What’s in a Name?

There was construction going on in a building on my walk to work this morning. The scaffolding was full of workers on several levels, wearing tool belts, yellow fluorescent vests and white hard hats. Two guys were leaning against a parked car, smoking, and watching the work being done. Obviously the crew foremen.

“Hey, Jesus, what country are you from?” one of them said.

Jesus turned around to face them. “What country? From the United States,” he said in perfect English.

I laughed out loud. 

The guy who asked the question clearly expected Jesus to say, “Mexico.” But he didn’t.  That showed him.

Stereotypes don’t work anymore.

For example, when I see a doctor. They’re from all over the world. Their last names are Carlson or Rodriguez or Ngo, but they’re Americans now. In fact, Carlson might be the real foreigner in the group.

The truth is most of us are immigrants. Scratch the family history and you’ll uncover Aunt Sophie came from Bavaria, Germany by way of her mother’s womb, and Uncle Basil skied into Austria from Budapest when the communists took over, and then boarded a ship to Ellis Island where they changed his name to Bertie.

If we want genuine, 100 percent American heritage, we’ll have to look at England first, or the American Indians.

Calvin says, “It’s true in the dog world, too. You can’t trust a beagle with the name of Waffles.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gems in the Flowers

Easter bounced in and out last Sunday.

I didn’t see many rabbits on the street. Only one.

He was dressed as a squirrel and scampered into the backyard.

He flicked his tail and chirped madly to himself

when he discovered the eggs wrapped in pastel foil  unnamed (1)

hidden in the flower beds.

 

I was worried. The foil could kill him.

The chocolate, too if he reacted like a dog.

Dogs can die if they eat chocolate. Maybe squirrels, too.

I felt a few seconds of remorse, then

I got a gleam in my eye,

from the light bouncing off an egg.

 

Calvin says, “Your nasty is showing.” beagle

Crazy Busy

There are business leaders out there with books and mentoring classes that say that busyness is a lack of focus, and that it robs us of being attentive to what really matters.

Obviously they’ve never been a mother with children. Or a school teacher. Or an ER doctor. Or ants. Have you ever seen an ant soaking up the sun by itself on the sidewalk?

How about bees? We have a hive in the backyard and a day doesn’t go by that they’re not buzzing around flying in and out of the hive, making sure the queen is happy. That’s full-time work, with no vacation.

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These gurus are probably in their 30’s, never been married, and order out every day of the week.

Their philosophy sounds so good, but it’s so wrong. Busyness is the nature of life, especially if you’re holding down a job, raising a family, and being a conscientious citizen.

And if you add in walking the dog at least twice a day, busyness doesn’t even come close. I’d love to stop all that, kick back on my couch with a good book or an addictive television series and ignore the needs around me. But then that would put me in a whole new category – that of being a narcissist.

Calvin says, “Two walks a day? Ha! I’m lucky you let me out in the backyard to chase squirrels for exercise.”  beagle

 

The Cure for Social Media Boredom

Have you noticed the changes that are happening on social media these days? It’s no longer a place to hang out with friends and family. It’s more like a shopping bazaar. Every other post is for leadership workshops, coaching lessons, weight loss programs, dog training.

Lately there are tons of courses for writing a book. It seems, according to the marketers, everybody should write a book. We have a story in all of us, they say, and it must come out. It’s the new therapy. Regurgitate your life on the page and press publish.

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Except it’s boring. Have you noticed that? Read some memoirs. You can distill the essence to angst, depravity and survival. That seems to sell. Stories that are hilarious, unique or good for the soul people won’t read.

I can speculate why the negative sells. People like drama. The more hideous the better. Check out your favorite reality TV show. The human tendency to be brutal is inherent in all us.

But I prefer a good story that ends in laughter. It’s time to flood social media with those. Anyone want to join me?

Calvin says, “I will. I’ll write some scratch & sniff posts.”

beagle

 

 

 

Collapse of the Berlin Wall

Yesterday was a first for me. I was on the subway and nearing my stop. I got up from my seat a minute ahead, something I do all the time, walked to the door, and landed flat on my back. The ground gave way under me. More correctly, I gave way. My knees buckled and I went down. It happened so fast it took a few seconds to realize I was staring up at the ceiling. I must say I collapsed gracefully, as if I had practiced this maneuver all my life, like a ballerina on point. In actuality I came down like a ton of bricks.

