Friday, January 29, 2016

Praise the Lord and Pass the Scalpel

Yeee- Haaaaaa! My first knee replacement is scheduled. Plus, the second one is planned, if not exactly on the calendar yet.

After a week delay because the Orthopedic Surgeon had an emergency, I finally got in to see him. We started with the usual paperwork, of course, followed immediately by x-rays. He wanted to know what we were talking about before beginning the conversation.

I get that. I'd thought maybe an MRI would be scheduled a few days out, but while that happened after my very first knee injury, we're down to x-rays now. Apparently nobody cares any more about which meniscus might be torn where. We're way past that. Like a dozen years or so. It's been so long I can't remember any more, except it was way back during one of those periods when I had actual medical insurance, and it was done in Ramsey Hospital before their major renovation project and before they changed the name to Regions.

Yeah. That long ago.

I've seen my knee x-rays since then. Some were a bit ambiguous. My untrained eye thought there was a little bit of spacing left between the bone ends, since they seem to have a thicker white line at the tip. I got to see the real-time pictures of those cartilage injections as the needle went deeper in and - oops! stabbed the bone, haha, nevermind, sorry, try again. Squeeze some more of that lidocaine in there, will ya? I could actually watch a shading difference as the needle emptied until the contents spread out. Too bad it didn't do much after the painkiller wore off two hours later.

Today's films were, first of all, a royal pain. Seriously. I had to stand during them, and the technician kept having me move my feet this way, no, back that way, now over here, bend them so, and hold....

There were about 5 variations of that without any sitting in between. Her time was important, ya know. Can't take a break. Eventually there was a picture taken while I got to lie down. Ahhhh... Once she looked at the pictures to make sure I hadn't moved or something, she told me I could reload.


She pointed to the pile of necessities I had removed from pockets at the start of the process. Good thing she specified, because, as I informed her, I was about to ask her just what caliber she was going to suggest!

On the way to the exam room from there, we passed somebody introduced to me later as my doctor. He got a real good look at how I was walking in the process, or more like how I wasn't. Armed with the x-rays (which now even I could clearly see involved extensive unprotected bone-on-bone contact, just in case I needed the verification), his own observations, and a fairly short conversation about my history, he was ready to discuss knee replacement.


There is a process you as the patient have to go through first. There's a class to take, answering questions, preparing you for what to expect. There are exercises, an exam by your primary care doc to verify whether you are in condition to actually have surgery, meds to start on and meds to quit on a fairly complicated timetable, ways to prepare your house and its chores ahead of time... and that's just what I read in the first half of the booklet they hand out for us to read ahead of time.

The exercises look pretty easy, definitely doable, lying down on the bed rather than standing or walking. I just need to remember to take the list and how-to pictures into my bedroom with me and perform them after every time I go to the bathroom. After. Not before.

Don't ask why. Not unless you've been drinking the Flint, MI water. Then you might need somebody to explain it to you.

The meds range from simple (adding iron to build up hemoglobin) to insane (stopping ibuprofin days ahead. That's so-o-o-o-o not going to happen!) I don't need to worry about stopping warfarin because last week my cardiologist took me off of it, permanently unless the meds I'm taking for A-fib quit preventing it. It's been six months so far without a recurrence, knock on wood.

So, surgery is scheduled for early March, with the anticipation that I can drive to the airport to pick up Paul when he comes down for a vacation from winter later that month. We're doing the left leg first, but I might still be on narcotic painkillers and not legal behind the wheel. But hey: Super Shuttle!

The other leg is planned for three weeks (prep time again) or so after we come back down from Minnesota at the end of summer. Who cares if I can't drive then?

Hey, by then I'll be hoping to walk!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dratted Hinge

OK, first a silly riddle from the local silly-riddle-of-the-month signboard on the way to the store:

What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

Do you smell carrots?


Hinges are a great invention. We all take them for granted, not even thinking of what things would be like without them. Doors at best would be sliding and/or pocket doors, perhaps a curtain sliding across a pole or tied back. Cupboard would be just shelves. Home security? Yeah, right.

Occasionally the metal becomes old, the hinge warps a bit, the tight fit is lost. I've had that happen. Or at least the folks who are replacing a door claim it has, given as a reason why I need to pay for a new hinge along with the new door. I guess I buy that. Quite literally.

But the house here has another issue. Some dope installed the top hinge on the master bedroom door upside down.

