when the world seems cold as concrete

tin hats

(song lyric)

I can see it there in the sweep of stars

In a press of waves, in a line of cars

In the grain of wood beneath my beer on the bar

In the eyes of the girls with their hands on their hips

And four-letter words sleeping on the pillows of their lips

I can hear it there in the tousling weeds

In the window fan’s electric breeze

In the pots and pans in the kitchen sink

And it makes me wanna get another drink

From the gaunt-faced girl with the neon nails, behind the bar

I can feel it there just like a favourite pen

Like a boomerang comin back again

In a midnight choir singin round a fire

In a perfect song on the radio

And it puts me in the mood for a tail-gate party at a Grateful Dead show

I can taste it there…

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There’s no phone in the basement and other babysitting woes

The other day an aunt of mine posted a meme on Facebook that read:

You’re sixteen and it’s a Friday night.

What does it mean to you?

Her answer was: “Date Night!”

Apparently I was an ultra nerdy teenager because my immediate response was: “Babysitting.”

Not counting the many times I watched (for free) my ungrateful and obstinate siblings, I became a “professional” when I was just eleven years old. My first gig was for an older couple across the street who had a baby girl. I never knew if she was a late in life baby or a grandchild whose parents, for whatever reason, couldn’t raise her. I wasn’t permitted to ask about such things. Anyway, both of the parents worked at the casinos – one worked nights and the other days, meaning they didn’t need a babysitter most of the time. However sometimes they would both need to work a swing shift – generally during the busy hours of 8 PM to 1 AM, I would arrive after the baby had been put to sleep. All I needed to do was to be there. If the baby woke up and actually needed attention, I phoned my folks … HELP! If they weren’t home, I knew all the neighbors. Still … eleven years old!!! I can’t imagine anyone leaving an infant in the hands of an eleven year old these days. In fact, it’s illegal in most states.

What happens when you hire an older woman to be your babysitter!

Most of my jobs came from my mother. She had no problem pimping me out to anyone desperate for a cheap sitter. Today there are babysitting agencies. Before you hire a babysitter, you can check out her resume, her profile and even read her reviews. Back then it was Mrs. Brown asking Mrs. White for the number of a “girl.” Then Mr. Brown would be send to retrieve the girl while Mrs. Brown prepared the list of do’s and don’ts (no candy before bed, no television until homework’s complete, etc.) most of which would be ignored. After the children were in bed, the “girl” would get on the phone with her friends and eat every potato chip in the house. Woe to the Mrs. Browns of the world who failed to stock up on junk food before a sitter’s visit. Word spread quickly of no snack houses! As did word of lousy tippers, smelly houses or creepy husbands.

Besides babies waking up and needing real care, I only had a few frightening things happen while sitting. Once a hollow-faced man appeared in the window next to the front door. I screamed and he ran away. When I called the parents, they told me it was just Jim, the neighborhood crazy guy, and he was harmless. And then they laughed. Apparently they thought terrorized fourteen year old babysitters were a real riot!

Another time the telephone rang and I answered thinking it might be the parents. A male voice said “I’m in your basement and I’m going to come up and kill you!” I was about to run out of the house with the kids when the ten-year-old said. “There’s no phone in the basement.” Then he laughed and told me what a “stupidhead” I was.

However, for the most part it was boring and so I’ve never understood why so many movies have been made about babysitters. Take Adventures in Babysitting (1987), the sitter and her charges are chased up the side of a high-rise in Chicago by mafia thugs, save a runaway teen from a rat-infested bus terminal, and crash a fraternity party … to name just a few of their adventures. Then they had to race back to the suburbs before the parents arrived home. Of course, the parents were clueless and didn’t suspect a thing.

I imagine if I was a teenage babysitter today my review would read: Panics easily, eats you out of house and home, and bores the children to death.

Discomboobalated in WP Land

I’ve been trying to resolve a very serious issue with WordPress for the past two weeks. It’s not as though I’m new to blogging or even HTML. I’ve been working with computers since the first personal desktops were sold and developing web pages since the mid ’90s. I may not be as on top of the technology as I once was, but I can tell when I’m getting the old “did you check to make sure your machine was plugged in?” treatment.

First they told me it was the theme I was using. It had been retired or some such nonsense. Retired? Does that mean there’s a retirement home for old WordPress themes down in Florida?

So I changed my theme which is always such a joy. You have to engage with them (kind of like a blind date) to find out if you’re compatible. And I don’t know if it’s a good idea to change your theme. What do you think? Does it irritate you when a blogger you like to frequent changes their theme?

Anyway … IT DID NOT WORK.

