Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Ages Of Man (And The Little Ladies)

I know what baby boomers are. I'm less clear about all the new lettered generations and Millennials. Who are they? And who cares? Not us baby boomers. Everyone else is just a prequel or an afterthought. We're the ones who count, which is why we find it so baffling that we're dropping dead.

But I got to wondering about all the names we give our generations, and time periods in general, and it occurred to me to look into the historical record. Here's the thing about me and History. I don't know any. If I ever did, I've forgotten it. And that's a problem, because those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Not that I'll be able to tell.

Anyway, I'm not at all certain what or when the Middle Ages were. Or the Dark Ages. Or Medieval times. So I looked them up.

Guess what? They're all the same thing! The Middle Ages started in 476 CE when the Roman Empire fell, with what I assume was a freakishly specific thud.  See, I didn't even know the Roman Empire fell all at once. I assumed it sort of dwindled away; everyone misplaced their sandals and the gladiators started doing lunch instead of fighting and the paper boy quit even trying to hit the porch. Turns out it fell, like, on a Tuesday.

By the way, that CE thing? That's what we used to call AD, Anno Domini. Most scholars nowadays prefer to take the religion out of the time references, so Year Of Our Lord is out the window, and Before Christ is out the window, and we have Common Era (CE) and Before Common Era (BCE) instead, although, coincidentally, they are still divided by one particular year when somebody was born under a great star. But it could've been anybody, I guess.

So the Middle Ages began in 476 CE, and ended with the Renaissance. The Middle Ages were when everyone forgot how to make concrete and we were overrun by Christians and people threw their poop out the windows. There was a whopper of a plague that took out a third of everybody and, times being what they were, was generally blamed on sinfulness rather than fleas. People started beating themselves and each other up to atone for it all, and even engaged in wanton murder of those suspected of insufficient piety. For your garden variety heretic, the Renaissance couldn't come soon enough.

Actually there was a ton of cool science and math going on during the Middle Ages, but it was going on in Muslim countries, so the Europeans wore red crosses on their sweaters and had themselves a Crusade. They thought if they could murder enough people they would be assured a spot in heaven. They fought Muslims for, like, 300 years, nobody particularly won, and lots of people died, although, in fairness, they would have by now anyway.

Meanwhile, back  in Europe, for the entirety of the Middle Ages, nobody clever or important was born, except for Hildegarde von Bingen, who didn't count, for ovarious reasons.

It's the Renaissance folks who named the Middle Ages: some dull, middle interval between the great Greek and Roman civilizations and their own enlightened selves. It's a bit dismissive. And now the Middle Ages have been further subdivided into Early, Late, and Right Spang In The. It was dull. Many of the participants weren't even aware they were in the Middle Ages at the time. So you see the level of sophistication we have to work with.

Those ancient Greeks themselves thought there were five Ages Of Man: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron, and Leatherette. All of those people BCE had to figure something was up as they were running out of years, but when they got to zero, lo, time miraculously started up again.

Anyway, now we're naming generations hand over fist because we don't have time for ages anymore. We've got your Greatest Generation, also known as the Dark Ages because it didn't have any boomers in it; we've got boomers, yay boomers; we've got Generation X, named after what needed to be solved for; then we have Generation Y, which is the same thing as Millennials by the way, and now, ominously, we've got Generation Z, and no more alphabet. It's all winding down, folks.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Let Nothing Ye Dismay

I don't know how you parents do it.

I don't know how you're supposed to have this little tiny being that you love more than you've ever loved anything in the whole wide world and then you're supposed to just let it grow up and go away. It's got to be the hardest thing. I mean, sure, it's one thing if it's annoying, but otherwise, how are you supposed to stop worrying?

And then what if it's not annoying at all? What if it has always been perfect in every way and not once given you a moment of sorrow? What if it's Studley Windowson?

