Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summertime Blues

 As far as I can tell, the only good thing about summer is that it is followed by fall, that most glorious of all seasons. (Ironic, isn't it?)

Tell me again, what's so great about summer? Is it the bugs? The sweating? The sunburn? The bad hair? The itching? The not being able to sleep? The drone of the air conditioners? The slamming of the screen doors? The constant, deafening, brain-numbing sound of all the lawn mowers and weed whackers? Could it be the moths? Yes, I know I already said bugs but moths deserve their own sentence, there are simply so many of them everywhere.

Just two months to go.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Latest Plague

Something fun to think about is what would happen if all the cell phones stopped working, for reasons I cannot even postulate since I know nothing about how they work in the first place. But what I do know is that all of Western culture is in the grips of a terrible epidemic -- call it Morbus Cellphonicus -- that is destroying any possibility of nurturing interpersonal communication and leaving its hapless victims with poor posture, neck aches and, certainly among the older generation, arthritic fingers. It seems to gain strength daily, with willing victims lining up at all 498 Apple stores across 22 countries, eager to purchase the leading conduit of the disease.

Put another way, we're hooked on cell phones and they are ruining life for everyone. It's the new Plague, only minus the scurrying rats.

One of the most common symptoms is the act of  texting, which isn't even talking when you at least can hear the voice of a loved one, or even just another human. No, it's confined to writing messages in a kind of dumbed-down shorthand, precluding all feelings of warmth and most intelligence, sometimes with dire results. For example, 25% of all car accident in the US (per year) are caused by cell phone texting while driving. That translates into  330,000 accidents leading to severe injuries and in some cases, death, because someone wanted to say "😈😮🙏😎💔 lol" to someone else, often to someone they have never even met in person, and they just couldn't wait until the next red light. 

Bedtime scrolling through Facebook has replaced marital sex in many couples, leading to separation and divorce. Children and parents no longer speak to one anther with their mouths, instead texting even within the same household to say that "dinner's ready" or "time to go." Hugging is simply out of the question, replaced by 💋. Millions of husbands and wives afflicted with Morbus Cellphonicus quickly become addicted to their cell phones, unable to put them down, turn them off, or eventually live without them. "In the last few months, I must have seen thirty couples and families in which technology addiction was contributing to the psychological problems within the family system, " says Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Even worse, unprotected children who get hooked early get the sickest, with little hope for a cure. According to Dr. Granat, "A colleague of mine who is a guidance counselor in a middle school notes that when the teachers confiscate a cell phone, students show up in the guidance office and ask if they can visit their phones and hold their phones for just a few minutes."

So, as I said at the outset, think about what would happen if all the cell phones stopped working. (See, it is fun.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Some Old People Are Older Than Others

There are old ladies, who, by accident of birth and the failure to die, have reached a certain age but still think, look and act like normal people. And then there's that other kind of old lady, who collects doilies and takes castor oil and is totally off her rocker. I belong to the first group, thank God. This morning I had a run-in with one of the other kind.

For my one-year checkup after hip surgery, I knew an X-ray would be required to ensure the installed hardware hadn't moved. I wore a dress especially for the occasion, knowing for a fact that any metal on my clothing, like a zipper on a pair of jeans, meant I'd have to change into a pair of dorky paper shorts. So there I was, in a lightweight summer frock with no metal on me, ready to go.

The old lady whose job it is to assess one's readiness for an X-ray looked me over and decided I'd need to change into the paper shorts. I demurred, pointing out that I had no metal on me. She insisted, repeating that I had to put the shorts on underneath my dress. I replied that this was clearly nonsense, since an X-ray machine could see through my dress just as easily as through the shorts. She then lowered her voice to a whisper and explained that I needed to wear the shorts "so that nobody can see your undies."

Stunned, I asked, "Who would see my undies, and who cares?"

"The technician might see if your dress rides up," she replied, shoving the shorts at me. "I'm sure you wouldn't want that." Actually, what I wanted was to roll those damn paper shorts into a tight ball and shove it down her throat.  Instead I took the shorts and followed the old lady to a dressing room, where she instructed me to put them on. Sighing heavily, I did. It was just easier.

Once I got into the X-ray room I asked the young female technician if I needed to wear the shorts. She hooted, saying of course not, then added, "That's just Ethel -- she's so afraid someone will see something they shouldn't."

Now that's an old lady. I hope I'm never one of those.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Open Letter to the Fluid People

Dear They and Them,

Let me say right up front that I do not care what your gender is. I also do not care what genitals you have, or if you shave your face or get your period or pee standing up or sitting down, and certainly I literally could not care less what pronouns you prefer. Those things impact me not one bit so please don't tell me. But I do have one question: Why is it such a big deal to you that everyone else knows you like girls and not boys or boys and not girls, or that you have on pink lace panties underneath those heavyweight Duluth denim overalls? Or that maybe you don't like sex at all and are thus not in the game, a.k.a. non-gender or non-binary or genderqueer or just looking? Could you please just shut up about all that already and pay attention to the much bigger picture?

Are you aware that the world is in chaos and that our president doesn't really know what he's doing, which could take our country in a dangerous direction? Have you heard about Kim Jong-un? Did you read that yesterday in Arizona a flash flood killed at least nine vacationers, including an entire family, who were innocently playing in a swimming hole, sweeping them away in a torrent of mud and rocks without a moment's notice? And that babies are born every day missing half their brains or already dying of cancer on day one of their lives? That people are hungry, hopeless and homeless? But still you fret that somebody referred to you as "he" when you want to be called "they," and that's got you angry and feeling "unseen."

Read a book, go for a run, work in a soup kitchen, take a good look in the mirror, get some therapy. Do anything else. Just stop talking about it already.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tummy Tucking Through the Years

Ha ha ha ha ha! Excuse me, but I am cracking up. I just saw an ad online for a new kind of fabulous underwear called New You Slimming Underwear, shown above. As you can plainly see, a woman with a flabby tummy simply pulls on this miracle body suit (only $21.99), and suddenly her tummy is gone!

Oh how fabulous, you can wear it under a form-fitting dress and nobody will know you're actually a porker. It's the latest thing! Only it isn't. I wore one of those back in high school when it was called a girdle and it cost a whole lot less.

