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Archive for November, 2010

Twas a week before Thanksgiving, actually four days, seven hours, and twenty seven minutes to be exact. The guests have been invited, by phone or by word of mouth; my sister in law would only use stationary and postage on affairs during this month. The menu has been selected it’s the same as last year, no dairy, no salt; but now we have two cardiac patients attending this year.

The ‘frig’ is packed full, the rock hard 18 pounder sits on the top shelf, hand picked and selected; remember no dairy, or salt, I’m reminded once again, we have two cardiac patients attending this year. The children have been assigned dishes to pass, rutabagas, potatoes, and dairy free pumpkin pie. Then there’s Alice, you remember Alice, who in her own dear delightful way, has offered to buy the Thanksgiving Day turkey; “go ahead it’s okay, just send me the bill.”

My wife has begun fussing, as with all holiday affairs, making noises about, we have too many people, too many dogs, too much, for our small house. “It will be our three children, your in-laws, and one boy friend; then there’s Marvin, and Lily and Hazel the three dogs… oh, and don’t forget, our son has a spouse!” I reassure her that the furniture will be moved, the dogs can be kept outside, and with Lenny nodding and nearly napping, he hardly even counts.

My main concern is  the pie, should I cut it in nine, or request three pies to be cut into thirds? And what about that bird frozen hard on the shelf; 18 pounds by 9, thats only 2 pounds each including bones, and I’m counting myself. The green vegetable has yet to be picked, asparagus, maybe broccoli, or some of those tiny cabbage looking things that nobody likes.

Hours before the meal we will honor a time held family tradition, as we drink hot spiced cider and enjoy fresh baked quick breads, cranberry, banana, and date nut; while singing along with Arlo… “You can get, anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant”…we’re not stoned, but it sure would make more sense if we were. With the smells of the turkey roasting in the oven and a pie or three cooling on the counter, it’s probably best that we aren’t… stoned that is.

I know it’s a bit early, but with work and a busy schedule I may not get to say it in time. A happy Thanksgiving to you all, may you be safe, reasonably healthy, and if at all possible share this time with family and dear friends.

Talk to you later.

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It’s one of those things that if you were not paying attention it would have probably gone unnoticed. It’s not the kind of thing you mention in public, and I wouldn’t have caught it, but I accessed her web browsing history and there it was. I shouldn’t be telling anyone this, but I think my wife has a fetish. Shoes. Web page after web page of nothing but shoes. We’re not talking  stilettos or fashionable pumps. No, she has a thing for athletic shoes. I affectionately call them her Prancers and Dancers.

Three deliveries in in a week and a half, arriving three pair to a box. The Guy in the Big Brown Shirt driving the Big Brown Truck knows her by her first name, and the neighbors are beginning to wonder. If you ask her, she’ll tell you that she’s just trying to find a pair that fit good. It’s the quick respirations, the glazed look in her eye, while she picks through the shipping carton quietly muttering shoe sizes “9… 9 and 1/2… 9”  that substantiate the fact that this is much more than a comfort thing.

 

Something in a size 9 for the gym.

 

The first pair were Zumba Shoes, well not really Zumba Shoes they were counterfeit Zumba Shoes, with a specially designed turn table built into the sole,  allowing her to turn on a dime. After the first Zumba Session they were declared unfit, and sent back to the counterfeit Zumba Shoe dealer. Then came the brown flats, with barely enough material to cover her toes and a thimble for her heel; they looked more like a string bikini than a shoe, not the kind of thing for Colorado winters. The last pair looked like something Elton John would have worn at Concert in 1978, an athletic shoe with a four inch platform heel; they barely made it out of the box. The UPS guy has stopped ringing the doorbell, now he just gently taps the window and shakes the package.

When I got home last night all the boxes were gone, parceled and posted back to the shoe guy. However I did see a new pair of shoes setting on the hearth, sleek and light as a feather they look like a cross between a sprinter and a rock climber’s shoe.  So far she hasn’t found the perfect Zumba Shoe, and with access to on line shopping, a $15,000 credit limit, the promise of a satisfaction guarantee and free return postage; I’m afraid this could take her a while.

Talk to you later.

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In A Box With A Fox?

Folgers, Maxwell House, Sanka;  I grew up identifying with these powerhouse brews. My grandmother used to make coffee on the stove, in an enameled coffee pot, no percolator, just six tablespoons of coffee in a pot, bring it to a boil then let it simmer until mid morning, add a little water reheat it, and it’s good to go the next morning. Man have times changed.

 

Just give me a damn cup of coffee!