Do modern hinges even have a top or bottom these days? It would be so easy to make them with caps on both ends so the pin inside can't be pulled out, leaving a closed door forever closed unless the person inside chooses to open it. I haven't bought one lately, so I don't know. But I may have to. And really, there may be a perfectly good reason for having a hinge that can be taken apart. Like, say, a busted lock, unopenable.

But installing one upside down? Given a hinge with one end capped off to stop the pin passing that point, and the other end open so the pin can be put in or pulled out, don't you understand that there is a clear up and down to a hinge? The top is obviously the open part. The bottom is obviously the closed off part, closed to keep gravity from working its magic on the pin.

At least it should be obvious to everybody except the idiot who installed the top hinge in the bedroom door.

We first noticed the problem a couple months after moving in. Hinge pins make a peculiar pinging noise when they drop 5 feet to the uncarpeted floor. It's a sound I've come to know too well. If one doesn't check to see if the pin is starting to slide down, it will soon be heard. Sometimes even if one does check it, the ping announces the event. Last time was the day after reinstalling the pin from the drop before. AKA yesterday.

Now you might ask why that door needs so much moving that the hinge malfunctions. First, we keep the dogs out. Or in while we sleep, given their tendency to scatter wastebasket contents across the floors in pursuit of a popcorn kernel or a used tissue.  Even putting wastebaskets behind (hinged) doors doesn't eliminate the problem. Smart dogs!

Second, it keeps light and noise on the opposite side of the door from the sleeper, when the other is not sleeping. Third, it means not such need is attached to maintaining a spotless room in case company arrives. Fourth, the door helps regulate the environment inside the house, which areas are heated or chilled being varied due to its position. Anyway, reasons.

An upsidedown bottom hinge would not be quite such a problem. I think. The door could swing hanging from the top hinge and still be quite usable.  A separated top hinge, on the other hand, allows the door to drop and scrape the floor, sway, or any number of things that make it unusable. And trying to fit it back together takes two people with a lot of cooperative coordination, at least one hammer, and often involves a bit of cussing.

Not just because the hammer in that inconvenient corner may hit more fingers than hinge parts.

First, of course, the hinge loops must be lined up. Exactly so. Not a millimeter off. The channel must have no obstructions to keep the pin from advancing.

You try it.

The weight of the door helpfully wants to swing it out of position with any twitch, sneeze, or nano second of inattention. Even closing the door does not guarantee that the frame itself will hold it in the needed position. The first time we tried to fix the hinge it took us half an hour.

The second time took a bit less.

Recently I figured out a system.

The last two times the pin dropped (yes, Virginia, you can hear a pin drop, even with the TV going in the living room) it was as the door opened fully. The hinge itself hadn't yet shifted position. I gave Steve and myself both strict orders to leave it open in its exact same position. Don't even bump it. That was doable, but it let the dogs, light and noise flow freely in and out. So it had to be fixed quickly.

I needed a stick, something to slide the pin out of the corner behind the door without moving the door. After a search of the house, I decided on the mop handle. Success!

From the doorway side there was enough room for a finger to fit. It was all that was needed to start the slide of the pin several segments up into the hinge again, though not enough to push it all the way. Steve went to go get the hammer while I eased around the door and used the mop handle to slip under the hinge pin and hold it from dropping again. I managed to be coordinated enough to keep it in place through the closing of the door, giving Steve room to swing the hammer and finish the job.

Of course, as noted above, it didn't last long. But replacing it this time only waited until we were both awake at the same time again. Since then I look at that dang pin every time I pass the door, whether it gets moved or not. And when I do move the door, I try to put a little pull on it, enough to maybe keep the pin from falling out.

Now we're waiting for one of the "kids" to come down and either turn the hinge around or put a new one in. It didn't seem to be one of their priorities on previous visits.

