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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Go Spot, Go

“Go where?”

“Spotify. You put the client on your desktop and you can listen to anything.”

“That sounds illegal. If I had a client on my desktop the only thing I would hear would be the sound of their lawyer threatening to take my house.”

“Mom. Get real. Nobody would willingly get on your desk.”

Kid One is attempting to enlighten me on the endless musical possibilities the Internet has to offer.  I’m attempting to decipher how the Internet is made up of enough nonsense words for Dr. Seuss to write a novel.

“I was quite a catch in my day.”

“You didn’t have a day. You had a decade of disco.  Besides, nobody would fit on your desk. You collect things.”

“I need everything that’s on that desk.”

“Three pencil cups?”

“They all have special meaning.  The elephant and the clown came from the circus and your aunt stole the flowered cup from a yard sale just for me.”

“It’s STOLEN?” He looks gleeful at the thought of a woman who wouldn’t take an after dinner mint without asking bending the law.

“Well, not technically.  It was hidden inside a coat she bought.”

“My life is a lie. I was raised in a den of thieves.”

“Thanks for the memories.”

“So what about that stack of ratty notebooks?”

“Those are my journals.  Everything from my first kiss to your first diaper is in that stack.”

“Sounds libelous.  Or slanderous.  Or whatever means that if you show them to my friends I’ll have to join the witness protection program.  They have to go.”

“No way. I’d sooner part with my tiara.”

 “That reminds me. Why do you have a tiara on your desk?”

“Why do you listen to Spotify?”

“So I can hear anything I want.  It takes me where ever I want to go.”

I popped the tiara on my head and transported immediately to a faraway island country where I reign as Queen and every inhabitant is over forty years of age and wears an overcoat over their swimsuit. The only sound was that of sales clerks marking clearance prices on boxes of HoHos.

“And with this I can hear what I want.”

“And what’s that?”


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Things Are Looking Up

It came to my attention today as I was blotting up a coffee spill with the Business section of the newspaper that

A)     If they reduce the page size any more, it will be like reading the headlines in the small print section of my Kia contract, and

B)     Rolls Royce, kiddie car of billionaires, is enjoying a boom in sales.

I’m not sure these two findings are unrelated.  Lifestyles vary between the Rolls Royce set and the “I hope it keeps rolling” set. Just look up the prices and you’ll understand the difference.

While newspapers are edging us toward the “squinting is in” theory to conserve money, Rolls Royce is doling out luxury cars like concessionaires deal $10 beers at the ball park.  To those of us still trying to work out a payment plan for the beer, the idea of dashing off a $400,000 check for a car, even one that has tiny overhead lights that make the roof look like a heaven of twinkling stars, would be like stuffing a gold bar into a birthday card for a niece we don’t have time to shop for.  “Can’t get away; buy yourself something nice.”

At the Dubai WalMart.

I realize that there are jobs that come with more perks than mine. What would I do with dental insurance that makes it possible to collect enough teeth to eat toasted pecans, enough time off to catch the red-eye flight to Paris, white-gloved butlers who serve tea with extra lumps?

The last time I got lumps at the office, I was crammed under my desk trying to figure out which wire to jiggle so the mouse would work.  Since I’m the only one there, I would get stuck up with red tape if I filed for Worker’s Comp, so I scolded myself for negligence and stuck a Band-Aid on the sore spot instead.

I’ve never figured out how to get one of those other jobs: jobs that pay dividends instead of money and come with enough compensation that you can hire someone to remember the secret password (Jeeves, what is my mother’s maiden name again?) to your Fandango account. Those are lifestyles and are referred to as something you’re into, not something you do.  (He’s into stocks and bonds or investment banking.)  By comparison, I’m not really into filing six months of committee reports, but I’ll be up to my agenda in paperwork if I don’t.

So it’s not likely that I’ll be pulling up to the office in a Rolls Royce Phantom any time soon.  But you can bet your Silver Shadow I know how to see the twinkling stars in the sky without paying extra.

Just look up.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dead Man Walking

Our heat pump froze over today. They tell me that happens when the filter gets clogged.

There’s a filter? Like for regular or menthol?

In my recent experience (before my nap) I learned that when the filter is clogged, all the good, cold air goes back to the unit and turns into Frozen, the Backyard Reenactment, and the wicked bad air blows up my pants leg. If you’ve never had a blast of thermodynamics up your leg in the midst of a humid Southern Summer, let me assure you it’s no different from dropping a boiling hair ball down your pants.

