Me and My Kindle.

We have a special relationship.  My Kindle and I do.  We spend an inordinate amount of time together.   It’s a joined-at-the-hip, or in this case, at-the-thumb, kind of thing.

And so it is with some degree of sadness that I’ve come to the realization that my Kindle doesn’t understand me at all.

The books it recommends don’t fit my reading profile.  Many of them feature hunky, macho, thong-clad studmuffins.  OK, so I  read Fifty Shades of Gray (yes, the entire series) but that was some time ago.  I’ve matured.  I’m totally over that stuff.    Shouldn’t my very own Kindle know that by now?

It also recommends books about fair-maidens seductively lured into the occult.   I’m no longer a fair maiden so that doesn’t exactly rock my boat.  And as to the occult?  Well, I already have my very own ghosts. They live here.  In this house.  If my Kindle would read my blog, it would know that.

I’ve poured a lot of energy….to say nothing of time and money….into this relationship.  I think I’ve earned the right to expect a tad more appreciation of my reading preferences.

I’m not suggesting that there’s anything subversive or wrong about its recommendations for me.   Perhaps it’s  trying to get me out of my rut.

Maybe I should just give in and read one of those hunky-muffin books.  Maybe I should send the Mister a damsel-in-distress book.  Maybe, just maybe, my Kindle knows me better than I know myself.

It’s not much of an investment.  Very little to be lost.  Those books are cheap.  We’ll see what happens.

 

 

 

 

Conflicting Headlines

We subscribe to a small magazine called “The Week.”  It presents alternative positions on many topics, making it an unusual publication with no clear political or economic bias.  It’s intended to make you think.

There’s always a section devoted to Health and Science news.  A couple of weeks ago there were two headlines in that section.

The first was “Moderate drinking isn’t healthy after all.”

The second was: “Night owls may live shorter lives.”

Simply said, drinking’s bad and early-to-bed is good.

Like the rest of the magazine’s contents, those headlines forced me to stop, think and make thoughtful, informed decisions about my future habits based on the scientific evidence presented in each of the articles.  Or not.

After less-than-a-nanosecond, I decided that I’ll still drink my wine (unhealthy) and I’ll still go to bed early (healthy.)

Just like I’ve done all of my adult life.

Hopefully, the positive will continue to cancel out the negative and life will be both long and happy.

If only all decisions were that easy.

A little behind the times.

That’s me.  Always a little late to the party.  The last to know.  The last to “get it.”

Friends have been telling me, for quite some time now, to turn off and tune out the news.  Especially the politically charged cable channels.  I’ve been slow to accept their advice but I listened up recently and have been watching the Food Channel as an option.

If you know me, you know that neither food nor its preparation holds any interest for me.  But the Food Channel has some redeeming qualities in spite of its focus.

It’s the only channel where nothing ever “breaks” except eggs.  Where the only up-risings are yeasty, aromatic loaves of bread.

The food pundits don’t yell at each other, even when there’s a hotly contested issue on the table.  Like mustard for example.   Should we use French, American, or German?  Yellow, spicy or grainy?  The experts hash it out, civilly, using only a spoon and a healthy dollop of compromise.

They  know how stay calm, even when threatened with the imminent collapse of a towering souffle.

They also seem to know when to put something on the back burner, let it simmer for a bit, stirring it gently to make sure it doesn’t boil over and make a hot mess.

I think I’ll hang with them for a while.  It’s going to be better for my health, I’m pretty sure.  This is not going to be easy.  Old habits die hard but better late than never.

Or so I’m told.

Little Pleasures

 

At some point in our lives, little pleasures start to outweigh the big stuff.

As we sat on the porch recently, enjoying the breeze and some wine, The Mister told me he’d had a most satisfactory and significant “Little Pleasure” event earlier that day.

Pray tell, I asked.

He said, that after a long, strenuous and exhaustive search, he had finally found his perfect screw.

After I took a deep breath and roamed through my mind,  I remembered that he’d taken his daily trip to Lowe’s.

Sure enough.  That’s where he found it.  His perfect screw.  And not just one.  A whole dozen!

Such joyful little pleasures.

Seriously??

From news reports:

“Top security officials are warning Americans who are traveling to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup this week that Moscow-linked hackers may try to target them as they attend the international soccer event…The security experts advised World Cup attendees not to bring personal devices with them.”

 

You want me to do what?  Are you out of your mind?  Seriously?

You’re actually, truly, really suggesting that I leave my phone and my lap top in my hotel or wherever?  I’ve been planning this for ages and I’m sure as heck not gonna go there without my stuff.  I need to take pictures, send photos, FB my friends, Instagram pics of me and my buds.  Tweet.  Whatever.  If I can’t do that, really, then what’s the point of even being here?

