Sunday, June 30, 2013

Living for Today

My son is very focused on the future. And by future, I'm not talking next month or next year, I mean after the coming apocalypse. He admits this event may be many generations away, yet he is busy planning for it now. (Only the strong will survive, we need to kill or grow our own food, etc.) I am in awe, since it's a stretch for me to calculate how much cat food I'll need for the week if we go out of town.

The fact is, I pretty much live day by day. This is stupid, I've been told, but somehow I can't shake the suspicion that if you have a happy day today, and follow it with another one tomorrow, and so on, when you add them all up you get a happy life. Is that wrong? Also, one never knows just how long one will be here, so I like to pay attention. This makes it hard to buy airline tickets for Christmas, I agree. That's annoying for my husband, who plans in light years.

This way of seeing things is actually a pain in the neck, since it causes me to be out of sync with the other members of my immediate family on many related issues. Fortunately I cook well, which compensates.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What, Me Worry?

Everywhere I turn, everywhere I go, I hear the same thing: "One in three people will get shingles in their lifetime." It's the part about it being in my lifetime that has me worried, because if it's not in my lifetime I don't really care. I used to worry about so many things, but now my time is pretty much taken up by worrying about shingles. In fact, I've stopped making plans for anything with anyone until I get those damn shingles already. I have a 33% chance of getting them, so with any luck I guess I will.

Actually, the shingles are already living inside me because I had chickenpox as a child. Shingles are terribly painful blisters. Or else they are open sores that burn like the fires of Hell. You would not wish it on your worst enemy. This is what the advertisers of the vaccine have decided to tell the public. It's alarming. So I called my doctor, again, and they said the same thing they said the last time: The vaccine is expensive, it is not covered by insurance, and it only works half the time. 

This all applies to you too, you know.

Obama Plunders the Public

Writing this blog helps me keep my finger on the pulse of society, albeit just a tiny segment. There's a page of statistics that shows me how many readers are clicking which posts, and where they live. Yesterday's post about celebrity cook Paula Deen and her racist heritage was the least-read in the entire five years I have been tracking such things here at the offices of The Daily Droid, which means my dining room table. I wondered what could this mean: Are people turned off by tubby, diabetic, gray-haired, Southern ladies who use the N-word and make millions of dollars baking pecan pies with whipped cream and buttery biscuits and plenty of gravy? Is it because of the whole racism thing or is it just plain old Paula Deen?

The post that has gotten the most readers, and continues to every day, is entitled "Fear of Fat Trumps Fear of Death," and is about just that very fact. It is the clear chart-topper by a huge margin, with four times the readers as the next in popularity, "Slap on a Smiley Face." Third is "Jodi and the Pope," and of course who doesn't like that kooky twosome? I am mystified why some of my favorites have attracted little readership despite being what I consider either wildly funny or particularly pithy.

What I do know is that Mr. and Mrs. Obama are touring Africa, and how this helps me personally is another mystery. “The reason I came to Africa is because Africa is rising,” Mr. Obama said. “And it is in the United States’ interests — not simply in Africa’s interests — that the United States don’t miss the opportunity to deepen and broaden the partnerships and potential here.” Oh please. The week-long trip is costing us, the taxpayers, an estimated $100 million. Just sit quietly for a minute and think about that, then remember how hard it was to write that check for your taxes this year, and the sacrifices you make every day to feed your family and pay your bills. Let's see how many clicks this post gets.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

None of Your Beeswax

How much of my life is your business? Here in the tiny, sleepy, rural hamlet of South Freeport, apparently a lot.

Each morning, motivation permitting, I suit up and go for a walk, since my hip won't run anymore. I could get a new one, but then that one wouldn't let me run either, and it seems pointless to set off all those airport security alarms if I can't even up my exercise. Anyway, it is now officially Bug Season, and being allergic to insect bites of all kinds, I am naturally wary. One little mosquito bite can become a big problem that dominates my life for two weeks. I have been to emergency rooms, allergists, blah, blah, blah--trust me, it's bad. So I wear a hat that snugly covers my head, wrap a scarf around my neck, don long sleeves and long pants and usually several of my anti-mosquito wristbands and head out. I have been doing this for the last four years around these parts, but my attire in summer still raises more eyebrows than if I were stark naked.

These really work!
Today a very old man who looked to be 110 was standing on the road, possibly awaiting Death. As I came along, he wasted no time in saying, with a laugh, "Why are you wearing so many clothes? You must be sweating in this heat." I waved. And just yesterday, in the post office, a helpful neighbor pointed out, "You really don't need a hat today, it's not cold at all."

Busybodies of all genders, ages, colors, creeds and religions unabashedly come forward to ask why I am wearing what I am am wearing. In each case, I fight off the urge to say:
1. I just had a tracheotomy and have to keep dirt out of the hole in my neck.
2. I am actually from the planet Hydrox and am allergic to your Sun.
3. My body is covered with hideous sores which are highly contagious.
4. I have severe alopecia and have not a hair on my head.
5. I'm fat and embarrassed for people to see my cellulite.
6. I'm a lunatic.

I don't say any of those things. Instead I usually tell the truth, opening myself up to countless homemade remedies or downright disbelief. The best response I ever got was one lady who said, "I never heard of such a thing. Are you sure?"

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Ninth Circle of Maine

With so many levels of humanity, I sometimes wonder why it is my fate to spend so much time near the bottom. Not that I want to occupy any seats of power or royal thrones or even run-of-the-mill political offices. And having been a boss several times in my career, I hated being responsible for other people's productivity and promptly started climbing my way back down the ladder. Not sure, but I may have gone a tad too far down.

This morning I went for a job interview and finally was offered a writing position in the state of Maine. It pays $20 per week. I accepted it. Not only that, I am looking forward to it. That was the good part of the day. Soon after after that I went for a haircut, a horror I endure every two months. I also get my hair colored, which should come as no surprise seeing as how I became addicted to the practice at a very young age (6). Nevertheless, I hate having a stranger's hands all over my head, also a result of something that happened at a very young age (4).