And that's why they're called "the good old days."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Film Review: THE BIG SICK

The cast, with a stuffed giraffe.
 There are a few things you should know before seeing The Big Sick, an endearing and understated comedy that manages to be lighthearted and heavy-handed at the same time:

1. What starts out as a romantic comedy suddenly morphs into a lump-in-the-throat tearjerker, so if you hate that kind of thing, don't go.
2. The title isn't kidding -- somebody gets really sick, coming down with a horrible disease you might immediately worry that you also have. (I Googled it the minute I got home.)
3. It's a true story about a charming Muslim stand-up comic, played convincingly by charming Muslim stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani, who is not a terrorist and who will make you fall in love with all Muslims, and that's the best thing about it.
4. In supporting roles as a married couple, two old pros -- Holly Hunter and Ray Romano -- show everyone else in the cast how it's done. They are a total hoot to watch.

Despite a handful of decent laughs and an earnest script packed with wise observations and lots of tender moments, this film won't be winning any awards. Still, it's a pleasant enough diversion that most people will enjoy. As my husband said about it afterwards, "I liked it, for a chick-flick."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Stuck in a Russian Rut

Anderson Cooper holding court on the set of his nightly show "Anderson Cooper 360" (in case you forgot.)

The members of the liberal media suck out loud, and often on their very own nightly news shows. Leading the pack is Anderson Cooper, the handsome, rich, sartorially splendiferous gay boy who rules CNN with his smug self-confidence and designer suits. (Can you tell I dislike him?) Night after night he assembles his panel of "experts" to gab and gossip under the guise of reportage. For so long now the topic under discussion has been President Trump's ties to Russia, or Trump's colluding with Vladimir Putin, or Donald Trump Jr. secretly meeting with some Russians, or Melania Trump seen lunching at The Russian Tea Room. You get the picture -- Anderson is stuck in a Russian rut.

Meanwhile, other things have actually happened in the world! Like just last week, a 48-year old, 12-year veteran of the NYPD was shot in the head while sitting in her squad car, murdered execution style by a 34-year-old prison parolee who regularly posted anti-cop rants on Facebook. But was there rioting in the streets of the Bronx, scene of the murder? Not even a whisper. Did anyone set cars on fire like they do when a law-breaking person of color is killed by a cop just doing his job? No. Did the rabid dogs of Black Lives Matter matter speak out in protest? Not a peep. See, the slain cop was a Dominican so her life didn't really matter, except to her three children and her ailing mother who she cared for.

The funeral for the slain officer, Miosotis Familia, was held last week in Manhattan and attended by 4,000 mourners. That astonishing fact alone should have made Anderson and his bobbleheads sit up and take notice, and maybe even forego one night of bloviating about the imaginary Russian takeover of the White House and instead focus on the growing dangers facing our police.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Who You Callin' Fit?

Ernestine Shepherd, an 80-year-old champion weightlifter, is in great shape.

News Flash! Donald Trump allegedly told the wife of the president of France, "You know, you're in such great shape....beautiful." So what? How does his observation hurt anything or anyone? Yet the liberal media bottom feeders over at CNN and MSNBC, led by Anderson Cooper and Rachel Madcow (not a typo), were bursting aneurysms about that statement last night on their gossipy talk shows that masquerade as reporting the news.

If President Trump had said, "Wow, you're sort of a dog!" or maybe, "How did you let yourself go so badly?" I could understand the outcry. Or how about, "I would do you in a heartbeat," which was actually said to me by my husband's boss at a company dinner. (Okay, he was drunk, but still, that's tacky.) Listen, if someone tells me I'm in great shape I'll happily take the compliment, even if he's just a dumb politician.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

One Season to Go

I got hooked on a TV show almost one year ago, back when I was recovering from surgery and hanging out on the living room sofa. Tired of reading important books on important subjects and sick of being mindful and meditative, eventually I opted to pass the time watching a completely ridiculous but distracting bad drama that takes place in a hospital setting. Soon enough I recovered from my surgery and was able to rejoin the world, not knowing that I had become addicted. The regular world, with its regular people, was suddenly boring beyond words. I missed my friends on Grey's Anatomy. And in today's crazy world, where binge-watching a TV show is considered to be a worthwhile endeavor, I went back there, over and over. Now I prefer it to real life.

It's not like I don't know the show is ridiculous. The plots are outrageous; obviously the writers have access to some serious drugs. The episodes all go something like this:

She likes him and he likes her too, but then she starts to remind him of his former lover who died in a plane crash/boat sinking/plague in a foreign country and ends the affair abruptly. Ironically, after they break up they are trapped together under a burning bus that is about to explode. But before it does, she is forced to amputate his leg in order for him to escape. Afterward they marry, but it doesn't last. 

A woman undergoes a C-section in a mammoth sinkhole with no anesthesia or even an aspirin, performed by her 11-year-old  daughter who is receiving instructions via cell phone from a doctor who is miles away. The cell service is spotty and eventually the call is lost. The patient screams but does not pass out and the baby is delivered but has serious issues, requiring an immediate heart-lung transplant. Fortunately, an ambulance arrives in time. 

Everyone involved is extremely attractive and they all have sex with each other at work and nobody gets in trouble for it. Also, nobody gets the clap or herpes. Nobody is ever seen inside a supermarket. They eat badly in the hospital cafeteria but are still thin. There is no housework; you never see a bed being made, although once someone did a load of laundry. Many of the characters have children who are rarely seen or heard from. Nobody talks about their kids. In between all this, there are gory surgeries. People live or die, accompanied by an edgy soundtrack of the most esoteric popular music.

Still, I watch. Happily it's almost over--only one season to go. Then what?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How I Would Kill Myself

Relax, I'm not going to. But if I were, I would definitely eat myself to death.

I often criticize myself mercilessly for not doing enough. Not being enough, not selling my paintings or getting my books and stories published, for not making any money from my considerable talents, or for not doing enough to help the poor and indigent and homeless, and not wanting to host an exchange student or adopt an abused dog, or any number of things, but most of all for my lack of will power. But today I realized something incredible: I have will power, and tons of it!

What prompted this tirade was an innocent print ad I just saw for potato chips. Potato chips with a hint of lime. I want one. No, I want a whole bag of them. A large bag, and some sort of dip to go with it. But I never eat those things, I never even look at those things. I don't go down that aisle in the supermarket. I turn my head when I drive past Dairy Queens and all the rest of those places. But if I were going to die, or if I planned on dying, I would do it by eating massive quantities of the following until my blood pressure would surely take me out.

