Tag Archives: daily life

Nuances of a New Home

Some folks call them quirks. They’re all those little things that don’t work quite like they should, and usually we don’t encounter the same quirk twice. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and each of them had little nuances of their own, distinctions indigenous to that particular home.

I’ve been in my apartment since the first of October, and I’m still figuring some of these things out. I now know that not all over-the-door hangers will fit every door in the place. For space savers, I bought three of one type. That type fit one door but not the other two. That little adventure cost me several returns and a small fortune in gas mileage to get the project right. Which tells me that not every door in my apartment, even though they are identical, has the same spacing between them and their facings overhead.

Figuring out the little things that make this apartment unique from every other place I’ve ever lived has been both intriguing and, I’ll admit, a little frustrating. When the upstairs neighbor moved out, she was kind enough to pass down her fairly new window air conditioner. Maintenance put it in the window for me while I was at work one day, and they expended all sorts of time and attention to seal it against the weather. My discovery after work that evening was that the cord was too short to reach the nearest outlet.

That’s when I noticed that there are no outlets under any of the windows in the entire apartment. I guess that’s not such a big deal, and I can certainly buy an air conditioner extension cord at the hardware store. And so I did. I was in Lowe’s looking for something else when I stumbled across the very one I needed. I scooped it up to accompany my other purchases.

Even though it’s winter, I wanted to go ahead and at least put the extension cord onto the air conditioner’s cord so that it wouldn’t end up packed away someplace where I would only be able to find it if or when I ever moved out. I unwrapped it from its protective twisty-tie state, pealed all the paper off, and attached it to the air conditioner’s pre-installed cord. The nearest outlet was behind the stove, so I draped the cord behind it while I leaned in close, trying to get my head between the stove and the wall, being careful not to bang my precious scalp on the kitchen cabinets in the process. I must’ve looked like an expert billiards player the way my body was draped over the counter.

I could see the outlet, and yes, it looked like it would work just fine. Except that both the stove cord’s plug and the air conditioner cord’s plug were both turned the same way. Either would fit, but not both at the same time.

I’ll revisit that issue come late spring.

The biggest frustration has been how the oven, regardless of what’s inside or at what temperature, sets off the smoke detectors. One of them speaks. If you can remember and imagine clearly the last time you heard the digital voice at the DMV announce robotically, “Now serving C4, at window number 3,” then you have heard my smoke detector. Only instead of announcing kindly that it is now someone else’s turn, it tells me instead, between shrill bleats of ear piercing noise, “Fire. Please exit the building. Fire. Fire. Fire. Please exit the building.”

I was only reheating a slice of pizza. Nothing was burned. There was no smoke. And yet every time I turn the oven on, for whatever reason, temperature, or length of time, the smoke detectors get excited.

I have three of them.

When I first moved in I wanted to roast a duck. It was to be a small treat for myself for possessing the ability to pick up, dust off, and move on. Not quite celebratory of the events, but more in acknowledgement of them. It was only a small duck. To do it the way I like requires five hours of slow roasting and intermittent yet frequent turning, slowly rendering the fat, and piercing the remaining fat with each turn. I thought I would put a fan in the living room window, facing outward, to make sure the smoke detectors didn’t wake up.

There’s no outlet under my living room window. The fan had to sit on top of something out in the living room floor and just do its best to aim carefully at the open window. Only once did I have to open the doors and fan a dishtowel under each of the three detectors to silence them. The duck was worth it though, all crispy and tender, and with a cherry sauce I’d made to go with it. I even made some bread stuffing. I figured since I already had the fan situated in the living room, it couldn’t hurt.

Mostly, though, for everyday purposes and convenience, I just use the microwave.

As long as I don’t push ‘start’ while the refrigerator is running, everything works fine.

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What’s for Dinner?

Just reading the title you’ve already thought of the last few places you’ve repeatedly visited, and maybe even the conversation that preceded the chosen destination.

“Let’s go out.”

“Okay; where?”

“Oh, I dunno, you pick.”

That conversation loops around until a decision is finally made. Chances are good that there are no new restaurants in your area, and the one you pick, just like all the others, has a menu that you now know mostly by heart.

The reason, I think, that it’s so hard for people to make a restaurant decision is that they’ve phrased the question incorrectly. When choosing a place to dine out, it’s not really the restaurant you’re choosing, but rather the particular dish on that particular menu that keeps you coming back. Instead of “where”, the question should be “what”. If the answer is pizza, you already know where to go. Same for chili, spaghetti, and anything Chinese or Mexican.