So there I was, with my own particular set of phobic feelings, and since I have been quite short of sleep these last few days, I nodded off during the proceedings. Each time I awoke I heard a variation of the the following conversation taking place right into my ears, between the woman doing my hair color and another stylist with time on her hands. At one point I thought it was a dream, but it turned out not to be:

First Stylist: So do you let your bunnies go outside?
Second One: Sometimes, but not all of them. Last week Mrs. Higglesbottom got out, and it was so scary.
First: Oh no! Was that the first time she got out?
Second: Well sometimes we let them out, but Mrs. Snugglesbottom never goes out, so we had to go chasing her....
First: I never let my bunnies outside. My chickens are outside a lot though.
Second:  Well of course. Mine too.

A cell phone with pictures of two little bunnies appeared directly in front of my face. Mrs. Cuddlebottoms was pointed out to me. I went back to sleep. Then on the way home I turned on a local radio news station and heard that suicides are up in Maine, as well as arrests for heroin possession. Small wonder.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Odd Things of Little Import

Maybe I was abused by a hummingbird as a child, I don't recall, but there's one outside my window right now and it's freaking me out. I know they are considered to be one of life's little treasures, and you often see them depicted on greeting cards, especially condolence cards that say, "She's in a better place now." There's the little hummingbird in the clouds, with maybe some silver glitter. While technically they are birds, to me they look like monstrous flying insects. They can fly backwards, and are often just hours away from death by starvation since they use up more energy just flapping their wings than they can hold in their tiny tummies.

Speaking of tummies, yesterday morning my husband ran in a local road race. He pushed himself hard and set a new personal record, winning in his age group, which is 50-59. For that achievement he was rewarded, like everyone else who won in their age groups, with a pie; he chose Apple Blueberry. Later on Mitch ate some of the pie--quite a bit of it, actually--since, as he said, "I won it." Although I didn't run in the race, suddenly I was eating pie too. And it's all because Mitch started out the day so physically fit that we both finished off the day less so.

The 2013 Saab, in red!
Last week I brought my car in to be inspected at the local VIP Auto shop. This is a place that specializes in cars. I gave the service guy the details, and when I said it was a 2011 Saab, he said that was impossible since Saab went out of business and they stopped making them, so it must be a 2010. I said I know what year my car is, if little else. He said I was wrong. Later on I checked and learned that you can buy a 2012 Saab and even a 2013 Saab, and they are not out of business yet, they just declared Chapter 11. And that guy was the head service guy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Not Everyone Booms

Believe it or not, there is yet another new website aimed at us poor aging baby boomers. This one is called Purple Clover, whatever the heck that means. I read just as much of it as I could stand on the opening page, and got the idea. Apparently, what we see in the mirror aside, we are not old, we are in the prime of life! In fact, we all feel great, maybe even better than ever, so stop calling us old!

Oh yeah? Well tell that to all my fat friends in their fifties and sixties with their artificial knees and hips, on blood thinners and diabetes medication, who can barely get out of bed in the morning without first downing a mouthful of ibuprofen with a Miralax chaser. Personally, I just turned 67 and most days I feel just about  67. My son tells me I don't look or act nearly as old as some of the other parents he knows, and that makes me happy--but then, I smoke pot and that helps me relate to his generation. If I didn't, I'd be just as crabby as all the rest of them. Also, I still have all my original body parts, although honestly they are getting kind of worn out. All in all, I'd rather be 35.

What we need is a baby boomer website that tells the truth, so people in that demographic who are not exactly booming won't feel so ashamed. And let's remember, aging is not optional.

Get Smart

I'm reading a pretty interesting book right now. There's not much plot, and even though I know how it will turn out, it's still a real page-turner. It's called Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

Despite having excelled in English all during school and then graduating from a respectable university, there are many words in my native language I can spell but still don't know, and even more I thought I knew but have come to find out I don't really. Take insidious, for example. It's one of the words I use from time to time to describe a bad situation, something akin to a cancer within, either a person or a place. But I couldn't come up with a proper definition if my life depended on it. Turns out it means "awaiting a chance to entrap." Now that is something I have just never done to anyone at any time, unless maybe we are talking about an insect that's freaking me out. The second meaning is "harmful but enticing." Who knew?

Risking pleonasm, I find that reading the dictionary can be so much more rewarding than many other popular pursuits. Try it. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tony Soprano's Last Lesson

James Gandolfini as Tony, in a sober moment.
I have always wanted to write newspaper obituaries but those jobs are harder to come by than a decent pizza, so I am usually somewhat gladdened when someone famous dies and I can live out my fantasy. Not this time.

The gifted actor James Gandolfini died yesterday. He was vacationing with his family in Italy, which is the only nice thing about it. Now that he's dead we'll be talking about him for a few days whereas we weren't before; death really perks up everyone's interest. James will surely be on the cover of People magazine, and last night that horrid Piers Morgan who should just go back to England already jumped on the dead-Tony Soprano bandwagon before the body was even cold, devoting his hour-long TV show to him. (I am looking forward to writing an obituary for Piers in this space, hopefully soon.)

James and I never met and now we never will, which is a shame because I loved him--well, not him so much as Tony Soprano, the character he played in the TV series The Sopranos. Still, James made him real. Tony was a cold-hearted killer but also a sweet, teddy bear of a man, who had trouble dealing with his own confused and conflicting emotions. He was a tough mob boss who secretly saw a shrink once a week. His problems had nothing to do with hacking people up, which he did easily and with abandon; instead he was torn up over his relationships and full of self-doubt. A true family man, he loved his kids and his wife, even though he cheated on her all the time. Fortunately he never had to kill any of them, for he surely would have; business always came first with Tony.

Born into a lower middle-class family in New Jersey--his mom was a cafeteria worker and his dad a bricklayer-- James didn't try acting until he was 25, working instead after college as a bartender and bouncer. A friend prodded him into acting classes where his natural talent surfaced, ultimately making him an award-winning superstar of mammoth proportions.