Wise potato chips
Lay's potato chips
Rice Krispie treats
peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
egg salad sandwiches
any sandwich
Honey Nut Cheerios with whole milk and raisins
coffee ice cream with chocolate sprinkles and whipped cream
matzoh with butter
Drake's coffee cake
Italian bread
Do you eat any of those things? Well I don't -- okay so I have but not enough -- and I want some. No, not some, I want a lot. What's got me on this rant is that I started a diet today called the No Flour, Sugar Diet and so far I've been really good, but all I can think about is flour and sugar. I hope it passes.

Why Hillary Lost

Julie Christie today. Are the Russians responsible for this?
I'm pretty relieved to learn that the mess we're in these  days is not my fault, it's those damn Russians. They made me hate Hillary Clinton, and for all I know she doesn't even have cankles; that could just be a plot to make her look bad. (If so, it worked.)

Not that I wrote in John Kasich on my ballot last November because of Clinton's cankles -- no, not at all. I have a long list of reasons why Hillary sickens me, starting back in 1979 when I met her in D.C. at a meeting at the Children's Defense Fund. I was there as a graphic design consultant, and she was the wife of the Governor of Arkansas, and there were many, many other important people at that meeting but to Hillary it was all, "Me me, me!" or rather, "Her, her, her!" Plus she wore one of those stupid headbands and I hated those, always have. They're pointless, unless they're holding your brains in or your head will roll off without it, and also they give you a headache, or at least they gave me one. (I tried them a few times, so I know.)

Anyway, Hillary did plenty of things along the way to enlarge my disdain of her, and since all of you know what they are since nobody likes her, not even the Democrats who say they like her (which is why she lost twice, let's remember), I won't enumerate them here. But still, it's sort of a relief to know that I didn't put Trump in the White House, the Russians did and my hands are totally clean.

Actually, I've never even met a Russian, although I remember quite clearly weeping, possibly sobbing, during Doctor Zhivago, but that might have been because Julie Christie was so beautiful and I was jealous. But now all these years later she is no longer beautiful, which makes me even sadder because if she's turned into an old hag, how bad will I look at her age? (Ha, at least someone is older than me!)

So you see, this shows you how much I care that the Russians gave the president's son dirt on Hillary Clinton and he was all ears. I'm pretty sure that despite whatever they told Don Jr., Hillary lost the election on her own merits. Or is it demerits?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Finding (Just a Little) Joy

With the world in turmoil, it's the little things that can still give joy. Just a minute ago I was quite excited to see my digital clock showing 7:11, and realizing that today is 7-11! So it was 7:11 on 7-11-17. Even ignoring the fact that there is a store called 7-11, which adds to the whole serendipitous nature of the thing, it's still pretty fabulous. This sort of thing always makes me happy, albeit only for sixty seconds. Still, the situation comes around often enough if you pay attention, and each time it's a thrill, especially when you see 11:11! (I love that one.)

Watching late afternoon shadows on the wall can compensate for a host of unpleasantness.
Another little thing that gives me great joy is the teeny, tiny frog that lives among my potted plants. Whenever I water the plants I never know where he'll be, but then there he is! As soon as I show up he stops breathing and holds perfectly still until I leave. Obviously he's heard about people eating frog's legs and making them into soups, etc. I try to calm him down by explaining this is not France and we don't do that here, hoping he'll come out and jump around and play, but to no avail. Still, I like knowing he's in there.

My advice is to turn off the TV news, toss out the daily paper and start paying attention to your immediate surroundings as a way to combat the stresses of daily life that are responsible for 43,000 suicides in America each year, or one every 12 minutes. Looking for little froggies is a much better use of your time than reading about whether or not any Trump ever met a Russian.

Monday, July 10, 2017

You Don't Wanna Know

You better believe it.
A close friend of mine who recently lost her son shared some of the things people said in an attempt to comfort her. One word that popped up was "condolences," which were offered repeatedly. Both of us wondered just what condolences are and how they help with grief. Answer: they are nothing, and don't help a whit. Likewise, saying "sorry for your loss" is pitifully ineffective and borderline insulting, sort of like dumping a cup of water onto a forest fire and thinking you made a difference.

My own son, nearing 30, would likely tell you I was a decent mother, maybe even a good mother or, depending on his mood, a great mother. But press him on the subject and he'll cave and say I screwed up big-time in one particular area: Death. When he was just a toddler he asked me about it, and I foolishly did not lie and say any of the following:
1. Only very old people die.
2. Mommy and Daddy will never die.
3. You won't ever die. 

I wish I had said those things. Instead, believing that ignorance at any age is never good, I told him the truth, sugar-coating it as much as possible to make it palatable to three-year-old ears. Still, if you asked him today he would say, "I'm messed up because when I was little my mother said she could die at any minute, and so could I."

Death is a tough subject, but it shouldn't be and it needn't be. Avoiding the reality of our own eventual demise, and that of our loved ones, serves no purpose; it only magnifies the pain we experience when it happens to mammoth proportions. Instead of squandering every leisure moment pleasuring ourselves in meaningless pursuits, how about spending some quality time pondering our mortality and how we'll handle death when it finally comes?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Favorite Job

Each Sunday I drag our two huge trash bins, one at a time, from inside the garage, down the driveway and out to the street for Monday morning pickup. One is for garbage and the other, larger still, is for recyclables. Then on  Monday morning I drag them back, empty. Our driveway, covered with pebbles, is long enough to park four cars. Getting the bins out can be a tricky task under some conditions, but it's my job; always has been and always will be.

When I took them out this afternoon I encountered a neighbor who was cheerily photographing the lovely gardens in full bloom along our street. "That's quite a chore you've got," she said, sounding sympathetic and looking more than a little horrified. "Can't you get your husband to do that?" I shrugged and replied that I didn't mind, adding, "It's one of the ways I know I'm still alive." She laughed, not understanding that I was completely serious.

I actually love taking out the garbage. In fact, it's high on my short list of favorite things to do, for a couple of reasons.  First, it's a cliche-buster, since the man of the house is supposed to take out the garbage and the nagging wife is supposed to remind him since he's busy watching football and forgot. But the better reason is that it's actual, down-to-earth work that needs to be done, sometimes requiring strength when the bins are filled with heavy items, and other times, like in winter, incredible agility. Come rain, sleet, snow and all the rest of that postman thing, I remain undaunted and get it done. 

