Sharing My World – 2014, Week 33

Share Your World – 2014 Week 33

Do you believe in ghosts? 

I don’t know. Probably not exactly ghosts, but something weird.

Regardless of your physical fitness, coördination or agility:  If you could play any sport professionally what would it be?  Or if you can’t picture yourself playing sports, what is your favorite sport?

I used to ride horses. If my back weren’t so broken, I still would. I always loved horse from when I was very young, so if I were to pursue anything, it would definitely be from the back of a horse.

m-horseback

Do you prefer long hair or short hair for yourself?

I love the way short hair looks, but I hate the bother of taking care of it. So I wear it long. A pony tail is easy peasy and Garry likes it too. He sees me younger than I am. But that’s okay. It’s mutual.

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If you were on a small island, who would you want to be with? And where is it?  How big is it?

Martha’s Vineyard, thanks. Garry and me, back on the island we love. In that little house we used to rent in Oak Bluffs, overlooking Nantucket Sound. Would be nice if we had a few dollars to spend, too … but just to be there again would be wonderful. We used to be there every summer. Funny how quickly time passes.

me martha's vineyard stairs

On the stairs between beach and house, Martha’s Vineyard, 1992

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for Amazon.com and Audible.com. Since this is a whole other story, I will write it. Soon.

GOING COMPOST

Uncanned Laughter – A misused word, a misremembered song lyric, a cream pie that just happened to be there: tell us about a time you (or someone else) said or did something unintentionally funny.


Once upon a time, my father had a business partner who liked making cabbage soup. Bob (not his real name) and my father would go into the kitchen and produce gallons of soup and laugh a lot. We all had to eat it for weeks until we were sure we were turning into little cabbages.

Bob was an enthusiastic story-teller, mostly about his own misadventures. This was my favorite.

“So I was at the beach, at Coney Island” he says, almost shouting. He always talked very loud and with a slight Russian accent. “Very sunny day. Blue sky. A good day to take my mother to the beach, let her relax in the sun by the water. She is just settling down with her chair. She asks me if I’ll set up the umbrella for her. She didn’t have to ask. I always do it, but she always asks anyway, like if she doesn’t ask I won’t do it. I took her to Coney Island, what did she think, I’m going to leave her to cook in the sun?”

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We all nodded dutifully.

“It’s a big umbrella. With stripes. Red and yellow. I got it myself, on sale. Umbrellas are expensive and this was a good sturdy one and I paid bupkas for it. If you ever need an umbrella …” and he paused to remember what he was going to say. “Anyway, this was one of the good ones, with a heavy pole so it would stay put.

“I opened the umbrella. Had to find the right place to put it because, you know, because if it’s in the wrong place, the shade isn’t going to be where you want it. So I walked around a bit, then took the pole and a jammed it into the sand as hard as I could. Seemed good and solid.

“With everything looking okay and mom settling down with a book, I thought it was a good time to get something to eat. I told her I would go get us some hot dogs and something to drink.

She said “Good, tell them to leave the mustard off.” She’s always reminding me but I know she doesn’t like mustard.

“I walked all the to Nathan’s. Long walk, to the end of the boardwalk. Worth it. They have the best hot dogs.” Definitely worth it. Nathan’s does have the best hot dogs, “And fries. I got five, two for her — no mustard. Three for me. I was hungry,” and he paused to pat his big belly, “I started walking back. I could see where to go ’cause I could see our umbrella.”

Nathans at Coney Island

“The weather began to change. Big clouds coming from the ocean. Getting windy too. Funny how fast weather changes at the beach, you know? I’m almost there when up comes a big gust of wind. The umbrella pulls right out of the sand and flies at me. Whacks me over the head. Boom. I thought my head was gonna come off.

“I dropped the food and fell over. Like a rock. I just lay there. My whole brain was like scrambled eggs. They had to come and take me to the hospital. I was compost for TWO DAYS! Two days! Compost!”

I’ve been laughing ever since, but luckily have never gone compost.

(NOTE: He meant “comatose.”)

ON RELIGIOUS GROUNDS

As the years have crept by, I have given up a lot of stuff, most of which (it turns out), I didn’t need in the first place.