Next I was informed I’d eaten way too many cookies and caches and my computer was constipated. There are two issues I have with deleting cookies and caches on a regular basis:

  • This has been an issue since the first cookie was baked. Browser based applications should have figured out how to handle them without user intervention by now. You’d think, right?
  • Deleting all your cookies and caches means re-authenticating on most of the sites you frequent. Lovely if you’ve got a photographic memory and can recall all your many credentials. I do not.

Anyway … IT DID NOT WORK.

Next they suggested that I upgrade to the Business Plan at $250 a year. I’m glad I didn’t fall for that one!

Finally … after a few shitteries from yours truly, they admitted the issue was the browser I was using. I guess they rolled out a new version of WordPress without testing it on Safari. Okay, to give them the benefit of a doubt, without enough version testing on Safari.

Anyway … IT DID WORK. Although I sure hope Firefox and Safari play nice together on my machine.

After finally fixing the problem, I began to wonder if the WP help desk guys told me a little white lie about my dear old theme. But apparently they hadn’t. It’s nowhere to be found. Alas, whatever your name was Dear Old Theme, I wish you a happy retirement.

[Still figuring out how to add images in this new browser]

Last Chance Sea

tin hats

There are many things we don’t understand about others.  The face and body are there, but we can’t see the invisible footsteps left behind, the old heartbeats that have made them alive, soft and warm, troubled and happy, and we seldom have the time to spend solving the mystery of who they are.     

I’d taken a temporary job in the US to help settle Vietnamese boat people.  Normally I didn’t work in the US, but I’d made an exception.  My case load was about forty people.  Some were couples, frail and slow moving; there were families with young children; and then there were a handful of single people. 

My job was to get them placed in housing, set up bank accounts, enroll them in English classes, find them work, etc.  They’d all received small sums of money from the US government and private charities to make a start.  The…

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Many Strange Sights to See

I just took my first trip post vaccination and oh my, how the world has changed. From a safe distance I spotted my very first Spiky Thermoleggon! Luckily he, she or it did not see me!

Spiky Thermoleggon and pet (assumed to be dog)

.

Can you see the face?

The Flirty Palmgalour. Yikes she’s looking straight at me!

The bathroom in my hotel room was haunted by an Inkyglobbo which grew steadily by the minute until I ran out into the hall where radioactive Bubbleheads waited impatiently for another victim.

“Come into the light!”

I closed my eyes and clicked my heels three times and guess where I transported to? A world composed entirely of small plastic pieces.

No, that’s not graffiti. It’s the exit of the newest ride at kiddie friendly Legoland, San Diego. I know. I didn’t get it either.

Because the ride had just debuted, not all the kinks had been worked out. Thus, we ended up waiting in this dark hall for about thirty minutes while maintenance folks ran in and out the “Model Citizens” door until they figured out the problem. Oh dear, I thought. I’ve just escaped the Thermoleggon, the flirty Palmgalour and the Inkyglobbo only to spend the rest of my life trapped on Emmet’s Flying Adventure! But, years ago I’d survived being trapped on Disneyland’s It’s a Small World ride for twenty minutes and eventually regained my sanity. So I could do it.

Holy Cow! It’s a fast-paced rock and rolling ride meant to assault all the senses. Some of the kids wanted to immediately go again but my four year old grandson had had enough. He couldn’t wait to get over to the aquarium and watch the sharks and the seahorses and pet the starfish. Apparently they survived the pandemic.

Now that it’s time to get out in the world again, do so gingerly. Things have changed!

Can You Do That For Me?

tin hats

He was worried about his daughter in that way of doing what I say, not what I do, and she had a life of her own and it was dangerous by his standards, nothing like the risks he had taken. She was an alcoholic, hardly ever drugs, which was a good thing, but she was a binge drinker. A bottle of vodka or maybe four or five bottles of wine, sometimes a few bottles of sake and then she would pass out. When she would call him in the throes of a drunk, she would cry and tell him she was an outcast. She didn’t fit into normal society. She saw the world in a different light. Pain was part of her sexual experience and afterward she would feel guilty and it all related to the way she had grown up as a child. The secret things that had happened.

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If People Don’t Know Where You’re Going, It’s Hard For Them To Follow

I’ll be mostly off-line the next five days.. While I”m gone please enjoy this piece by Duke Miller.

tin hats

That was how he liked it, the man who was generally unfriendly, except to the locals.

Now in Mexico, with a wife, dogs and a number of aliments, he felt anchored for the first time in a long time. A flame tree spread next door and a jacaranda tree painted purple in the garden and the bees flew low over the Rosio when the sun came out and heated the nectar. He had a maid and a doctor he trusted. Life at 9,000 feet often meant extreme UV radiation, but he never used sun screen. He didn’t have time.