I actually dread the day when I can't. This has happened rarely, but it's happened. A year ago I had hip replacement surgery and missed the trip back with the empty cans, since my surgery was on a Monday and I had to be at the hospital before the trash was picked up. The next week I missed the whole thing, needing a walker and not quite recovered enough to even leave the house. I was bereft, since I considered taking out the garbage an indicator of my overall health and well-being. By the next week I was back at it, deaf to my husband's pleas that I wasn't ready and to let him do it. But I managed, leaning on the full trash bins on the way out and my cane on the way back. I did this twice, one for each bin, and by the time I was finished I could have used a stiff drink. (Sadly that was not permitted since I was on blood thinners, but anyway, at least I knew I was on the mend.)

Over the last eight years, taking out the garbage has become a physical test of will. These Maine winters are certainly challenging, with deep snow and black ice blanketing the driveway for months. Still, I pull on my boots, crampons, parka, hat, gloves and scarf and get out there and just do it! Accomplishing this in a raging blizzard or severe nor'easter is literally the only thing I do that reminds me of how hard ordinary life used to be, and still is for so many people. It's a good feeling.

Friday, July 7, 2017

2 E-Z Steps to a Skinnier U

One of my favorite pastimes is keeping an eye on the new diets that come out, each with a set of complicated rules and regulations about how to lose weight. This is silly since if any of them worked there would be only that one and no new ones, and there would be no more obesity epidemic. Alas, that has not happened and so the books keep on coming. I just read about a new diet plan that costs $1,000 to join. (Wow, that's a whole lot of Oreos!) What you get is a daily video from an attractive coach yelling stridently about how to keep your mouth shut, which is apparently what it takes to stay focused on your goal. Their food plan, called Bright Line Eating, is based on four rules, the so-called "bright lines" of the program:
 No Sugar
No Flour
Three Meals A Day (no snacking)
Weigh and Measure All Foods

There's a snazzy website and lots of quizzes to take to see if you are addicted to eating or if you are ready to lose weight, like you need a quiz to answer those questions. The head honcho of the program is a "Doctor" so right away you know she is an expert on many things. She also says she once had a weight problem but now it's gone because she knocked it out of the park with her simple four-step plan. Well guess what: I have a two-step plan and it's really easy to follow. No weighing or measuring, and you can eat all day if you follow my rules. I call it 2 E-Z Steps to a Skinnier U, and it's a cinch. There are just two rules:
 Don't Eat Bad Food 
 Don't Eat Too Much Good Food

To get you started, below is my handy list of Bad Foods to eliminate from your diet immediately! (Keep it on your fridge if it's big enough.) If a food is not on the list that means you can eat it, but not too much. The experts here at 2 E-Z Steps, none of whom are doctors (actually it's just me), have developed an easy mantra to help you remember the rules: "The less food I eat, the more weight I will lose." Just repeat this 1,000 times each day, especially at birthday parties, office retirement parties, weddings, holiday dinners, and all celebrations involving vast amounts of calorie-laden foods, which is to say all celebrations, or even just a simple dinner party or evening out with friends.

Ring Dings
Devil Dogs
all soft cheeses
pecan pie
all pies
French fries
potato chips
sour cream dips
ice cream
movie theater popcorn
movie theater candy
all cakes
candied yams
corn on the cob
M & Ms
Swedish Fish
mashed potatoes
fried dough
fried seafood
fried chicken
chewing gum
candy bars
cotton candy
Girl Scout cookies
funnel cake
all cookies
whipped cream
sweetened cereals
cinnamon buns
Auntie Anne's pretzels
candied apples
corn dogs
fried onion rings
all puddings
 Campbell's Soups 
French toast
Ritz crackers
all crackers
home fries
blooming onions
batter-fried anything
frozen pizzas
frozen dinners
Tater Tots
sweetened soda
sweetened applesauce
Starbucks Frappucinos
fast-food cheeseburgers
Chinese take-out
restaurant Indian food
macaroni & cheese
peanut butter
store-bought fruit juice 
Planter's dry-roasted peanuts
fettucini Alfredo
creamed soups

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Take the No-Complaints Challenge

It's amazing how little there is to say once we decide to stop complaining. For me, complaining is the building block of my very existence and the essence of my conversation. (Not that I'm complaining.) Whether this stems from early childhood traumas (I was kidnapped at the age of four) or from events later in life (given LSD without prior consent, raised Kosher but forced to eat bacon periodically), it's a habit that is deeply ingrained, certainly in myself but also in every other person I have ever met. (I have never met Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama so that likely explains it.)

Most ordinary people enjoy complaining and do it all the time, to just about anyone who will listen. In fact, complaining is so popular that an entire profession is devoted to it; all the shrinks and counselors and coaches and therapists of every stripe make quite a good living off of sitting quietly and listening to the complaints of complete strangers.

Here's a challenge: Try to go one day without complaining and see what happens. I've never done it but I bet something good would come of it. I'm thinking of trying it today, so before I start I'd like to unload a few complaints here to help me not complain later:

1. I hate these damn bugs! I have so many itches and bites all over my body I can't decide where to scratch first, or which cream to use, I have so many of them, but of course none of them actually work for longer than five minutes.

2. It's another hot day here in Maine! I thought Maine is supposed to be cool in summer! I hate summer, why do you think I live in this Godforsaken place? It's not fair.

3. I am scheduled to work out today with a new trainer but my arm hurts and I don't know why! Will it get worse from a workout? Oh great, that's just what I need.....

4. There is not one decent movie playing at any of the local theaters! In fact, they are all playing the same movies! That is just dumb! Why don't they all offer different choices?

Okay, that's it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Small Town Joy

With some time out for good behavior in Salt Lake City, my husband and I lived in Washington, D.C., for 30 years. Our son is one of those rare D.C. natives, born just blocks from the White House. Our nation's capitol is truly a beautiful city if you don't look too closely, full of verdant parks and flowers and fountains and striking monuments. But getting some of the basics things done, like annual car registration and inspections, driver's license renewals and passports, and anything remotely involving any branch of the federal government, took the patience of a saint and possibly a couple of Valium. Eight years ago life intervened and a family emergency required a move to Maine. We were happy to leave.