That'll change.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Vacation High Points

- finally getting the suitcase closed over all the winter clothing
- finally having a fellow driver kind enough to let you pull out from behind the semi climbing the mountain at 37 mph
-  seeing Dry Beaver Creek full of water, noting a place to pull off next trip now you know it's there and can turn in time without getting rear-ended
- seeing all the snow on the red rock formations
- meeting good friends and making them better ones
- sharing each other's stories
- gracefully navigating 4 adults with just one bathroom
- finding out the landlord stocked just over enough toilet paper for you all, it was just hidden
- finding back roads you never knew existed, offering new vistas
- locating Coffee Pot, Sugarloaf, and Snoopy rocks
- not needing to walk the dogs
- having even the non-dog-person agree that our dogs are actually well behaved, even if he won't pet them and thinks they stink up his car 
- being able to sit in the car while others with better knees do most of the hiking
- finding a large ammonite, opalized in red bands blending to orange, in my price range
- exploring the Turquoise Spider, visited on a previous visit many years ago, enjoying it even more this time (sign: "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.") (T-shirt with fly fisherman in stream picture: "Sorry I couldn't answer the phone. I was on my other line.") (T-shirt with feathered fishing lure pictured: "The way to a man's heart is through his fly.")
- also finding a pottery storyteller in googly-eyed frogs with ladybugs. In my price range.
- Seeing more architectural details from the old mining town not noticed on previous trip
- finding a really great Mexican restaurant, another time a great pizza restaurant
- saving money by mostly cooking at the house
- having somebody else do most of the cooking and appreciate what you cook
- turning around to see the huge pile of snow now covering the sidewalk where you just had walked when the tree had only dumped a tiny bit on its snow on your head, waiting till you passed
- sharing some of your favorite and much-visited places and finding your friends take just as much enjoyment from them
- crackling fires in the fireplace, once somebody buys a hatchet to make actual kindling
- somebody else driving
- free native flute concerts
- sighting most of a javelina,
- having packed enough ibuprofin even though it doesn't begin to make up for the abuse your knees have taken through the week

*    *    *    *    *

- having car packed  to head home with help carrying from friends
- collecting good-bye hugs
- having the other couple still there when you finally remember what you forgot to pack, and arranging to get it from them next summer
- driving yourself
- reprising the high points of the last week with your partner
- peace and quiet again
- warmer temps
- saguaros again
- putting the dogs in the back yard while you unpack the car
- no stair between you and the bathroom
- having your own bathroom again and a low-threshold shower instead of a tub
- having your partner be the second one to flush, realizing he needs to go out and turn the water back on, and doing it
- opening up the house to fresh air again, briefly. (Note to self: next time remember to take the garbage out before you leave!)
- knowing the real unpacking can wait a bit
- finding some actually decent pictures among the hordes
- RECLINERS!!!   ahhhhhhhhhhhh....


At long last, after all the visits over the years, after moving down here, after traveling around most of the state, after hearing about their destruction, after wondering if they even existed... a javelina sighting!

Or most of one.

Let me backtrack a bit. Our Minnesota friends, Les and Peggy,  were visiting us, futilely seeking warmth - bad year, sorry, guys, but still better than Minnesota. They had rented a house in Sedona for a week and invited us to stay with them. There were two bedrooms, a fenced yard for the dogs, a big wood fireplace, great scenery and great company, so the answer to their invitation was never in doubt. The only downside turned out to be the step between the great room and bath- and bedrooms. Yes, turns out my knees are that bad.

We had delayed joining them for a day due to winter weather, heading up Saturday. Even just north of The Valley we could see snowy mountain tops, and those are not tall mountains. It had been an exceptional snow dump for the state. To give you an idea, in the week since the first of the year Flagstaff had gotten 30.6 inches of the white stuff. Anybody connected with the Snow Bowl or area winter activities was ecstatic. The freeway heading up was jammed Saturday morning.

At least we didn't have to head that far that day. Once off the freeway we made a leisurely trek up 179 into red rock country. Seeing them wearing white tops made for a very satisfying shutterbug experience, for while there are not a lot of areas to pull off the road to shoot, there are some along the way and I took advantage. Now I had seen snow on those red rocks before, but it was always a light dusting with the  red peeking through or the snow still falling to blur the details. This was several solid inches of snow with the sun shining on it, blue sky behind.

For the record, there were still bits of snow when we left.

We spent the afternoon all together driving the back roads searching out good views and opportunities for photos, even sitting on a big log streamside relaxing to the flow of the water. They have a sizable SUV with room for four and a cargo space for dogs to move around in. During our stay we checked out the drive up Oak Creek Canyon into the snowy ponderosa pines near Flagstaff, the charm (and shopping: see the Turquiose Spider if you head that way) of Jerome, the airport road overlooking the whole of Sedona, and finally Sunset Crater and Wupatki. I've started erasing the bad pictures but last I noted the count, there were still 279 left on this particular SD card.