I gave up worrying. I gave up working. I gave up on the lottery, even though I still occasionally buy a ticket (just in case).

I gave up wanting a new car, expecting old friends to call (some of them don’t remember me any more — some don’t remember themselves). I’ve stopped hoping Hollywood will produce movies I like, though sometimes, much to my delight and surprise, they release something I like a lot (remind me to tell you about “Quartet,” the movie Dustin Hoffman directed last year). I’ve stopped trying to like new music and most television shows.

Some stuff gave me up. Other things I gave up voluntarily, but in the end it comes out the same.

When anyone asked me how or why I have given up whatever it was, I tell them it was on religious grounds.

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No one has yet asked me what I mean by that. But just so you, my faithful readers, know the secret …

I don’t mean anything at all by it. It’s just a way to end a conversation. Since no one wants to offend me by asking about my religious beliefs, I can make pretty much any conversation go away without having to tell someone to shut up. It works on everyone except those who really know me. They will raise one or more eyebrows, and fall over laughing.

It’s very similar to (but different than) my all-purpose answer to “How are you?” With the biggest, broadest, fake smile I can muster and with heartfelt enthusiasm, I say: “I’m FINE!”

99.9% of the time, this does the job. Give it a test drive yourself. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

I’m fine. For religious reasons.

GETTING OLD BEATS GETTING DEAD

10,000 Spoons? Excuse me?

Mr. Ben Huberman, what were you thinking when you posted today’s Daily Prompt? Was this a test? To see how many of us knew what you are talking about? Well, guess what? I failed.

I don’t know  Alanis Morissette from a hole in the wall. I don’t know if he is a she, or maybe a they, and what “the classic” refers to — a book, movie, or music?

A thing that happens as we age is we lose contact with, and interest, in pop culture. It starts early, as early as ones 30s when you realize you don’t like the music. By your 40s, you don’t care who knows it and drop any pretense of caring about “the latest thing.” Movies and some television may go the distance … but Alani Morissette didn’t make my cut.

In protest and because I think putting up a prompt of which more than an entire generation may well have no knowledge or interest is rude, I’m just going to link this post, which I think is pretty good, to the Daily Prompt.

If today’s prompt was an attempt to exclude me, get rid of me, it didn’t work. On the other hand, if Mr. Huberman is merely incredibly insensitive and out of touch with the people who follow these prompts, many (most?) of whom are not kids or even young … maybe it’s time to find someone else to do his job.

Because this isn’t merely incompetent. It’s bad manners.


I hear a lot of bitching about aging. While getting old ain’t fun, NOT getting old is worse.

Age brings financial limitations, aches, pains, and indigestion. On the positive side, it brings an end to commuting, doing whatever your boss tells you because you need the paycheck, and never having time for yourself. Regardless, whatever the limitations, being alive offers significant advantages over being dead which, to the best of my knowledge, is the only alternative to growing old.

I think we are most afraid of age when we aren’t old yet, but see it coming. Most of the bewailing and bewhining about getting old comes from people in their forties and fifties who are old enough and would like to just stop this aging nonsense. Can’t things just stay as they are?

Unfortunately, no. Nothing ever stays the same. As soon as you think you’ve got a handle on it, life moves on.

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The good news is the fear of getting old is worse than being old.

When you get to whatever age you have defined as officially “old” (probably when you sign up for Social Security and Medicare), old turns out to be a continuation. It’s not something brand new. There’s no sign saying “Welcome to Old, a really BIG town.”

Many of my friends and family died younger than I am now. A lot younger. There’s damned little point in agonizing about what might happen. Worry doesn’t change anything, but sure does suck the joy out of the here and now. The worst part of all the stressing over possible future disasters is we worry about the wrong stuff. Inevitably, what actually happens isn’t what we worried about. It’s something we never expected, for which we are totally unprepared.

Someone said that in this secular age, worry has taken the place of prayer.  I don’t know whether or not prayer was ever effective at preventing bad stuff from happening, but I’m sure worry  isn’t.

In the long haul — if you’re lucky enough to have a long haul — there will be enough real problems to keep you busy. You don’t need to worry about stuff that may never happen. Figure out what to do about the crisis when and if it happens. Otherwise, enjoy what you can.