In the last few years James was clearly obese and always seemed to have a cigar going, so we can assume health was not a primary concern of his. Despite that, he was dashing and attractive; one can only imagine how handsome he would have been if he lost weight and got himself in shape. Instead he suffered a fatal heart attack at 51, leaving behind an 8-month baby girl, a teenage son from his first marriage and his new, young wife. So think about it: Is today the day you start your diet and exercise regime? If you're still alive, it's not too late.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Time for a Change

I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to drive traffic to my blog, in the hope it will be discovered by somebody who then wants to let me write a column in some published venture that still earns money, in turn giving me some money. To that end, I think I must change the name--after all, what the heck is Roto-Rouda? It means nothing to anyone who did not grow up listening to ads for Roto-Rooter, which is a plumbing company that snakes out drains. And even if you know that, what does that have to with anything? Just because my last name, taken at marriage by the way, is Rouda, and because I thought it would be funny to name my daughter--but I had a son--Rhoda, so her name could be Rhoda Rouda? It's dumb, I tell you. Dumb.

So starting tomorrow this blog will have a new name, and in fact might have a new one every day from now on. My husband says that is the stupidest thing I could do since nobody could ever find it if I keep changing the name. But hey, I'm sort of dumb when it comes to business savvy, a fact already established in the preceding paragraph. Here are some of the names I am considering:

Lose Weight Eating All You Want
When Cupcakes Kill
Nobody Misses Keith Olbermann
Sex Is So Old Hat
This is Not Wine Spectator
A Critical Eye
Funny & Serious Too
Cooking With Avocados
As Long As You've Got Your Health
Cats in the Belfry
You'll Be Dead Eventually, So Make Today Count
Bitchy Lady Blog

That last one was suggested by my son, who says he means it in the best sense possible. Anyway, starting tomorrow I will go with one of the above. I am hoping I might get some feedback from readers today as to what they like best, otherwise, I'll just print out the list and pin it up on the wall and throw a dart and use the one it hits. Now I have to go get some darts.

Don't Save Me a Seat

Sleeping fitfully, probably due to that 4-shot espresso late in the day, I finally gave up on bed and went downstairs for a snack to fill the aching void in my stomach left by a paltry fish dinner six hours ago. (One cannot fall asleep when hungry--at least not in America.) Happy with my cereal, I perused the Arts section of today's New York Times and read a review of a gimmicky, off-Broadway play I wouldn't see if you paid me a million dollars, and I mean it. You could  slap down the bills one at a time right in front of me, and I'm still not going.

The play is called Roadkill. Which gives you some idea. It's about the sexual trafficking of teenage girls, and the gimmick is that the entire audience-- about 20 people for this reviewer's performance--gets on a bus and goes with the actress playing the young Nigerian girl who is about to be sold into forced prostitution but she doesn't know it yet. She talks on the bus, as the play has begun. At the end of the bus ride the audience accompanies her into a seedy hotel in a crummy part of Brooklyn where they watch the rest of the play. There are some other actors already there. The girl gets raped a few times and it's all very depressing and shocking, etc. After about 90 minutes of this horror, everyone rides the same bus back to the theater where they first started, except for the girl, who is now a sex slave. She stays behind.

I am into the avant garde, believe me. One time I was I thoroughly soaked with cold water, in winter mind you, and another time I had pig's blood splattered on me, and a few other weird things happened I can't remember right now, all for the love of theater, but I am not doing that. It sounds like no fun at all, and starved as I am for experience, I'm just not that hungry.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Life as a Sponge

Sponge Brain by Jeffrey Allen Price
I have always been too spongy. That is a major flaw in what makes me me. In fact, if there were a procedure available to become cold and heartless and care only about myself, sort of like the way my cousin Suzanne already is, I would do it.

Being spongy means never having any control over anything that happens to you. For example, things can be going swimmingly in my life, but if someone I know calls and tells me how everything in their life sucks, I am then totally bummed out and depressed--sometimes just for a few days, sometimes much longer--over their sucky life. I have tried and tried to get over this, attempting to replace my sponginess with a callous, devil-may-care attitude of who gives a shit, that's your problem, but to no avail.

Once, a long time ago, I almost succeeded. But then it caught up with me and now it's back, and here I am again, sad because one friend is in the ICU with god knows what, and another relative is all but homeless, and a third is in a wheelchair in a nursing home. A fourth is living on Nantucket Island oblivious to everyone's problems but her own. They all make me so sad.

The Maine Way

There's an article in today's Wall Street Journal about whether or not it is appropriate to wave at passers-by while out riding your bike or running. I skimmed it, and it seems to say that some people do and some people don't, and it's nicer if you do. Here in Maine, that sort of discussion would never take place. They don't. End of story. They also don't smile unless you have the same last name or have been formally introduced.

I walk a few miles every day, and often pass someone running, biking or walking in the opposite direction. The usual reaction around these parts is to lower the head and turn it slightly away from the passer-by. I am getting quite good at this. I also have hundreds of smiles saved up, no longer wasting them on people I don't know. In fact, the last time I smiled at strangers was back in March, in Haiti, where everyone smiles a lot, even if they don't know you. Poverty does that, I guess.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why I Shop at Bean's

There is simply nothing cuter than a puppy. I want one all the time. I see the pictures and I ache to hold one, burying my nose in its soft, mushy tummy and smelling its puppy smell. But the thing is, they don't stay puppies and soon enough they are not cute at all. Okay, they are still cute sometimes, but not enough to put up with the times they're sick and have to wear one of those cones around their necks, that is so depressing. And not enough to make up for needing to find someone to watch them whenever you want to go and live your life somewhere else for a few days. No, not enough. So I don't have a puppy, or a dog, anymore, which is a shame, because there aren't that many things to have or do in the world that are anywhere near as adorable.