I was reminded of D.C. last night when I sat watching our local 4th of July fireworks display. After enjoying a wonderful free musical concert put on by the town fathers and paid for by L. L. Bean, the throngs of attendees picked up their chairs and blankets and relocated a quarter of a mile away for an unimpeded view of the fireworks. They were fabulous, as are most fireworks if you like that sort of thing, and the whole experience was so easy. After the final embers died out, our party walked a few short blocks to our car and drove the three miles home, visions of fireworks still dancing in our heads.

Back in D.C., that same experience -- watching huge, colorful explosions in the sky accompanied by noise, light, smoke and floating materials -- required about six hours of diligence. We had to leave our home early and drive downtown in bumper-to-bumper traffic, search for parking and ultimately find a questionable spot in a borderline tow-away zone perhaps a mile away from the proceedings, then schlep our stuff to the clogged National Mall and, passing through security, squeeze ourselves in among the people who had spent the whole day there so they could avoid our grim experience, hoping all the while that our car would still be there at the end of the festivities. (One time it wasn't, but that's another story far too painful to dredge up here.)

Okay, so there's not much theater and only one museum to speak of.  Still, living in a small town has its perks, and tonight was surely one of them.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Personal Fat Shaming

A new brouhaha over fat shaming has erupted on social media, involving viral videos and multiple tweetings and Facebook posts, all the while making the fat-shamee quite famous for being fat and proud. It seems a "plus-sized" model got on a plane and the guy sitting next to her was not happy about her being his seatmate and started texting about her considerable girth to a friend of his. The large woman noticed he was doing it and actually leaned over and read his texts, which I think is invasion of privacy and way worse than being critical of the obese. Anyway, it's all over now and the texter has been duly outed as being a despicable Cro-Magnon and she is victorious in her celebration of obesity as a God-given right.

But here's what I want to know: Is it still okay to fat shame yourself? Because I do it all the time. Like about the pair of black jeans in my closet that I can't wear because they won't zip up. Or the way I look naked when I get in the shower. Or when I get on the scale and I have gained weight instead of lost weight, then I call myself names and shake my head in disgust. Is that still allowed, or do I actually have to enjoy being overweight? Just wondering, because I really want to do the right thing.

Don't Tell Instagram

Computers think they are so smart. Many people worry they are becoming smarter than humans and that one day they will rule the world. But if you ask me, computers aren't so smart; in fact, many of them are really stupid and apparently mine is one of those. Case in point: It just sent me a message saying I have started following myself on Instagram.

Besides being silly, that is patently untrue. I am not following myself on Instagram because I already have seen all the pictures I've taken. And to prove I have the upper hand and that my computer is a half-wit, shown below is a picture I took yesterday at a restaurant in New Hampshire that Instagram doesn't even know about.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Foolproof Weight Loss Tips

Obesity is all around us. New diet books keep showing up but they all say the same tired things that never work, at least not for you because you only do them for like a week, if that long. Forget them. Just do these two things:

1. Consider carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers, cauliflower, blueberries, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes as forbidden foods. Bearing in mind they are REALLY BAD FOR YOU and you shouldn't be eating them, hide them in the back of the fridge and eat them with abandon when you are hungry and nobody else is around to see. (This makes them much more delicious and irresistible.)

2. Think about dying unexpectedly, before you lose the weight you swear you'll lose starting tomorrow. Everyone will see you in all your fatness but you'll be dead and unable to hide it in loose clothing, unless you leave strict instructions behind. Besides, everyone looks fatter lying down.

3. Imagine how much better she feels than you do. (See photo) 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Man: An Endangered Species

If men start looking like this, Man shall become extinct. Write to your Congressmen and beg them to intervene, in the interest of future generations.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Doctor, Heal Thyself

One morning last week I noticed a minor but painful, could-be-cancer lump that had seemingly sprung up out of nowhere. Since we were heading into a weekend, I called our family physician and described the situation to the nurse who answered the phone. After she consulted with the doc, she said they could "squeeze me in the following day before his first appointment," which meant I had to be there at 7:45 AM. I said fine.

As the day passed, things improved. By nighttime the lump had receded and I had forgotten about the appointment with the doctor. The next morning I slept late, then piddled around until about 8:30 when my husband returned from his morning workout and reminded me. "Oh crap!" I wailed, rushing to call the doctor's office. I explained that my condition had apparently fixed itself and I had just plain forgotten to come in. "I am so, so sorry," I said to the nurse. "No problem, he comes in early every day so there was no harm -- he wasn't inconvenienced at all."

Then yesterday I received a form letter in the mail from the physician's parent organization reprimanding me for my bad behavior. It was sent to remind me "just how valuable the doctor's time is" and inform me that "while it is inevitable that unforeseen circumstances may cause someone to miss an appointment," the next time it happens I will be charged the full price for an office visit ($128) unless I cancel within 24 hours. And while they would like to continue providing for my health care needs, if it happens a third time within an 18-month period, "it may be necessary for us to consider discharging you from the practice."

Duly chided, I threw the letter in the trash this morning, just before I opened today's Wall Street Journal and read that "the opioid addiction crisis in New England has surged 500% in the last seven years," due to doctors over-prescribing the drugs. "The amount of opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999, even though there has been no change in the amount of pain reported by Americans, the CDC said."

I'm considering mailing that article to my doctor and telling him to stop it.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Black's, White's and Grey's Anatomies

I recently came across an incendiary article online that strongly suggested I "get over my white feelings" and start doing things to support the Black Lives Matter movement. According to this particular author, "Black lives matter more than white feelings." Let me say right here and now, that is a pretty racist statement with which I wholeheartedly disagree. Plus, I'm not even sure how to get over my white feelings, or which ones they might be.

Black or white? Hard to tell.
Like it or not, I am white. I was born white and have not done anything to change it (despite all those years back in high school spent at the Malibu Beach Club slathered with Coppertone and holding a cardboard, tin-foil covered triptych under my face, long before the invention SPF).  Since my parents were white, and their parents before them, I assume every single feeling I have is a "white" feeling. Exactly which ones should I jettison? Would  the one that made me choose the word  "jettison" instead of a lesser word like trash or dump have to go? You know, that whole fancy vocabulary thing?