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I gave up worrying. Life has been hard and I’m more than a little surprised I’m still here to write this. At some point, I decided I didn’t need an extra layer of stress. Life was already dumping on me.

I recommend living in the moment. It’s better. Try it. You’ll see.

I don’t mind getting old. I resent being sick and hate being poor. On the positive side, I’m alive to complain about it. A lot of folks I used to know cannot say the same. They can’t say anything. That’s the down side of being dead.

Getting old, with all its hazards, will always beat getting dead.

STATS AND STATS – 6,001 FOLLOWERS?

Someone just alerted me that the count displayed on my site shows 6,001 followers.

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No matter what it shows, I don’t have anywhere near that many followers, unless you count Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. My Facebook total is especially meaningless in this context. Most of them are people with whom I used to play Metropolis. I don’t play Metropolis anymore, but the connections I made because of the game are still officially Facebook friends. They were never real friends, just folks with whom I played a game.

For reasons unexplained (probably rivalry), Google followers are not counted.

None of the WordPress counts are reliable. Until last year, hits from the Reader were not counted. Then, for a while, WordPress provided a separate tally of Reader hits. After a few weeks, it was discontinued.

Now I have no idea how or if Reader hits count. Who is counted? Many of us use not just WordPress’s Reader, but other readers. Like Bloglovin, to name just one of many.

As far as I know, the only hits that count (for sure) are when a reader clicks on an individual post. If a readers just accesses your site, then scrolls through, reading as he or she goes, it counts as a single hit. On the other hand, if someone is looking at a photo gallery, then clicks on 6 different pictures, you will get 7 hits — 1 for selecting the post and 1 each for every picture.

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It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

You can study the statistics all you want, but all you can extract are general trends. More or less traffic. A little analysis will show you which of your posts get the most traffic, though the count on that is also suspect. It is not unusual for the number of “Likes” on a post to exceed the supposed total number of hits on it or show 17 hits when you’ve got 75 “Likes” and 55 comments. How can that be?

The only followers I count are WordPress followers yet I know I have followers who prefer to not create a WordPress profile and never register. So they aren’t part of the “follower” count. I’m not sure whether or not they count at all.  I only know they exist because they are friends and have told me they read my posts. Since none of them comment or “Like”, are they counted?

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We want to make sense of our numbers, but it isn’t going to happen. It won’t make sense because WordPress won’t tell us how they come up with the numbers. We need a definition of “hit.” I’d like WordPress to tell me if Reader “hits” are included in the count. Until we have a realistic idea of how they come up with the numbers, we will never understand what they mean.

Does anyone besides me wonder why they won’t tell us for what are they using our numbers? How are they mining our data? To whom they are selling our personal information? I don’t worry about hackers nearly as much as I worry about being sold as part of a list.

What I can tell you with certainty, is I do not have more than 6,000 followers. No matter what it says in the little box.

And all of us are getting more hits than the hit count shows.

THE NAMING OF THINGS

The Name’s the Thing – Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.


A toilet named John

A toilet named John

Have I ever named an inanimate object?

Does my ex-husband count?

Garry and I both call the toilet “John.” Does that count?

Computers on a network all have names. This one is Silver Streak but I have not recently addressed it directly, though I do have serious discussions with it during which I point out it can be replaced. “Don’t mess with me, bitch. You can be replaced with a Windows 8 machine.”

I can hear it laughing at me. It knows perfectly well I would never replace it with anything running Windows 8. I hate Windows 8. And 8.1. And whatever it is they are planning to call the next version of the Horrible Operating system. I sold my Win 8 tablet because all it did was piss me off.

I buy my makeup from Lauren Hutton. She  named her cheek and lip stain Larry, Joe, and Ed. I own Larry and Joe, but haven’t met Ed yet.

We used to own a GPS called Richard, but our new GPS is just The GPS. He has taken us down one dead-end too many and we don’t have warm fuzzy feelings about him.

However. I feel obliged to mention the four dogs. We have Bonnie, Nan, Amber and Bishop, each of whom has multiple nicknames. I suspect this has satisfied our naming urges.  Moreover, I have trouble remembering names I already am supposed to know. I see no point in further confusing myself.