Unless there are kids involved. In that case, you’ll have to go to the place that has the stuff the kids will eat, without too much whining, and you’ll find something that will simply have to do just because you’re hungry and you don’t want to think about it anymore.

Adults are not unlike the children.  We have our favorite places, too. And when you get to the particular place because of the particular something you favor, the thought always occurs to you to mix it up a little, order something different this time. But you don’t because you’ve already discovered your favorite thing there. Every time you’ve deviated from the preferred item, the new thing didn’t rise to any level of excellence at all, and the ensuing disappointment makes you wish you’d just gotten the thing you wanted in the first place, the same order you always place, that something that was immediately pictured in your head and made your mouth water when you originally picked the place you were going to go.

Eat Here Sign2

Husband is different. He likes to try new things at the same old places. He likes the adventure of it. For him it’s a culinary experience in diversity. My opinion is that I’d rather be satisfied with something I already know is going to be good than be disappointed later with something I wasn’t sure about when I ordered it.

We did recently begin an adventure in Indian food. Understandably, we only have one Indian restaurant from which to choose. At first, simply because we were totally unfamiliar with it, we both experimented with different options every time we went, sharing each other’s choices, and sampling when the restaurant offered a buffet.

It didn’t take long for me to find something I really enjoy. I’m not all that interested now in placing an entirely different order from the menu just for the sake of variety. For me, the experimenting is over. I don’t want to be disappointed. Husband still likes to mix it up. I think his goal is to have everything on the menu at least once. The bonus is that I get to taste whatever different thing he’s gotten, but so far I’m still preferring my now-standard choice.

A new restaurant in our area is under construction. We pass by it and always discuss when the other thinks it might be open. It will have a menu with which both of us are unfamiliar. Husband will have an entirely new set of options to change up and switch around. I will eventually find something on the menu that I enjoy there more than anywhere else. We will immediately add it to the places of choice when we ask “where”.

And I’ll remember that the next time the squabble starts over “where”, I should change the question to “what”.

The solution should be almost immediate.

 

 

 

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The Stupidest Sign Ever

Share-Road-Sign-K-4296This is the sign that’s cropping up on roadways everywhere. It cautions drivers that they have a responsibility to share the road with cyclists. I am not referring to motorcycles, which have the ability to keep up with traffic instead of impeding it.

The sign is to remind motorists that bicyclists, by definition of the word ‘share’, have an equal right to the roadway. I wonder if the lawmakers truly understood what they were doing. To ‘share’ implies that each party has an equal opportunity, an equal responsibility, and an equal division of that which is being shared. But when there’s a motorist and a cyclist on the road at the same place and at the same time, the division of responsibility is nowhere close to equitable. The motorist bears it all.

The cyclist, however, owns the whole road. He owns his lane and the other lane. In some areas that may not be a problem, in which case you’re reading this and scratching your head in amazement that the author would even take the precious time to complain.

But if you live in an area where there are curves and hills, and the next place to safely pass a cyclist could be another two to three miles away, traveling at an incredibly low speed, then you are nodding your head ferociously at my accurate descriptions.

They don’t share. Going uphill, in a curve, the cyclists will stand on their pedals and pump away, no doubt gaining great strength in their leg muscles for their effort. I am behind them, unable to pass, going all of two miles per hour on my way to work, exercising great restraint, which is also giving me several new jaw muscles, and a headache, for my effort.

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I know that in just a few more minutes we’ll be at the top of the hill and my vision unobscured. I will be able to pass the cyclist safely.

Do you have any idea how fast a bicycle can go downhill in a near-perfect straight stretch? About 40 miles per hour. By the time I can get enough speed in excess of the limit to pass him, I’m at the next curve and can’t see.   Going up the next hill, does the cyclist lay over and allow me to pass? No. Does he care that now there’s a convoy of anxious employees trying to get to work on time? No.

But does he ride the middle of the road and flip you the bird for being impatient? Yes. Because the sign says I have to share the road.

I want one that says he has to. It should look like this:

Share-the-road-Marin

I told a friend a couple of years ago that I was taking my youngest to that neighborhood where all the cyclists live to give her the very first driving lessons.

