(Un)Expected Gifts

There are three Indian families that live across the street from us. They have elementary school age children. At night they come out of their houses and talk with loud voices. It sounds like a party with everyone speaking at once. A friend of mine who visited India for the first time said, “It’s so noisy here, day and night, I can’t think.” The funny thing is they don’t talk to each other. It’s as if invisible walls were wrapped around each house with a no trespass sign. I don’t know why because they don’t talk to me either. It’s a shame because one of them has a prolific tangerine tree in their backyard and I’d like some.

On the other hand, my neighbors to the right have been friends for  years. They have fig trees. Anybody with a fig tree is my best friend for life. As a child, my grandparent’s fig trees were my daily treat. At nap time, I’d climb out the bedroom window with a chair and gobble figs until I couldn’t breathe. My neighbors give me their crop in exchange for my lemons and oranges. To the left of me, there’s not even a hello from the front door. It’s just as well. She has no fruit trees. Two doors down a Portuguese family lives with Sunshine, the American short-hair cat, Nigel, the chihuahua, nameless chickens, and a persimmon tree that is so beautiful it takes my breath away. Every year we receive a box full of those beauties at our doorstep. Across the street from them is a family with teenagers and their revved-up cars that go zoom at midnight, sending me to the ceiling and back. In the front of their house they have an avocado tree. I’ve been tempted to snag a few as a consolation prize for putting up with their noise.

Calvin says, “Lucky you. Sunshine and Nigel bring me nothing but turds.” 

That Ridiculous List

I hate New Year’s resolutions, so here are some of mine to hopefully make you laugh, because as we all know nobody lives up to this ridiculous list.

  1. Flush the guilt down the toilet. What has it done for you this year?
  2. Only spend time with people who add richness to your life. Flush the others, along with the guilt, down the toilet.
  3. Do more writing. Get that book written. painting19
  4. Consider walking an extra mile every evening. Only one a day isn’t doing it.
  5. Speak up more. Slap down those boundaries.
  6. Forget being nice. Where has it gotten you?
  7. Try authentic on for size. You might like it better.
  8. Remember some people use words as weapons. Don’t show up for the fight.
  9. Let me know how #8 works for you. Share your bulletproof vest.
  10. Fear rules most of us. Turn it on its head. Revel in being alive today.
  11. Don’t buy that puppy to keep you warm on so many levels. A good chocolate souffle will do the same without the vet bills.
  12. Invite more people into your home. It’s where to know them better.
  13. Listen more. Look for the extraordinary in them.
  14. Affirm others. They’re starving for it. One trait, that’s all it takes.
  15. Yank those weeds from the garden. I mean your heart.

Calvin says, “A chocolate souffle, eh? Well then, I’ll find another home where my warm body and doggie breath will be adored.”  beagle

 

 

Whatever It Takes

cropped-photo143.jpgA colleague at work decided to host an English tea party for all the women in the office. She draped the common room with streamers in pinks, yellows, soft greens, and lavender. The tablecloths were pink with white polka dots. Her finger foods included an English trifle, thumbprint cookies with a cherry jam center, cucumber and butter sandwiches without the crust, caramel pecan brownies, and lemon bars. Toward the end of the party, one woman disappeared and returned with a strawberry shortcake and candle in it. It turned out it was the organizer’s birthday.

“Oh, we had no idea,” said one co-worker with a furrowed brow.

“That’s okay. This way I got you all to come,” said the organizer.

Calvin says, “Clever. For my next birthday, I’ll invite all the neighborhood dogs for a bone barbecue. Tell me if they wouldn’t all come, well maybe not that boor Nigel, with a stomach that drags on the ground, who stays up barking all night believing he’s the neighborhood ninja defender.” beagle

Equidae

My son spent a morning with two donkeys on a ranch in the hills.

He knew nothing about donkeys. He’d never met any before so he didn’t know what to expect. They were not used for anything other than ornamentation on the property, like trees.

They were in a corral. My son went inside softly and stood there to gauge their reaction. He didn’t want to frighten them as is so often the case with horses that don’t know you.  donkey

“Go up and pet them,” said the ranch manager.

And he did. They came up immediately to his side and allowed him to pet them, talk to them, and feed them a treat. They were happy to stay there all day with him.

“They’re like children, actually worse. They’ll eat themselves to death, they have no sense of when to stop. And these two like to wander. If you let them out, they’ll take off and won’t come back,” the manager said.