Also, I actually like white people, although oddly enough my three favorite characters on Grey's Anatomy, a TV show I got hooked on while couch-bound following hip surgery a year ago, are all played by black actors -- actually four if you count Jackson (see photo) but he's only half-black with a dash of Seminole. Anyway, I'll bet none of them are members of Black Lives Matter, and if you asked them they'd likely say that Grey lives matter much more.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reading Trump Between the Lines

I finally have something in common with Donald Trump: anything and everything he does or says is deemed to be fundamentally wrong, which is exactly how my son feels about me! But that's another story; right now I want to discuss the fact that Trump is today being accused of sexually harassing an Irish reporter who was visiting the White House by telling her she "has a nice smile."

What a pig! Nice smile, my ass! "Nice smile" is obviously code for "I want to grab your pussy," who doesn't know that? Of course it could also mean, "I want to have sex with my own daughter" or "Rosie O'Donnell is a fat pig and Megyn Kelley menstruates all over the place." You just never know what that Liar-in-Chief is really saying.

The nerve of the man; does he think we are all idiots?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nobody Asked Me!

Once you get past the anxiety caused by all those ads for diseases you should ask your doctor about to see if this or that drug is right for you, watching TV can be quite amusing. Like this morning, I turned it on while I was changing the sheets, trying to stay current in case a van ran into a crowd of revelers or someone assassinated Rachel Maddow, when an  unseen narrator in a TV commercial for a product I can't recall intoned, "while 83% of Americans try to eat healthy every day, 90% of them don't get the daily nutrition they need." Or something like that. Then the news came on and I was told that "several surveys report 76% of Americans are sick and tired of the Russia story and don't care about it at all."

Nobody asked me either of those things, so I'm wondering if my answer would change anything. Or, what about me and my husband, because nobody asked him either. Anyway, I am definitely sick of the Russia story, so I'm one of that 76%. As for the other thing, I do try to eat healthy, but is it all for naught since I'm not getting the nutrition I need, or am I one of the 10% who do? Because if I'm one of the 83% who don't I'd rather have a chocolate-chip muffin for breakfast and skip the oatmeal and poached egg, at least for a couple of mornings. I mean if I'm not getting the nutrition anyway....

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Limited Vision of a Typical American

Yesterday in this space I wrote about the loss of my favorite pair of eyeglasses, a situation causing me great bereavement. In fact, by last night I was reduced to a sobbing wretch, and not only because I couldn't see very well all weekend but because the carelessness involved in losing my glasses might very well be an indication of a far greater loss, that of brain function: Could this be an early sign of Alzheimer's after all? ("Oh, woe is me, woe is me," she cries out, collapsing on bed and burying head in hands.)

Then this morning, over coffee and oatmeal and some delightful strawberries from the Sunday morning farmer's market, while sitting in my lovely house on our two acres of Maine woods, I read about a landslide in China that swept through a remote mountain village and completely buried 62 homes. So far, rescuers have confirmed that 10 people are dead and 93 are missing. Despite the fact that authorities said "there was little chance of finding any survivors, citing the depth of the layer of fallen rock," an additional 15 people have been found alive.

Now, consider for a moment the plight of those 15 people: They have lost their homes and everything in them. Everything they ever owned or cared about is gone. Their friends and neighbors, and very likely some family members, are all dead. Their entire village, obliterated. Now that's what I call loss.

As for my glasses? What a fool I must be to care for even one second about something so piddling, superficial, and most of all, replaceable. How did I get to be this way? And how can I stop being this way? I must start immediately, lest I die while in this profoundly selfish state and go straight to Hell for Eternity, if there are such things.

Oh, and BTW -- I found my glasses.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Time Marches On

Missing: Have you seen these glasses?
Things really were better back in the good old days, and I'm counting yesterday as one of them. When I woke up yesterday morning I was in possession of my glasses, a light-as-a-feather pair of Silhouettes that cost well over $500 -- don't ask how much more. Unbreakable, with an anti-glare coating and progressive lenses, they weigh less than an ounce, I swear. And being rimless, they all but disappeared on my face. Then yesterday they disappeared for real.

Naturally, since my mother died of Alzheimer's, I looked for them everywhere a pair of glasses should not be: in the fridge, in the freezer, in the garbage, in the big bag of soil I was using to do some re-potting of plants. I zigzagged across our property several times, retracing my steps from garden to garage to side deck to screened porch, and back again. I looked under all the beds, even in rooms I had not entered for days. I opened every drawer in every table and bureau and ransacked the cushions on the couches and upholstered chairs. Alas, to no avail; they're gone.

And the funny thing is, this bothers me so much more than whether or not the Russians hacked our election or if Jared Kushner talked to some Russians or even if Donald Trump had sex with Vladimir Putin. All of that pales in comparison to losing those glasses with the lovely teal-colored temples that were lighter than air, that I had back in the old days.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Politics: A Family Affair

What's in your DNA?
It's all in the blood. Or maybe the DNA. All I know for sure is that families share diseases like kindergartners share colds. While my family certainly had its ailments, they were all different: A variety of cancers, a couple of strokes, and early-onset Alzheimer's keep me guessing about the eventual cause of my inevitable demise. But one friend of mine has been having an annual colonoscopy for years after colon cancer struck her mother, two aunts and several cousins, while another friend is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, following in her sister's footsteps.

Sadly, every one of my husband's blood relatives suffers from the same severely debilitating disease. By sheer luck, Mitch is the only one who did not get this gene, which even his own identical twin brother inherited. It's called by many names, but for our purposes here I will use the lay term: Rampant Liberalism (RL). It robs people of their senses, making them incapable of discerning truth from falsehood or understanding their own blindness to reality. They are resistant to any other way of thinking, approaching each political situation only after arming themselves with the nightly script from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow or the morning's instructions from the editors of the New York Times. They absorb misinformation from all the late-night comics who, lacking talent and imagination, simply distort all things Republican and mock President Trump for laughs.

My husband's nephew, a family member with an extreme case of RL who still possesses a keen intellect, was our only hope for stopping the disease. Could weekly applications of fair and balanced reporting one day save him, and his descendants, from an increasingly narrow-minded dotage? But then last week it became clear that his RL has worsened and he is now in the later stages of disease. He recently wrote on Facebook: "Every time Greta Van Susteren's ad comes on MSNBC I turn my tv off for a bit. JUST IN CASE my smart tv reports back, I want someone to know that even her ads lower ratings."