She thought I was kidding.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hooked

I think we all have some form of a closet regimen.  Some of us wear something once, hang it up, and then wear it again at a later date.  Some of us will wear a pair of pants twice or three times, but forsake the very idea of wearing a shirt more than once.  For others of us it’s the other way around.  Some of us are fanatics about never wearing anything a second time.

Some of us have hanger rituals, turning the hook one way to remind us that this particular item needs washed, or turning it the other way to signify that we haven’t worn that in such a long time we really must decide if we want to keep it.

We all know someone who never hangs up anything, choosing instead to live out of the basket where the laundry got done and then dumped.  For some that’s every week, for others it’s every two.  I think the younger you are the less often you do laundry at all, either waiting for a parent to do it for you or waiting until you absolutely have nothing at all to wear before making a mad dash to do just that one shirt you want to wear right now.

Some of the younger folks will do a whole load of laundry and then dump it on the couch to be dealt with ‘later’.  I put ‘later’ in quotes because that word doesn’t seem to exist.  I happen to have one of those ‘later’ couches.  It’s been in my home for about twelve years now.

 

...sigh...

…sigh…

 

Some of us have a rule of thumb that if we haven’t worn it in a year, we dispose of it in some fashion – either donate it, trash it, or ask a friend if she wants it.

I think laundry takes a little planning.  And of course the older I get the more concerned I am about making sure it’s done frequently.  My mad-dash-to-the washer-for-a-particular-shirt days are long behind me.

I do have my own hanger ritual in the closet, but it’s not elaborate.  If the hook is backward from everything else, I know it’s due to be laundered.  But mostly I’m just picky about the hanger.

I noticed yesterday while I was doing laundry that I kept passing up the smaller hangers in favor of the larger ones.  And I wanted the thick plastic ones instead of the metal ones.  Of course, sometimes, a different hanger altogether is necessary for that one skirt or blouse that just doesn’t hang right on anything else.

I’ve only ever had a hanger rescue me once.  It was that night my youngest daughter had called to say she had locked her keys in the car.  It was late at night and she was at a 7-11.  No gas station at eleven o’clock at night is the safest place for a young girl to be.

In my hurry to get to her I still managed to think to grab one of those seldom-used metal hangers from the closet before I ran out of the house.  I wasn’t sure I knew what to do with it, but somebody might.

When I got there, Youngest was standing outside talking to a couple of friends who had just happened by and were waiting with her until my arrival.  She opened my passenger door, saw the hanger immediately, and yelled to her friend, “She brought a hanger!”

Apparently they’d been discussing the topic at length, wishing they’d had one just like it.

After some teeth-gritting maneuvering, they finally got the car unlocked.  The hanger was destroyed, but it was okay.

I never liked that one anyway.

 

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Broken

Webster’s defines “broken” as an adjective that means:

  •      separated into parts or pieces by being hit, damaged, etc.
  •      not working properly
  •      not kept or honored

It can refer to an idea just as easily as it can refer to any tangible object.   Things get broken all the time.  Sometimes they can be repaired and sometimes they have to be discarded.  Sometimes they can be mended temporarily, and sometimes the break actually lends character or makes something stronger.

It’s okay when things get broken that should have been discarded years ago because it affords the opportunity to de-clutter, like that old coffee mug that either fell out of the cabinet accidently or jumped to its death on purpose.  It’s not okay when the broken item was beloved and has to be replaced, especially when doing so will cost a fortune, like when my laptop finally quit.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, you might remember the last one in which I bemoaned a broken tooth.  For the record, this was not an okay thing to be broken.  But it does mean that I’ll finally get my sorry great-big-chicken self to the dentist.  So that’s good, right?

After a full week of near-liquid meals, I have noticed the disappearance of a few pounds.  That streak will be broken just as soon as I can wrap my lips around a great big cheeseburger, and it’s a break I look forward to.  But that still might be a while.  My dentist appointment is today, and depending on what they do, it could be another week before I’m back on more solid foods.

So, like any self-respecting woman would do in my situation, I thought of stepping on the scales to get an idea of just how much weight I’d lost.  It feels like maybe ten pounds, but since I’m huge, it’s unnoticeable to anyone except my pants.  I’m the behemoth lady that has to lose at least twenty pounds before the loss becomes the slightest bit recognizable.  But I noticed yesterday that my pants didn’t scream when I zipped them up, which prompted me to think of the scales.  And, let’s face it – even if it’s only one pound lost, we ladies want to know about it so we can tell all our friends and receive congratulatory comments and have the opportunity to explain why our way of dieting is better than anybody else’s in the group, providing tips and advice on how they, too, can lose one pound.