LITTLE WIRES – A DRAMA-FREE SOLUTION

selfie in gray teeYesterday, out popped two little wires that have been working their way through the healing scar of my pacemaker.

The first time this happened, it was one wire poking through next to the much bigger scar down the middle of my sternum. I pulled it out with a pair of tweezers. Quite a long piece. Very thin. Sharp. The moment I pulled it out, it stopped bothering me. The hole closed instantly and healed up in hours. Crisis averted.

Then everyone yelled at me for doing something stupid. I tried to explain the wire was loose and came out far easier than an eyebrow hair. I didn’t have to tug, just guide it out. It wasn’t attached to anything. Just a stray wire left behind by surgeons.

Now, I had to make a choice about the new pair of wires. These were very close to the pacemaker. For obvious reasons, I didn’t want to find myself with my heart in my hand.

On the other hand, I didn’t feel like making an appointment with a surgeon — requiring Garry to defer his trip to New York — then driving 140 miles, round trip. All of this so a surgeon can take a pair of tweezers (just like mine) and pull out the wires.

Or worse, decide to open me up just to see what’s going on. I’ve had enough of that, so no, thanks.

Screw it, says I.

I picked up my trusty tweezers, grabbed the wire and gently removed it. No pressure. It was less than a quarter of an inch long. The second piece was even smaller.

My pacemaker is still in place. My heart continues to beat. Those spiky, itchy, annoying little wires are gone.

Call me stupid if you want, but I can’t bring myself to make an epic drama out of a tiny piece of wire.

HOME FRIES IN SPECULATIVE FICTION – MY WORLD, 2014 WEEK 32

Do you prefer ketchup or mustard?

Well, since basically, I don’t like mustard except sometimes a hint of honey mustard, I would have to get serious about voting ketchup. I don’t actually use either of these very often, but ketchup, combined with ground horse-radish and a bit of lemon juice makes a fine shrimp sauce. Also, if you add a bit to a meatloaf, it definitely gives it a certain “je ne sais quoi.”

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If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

I think it would be science fiction comedy, a genre which has not yet come fully into its own. Jasper Fforde and the late, great Douglas Adams are the best representatives. One of them is non-living. Alas for the dispersal of Monty Python. They might have done justice to the weirdness of my life.

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

If it can’t get health and youth, I will settle for money. Lots of it and tax-free, if you please. I know money will not solve all my problems, but it would certainly file the rough edges off of it.

For potlucks or parties do you cook it yourself, buy from a grocery store, or pay for catering?

When I used to do that sort of thing, I always cooked it myself. Probably (these days) home fries, for which I invented a really good recipe.These days, no one invites us anywhere, so it’s a moot point.

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In the spirit of sharing, here’s the recipe. It’s my own, something of a seat-of-your-pants recipe, so be bold.

  • 4 – 5 large, washed unpeeled potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 or 2 large onions, chopped
  • Optional: 1 – 2 banana peppers (mildly hot Hungarian peppers)
  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • Pepper
  • Garlic (chopped or powder)
  • Cumin or chili powder
  • Oil for frying.

I prefer corn oil because it’s pretty heavy-duty as a lubricant and rarely burns. It tastes okay and won’t kill you with cholesterol.

You can use potatoes that are past their prime and you don’t have to peel them. I don’t peel potatoes. It’s against my principles. Wash the potatoes, remove eyes and bad spots, then cut them into pieces suitable for frying.

Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Don’t abandon them and wander off to the computer or television. If you over-cook them, they’ll be good for mashing, but not frying.  The hardest part of this is getting the potatoes soft enough to eat, but not mushy. After 10 minutes, start checking until you think you’ve got it.

You’re going to need a deep pan so when you stir, you don’t make a mess. I use black cast iron cookware. I have 4 sizes,  from a flat griddle to a 5-quart dutch oven. I love them and the only thing wrong with them is they are very heavy, especially when full of food.

While the potatoes are boiling, fry the garlic, onions and peppers.  When the potatoes are ready, drain them, rinse them with cold water and add them to the onion and pepper mix. Add spices. The paprika is for color. If you like things spicy (I do), you can use hot Hungarian paprika.

