Thursday, August 16, 2018

Your True Hero, Scabs And All

"Here," said the gods of Irony, "because you have been trying valiantly to be A Good Girl and stick to your Wellness Regimen, and because your hideous haircut has finally begun to Grow Out Into A Decent And Presentable Style, we are going to Screw With You."

And so it was that Tuesday, on my brisk walk, I fell face-down, full-length on the sidewalk. And in case you haven't ever done that, it really, really hurts.

Walking in our neighborhood is no mean feat. Our tree-lined sidewalks are a mishmash of old rocky concrete, recent cement, and original sandstone full of holes, waves, and sometimes grass; many of them are lifted by the roots of innumerable old trees that may or may not be around anymore. And an ongoing gasline project has introduced The Sidewalks That Are No Longer There, which are uneven mounds of dried mud and gravel allsorts. I try desperately to keep my eyes on my path, but after a while, I have to look up or I get dizzy.

The first thing I thought of once I reckoned with my sudden fall was my teeth, which a quick assessment told me were all there and intact. I carefully rolled onto my side and attempted to get up--slowly--so I could see if I had any injuries that would keep me from getting home on my own. I was lucky; aside from being scraped and bloody, nothing was broken or sprained. Once I got home--two blocks away--I could more fully see what I was working with:

1. Bloody--but not split--upper lip and philtrum
2. Scraped chin and cheek
3. Two scraped knees
4. One scraped elbow
5. Bloody skinned shoulder
6. Damaged prescription sunglasses
7. Wounded pride and vanity
8. Confirmation that Exercise Is Bad

It is important here to note that I Did Not Cry.

Not even when I realized that, for the next Eleventy Thousand Days, I will have a scabby upper lip and look like a female Hitler. I even kept a medical appointment FOR THE SAME AFTERNOON. IN ALL MY INSANELY BLOODY GLORY. And pain.  (Holy crap am I sore.  Everywhere.)

And people say There Are No More True Heroes.

It is to laugh.

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Monday, August 06, 2018

The Greatest...Because I Say So

One day late last week I stepped out of the shower and I heard a fanfare of music; then a stentorian voice blared from the television in the bedroom. "Broadway's greatest musical is coming to Cleveland!" it announced. Immediately a list of contenders ran through my mind--none of which interested me, I might add, since I am not a fan of musicals--and I waited to hear the title, just out of Idle Curiosity. When the announcer finally did speak the name of The Musical, I was completely floored; there was not a single chance I'd have ever guessed it to be Broadway's Greatest, and I made up my mind to ask my mother, St. Patsy, Film And Musical Maven, her opinion.

So I did. I gave her the scenario and then gave her three guesses. Hers were stellar and completely plausible.

They were also, like all of mine, wrong.

I told her the answer, according to the commercial, and she was outraged. "Well, that's just ridiculous! Who said that's the greatest musical? I can only name one song from it!" And from there we both began naming all the other Better Musicals and the wonderful songs that came from them. Obviously, Broadway's Greatest Musical was NOT coming to Cleveland after all.

So, in the spirit of that dopey ad campaign that thought it could decide What Is The Greatest Of All, let's just declare what we think Is The Greatest in these random categories below. You don't have to explain your choices; just own them!

The Greatest...

1. Pasta Shape
Farfalle (Bowtie)

2. Vegetable

3. Ketchup

4. Book
To Kill a Mockingbird

5. Band
The Beatles

6. Ice Cream
Häagen-Dazs Coffee

7. Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis

8. President
Abraham Lincoln

9. Poem
Tie: Annabel Lee and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

10. Candy
Peanut MM's

There!  These things are The Greatest because I say so. Now you can say so, too, in Comments. (Oh, and the Greatest Broadway Musical, according to that ad campaign? Hello, Dolly. Yeah, I don't think so, either. )

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Monday, July 30, 2018

What It's Like To Be All Of Me: Television

When I read a book or watch television or listen to the radio, my Internal English Teacher, Writer, and Editor immediately report for duty. It's incredibly exhausting, dragging these people around with me constantly. I wish they'd go away. They make my life a constant trial, like having that itchy tag in the back of your shirt when you're impossibly occupied and can't do a thing about it. Or like when your neighbour suddenly and inexplicably hangs wind chimes, and you never get another quiet evening out on the patio ever again. Or when you feel like you have something in your eye, but you absolutely cannot see what it is, let alone get the damn thing out. These Alter Egos endlessly alert me to little faux pas in grammar, spelling, mechanics, and usage in both written and spoken language. Why? Why? It's not like I can do a single thing about them other than Despair and Lament, Wail and Gnash My Teeth, and otherwise Moan and Fret about the downward spiral of The Language and The Intellect Of Our Country.