There's travel, which is okay if you can stand flying and road food and hotels and always talking to people you will only know for a short time. And look, there it is: the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, and they look just like they look in all the pictures you've seen your whole life, except you are right there--along with the pulsating throngs of other people, all with cameras, snapping pictures, which is so dumb because as I said, they look just like they look in all the pictures. (There are already a lot of pictures of everything.)

My husband went off to New York this morning and he wanted me to go with him. I thought of flying--going through the nude bar at security and then getting strapped into a tiny seat, finally with any luck landing at LaGuardia and taking a crazy cab ride with one of those terrorist drivers speaking Arabic into their cell phones, always with the Arabic, on the LIE into the ancient Midtown Tunnel, then coming out into the traffic and the noise and the steamy grates and the hot dog vendors, and I just couldn't do it. So here I am in Maine, with little to do but at least no pulsating throngs, wanting a puppy. It's times like this I go to L. L. Bean's. They're always open, and even if most of the merchandise is made in Cambodian sweatshops, all in all it's a pretty cheery place.

Here's to Your Health

An alien just arriving on our planet today would likely feel very sorry for the Earthlings: What a pathetic mess we all are! I say this because, as I do each morning seeking freelance writing work, today I logged on to Craigslist and for a change clicked on Volunteers--after all, even if I can't earn any money I can still do some good for someone else. In the past I have found interesting things there, but today every posted position had to do with the crumbling health of the citizenry. For your amusement I print below, verbatim, the kind of volunteers currently being sought in the state of Maine:

Do you or a loved one have psoriasis?
Have you had a heart attack or stroke? 
Do you have one or more warts? 
Does bowel pain put a cramp in your lifestyle?
Would you be interested in taking part in a Type 2 Diabetes research trial? 
Do you suffer from migraine headaches? 
Are you suffering from severe facial acne? 
Do you have COPD, emphysema or chronic bronchitis?
Are you a healthy Type 2 Diabetes sufferer?

Happily I was able to answer "no" to each and every question, which means once again I failed to find meaningful work. But it got me wondering what ordinary people are doing to have so many illnesses, syndromes, diseases and afflictions visited upon them. Is it possible that Earth is not an appropriate environment for humans after all, or are we just doing something fundamentally wrong?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Hovel Next-Door

Is this in our future?
In all the houses we've lived in over all the years of our marriage, my husband and I have always been good friends with our next-door neighbors. The names may have changed but the circumstances were fairly identical: The four of us socialized--seeing movies, dining out often and toasting one another on New Year's. Birthday gifts were exchanged. We offered aid in plumbing emergencies and provided chicken soup for the flu. It was grand. We enjoyed this camaraderie up until the previous occupants of the house next-door, but then they moved two hours away and you'd think we'd loaned them money. All the fun was replaced with complete silence--although they were our close friends when they were neighbors, now they're nothing.

So, still licking our wounds when the new people came along, we were hesitant to embark upon a warm and cozy relationship. Still, there they are, literally a stone's throw away. The hope exists that if and when an emergency arises, as they do out here in the country, we could count on them and they on us, but as certain elected officials have taught us all too well, hope is highly overrated.

They arrived in winter when the ground was frozen--too frozen for them to dig a hole and install their mailbox. So they stuck it in a plastic bucket, filled the bucket with rocks, and there it sat until the thaw, or so we assumed. But now it's June and the thaw has come and gone, leaving the ground soft, and there the mailbox still sits in the bucket of rocks. Finally, frustrated, Mitch brought over his post hole digger several weeks ago, along with a pineapple to sweeten the deal, assuming the young, new neighbor might have lacked one. (The tool, not the fruit.)

Today the mailbox remains in the plastic bucket, an eyesore out there on our otherwise lovely country road. "It's like the Beverly Hillbillies," our cross-the-street neighbor mutters, passing by on her daily morning walk. Another local resident, out for a jog, rolls her eyes at the offending bucket. For Maine, that's tongues wagging.

The new neighbors, who are not even so new anymore as to deserve that moniker, still have our post hole digger, and Mitch thinks maybe he should just go on over there and dig the damn hole and stick the damn mailbox in the damn ground himself, just like the neighbor on their other side, out on his riding mower one day last week, mowed their bushy front lawn. I say forget it. They are not friends, they are neighbors, and as far as I can tell, neighbors are only friends until one of you moves away. As for the mailbox, I doubt that it is hurting our property values, and if it's still there when we decide to sell, we can dig the hole before our first Open House.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inside the Bell Jar

I suppose I should be happy to have been unsuccessful for most of my life. It seems that those who do succeed are mostly unhappy, having something to do with an inability to see themselves as anything but hateful. What's got me going on this tangent is Sylvia Plath's novel, The Bell Jar, which I deliberately avoided reading before but am reading now, it having fallen off my bookshelves yesterday while looking for something else. I believe it was purchased by my son for his high-school English class with his favorite teacher-- and mine by proxy-- Mr. Joe Riener, back in 2004. (Ultimately Mr. Riener was fired for being too good a teacher.) Since the book fairly jumped out at me, and since there's no time like the present, especially at my age, I started reading it right then and there.

Well, that Sylvia sure could write. It's amazing how well; many of her sentences demand several readings just because they're so delicious. Nevertheless, at the enviable and still-young age of 31, despite much critical acclaim and many prizes and being published everywhere and having two very young babies, Plath stuck her head in the oven one cold winter's day and turned on the gas. Besides that being sad, it seems like such an uncomfortable way to die, and such an awkward position in which to be found. I say if you are going to kill yourself do it with dignity like James Mason playing Norman Maine in A Star is Born--drop your robe, preferably on the beach in Malibu, walk boldly into the ocean, and just keep going.

