CRANKY AND WHINY IN NEW ENGLAND

Climate Control

The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?


 

fresh snow deck bird tracks 7Welcome to New England. Technically, our most popular regional sport is politics with baseball running a hot second. But really, the one sport in which everyone of any age can actively participate is complaining about the weather.

Winter is too long, too snowy, too icy and much too cold. I couldn’t agree more and everyone is cranky and whiny from the first snow until final melting.

Spring? What spring? Where are the flowers? Why don’t we get a decent spring season? Is it the punishment of a malign deity? Until the day lilies bloom, New Englanders are cranky and whiny.

75-spring-songbird

Summer is usually too hot. Then again, it may not be hot enough. It is always too humid. It makes everyone cranky and whiny.

Autumn is everyone’s favorite season but it’s never long enough. As often as not, heavy rains from tropical storms ruin the foliage, which makes everyone cranky and whiny.

For everyone, the weather provides something about which to complain. I love New England.

WAITING FOR HOLLYWOOD TO CALL

Challenge of Smiles

My monthly royalty payment from Amazon just came in and I was pleased to see it was up slightly from last month.

A total of $3.89 was directly deposited into my checking account. I am not sure how many book sales this represents (three?), but I’m pleased my book sells at all.

The royalty deposits make me laugh. What should I do with all the money?

teepee book shelf

I could get a small meal from the dollar menu at McDonald’s. It isn’t enough to buy me a coffee at Starbucks. Good I don’t like Starbucks coffee, eh? I can’t think of anything else I could do with the money, but the idea amuses me. Being an author has not turned out exactly as I dreamed.

But you never know. Hollywood might yet call and my book could be the next blockbuster.

Right. Sure. Uh huh!

MY BRILLIANT CAREER

Futures Past

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

How close or far are you from that vision?


I wanted to be a writer … although I wanted to be a cowboy first. By the time I was old enough to sort out fantasy from plans, cowboy had morphed into “I think I’ll take riding lessons.” Writer was a goal.

My first professional job was writing copy for a local radio station. In short order, I started writing print advertisements for an ad agency on Long Island. Then, the big break — a job at Doubleday where I wrote promotions for the books sold through their 13 clubs.

I was the editor for two of them — Romance Library and Garden Guild. All we writers were called editors. Real editors were also called editors. Fortunately, we knew what we were supposed to be doing. I had pseudonyms for each of my clubs plus pictures of some model who was supposed to be me.

Then, I was off to Israel . At first, I free-lanced for the Tourism Ministry. Fun times! I drove all over the country and wrote about beaches, interviewed people and took pictures. Have camera, will travel. Shortly, I realized I was losing money. The gasoline cost more than I was paid per job. I had to find something more lucrative.

I became Senior English-Language Editor for the Environmental Health Laboratory of the University of Jerusalem (a mouthful, more so in Hebrew). I took scientific studies written by Ph.D.’s whose native language was not English and prepped (rewrote) them for publication in the U.S. and England. It was a government job, so I could have stayed there forever and they would have been glad to have me. It was as secure a job as anyone could hope for, but paid poorly. That’s the trade-off. Job security won’t earn the big bucks. It’s pretty hard in Israel to get big bucks for anything, but the private sector pays close to a living wage. Sort of.

12-foot+teepee

Briefly I was Managing Editor of a weekly English-language features newspaper. I started writing an astrology column. When the paper ran out of money, I got “promoted.” I never had more fun at a job than when I ran the paper. I interviewed cabinet ministers and victims of crime. I wrote using a bunch of nom des plumes. We didn’t want it to look as if I was the only writer on staff, though I was. A cooking column, astrology column, the front page feature plus sidebars and a second feature. I even created the crossword.

Lack of money caught up with us and we closed. Without advertising revenue, the publisher couldn’t keep us going.

That’s when I became a technical writer. As I browsed through want ads, I noticed there were listings for tech writers. I didn’t know what tech writers did but I said: “If tech writers are what they want, I are one!” Via judicious resume editing, I nailed a pretty good job.

Back to tech writing. I tech wrote myself through 9 years in Israel, then back to the States doing the same for another 20 until some blockhead decided manuals for software and hardware were unnecessary since “no one reads them anyhow.”

The economy fell apart. By the mid 2000s, dot coms had gone bust. Venture capitol dried up. And I was ill. Eventually work was out of the question. Today I’m retired. Just as well because the whole health thing hasn’t gone well. But old writers never stop writing. They just change venues.

