It’s Show Time

What would the media do without the corona-virus, Harvey Weinstein and the Democrats jostling for votes to become the candidate to oppose President Trump this fall? They’d have to fold up and crawl under their desks. Is there any news that isn’t bad news, or better put, scary news? The media thrives on crises.

Have you also noticed how shallow the reporting is? Lots of scare language but little substance. There are barely enough facts to understand anything, let alone feel you have the full story.

What’s happened to journalism? What’s being taught in these schools? I think they’re really in the entertainment business. There is no such thing as a well-balance piece about anything anymore except maybe how to dance the tango or make a plum tart.

And have you noticed how many journalists take their cues from Twitter quotes? Or video clips? Pretty soon I’m expecting some company to roll out a platoon of robots holding yellow legal pads and pencils stuck behind their ears to produce the news. They’ll be cheaper and more efficient in the long run. That is, if you don’t care about the facts.

Calvin says, “Take your cue from me. My nose is the daily paper. I learn everything I need to know there. You should do the same.”

 

The Big Goodbye

The hoopla is over. The 49ers lost. Kansas City Chiefs won. Let’s move on.

The Iowa caucus is in chaos and nobody emerged as a winner. Yet. They’ll figure it out.

Today is the State of the Union address. Tomorrow is the end of the impeachment proceedings. Let’s move on.

I wonder what the media will do now that all the drama is gone. They live and breathe crises and fear and a heightened anxiety. They’re the reason people are on drugs for depression and high blood pressure. Big pharma is thrilled.

I say we unplug our electronic devises, the television, and anything else that has us tethered to the media. We aren’t getting the news anyway. It’s all entertainment.

Instead, let’s read a book for pleasure. Do we remember how?

Let’s learn how to make chocolate filled croissants.

How about a hike in the woods? Do we even remember what a tree looks like?

It’s time to return to the simple, sane things that give us peace. Now there’s a word that’s out of tune with today.

Calvin says, “When do we go on this hike of yours? My nose is ready. Also for the croissant.”

Crazy Holidays

Have you noticed the crazy stuff that happens to people around the holidays? Why don’t these things happen other times of the year?

A friend called to tell me she ended up in the ER on Thanksgiving day, doubled over in pain and unable to breathe from an allergic reaction to eating a nut. She knew she was allergic, but she ate it anyway. Does insanity come over us this time of year?

A gregarious, fun-loving, life-of-the-party friend spent Thanksgiving alone. “That’s okay, I’ve had millions of Thanksgivings,” she said non-nonchalantly.

My neighbor’s youngest daughter chose to stay away from the family so she could finish her research paper for school. My neighbor was hurt and lamented the fact her entire family was not present around the table. These are adult children, with lives of their own.

The people I know with kids demand that their children show up for the holidays, no matter how old they are. I find that strange. They say they want their children to grow up, make a life for themselves and build careers, have children of their own, live happy lives. But then holiday time rolls around and the demand to appear over turkey or Christmas caroling becomes law. And the drama that ensues if the law isn’t obeyed is brutal. It takes a year to recover from it.

I think we make holiday time into more than what it should be – a reason to be with friends and family and be cozy with one another. It doesn’t have to be with every relative you have, or every one of your friends since kindergarten. Sometimes it’s with a friend who knows and understands you better than your sister or brother, or your distant relative thirteen times removed who is grateful you remembered her and she brings that joy to the party.

Calvin says, “Do what I do. Everyday is a holiday, a reason to suck on a bone, get your tummy rubbed, and snore under a fleece blanket.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(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.” 

Stormy Weather

Have you noticed how quickly airports shut down at the first splash of a rain drop that hits the tarmac? Twice now I’ve been left waiting at the gate for hours while the weather clears up. Another time I was kept waiting because the airport had too much traffic in the air due to bad weather and re-routed flights that were scheduled to arrive.

What’s with this? I’ve been flying all my life. I’m used to flying in all kinds of weather. Once, I was on board a plane in Argentina in torrential rain. I mean sheets. With lightning and thunder to go with it. We shoved off from the gate and headed toward the take-off area. The plane in front of us got clearance for take-off. It splashed through the rain, leaving a wake of water behind, and climbed into the storm clouds and vanished. Our captain, watching this no doubt from the cockpit, turned and inched our plane to a parking spot. “My wife told me not to play the hero, so we’re waiting for this storm to move on,” he said. In a way, I was relieved. I liked this guy’s survival instincts.

On the other hand, I’ve been on planes when an engine blew out just before landing in Mexico City. I pointed it out to the flight attendant and she said, “Oh that’s nothing, not to worry.” Meanwhile black fumes were spewing out and I could see flames licking the sides of the engine. Either she was blind, in denial or I was hallucinating. Fortunately we were on approach and came to a screeching halt the minute we touched down. Firefighters surrounded the engine with their extinguishers. I found the flight attendant who looked out the window with me. “I know it was your job to calm me down, but don’t take me for an amateur. I know a crisis when I see one. I’m a mother.”

On another flight, the turbulence was so horrible I wanted to die. It was worse than a roller-coaster ride because we were so far up in the air and I couldn’t see the ground. That is always a bad sign in my mind. We had plenty of distance to fall like a rock, but I wanted to sail, not fall. The wings shuddered, the cabin creaked and moaned, the passengers held their collective breaths, and the flight attendants were harnessed into their jump seats looking terrified. We flew through that rough patch and climbed to a higher altitude where we were greeted by angels singing and rays of sunshine.

Even with the newer planes, that are sleeker and more fuel efficient, these episodes happen. Weather trumps everything, every time, leaving all our systems in the lurch.

Calvin says, “That’s why I hate flying as much as going to the vet. Grip the ground is my motto.”

Bring It Down a Little

They say it’s global warming. That’s why today’s temperatures are almost to 100. And this is Northern California. It’s not supposed to feel this way. We’re not Arizona. We’re in the Bay Area where the fog rolls in at night and cools everything down. Except there’s no fog. It’s crept on its silent little feet to another state where it is being warmly welcomed.

We don’t have air conditioning in the house. Alf and I have never needed it, until now. But I know how this works. The minute we invest in AC in all the rooms, we’ll have global freezing and we’ll be stoking pot belly stoves in every nook of the house.

So you really can’t win. Best to wait it out, plug in some fans, drink lots of sweetened iced tea like they do in the South, and sit in the shade. It’s a good opportunity to chat with the neighbors who are outside like you.

Like Reynash across the street. He says this is cool weather for him coming from India. Or Angela next door who is soaking up the sun because her doctor says she’s low in vitamin D. She’s from Brazil. And good old Simon, the accountant, who lives indoors with a scarf wrapped around his neck and hasn’t noticed the climbing temperatures in months. Meanwhile his cat is sprawled out and panting on the back of the living room couch.

I suppose weather changes affect different people in different ways. For me, I can’t make enough ice, I feel lethargic, and I’m certainly not walking the dog. I’ve given him a fan of his own until the temperatures drop to a normal cool.

Calvin says, “I like the fan breezing over my tummy. But I am putting on pounds, you know.”

 

 

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.”