You get yourself your own personal chickadee and you've got a twelve-gram portal to everything important in the universe. Maybe you're a little down, and you've sort of lost your way, and you wander outside and your chickadee lands on your finger and all of a sudden everything makes sense again. Here, he says, your way is over here. And maybe could you bring a mealworm on your way back? Studley thinks I'm a terrific cook, which makes him unique in the world. He thinks I get the temperature and liveliness just right, every worm al dente, but it's nothing, really. It's all in the presentation.

I don't see Studley every day, but every couple days he'll show up outside my writing room window and chikket at me. I'll put up one finger--to let him know I'm on it--go downstairs to the fridge and get the mealworms, and he'll still be right there waiting when I get back. But I haven't seen him in two weeks.

I worry. I know some day Studley will not reappear but I am not ready for that now. I want to see him through next spring's nesting season at least. Fortunately for me, our chickadees don't go anywhere in the winter, or so I've always thought. Now that I have one I can recognize, I was looking forward to seeing if I was right.

Every time in the last two weeks I see a chickadee at the feeder I run out with my tub of worms and it's never Studley. I can't see his tell-tale bum foot until he's real close, but Studley is never standoffish, and no one's come close. I've started to think dark thoughts. I've started to refer to my neighbors' unauthorized outdoor cats Boo and Anjali as "Coyote Chow." Maybe out loud.

Sometimes when you've gathered all your big griefs and little griefs and boxed them up neatly for transport without spillage, it doesn't take much to tip the scales. Twelve grams, maybe.

"Oh Studley," I think, when I'm refusing to think worse things, "are you seeing someone else?" So  it is not without gratitude that I received a bolt of grace today. I moved on.  I started seeing other chickadees. We're not intimate, but it's still exciting. Today we got two new birds at the feeder. They're chestnut-backed chickadees. Most of y'all don't have any of those. They're common at the coast and probably some Portland neighborhoods but this is a new Yard Bird for me. I thought: they're not Studley, but jeezy peezy they're snappy-looking. I decided to quit yearning and be happy with what I've got.

And that's when one of the regular black-capped chickadees came to the feeder. They always take one seed and run, but this one paused, and looked directly into the window at me, and didn't even bother with the seed. Studley?


Merry Christmas, Studdles, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Hateful And Stupid

In the pestilent cesspool of Stupid that is the Republican defense of Donald J. Trump, the stupidest thing being bellowed is that liberals are trying to undo his election because they hate him.


We absolutely do hate him. We hated him when he was just a bankrupt two-bit showman and poser with an unfathomable appeal to people who aspire to his level of vulgarity and ostentation, and we hate him even more now.

Moreover, our loathing is all-encompassing. We hate him for gleefully mocking his betters at every turn, including all women, anyone of non-European extraction, and any actual Europeans who fail to flatter him. We hate him for his refusal or inability to learn, or understand what he needs to learn, for his dismissal of science, for his repeated attacks on the honest press, for his uncloaked racism and eagerness to inflame the worst racist hearts, for his cruelty, for his bottomless ignorance, for his casual undermining of the very structure of democracy solely to enshrine himself as the biggest goddamn duck in the puddle, for endangering the lives of desperate refugees, for kissing up to the worst dictators in the world, for lies and bullshit, all the time and about everything, for enriching himself and his entitled spawn at the expense of the American people, for dividing Americans at every opportunity, for false religiosity, for favoring the insatiable desires of billionaires over the needs of the people, for attacking public service, for selling off the commons to profiteers, for open-faced corruption, for endangering our republic, for spewing propaganda, for ballooning our debt, for his ridiculous hairdo. All of it.

And most of all, we hate him and every other member of the Republican Party for failing to rise to the most existential threat we humans have ever faced, an environmental catastrophe of our own making, a challenge for which they have not only failed to provide any leadership whatsoever, but have dedicated themselves to making things worse, sooner. And all the famine, and drought, and the collapse of the oceans, and the deepening worldwide refugee crisis, and the coming wars over resources and territory, and the epidemics and spread of disease, and the extinctions, all of it is on him, and on them, every last grabbing one of them.