Except that it’s not an intentional diet.

Aside from the dentist, that set of scales holds the number three spot on my top ten list of things I fear most in my life.  The dentist is actually second.  Spiders rank at number one, except that on the real written list the number one spot is blank.  I can hardly stand to even write the word.

I tiptoe in to where the scales used to be, hidden behind the bathroom door so I don’t have to look at them every day, taunting me, yelling at me for being fat, and teasing me for being none-too-careful about my food intake and lack of self-control.  The door squeaks when I peak to see if they’re still there.  I look around to make sure I’m alone and listen to ensure that no one is coming up the stairs.  I ease my big toe up on the scales and position my foot lightly.  With caution, lest the thing suddenly grow eight legs and wield a scorpion’s tail at me, I slowly lift up the other foot to rest beside its mate.

They’re broken.

The scales are reading out my ideal weight, which I know with certainty is fifty pounds from now.  So I’ve either stepped into the future and am reading what the scales will report after a long and strenuous year of dieting, or they’re simply broken at the number that reflects what I should weigh if I were more diligent about what I eat.

But I think the break lends character.  I’m not so afraid of it anymore.  It actually looks kind of good sitting there.  So good, in fact, that I’m thinking of moving it to the middle of the living room floor.  I can stand on it while I’m watching television and slurping Jell-O.

I’m keeping it.  Regardless of how long it takes to get my dental issues repaired, I’m keeping those scales.  I may even paint them.  When the family gets tired of seeing them on the living room floor, I’ll build a shrine with a little shelf just for the now-favored set of scales.  I’ll update my top-ten list of things I fear most and I’ll bring the now-favored scales periodic offerings of fruits and nuts while I polish it daily.

And I’ll dare anyone to refer to them as broken.

They’re perfect just the way they are.

 

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Lucky Charms

I’ve always considered myself to be quite lucky.  I’m the lady who takes twenty bucks to a casino and walks out three hours later with anywhere between fifteen and fifty dollars in my pocket.  That may not sound like a lot, but when you factor in everyone who lost big money that very same day, I’d say I was the one on top.  Right next to the big winner, who probably just went back the next day and blew it all anyway.

Husband says that the quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.  In my case, the twenty dollars I’m willing to lose is a small price for three hours’ entertainment.

I used to find quarters in pay phones before the druggies started putting their needles in there, scaring everybody away from the little silver flap hiding the coin return, way back when there used to be pay phones everywhere.  I used to find whole dollars in the bottom of the plastic ball pit at fast food places when I’d jump in with my toddlers after their Happy Meal.  I can take a walk and find a five dollar bill on the creek bank.  I once found a twenty dollar bill in the parking lot of Big Bear, an old grocery store my grandmother liked to frequent.

A friend at work was telling me about all the four-leaf clovers she’s been finding lately.  It makes me wonder what other good things are in store for her.

I’ve noticed that the luck in my life has usually happened in curves.  Not sharp dips and swings from one end of the luck spectrum to the other, but a generally steady run of even good fortune with small curves either to the left or right of it.  Usually when the curve away from the center of good fortune occurs, I can count on the sway of the next curve to take me to something wonderful before I glide back to the center again. 

Sometimes good things and bad things happen concurrently, making me wonder which side of the middle I’m on, or if maybe my general run of prosperity just suddenly widened out a little to encompass both sides of things.

It gets interesting.

One thing that’s always remained fairly well is my health.  Aside from an occasional cold I’ve been okay.  I did have to have a hysterectomy at 39, but my first grandchild was born just a few months later.  Usually, every curve to the left in my world is balanced by a sway to the right, after which I seem to land right back in the middle.

I’m expecting something wonderful to happen.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m anxiously awaiting it.  I’m experiencing a current curve to the left a little, and I can’t wait for the situation to be rectified.

I’ve put off having a tooth pulled for a couple of years now.  Fortunately for me, I was able to just avoid that tooth by chewing on the other side.  And I’m busy, so I kept putting off the inevitable.  This past Wednesday I broke a tooth on the good side. 

My dental appointment is next Wednesday.

The lady told me she could get me in on Thursday.  But I had an interview at work on Friday for a possible promotion, and I didn’t want to risk something happening that might cause me to be out on Friday and miss it.  So I opted for an appointment next week instead.