Anyway, I digress. I don't want to talk about suicide, I want to ponder instead why so many people with so much talent are so unhappy while all the dolts with no talent at all, living horribly dull lives, who sit around watching reality TV and eating Taco Bell take-out, choose to go on forever. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle, although reading Plath's novel makes me slightly uncomfortable at how many traits I share with its author. Except for the fame and success, of course. Thank God.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Art of Eating

My husband and I went out for dinner recently, and honest to god, I did not understand at least half of the menu, and it was an American restaurant. I did notice that "Roasted Pig's Face" was one of the entrees. (I resisted.) This trend is disturbing, especially since I am considering opening a restaurant and thus have begun thinking about the copy for the menu. Even if the food is plain, it better not sound that way or the customers will leave before they even taste anything. With that in mind, I decided to hone my menu-writing skills with my simple two-egg breakfast this morning:

Spinach, Dill and Blueberry Omelet
Two extra-large, free-range, local pasture-raised Eggs with chopped, organic, Maine-grown, pesticide-free Baby Spinach leaves, dried all-natural and organic Lao coriander (dill) and Wild Maine organic high-bush Blueberries cooked in clarified butter (ghee) and served with slices of fair-trade "Sugarloaf" South American Pineapple and a generous portion of Driscoll's non-GMO, premium, all-natural, organic jumbo Strawberries

Organic, fair trade certified, dark roast Wicked French whole bean Maine-roasted Coffee, with a smoky, rich and smooth taste and no bitter aftertaste

From the Bakery
Gluten-free, organic, whole-grain and seeded 100% hulled wheat Breads are available upon request, however bear in mind that carbohydrates are addicting and unnecessary for a healthy diet

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's a Dog Eat Dog World

The Knishmaster
I was born in Brooklyn, and you know what they say: You can take the girl out of Brooklyn but you can't take Brooklyn out of the girl. Give me a potato knish from Yonah Schimmel's and a couple of subway tokens and I'm happy. But do not give me a giant moth the size of a grapefruit hanging out on my back door and expect me to applaud. And also do not give me a huge Maine Coon cat weighing in at 14 pounds, batting around a teeny, tiny defenseless and adorable chipmunk weighing about eight ounces and expect me to watch, spellbound, as if it's a National Geographic special. This is what's going on at my house today, and while it's nature in all its glory, I am simply not comfortable with any of it.
Adorable chipmunk

The cat thing happened this morning. I was sipping coffee and looking at the day when I noticed Big Lurch having a grand old time with something outside, something with a tail, something that looked like it had escaped from a Disney cartoon. Turned out it was my pet chipmunk, Chip-or-Dale, who lives under the front steps but comes out sometimes to stretch his legs and get some acorns. Thankfully I was there, and went rushing out screaming, scaring off the two of them who ran in opposite directions. My husband thought I should not have intervened, muttering something about the Circle of Life and the food chain. (Sorry honey--not on my watch.)

Big Lurch
Lurch has not spoken to me since and is currently sulking in the corner, no doubt planning his next move. I wish he'd go after that moth--it's freaking me out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Best Foot Forward

"Girl makes millions on flip-flops at 15." So says the headline on AOL this afternoon. This is annoying, and not because I begrudge her the money, but because I cannot even wear flip-flops. In fact, I don't understand how anyone can walk around with that little piece of whatever -- rubber or leather or canvas -- between their toes. I have tried and failed. I find the feeling disgusting, akin to not quite getting rid of all the toilet paper after using, if you know what I mean.  Yet they are the most popular shoe in America, or maybe the world, and certainly the oldest: Apparently they were invented in 4,000 B. C., which is how Jesus was able to get a pair. Actually, by the time he showed up they were already old hat.

People of all genders love flip-flops, and not just for the beach. They're everywhere all the time, and here in Maine you even see them in winter, in the snow, which seems odd at least. They are truly ubiquitous, which is a great word that doesn't get much use because so few things are. The funny thing is, beside being annoying and making that flip-flopping sound, flip-flops have caused and will continue to cause a variety of injuries including sprained ankles, sore calves, stubbed and broken toes, flat feet, fallen arches, tendonitis and the ubiquitous "more."

Nevertheless, some little girl painted a few seahorses and a couple of starfish on a pair
and sold them to Nordstrom's and the rest is marketing history. Now why can't I do something like that?

You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic

As many of my friends know, I am a schizophrenic. We usually tell people we are a Gemini, but this is simply our way of being diplomatic. Okay, fine, I don't hear voices inside my head--except my own which I'm pretty sure is standard. And nobody is telling me to do weird things, except my other half. But I've had it, and she is in my sights--she's sure to take a shower sometime, in fact she loves those damn showers and stays in far too long, if you ask me. Then again, it's always something...

Take last night, for example, when she ate a huge bowl of Grape-Nuts with milk--two food groups I am specifically avoiding these days-- and I was not even the slightest bit hungry, and neither was she. It was just the old "filling a void with food" thing. Then about an hour later, she was angry and dumped out the almost-full box of perfectly good cereal that I like to keep in the house for my visiting son, or anyone who stays over for that matter. Or maybe I dumped it out, I'm not sure, but the fact is, it's gone today.

In retaliation, I then ate a bowl of ice cream. Of course, Miss Goody Two Shoes got hold of it and made me watch as she held almost a whole gallon of Edy's Grand Coffee Craze under the hot water faucet. And so then, in revenge, I ordered some won ton soup to go, with those crispy noodles she never lets me eat, and when the waitress brought out our order she told her that on second thought we didn't want the noodles after all! Grrrr--I hate her!

And it's not just about food either. Yesterday we went to vote in a local election, and she was planning to vote Yes on the school renovation thing, which was the politically correct way to go, certainly in our neighborhood. But when we got in there and I read the small print, I decided it is abhorrent to spend $18 million to renovate a suburban high school for snotty rich kids when starving orphans in Haiti are barefoot and the roads there are still littered with rubble from the 2010 earthquake. Instead we should send all that money to them! So I put a big X in the No box. (Too bad, so sad, Mitch.)