 

This morning I walked into a Starbucks to order a ‘cup of coffee’.  Frank Sinatra was singing Christmas music over the sound system, there were a few open seats, two of them leather loungers with a butcher block table positioned between them. It looked more like a library than a coffee shop. With floor to ceiling shelves displaying sixteen different blends, ceramic coffee mugs designed to look like the trademark Starbucks paper cup, and seven types of teas, you would think that getting a cup of coffee should be a walk in the park . I stood in line and waited for my turn. Behind the counter was an espresso machine, I could see six or seven bottles of flavored syrups; caramel, almond, hazel nut, I was slowly coming to the realization that ordering a cup of coffee may be tougher than it looked. The wait for my turn seemed out of proportion to the length of the line. When I made my way up to the counter I was greeted by a happy smiley young woman in her patented Kelly green apron with the ugly mermaid on the front.

“Good morning sir, could I interest you in a cup of Frappé Mocha Koala Bindi?

Where in the hell do they get these names? I was looking for a cup of coffee, not some  Australian  Marsupial in traditional Hindi dress.

“No, just a large cup of black coffee.”

“Venté?”

“Large.”

“You mean Venté?”

“Does that mean large?”

“Yes sir, Venté means large.”

“Why not just call it large?”

“Because large means Venté.”

“Okay, give me a Venté cup of black coffee.” I felt like I was arguing with Dr. Seuss, or my father in-law.

“Great, this morning we are featuring our Morning Blend, or an Ethiopian Civettictis Civetta.”

“Ethiopian Civetti.. what?”

“Civettictis Civetta, it’s brewed from roasted beans collected from the dung of a small wild cat that lives in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“No thanks, I’ll go with a large black Morning Blend.”

” You mean, Venté?”

“Yeah, Venté.”

“Do you want room for cream?”

“No black, would mean no cream.”

“Oh yeah..”

It’s no wonder the line was so long.

Talk to you later.

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I’ve spent the last several months trying to overcome the whims of intellectual reasoning. It’s good for your heart, it will improve your energy levels, you’ll feel better; it was that little voice from the left side of my brain carefully selecting just the proper words to coax the stubborn right side of my brain to take action. It’s been going on for quite some time, this battle of the brains. The right side only needed a draw to win, I don’t have time today, it’ll be too crowded at the gym, I feel a cold coming on; when it comes to deliberation my left brain is an idiot.

I don’t know what changed the tide, maybe it was guilt brought on by assurances to my wife that I’d go, or memories from years past when I did feel more energetic, or maybe my right side  decided to sleep in, what ever the case this Saturday morning found me in the gym.

 

Stepping up to the plate so to speak.

 

I had forgotten what it was like on Saturdays; a lot full of cars with models matching egos, Corvettes, and Beemers, an Audi TT, a Cadillac Escalade parked at an angle taking up two and a half spaces, we had entered the land of the peacocks. My wife and I drive a Dodge Charger Hemi-less, I’m not sure what that says about us. Driving up one lane and getting ready to turn down the next, it reminded me of grocery shopping with my Dad, searching for shoe laces or boot polish in the days before they had isle directories. To my right were eight open spots at the end of the lot, I motioned for my wife to pull into one; “I was looking for something a bit closer.”

Okay, let me get this straight; we’ve  come to the  gym to work out, to improve our cardio health, and she’s looking for something closer to the door?  My right brain had come out of it’s morning slumber and was seizing the opportunity to start an argument, anything so that we could call this fools errand off, my left brain kept him in check. He did manage to get out an elevated eyebrow, questioning the logic in parking close to the front door of the gym. My wife caught the irony and  responded quickly; “It’s cold out, and I only wore a sweater.” Good save. We parked at the end of the lot and walked all the way to the front door.

 

Excer-pain machine.

 

It had been over a year since I last stepped in to a gym, the pounding rhythmic cadence of techno filled the air. Women in spandex galloping on tread mills, men in NBA style shorts and leather lifting belts crafting ambiguous poses, sizing themselves up for the mirror covered walls. Nothing had changed, I was back in peacock city. I looked for some kind of sign indicating the location of mens locker room, I needed to stow my gym bag and coat.

Naked men shlonging about stripped for the showers, modesty in here is a rarity unless you’re fat or over fifty. I was both; and a little apprehensive, and a bit disgusted with myself for having gotten so far out of shape. None the less I was here, they say that is half the battle, that was my left brain patting me on the back, my right brain however was withholding judgement; “We’ll see how this goes.”

Very soon I could feel a bit of moisture beading up on my forehead, I grabbed my towel and patted it dry, the I-Pod I had was cranking out one of my favorite tunes; Sympathy for the Devil by The Stones, I wasn’t about to cave to techno. I could feel that my heart rate was up, my breathing was deep, but not too labored, I could feel the burn, man it had been too long. With my left shoe tied, and one to go, I was nearly dressed; look out elliptical machine here I come.

Talk to you later.

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Monday was one of those moments that tests the mettle of an individual, the patience of an institution, and my ability to deal with the insanity that defines the every day events of my in-laws, Alice and Lenny.