It's a good thing I Drink.

Here's a couple of examples from TV:

A week or so ago, one of the cutest on-the-spot reporters for the local Cleveland news affiliate was on the scene of a pretty big fire that included an explosion. Brandon--that's his name--was standing in the foreground of the devastation, and here's how part of his segment went:

Brandon: As you can see, Sarah, the building is a total loss, and there's damage to the property beside it as well. Several other neighbouring fire departments had to be called out to contain the blaze.

Sarah: Oh my. What about casualties? Was anyone hurt?

Brandon: Well, there is some good news there, Sarah. The people inside weren't there.


Sigh. It's a good thing I love Brandon. It really is.

This next one is from a commercial for a legal team. For some reason, lawyer commercials are particularly bad at mechanics and grammar. "We" try to have my phone ready to snap a picture every time one comes on.

thought I'd better obscure the phone #

How in the hell is a dead person going to call for a free legal consultation? Just who are these people marketing to? WHAT IS HAPPENING OUT THERE? AND WHY MUST I ALWAYS BE ALERTED TO IT?

Am I alone in this? Share your Irks or at least make me feel better in Comments.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

No Wine Left Behind

Just when I thought I couldn't take It anymore--It being my scary bad Haircut, the unrelenting Heat, the constant Barrage Of Badness out of 45*, and a lot of Extraneous Crap that would not stop Fraying My Edges and provoking the Control Freak In Me--it was suddenly time for our Jaunt to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada. Even though we had just zipped up in May for an event at our favourite winery, we were still determined to make our usual Summertime Visit.

I'm so glad we did.

We've made so many, many friends there that it feels like home to us. After checking in with Tim who owns the little inn where we always stay, we drove to a nearby winery to grab a bottle of a deep, smoky Meritage to sip later that evening on our balcony. The suite's balcony is nestled in among the branches of a stately, primeval redwood, whose fronds shade us and give us lovely privacy, yet provide enough glimpses of the beautiful garden below.

Our two days of wine tasting (and wine buying!) were not only fun, but they were illuminating. Rick and I both love to learn about all the aspects of winemaking and winery operations. We tasted wine from the tanks, wine that was still being coaxed out of bottle shock, and some wines that were experimental in the way that they were produced. You'll be happy to know that I proposed marriage a fourth time to my favourite winemaker (and was accepted!), and his daughter now refers to me as her second mother.

But it still didn't get me the last of the Sauvignon Blanc out of his library that I really, really wanted. Not this time. (But I did score some more of their 2015 Merlot, and they were kind enough, upon hearing that it was our 37th anniversary, to gift us a bottle of their sparkling Blanc De Noir. Gorgeous stuff, both of those.)

Despite the fact that we bought a ton of wine in May, we bought another ton. "The American dollar is really great right now," said my winemaker husband's Other Wife. "You're practically getting this for free!" Sounded good to me. (Or, as my American husband Rick always says, "It's only money; I'll just make more!") And...what if that Petit Verdot or Cabernet Franc or Savagnin or...all of it was gone next time we came? I don't need Regrets. Not when it comes to Wine; there are so many in Life already.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Dipping A Toe Back In

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No matter who said it (and the disagreement about its origin is brisk and ongoing), Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I've missed writing here. I've missed sharing Stuff In General with others. I've missed the Shape it gives to some of my Days, however vague that Shape may have been. So I'm going to sort of pick up where I left off, but follow much of my own Retirement Philosophy here, including the objective of Streamlining.  For example:

I've already tossed most of my Sidebar Elements, which were worky and cluttery. Links are now on a separate page, tabbed up top. I've had to eliminate Anonymous comments because they were all--without exception--being left by spammers. Blogger (owned by Google), as I said before, has disallowed Open ID commenters. If you don't have any one of a number of Google accounts, you'll either have to open one or I'll lose you as a commenter. This is upsetting, but I can't do anything about it.

My posts might be shorter.  I might not labour so painstakingly over them.  I might try to stop being such a Gold Standard Perfectionist.  Seriously, I might.

Your support, encouragement, and empathy in Comments on my last post gave me a great deal of help. So did the continued reading of your blogs (and others'). And so did the time away.