So you see, not only is having two of me a waste of money, it is also exhausting to be caught in the middle of this ongoing battle that has raged for many decades. Thus I have decided that one of them must go today--in fact, immediately. Here's how you can help: Be patient with her. Also, if you were one of her friends that was recently un-friended on Facebook, please forgive me, but I'm only keeping my friends. Eventually I will delete her account completely and just have one. That makes more sense, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Eight People and One Gecko I Want Gone

A couple of years ago, in this very space, I wrote about how much I hated Keith Olbermann and wished he were dead. There I said it, even though I never said it in the first place. Anyway, that blog post catapulted me to infamy. An infamy, mind you, that has not helped me one bit but actually has harmed me in more ways than I even know, thanks to Google. Anway, not since then have I had 1,000 readers of anything I have ever written. I wonder--if I listed all the other people I wish were dead, would that get as much attention--or was it just Keith Olbermann, that most hated and hateful talking head of TV news, who inspired so much je ne sais quoi.

Anyway, while I wait for the paint stripper to work its magic on the table I am currently refinishing out in the garage, I present to you the complete and total inventory of the famous people I wish would disappear from the public eye, just like Keith did:
1. Rachel Maddow--self-righteous dyke extraordinaire
2. Piers Morgan--why is he even in this country?
3. The talking gecko on GEICO ads--again, not even American
4. That slutty Judge Jeanine Pirro--she's a judge but she's a slut
5. Chris Matthews--totally mad
6. Conan O'Brien-- besides the big red hair, boring
7. Tina Fey--not remotely funny ever
8. Jenifer Hudson--enough already with the Weight Watchers
9. Charlie Sheen--being Martin Sheen's son is the best thing about him

That's all. Just those nine people. That's not too bad. It's not even ten.

An abortion in a pill--what's not to love?

The morning-after pill, specifically the one called Plan B One-Step, will soon go forward and multiply. Now that it's gotten Obama's approval for sale without a prescription to women and girls of any age, it's just a matter of time until there are scads of competitors available. Just imagine what those might be called: Baby-Bye-Bye, Enditall, or perhaps the more straightforward Kilzit; the possibilities are endless. But why bother with pills that are bound to have side effects like sadness, remorse, depression, guilt and thoughts of suicide when girls can just have their tubes tied, or perhaps go the hysterectomy route, and enjoy constant, worry-free sex starting at age 12 or 13, which is when many of them start these days, thanks to what they see in magazines, on TV and in the movies regarding how cool it is, without troubling the parents with those annoying details?

It sure would have helped my friend J. J., who had a running tab at Planned Parenthood back in the day. She had six abortions between the ages of 17 and 30, and remained childless forever. Just think of the time and money she could have saved and spent on hair, makeup, clothes and high heels for the rest of her hedonistic, Sex in the City, man-chasing life.

If that sounds harsh, let it be known that I too was young and single once, and sexually active outside of the safety and confines of marriage; that abortion pill would have come in handy more times than I care to remember. It just seems to me now--crabby, aging baby-boomer that I am--that kids should be allowed to be kids a little bit longer, and our government's decision to replace Mommy and Daddy with a Rite-Aid pharmacist seems wrong. But that just might be the fish oil talking.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Art for Sale, Cheap

Today's complex business world, which is played out online for the most part, is well beyond my grasp. Ironically, I am married to an Internet guru who says it behooves me to have a website on which to display my art, and since these days not much behooves me even a little, I decided to take his advice. However, being by trade and schooling a professional graphic designer and artist, I flatly refused to hire someone to do the job for me. I am also quite cheap when it comes to spending money on things I don't even want. Like, if something is ten bucks and I don't really want it I would probably still get it, whereas if it's $500 I will think twice.

After watching a short tutorial at Wordpress, a popular blogging platform, I was able to  create a simple website that allowed me to load images and at least be able to say yes if a gallery owner asked the inevitable, "Do you have a website?" I had it for all of two days before it broke, and now I can't seem to fix it--that tutorial did not mention  needing repairs. The thought of spending any more time on it is repellant, and since taking it down would likely be a time-consuming bore even if I knew how, there it sits. In case you wondered, this is why I never sell any art and instead just give it away. I comfort myself, as do many artists in my situation, with the old and tired observation that Vincent Van Gogh did not sell even one painting during his lifetime. I bet he wouldn't have had a website either.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meaning of Life, Thy Name is Facebook

It's tough out there alone. I tried, and failed. In fact, it was much easier giving up smoking than giving up Facebook. I lasted one full day.

The morning of the day I was filled with excitement and hope, sort of like all those folks who voted for Obama the first time. Hope and change--what could be bad? By the afternoon that had started to dim, but I reminded myself it was a good thing to do and it was naturally hard to break a habit so ingrained. After all, Facebook was robbing me of my life. Then I realized by nightfall, and after my husband and son and cousin had all told me that trying to go solo was a bad idea, that the life Facebook was robbing me of was in many ways worse than the life it offered. So I reactivated my account and started playing Words With Friends right away.

Is Obama the New Hitler?

You know all those ads that suggest 60 is the new 35? Some of them might say "50 is the new 30" or "65 is the new 40," but you get the point: In today's mad, mad world, everything old is new again. I guess because of people eating better and getting more exercise and quitting smoking, the once-accepted but now rejected ravages of time are being staved off for awhile.

In much the same way, I am beginning to think that Obama is today's Hitler. True, he's kinder and gentler and has yet to round up the Jews and gays and Gypsies and trash them, but still, he's looking awfully dictatorial if you ask me. Admitting that his views have changed since taking office in 2008, he is now convinced that his executive decision regarding his administration's current tactics, including the "routine collection" of millions of phone records, will help in the fight against terrorism, which not long ago he declared as being "over" since he killed the evil Bin Laden, as we all know. In fact, just yesterday Our Leader said, "You can't have 100% security and then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we're going to have to make some choices as a society."

In that spirit, I choose getting rid of Obama. And fast, because, um, well, I'm a Jew.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Nancy Grace Made Me Do It!

In the weird news department, a young woman killed herself and her family is naming outspoken TV prosecutor/personality Nancy Grace as the responsible party. Ha! That's a laugh. (I know that's redundant, but I needed to underscore the ridiculousness.) Here's a little detail you should know: The dead woman got drunk--after nine shots of vodka in quick succession you can't really blame her-- and then fell over on top of her sleeping infant, smothering him to death, some months back. Call me madcap, but I think the fact that she killed her own baby may have had something to do with her feeling down. I mean, that is definitely not good, especially when it was an accident--we are not talking Andrea Yates here.