There was a criminal, who sometimes sat on the park bench. He’d pretend to be waiting for a friend. Actually, he was more a drunk than a criminal and he kept a bottle of liquor in a bag and he would sip it until his eyes got glassy. Then he would…

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Do you hang?

One of the first things we installed after moving into our house over twenty years ago was a retractable clothesline. It’s a fancy device with five lines that stretch to over twenty feet.  I can easily hang at least three full loads of clothes, bedding and towels and I do own one of the largest washing machines ever sold.  

Over the years I’ve had people make the strangest comments about my clothesline:  

  • “Isn’t it illegal to hang clothes outside?”  
  • “Can’t you afford a dryer?” 
  • “You hang your underwear outside for the world to see?”

To the first question:  Some states do allow homeowners associations and landlords to ban hanging clothes outside but thanks to good old Governor Moonbeam (Jerry Brown) I live in a “right-to-dry” state!  HOAs and Landlords can restrict the hours and items which can be dried in the sunshine but not outright forbid it. 

To the second question: Over 92% of the house fires in the US were caused by dryers which were either improperly installed or improperly maintained.  Or overused. Or … they’re just plain evil.

To the third: Have you ever put on a favorite pair of underpants and had them slip down to your knees?  Unless you’ve lost a lot of weight, you’ve fried the elastic in the dryer. So my bras and panties all get air-dried.

There is a day devoted to the joys of hanging out laundry, of course, but as far as I can tell, there is no ceremony or national event associated with Hanging Out Day.  What a shame.  I think I’ll petition the White House to install a clothesline in the Rose Garden (I guess it’s now the “Former Rose Garden”) and hang out Old Joe’s knickers to celebrate! Care to join me or perhaps … you have a better idea? Check out the Museum of Fine Line Art Clotheslines for ideas. 

Well, it’s a warm day here and my clothes are now dry …. so adios and happy hanging!

Would you rather play the Prophet or the Missionary?

In 1965 a Swedish actor named Max Von Sydow made his debut to English speaking audiences as Jesus Christ. Von Sydow had previously been working with director Ingmar Bergman on movies few people had seen because they dealt with the meaning of life and its constant companion, death. The producers figured the audience would accept an unknown as Jesus more than they would say Cary Grant.  Good thinking. However, ironically they had no problem casting other well-known Hollywood stars in key roles. It was really quite bizarre casting. One critic wrote: “the most distracting nonsense is the pop-up of familiar faces in so called cameo roles.” He was so right.

The movie – The Greatest Story Ever Told – was on television the other day and because I am a huge fan of Von Sydow I had to watch until at least his entrance. Ugh. It was torture.  I’ll never understand how Charlton Heston’s portrayal of John the Baptist as a lunatic in a caveman wig didn’t ruin his career forever.  

The Duke himself, John Wayne, even pops up just as Jesus is being crucified to affirm they got the right guy. “He’s the one!”   What? Did Wayne find out he was the only Hollywood A lister not given a role in the story of Christ and throw a tizzy fit?

In order to rid my mind of that stinker of a movie, I downloaded Hawaii, a Max Von Sydow flick which was released the year after The Greatest Story. It’s always been a favorite of mine only this time I watched it with the knowledge that the year before Von Sydow had played Jesus Christ.

Amen. If you’ve never seen the movie, Reverend Hale (von Sydow) believes passionately he is following the word of God through Jesus however, over the centuries the words love, compassion, and forgiveness have come to apply only to the true believers. Everyone else is a sinner and unworthy of God’s love in his eyes.

Can you spot Bette Midler in this clip?

The plot of Hawaii is based on the third chapter of James Michener’s massive history of the Hawaiian Islands: After the discovery of the islands, word has spread that sugar grows abundantly in volcanic soil and businessmen rush in to grab land from the laidback islanders.  They convince church leaders that the “heathens” on the islands are need of “salvation” which really means “colonization.” Some of the missionaries sent over fall in love with the islands and realize the people are not heathen savages … but not Reverend Hale.  He’s about as hard core Old Testament as you can imagine, inflexible, stubborn and often cruel but Von Sydow plays him as a laughable idiot with a bit of genuine kindness that tries to escape his loveless childhood but cannot.

When he realizes that he cannot convert the Hawaiians through fear and intimidation, Rev. Hale calls upon God to send earthquakes and plagues to teach them a lesson. I won’t say anymore in case you’ve never seen the movie but I’ve seen it many times and always wondered at how completely he captured the character. Knowing that it followed a bloated Hollywood block-buster depiction of the life of Christ makes it that much more interesting. At least to me.

I made the moon blow its top!

Last night I went out to view the full moon. It started out well and then …

And then it began to change into an egghead sitting on the horizon.

And then this happened. I have no idea what I did but apparently it wasn’t the end of the world. Perhaps my cell phone is possessed? What do you think?