About six weeks ago Alice (remember… never mind.) went to the doctor to get her eyes checked, only to return home to inform us that she needed to be fit with a pacemaker, go figure. Thank goodness she wasn’t having her bunions checked, she may have gotten a vasectomy! At 83, high blood pressure, fading eyesight, and the stress of caring for her 85 year old husband Lenny has taken its toll. Learning that she is in need of a pacemaker didn’t really surprise me. Lenny has one, so it only seemed fitting.

As I sat with my wife and her father in the family waiting  room while Alice was getting fitted and wired, I thought it only proper to attempt some kind of idle prattle. Anything to cut the edgy silence that inevitably descends over a waiting room in these situations. Should I ask him how he’s doing? Or talk about his other daughters? His favorite T.V. show? When I need something to cut that heaviness with my own father; the weather is always my safe place.

“So Dad, how’s the weather?” This usually gives us  a good 10 or 15 minutes of chatter, avoiding any real conversation about religion, politics, or the Home Owners Association at the mobile home park in Yuma Arizona, it’s our safe place. Fooling no one but content, quietly reassuring ourselves that it counted for something.

With my father in-law our safe place has always been his health, or lack of it. “So Lenny, how are you doing?” That is usually good for about 10 or 15 minute discussion on the activity of his bowel, before he nods off to sleep. Hoping to avoid the topic I went for the high ground, anything to divert the conversation to a safe topic.

 

Enough said.

 

“So Lenny, Alice said you went to the doctor to get your hearing checked last week. How’d that go?”

“What!?’

“I said, how’d things go with your hearing test the other day?” The absurdity of the question echoed off the walls in the small empty waiting room, as I raised my voice up a decibel or two.

“Good, good. The doctor says my hearing is fine.” His response carried a meter of disbelief, as if I had asked a 4 year old if he believed in the Easter Bunny.

“Really…” Trying to suppress the sarcasm that dripped from my comment, while I forced the corners of my mouth down to mask any sign of amusement. I could have been playing liars poker with a 9 year old.

“Yeah, I had Alice talking to me  on the right and Doctor Chimis talking to me on the left, and I heard them fine! His response had a hint of defiance to it.

“That doesn’t sound very scientific, didn’t they use some kind of head phones or something?”

I glanced to my wife, with her knitting needles flaying away I could tell she wanted no part of the conversation. Her safe place was discussing dairy free dietary choices, Lenny and I had allowed our dialogue to  wander into an unrecoverable abyss.

“What?’

“I said, what degree of hearing loss did they say you have?” Understating the obvious.

“He said I had about 30% loss in my left ear.”

“What about your right ear?”

“What?”

“Didn’t they think that was a significant enough loss to warrant a hearing aid?” My prayers have been answered, he admitted to a 30% loss, this is the first time he’s actually put a number to it, maybe he’ll see the value in getting a hearing aid.

“No, I can hear fine, people today just whisper too much! They need to learn to speak up!” I glanced over to the chair where my wife was sitting, she gently shook her head in a familiar I told you so fashion.

Having had quite enough of the inquisition, Lenny rose from his chair, steadied himself and walked over to the flat screen T.V. mounted on the wall, adjusted the volume..37… 38… 39.

“Who keeps turning down the volume?”

Talk to you later.

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November is a decrepit month, and if it were a lifetime it would probably be 91 years old. It provides us with that unpleasant visual reminder that all living things must die. Leaves in varying stages of decline, mottled green and yellow, orange, red and finally brown, cling to their branches as if asking permission to let go. It’s okay, just let go.

The reason for change.

I feel as if I’m waiting in anticipation for a change, something other than November’s tepid days, while it’s blustering winds boast of cold and snow to come. Promises. Soon weather men will begin reviewing charts while ciphering their predictive models in an attempt to tell us when that first flake will fall. Who cares? The weather men, I guess.

Our change in the seasons, is caused by a tilt of the axis, or so I’m told. What causes changes in relationships? They seem to be one of the few things that require constant adjustment in order to stay the same. Why is it that the sage advice, “Don’t fuck with it, you’ll break it.” never apply here?

The other night while watching a Netflix series, my wife commented that counseling would probably be a good idea. This was after watching a scene where a gay couple was struggling with their relationship. Ouch! The point of reference? I missed it. How do you respond to that?  These kind of things always seem to catch me off guard. If our marriage were a calendar year, we’d be in the third week of May. This is way too early to be worrying about drought or locust, that doesn’t come until late August or September! A couple of weeds here, a little hail there, but not locusts.

Right now the best plan I have is to hope that Kieth and David regain their senses, and work things out, if they don’t, we could be looking for a good therapist. This would have never happened if we had been watching Predator or The Lord of The Rings. Although I did have my suspicions about Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins.

Talk to you later.

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