
– Hermann Goering (as told to Gustav Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials)