Monday, May 25, 2009

Wrong Thinking

I wouldn't have to play catch-up if I were more diligent, would I? Well, I've been busy helping Leone get ready to move, and then my mind has been just racing with the idea of moving myself -- this, after fifteen years at the same address. Here's what I think mostly about my moving: The party I'd have. Yes. I think about where people could park and whether I should invite the new neighbors. I think about whether Buddy Helm could bring a bunch of drums and some of us would get to play. I know I'd want Andrea to sing, maybe over by the fire pit, while others are engaging in edgy repartee in the side yard. I'm pretty social out of my house, but in it? Not so much. Still, I could have the party right away, so if something's not absolutely perfect, I could wave it away, breathlessly claiming that, gee, I just moved in. After the party, I'd never have anyone over again.

I have a couple examples of wrong thinking that just floor me. I suppose I could be grateful that I'm able to shock myself. It might be an odd sort of skill, like the ability to tickle yourself.

See that amazing photo above? It's by Clark Little ( Isn't that something? You can check out his site to see how he manages to catch waves like that. He was recently one of the options on, a free service that daily presents interesting (or not) tidbits. There are usually seven or eight things to choose from -- beautiful Indian women, over-loaded Chinese bicycles, strange fruit, things like that.

Well, this morning, my inbox held a set of Little's photos, sent by a friend. I instantly wanted to write back and tell her that I, in fact, was the one who, who ... who what? gave birth to him? inspired him to be so talented? gave him the break he needed? No. I merely saw him first -- first, of the whole two of us.

It blows my mind, if we may dip back into the sixties for a moment, to realize that that was my thought. I wanted credit, fer crissake, for having seen something first. How absurd! It's bad enough that the same thing happens with relatives. I'm so proud that Rachel Z ( is my cousin -- my first cousin! Again, I want credit for that. At least with that, some of the same DN and A's are ambling through our veins, which, again, was none of my doing. Well, let's move on to the other, more embarrassing sample of wrong thinking.

Clarence Bekker. Do you know him? You would if you'd followed my instructions earlier and gone to to hear their version of Stand by Me. I still get choked up when I watch it. Bekker is the handsome black man with the medium dreads from the Netherlands. There's something about him that makes me want to call him "tight." I hardly know what I mean by that. And usually "tight" is a negative, like uptight or tightwad or tightly wound. It's something about his chest, I think, or the way he holds himself close and bounces. Anyway, my god! what style! what a voice! what beauty!

Yeah, and it turns out he's gay.

You know my first thought there? What a waste!

Yes. What a waste! As if, what? as if love is wasted if it's gay love? Or as if sex is wasted if it's gay sex? Now, you know I don't believe that. But there's some bizarre thought here. Did I expect Bekker to find me somehow and come fall in love with me? Am I saying boo hoo -- my chances with Bekker are now dashed: he's gay!

What idiocy!

Now please sit quietly in your chairs while we catch up on the books I've read.
  • Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. It has a happy ending, which is just one reason I loved it.
  • Sum by David Eagleman, subtitled 40 Possible Afterlives. He's creative and fun, a neuroscientist or something. I'd look it up, but it occurs to me that the book may have gotten mixed up with books that ended up at the thrift store (instead of back to Liz where it belongs), so: yipes! Anyway, Eagleman looks to be at least twelve, and his short essays use speculation about afterlives as a vehicle for talking about human nature.
  • Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman. She's one of the writers who responded to my fan letters years and years ago. I'm never sure of her, though. Still, I'll buy each of her books because some are fabulous.
  • Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier. This was an historical novel about, peripherally anyhow, William Blake. I don't even know who he was. I enjoyed her Girl with a Pearl Earring better than this one, although this was okay. I just went to her website ( It's showing the UK and U.S. covers of the same books. That's interesting right there. Check it out.
  • A Much-Married Man by Nicholas Coleridge. One way I judge books is whether I lend them to Mike's mother, Ruth. Only the first one on this list will be offered to her.
  • Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee. Well, in the first place, I can't pronounce his name. I read Disgrace by him. Twice. It was only twice because I didn't remember it from the first time. I enjoyed the second reading, though. He's ... odd. That's all I know.
  • How to Be Cool by Johanna Edwards. This was a two-for-ten book from Walgreens. I always enjoy the opportunity to find a good writer this way. This particular book seemed a bit too young for me, but I'd read another book by her.

There. I think we're caught up in The Library Corner.
If your home page isn't Google, you should at least check Google each day to see if it's a holiday of some sort. They decorate their name to indicate the special event. I found this on my screen and was taken aback. I was afraid something horrible had happened to my computer. Nope. Mister Google was simply commemorating Mister Morse's birthday.

I should have known that it wasn't my computer. I'd told you earlier that I was getting a new one, but the TechGuy came over and pronounced my old computer just fine. He gave it a tune-up and removed a loose screw -- literally -- from the tower (the hard drive?). That's Marty Belford at 727 418-0219. Use him. Tell him I sent you. Hah!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On / Off / Ouch

My ear drum was just shattered because I tried to put my new cellphone on SPEAKER mode. It didn't seem to work, so my friend on the other end suggested that the volume might be too low. Ah, yes. The volume is a button on the side with up and down arrows. I'm never sure which way it's going, so that seemed to be a real possibility.

It still didn't work, but by then, I just wanted the conversation, so I gave up. My little phone screen said Spkr on which I no longer wanted, so just put my ear back to the phone.

That's when my hearing was impaired for all eternity.

I watch a fair amount of tv on, and I'm finding out that little notations like Hi Res (or Spkr on) are not, after all, choices I'm offered, but notices of current status. Where was I when they changed all that?

Or maybe I'm just too computerized. I see something I want, I click on it, and I get it. That's not true in the cellphone world.

And it's this very reason that I'm so resistent to new gadgets. I put up with a failing cellphone for a long, long time, just because I didn't want to have to learn new ways to complete old tasks -- and that was before I discovered that physical pain would be involved in the learning. On my old phone, the back-arrow deleted what I had just typed. On this phone, the C button -- for Crap! -- will do the same thing. I don't know what the back-arrow will do, but I'm pretty sure it involves a sharp stick in the eye.

I still don't know how to save the phone number of someone who just called. And my home page, if indeed that's what it's called, has four little circles with Fisher-Price People in them, and one big one. What's that for? I'm sure if I could just find the instruction manual, I'd be able to figure it out ...

How long do you suppose it took to standardize the old-fashioned rotary phone? I'll bet it didn't take a week. I'll bet only one company made them at first, and then the others just followed. I'll bet people didn't think that "different" always meant "better." I'll bet I'm not willing to look it up ...

Monday, May 11, 2009


Too Much Customer Service

I walked into my Regions Bank the other day. Before I could stroll the twenty feet to get to the one teller at the one open window, three employees greeted me. The thing is, I was focused on my destination, of course, so I never saw who, exactly, was calling out Good Morning. Naturally, I glanced around quickly to see who was accosting me, but they'd all gone back to whatever they'd been doing before I walked in. Apparently it's a one-sided event. They never really expected me to return the greeting. In fact, I later found out that one of the greeters was in an alcove, sitting behind a desk. Was I really expected to spot him and greet him back?

Please say no.

It felt like entering a Blockbuster. Clerks there are trained to shout out greetings, but a contact is never actually made. They may as well have speakers spewing out random greetings, for as personal as the thing is.

At the bank, one of those three did, in fact, come up to me as I waited for the teller. "How are you today?" was his second greeting. Since we were actually eye-to-eye, I figured he did want a response. Of course I, um, shared my feelings with him. Being bombarded with greetings from people who aren't engaged with me just feels confusing and annoying. I'm left standing in the middle of the room, frantically looking around for the verbal snipers.

The guy said it's a security measure. It's a way of saying We see you, buster! to the valued customer ... er, to the potential crook, I mean.

On my way out, another of the original three male greeters reminded me to take a cookie and a carnation, it being Mother's Day soon. That gave me another opportunity to snarl at someone for making me search for the source(s) of disembodied greetings. When I said that his cohort had told me it was an anti-theft procedure, he said, "Yeah? Really? He told you that?" Well, dang. Have they added lying to their list of services?

And then at Publix today, Mrs. X asked a clerk where the Y was, but then Mrs. X saw it and said, "Oh! Never mind!" While the clerk was still in Customer Service Mode, I said, "Tuna?" The clerk started to say something and then shifted herself and put down her pricing machine and said, "Follow me!" and took off.

I called after her, "Just give me the aisle number!" but she pooh-poohed that idea, saying over her shoulder, "They want us to bring the customer to the spot."

Well, gee. I don't like feeling that I'm interrupting someone's job, especially since I hate to be interrupted. I also don't want to be zoomed along the aisles. There's nothing faster than a clerk leading me to the proper spot. And maybe I knew I needed Aisle Six for olives and Aisle Seven for mayonnaise, so if tuna is in Aisle Eight, I'd stop for those others first, so just give me a number, don't lead the expedition.

I wonder if "they," who want employees to escort customers to the toothpicks, have ever asked "us" what we want? Maybe they have. But we know for sure that they haven't asked me.

You hear about marketing research and focus groups and things, but I wonder if the results of those are ever actually used?

When I visit Leone at Condescension Acres, the piped-in music is, well, I think it might be classified as swing, but maybe not. I'm not sure. Leone says it's aimed at the ninety-year-olds. It makes her livid that it's in all the public spaces. And of course it's too loud because that's a law when you're dealing with Old Folks.