The property manager was hoping to find them a new home.  I guess he was tired of chasing them all over the hills. They had become a nuisance.

What did he expect from ornaments?

They had no purpose in life.

We’d be traipsing all over the place, too if we didn’t have things to do.

At the end of the visit, my son declined them. He already had two dogs to take care of, he didn’t need two bigger ones.

Calvin says, “You’re close to hurting my feelings. Am I a nuisance like that? I thought you adored me.” beagle

 

 

 

A Kitchen Visitor

Here’s another bird story:

I visited a friend on Labor Day.  She lives on top of a mountain in a sprawling house, with a pool and several studios. She’s an artist and bird lover. We talked about the many species of birds that inhabit her world which she feeds – woodpeckers, ravens, blue jays, sparrows and a slew of others I can’t name. I don’t know my bird kingdom.

She also owns two dogs and two horses. The occasional fox shows up at night looking for food as do many deer. IMG_0205

The next day a hawk flew into her dining room, and smashed all her vases by the windows in its attempts to flee. Without breaking into a sweat, my friend threw a blanket over it and took it outside. It stood very still for a few seconds, she said, and then flew into a nearby tree and glared back at her.

I’m calling her the bird whisperer.

I couldn’t have done that. I would have panicked, and then the bird would have flown all over the house, crashing into things, the dogs would have gone after it, leaving loose feathers and flesh all over the place, and I would have ended up calling 911 and all of us going to the ER for stitches.

Calvin says, “A hawk? You’re kidding me, right? Why don’t you take me with you on these visits!?” beagle

 

The Love of Moi

Ever since the creation of the cell phone, taking pictures of yourself has become an obsession.

Most Facebook pages are crammed with selfies.

We are in love with ourselves.  Hamster

Wherever we are, we want the world to know of our existence.

At the dentist, on safari, on a camel, petting a walrus, catching soap bubbles, or at the vet’s with Psycho.

All of social media is an excuse to be a narcissist.

I noticed even my dermatologist now has a Facebook page. In a way that makes sense since he’s in the beauty business. Tummy tucks and facelifts and such.  But I’m sure he’s not the one keeping it current. He has no time with a waiting room full of patients needing Botox injections. Some 18-year old is doing it, probably his granddaughter.

Everyone wants to be famous.

From the bailiff to the zoo keeper.

And that requires a photograph.

The one you take of yourself.

On the way to the liposuction appointment.

Calvin says, “No derm docs for me. My fan page is growing everyday.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Drip in the Night

We’ve had plumbing problems at home this week.

It’s been disorienting to stumble into the bathroom at 5 a.m. to brush my teeth and to be shocked by running water splashing around my ankles.

This puts Alf into a panic. Computers are his field, not pipes.

Our solution: buy another vanity. photo(116)

We went to Lowe’s armed with tape measures. We looked professional. We measured the vanities on display. We chose a very circumspect one, cherry brown with a white marble top. We hunted down a live sales person. He checked the inventory on the computer. It said they had two in the store. He began to look. Up and down the aisles he went. Nothing. Finally I asked him what the product number was, and now there were two of us, and then three with Alf. We stretched our necks searching for box # 400897 at a height of an eagle in a tree. Several strained necks later we returned to the computer to discover it had lied to us. There were two vanities, but one was a return because it was damaged, and the other was the display we had measured. How many others had measured it, kicked it, and shimmied it? We were not going to buy that one, but I was tempted to ask if we could get a discount on it. Nope, I didn’t do it. Our salesman was not to be daunted, so he called another store, and found a new one. So we put it on hold, dashed over there, confirmed they had told the truth, and paid for it.

This took the better part of the morning.

Our wonderful neighbor, a whiz at fixing all things broken and a truck owner, picked up the vanity with Alf and dragged it into the house. Like a moth to a flame, Ed’s attention was immediately drawn to the problem with the old vanity. After examining it he declared he could fix it. Why spend $400 on a new vanity when he could fix the old one for $32. So off he went to the hardware store, chose new parts, came back and got to work. What should have been a few hours turned into two days, with several additional trips to the store, but when he finished I had brand new, shinny silver pipes guaranteed never to leak a drop of water on me again no matter what time of day or night. Then Ed and Alf schlepped the new Lowe’s wonder back to the store to be returned to its black hole in the sky.

Calvin says, “You guys are ridiculous. What’s wrong with the hose out in back and one of the trees to pee on?”  beagle