Husband went to the store and bought all sorts of stuff, like gelatin and pudding snacks.  He also picked up broth, soup, and baby food. 

If it’s been while since you had any, pulverized carrots are pretty good if you’re hungry.  My favorite is the mixed fruit, but the banana isn’t bad either.

I think the interview went well, but I won’t know anything until the end of next week at the earliest.  I’m competing with three other very skilled and talented people, so if you’re in to that sort of thing, cross a couple fingers for me.

In the meantime, I’m on my third day of protein shakes and near liquid food. 

The irony is that I’m still the one doing the dishes.

Hopefully, when I look back at this curve to the left, I’ll be able to pinpoint what the sway to the right looked like.  Surely the Universe wouldn’t let me put off much needed dental work, and consume baby food for an entire week, for no larger plan than the loss of a few pounds.

Whatever happens, though, I know I’ll be okay.  I will, after all, end up back in the middle where life is good – a place where there are cheeseburgers, tortilla chips, and eggrolls.

And popcorn.

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Knowledge Gap

Husband and I just started watching episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” a couple of months ago.  We started from the beginning with Season One, Episode One.  We’ve been watching them in order these last six or eight weeks, and now we’re already at the end of Season 6.  The shows are hilarious, but some of them have meaningful side-stories and undertones that have me thinking for days and days about how it relates to my own real-life world.

The most recent that had that effect on me was an episode about knowledge gaps.  Those gaps in a person’s knowledge of which everyone but you is aware.  Like how to pronounce a common word, or whether or not the place with the weird name really exists.

It got me thinking about my own gaps in otherwise common knowledge, and I giggled when I remembered my reaction to the discovery of how ignorant I’d been.  One such example happened when I was seventeen.

Several of us were down in the dairy barn stripping tobacco.  It had been a dairy barn for so long that even though the cows and equipment were gone and the barn repurposed, we still referred to it as though it was an active and viable part of the farm.  On this day it was filled with wagons full of dried tobacco stalks and several home-made balers.  We would carry an armload of the tobacco to the waist-high table, strip the leaves and sort them by grade, and then carry the piles of leaves to the appropriate bin for baling.  The balers were made of a simple wooden frame and we used an old-fashioned car jack to ratchet the top board down into the box as far it would go, compressing the leaves along the way.  We’d have to fill up one box for what seemed like a hundred times before we got a good bale out of it.

There were about five or six of us in there, and the crisp afternoon turned into a much cooler evening, which then turned into an incredibly cold night.  The barn was made of cinderblocks, and the few windows it housed contained no glass.  We had worked until our fingers were numb from endless hours of plucking and tearing, and our feet felt frozen in the damp fall air.  The few breaks we took were to trek back up to the house for meals and such.  We worked that way for a couple of days, from sun-up until long past midnight, until all the tobacco had been stripped and baled and loaded into the trucks for market.

We talked while we worked.  There were amusing anecdotes, stories of childhoods fondly remembered by the elders in the group, and future plans revealed from the youngest among us.  Conversation flowed easily while increasingly more bales were produced.  When the conversation took a turn toward food, someone mentioned that they had gone by the town’s bakery and noticed that doughnut holes were on sale for a dollar a bag.

I laughed until my sides hurt.  At some point I noticed that everyone was staring at me.  I had turned into a teenaged lunatic, giggling my ass off for no apparent reason.  I think there was a snort or two in my doubled-over and knee-slapping laughter.  The center of a doughnut is empty.  I couldn’t imagine someone putting up a sign that said the doughnut holes could be bought.  I thought it was either a joke or the baker was about to make a killing on money from stupid people with an ingenious new marketing plan that would ensure the buyer got a bag of air for his hard-earned dollar.

I had always just assumed, at least until that day, that when the doughnuts were cut, the little bit that remained on the cutting board got re-rolled into more doughnuts.  That gap in my knowledge, once they figured out why I was laughing, got them laughing, too.  They each in turn regaled us with their own gaps in otherwise common knowledge.

Their stories helped to ease the feeling of stupidity, but I still shake my head at the memory.  I don’t know when bakers starting frying those little bits of dough that came out of the middle, but in the fall of 1985 I still hadn’t heard about them.

 

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Advances in Technology

I’ve done well to keep up.  I was born at just the right time to grow with the advances we’ve made.  By the time I was in grade school, A-Frame computers had already gone down in size from requiring a warehouse to only requiring a room.  By the time I was in high school, desk-top computers were entering businesses and schools.

