MACHINE - MAP - NATURE - PICTURE - RANDOM - WORD

May 15, 2019

      It’s one of life’s lovely happenstances that in my corner of the world, I put in the vegetable garden on Mother’s Day. Both events honor the urge to create, the desire to coax tender shoots into healthy plants. Both require patience, nurturing, and vigilance. They are a testimony to hope. Unlike produce from a garden, though, children aren’t grown for consumption. If anything, they consume. And consume. But they feed the heart and soul like nothing else on this earth.

     “Planting season” are two of my favorite words, if only because they give me license to play in the dirt. From the minute my hands grip the handles of the wheelbarrow I know I’m in  for a vigorous workout. While swimming and hiking I occasionally check the clock to mark my progress. I lose all track of time gardening. My body falls into its own rhythm of walk, push, bend, dig, stand, walk, etc. The slow movement of a band of shadow across the garden marks the passa...

April 15, 2019

     I’m fortunate to live in a walkable suburban community. It actually has sidewalks and a walking/biking trail, a rare luxury these days. My car, I’m proud to say, spends most of its time in the garage. Everything I need access to—dentist, doctor, hairdresser, restaurants, and joy of joys, the public library—is within walking distance. Even the supermarket is, though the car is handy for bringing groceries home (some day I may relive my student years and wheel them home in a cart). Short of living in a city, this is as close to self-sufficiency as it gets. And reducing my carbon footprint is a welcome bonus.

     Diets and physical fitness plans, like many activities in modern life, go through phases and fads. Paleo, pilates, you name it. While I am a dedicated lap swimmer, I have yet to find any exercise as invigorating, natural, and simple as walking. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a desire to get off your butt and get movin...

March 15, 2019

            … do detectives on TV shows/movies write in teeny, tiny notebooks when they’re interviewing suspects?

            … do labels on products leave glue gunk behind that is impossible to get off?

            … do lines on forms/applications leave so little space to fill in information, especially email addresses?

            … do hotels never have enough (or any) hooks/shelves to put your stuff? And public bathrooms too, for that matter?

            … do basements flood when you’re not home?

            … do good books end too soon and boring conversations and bad dreams go on forever?

            … do potato chips taste so fricking good?...

February 15, 2019

     Watching the annual Westminster Dog Show makes February bearable. I’m a sucker for pet videos on the Internet, especially those of dogs greeting their owners after a long absence and cats snuggling with toddlers. Nicole Hollander is one of my favorite cartoonists, not only for her biting wit, but because cats abound in her “Sylvia” cartoons. Memories of my own pets over the years can draw a tear or two at the mention of their name. So it’s no surprise I’m attracted to news articles that feature critters.

     Dog stories, as one might expect since they are “man’s best friend,” are a dime a dozen. But their commonality does not make them any less extraordinary.

     Years ago, a Pekingese, Danny by name, was accused of having a face lift and nearly lost his title as Supreme Champion at the Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom. I can only imagine what would be involved in “lifting” a Pekingese’s pug face. Though considering it...

January 15, 2019

     In T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” Prufrock says “I grow old … Do I dare to eat a peach?” To which I reply, why the heck not? Unless you’re worried about juice dribbling down your chin or, in a senior moment, forgetting not to swallow the pit. Which would lead to embarrassment. Or death. Options available to anyone under any circumstances, regardless of age. There are two sides (and often more) to most situations, including getting older. Forthwith:

     CON: You become invisible.

     PRO: You become invisible.

     CON: You are bedeviled by insomnia. You’re not coming back from a party or an evening out at 2:34 a.m. You are staring at the numbers on the clock by your bed.

     PRO: Well, you are getting closer to the grave with each passing day, headed for the eternal sleep, so maybe a little less shut eye isn’t such a bad idea.

     CON: A polite waiter, salesperson, et...

December 15, 2018

I want to have your baby.

You should have that cut off/out.

Decaf, please.

I can’t wait to find out what the Kardashians are up to this week.

Who the heck needs naps?

I’m never drinking beer ever again.

Wanna go skydiving?

I’ll be happy to babysit your [fill in the blank].

Get a tattoo? Sure, why the heck not.

I got my pilot’s license.

I don’t have time to read.

Hold the fries.

Okay, one more – Price is no object.

November 15, 2018

     It’s the little things in life, the small pleasures, that make quotidian life a joy. A hot cup of coffee thick with cream, the smell of spring grass, waking up to the drum of rain on the roof in the middle of the night.

     Restaurants.

     There’s a great scene in Woody Allen’s film “Hannah and Her Sisters,” when, faced with the possibility of a terminal disease, he reasons to himself, “How can I die? I’m surrounded by people and cars and restaurants?”

     Eating in a restaurant is a life-affirming experience?

     Actually – yeah.

     No matter how my financial status has changed over the years, from a poor student in a work-study program to a woman in a comfortable middle-class home, eating out has always felt like splurging. I love to cook, but having someone else prepare and clean up after a meal is a delightful luxury. As long as this indulgent experience is available, whether it’s a cheap...

October 15, 2018

      I’m a wuss.

      I have, yes, on occasion, checked under my bed for … well, whatever evil entity lurks beneath beds. I maintain a healthy supply of nightlights and Raid. I firmly believe that amusement parks featuring roller coasters and other death-defying rides are anything but amusing. I hate Halloween, wouldn’t go into a haunted house if you paid me, and I hope Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling are not resting in peace.

     Some people actually seek experiences that scare the pants off them.

     Some people are out of their minds.

     An entire genre of cinema exists for these loonies: horror movies. As a film enthusiast unwilling to be excluded from the cultural conversation, I’ve watched my share (mostly through the fan of my fingers across my face). I still get the creeps thinking of those twin girls standing in the hallway of the hotel in “The Shining.” Or remembering Linda Blair’s head doing a t...

September 15, 2018

     Okay, I’m going to just come out and admit it: I was kind of a weird kid. Not that anyone necessarily noticed. I had good manners, was pleasant and cheerful, and generally well-regarded. But inside my head was a whole ‘nuther story.

      Take bike riding, for instance.

      Many adults, when they describe riding a bicycle, nearly always express how it brings them back to childhood. That carefree, summer-breeze-in-my-hair experience of exploring the neighborhood on two wheels. (The equivalent of barefoot Opie going to the pond to fish with his Pa in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show).

       For me, however, memories of riding my bike are nothing short of traumatic. I managed fine as long as the street was flat and free of distractions (like people and cars). But rounding steep curves and – horror of horrors – going downhill, I ceded all power to The Bike God (who, apparently, did not approve of the appl...

August 15, 2018

     There are few activities I loathe as much as driving. It’s right up there with picking up dog doo and vomiting. I’m enthralled by the open road, the prospect of new vistas (like Mr. Toad or Jack Kerouac, depending on your point of reference)—as long as someone else is at the wheel. Merging with highway traffic, as cars and trucks barrel past at the speed of light, instills abject terror. I see death on every two-lane country road where passing another vehicle requires a combination of confidence and bravery I sorely lack. Drive at night in heavy rain? I’d rather eat a snail.

     The simple fact is, I learned to drive too late in life. Not that I was fearless at sixteen, the age at which most sensible people take driver’s ed. It’s that I didn’t realize the many ways there were to be injured or killed in a car. Growing up in an East Coast city where walking and taking public transportation were the norm, I could easily postpone the ine...

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