June was a very odd month.  I felt a little like a jar of mayo--kept refrigerated and only allowed out for short amounts of time lest I get too warm.  July is not proving to be all that much better.  Thank goodness for early mornings and very dark sunglasses, or I'd never get my walks in (sans le makeup,  the victim of a Very Bad Haircut).

It's feeling pretty good to Be Back.  Catch me up in Comments.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Thinking Hard

Since we last chatted, Not Much has happened or Lots has happened, depending upon your Perspective. Here's a Quickie Rundown:

1. The Nativity Wreck finally disappeared from view about two weeks ago. Finally, NO Xmas decorations sully my neighborhood!
2. I caught a misspelling on The Dr. Phil Show. (A graphic spelled the word provocative as provacative.)
3. The winery party we attended was lovely. We won the drawing, a lovely crate of six select single-vintage reds.
4. Lake season has started, and I caught the first fish.
5. An ongoing gasline project in our neighborhood is noisily disrupting my life and my daily walks; our sidewalks are in ruins.
6. We met new friends at the party in Niagara-on-the-Lake and plan to keep in touch.
7. I have participated in my last garage sale at my brother's lakehouse. Too much work for not enough enjoyment.
8. I completed two more knitting projects, and continue a square a day on my mitred square blanket.
9. Knitting is really my therapy, but it aggravates my neck-shoulder condition. Looks like I have to restart PT.
10. I've been thinking of shutting down the Dept. of Nance.

That last one is the big one. And believe me, I've been thinking awfully hard about it.

My original mission behind this blog was to Practice What I Preached to my Creative Writing students, that writers write. And I wanted to keep my skills limber in order to keep up with them, a truly gifted group year after year. I also wanted to maintain my own strong voice so that I didn't unintentionally adopt any of theirs or anyone I was reading as I taught the American Masters to my literature students. As time went on, I also enjoyed having a platform to discuss issues with my lively and engaging commenters and to bring small cultural ironies into focus in an almost Seinfeldian way. Politics--an important part of my life and one of my main interests--was also a big part of this blog. There was a great deal of energy here during the Bush 43 years and...well, now Politics is beating me up. I work as a political activist every morning--on the phone to Congress, online sending emails, clicking to sign petitions, reading to stay informed--and so much of it is soul-crushing. That is the hardest thing for me right now: if I don't write about Politics here, I feel like a traitor; if I do, I feel overwhelmed.

Honestly, I don't know what the hell to write about at this point. Many of my Original Commenters have drifted away. Maybe I bored them? Maybe they've moved along to other venues, (perhaps facebook!) or simply traded online time for realtime activities, like going to the gym or running 5Ks or any other death-cheating pursuits (can you imagine?). I miss them. I like the back-and-forth with Commenters. Blogging is a Community; responding to comments and having a regular conversation in Comments is what I like the most. I can't imagine not doing it. For me, it works.

I value all of my Commenters, and I respond to them all in Comments. I love it when conversation occurs among them. It's important to me to acknowledge that they bothered to respond to my writing. (Unfortunately, Blogger is wreaking havoc on this platform at present, and is no longer allowing "Open ID" sign-ins. A workaround may be to use Anonymous as your sign-in, then sign your name at the end of Blogger blog comments.)

So, I have some Thinking to do, and I will continue to do it. I have to think about what Purpose this blog has for me, if any, and whether or not it will be A Good Thing In My Life. I've been writing here for thirteen years! It's hard to suddenly say That's It. But if it doesn't provide a positive Purpose, then I have to let it go.

I know I'm not the only blogger who has thought about this. Perhaps some of you can offer some wisdom to help me with this decision as I sort it all out.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Today, I Feel Like A Genius. Read This And You Will Feel Like One, Too.

We join a Cleveland Sunday news show already in progress...

Robin: And today is National Jelly Bean Day! The sweet little treat is thought to be the invention of a Boston candymaker. His popular candy was sent to Union troops during the American Civil War. How about you, Ryan? Do you like jelly beans? I have to say that myself, I like Jelly Bellies better than jelly beans.

(Camera cuts to shot of Ryan the weatherman, standing in front of the map. For a moment he looks terribly confused; his mouth opens, then shuts. He glances at the camera, then looks over at the anchor desk.)

Ryan: Aaah...Jelly Bellies and jelly beans are the same thing. Jelly Bellies are a brand of jelly beans, Robin.

Robin: (voice heard, off, brightly) Oh wow! You learn something new every day!

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