I learned how to type on an actual typewriter with a return carriage that I had to reach up and pull at the end of every line.  I don’t recall any left-handed typewriters, either.  The carriage return lever was always on the right.  I had to either properly hyphenate on my own or decide that the next word in the sentence should start on a new line down.  I remember the keys that always got stuck when I typed faster than the machine could keep up with me.  Nod if you remember those metal arms with letters welded at the ends of them so that when you punched the appropriate key for the intended letter, the corresponding arm would fly up and strike the paper, capturing ink from the black ribbon that was woven from one side to the other just in front of the paper, and imprinting that letter permanently onto the paper.  Mistakes were just awful to correct, especially if you were making two copies.  You had to use a little white eraser to gently rub the paper away, which took the ink with it.  Then you had to turn the carriage wheels to get the paper to roll up out of the machine just far enough to peel apart the pages, get behind the carbon paper, and make a second correction on the copy you were making.  Then you had to roll it back down and hope your text was lined up correctly.  Otherwise, you might as well just start over.

Then typewriters became electronic.  The keys didn’t have to be punched so hard, which meant we could type even faster.  Mistakes were still time consuming to correct because we had liquid paper, which had to be dabbed and allowed to dry before we could continue.  The carbon never adhered to the whited out areas, though, and so it was always best to avoid mistakes if at all possible.

Then typewriters became little computers with digital displays that showed you what you were typing.  You could back-space over a mistake, but only if you caught it at the time you made it.  When you thought you were done, you hit a special key and the whole thing would type out seemingly on its own.  It was only then that you could see the mistakes you hadn’t caught while you were typing out the original.

Making copies started to get a little easier.  From mimeographs to actual digital printing, those little white erasers have become extinct.

During my first attempt at college, back in the fall of 1987, I was working part time in a student center where big computer towers were hooked up to small television sets.  Everything that ever got accomplished on those for student use only computers always began with a c: prompt.  

I kept up.  I never knew the techno-babble associated with how the damned thing worked, but I managed to get done what I needed to.  I had figured out some of the basic mechanics of it without ever quite learning the technology behind it.  I once fixed a dot-matrix printer with the eraser end of a pencil.  The folks in my department thought I was a genius. 

We went from having computers in big businesses to having a computer in every home.  Laptops that were once only used by the jet set are now being used by students at almost all levels of academic participation.  And while I’ve still managed to keep up with the mechanics, I have never become technologically inclined. 

I have grown to live in an age where two little c’s and a colon has changed in definition from ‘carbon copy’ to ‘courtesy copy’ at the bottom of our letters because the need for actual carbon has virtually disappeared.  I’ve long since forgotten how to change a typewriter’s ribbon, and if I had to reach up and physically return a carriage to begin a new line of type I think I’d go mad with the frustration of it.  Although I do think I could still configure my own hyphenation points at the end of the lines.

So with all this growth I’ve experienced with technology, with all the mastering of mechanics that I have achieved, why is it I still can’t work my phone?

 

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Boredom

It’s that thing that hits two full seconds after the power goes off.  It settles way down deep in your bones and gets comfortable while causing you, the bearer of it, some extreme misery.  You start thinking of all the things you could do if only you had lights by which to see.  And when it happens at six o’clock in the evening, there’s not much daylight coming through the windows anymore.  Especially if it’s raining and it was a thunderstorm that robbed you of the much needed electricity.

Every room you enter for the next two hours has you flipping the light switch out of habit, cursing the power company, and running into something you’d forgotten was there.  If only there was working electricity, you could at least do a load of laundry.  You could still finish up those dishes, but you don’t know how long the power will stay off, and a lukewarm shower tomorrow morning in complete darkness will be much better than an ice cold one.  So you conserve.

There’s always the iPhone to keep you occupied.  You could use it to crush candies.  As you’re flipping another switch, cursing, and bumping into something to find your phone, you realize that you may need the remaining battery power to set a viable alarm for tomorrow morning.  You can’t waste that.  So you conserve.

You could read.  The little light that’s left in the evening sky is not enough through the windows to read a real book, so you could get out the Kindle.  It even has a battery-powered back-light.  You do have that download you purchased not too long ago and never got around to reading.  Switch, curse, thump.  You finally find it only to realize that you haven’t charged it in a while and the battery’s about dead.  So you can’t read, either.