This is a man so uneducated and, frankly, stupid that he either believes there is no crisis as long as he still has air-conditioning, or he doesn't give a damn, as long as he's still rich. Goddamn right we hate him. But we can't impeach him for hatefulness. We impeach him for corruption, for obstruction, for abuse of power, all of it blatant and uncontested; we impeach for everything but blowjobs in the Oval Office. We don't care about that. We don't even care if he lies about that.

Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't hate anybody, and I have no reason to doubt her. I am not a Catholic, or even a Christian, but I am a liberal, so I understand how it works. I too, if I am honest, do not hate the actual man so much as perceive what a grasping, transparently insecure, pathetic man-baby he is and always has been, but I hate very single thing he has done to me, my fellow humans, and everything else. I not only want him out: I want him in prison.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ten Million Nine Hundred Thirty ... crap. One, Two...

You have to take the good news where you can, and I am pleased to report that Bradshaw's Desert Parsley is on the rebound after having been declared endangered. It exists in only a few scattered patches in the Willamette Valley here in Oregon and a bit to the north. But it's gone from 25,000 flowers in 1988 to over 11 million flowers today. Score one for whoever was in charge.

Which leads to the obvious question. No, not "Who cares?" Here at Murrmurrs, Inc., we all care. But who the hell is in charge of counting 11 million Bradshaw's Desert Parsley plants, and does she have to start over when she's startled by a cow or something? Clearly there is some heroic botany happening here. As it happens, I have an idea how this is done. And no, they're not making hashmarks in groups of five until they get to 15 mil. There's some extrapolation going on.

I know this because I took a field botany course my junior year in college. I was pretty excited about botany, until I took a class. I blame my botany professor, who could bore mildew off a shower stall. He could bore the chirp out of a cricket. He could make army ants stop for coffee, mid-march.

I was attending the Sir John Cass College of Science and Technology in northern London. We did a field course in the Midlands in mid-winter. This is sheep country. Rolling hills are shrouded in perpetual fog. It is some kind of foreign European temperature which is colder than anything in Fahrenheit. We are dressed in rain slickers and Wellies and the fog is thick enough to be observed traveling sideways at a crisp pace. Our professor lumbers through his instructions. Sheep are ordinarily resistant to boredom, but all available stock have swiftly retreated to the furthest point of the pasture. We are to lay out a transect and each of us put down a hula hoop at precisely determined points in the grid and count the numbers and species of grasses within the hoop.

We do this on our hands and knees, some of us with our noses directly above sheep dookie, because the Grid is sacrosanct. Fortunately, our noses are dripping too much to let an odor in sidewise. There are a thousand individual grasses within the hoop. In order to find out what kind they are, we need to tease apart the little blades with our fingers and look for the ligules where the sheath meets the blade and decide if they're pointy or not. Our fingers quit working about five minutes in. I know this because they still have "minutes" in England and haven't switched them out for farthings or nodules or something. Determining the species of grass in these conditions is like playing clarinet with boxing gloves on, but colder. From time to time, as one contemplates the sacredness of The Data and its relationship to the number of shits given about it, the wind kicks up and whispers to your brain that death might not be so bad if it involves being boiled in oil.

But hey! Maybe this is just the sort of protocol you need to practice in order to tell if your efforts to encourage the spreading of Bradshaw's Desert Parsley are a success.

And I'm right. I looked it up. There's a whole paper on it from 1992 and it even includes a photograph of Dr. Rhoda Love's Botany Class from Lane Community College, everyone on their hands and knees. The caption refers to the group as "enthusiastic."