Soccer games go on for two or three hours, and, well, for sure I can’t detach from my world for that long.  Not even close.  I mean seriously, Dude.  What universe are you in?

 

OK, I say, but fair warned is fair armed.  According to news reports from all over the world, there are scams and cyberhackers just waiting to knock your socks off or worse, gain access to your bank accounts, your Social Security Number, passwords to your entire life.

But never mind.  Do as you please.  Just don’t blame the messenger when you get home and find that things have gone awry.

And I’m talking seriously awry.  Dude.

 

 

Informative graphic thanks to phonearena.com!

A lovely evening

We had a wedding anniversary some months back.  We’re not “big day” celebrants so we don’t get carried away with gifts or cards.   But, as it happened, we were invited to a  catamaran cruise that evening having absolutely nothing to do with our anniversary.

The night was perfect. Fresh winds, sails aloft, good wine, fried chicken and chocolate cake.

The others on the boat were considerably younger than we are.  In fact, most of them were considerably younger than our marriage.

Someone, somewhere along the line, let the anniversary thing slip. We were “outed” so to speak.  After that, many of those (young people) aboard nicely drifted by our seats to wish us a happy anniversary.

We talked about life with young children; about life with teenagers.  How two-working-parent families can possibly juggle everything asked of them.

We listened to the ups and downs of starting new jobs and businesses.  Of the challenges of living in the South when one is used to the North.

How social media helps….or hinders….family life.  And, oh, by the way, how about our school systems?

At no time during that cruise did we wrestle with the issues of illness, retirement, long-lost friends or politics.

While many of those not-so-fun things are on the minds of people of a certain generation…people like us….it was lovely to just sit back for an evening and enjoy the wind-blown ride.

We’ll deal with all that other stuff another day, another time, another cruise.

 

Sailing image thanks to meyerre.com

 

Rub-a-dub-dub.

Who needs a tub?

I do.  I really truly, madly, do.  And, not surprisingly, I find myself in the minority.

Apparently, and shockingly, new houses are being built without bathtubs!

The left brain part of me understands that.  Bathtubs take up space and no one takes baths these days anyway.

My right brain rejects that position.

Maybe it all started with my parent’s avant-garde, square, purple (!) bathtub.  It sat in the corner of the bathroom and defied you not to immerse yourself in it.  Warm, cozy, bubbly.  Just the thing after a long day.   Big soft towels hung on racks, ready to wrap you up and get you ready for a good night’s sleep.

Some things just stay with you and my need for a bubbly, warm, cozy bath is one of those things.   A hot bath is an obligatory part of my day.  It’s the ultimate stress reliever.  A good friend and fellow bath enthusiast once told me that she doesn’t have Three Dog Nights; she has Three Bath Days.

I’m not dissing showers or the people who take them.  I just want that sweet and comforting bathtub to have a place in our future.

I’m doing my part to support the bubble-bath people and ensure that those cute little rubber duckies still have a place to play.  I hope others will join me.

Well, not in my own bathtub, of course, but in my crusade to return the indispensable (in my humble opinion) bathtub to its former glory.

 

Bubbly tub image thanks to kisspng.com

Love

(Please click on the image for a full picture)

 

We recently sent a group e-mail to the family.  We thought they should know of an important decision we’d made.

It was a big decision on our part and made without consulting the family, or even hinting to them that we were on that path.

Since all news is sent and received electronically these days, we followed suit.

The email to them said:  “Alert!  Your parents taking a cruise.”

While they were initially alarmed, just as we had expected, they collectively decided that indeed a cruise might be good for us.  What concerned them was our selection of excursions.

They (wrongly) determined that we had signed up for a scuba dive, a self-guided ATV trip through the mosquito-rich jungles of Honduras and a six hour bus trip over rugged terrain to see some ruins.  All of these things seemed anathema to them but they accepted that we were challenging ourselves and would be safe.

But what really worried them, got them all in a lather and scared that we’d lost our minds, was that it also looked like we’d also signed up for a cooking class.

That one sent them right over the edge.

That concern warranted phone calls, texts and face-time events to make sure we were still who we said we were.

All fears were assuaged as we assured them we planned only to stroll the decks, sip champagne and enjoy the scenery as it passed us by.  No excursions…especially  cooking classes…on the agenda.

And with that they all wished us health, happiness and safe travels.

Love.  It shows up in such strange ways.

 

 

 

Lists.