Besides his disturbingly incorrect usage of capital letters, his blatant unwillingness to entertain another point of view is the clearest indication his disease has metastasized. Another post stated, "If it takes updated guillotines to do it, the next Democratic president needs to crush the aristocracy and return the power and wealth it has stolen to the people." Obviously his irrational fear of capitalism has radicalized him, and he is now calling for chopping off the heads of the wealthy. Clearly, following his brother, several aunts and cousins, and even his own father, he is spiraling downward into a serious decline.

Our son shows all the signs of the disease but may in fact have a milder case, possibly tempered by my contribution to his genetic makeup. He is at least open-minded enough to acknowledge there might be another side to things. I hope for his sake that eventually a cure will be found, freeing him from the horror of RL's locked-in thinking that closes off fully half of life's possibilities.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Between the Ears

I often wonder what other people are really thinking. Like when their lips are moving and they are saying ordinary, expected things, like about the weather or their weekend plans or what they had for dinner last night, surely other things -- better things? -- remain unspoken. Of course this is not always true, and some people just have a vast nothingness between their ears. Personally I long for the vast nothingness, but it escapes me; there are always random thoughts bouncing inside my brain, and far too often they are of little import. Like right now, here's what I've got going on:

overpriced organic watermelon
dead 22-year-old
cats should speak English
too many bug bites
prunes work
another day
hummingbirds are freaky
I miss dead people (must re-read Our Town)
buy better shampoo
thank god for coffee
no blog post today

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Confounding World of Snowflakes

Years ago, sexual harassment meant the boss came up behind you and grabbed your derriere, or cornered you in a supply closet and tried to kiss you. This occurrence was fairly commonplace for any reasonably attractive woman dressed in the style of the day, which was basically miniskirts and knee-high boots. I had my share of unwanted attention from male superiors and co-workers alike, but I never sued anyone. I was never raped or traumatized in any way and, except for one time when I was 17 and had to call my father to rescue me, I always managed to handle the situation on my own.  

Times certainly have changed. The lead story in today's Wall Street Journal concerns the forced ouster of Uber head Travis Kalanick from his own $70 billion company for sins related to being a bad guy. I read the article carefully but still never learned the details of those sins. Intrigued, I plunged into the veritable ocean of information on the subject available online. Turns out Uber's "bad culture" has several prongs, the worst being its male-dominated management team that regularly engages in sexual harassment of the company's female snowflakes -- oops, I mean employees.

One reported example of sexual harassment at Uber circa 2016 was a woman being alerted by a female co-worker that their male department manager had admitted he "could not look her in the eye" whenever she wore a sleeveless tank top at work. As I see it, she had three options: Never wear sleeveless tank tops at the office, not care if the guy looked her in the eye as long as she was paid for doing work she enjoyed, or quit the job at Uber.  She did none of those, instead choosing to stay put and blog about the horror of working there.

Do not wear this to work....
Another female Uber employee was upset because her male manager had sent her several chat messages inferring he would like to have sex with her. Rather than feeling flattered that he found her attractive while calmly rejecting his unrequited interest, she found his suggestion "vile and reprehensible" and filed a harassment claim with the HR department, then was upset when all they did was give the man "a stern talking-to." In my day, when women were not snowflakes but rather snowplows, the offended party would have personally delivered the "stern talking-to" to the offender, and in no uncertain terms.
.... at Uber.
My son, 29, explained recently that the term "snowflake" was born from the fact that "every one of them is unique." Others have suggested harsher definitions, inferring that today's young adults are as delicate as snowflakes and melt at the slightest touch. I am not endorsing either definition, just presenting the facts as I have heard them. And I'm shaking my head in bewilderment over today's young women who are so squeamish when it comes to sexual attention, but worship sexually explicit celebrities like Britney Spears and Beyonce, who performs half-naked and spits out lyrics like these:

I love your face You love the taste That sugar babe, it melts away
Can you lick my skittles That’s the sweetest in the middle Pink that’s the flavor Solve the riddle
When you’re thirsty and need love I give it up ’til I’m empty babe
Bringing work up on top of me I’mma let let you be the boss of me I know everything you want Give me that daddy long stroke
Ooh get a glimpse of this candy paint Don’t slip off when it drip off on top of ya right

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Bucket List Worth the Trip

The Lost City of Atlantis surely has no Starbucks or McDonald's.
My husband bugs me constantly to make a Bucket List. He is worried that since I am old (i.e., older than he is) I could die before I get to places on the planet I wish to visit. The thing he can't accept is that A, there are no longer places on this planet I wish to visit and B, even if I visit them I will still die and C, it's not worth the hassles of travel to end up somewhere you don't speak the language with a Starbucks outside your hotel window and a McDonald's down the block, where you might even be  blown to smithereens by a crazed radical Muslim (yes, everyone knows that most Muslims are very nice and peace-loving, I am talking about the bad ones who do all the bombing and mowing down of crowds with vans). 

The truth is I actually do have a bucket list but it's sadly unattainable. Still, I would willingly spend weeks packing with a smile on my face and never complain about the long flights and bad air and uncomfortable seats on the plane if I could end up at any of the following:

Grover's Corners
Jurassic Park
Mt. Everest
Emerald City
The Moon
1930s Manhattan
Palisades Amusement Park

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Just Unplug Me

A sad fact of life: Things that plug in often break down.
On March 14 of this year we bought a new refrigerator. I hated it then and have hated it every day since, and today it's hating me back. Actually it started hating me back before today but I wasn't paying attention, distracted as I was by living my life. Serving our guests some tepid ice cream the other night, I thought just the freezer was being cranky, but seeking breakfast this morning I suddenly understood that the whole dumb box is broken.

Okay, so it's not a dumb box, it's a so-called "smart" appliance outfitted with a digital strip along the top that usually reports the temperature, only today it says OFF, just in case we humans are too dumb to notice that the inside of the big box is warm and all the eggs, meats and dairy products have spoiled since the damn thing walked off the job two days ago.

At times like these I envy the pilgrims and pioneers and even the cavemen (and cavewomen and cavetransgenders, and of course the caveallies and cavequeers), who depended only on themselves and not the service department at Agren Appliance. For starters, they would probably not have more food on hand than they could eat in a day, so spoilage was not a problem, unless they killed a huge animal, at which point surely they would have put it on ice or buried it deep inside a root cellar or come up with some solution that did not plug in. Either way, they never had to sit around waiting for the appliance repairman, who by the way can't get here until Thursday afternoon between two and five because there are so many other people ahead of me with broken things that plug in needing fixing.