Y'all aren't going to know this on your own, and it's a scholarly paper, so I'll just tell you: that is sarcasm. But hurray for the parsley.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

At The Low End Of The Ma Bell Curve

In the TV ad, people with diabetes are waving their phones at their arms and ziiip getting a glucose reading. Evidently you used to have to stab yourself to get the same result but now you just have a doo-dad on your arm that your phone talks to. Probably it also knows whether to notify your doctor, or a donut shop.

At least one of the reasons I'm glad I'm not diabetic is that you could tape my phone right to the doo-dad and leave it overnight and in the morning it would just fart and fall off .

Yes, it is supposedly a smart phone.

But you can line it up with all the other smart phones out there and it would be like the picture of your kid's first grade class, all spruced up in front of a banner that says MISS WHITTEN'S ALL-STARS. Psst: they're not all stars. One or two shine bright and some of them eat boogers. I don't ask much of my smart phone, and even so it does not live up to expectations.

I know there's nothing a good smart phone cannot do. I've driven friends around and mentioned a mild hankering and within a minute someone in the back seat has located a spot to hanker in, and summoned directions, and added a musical sound track, and anticipated my next hankering. By the time we arrive at our destination, the phone has wrapped up my taxes, contributed to the correct candidate, and found a suspicious mole.

I don't even think I get all my calls.

Here's a thing my phone does. Sometimes someone sends me a text message that is clearly a response to a gang of people but I can't see anything anyone else in the gang writes. I get snippets of conversation without the replies and have to guess what's going on and with whom. All I have is the uncomfortable feeling people are talking about me. I have, on these occasions, handed my phone to a competent young person to troubleshoot, and they always poke away at it for a minute and then hand it back with the diagnosis: "Huh."

Sometimes I no sooner pick up my phone than it informs me that it's too full and nothing is going to work properly until it disgorges itself of something. I don't know what. There are a few photos in there but no apps that didn't come standard. My phone might be bulimic.

I count on my phone for so little that it is easy for me to leave it behind when I go anywhere. Even at home it's not likely to be in the same room as me. I'm as prone to addiction as the next citizen and if I really could get useful or entertaining information out of my phone I'd probably be poking at it all day long. So I'm not inclined to upgrade. If I knew my phone could lock my front door while I was in another state, I'd be checking it every few seconds to see if my door was unlocked after all. That's not healthy.

Life is more enjoyable when you not only don't know everything, but you know you don't know everything, and you don't know how to find out. It's okay. It's probably the way it should be. Just me, Nature, and my phone back home on the counter, eating boogers.

PS: Happy Birthday Dave!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Porn On The Sly

If you want to see a lot of pictures of big-breasted women on your computer but don't want to risk your school-district job to get them, here's my advice: click on an ad for a comfortable bra. Not enough pictures yet? Take the online quiz to discover what your size is and which three bras are recommended for you. Do you still see things other than pictures of big-breasted women? Go ahead and buy one of the bras. (Note, with wonder, that you are now, for the first time in your life, considered a size "small.")

There you go. Big-breasted women wall-to-wall. Russian, probably.

The online quiz was promising. It gave one confidence that indeed the correct bra would thud onto your porch. The questions were very specific. Which of the following three breast types describes you? Round. Bullet-shaped. Tennis ball in a tube sock. Each question generated follow-ups. If tennis-ball-in-a-tube-sock, can you tie 'em in a knot, can you tie 'em in a bow? If bullet-shaped, are you aiming at anyone or are you shooting yourself in the foot?

Many more questions follow. What is the make and size of your favorite bra? Do your straps dig in, or fall off? Do you like to use the first, second, or third hook? What is the name of your first pet? Do you pooch out on the sides of your bra? What is all that puddly stuff flapping around in your armpit, anyway? When did you start having to floss your back? What are the last eight digits of your Social Security number?

Done! Here is your best bra.

Pull the trigger on that bad girl and now someone--Russian, probably--is sending you a photo of a big-breasted woman every few seconds. Even Trump memes can't wedge themselves in, as much as they'd like to. Meanwhile, your new bra is on its way. And when it arrives, it is very Small indeed.

