Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Must Confess

It's true.  I've done it again.  No, I haven't gone off to Las Vegas to work the penny slots and I didn't buy a dozen donuts at Big Jim's and eat them while driving in back alleys frantically wiping crumbs off of my shirt.  My relapse is far more tawdry than Las Vegas or Big Jim's.  Secrets, though, seek the light and so I may as well turn on the switch myself.
Here's my shame.
I'm reading another Patricia Cornwell novel.  Not just another badly written novel by that unbelievably successful mediocre writer but another Kay Scarpetta novel.  It's not the story.  It's the character.
Of course Dr. Scarpetta doesn't come alone.  She brings along her brilliant and troubled niece Lucy and her former partner Marino and her once alive then dead then alive again love of her life Benton or Wesley or whoever and her years of angst despite which she is able to come home from a day at the morgue and bake bread for dinner and pasta from wheat she has hydroponically grown in a window box.
She's the best.  Too bad she appears in such stupid stories.
Oh, well.
I'll keep you posted whether you want me to or not.  In matters such as these I've got no pride.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In The Blink Of An Eye

Around the fourteenth of February I decided to skip a day posting on  That seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  I mean, after all, I'd been writing almost every day for a couple of years.  So I took a day off.
Remember that thing about it taking at least twenty-one days to form any behavior into a habit?
Apparently it takes just the blink of an eye to break that habit.
And then the days just fly right on by before the next blink of the eye.
Life takes attention.
That's what I learned from this little day long break.
Good to be back.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Valentine in the Snow

I am in frosty Brooklyn, visiting my best and oldest friend (BOF), On Saturday afternoon, we took a walk to the post office and supermarket. On our return walk, on the corner of Campus Road and Bedford Avenue, in the middle of Brooklyn College, we saw something lying in the snow. Upon inspection, it was a bouquet of silk roses, still in its wrapping, and a large Hershey's kiss, still in its red box. We picked them up and contemplated. "Oh", I said, "They must have fallen out of someone's backpack. He was going to give them to his girlfriend and he lost them. Let's put them up on something in case he comes back here." "Is that what you think happened?" said the BOF, "I think he gave them to her and she threw them back at him. Artificial flowers and a Hershey's kiss? What a cheapskate!" "Okay then" I said, "Let's leave them here and maybe some little kid who can't afford to buy anything for his mom will find them and give them to her". "Right", said the BOF, "And then he'll get spanked for stealing them". In the end, I won. We left them propped in a snowbank. When I went back today, they weren't there. Okay, what do you think happened to the roses and chocolate? Both the first and second times. Be creative.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Random Acts

So there we were eating breakfast at the Toasted Bun.  The walls are covered with framed photographs of just ordinary people who perhaps regularly eat breakfast at that Glendale landmark.  How often, we wondered, do people have to show up to be considered regulars and thus be photographed and immortalized on the walls of such an establishment.  So absorbed were we in feeling left out of the Toasted Bun loop that we didn't notice her until she stopped at our table.
A woman perhaps in her late eighties, wearing some sort of Dutch milk maid outfit complete with mop hat gave us each a valentine signed with love.  She wished us Happy Valentine's Day, smiled, and moved on to the next table.  After she gave each Toasted Bun diner a valentine and a good wish, she returned to her place at the counter and continued eating her breakfast.  Each time someone new came into the cafe, she waited just long enough for them to sit down before gliding to their table to repeat her gift and greeting.
"Who is that woman?" I asked our food server.
 I suspected that she owned the place or at least had invested heavily in its upkeep.
"Just a customer," came the answer.  "She does this for every holiday.  It really gives her and everyone else a lot of joy."
And so it did.
Her behavior also left us with a lot of questions:  What is her life outside of the Toasted Bun really like?  How long has she been handing out cards and greetings to strangers?  Is she for real?  And finally, where does one go these days too buy a mop cap?
Happy Valentine's Day, Roberta.  And thanks for thinking of us.
On another note, I think we've got a lot of work to do before we even come close to getting our pictures on the walls of the Toasted Bun.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Eating Jello With A Fork