With all the driving around, our wildlife sightings were limited to the ubiquitous ravens and a single roadrunner. Around the house we were renting there were other small birds, flying in to dip their bills into the backyard pond when it wasn't iced over, or land in the pyracantha bushes to feast on the thousands of bright red berries. I recognized the cardinals, but need to work on other bird identifications.

There had been a fairly large prickly pear where the street met the driveway. It needed to be avoided on the way in and out, or while taking pictures. On our second morning our early walker returned for breakfast with the report of its destruction. Pads had been bitten off and chewed, remaining pieces of the plant scattered over a wide area. Closer inspection revealed hoof prints.

Conclusion: javelina.

It provoked much discussion, including whether or not we should notify the landlord so he wouldn't think we or the dogs had damaged it. With the bites out of the pads and hoof prints, we figured no blame would attach to us. Dogs would have done neither, nor would a careless vehicle.

The morning walkers noted more damage and hoof prints down the street the next day, indications that at least one was "scouring" the neighborhood. The prints came in two sizes, leaving us wondering if there was an adult with young, or whether front and back hooves come in different sizes.

While the dogs were out to wander the yard, I was gazing out the window to see if they needed attention. I saw movement just outside the fence, looking just in time to note the animal's rear  covered with black hair/fur with single white hairs scattered throughout as it disappeared behind one of the many bushes along its path. Wolf? Coyote? The dogs were totally unconcerned, which was reassuring. Or upon reflection, stupid. At its stolid pace the snout appeared in a gap between bushes for just a moment but is was enough for identification: javelina!

I never glimpsed a whole animal. I did, however, manage to draw Peggy's attention to it quickly enough that she also caught a quick bit of movement. Unlike me, busy calling the dogs in "just in case", she walked over the the fence trying to catch another view.

No joy.

But at least we could both now say we had sort of seen one.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Darth Nino

We expected rain. The forecasts all agreed on that. It was even supposed to be a downpour right around the times we were unloading and assembling scooters, riding for the shelter of the visitor center, and still lasting through the way back to the car when the more lengthy task of disassembly of the scooters and packing them back in the car was to take place.

At least the main attraction of this trip, a tour of Kartchner Caverns, would be relatively dry. And warm, like 70 degrees year around. Plenty nice enough to take the chill off the bones during the nearly 2 hour tour. But still....

We couldn't reschedule. After all, we were going with some friends from out of state, and one adjusts your schedule to theirs, with the limited time they have to join you. Plus, hey, it's Kartchner, and though you no longer need 6 month advance reservations, you still need to make reservations, and this was the day.

We actually considered ourselves lucky in the scheduling. It could have been so much worse. We could haave been doing the northern part of the trip. This last week was all snow snow snow in the "higher elevations." That turned out to be defined as about 4000 feet this week. El Nino, long awaited during our extended drought, was finally arriving. Of course, for Flagstaff that meant about 30 inches over a series of three back-to-back snowstorms in a week. While we weren't heading up that far north, we still were keeping a leery eye on the Oak Creek Canyon area. Our location was about the 4400 feet mark.  So maybe, just maybe, the snow would finally quit late Friday and we could enjoy the rest of our time together there.

We also considered ourselves lucky in our timing. It was nearly dry all the time from the car to the visitor's center, and from the center to the cave entrance. Yes, the ride up was in a covered trolly, meaning plastic sheets like golf carts use that let the breeze and rain in through the gaps where they attached for winter use, but it was still relatively ... OK, it wasn't cozy at all. Satisfied? It was next to freezing until we reached the cave entrance, and it took about 5 minutes for glasses to unfog.

But at least it wasn't pouring.

The tour was marvelous. I highly recommend it.

Of course, by the time we emerged, it was steadily raining. Still not pouring, but steady. And still cold. Windy too.  We spent a bit more time in the center, warming up again while seeing what we didn't have time for before our tour.

It's a fair distance from the last bit of roof shelter of the center to the parking lot. The rain wasn't heavy, but still cold and windy. We were chilling down, and disassembling the scooters just wasn't going quickly enough for anybody. The first one was nearly apart and in the car, with all the car doors open, when the wind suddenly picked up and it started hailing.

