et alia: S#$t my family says (and does)…Installment ??

It was cold and windy on Tuesday…a textbook Winnie the Pooh “blustery day”…and I was idly pondering if Richard Armitage pumps his own gas as I stood at the pump with my hair blowing in my face.  (I concluded that unless he has someone to do it for him, he must since “full service” gas stations are pretty much obsolete, in the US at least)  Fuel loaded and gas cap secured, I wandered into the mini market to stock up for Twelve Hour Tuesday.  The following is a post to my RL Facebook feed recounting the events…


Groucho Marx glasses avatar is me….

Good grief.  I probably should have been more mortified than I was – I can only imagine how my toilet paper tail must have been blowing about in all that wind at the gas pump!  I’d like to also point out the loving reactions of my family and friends…

Helicopter Beanie is a friend from school

Red Fez is my cousin (more like a sister)

Pink Heart is a dear friend

And it get’s better…as Red Fez Cousin points out…Pink Heart Pal is an inquiring mind…


I decided to tell the story myself to spare Red Fez Cousin the stomach cramps she would surely suffer as she laughs herself into spasms every time she tells this story…for the last three DECADES  😉

What can I say?  It’s a gift!!



“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

It’s true, and not in a completely destroyed,heading off to an asylum, Blanche DuBois fashion.  (This of course is the iconic final line spoken by Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.)

No, I mean it in a completely literal sense.  Yesterday I was driving home when the battery light came on in my mommy-van.  Not good.  I hoped that I could nurse it to the side of the road, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, I was in the left turn lane and the engined stalled in the middle of the intersection.  Momentum carried me 3/4 of the way through, but she was definitely going to require some pushing to get out of the middle of the street and to the curb.  Crud!  Dropping it into neutral, I climbed out, pushing with one hand and steering with the other.  Mommy-vans are great for hauling kids and gear, but they are a b!$#h to get moving from a dead stop.


Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it alone since two separate gentlemen pulled over and jumped out to help me.  Before I could even thank them properly, they had returned to their cars and gone about their business, as if to say, “It was no trouble, happy to help.”



It’s just this kind of unexpected kindness that SpReAd the Love is looking to foster and multiply.  I could have pushed it myself, but my day was made a bit easier by two complete strangers who stopped what they were doing to help me.  (And also by my neighbor who came to fetch me when I needed a ride home.).  Kindness is out there, but if you can’t find it, just do it – you’ll be amazed how it comes back to you!  😉

Virtutes Romanae: Richard Armitage and Clementia

An abundance of CLEMENTIA... Source

An abundance of CLEMENTIA…

Although Richard Armitage exhibits them readily, kindness/indulgence/mildness/forbearance are not exactly qualities that most people would associate with the bellicose Romans.  Nevertheless, CLEMENTIA was counted among the VIRTUTES ROMANAE, the qualities to be aspired to by all citizens.  The closest English cognate to CLEMENTIA is clemency or mercy.  The unlikely poster boy for this aspect of CLEMENTIA was none other than Julius Caesar.

"Chiaramonti Caesar"  Vatican Museum

“Chiaramonti Caesar”
Vatican Museum

Incoming…another historical side trip…

Julius Caesar, the conqueror of Gaul, the dictator of Rome, the last nail in the coffin of the flailing Republic, started out as impoverished but ambitious Roman aristocrat.   A man of tremendous political and military acumen, he maneuvered himself into immense power first by allying with the voting power of the working classes, despite his elite pedigree, and then by forming an “unholy trinity” with two other ambitious men, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus.  The three pooled their resources in order to pull an end run around the beleaguered and corrupt political process of the last stage of the Republic.  A power play that would serve their individual purposes well.  As happens with alliances of ambitious and power hungry people, this one ended up in civil war in 48 BC.  Guess who came out on top?  