It’s done when you think it is, when it tastes the way you want it to taste … and the rest of the meal is ready. As long as you add oil or water as needed and keep the heat moderate … and don’t walk away and leave it to scorch — this is a dish that will wait for you. Keep moving with a spatula.

It’s delicious. If you have leftovers, you can reheat them for another meal or freeze them for one of your “I don’t feel like cooking” days. Great with eggs and bacon … or really, anything. Definitely comforting.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m glad nothing catastrophic happened last week. I’m not particularly looking forward to this week because the bursitis in my hips is really bad and getting around is a bummer. But, on the positive side, I tweezered the spare bits of wire out of my pacemaker incision without incident, so one thumbs up for team Marilyn.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 32

WELCOME BACK, RIP VAN WRINKLE

New Wrinkles – You wake up one day and realize you’re ten years older than you were the previous night. Beyond the initial shock, how does this development change your life plans?


Marilyn by GarryYou mean … I’m alive? Are any of my friends or family still kicking?

Where are my glasses? Where is Garry? Where are the dogs? This is a joke, right?

Who is president? Is this really 10 years later? If so, who has been cleaning the house while I slept? No one?

Well, I assure you I’M not going to clean it.

Hey, I’m hungry. I don’t suppose there’s some food in the fridge. Um, is there a fridge?

Where the hell AM I?

I’m going back to sleep. Screw this.

 

IS IT HOT OR IS IT ME? WHAT?

SECOND OPINION – What are some (or one) of the things about which you usually don’t trust your own judgment, and need someone’s else’s confirmation?


You mean … there IS another opinion other than mine that might contain something worth knowing? Are you implying that I am imperfect? I am insulted. How dare you suggest such a thing. I will report you to … someone. I’ll have to think for a while which authority should be involved, but really! Such gall!

Photo: Debbie Stone

Photo: Debbie Stone

There is one little thing. It seems that as I’ve gotten older, my thermostat no longer works. It started with The Change, you know, menopause.

Shhh. Let’s not be indelicate. Although my husband is … a man … and not subject to the full Monte of mind and body altering experiences that this special Time of Life engenders, he too seems to have acquired a broken thermostat. Thus neither of us is entirely sure if it’s hot, cold, or us.

Conversation A:

“Is it hot or is it me?”

“It’s hot.”

“Oh, good. I’ll turn on the fan.”

Conversation B:

“Is it hot or is it me?”

“It’s not hot. It’s a bit chilly.”

“Maybe it’s hot and you are chilly.”

“Possibly, but you asked. All I can tell you is what I feel.”

“I’m turning on the fan.”

“I’m putting on a sweatshirt.”

You can see the value of a second opinion under these circumstances. Oh, and there’s another one.

Conversation: What?

“What did he say?”

“What did who say?”

“The guy, the one with the hat.”

“The guy on the left?”

“No he’s not there anymore. The one who had the gun. Before.”

“They all have guns.”

“Oh, never mind.”

Otherwise, I know pretty much everything. Ask my husband. He will tell you. “She knows everything. Just ask her.” You see? We are in complete agreement. On everything.

READING THE BOOK OF ALL-ANSWERS

Not Lemonade – When life gives you lemons… make something else. Tell us about a time you used an object or resolved a tricky situation in an unorthodox way.


The implications of this prompt are so far-reaching it boggles my mind. You mean there is an orthodox method for doing … everything? Is this written somewhere? I mean … you know … is there a book? Or maybe even a checklist? Does this require church membership and/or attendance?

In all my years on earth, I never heard about this and it perturbs me. Something so important, knowing that all things can be resolved by following some structured, orthodox rules … well … where were these rules when I needed them?

It reminds me of all the times in my life when I have found myself in one of those messes life tends to dump on me from time to time. No work, no money, no hope and oh, yeah, I’m dying. And there I am, without a clue as to what I’m supposed to do about all of it. Finding myself thinking and rethinking ways to save my home, my brain, my life … then eventually, sometimes through sheer serendipity (there’s that word again), discovering a way out.

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Never once did it occur to me I had done something unorthodox. Clever maybe. But unorthodox? As far as I could tell, what I mainly did was not give up.