OUCH! The pieces were small, but they still hurt, especially driven by that wind: hands, backs, and heads. Holding the jacket up over the head didn't make a bit of difference. Or maybe it did but we were still hurting enough that we couldn't tell. We all agreed to quit working on the scooters and head into our respective cars. In the time that took, hail had blown in through the open hatch and side doors to cover the entire inside of the back of the car. Enough had blown in the front doors to coat the seats and floors and fill up the little indentations in the doors where locks, window controls, and handles were.

When you're sitting on hail because the stuff is still coming down and there's no way you're opening the door and stepping out enough to scrape the stuff off your seat, you quickly wind up with a cold, wet butt. And as the stuff slowly melts after you warm up the car - after, of course, the hail stops and you're only battling snow to finish loading scooters, but the snow doesn't hurt - the whole inside of the car fogs up and stays foggy for about the next hour.

Even after that mostly dries up, you still need to keep the defroster blowing on the windshield, the heater wires working on the back window, and periodically lower and raise side windows to scrape moisture off them. The wiper blades quickly turn into white clubs with a tiny black stripe in the center, valiantly striving to keep the view ahead clear. Plus, your wet butt is still cold. And your wet sleeves. And collar where the stuff dripped off your head.

It's about 8 miles from Kartchner back to the freeway. In that time, the snow changed to large flakes, the ground and bushes turned white, and the road slushed over to the point where 30 mph seemed barely slow enough to be sensible.

You know, kind of like Minnesota driving.

Which we all thought we had gotten away from.

I checked later to see if Benson counted as one of those higher elevations that justified the snowfall. Just 3655 feet. Tucson was a bit lower, and sure enough, the snow changed to rain before we got  that far. It wasn't soon enough to prevent stupidity, though.

Not ours, of course.

While we were doing about 35 on the freeway, we got passed by an idiot who still thought that 65 was just fine, thank you. I mean, that's what the sign says, right? I rather jokingly said to Steve that when we passed him upside down in a ditch up ahead, I was going to laugh at him.

He wasn't actually upside down, though he probably had rolled through that position to land where he did on his side.

And I was too busy staying far enough away from everybody doing about 20 mph now, rubbernecking  emergency vehicles on site and new ones arriving, to actually laugh.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016


I became a news junkie when I spent 12 to 14 hours daily behind the wheel listening to the good stuff. I mean MPR, of course. Sure, the news was interspersed with a little classical music (the other MPR station: Minnesota has 2) and a bit of political comedy. The comedy was, of course, about the political news.

There are times I wonder what kind of planet I've landed on down here when I watch the local TV morning news. I still try to find the occasional gem, that kernel of real news. Most days it's about a house fire, who shot whom, what stupid thing got said, what event/fundraiser is happening, where traffic is blocked this time, and of course, weather.

I'm used to hearing about weather. Minnesota had some. Other states have been getting a lot lately. But it pretty much doesn't happen down here, or if it does, it happens a bit elsewhere. We live in the west valley, so the rain for the last half year has been in the east valley, or maybe up around Flagstaff.  But El Nino (aka Darth Nino) has blessed us with rain much of the last two days, with promises of more the next two. (For those of you who keep track, 2 days of rain here means a good half inch in the rain gauge. No need to water the new bushes for a week or two now.)

Anyway, two days of rain is enough to drive all other stories off the air, though they did give a brief nod mid program to Powerball hitting $450 million tonight. The headliner breaking news from "The Storm" was that a tree fell over. Somewhere way over in the east valley. Camera crews were on location, showing footage of ... a street somewhere. No tree. No roots in the air. No busted branches. No house damage. Just a street. In the dark.

The next major story was that overnight in the west valley there was a wind gust of OMG! probably 30 mph, enough to blow the thin metal cover off of somebody's backyard patio. Again, news crews were on location. A street was closed for a block, and there were actual debris shots.

Somebody go get a broom, would ya?

The news chopper was up in the air. They found a road where a wash crossed it, full enough that part of the road was actually covered. They hovered while we all watched breathlessly as drivers rolled up, slowed, and drove through with hardly a wake. But something could have happened, yessiree Bob. One car actually did stop and make a u turn. Just in case.

We were promised that because rain was still falling upstream of this spot, something could actually happen here later in the day.