Lists tell us a lot about ourselves.

A grocery list tells us what we’ll be eating for the next few days.  A to-do list tells us where to go and what to do when we get there.   An invitation list tells us who our friends are.  A Christmas list tells us to get going before things get too crazy.

Last week, I peered into the cubbyholes of an old, unused desk and discovered a most curious list of things.

It included:

A collar and ID tag from a long dead cat.

A copy of The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford.

My grandfather’s pocket watch.

Two engraving plates with my name on them:  one for stationery, the other for calling cards.

A deliciously twisted tale by by John Updike with equally twisted drawings by Edward Gorey.

A box of “Dennison Gummed Labels,”  now a collectible item from the 1940’s which holds pictures of my parents.

I’m not getting a clear sense of direction from that odd little list.  I only know that, ultimately, it tells me something about myself.  Because that’s what lists do.

It also underscores the value of little-bitty cubbyholes, which can hold treasures worth re-discovering on a rainy day when you have nothing else to do.

 

 

 

Trips to Fripp

 

Remember the Chevy Vega “station wagon?”  That sub-sub-sub-compact-hatch-back from way-back when?

We had one and we’d travel to Fripp Island, S.C. from Ohio for two weeks in the spring in that car.  A couple of duffle bags, baseball mitts, fishing gear, wine and suntan lotion.  We’d pack it all up and, if things went well and we had our wits about us, we’d remember to toss the three young boys in on top of everything.

We drugged them for the trip.  Dramamine, if I recall. Our pharmacist recommended it as a safety measure.  There were no seat belts in the Chevy Vega.

We were able to get several hours of peaceful driving except for one unfortunate situation.  One of the boys always had an adverse reaction to Dramamine.  It wired him.  But at least there was only one asking: “Are we there yet?”  There could have been three.

When we got to Beaufort, we’d stop at the Winn Dixie and buy groceries. We piled a two-week supply of food on top of suitcases, beach towels, and boys. We had everything we needed for our vacation in that little car.  Our family’s footprint on Fripp Island was as small as the children’s on the sand.

Fast forward 45 years:  A recent trip to one of our Island’s beaches introduced me to eighteen wheelers masquerading as cars.

It seems that no one travels light these days.  And what they don’t bring with them, they buy and then apparently leave behind as trash to be cleaned up and disposed of.  Visitors may drop dollars but they and their huge cars/wagons/vans/ SUV’s leave an imprint that doesn’t always bode well for the future.

I must not get the meaning of vacation in today’s world.  I always thought vacations were an opportunity to be open, unstructured and free of “stuff.”  To leave behind encumbrances and just chill out.

But every day, it seems, I get older in my thinking.

Next week my post will probably be delivered by Pony Express.

“One if by land and two if by sea.”

Tally-ho.

 

 

 

 

Gropes and Grabs.

Wow.  It’s everywhere these days.  Places we least expect it.  The groping and the grabbing.

I’d rather I didn’t have my own story but I do.

Mine was a social situation, not a political or a power-based one.   But, still, it caused a level of embarrassment and discomfort.

I’d see the offender coming my way at social occasions where I couldn’t say , “I’d rather you didn’t do that.”  Or even make a light-hearted comment by way of distraction.

In a way, while the behavior wasn’t welcomed, it was kind of flattering.  I talked to my spouse about it.  We agreed to ignore it as best we could. I certainly didn’t want to create a “scene.”   Or come off as some sort of offended prude.  So, I put up with it…..sort of.

The situation was really a mere annoyance, nothing more.  But it helped me understand the subtle ways that social “gropes and grabs” can escalate to something more.

While I’m not a member of the #Me,too movement, I’m certainly more understanding than I might have been without my own, albeit small, experience.

And I appreciate the opportunity to share that experience and my “educated” perspective on Sallie’s post today.

Yours truly,

The Mister.

 

Me,too image thanks to carbonated.tv

Spittin’ Mad

Please click on the picture for a full image.

That’s what I am.  I’m spittin’ mad.

If you look at the picture above, you’ll see a charming little “rock garden” planted by the children of our near-by elementary school.  It’s right on the sidewalk so I get to see it every day when I walk by.

The garden bloomed about a week ago, filled with 50 or so rocks, painted by the children.  Sweet messages, pretty colors.

If you look at the picture again, you’ll also see a sign.  It encourages passers-by to “take a rock, share a rock, leave a rock.”

People have indeed “shared”and “taken” a rock.  Unfortunately, no one has “left” one.  Thus the little garden grows smaller by the day.  And that made me mad.  Spittin’ mad.