First, I wrote a book, The 12-Foot Teepee, after which I discovered blogging. Today, with co-authors Garry Armstrong (aka The Husband) and Rich Paschall, I write for me — and you. Blogging is fun. Connecting with people all over the world makes me feel I’m part of the world, not gathering dust in storage.

I never got a statuette or a major award. In my business, the award was called “a paycheck.” That’s the only part of working I still miss.

FINALLY, LILACS

The big old lilac in the back yard failed to bloom this year. Four years ago, we planted three dwarf French lilacs along the driveway. One didn’t make it. One is thriving. The third is struggling because it’s not in a good location … insufficient sun.

lilacs may 2014

Today my son brought me a couple of blooms from the lilac that is full of blooms. They smell wonderful. I love lilacs!

LIFE HAS SIDE EFFECTS

We say the same thing in a variety of ways:

  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Everything has consequences.
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction — Newton’s third law with a philosophically relevant twist.

It’s certainly true of medication. Whatever is bothering you, if you take something for it, it will do something bad while doing what you want. You may not be aware of the side effects, but that little yellow pill could be taking out your liver, kidneys or heart while getting rid of your headache.

Cracker jacks single boxMy migraine medicine makes me groggy and stoned. Time changes ones perspective. Dopiness was — in my wild and crazy youth — the prize in the Cracker Jack box. Remember Cracker Jacks? Stonedness has morphed into just another annoying side effect. I’m muzzy-headed enough without chemical assistance.

I’ve got a lot of physical issues. If I took something for each thing that bothers me, the side effects would be worse than the conditions for which I take the meds.

At a more innocent stage in my battle to continue living, I took whatever any doctor prescribed, to a point where no one could separate the cure from the side effects.

Ultimately, I became a medication minimalist, striving to take the least amount of whatever to achieve the desired result.

pills

Pain relief, controlling blood pressure and sleep are the things I take medication for — the big three in my world. I’ve got plenty of other problems, but I don’t take stuff for them — either because the side effects are worse than the problem or I can’t afford the prescription.

Allergies. Weird gastric stuff. Asthma. High cholesterol. Arthritis, rheumatoid and osteo. Tendonitis. Bursitis. Non-focusing eyes. And the potential for the return of breast cancer but in some new and terrifying permutation. There’s more, but honestly I can’t remember it all.

I was sitting here pondering what, if anything, is bothering me enough to take something for it. The headache? The dry, burning eyes? The itching dermatitis? The pain in my hips? Chest? The light and sound sensitivity that warns me my headache is heading into migraine territory?

Maybe I should just have a cup of tea. It seems to work for the British.

PESKY PIXIES – BE WARNED!

One of these days I’ll catch them in the act!

This is not the first time our house pixies have hidden my belongings.

My favorite necklace disappeared for two years, eventually reappearing at the bottom of Garry’s sock drawer. My favorite bracelet vanished, appearing a year later inside the piano bench. My binoculars left their shelf, materializing after some months in the back of the kitchen cupboard. Behind the oatmeal.

pixies-playing

Most recently a pair of elegant onyx earrings vanished for months until finally, I ordered a pair of replacements. When they arrived and I went to put them in my jewelry case, there were both earrings … right where I had looked hundreds of times. Darn pixies!

I consulted the wise woman in my life — my best friend. She agreed. Pesky pixies did it. There was no other possible explanation.

Pixies are not evil, but they are mischievous little pranksters. They sneak around at night and hide things in strange places. More to the point, they hide my things. I have been patient with them. Good-natured. I’ve kept my sense of humor through years of criminal pixie activity.

But now, they’ve gone too far. Today I went to get dressed and all my bras were gone. The stretchy sports bras I wear around the house under tee shirts are where they should be, but all the nice ones from Victoria’s Secret are gone. All of them. The white ones, the beige ones, the black ones. The expensive ones.

Even at my most paranoid, I do not believe anyone would steal my underwear.

more pixies

I went through every drawer of both my dressers. Even though we haven’t gone on a vacation in nearly a year (and I’ve worn them since then), I searched all my overnight bags. I also searched the shelf in my closet. Nothing.

The pixies are at it again.

We were on our way to a birthday party, so after an hour of futile searching, I finally gave up and wore whatever I could find that wouldn’t show  under my scoop neck blouse.

How come pixies never mess with Garry’s stuff? Although my necklace turned up in his sock drawer, don’t think that counts. Probably that’s why he doesn’t take me seriously. He laughs at me and says I shouldn’t worry. Everything will show up somewhere. Eventually. But it can be a long wait.

Pixies. Why can’t we have well-mannered helpful pixies who clean the house while we sleep? Like in story books.