Flagstaff got snow. Cue camera dashcam, time lapse of driving over snowy road getting snowier. Somebody shovel their walk. Oooh, lookie, X-mas lights still up along the streets. Cue 4th run of interview of happy business people who like tourists. Rerun footage from last weekend of kids on sleds who found a bitty hill somewhere. Show kids falling off their sleds on bitty hill. They probably haven't learned how to sled yet. Or maybe they forgot since last year or whenever they had snow before.

Cue traffic map, show what's closed this time because even with sparse 5AM traffic, folks can't drive in it. They're not used to, like, actual weather.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Trader Joe's: Pissed Me Off!

Everything was fine up to that point. Trader Joe's could have gotten themselves a steady, if modest, customer. But the final impression is the one that will follow me, and has lost them a customer. Was it worth it, Trader Joe's?

Let's start with the idea that I had never shopped there before. I had a completely open mind. As long as they had battery carts, I was willing to spend as much time there as needed to check them out. And the first impression was great: There were more than enough carts for the two of us.

Yes, Steve came along shopping. We had gotten a gift card to the store for X-mas. (Much appreciated, and a heartfelt thanks! I know you read this.) So, once the holiday rush passed, time to go check it out, see what we'd both like. We found some great looking avocados, Steve's favorite. The cheese selection was awesome, and we picked out varieties I hadn't seen in years, perhaps not at all, definitely not as good. (I will say the pepper jack has peppers you can actually taste! Yummm.) We found flavors of brats that are intriguing, breads to completely spoil us, and with the remaining balance on the card, found a pair of steaks that were the first things to please our palettes.

So what went wrong? They decided to get greedy.

We shopped carefully, keeping track as we went through the store of how much we were spending and the balance on the card. When it rang up, we had a few pennies left to spend, so we threw on a last impulse item to slightly overshoot the card. I dug a dollar out and handed it to the cashier along with the card.

I expected change back. Only 22c, but still: change. Wouldn't you? What happened instead actually shocked me. The clerk spent the dollar first, then took the balance off the card. So I now have a card to Trader Joe's with a whole 22c on it.

Big whoop.

I think they believe it will bring me back to their store to spend more money.

They are wrong.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Top Of The Mor.... Uh, Year To Ya

First, New Year's Resolutions:

Yup, you got it. But you probably made enough of them for both of us to break, right?

But there's lots of other things which need attention this time of year. For example, there's assembling and sorting financial paperwork for that upcoming inevitable tax filing. Or is it sorting and assembling? Anyway, as it clears out of the file box and goes in a folder crammed on top of a stack up on the top shelf, there's room for the current year's crap.

Among which paperwork, there's a notice that the garbage bill has gone up. And hey, I gotta call them to give them the new bank information for the automatic deduction. My debit card got renewed and they need to know the new expiration date.  Oh, and make the price change in the spreadsheet that keeps track of how much money I don't have this year. Because, you know, different health insurance, new drug coverage, higher electric, higher gas, and way higher Rec Center fees. So far the water price stays the same as long as the usage does. Everything went up except Social Security, which they kept the same under the delusion that lower gasoline prices for folks who don't drive much anymore is an even trade-off.

Then there are the calls to change insurance information to two doctors (so far: the new Docs will get the info as I show up in their offices), my pharmacy, and just for the new year to make all those new appointments for exams and tests. It's called being retired. Now there's time for all that.

Most new years involve undecorating. That's not a biggie this year because we chose not to spend the energy on putting all the stuff up in the first place. There are, however, addresses to change so there's a hope next winter that the cards we send out will actually reach their intended targets. Said changes occur both in a digital and a paper address book as well as a digital list just of whom to send cards to. That tends to change each year. We're at the stage in life where people die on us. (Well, not literally on us, hopefully.) Somebody always moves and doesn't bother saying where. Some people's kids grow up and move away, or just get born so there are new names to add to the cards. Or, we can just keep putting "and family" on the envelope to hide our bewilderment and inability to keep up.

New years also tend to involve leftovers. Yes, I'm talking food. There likely will have been a pot luck or two, a turkey just for us, even a gift card that expands the pantry (and thanks, it was all yummy!). So lots of repacking, rewrapping, rebagging. That increased food supply, as it shrinks, will also supply us with a plethora of dirty dishes cluttering the counter and sinks. Again, some activity is called for. And waistbands need to be expanded, or perhaps shopping for a looser size done, just as soon as the hoards of returners of gifts have cleared the stores and aisles are again passable.