I took my ill-tempered self directly to the school, ready to take umbrage on the part of the children, scrounge up a new supply of rocks by myself, and stand guard over the garden if necessary.

After I settled down and took a moment to listen, I learned that the rock garden is a country-wide art project and the rocks are indeed meant to be “taken and shared.”  The kids are thrilled with the response of their visitors and they’re eager to replace and refurbish the little garden.  In their minds, the project is a home-run.

So, my mad turned into glad.  That’s a good thing.

But I’m left with the task of having to do a little attitudinal work on myself.  Perhaps in the way of not jumping to conclusions quite so fast?

Maybe I’ll pop down to the school and take a rock from the garden.  I think they’re “planted” just for people like me.

And, I’ll be sure to leave one, too.

Dear Carolyn:

It’s been a while since I’ve written but since you’re ever-present in my life these days, I thought I’d send you a quick note.

During all the years we’ve known each other, you were always there to “save my bacon.”  I could list the many ways but that would take too long.

You might not remember….well, actually, I’m sure you don’t remember because you tend to forget…..but you gave me a kitchen timer many years ago.  I hope I expressed some gratitude at the time but, honestly, I wasn’t sure why you gave it to me.  I suppose you were trying to urge me to cook a bit more but we both knew that was unlikely.

But now I simply don’t know what I would do without that little timer.

I’m the one who’s forgetful these days so, without that loud ringing device, pots on the stove would boil dry, appointments would be missed, a quick nap would turn into a deep sleep and ruin the day.  It’s become my personal assistant.

The irony is not lost on me that you, Queen of Forgetting, are now making sure that I don’t.

Of course, the timer’s name is Carolyn.  I talk to you each time the thing goes off.  Most of the time I say a grateful “Thank you, Carolyn, whatever would I do without you?”

But there are those times I tell it/you to hush. Quit that ringing already.  I’m moving as fast as I can.

Whatever the case, I know you’re there for me.  And with me.

Saving my bacon.

Just like you always did.

Lordy, how I miss you.

Love, Sallie

 

 

Famous People I Have Known

All two of them.

I like my famous people un-spot lighted, un-made-up, un-scripted, un-programmed, un-scheduled.  In other words, just real and down to earth.

We’ve had two opportunities for that during our lives.  One was with George Gallup, of Gallup Poll fame.   See Thoughts on Listening , if you’re interested.

The other was with James Taylor.

James had occasion to visit Dayton, Ohio, many years ago, for a reason other than a performance.   Hence, he was all of those un-things when I met him.  He was also sick and scared.

Jim Henson of the Muppets had just died a sudden death, seemingly from complications of a flu-like illness.  Performing artists all over the country were in a collective panic that they might be similarly attacked.  Without warning and in a strange place.

As it happened, I was the only person in the small group joining James who actually lived in Dayton and had access to a doctor.  And did we ever need a doctor.

Come ASAP, the office said, when I called.  We hopped in the car, he saw the doc, tolerated the swooning nurses and were quickly on our way, assured that he had the sniffles, a slight sore throat and would be just fine.  Not to worry.

Later that evening, he sang for our little gathering.   Un-made-up, un-lit, un-scripted and un-programmed.  Just a few wonderful James Taylor songs for a small group of people, including one who had enjoyed the pleasure of his company, if only for a short while.

Me and “Sweet Baby James”.  Just the two of us.

And the doctor, of course.

SCANDAL!

Scandal has recently scorched the reputation of the venerable game of Cricket.  There’s been a major set-to in the leading Australian team.  Ball-tampering, they’re calling it.  I find it quite distressing.

I really wouldn’t care except we have a Cricket bat hanging in our den.  It brings back good memories.  It came home with me after the summer I spent in England with my college roommate.  During that time, we were fortunate enough to be invited to garden parties, house tours and Cricket matches.  All terribly British and we loved it.

If you’ve ever been to a Cricket match…..and really, who among us hasn’t?…..you’ll know that they represent the epitome of manners, graciousness, proper decorum and demeanor.  That applies to players and spectators alike.

While Cricket players have always claimed a moral high ground, apparently, they’ve been at this cheating thing since the 1800’s.  Gambling, match-fixing, doping.  “It beggars belief,” say the Australians.

The media voice of Australian Cricket, according to the press, was reduced to tears over the latest scandal.

Furthermore, the Australian Prime Minister states that, prior to this egregious act of poor behavior, Cricket stars were held in considerably higher regard than politicians.

Well, now.  That took the wind right out of my sails.

I got to thinking about all that and wondered: Just exactly how far was the descent from Cricket star to politician?