Without an unlimited battery life on that phone you’re so attached to, and in conservation of the battery for tomorrow’s alarm, there’ll be no FaceBooking either.

You could get out that basket of yarn, an activity normally saved for cooler weather, but you can’t see to make those stitches in the darkened living room.  You begin to wonder if there’s enough battery power on the laptop to get you through an episode of something Netflixy.

Probably not.

You’ve long since forgotten where the flashlight is, so you have to take a candle to the bathroom because, without windows, it’s the darkest room in the house.  At least in there you know where everything is.

You could take a nap, but if you’re like me you know that just as soon as your eyes get heavy you’ll get a text or a call on the iPhone when the house phone produces no response.  After several attempts at napping over the years, I’ve given up on the possibility of ever having one.  This time would have been different, except that it wasn’t.

I have classes starting again on Monday, and the thought occurred to me that without the television or the Candy Crush, maybe I could study a little in preparation.  So now we’re back to the ‘no light-no read’ thing.

As I was sitting in the rocker watching the dimly lit rain through the living room window, I began to reflect back on my grandmother’s stories about how they had no electricity growing up, and that they still managed to be more productive than just sitting in a chair and watching it rain.  My mind began to drift to those television series made in the 70s that depicted a time before my grandmother was born.  I started to wonder what Ma Ingalls would be doing at seven o’clock on a rainy evening.  I had no socks to darn, nor did I have an oil lantern to provide the necessary light by which to darn them.  My mental list took over again, and as I got near to the end of things I could be doing if only I had the light or the electricity to do them, the power restored and I made moves to do absolutely none of them.  It was time for Everybody Loves Raymond.

And my chair was pretty comfortable.

 

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Not a Nude Beach

As completely moronic as it might sound, I found myself thinking about the beach this morning.  I know; it’s like two degrees outside, right?  Our country has been hit by a sudden flash freeze that even caused Hotlanta residents to put on a jacket.

None of us have any thoughts of the beach during this frigid moment in our future’s history.

Yet there I was, sitting all wrapped up in wool socks, a twenty-pound bathrobe over sweats and a thick cotton shirt, shivering, alternately smacking the space heater in protest and looking for warmer gloves, and remembering with fondness one of my three or four ever trips, in my lifetime, to the beach.

One occasion was an all girl road trip I had taken with my daughters and granddaughter.  I’ve already told you about that one.  One occasion is not really in my memory, but rather just images conjured up in my head based on true stories I’ve heard about a trip to the beach when I couldn’t have been much more than a toddler.

This morning I was remembering a trip to Huntington Beach CA.  I had traveled with a group of folks to a convention in a nearby city, and after the close of business on one of those days, someone suggested that we all go change, grab a bag, pile into a car, and just go.

As I’ve already explained, going to the beach is not something I do often.  This was, in fact, my first time at a beach on the west coast.  I was all grown up with children, but my children were on the other side of the country, being cared for by relatives for the duration of my business trip.

I was guiltily hanging out on the beach with associates, wondering what my kids were doing, until I was finally cajoled into getting into the water.

I am not a beach-comber, a native, or even a little acclimated to beach life.  Sand between my toes and a rank odor usually means it’s time to bathe.  But others seemed to be enjoying this stench-filled atmosphere.  Despite having seen every single Jaws movie ever made, more than once, I went in.

I wasn’t prepared for that first wave and so it knocked me down.  When I fell, my head was toward the beach and my feet pointed out to sea.  The wave rushed over me seeking dry land, found it, rejected it, and then quickly rushed back out, leaving me a little breathless.

And topless.

I struggled to pull the upper portion of my one-piece suit back up to cover my nudity, and struggled as well to stand upright.  Before I could regain my footing, another wave had crashed into me and I fell again, nearly losing my top again, and still I couldn’t get up.  When the third wave hit, I was already seated and didn’t move much.

I don’t know how many times the waves knocked me down.  Nor do I remember how many waves I sat through trying to remember to just breathe.  I do remember the death grip I had on my top, though.  There are still nail marks, all these ten plus years later, on the side of my right boob where I was digging in to keep the thing covered.

After a while I couldn’t blame the waves for keeping me down.  It was my own laughter.  At some point I had completely given up fighting the waves and had just sat there laughing hysterically at my inability to win a battle against the equivalent of a few buckets full of water.

One of my associates, certain that I must’ve been about to drown, came to offer a helping hand.

I could only offer one.  The other was strenuously occupied.

 

 

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