Okay, sure, this is a problem that the homeless do not have. I understand that. I am grateful for having a home, and also for anesthesia and most especially Novocaine, or whatever they use these days, but still, it pisses me off that I just bought half a dozen yogurts and some really nice cheese and now they're all ruined.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ancestry Dot Com

A few weeks ago I sent away for one of those DNA kits that reveal your ancestry. Apparently with just a swab inside the cheek, suddenly everything makes sense. Once hazy self-doubts come sharply into focus, since finally knowing you are 10% of this and 40% of that nationality will answer so many questions. I saw on TV where one guy traded in his lederhosen for a kilt!

Anyway, I have to say I was pretty surprised with my results. I was expecting 50% Russian and 50% Polish, but here's what I really am:
40% French Roast
25% Greek Yogurt
15% Chinese Takeout 
 15% Italian Chianti
5% Swedish Fish

A Sticky Situation

Even though I voted for George W. Bush twice, and even though I wrote in John Kasich last election, I care about the planet and the environment and all that stuff. To that end, I am known to recycle with a vengeance. This means that every Sunday I collect the various small trash bins we have around our house and then, before dumping them into our big outdoor trash cans for pickup Monday morning, separate those things that can be recycled. I usually find empty tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls and plastic containers, but today, in our bedroom waste basket, I found a surprise: a folded dollar bill.

Knowing we are not wealthy enough to discard money, I retrieved it and upon unfolding it found a wadded piece of chewing gum inside. "Huh," I thought, "that's weird." Since I don't chew gum I approached my husband, who admitted that yes, he was familiar with it and would take full responsibility. (At least that.) As I howled in horror, and possibly even shrieked  a few times -- it's all a blur now -- Mitch offered up the following explanations:

"Something bad happened to that dollar."
"I didn't know you go through the garbage. If I did I never would have put it in there."
"I don't really know how it happened."
"I never thought you would see it."
"I put my gum on a piece of paper but then somehow it got onto the dollar."
"I think I found it like that in the middle of my car."

If any of you out there are in dire financial straits, you might want to give Mitch a call. Apparently he's throwing money away.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Enough Pride Already

I invited friends for dinner tonight but they couldn't make it because they had to go and be proud of their gayness at some event. They weren't sure where it was or when, but it was definitely for gays and for being proud, so they are coming to dinner tomorrow instead.

For reasons that escape me, all gay people are very proud of engaging in sex with people of their same gender. Fine, if that makes them proud, go for it. But does everyone else have to hear about it constantly, as if all gays are superheroes owing to their sexual orientation? It's just sex! It's not feeding starving children or ending war or structuring peace in the Middle East or solving climate change or ending famine or eradicating disease or solving homelessness or easing drug addiction or even finding a way for the Democrats to get along with the Republicans, it's about getting laid. Enough already.

Friday, June 16, 2017

God's Gift to Maine

By all accounts Maine is lovely, earning the title America's Vacationland. There's no traffic and hardly any crime, certainly none requiring the average dog-walker to carry a can of pepper spray at night, my standard M.O. back in D.C. (I had a Miniature Schnauzer -- can you blame me?) Maine's local chickens, a huge segment of  the population, lay local eggs, making for yummy breakfasts at all the local diners. And while it took a few winters to get used to the relentless blizzards and inopportune power outages, eventually (and with a set of decent snow tires) I came to love them, with those February trips to Florida as a nice bonus.

So apparently God looked down and saw that the people of Maine were relatively happy, each one of them in possession of a regulation pair of Bean Boots and yellow rain slicker, several down comforters and one of those YETI mugs to keep their drinks warm while they're out chopping wood for the cozy home fires, and thought, "What's wrong with this picture?" And then He realized, "They've got it too good down there. Here, take this!" And with a flick of His wrist He threw down a nest of Browntail Moths right in the middle of Vacationland. The rest is calamine lotion history.

They're here now. Right outside. Everywhere. There is no escape.

Last night I got approximately one hour of sleep, which is pretty miraculous considering that every inch of my body was on fire, and not in a good way. The microscopic hairs of the Browntail are swirling around Freeport, and they are invisible, and they are insidious, and many of them are all over my skin despite my copious showering and paying the tree mob for protection in advance and wearing long pants and long sleeves and neck scarves and hats and doing all the other stuff you are advised to do to guard against them.  

Still, they found me, and I itch. Incredibly. Beyond any reasonable itching anyone should be expected to tolerate, making me cry out, and quoting the stricken Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan, "Why me?" (I never understood why Nancy asked that question. If not her, then who? -- she was Tonya's biggest rival.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sheltering in Place

Should I take a few shooting lessons?
Lately it's been hard to keep up with all the explosions and shootings taking place everywhere. In London, San Francisco, and most recently Alexandria, Virginia, people of all stripes are going nuts, and there's little reason to believe the growing chaos will end anytime soon. Up here in Maine, our little paradise remains unscathed by the madness, making me think that leaving the state -- or even my house -- is asking for trouble. So I opt for safety, staying close to home and painting pretty pictures that likely won't make me a dime, will never be seen by the public, or, after I run out of wall space, won't even get to hang on a wall. Instead most of them will run out the clock like poor Anne Frank, their inherent beauty hidden from sight inside a dark closet. (At least Anne left a trace, writing things like, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.")

Despite wishing to get my art in front of a wider audience, still I feel my seclusion to be a worthy endeavor; my absence from society likely does more good than my presence might. After all, I'm one less person out there pushing and pulling, grumbling and grabbing. Also, the chances of being struck by a stray bullet, crushed by a speeding van or impaled by flying shrapnel are greatly diminished by my sheltering in place. Still, questions taunt me: Could the madness eventually come to this corner of the world? Should I go out and get a gun while I still can? And maybe take some lessons in how to use it? Have things really come to this?

My husband, being my polar opposite in all things, feels differently. Brave to the point of recklessness, Mitch relishes being in the line of fire. Two days ago he left Maine and flew to Arkansas, then a day later went on to Wyoming, after which he stopped in Des Moines before proceeding to Chicago where he hung out for awhile before another plane deposited him in Boston early this morning where he rented a car and drove home to Portland. Fortunately he returned none the worse for wear as apparently he did not encounter anybody with a grudge along the way.