Wednesday, July 29, 2015

America, Land of the Odor Free?

Of all the things that are going right for me, my neighborhood is certainly near the top of the list. The houses are situated close enough to one another so that if you're in trouble someone will hear your screams but far enough away so nobody can see you walking around in your underwear. In our last house in Washington, D.C. the houses were chock-a-block, tight enough to hear the frustrated mother who lived behind us bellow, "Alexander, get in here right now!" or "Alexander, get up here this minute!" several times a day.  (I still check the news daily to see if Alexander has finally snapped and gone on a murderous rampage, shutting her up once and for all.)

Inspector delivering a Warning Letter.
Situated as we are on two wooded acres, we have our own forest primeval right outside the back door. The cats love it. And we can do whatever we want on our property, chopping down a tree here, planting a vegetable garden there. We can also barbecue without fear of punishment.

What's that, you ask? Who would get in trouble for barbecuing in their own backyard? You might if you live in Florida, where the following law is on the books: "Commercial barbecue cookers are not exempt from causing a nuisance odor. If a sufficient number of complaints, representing different households, are reported and an Inspector witnesses the problem, they can issue a Warning Letter."

According to the fine print of that particular law, the cooking odors released by your burgers, franks, chicken or whatever must be contained within your property. I'm not sure what happens if you continue barbecuing after you get the Warning Letter, but it can't be good. Thinking back, I see now that I should have sent one of those Letters to Alexander's mother back in D.C.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Time Marches On

69 versus 41: At least my bottom lip looks the same. (No matter what I do, I keep getting older!)

Such a Deal!

Sure you’re crazy, I tell myself, but who isn’t? I mean, look at the terms: You’re born, you’re the center of attention, everyone makes a big fuss, takes care of your every need. You eat, sleep, grow, and get excited about things, like the snow and the circus and Halloween coming up. Life is great. In fact, you struggle against sleep each night because it’s so much fun just being awake. Then, one day, one minute, one second, you don’t know (although I can’t remember not knowing, there must have been a time), and the next minute you do: Everything ends! The whole shebang! And not just for yourself, but for everyone you know.

So you say, Okay, I can handle it, just tell me when. And they say, The funny thing is, nobody knows, it could be any day now. Of course, some people have been known to last a hundred years or more.

You go on, but it’s not the same, and life becomes the daily sweepstakes: Gee, I wonder who died today? Hey, here’s a list in the newspaper, these people think of everything! There’s even something called Life Insurance for after you go, except then it’s too late to do you any good. It’s enough to make anyone crazy. So they started having doctors for this sort of thing, this Awareness of Truth Syndrome that can cut you down in your prime. Psychiatrists, psychologists, witch doctors, priests, call them what you will, it all boils down to the same thing -- Here’s my life, Doc, what should I do with it? And what if I die before I do anything at all?

The only trouble is, Doc doesn’t know the answers any more than you do. He’s got the same terms, you see, there is no other plan available. There is only Plan A: Birth, Life, and Death, details varied and unspecified. So really, the shrinks just act like they know. But what a performance, people even pay to see it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

You Can Stick That Selfie Stick


The introduction of the "selfie" took non-communication one step further starting way back around the year 2000 when people began snapping their own portraits on MySpace. But the practice really took off on Facebook, peaking just a few years ago. What a great advance: Now that you could take your own photo, who needed anyone else? But still, out in public or on an excursion to someplace fabulous you likely would ask a passer-by for help if you wanted to capture the breathtaking drama of Niagara Falls, the incredible expanse of the Grand Canyon or the stunning breadth of Mt. Everest. Quelle drag -- you had to talk to a complete stranger!

Not anymore. Now there is the "selfie stick," a clumsy device apparently invented by Fred Flintstone that lets you extend your reach so you can completely avoid interacting with strangers (god forbid a million times you should talk to someone to whom you have not been properly introduced), which if you ask me is one of the very best parts of travel. And so, the world gets a little colder.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Watering the Lawn

We are all so wrapped up in our tiny little individual lives, we forget that we are each merely a blade of grass in the Great Lawn. And if one single blade of grass gets trampled on and dies, the Lawn is still intact, and green, and great, and in need of mowing. Nobody misses a blade of grass. If only I could remember this. But I forget, and take myself seriously, just like everyone else.

There exists a condition called postprandial hypotension and I can now add it to my ever-lengthening list of ills. Basically it is feeling dizzy after eating. The good news: it really does happen, mostly among woman and the elderly, so it's not just another example of me going nuts. (Plenty of other things are, but I won't go into those.)

Anyway, if you feel this way from time to time, relax. It's a real thing. Drink more water. Be a blade of grass.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Caspar Aside, Most Ghosts Are Not Friendly

Richard and me, pre-ghosting.
Wow, am I behind the times. I am just now finding out about a new concept in dating that is apparently becoming quite common. It's called "ghosting," and it means just disappearing without a trace. According to Wikipedia, "Ghosting is the act of cutting off all communication with a person whom you do not have any romantic feelings for — or whom you no longer have feelings for. What makes ghosting different than, say, just not talking to said person after dumping them, is that ghosting isn't something you announce. The cutoff just happens, and the person being ghosted is often left wondering, haunted by uncertainty and sending text messages into the ether in hopes of getting a response."

Yup, that's exactly what happened to me about three years ago, only I didn't know it! My closest friend Richard, a gay male, and I had been attached at the hip for about 15 years when we lived in the same city. Then when he moved across country we were attached by the telephone, talking several times a week at the least. There were visits in between, with each of us flying to see the other. Our last visit was great, and we spent four days together in Seattle, catching up on old memories and making new ones.

I returned home, and then nothing. Dead silence. No response to phone calls. Naturally I thought he died or was at the very least in a coma. I asked everyone we knew in common, but few people had kept in touch with him. I called and left messages. I cried. I was stumped, stymied and stunned. Finally, after learning he was alive and well, my best guess was that his new boyfriend had been threatened by our deep bond. Anyway, there I was thinking Richard had totally lost all his marbles, when all the while he was on the cutting-edge of a trend that is now sweeping the nation. How cool was he?

Maybe by now he really is dead, but that is no longer any concern of mine.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Mitch (and Neil)

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday. I know I should come up with something -- a gift or a card or a cake, something, anything -- to mark the occasion, but really the guy's got everything. Besides, we've been married for almost 29 years and I've pretty much sprung all the surprises already. So I am simply going to publish this old photograph of him and his twin brother sitting at the seashore many years ago. Isn't it adorable?

It's hard to tell who's who.