Fortunately there weren’t many people on board so I had the floor to myself. And it was reasonably clean. The few passengers that saw me go down didn’t move, they just watched me collapse. IMG_4443

One man, who sat near the door, helped me get up, sort of. He helped me sit up and then I got to my feet on my own. I didn’t have any broken bones, head concussions or scrapes. I didn’t look wounded. I did not want to be one of those riders who got sick on the train and the whole subway system jams up while the paramedics and the police with their German Shepherds show up. I just got off at my stop and kept walking.

I made it to the office and gulped down my first cup of coffee.

A few hours later my lower back began complaining. That’s all, just a whine of self-pity in a minor key. I could live with that.

Calvin says, “You know, taking me for walks has limbered you up, otherwise you would have folded like a deck chair and stayed there.”beagle

The Red Sea Crossing

It’s been pouring for days. It’s my kind of weather except when it impacts the toilets in my house. That’s where I draw the line. The toilets, the shower, the bathtub and the garage sink went on strike all at once and filled up with water. Grey, dirty water.

That required immediate emergency measures. I called two plumbers who were asleep and couldn’t be bothered with my plight. It was Sunday after all, the day of rest, and crises would have to wait. The third plumber responded and came over in 45 minutes. Meanwhile Alf was filling buckets of water from the shower and dumping them in the backyard. I was pacing the kitchen trying to stay calm. The rain continued. Calvin was on guard with nose quivering.fullsizerender-23

Finally Juan showed up in an unmarked truck. That sent alarm bells off in my head. Calvin began howling. He introduced himself and smiled with a mouthful of braces and spoke in faltering English. The alarm bells were getting louder. Calvin was grunting. Juan unscrewed the cap to the main pipe to the house and a volcano of water erupted flooding the front lawn. I was convinced we had called a hack and I was ready to phone another plumber, and then the police, if I could find either who wasn’t taking a nap. Calvin was hissing and booing at Juan.

Alf decided to go with it. Juan pulled out a snake and a camera from his truck and did a diagnostic. Sure enough the roots of our bushes were strangling the outflow from the pipe and would need to be replaced. Juan called two buddies who appeared too quickly – were they waiting around the corner? – which confirmed we had hired a gang of thugs to fix our plumbing. This was not looking good. Calvin agreed. He was showing his pearly whites and howling.

The gang worked all day digging and snaking and digging some more. Calvin snarled along with them from the kitchen. The guys took a break to get tacos. We asked where they went and now we have a recommendation for a neighborhood taqueria. Calvin got a gleam in his eye.

The gang continued with the dig. It felt like an archaeological excavation in my front lawn. The chewed up pipe was finally unearthed, and I began to calm down. Maybe these guys knew their job after all. Calvin, exhausted from his protective detail, had curled up in his bed and gone to sleep.

By the end of the day the plumbers had unplugged the back-up, got the water flowing again, and I had my toilets back. They said they’d come back the next day to install the new pipe and eat more tacos.

Calvin says, “I’ve earned at least a dozen tacos. Let’s go!” beagle

 

 

 

Not for Sissies

So much for global warming.

It’s been raining in Hawaii. The temperatures in the North West Coast are freezing, with so much snow people are inside for the duration of the winter.

Chicago is frozen, Lake Michigan has a layer of ice, and the famous Bean is wearing a blanket of frost. photo(33)

As Thornton Wilder in his play, The Skin of Our Teeth said,  “It’s so cold, the dogs are sticking to the sidewalk.”

Last I read, these types of deep weather fluctuations are normal for the planet. So why do we make such drama out of it? Is it because we don’t have the right wardrobe? Or the skiing ability? Maybe we don’t have the shovels for our driveways or we don’t know how to drive on icy roads?

We definitely don’t know how to drive, that’s for sure. Even with a bit of rain the traffic around here becomes paralyzed while drivers attempt going through the raindrops. California drivers aren’t used to rain or snow. They only know sunshine. Any other weather condition reduces them to frightened children behind the wheel.

The rain is my favorite kind of weather. Too many days of sun and clear skies depress me. There’s no drama. Give me dark skies, crackling lightning, a good thunderstorm that sounds like bowling balls crashing into each other, and pelting raindrops the size of figs. Now that’s real weather. It’s not for sissies.

Calvin says, “I’d never stick to the sidewalk. My nose maybe.”

beagle