Pixies, consider yourselves on notice! I will find you and make you return my underwear. Pesky pixies, I’m coming for you.

OY VAY! GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?

Modern Families


300-shmuel my uncle“So,” says Uncle Shmuel, who having appeared out of nowhere, now miraculously speaks vernacular American English — albeit with a heavy Yiddish accent, “Nice place you got here. I see you keep your animals in your house. That one there sounds like a pig but looks like a dog.”

“They are our pets, Uncle Shmuel. The oinker is Nan. She just makes that sound. She’s kind of old. I think that’s the dog equivalent of ‘oy’.”

“Pets, shmets. Animals. In the house. What’s next? Toilets? Never mind, your life, your choice. Oy.”

“Can I give you something to eat? Tea? Coffee? Cake? If we don’t have it, I can go out and buy some.”

“Are you Kosher?”

“Uh, no. Not Kosher,” and I shiver, remembering the many pork chops that have passed across our dishes. “Oh, wait, here’s my husband. Uncle Shmuel, I’d like you to meet my husband Garry.”

Shmuel looks shrewdly at Garry, then at me. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”

Garry’s eyes twinkle. “But really I am,” he says and deftly pulls a yarmulke out of his pocket. It say “Joel’s Bar Mitzvah” across the back in big white letters. Fortunately, Shmuel doesn’t notice.

“So,” Shmuel continues after a pregnant pause, “You have problems with the Cossacks?”

“No Cossacks, but lots of politicians,” I reply.

“Cossacks, politicians, there’s a difference?”

“Not so much,” I admit.

“And for a living you do what?”

“We’re retired. But before that, I was a writer. Garry was a reporter. On television.”

“What’s a television?”

I look at Shmuel, realize we are about to embark on an extended conversation, so all I say is: “Oy vay is mir!” Which seems to sum it up.

Oy vay. Can someone set the table?

IF THE JEANS FIT

marilyn selfieNot all bad dreams are nightmares. I have dreams which are bad because they’re too close to reality for psychic comfort.

First up in last night’s doubleheader, I dreamed I urgently needed a shower. Okay, fine, soon as I get up, I promised my unconscious. Sheesh. It’s not that bad … is it?

The next round of REM sleep informed me I couldn’t fit into my jeans. That got me so upset I vowed if it turned out to be true, I would end it all by jumping head first into the bathtub off my shower chair. If that didn’t work, I’d have to get a new pair of jeans.

I tried waking up, then going back to sleep. Maybe it would shake off the dreams … but it didn’t work.

Leaving me feeling grubby with unbearably tight blue jeans. Was worse yet to come?

I decided not to lie around waiting for an answer I might not like. Dragging my reluctant body from the comfortable bed, I went straight for the dresser and pulled out my jeans. Shucking my nightgown, I stepped into them and discovered — oh joy! — they fit perfectly.

I would have done a victory dance, but I first needed to give Greenies to the starving puppies, start the coffee, then hit the shower. Today, I’m going to wear those jeans. At least for a while until I remember if I’m just going to sit around the house, I might as well go for something loose and stretchy.

Vanity and fashion have lost their power over me. Instead, it’s easy-to-launder, resistant to dog hair, and comfortable. Every time. I still think about putting on a bit of make-up, just to prove I can make myself look nice if I try … except I can’t think of a reason why. I’d just have to wash it off later.

Retirement has ruined me.

SAILING AWAY ON A GIFTED YACHT

Once again, joining in the fun of Cee’s Share Your World – 2014 Week 21. Some fun (odd?) questions this week!


If you could make a 15 second speech to the entire world, what would you say?

We accept checks, money orders and PayPal. Note the address on the large screen television? Send your contributions there. Thank you very much.

yachts hyannis harbor

If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world, what and where would it be?

Jerusalem and my favorite magical places in it.

If you had to spend one weekend alone in a single store but could remove nothing, which store would you pick?

Locked in a store from which I could take nothing? Unless there’s food, I would be doing my utmost to get out of there before my meds wore off. Now, if I could take at least one really cool thing with me, well … that’s a whole ‘nother story.

96-HyannisHarbor-GAR-3

If you were given a boat or yacht today, what would you name it? (You an always sell the yacht later)

I would (of course) name our yacht “Serendipity.” Anyone have a problem with that?

Did I get the yacht with money donated following my brilliant 15-second speech? If it’s big enough — like maybe a houseboat? — we could live on it. Does it come with a lifetime paid up slip in a nice marina? Inquiring minds yearn for clarity!