There's nothing to it. It would be snug on a hamster.

Check the packaging. Did it come with a boob-horn? Is it a weasel tourniquet? Are you maybe supposed to lick the back and paste it on? Do you put it on or...apply it? It's seamless. It's cupless. It's wireless.

It's a handkerchief. But you'd need two to get your nose all the way blown.

As it turns out, it's a miracle fabric. If you can motor past the panic stage when you aren't sure you can get your arms back down again, and you manage to scrunch and waggle it on, it will expand with Sea-Monkey technology to fit any kind of knob or tumescence you might care to cram into it. It fits like skin. Well, like skin used to.

And it's buttery-soft. Says so, and is.

It's really quite remarkable. It does make you worry that you might have to take it off with scissors, but in fact you can remove it, too. Sure, it could take an eye out when it shoots across the room, but at your age, nobody is looking your way when you take your bra off.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Give Me A Real Mule

I identify as a woman, but you wouldn't know it by my footwear. I do not give one cis shit about shoes. Especially Ladies' Shoes. If this suggests a chromosome slippage, so be it.

Shoe fashion is lost on me. I remember the first time I had a voice in picking out shoes. I didn't want a voice, really. I was little. Whatever I wore had always been up to my parents. The nice man at McCann's put my little foot in the metal shoe size thingy and boxed it up like a present. That was fun. Then he looked up at me--me!--and said "Would you like buckle or tie?" I had no idea what he was talking about. I drew a complete blank and I remember it to this day because of the embarrassment of being asked something I had a 50% chance of getting wrong. If he'd asked me if I prefer Plethodon salamanders to Ambystomas I'd have had an answer. I picked one of the words at random and then pieced the puzzle together when he brought the shoe. I was ready for the next time but nobody ever asked me that again.

Anyway my shoes were pretty basic. I suspect all my school shoes were brown lace-up types, and Keds or PF Flyers at home, until I got to the awful age of having to Fit In. I'd aged past saddle oxfords. I think I wore loafers. Penny loafers at first and then a pair of tassel loafers. Then the flower-child era freed me from the constraints of needing money to Fit In, and I have no idea what I wore on my feet to school. I can't remember a single pair of shoes I owned for several decades. To this day I can't tell you what a mule or a pump is.

Given my antipathy toward fashionable women's shoes, it was a good deal for me to have been a letter carrier. We wore black oxfords with smooth soles. Period. And they were great, until someone decided we needed waffle soles so we wouldn't slip on the pavement. Nobody ever slipped on the pavement. What we did do was step in dog shit, which we used to be able to clean off with three scrapes against the curb. But with the waffle soles, we were guaranteed to have to spend company time leaning up against a building reaming out dog shit with a stick. It's a good professional look.

But our shoes were foot-shaped. You'd think that would be standard, but you'd be oh so wrong. I've seen antique ladies' shoes in the museums. Before the 20th century, evidently women had feet the size of butter sticks. And the left and right were identical. If they weren't originally, they got that way over the years. I'm not a large person, but if I had to jam my foot in a 19th-century ladies' shoe, I'd have a blowout.

Put me down for a shoe that looks like my foot. Round at the toe, and close to the ground, just like the rest of me. Would I wear slingback pants? I would not. Platform eyeglasses? No. Cone bra? Maybe.

Supposedly high heels and platforms for both men and women were prevalent in the Middle Ages because there was always so much poop on the street to rise above. But that's no reason to wear platforms. That's an argument for learning how to ride a donkey. You sure don't want to up the chances you'll tip over in those conditions. These days there's less shit and more burger wrappers, and platforms are strictly for fashionable effect and Tom Cruise.

Much shoe fashion, including high heels, had to do with demonstrating that the wearer didn't have to work for a living, unless you count whoring. It is a sartorial expression of profound and desirable uselessness. If you were an aristocratic woman wearing chopines, you might tower almost two feet higher than you would normally, all of it concealed beneath your gown, and not only were you tall and useless, but you also needed a maid on either arm to prop you up. That is about as useless as it gets.