But what gets me is that (1) they act as if everyone is ninety-seven, and (2) as if everyone who's ninety-seven likes the same kind of music. What're the odds of that?

What really scares me, of course, is that when I'm enjoying my Golden Years down at The Home, I'll be subjected to Jimi Hendrix in the hallways, blasting the hearing aids right out of my head. But I won't want Peter, Paul and Mary, either.

I ordered Playing For Change's new CD/DVD the same day that Liz tucked a copy of it into my mailbox. When mine came, I offered it to Mike who, unbelievably, doesn't like love and peace and all that. Who can not like Keb Mo'? Who can not like Clarence Bekker? The point is -- big surprise -- very few people share musical tastes.

Maybe the motto is If you can't please everybody, don't please anybody.

The music above the coolers in a convenience store this morning was classical. I couldn't believe it. A dark man named Mo claimed responsibility for it. Way to go, Mo!

Well, if we've got Keb Mo' and Convenience Mo, let's have Mike's cat Mo. I woke up this morning to find that Mo had shed his blue collar. I eventually found it on the couch in the living room, which is Mittens's territory. That means either that Mittens beat Mo up and ripped off his clothes in an attempt to humiliate him further, or that Mittens watched with cold eyes while Mo wrestled himself out of the collar. One day last week, I found Mo with his head and one leg poking out of the collar. That can't have been comfortable. And the other night, I was sleepily adjusting the bedding with my legs when I realized that it wasn't the sheets I was shifting at all. It was Mo.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kibbles and Bits

Here's a big sunburst my cousin Terry Huckabone made for me. How cool is that? He didn't even know the colors in my apartment. I may put it outside, or maybe I'll leave it here ... but then that poor decoupage of St. Peter will have to go ... or not. My ex-husband's sister made it for us for Christmas one year when everyone was doing decoupage. Linda, though, did it well, which was something almost none of us was doing.

Speaking of Steve, he told me that his daughter's name, Lied, is German -- not Swedish -- for song. I'm glad I didn't know that till now, otherwise my blog on April 15 would have been missing an entire paragraph.

That wire from my radio in the photo adds A Touch of Class, don't you think?

Here's some good timing I've never experienced before: I used up the last crumb of coffee at the same time I used my last coffee filter.

There are a couple more pictures and a lot more babbling about Olga's car on my other blog, Car'toos, so check that out if it interests you. You'll be able to see it -- and Liz's car, too -- tomorrow from eleven to three at The Longhouse ( for the Bloom Where You're Planted thang. I'll be introducing my new line of toilet seats. You can go home and take a nap and then return for drumming with Buddy Helm ( from seven to nine for twenty-five bucks. It's always a fulfilling time for me.

I know. You're sick of hearing about it. But if you'd come and see what I'm talking about, then you'd think I don't promote it enough. I just can't please you, can I?

I apparently need a bigger apartment. Mo has been here, recuperating from a tumor removal. He's one of four of Mike's cats, and he can't convalesce at home because there's a cat door and he's not allowed to go out while the stitches remain. So he's staying in the Guest Cottage here where Miss Pook vacations. Well, it turns out that Miss Pook also needs to use the Cottage next week. What a dilemma!

Mo's got a sort of Reverse Mohawk (Kwahom!) going on in his nether regions. He's a completely sweet cat, purring to the point of drooling, tucking his face into my neck, hanging his paw over my shoulder -- until the malevolent Mittens appears. There's been a bit of hissing and groaning between the two, and I try to stay out of it, but it seems too unfair. I mean, look at that incision! I'm embarrassed that Mittens is such a surly hostess, but she may get that from her mother ...

I found some of Olga's glitter on my bedroom windows outside.

Mittens showed up last evening soaking wet from the waist down. I suspect she received a comeuppance.

And finally, Happy birthday, KT! This is a dear friend in Minneapolis. She was my first massage therapist. I had a near-weekly massage from her for ten years. Imagine that. Wow. And I rarely talked during a massage. Now I babble like a ... well, like a nattering chatterer. I don't know what happened. I used to say that if KT ever returned to her native Minnesota, I'd move with her, but that time came and I turned out to be a liar.

Meanwhile, back when we both lived in Gulfport ...

When my Alzheimery mother was still able to go on field trips, I brought her to visit KT. It was Christmastime, and Svea, a co-worker, had given me a crocheted-and-starched angel which I'd hung from my rear-view mirror. Well, as Mom got out of my car at KT's, she unhooked the angel and brought it to KT, who still has it. Aww.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lakshmi Delivered

Olga got her car, Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity), back last night, all painted up. It's a tense time for both the client and me. The big question, of course, is Will she like it? And if she doesn't, well, there's not a WHOLE lot that can be done about it. Therefore, what a giant lurch of faith on the client's part.