Never mind the Fourth of July. We’ve already seen fireworks at my house.

I suddenly discovered the urgent need to call the Heat Pump People. They suggested that as long as we keep Labradors scattered around the house like throw rugs, we might want to consider changing the filter more often. Who knew that big dogs were good for more than finishing up your ham sandwich or standing in the open doorway to watch the neighbor’s cat wash between its toes? They also keep us up-to-date with filter changing.

The filter is in the basement.

I barely have the energy to crawl into the kitchen and hold my mouth open under the ice dispenser when it’s this hot, and this guy is suggesting I skip down two flights of stairs like it’s the Yellow Brick Road, and crawl through the Tunnel of the Dead to change the filter? Everybody knows that Bad Guys go through neighborhoods hiding bodies in basements. Doesn’t this guy read? Or watch reality shows?

“What did they say?” Captain CoolDown appears, clad only in Things He Wears When It’s Too Hot to Dress, mopping his brow with the grocery list.

“They say you need to change the filter.”

“I’d better do it. This heat is going to make the bodies smell.”

Great. I’m looking for Green Acres and he’s giving me Twilight Zone.

Armed with a new filter, flashlight, and a flask of Holy Water, the Captain heads downstairs. I hear various noises that may or may not involve screaming and swordplay and the breaking of glass that I’m pretty sure involved what’s left of the Holy Water.

In the silence that follows, I’m trying to decide whether to call Ghostbusters or dial Emergency Services for the Jaws of Life. Suddenly the Survivor of Basement Battles: Zombie Heat Pump edition pops his head in the kitchen.

“We should be good in just a little while. Do you know anything about this?” He held up a coil of bushy Christmas garland bedecked with tiny lights.

Garland that had been in the way when we brought up our decorations last December and I blindly piled in a convenient crawl space, effectively blocking air flow for six months. There was only one thing to do.

“Never saw it before.”

 Let the Spirit of Christmas Past stay down there with the rest of the bodies.

Monday, June 2, 2014

12 Simple Rules

It's not that I didn't want jail time after the divorce. . .oh wait, yes it is. So I made a handy list of rules to keep the Defendant alive and to help me maintain an unfettered life.  Join me at the Huffington Post for 12 Simple Rules for my Clueless Ex-Husband.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Couple of Things

Now that Conscious Uncoupling is a bigger trend than quirky quizzes on FaceBook,  I can’t help but compare the ongoing battle of the stars to the one the Captain and I would have if we ever called it quits.  We're both easygoing folks, and nobody's going to go all white around the kitchen cabinets over who gets custody of the microwave. But sooner or later somebody's going to lay claim to the last jar of fig preserves in the cupboard, and the fruit will hit the fan.  Contentious points in our settlement would include:
  1. Custody of the dictionaries. We’re word people.  This makes for a tough battle.  The air will be thick with nouns, and adjectives will cover the walls. There's not a stain remover on the market that will remove ground-in adverbs.
  2. Responsibility for cleaning the kitty box corner of the marital mill house.  I’d rather take out fire insurance and torch the place. Danger Cat alone is the reason our coat closet is filled with HazMat gear.
  3. Subscription to Mental Floss magazine.  This one is in Bill’s name. It doesn’t look good for Albert Einstein finding a place in my new pad.
  4. Custody of the recipe for Apple Bread.  Bill makes bread that Sunbeam would open a new division for, so I wouldn’t demand physical possession of the recipe.  I just want visitation of the results.
  5. Responsibility of the marital Computer Tech to repair and update all estranged computers for free.  Because the blue screen of death makes me sad.
  6. Ownership of the Disney videos.  I brought 101 Dalmatians into the marriage and I’m not leaving with less.
  7. Continued relationship with the extended marital family.  Captain Keyboard has fixed my family’s computers, arranged for repairs on everything from telephone lines to plumbing, and initiated emergency garbage runs to the dump during the great fruit fly outbreak of 2001.  My sisters would pack my belongings in a steamer trunk and set me adrift off the coast of Charleston with a bucket of shark bait before they would let him get away.
  8. Proprietorship of the family fortune--a three liter plastic jar once bursting with cheese popcorn, now awash in pennies collected painstakingly over an eighteen month period.  There would be more, but we keep digging into the stash for important life-enhancing substances like candy corn and Easter peeps.
  9. Three McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces, two of which were good for a free order of medium fries in 1998.
  10. The cast iron frying pan.  Seasoned by years of campfire cooking and bacon grease massages, it makes the best gravy in the continental United States, outlying territories, and Arctic ice floes.  In the Southern United States, the family’s cast iron frying pan is passed from generation to generation with the same care as the family silver.  I’d sooner part with the children than the frying pan. The frying pan requires less maintenance and doesn’t ask for allowance.