I’ve done a lot of stuff other people thought was stupid, brave, or weird. They condemned me, admired me, envied me, and hated or loved me according to their natures. Never once did anyone imply there had been an alternative solution had I but followed the path of orthodoxy. Typically, most everyone was surprised I found a solution at all. I was usually as surprised as they were.

If you don’t believe in coincidence, my life won’t make sense to you. Not that it makes sense to me.

Here’s how it goes. There’s this guy. He knows a guy, who knows about a procedure. Which leads to a doctor, who has a lot of influence at a major hospital and finds my case interesting. So he invents a surgery, gets the hospital to do the whole thing for no money because naturally I have no medical insurance and am destitute. Donates not only his services but those of two other surgical teams … and I get fixed. I don’t die. I live so I can have yet another crisis. So far, so good.

I don’t know when I have used an unorthodox solution because I don’t know what an orthodox solution might be. If someone will send me the book, I promise I’ll get around to reading it, eventually. Maybe I’ll review it on Serendipity. Something this important shouldn’t be a secret!

 

DESERT ISLAND CLASSICS – Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

Marilyn Armstrong:

An oldie, but a goodie. Garry wrote it, Head In A Vice published and republished it — and now, I’m reblogging it. What goes around comes around, and around.

Originally posted on Head In A Vice:

Desert-Island-Classics

Whilst I eagerly await your blogathon entries (7 DAYS LEFT PEOPLE!!) (please feel free to join in, click HERE for details), I wanted to shine some light on my long running Desert Island Films series, and more importantly the people who joined in and made it so much fun to do. I am therefore randomly visiting the archives and re-posting a few of the lists with some added kind words. I present to you; Desert Island Classics…… You may have read all of the lists so far, but I hope you won’t mind seeing a few of them again, and who knows, you may even find some new blogs to read.

Two people that have no interest in horror yet somehow found my blog are Marilyn & Garry Armstrong. It makes me so happy to see them both still visiting my blog and so today I want…

View original 1,961 more words

SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT AGAIN — AND AGAIN

Think Again — Tell us about a time you made a false assumption about a person or a place — how did they prove you wrong?


Between pretty good marriage one and fabulous marriage three, there was unspeakable marriage two.

To explain it by saying it seemed like a good idea at the time, is not entirely true. I knew from the get-go it was bad. Not only did I think it was bad, but everyone who knew me thought it was terrible. No one said “Follow your heart!” because it was clear whatever I was following, it wasn’t my heart — or my brain — but some part lower down and less rational.

bad-idea

Why did I marry someone obviously wrong for me?

I didn’t realize he was stupid. I thought he was just quiet. I had no experience with stupid people, after all. There were warnings. Like when his mother took me aside and said “You know, he isn’t really stupid. He just seems stupid.” His mother?

I overlooked the evil temper, ignorance and drug abuse. The lack of any ambition or profession. That he was courting me while his wife was dying of cancer. There were levels of wrong too many to count.

I figured he was merely a little stressed.

So, how did it work out?  How do you think?

Some crazy risks are fun. Just make sure, before you take a mad plunge, the price you pay isn’t beyond your means. When your brain, friends and  family, are screaming “DON’T DO IT?” Don’t. Do. It.

The real reason I did it? I was too proud to admit I was wrong. Pride will nail your ass every time.

EVEN MORE SHARING – CEE’S SHARE YOUR WORLD, 2014 WEEK 31

Sharing My World

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? (guest can be dead, alive, famous or someone you just know)

This was really hard! So many people with whom I’d love to chat, to ask questions. Or really, just hang out.

So at the top of this list, the late great Douglas Adams. I don’t know what I’d ask him, but I just want to be in his presence and smile.

For conversation, I first thought I’d invite a couple of favorite living authors. But there are too many. Many, many, too many. How could I possible pick just two?

TV Camera-25

So I’ll just invite Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. They are — so far, so good — alive and funny. I will ask them to do “The 2,000 Year Old Man.” Then I can sit there and laugh until I cry!

With what can you always be found?

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A camera and spare eyeglasses. I don’t get along with bifocals, so I carry computer glasses (with which I can also read) plus prescription sunglasses and a spare pair of regular “seeing” glasses. And my Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS -25, my latest, greatest go everywhere compact super-zoom camera.

What is the most fun thing you did in school?