Caesar was not the first individual to seize sole power in 1st century BC Rome…in fact, he had run afoul of Sulla as a very young man.  Evidently Caesar learned something from the experience.  Lucius Cornelius Sulla had cut a bloody path through the Roman elite, purging any and all political opponents in order to “clean up” the corruption in the government.  By contrast, in the wake of the civil war, Caesar famously offered full pardon – Clemency – to anyone who had fought against him.  He went one step further and included many of his former enemies in high positions within his dictatorship (this turned out rather badly for Caesar in the end obviously)  The actual sincerity of Caesar’s mercy has long been suspect, but it served it’s purpose in that whether the pardoned elites believed it sincere or not, the common people of Rome – Caesar’s power source – certainly did…especially after the consecration of a temple of CLEMENTIA CAESARIS in 44BC.  

So, CLEMENTIA certainly has a famous instance of association with mercy and clemency, which actually seems to have slanted how the term has cognated into modern English usage.  In Latin however, this word appears much more commonly with a slightly different meaning related to indulgence, forbearance, mildness and kindness…or so says the literature on the Roman Virtues.  I was skeptical, since it fit my purposes almost too nicely, so I looked it up via the PERSEUS PROJECT:

There in black and white (and blue hyperlink)

There it is in black and white (and blue hyperlink)

As you can plainly see, the entry for definition II of CLEMENTIA shows that this sense of the word appears quite commonly among prose writers…especially with writers like Cicero and Seneca…who had a great interest in Roman moralia.

CLEMENTIA in progress... Source


We have had daily proof in recent weeks that Richard Armitage embodies the Roman Virtue of CLEMENTIA as he graciously appears at the Old Vic stage door night after night…only minutes after what pretty much everyone describes as a physically grueling performance…to indulgently and kindly interact with fans.  Account after account confirms that despite the fact that he must be tired, he is kind and pleasant, signing autographs and taking selfies.  He appears to be very well aware how much it means to fans to meet him, however brief the meeting might be.  CLEMENTIA in the flesh it seems!


What a Wonderful World…Spread the Love Update

What a great week of reports coming in from The Crucible previews in London…people are enjoying the play tremendously and those who have met Richard Armitage at the stage door have mentioned many times how happy and sweet he’s been.  There’s another word to describe him…. it just slipped my mind…wait, it will come to me…um frightening?  No, that’s not it.   Oh, I remember now – KIND.  We all have our frightening moments, but Richard Armitage has shown over and over again that he has a tremendous capacity for kindness despite being absolutely terrifying!   And so do you all!   You make it a wonderful world…cue gratuitous Louis Armstrong…

The SpReAd the Love campaign celebrates the kindness each and every one of us does in both in our local communities and just in general.  So far this year we’ve collected reports of 344 kindnesses ranging from monetary gifts and in kind donations of food, clothing, furniture, toiletries, etc., to simple kindnesses like holding a door or helping out a friend.  Our last campaign was specifically directed at extending kindness to children in crisis in honor of Richard Armitage’s role as Chop in the forthcoming film Urban and the Shed Crew during which we collected 144 kindness reports which were matched by a dollar for kindness donations to one of Richard Armitage’s Just Giving Charities

stl just giving 3

It doesn’t end there…the same anonymous donor has agreed to underwrite a new speed round of kindness collection.  July 9th is the opening night for regular performances of The Crucible at the Old Vic Theater in London.  I’m shamelessly pasting in Jazzbaby’s fantastic description…you can find it here

kindness challenge 3

So there you have it.  Thirteen days before July 9th…that’s less than four kindnesses per day throughout all of ArmitageWorld – easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!!  Here, I’ll get us started by giving a shout out to the gentleman with the lovely smile who held open the door for me at the gas station this morning…my day’s a little brighter because of his kindness.  So 47 left anddddd…..GO!

SpReAd the Love Challenge #2 Reminder

Lately, a favorite activity of Mini Me’s is making PowerPoint presentations…something they are doing at school this year I gather.  One of her favorites is titled “Cutie Babies”.