But after careful deliberation, we've decided to stay together.  Neither one of us is willing to take custody of the cats. 
Danger Cat Communicates with the Mother Ship.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Every Day

Hats off to Dad! Miss you!

Daddy served in the Pacific theatre during World War II on a submarine that was more like a prize in a cereal box than the sleek, nuclear vessels of today.  When I was a kid I thought he was a great adventurer, having seen both oceans during his travels.  It never occurred to me there might be more to see; more water than two oceans could hold.  My boundaries were limited by the amount of space I could imagine, and I was already pushing the envelope.  Dad would laugh and shake his head at my excitement when he talked about being stationed on Hawaii or seeing Mount Fuji through the periscope.

 “Did you ever see the Hollywood sign?” I asked once, my voice filled with wide-eyed wonder.

 He grinned.  “If I had, I’d have been going the wrong direction.”

When I was older, he sent for a copy of a Reader’s Digest book that showed all sorts of wonderful places to visit.  That book visited more exotic getaways on the way to my mailbox, than I have to this day.  I’m not sure I believed it was real.

One year after I was grown and somewhat of an Authority on The Way Things Are, Son One conducted an interview with his Papa for a school report.  He didn’t ask the same questions I’d gone on about as a kid, “Where did you go?” “Did you bring anything back in case you ever had a little girl that needed a surprise?”

 He asked about torpedo tubes, leaky oxygen bottles, depth charges and other things that made the war seem uncomfortably close and noisy.  It finally seeped into my me-generation brain that if the folks causing the unpleasantness on top of the water had taken a page from Luke “Stay on Target” Skywalker’s book, I wouldn’t be around today to tell clever stories about other people’s adventures.

For the first time I realized that tour of duty didn’t mean tour of luxury vacation spots.  It meant that he did indeed bring something back from his travels.  Memories.

My memories come from sitting in the comfort of Daddy’s lap and listening to tales of a faraway war.  His memories come from standing in the face of danger and showing his heart.

His memories are of men who gave their lives so that I could look at pictures in a book and have hopes of traveling to them one day.  Men and women who knew what it meant to serve with mind and body and make whatever sacrifice it took to preserve the minds and bodies back home.

 My thanks go out to all of these men and women. And to you, Dad.

 On Memorial Day and every day.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dead On

Nothing makes a statement like a tasteful topper in a becoming color.
Perhaps this one makes an exclamation.
When it comes to fashion, I’m no so much clothes horse as I am a pommel horse. You can hang anything on me from Walmart specials to haute couture and I still look like something you’d want to step over.

“Hmm, what season are you?” asked the salesgirl’s nose, hovering six inches above my head, even the spot where my hair sticks up.

“Near as I can tell I’m somewhere between Cruel, Cruel Summer and Winter of My Discontent,” I answered. “Nothing looks good on me except the color of purple that you bury people in.”

Naselrod held a sample of cloth next to my face like she was matching carpet swatches to the creature the cat dragged in. 

“I see black is not our color.”

“Well, nobody can wear it like Batman, can they?”

She plucked something swishy off the rack like a hawk plunge-diving fifty feet for lunch.  “What about midnight blue. Ev-ree-body can wear midnight blue.”

We stared at each other over the quivering gossamer strip.  I got the impression that the first one to blink gets to go into the Coliseum to play with the big kitties.

She wrinkled her nose, which is something like shortsheeting Michael Jordan’s bed.  “Well, almost everybody.”

“Honey, you could spin the color wheel like it was payday on Wheel of Fortune and not find a season for me.

I wouldn’t be standing at the mercy of the Sales Nose from Hell, but I needed a dress to wear to my son’s graduation.  In my family if one of our gang hangs with the same course of study long enough to get a sheepskin, we’re going to dress up and go grab the diploma before somebody changes their mind.

About that time a portly lady in a lavender suit entered the shop, sending the little bell on the door into a tinkling explosion.

“I’ll take that suit,” I squealed, pointing at her.

“But it’s not for sale.”

“A suit the color people are buried in is always for sale,” I said, waving a wad of crumpled cash under Suit Lady’s nose.

That night, getting dressed for the graduation ceremony, I smoothed my lavender skirt and admired the clever cut of the jacket.

It was a perfect night.  My son was graduating and I had a dress that was to die for.