Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Called "Eclectic" If Anyone Asks

Perhaps you're looking to spruce things up a bit At Home. Or, now that Autumn is here, you are feeling that Nesting Instinct--the desire to prepare your cold-weather cocoon. Lucky for you, I can assist you with that.

And it doesn't even matter if you're redoing say, your bathroom, and it might look like this one:

or if you're finally remodeling your entire kitchen, and your taste is more along the lines of, say, this:

Let's imagine, even, that you are redecorating your bedroom (or guest room) and have opted for a style more in keeping with this:

Did you pack off the last tyke to college or into a home of his/her own? Are you finally getting the living room of your dreams, one For Guests Only?

I have just the little accessory for any of those scenarios. It will slide right in seamlessly and add not only functionality, but the stylish finishing touch you will appreciate. It says so right on the package. Here, let me show you:


Hey.  You're welcome.

(All images via, except living room from; bass switchplate via Amazon, mine.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Driving Story In Which We Discuss Irony, Connotation, And Simile (And Any Other English Class Vocabulary You'd Like)

It was one of those rare times when I was zipping along on Rt. 58, driving admittedly well above the speed limit and with no one ahead of me for miles. Foolishly, I dared hope--no--believe that I was going to, as St. Patsy likes to say, Make Good Time for once on this damned road that is usually full of dawdlers, slowpokes, and Sunday Drivers.

Then I crested a hill and there it was, a boxy red car going Nowhere. I had to apply my brakes. On the highway. The speed limit is 55 on that particular stretch, and this car was travelling at a leisurely 42 mph. As is always the case with my fortunes, the double yellow line had appeared on the road as it became more hilly and winding, and I was stuck.

Irritated, I poked at the buttons of the radio and looked for some music or some interesting talk. Traffic coming the other way had begun to pick up a little, and I sighed loudly. It figured. Even when it was legal to pass this guy, opposing traffic might make it impossible.

I also found it annoying that the car was called a Nitro, according to the chrome plate on it. There was absolutely nothing about this vehicle that remotely suggested "Nitro" to me, which evokes in my mind explosions or speed or power or that one American Gladiator--remember him? Certainly not a square, stodgy car like this poky thing.


As I fumed and fussed, I noticed the offending car rocking just a little. It was then that I became aware of a huge dark mass moving around inside it. It was large enough to obscure the rear window a bit, and completely block the rearview mirror at times. "Holy crap," I said aloud. "What the hell is in there?"

Route 58 goes directly through a hamlet which is almost entirely a school zone, and trust me, this almost kills me. It also has two train crossings and a ton of construction. As I followed Red Nitro and approached this mess, I watched with growing curiosity the shape-shifter inside the car. Once we cleared the first train tracks and orange barrels, things became suddenly clearer.

The driver must have put all the windows down from a central control because as soon as we started moseying through town, an enormous dog head appeared through the rear passenger window and began barking. Loudly and a lot. At everything. Then the dog turned around, and its head appeared in another window to do the same on the other side. This went on--from all four windows in random succession--all the way through the small town, and it may well have gone on for the rest of his ride, however long it took. I will never know.

Because coming out of that village, I took advantage of the broken white line and passed Red Nitro. But before I did, I had ample time to notice a decal I had missed until we meandered through that maddening, tiny burgh. It was this one:

The story doesn't end there. A few days later, Rick and I dropped in on my brother at his lakehouse, and he was recounting an adventure he had just had while mowing his three lots with his riding mower. "It was terrible," he was telling St. Patsy. "I stopped the mower and sat there with my legs drawn up. That thing charged me with its teeth bared, barking like hell. It was the biggest German Shepherd I ever saw. And all the guy did was stand way over in his yard and keep calling to it. That dog didn't even hear him, or act like it did. I finally yelled, 'Can you just come over and get it?' And the guy comes over with the leash, gets the dog, and doesn't say a word to me. Not one."

Guess what was parked two doors down?

I think that his decal is maybe overselling it.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Death, Be Not Proud, But At Least Be As Dignified As Possible

No matter where you live, I know you've all seen them. Even if you haven't seen one in actuality, you've at least seen them on television during reports of tragic deaths either by gun violence, traffic accidents, or even acts of terrorism. They're often spontaneous, many times poignant, and always well-meaning.

I'm talking about the makeshift memorials that appear at the site of a terrible and sad death. They are very common in Cleveland, for example, these displays of stuffed animals, candles, balloons, and flowers intermingled with hand-lettered posters and cards and notes and photos, even some paintings and sketches of the deceased or murdered. Along two of the highways I drive frequently are faded wreaths, their significance unknown to me. I have no idea who they mourn, and now they look dirty and bedraggled. I find myself feeling worse about the condition of the memorial than what could have happened there.

Then I feel guilty for being shallow. Then I feel resentful about the way our culture deals with death. Then I berate myself for being so complex in my own feelings about death. Then I push a bunch of buttons on the radio and try to think about something else.

Today, however, I saw an entirely different sort of Memorial. I was absolutely amazed, and you know that word is not one that I use lightly. Here it is; tell me what you think:

It suddenly appeared before me in traffic, and thank heaven I had enough time to snap a photo.  The back window is painted, for those of you who cannot make it out clearly, with the words "Rest In Heaven Angy Anne' 11-25-98  8-29-15."  

Never before in my life have I seen this sort of Mobile Memorial.  I have seen cars painted to announce softball championships, high school senior jubilation, graduation joy, wedding elation, birthday announcement, driver's license success, the fact that a certain team is bound for state competition, and to inform me that "Lordy, Lordy, Someone Is Forty", but never that someone is dead and that the driver wishes her to be at peace in the afterlife.

Let me add this to the List Of Things No One Should Do When He Or She Hears That I Am Dead.  Driving around with a back-window announcement of my passing is, to me, actually worse than posting it on PinTwitFace.  It is actually more undignified, if that is possible.  It is worse than passing it in a note during study hall or class or, if you go, church.  I would absolutely rather it be announced during, oh, almost any event except perhaps a Toby Keith or Miley Cyrus concert.  I would rather have it be a singing telegram sent to someone and performed in a gorilla suit--no!--a gorilla in a tutu--than have anyone drive around with the news of my passing shoe-polished on the back window of his Chevrolet.  Or Honda.  Or even her Nissan Leaf, as environmentally friendly as that car is.

Please, in Comments, tell me I am Not Alone.

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