It seems that Nancy became outraged about the case and yammered about it on her cable TV show, slamming Drunk Mom as a lowlife mess who got away with murder. Now it would not be surprising if the woman's family slaps a lawsuit on Nancy, claiming all sorts of nonsense up to and including racial discrimination, since besides being drunk, Drunk Mom was also black.

This whole thing makes me want to toss my cookies, if I had any to toss which I do not since I am now in the third week of a strict diet, except of course for that cheesecake on my birthday night before last. People are always looking to blame someone for their own mistakes. Which gets me wondering who I can blame for all the bad things that have happened to me. Hey, there have been plenty, believe me, and for all I know, Nancy Grace was responsible for me eating that cheesecake. That bitch.

Living Offline, Day One

I'm pretty excited today: Now that I have quit wasting all of my time on Facebook, I can start wasting all of my time on making a personal website. This is almost as good and in fact a quite similar an activity, since I can still sit and stare at a computer screen for hours, with little to show for it at the end. But in today's world if you want to sell your art, which I do, then you have to have one of these, which I don't.

My efforts--I started this project just yesterday so there have not been many yet-- have thus far netted me a half-assed, homemade website I call, for want of a better name, Andrea Rouda. It can be reached by entering into your web browser. Maybe you will come have a look, since right now it is in the early stages and there are lots of mistakes and it looks like Hell. (I am hoping it gets better.)

When I get tired of working on that, I can go for a walk or work in the garden or start a new book or finally meditate or go for a swim at the Y or paint the bathroom or clean up my studio or wash the kitchen floor or learn a musical instrument or take my car in for service which it is time for, or at the very least get all those ingredients for the cake I am baking for my niece's graduation party in just two days, or any of a zillion things besides playing word games or ignoring the barrage of ads or wishing those people I don't even know--I guess you could call them virtual strangers--would stop sending me messages on Facebook. It's a whole new world!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rip Van Rouda Wakes Up

I just woke up from a really long, really bad dream. In it, people the world over had become imprisoned, tethered to desks and tables in offices and coffee shops and airports and hotel rooms, hunched over odd little machines, typing their days away. Honest dialogue and communication between most people had all but disappeared. No touching. No nothing. Everyone instead met up in a virtual world, on glowing screens inches from their faces, typing out their thoughts and feelings, and in many cases, if not most, hiding behind false fronts. "Liking" others had become a sort of competition, and "friendship" had all but ceased to have any meaning.

I am guessing that the dream was sparked by a recent post by a friend of mine exclaiming excitedly that she had just reached 4,300 "likes" on her Facebook page. I found this news both obscene and scary. And in some way it made me not like her in real life anymore. I don't want to be one in 4,300 anythings.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So Much for Dieting

Well, I had some cake after all. And not just any cake, it was dark chocolate, Greek yogurt cheesecake with whipped cream, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and a chocolate cookie crust. It was to die for. It was the best cake, perhaps the best food, I have ever eaten. It was consumed at a restaurant in Portland called Emilitsa on Congress Street. The chef there makes one of them every day, using Famous Chocolate Wafers for the crust. You have to have it, it's worth a trip here.  The rest of the food is also fabulous, I am not kidding, although we had a bottle of wine between the two of us and I may be a bit tipsy. Happy birthday to me. Sometimes eating can be a gift.

No Cake for Me, Thanks

I may get myself a few balloons later today...
Today is my birthday, and I plan on giving myself several gifts to celebrate being born in the first place all those years ago. (Not saying how many, but if you must know just Google me and you'll quickly learn that bit of personal information, along with my arrest record.) The first is to make sane food choices all day, aimed at being healthy and losing weight, right up until my husband takes me out to dinner at a great restaurant in downtown Portland where I will still be vigilant but will surely have a glass of wine--maybe two. After all, birthdays come but once a year and diets are forever. Another gift to myself will be completing the huge undertaking I began last week of painting our master bedroom. It's almost done, but there are still a few spots that need attention.

Painting a room is a great way to both feel productive and stay informed about diseases that could kill you. Naturally, in solitary confinement for five or six days--it's a big room, what can I say-- one turns on the TV from time to time when one gets tired of listening to music. Yes, that can happen, although not to some of the more self-righteous among us who never watch TV or never tire of music or never do their own painting, preferring instead to hire illegal aliens with families to feed who need the money. Whatever, I do and I did and I always do. I keep it on one station: Lifetime. This is where they have reruns of Frasier and Will & Grace, two sitcoms that are very funny with excellent writing and an outstanding supporting cast.  It's only good in the morning, so afternoons I switch to FOX News to hear the latest scandals spawned by the Obama administration.

After a week of this, here's what I've learned:
1. Mesothelioma is a terrible disease. Even though it affects your lungs, it's heart-breaking. If you or a loved one has been given the heartbreaking diagnosis of mesothelioma, caused by working with asbestos and you didn't even know it sometime in the past, you may be eligible for a huge settlement. Call the law offices of Joe Bornstein right away. Call 1-800-CALLJOE. Right now. Operators are standing by.

2. Another really bad thing that might have happened to you and which you might be able to get money for, or at the very least definitely hire a lawyer to try and get you some, involves vaginal mesh. If you or a loved one has been injured because of vaginal mesh, you should definitely mention this to Joe Bornstein. (1-800-CALLJOE)

3. The shingles virus is really painful and if you had chickenpox as a child and can remember the day Ricky Nelson died, you might already have it. One in three people will get it during your lifetime. It's incredibly painful, with terrible burning blisters. Call your doctor immediately even if you feel fine now.