Being a pain in the butt. Then getting punished (?) by being sent to the art room where I could spend the day mucking around with paint, glue, scissors, and oak tag. I answered too many questions which interfered with the education of my classmates, so they got rid of me by banishing me.

I loved it. Just me and all that stuff. I didn’t even have to share. Yay.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

Since I have no idea how other people do stuff, I have no way to know if I do it differently. Whatever it is. I can’t think of anything I do in an especially unique way. But I’ll let you know if I think of anything.

What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward next week?

A new book — the first of two — by Carol Berg, one of my favorite authors, came out this week and I bought it on Kindle and as an audiobook today. I also have James Lee Burke’s latest waiting for me, as well as Gretchen Archer’s latest (not yet published — an advance reader edition of Double Strike) David Way caper. Next week, when Garry goes to New York to visit his brother, I am going to indulge in an orgy of listening to audiobooks and reading in bed.

This may not sound exciting to you, but to me it sounds like heaven.

AN UNBLOCKED BRAIN

Writer’s Block Party - When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?


I suppose this is where my fellow writers heap scorn on my head, but truth sometimes hurts.

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I have never had writer’s block. I have had days, weeks, where I didn’t feel like writing because I was sick, tired, on vacation, wanted to read a book or watch television. But never have I been unable to write unless I was physically ill. I always can write something — and considering my advancing years, I figure it’s unlikely I’m going to dry up.

I’ve had times when I wasn’t happy with what I wrote, needed to rewrite it. I’ve had periods where I wrote and it was a dead-end, destined for the trash bin.

But not be able to write at all? Stare at a blank page? Never happened. Maybe the problem for some writers is a too narrow focus. Deciding in advance what they should be writing, so if they can’t write that specific thing, they don’t write at all.

I will write, even when it seems off track. Inevitably, my odd brain will wind around to put me on track. Or I’ll discover what seemed to be a completely wrong direction was the right path. That’s where I should be after all.

When I write fiction, my characters tell me where to go. They are always right. It’s exactly when characters start making decisions on their own — often to my surprise and delight — that I know what I’m working on has begun to click.

If I can’t write, you can assume I’m too sick to sit up or someone wrenched the keyboard from my clawed hands. Or I’m on a big, shiny boat sailing the Caribbean and having way too much fun to sit down and write. I wish that would happen more often!

I have never understood writer’s block and I would certainly never turn it into a party, unless each writer brings his or her own food and drinks. Okay, I’ll make a dish too, but everyone else has to bring something. Hungry writers can eat you out of house and home!

EACH IN ITS PLACE ON PLATE AND PALATE

Unlikely Pairing – Bacon and chocolate, caramel and cheddar… Is there an unorthodox food pairing you really enjoy? Share with us the weirdest combo you’re willing to admit that you like — and how you discovered it.


Unorthodox food pairing? What, pray tell, would orthodox be? Is there a dogmatic approach to food consumption of which I am unaware?

spices in the kitchenI don’t put sugar on my eggs, or eat bacon with my ice cream. I don’t eat bacon at all, really. It’s unhealthy, despite it having become terribly (and I said terribly with intentional punniness) trendy.

I’m a food conservative. If you need to put a classification on my relationship to cuisine. I’m in favor of not mixing it all up into a gloppy mess. If I’ve taken the trouble to cook three or four components to create a meal — perhaps chicken limone, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh asparagus with a hint of butter sauce — I want to be able to taste each part of the meal separately. I want YOU to taste each of them separately, too. If you are one of those people who likes to mix everything into one yucky heap, I will sit across the table and glare malevolently at you until you finally ask me what’s wrong.

I will then tell you. In considerable detail, probably far more detail than you wanted to hear.  If you argue, I will explain the intricacies of the preparation — not to mention the labor I put into producing these gourmet delights.  And how by mixing them, you have nullified my efforts and personally offended me.

Telling me something like “But that’s the way I like it” will win you an invitation to go buy an everything pizza downtown. You are not worthy of my table. If you have, perchance, put ketchup on it, back away from the table and leave quietly before I kill you.

I guess the answer is that I don’t eat weird combinations of foods because I like every dish in its proper place on plate and palate.

Should I apologize for this? I don’t think so.