Client. It's funny. If you've got bronchitis and go to a doctor, you're a patient, but if you're a nut-bag and go to a different kind of doctor, you're a client. I don't want to say I have a customer because that's too crudely commercial, and yet painting someone's car is a commercial venture.

Anyway, here's Lakshmi. That's Lakshmi written in Sanskrit on the hood. If you're not impressed, you should be. You may also see her in the flesh this upcoming Saturday, May 9, at The Longhouse (2301 49th Street South) for the so49 Bloom Where You're Planted event from eleven to three. Liz will be there with her X-terra, too. I'll be selling my tee shirts, mailboxes, and planters. Businessess on 49th Street will have balloons outside if they're participating.

* * *

Today is Linda Seth's birthday. She and I were Best Friends off and on from about third grade to seventh, and then more distant friends after that, after we went to The Big School. What a cool birthday: 05/05/50. Another thing about Linda that is so notable is her name: Linda Diana Mary Johanna Seth. I love the music in that name! Like my brave and brilliant Mittens with her extra toes, Linda was born with an extra middle name, and then Catholicism added another.

Something Linda did when she was newly licensed by the State of New York to drive a vehicle during daylight hours was to stop at three or four gas stations on a Saturday afternoon, getting fifty cents worth of gas from each, just to flirt with the various boys who pumped the gas.

You heard me, children: The boys who pumped the gas. For that fifty cents, they'd even wash off your windshield.

I don't remember the year when self-serve became the norm. I'm guessing it was after 1973. I do remember that I didn't like it. I hated the smell and the noise, clunking things around, having to touch the gas cap with its stinky wetness. Everything seemed too big and noisy. I felt incapable. I got over it, of course. We all did. Little ol' ladies in Sunday dresses started pumping gas. We started feeling proficient about the whole thing. I suppose the Riveting Rosies felt the same way in their day, only more so, I should hope. I loved it when I finally figured out how to lock the pump so I could stroll around the car, hands in my pockets, acting like a man -- so casually competent. Too soon after that, they took off those locks. I don't know why.

I'm feeling incompetent again at the gas pumps. I'm never clear on whether I have to pay in advance if I'm using cash. I'm so used to using a debit card and filling up with no interference from a clerk that I'm absolutely exasperated when I have to walk to the counter twice, once to leave a twenty-dollar bill, and again to collect my change after a fill-up.

The only other recourse is to own a credit card for every brand of gasoline.

Remember when the business used to pay that three-point-five percent fee for card usage? Now they're passing that fee on to the consumer, or maybe the client, in tonier neighborhoods.

This morning, I was at the first anniversary celebration of Banyan Scapes Nursery. I painted two of their trucks, remember?

Well, a speaker at the celebration pointed out that huge corporations can cut back by closing a location or two, but small businesses have to toddle on, or quit altogether. There's not a lot of cutting-back to be done. That seemed like a good point.

But what's that got to do with gas stations? Absolutely nothing.

The last time I went to pump gas, I was flummoxed by the procedure. I've taken to using cash because I want the lower price, even though I never actually notice the price. Is it two cents cheaper or ten? Ten would make a different to me; two wouldn't. I'd have to pay way too much attention to know. Anyway, I ended up pushing the HELP button and talking to the clerk. Indeed, I'd have to pay with my cash before filling the tank. I was indignant. Shouldn't that information be clearly posted?

Well, of course it was posted on the pump, along with:
  • descriptions of the three grades of gasoline, with attendant buttons to push and a smaller sticker -- that is, three smaller stickers -- warning (?) me that my choice contains "up to" 10% ethanol. I don't know whether to be happy or sad about that ethanol thing, but I have no doubt that someone spent a lot of money making sure that those stickers get put on every gas pump in the country. Whoa. What if it's the sticker-makers' lobbyists who did that and not the ethanol people or the Ralph Nader Making the World Safer people?
  • the push-button for speaking with the attendant
  • a listing of the "family" of Shell credit cards; how cozy
  • a TeleCheck notice of the huge fee that will be charged if a credit or debit card turns out to be invalid; hmm ... wouldn't it be rejected if it were invalid?
  • a slot from which to receive a receipt
  • a slot for the credit card, along with a keypad
  • a much bigger sign once again warning about that pesky ethanol. Those sticker-makers are serious!
  • a big sticker telling me how to get ahold of Charles Bronson (seriously), the Commissioner of Stickers.

Well, it's no wonder, with all that mess, that I missed the sticker that said cash-users would have to pay in advance.

And do you remember when that became the standard? Me, neither, not exactly. It used to be that you pumped your gas and then paid for it. I was dating Tommy at the time of the change. I remember that he drove up to the pump, went inside to pay in advance, returned to his car, and drove off. He was so used to the payment being the last thing done in a gassing-up event that he simply drove away, without filling the tank. He returned within a couple of blocks, but the clerk didn't believe him. I bet if he'd been a client she'd have believed him.