This of course has to be done in deliberate ignorance of the budgeting process that started the whole new year to-do list. That, or with a generous balance available on one's favorite piece of plastic. Deciding which is another item for the list.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I find that sometimes I need to be exposed to an idea and think on it a bit before I can decide just what I think about it. Today I heard something in the restaurant conversation that didn't need any thought on my part before reacting. Lest you think I was reacting to my personal feelings towards the speaker, let me just clarify that she was simply repeating a comment by a third party that I have never and will never meet, and only know from one sentence uttered.

The speaker in the restaurant had run into someone from years ago, nearly overlooking him because he had changed so much in the interval she hadn't recognized him. The most dramatic change in his appearance was that he now had curly hair where before it was straight. The comment he had made about it to her was that the change in hair style was the best thing he had ever done.

I immediately realized that when someone comments that a change in hair style is the best thing they have ever done, I am perfectly willing to believe them.

On the contrary, if someone were to say that a hair style change was the worst thing they had ever done, scepticism would rear its head.


Somebody sold my email address.


Suddenly my spam mailbox became full daily.

I have of course been getting the usual conglomeration of offers of millions of dollars from complete strangers who thought I might fall for their scam if they called me "Beloved". And crude sexual invitations which use enough symbols to escape the filters but not too many to obscure the message have arrived with great consistency for a long time. The product offers for something to increase the size of body parts I do not possess have pretty much dwindled away.

Just before Thanksgiving my inbox started getting flooded. Realtors want to sell my home for me. Auto companies want to sell me their cars. All kinds of products actually on the market were being shilled, though whether by their actual distributors, who can tell? The funny part, if there is one, is that the Black Friday sales offers still haven't stopped. The Christmas shopping offers are just beginning to blanket my mailbox.

Timely, eh? Who spends money to sell stuff with that kind of promptness? Or perhaps more to the point (not knowing exactly how it works) who pays somebody else to advertise for them well after the fact? Somebody is being scammed here, and I suspect it's not me.

The nice thing is that each product ad comes with an "unsubscribe" link. I click it. Yes, I know that some of those simply verify the correctness of the email address. However, the volume of crap is tapering off, although Ugg boots can't seem to get it right. Realtors, banks, and auto dealer ads are going away. I'm finally getting fewer Black Friday ads.

The sex requests are still holding steady, never fear. They don't come with an "unsubscribe" link, and even if they appeared to do so, I would not even give them that much attention.


Wrong Century?

I know a woman who reads books, especially Victorian novels, for enjoyment during her retirement. She also says that, reading them, she believes she was born in the wrong century.

She apparently is supremely, blissfully unaware of the irony of that.

Shall I count the ways? Of course! Else what's a posting for?

Let's break it down. She's a woman. In this century, she has human rights. She is not her husband's, father's, or brother's property, but can in fact own property herself. She can leave the house she lives in without a chaperon. She gets medical care, can practice birth control, expects not only to survive childbirth but also to have those children survive childhood, uses antibiotics and anesthesia,  has never needed to worry about smallpox or plague, knows where to access relatively painless dental care and still has teeth. She was employed in a career of her choosing for most of her adult life. She did not have to work through her childhood.

She is retired. She has, firstly,  survived to this age and can anticipate many years ahead of her. She does not need to work somehow until the day she dies. She has at least a modest level of income to support herself with, has had the option of saving money through her working life to make these final years better. Her long life has included decent nutrition from a varied diet from all over the world: locavore is more an ethical choice than an absolute necessity. Her shelter includes comfort, entertainment, music and beauty as well as plumbing, sanitation, and energy. Her retirement residency occurs in a state she has chosen for its mild winter climate, and she has access to easy travel to other parts of her country and the world, including the choice to reside part time in a milder climate to avoid the hot summers found here.

She reads. Books, even. So at some point she was taught how, even taking that education for granted as a female, as was not possible a couple centuries ago. She has had access to literature throughout her life, of many kinds and forms of her own choosing. She has had the leisure time throughout her life to indulge in the luxury of reading for long enough periods to get through not one book but many. She has lived with the permission of her society to exercise her imagination and to value it, though it may never have contributed to her physical survival. All known information is available to her: she can study other geography, other organisms, other cultures, other philosophies, other religious beliefs, other ages, other planets, other galaxies, things both real and unreal.

What on this earth is there to justify feeling wistful about living a few centuries earlier?

Or to put it a bit more bluntly: WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?