The community mental health agency for which I work has finally gone green.  I am thrilled with this change.  While the agency has always contracted with an authorized document shredder company, now all paper can be recycled.  In addition to the usual stuff for recycling -- cans and plastic containers with the appropriate recycle number -- the company chosen by the agency to pick up our stuff for future roads and books and more soda cans will even recycle Styrofoam containers.  To celebrate this departure from business as usual which usually involved putting whatever wasn't protected by federal privacy laws right into the trash, the agency gave every employee a cup for coffee, tea, soup, oatmeal -- you know all that goes into work place cups -- and stopped providing plastic forks or spoons or knives and, yes, Styrofoam cups.  Since I had been one of the driving forces behind this change, I truly had no complains about any part of the new way of doing things.
Change, though, takes some planning and adjusting.  Change, as it works out, can sometimes be a little messy and a little irritating.
That's why today I ate my Jello with a fork.
Next time I put Jello in my lunch box I will try to remember that it's not finger food.
But, then, that's what change is all about -- trying to remember to forget the old ways of doing things or of being.  It's just that sometimes change means that we eat Jello with a fork.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Best Seat In The House

Things never break alone.  Things also never break at convenient times.  This is especially true of the things essential for living in and maintaining a home.  For example, air conditioners never stop working on the coldest day of the year nor do furnaces suddenly cash in their chips in the middle of July.  For years I've pondered the reasons for those two irrefutable facts without arriving at anything resembling a reasonable explanation.  And if the air conditioner stops working it is a certain bet that something else will break down within a matter of hours.  That something else may be as large as the water heater or as small as the blender but, and you can go to the bank on this one, something will stop working.
Having carried this truth in my DNA all of my life, I wasn't a bit surprised today to notice that a lamp shade had somehow extricated itself from its frame.  Right after I noticed this minor and manageable situation I went into the bathroom to discover a broken toilet seat.  Well, more specifically, I noticed that one flange connecting the seat to its cover had torn in half.  While the lamp shade could wait, the toilet seat could not.
This just in.
They don't make toilet seats like they used to.  I'm not talking about changes since the invention of of the toilet back in 2800 B.C.E. give or take a few years though the similarity between those devices and today's water efficient, ergonomically designed toilets is pretty striking.  Clearly the folks living in Mohenjo-Caro (Mount of the Dead) knew a few things about cross word puzzles and comic books.
No.  I'm talking about the changes in toilet seats during the past five years or so.  First problem was that I couldn't figure out how to get the thing off of the toilet.  There seemed to be no place for my nifty pipe wrench to attach to anything.  I bought the thing for just this purpose because nothing less than a big pipe wrench or plastic explosive could budge previous broken toilet seats from their moorings.  That is until I stared at this morning's seat.  It seemed to be mocking me as I held my now impotent pipe wrench.  Then I noticed the magic words 'locked' and 'unlocked' starring at me from two knob type things fastened to what should have been hinges.  I turned the knobs and lifted.  The seat and lid came off.
Next step seemed clear.  Take broken toilet seat and broken lamp shade to nearest hardware store, find exact matches, purchase, and return home with new and hopefully unbroken stuff.
The fact that we here in LaLaLand are hunkered down in yet another heavy rain storm (or cell as they are now called speaking of changes) should have been enough of a reason for me to stay home but I had already picked up the gauntlet thrown at my feet by my house.  So into the rain I ventured with broken lamp, broken toilet seat, and - of course - picked up gauntlet and headed to Virgil's Hardware Store, Glendale's home of everything you need to fix a home.
It's not easy walking around a crowded store carrying a broken lamp shade and a broken toilet seat.  Luckily I left the glove in the Jeep.  The good news is that most store employees pretty much knew right away what I needed.  The bad news is that lamp shades are harder to find than toilet seats.  The really bad news is that neither makes a good umbrella.
The toilet seat was easy to install thanks to all of the changes made throughout the years.  I may not replace the lamp shade.  I'm thinking that if there's always one broken thing in my house then in the future things will only break one at a time.
Sometimes you just have to out smart tradition.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is for lovers it? How about a day for showing love for those around you and who support you? Why not show your family, extended family and friends how much they mean to you by giving a card, candy or flowers or by just telling them your thoughts and feelings? Not only will you make them feel better but, you will also feel better by making someone's day. Haven't you ever been complimented by a complete stranger only to make a bad day turn into a good one? Do yourself a huge favor by letting someone know how much they mean to you and how much you love them! Make Valentine's Day a "LOVE" Day.

Happy Valentine's Day!