Babies are cuties…it’s true, but the sad fact is that tens of thousands of innocent babies, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens and teens live in conditions that give them very little to smile about.  SpReAd the Love Challenge #2 is coming to a close.  If you haven’t yet been able, consider sharing some love with an at risk child and letting us know about your gift.  I live in an area that is pretty idyllic in the context of the modern world, but not 10 miles from my house, there is building that provides a safe harbor for women who have fled abusive homes…very often with just their children and the clothes on their back.  This agency provides them temporary refuge and helps to outfit them as they find new homes.


A little bit for body, a little bit for spirit..

I dropped my tiny donation today, and as usual, they were hugely appreciative.  Even this small bit helps.  If you email JazzBaby or me by Sunday, we can include your kindness in the amount that will be matched money for kindness as a donation to Richard Armitage’s Just Giving Charities (several of which are child centered).

I’ll leave you today with a quote from Sitting Bull…renowned among the Lakota Sioux for his commitment to the past, present and future of the Sioux Nation.  His is a timeless sentiment that transcends race or creed:

“Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children.”


Runaway Train…SpReAd the Love Challenge 2

Someone with kindnesses to report asked me earlier in the week if SpReAd the Love was still going on, and I realized that it had been some time since I posted an update – almost a month in fact. Since the last update, kindness reports have slowed down a bit…I have no doubt that people are still being as kind as ever though.  Jazzy and I have been talking for awhile about what our next challenge could be, and yesterday we brainstormed what we might do to honor Richard Armitage’s new project playing Chop in Blenheim Films adaptation Urban and the Shed Crew.



I won’t go into great detail but, as many of you already know, the film is based on Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew, by Bernard Hare. The book is a non fiction memoir of sorts in which Hare, nicknamed Chop, recounts his experiences with a group of kids in crisis in the East End Park estate of Leeds in the 1990’s. It is an often disturbing account of children who have been neglected, abused, abandoned, exploited or some combination thereof and have either slipped through the cracks or repeatedly eluded the social welfare system.  Lives permeated by drug use and addiction, delinquency, prostitution, pregnancy and disease are “life as usual” for these kids.

This would be a sobering fictional tale, but it’s not fiction.  The shocking and heartbreaking truth is that the conditions Hare describes, and even worse,  are a brutal reality for hundred’s of thousands of children all over the world.  It occurred to Jazzy and me that it would be great if our next SpReAd the Love challenge reached out to kids at risk.  The fact that there are loads of charitable organizations dedicated to these causes, some local, some national, some international, is testimony to the severity of the problem on a global scale.

A Google search for “at risk kid donations” or “child addiction outreach donations” (or something similar) combined with your locale will show you charities in your area.   Although monetary donations are welcomed by most charities,  SpReAd the Love is all about spreading kindness in ways besides cash donation.  A lot of these organizations are  looking for donations of things like toiletries, school supplies, clothing, toys, etc. to be passed along to kids in need.  Some of them also accept volunteers to work directly with kids.  The specifics vary from charity to charity.  (This info is fairly easily accessible for the UK, US and Austrailia, but I’ve had less immediate luck in other areas…if anyone has info they’d like to share, please let me know in comments, or drop me an email at

So here’s the challenge:

  1. Find a charitable organization that reaches out to children in crisis…whether they are homeless, runaways, addicted, it doesn’t really matter, as long as a child in need receives assistance.
  2. Donate to that charity in whatever capacity you are able…whether it is volunteering your time, or donating a bar of soap or a toothbrush, the size of the donation doesn’t matter.  (Many of these organizations have “wish lists” of things that they need.)
  3. Report your kindness donations to either Jazzy or me through the regular channels and we’ll add them to the tally.