4. Forget money: real gold and silver are the way to go. Governments print too much money, making it all but worthless, but gold never loses value, and either does silver although gold feels better to the touch, and that's certainly a plus. You can order some gold from a company named Roswell Capital, and they'll send it in less than 10 days. Then you can keep it in your safe, and forget about the stock market. You can rest easy when you've got gold. (Or silver.)

5. Jay Carney does not know anything about anything. Ask him anything, he doesn't know, but he'll find out and get back to you. (Considering his important job as the mouthpiece of the president, you'd think he would watch more TV.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chris Christie is Fat

If you dare to call somebody "fat"-- even if that person is admittedly the size of a bus, and whether or not you say it right to that person's face or behind his or her back or just simply write it in a newspaper column without even naming the person -- you are considered an insensitive twit unfit to walk among decent people. However, if you stab your boyfriend 27 times, slit his throat from ear to ear and then shoot him dead in the head, you get lots of sympathy and have a fan club and get fan mail and get interviewed by journalists and have thousands upon thousands of people hanging on your every word. Why is that?

Being fat is a choice. Yeah, yeah, I know--glandular problems, faulty thyroid, genetics, blah, blah, blah. Been there, heard that. Eat less, exercise more, then you won't be. And for God's sake, don't become a baker or work in a pizza joint if you're short on self-control.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Whoever Said Eating Has to Be Fun?

Illustration by Gordon Studer
Today marks the start of my third week on The Whole30 program, wherein I can eat anything I want unless it tastes really good. Thus far I have lost a total of four (4) pounds.

As promised, I feel healthier and certainly more virtuous. I am also sleeping better, except for those nightly dreams where I am being chased by Disneyesque versions of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate drops, ice cream cones, tubs of gelato, pretzel logs, pasta of all types and sizes, pizzas, containers of Parmesan cheese, entire Key Lime pies and cheesecakes, chunks of blue cheese, platoons of donuts, ears of corn, armies of French fries, bottles of wine, cups of Greek yogurt, cartons of cottage cheese, quarts of milk, skewers of roasted marshmallows, individual cupcakes, whole salamis and the occasional croissant and/or stray bagel.

I also have a lot more time to do things, since eating does take time. Imagine how productive we could all be if food came in a pill.

Truly Bad News

As we like to do from time to time, attached as we are to caustic criticism, we will once again trash the Huffington Post, that open sewer masquerading as a news site. (You may wonder why we still have an AOL account if we feel so strongly about it. So do we; ask our husband.)

Each morning when I log on to see what's up in the world, I am accosted by the pitiful detritus that their aspiring wannabe journalists have scraped off the sidewalk overnight. Among today's stories is the postulation that, after all these years and despite your costly college education, you may not be playing Monopoly right, since the rules of the game are so hard to understand and you must be a moron since you are reading their website. Celebrity news alerts you to Phillip Seymour Hoffman's 10-day colonic detox and the suggestion that Michael Douglas got his throat cancer from muff-diving. In the "Things You Need to Know" department, Clover and Gray will be popular baby names soon, like later this week, and that fish you ate for dinner last night may have been caught by a slave. 

One wonders what, besides LSD in the drinking water, is being ingested over at the Huffington Post that impels them to write this crapola. Years ago I actually worked under their current Features Editor, and-- his lack of a moral conscience aside-- he was a decent enough fellow and an excellent journalist, upholding the highest of standards, at least at the office. Now even those qualities seem to have gone by the wayside in favor of a sensational headline aimed at capturing the lowest members of society who can still read and also own a computer.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cellular Breakdown

Mitch in happier days, after surgery but at least he had his phone.
My husband is pretty depressed, and now I'm starting to be too. Mitch lost his cell phone sometime yesterday, and both of us have spent a considerable amount of time inside the house and out, even going so far as retracing his steps since last evening, requiring a trip to the grocery store and the slow, methodical inspection of our entire property and especially the vegetable garden, looking for it. 

A modern-day, modern man dilemma, and one that we all face sooner or later, losing a cell phone is like losing a limb. It's sad. But then just a few minutes ago I read about that flesh-eating virus, zip-line young woman in Georgia who made the news exactly one year ago: She lost one leg, the other foot and both hands to the infection, but according to the article, today she "has not lost her spirit," is excited about the future, and remains optimistic about life, unlike Mitch, who foresees a bleak future without his phone. Go figure.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Happy Flying Ant Day

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, and with my husband away on business, I became aware of the fact that I was not alone. Much to my horror, there was a growing squadron of small, black, flying bugs appearing everywhere, alighting on the various lampshades that dot our home. (I hate overhead lighting.) Upon closer inspection, which sadly was all too unavoidable, they looked to be ants, each equipped with a set of fairy wings, like those little girls on Halloween. I freaked.

Fairly soon I was checking in to the Comfort Suites out on Route 1, about a mile and a half from my house. Had my husband been home, this step would not have been necessary, as I would have felt protected, and less alone in the situation. Alas, he was not. Business travel, he makes all the money blah, blah, Chicago, Philadelphia, yada yada yada. The point is, he is gone a lot. 

Since I love my husband and would like to keep him, I think it is appropriate for me to have a second husband. He could possibly own a hardware store in town and thus always be around, being handy since he would also be good at fixing things. He would definitely know what to do about those bugs, or at least Google them. Actually, Mitch offered to do this when I first mentioned them on the phone, but he was driving and would have to find a place to pull over, whereas this other husband would be right there with me. I'm thinking this marrying-two-men thing should be legal. What's so bad about it? Seems like a win-win to me.

Anyway, back home this morning, Mitch having returned in the night, we surveyed the devastation. The house was covered with these so-called "flying ants." We went inside and found no dead bodies from the night before, so I suppose they are lurking somewhere, waiting for the lamps to come back on. Research revealed they really are called flying ants, and every 15 years they come out for one day, to breed. Then they go back down to their underground headquarters to raise their young. This is something I am sorry to have learned about, and hope I can forget.

The Higher You Bid, the More It's Worth

Alligator handbag with gold finish by Cartier: $27,000 People value strange things. Especially rich people. For example, a woman's ...