Our kindness total as of today has reached 291 kindnesses…we maxed out our first anonymous matching pledge of $200 to Richard Armitage’s JustGiving Charities earlier this year.  We are almost half way to maxing out our second matching pledge.  Our second donor has agreed to keep the offer open through the end of May – I think we can max that pledge out at $200 as well….meaning that by the end of May we will have spread kindness all over and donated $400 to worthy causes.  Armitageworld really is populated by some pretty awesome people!  If anyone is interested in being a matching donor (anonymous or otherwise) for JustGiving, we’d LOVE to talk to you!

Coincidentally (or maybe not) our challenge takes place in the year that Center of Missing and Exploited Children in the US marks its 30th Anniversary.  It’s sad that such organizations are needed, but each and every child they assist makes me grateful.  As we were looking around at this topic, one kind of neat organization popped up



For many of us it doesn’t seem like much, but for children who don’t have a home,  the possibility of “home” in a bag filled with things that belong only to them,  is probably something special.


So, there you go….SpReAd the Love Challenge #2.  We can’t wait to hear from you!!

spread the love



“Light of the world shine on me…LOVE is the answer.” : SpReAd the Love Update

bleak midwinter

Yesterday was an awful day for me for a number of reasons, including the most recent half foot of snow that fell on my habitat. Too much time cooped up in the house, every one is getting on each other’s nerves and I’m beginning to feel the effects of the winter blues…(often now classified as part of SAD).  Today was immediately better as the sun broke through the clouds on my way to work…turns out light (phototherapy) is a common way to treat the winter blues in a literal sense.

SpReAd the Love was a source of figurative light in the past week too.  Here are some highlights of the weekly totals:

imageThe RAworld Secret Valentine a plethora of lovely Valentine wishes in all shapes and sizes, and was great fun for one and all.


Last week we also marked a direct donation to Richard Armitage’s Just Giving page which credits SpReAd the Love for inspiration…fantastic!!

Jazzy also has some great news about the children’s book challenge…check it out here

It seems like there was something else that I wanted to mention…what was it?  Let me think….oh yeah – THIS!!!


As of Sunday February 16, we not only met our first goal of 200 kindnesses, we surpassed it by 10!!!  LOVE really is the answer, let’s keep SpReAding is shall we?!

Holy Shrimp…I almost forgot! SpReAd the Love Weekly Update

By the way…before we get started,

DO NOT look up “Holy Shrimp” on Urban Dictionary — I know you’re gonna do it, just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Logo designed by Gisborne's Boy

Logo designed by Gisborne’s Boy

Now, back to STL…


Our new total of kindnesses given and received reached 175 on Sunday!  We had one enormously huge donation that has renewed my faith in my fellow humans.  Negativity is always out there, lurking, but every time I think it just might get the better of me, someone comes along and tells me something incredible.  The giver of the kindness would prefer to remain anonymous, but trust me when I say the world would be a kinder place with more of her in it!

I do have a kind of cool story that happens to have come from my own neck of the woods…my front yard actually.  Last week Tuesday I received the following text message from my husband:

Obscurus is a man of few words, and even less punctuation  ;)

Obscurus is a man of few words, and even less punctuation 😉

Kindness must be contagious!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a good guy, but I practically have to light a fire under him to get him to unload the dishwasher!  I take this as a sign that the universe is soaking up all of the kindness.  He was there, at that place, at that time to offer a little assistance to an elderly woman who was stranded and alone in the snow and cold. Turns out she knows my Grandma Anna and they had a nice chat!

Plans are moving along for the March book challenge…there is still plenty of time to reflect on a book that was important to you as a youth or one that your children loved.  Let us know if you need a blog to post your reflection on.  Mini Me is busy scouring her shelves in anticipation of a guest appearance…stay tuned.

Also, don’t forget the Secret Valentine…I’ll bet if you whisper sweet nothings in her ear, Guylty can probably hook you up!

Have a week filled with kindness, and pass it on!

PS:  to the clerk who made me go back out to my car to fetch my ID before he would sell me a bottle of wine…

Your kindness counts too!

Your kindness counts too!