So upper-class people wore high heels. This principle of showing you do not have to work applied to both sexes. Nowadays we just use ambassadorships.

Modern high heels for women, however, do have a use. That use being the permanent and debilitating shortening of the Achilles tendon in order to accentuate the curve of the calf and the small of the back for the sexual titillation of men plus the signaling of the increased likelihood the wearer will be easy to catch.

I'll stick with the Keds. I'm still easy to catch.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

You're In Charge Of Acquisitions

We had folks over the other day, and one of them admired one of my doo-dads, so I offered it to him, and then I offered up my old LPs, and then someone liked my shirt so I said he could have it, and suddenly Anna whipped her head around and gave me a look of pure alarm. It was adorable. Anna is a sensitive soul capable of worrying about climate change, the prison system, and racism all at the same time, so it's nothing for a big heart like that to wedge in a little worry about me, and whether or not I was thinking about checking out.

I'm not. At least I'm not thinking about checking myself out.

But it's true that the closer one gets to one's sell-by date, the less important any of one's stuff is. Or should be. Honestly, I don't know what's gone wrong with the billionaires.

I don't want anything new. I don't need it, and it's going to be made of or wrapped in plastic, sure as anything. This degree of calm in the face of all efforts to sell me something is brought to you by Mortality. Although--full disclosure--it also helps that I'm old enough to have already bought everything. And now it needs to go away. Death isn't something anyone wants, if they're lucky, but it is a gift of a sort, in that it gives you a little clarity about what's important.

I remember what it was like accumulating some of the crap I've got now. It was as if that little purchase would make me just a little bit happier. It didn't. If you're not actually poor but you still think you need to buy a lot of stuff, you should look into what personal hole you're trying to fill.

We got lots of stuff. Every morsel of it that goes away leaves a little bare space that feels better than whatever cluttered it before. Now we're headed into the holiday massive-consumption season and Dave and I are watching the advertising waves roll in with complete serenity. We're not getting each other anything. We're not getting anybody anything. It's nice to buy or make someone something special, but that can happen any time of the year, and for many of us this season is just one long awful obligation. And once you step off that ride, you've got more room for actually enjoying the solemn majesty of winter and candles in the window and the possibility of going caroling.

It's amazing what you can be talked into buying. In one recent ad, I discovered that not only should an already-beautiful woman want to gob up her eyelids with gold glitter, which is made of plastic by the way, but if she accidentally goops it on her cheek, she can wipe it away in one swipe with a special plastic towelette for just that purpose, and even better, she can get that one towelette wrapped in an individual plastic wrapper so she can keep it handy in her purse for on-the-go plastic makeup disasters. People. We need to get a grip.

So yeah. I'm old, makeup isn't going to improve me, and I've already bought everything. It's easier at my age. But we're all going to die. Maybe if we acknowledge that, we can let up a little on what's burdening the planet. And our own souls. This stuff's not about Christmas. It's about pushing profit for shareholders and further enriching the very rich. Let's help them out a little by withholding our contributions. It isn't making them happy or satisfied, obviously.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

It's Always Dumbest Before The Dawn

I can be efficient when I want to be, and that is why I designate the hours of 3-6am for pointless worry. The solitude allows me to focus on any problem, perceived or real, and often several at once. It's a real time-saver.

In addition, those are the hours in which I can achieve really accomplished fretting, because there is no likelihood that solutions are close at hand. The solution hours occur in the daytime when I'm driving somewhere and, often, not going through a red light or missing my exit. But between 3 and 6am, the answers to my problems are either elusive or insane.

Some of my daytime solutions veer a little off the reality template as well. For instance, when my laptop abruptly quits sucking up wireless, I close it and flap it in the air in the direction of our modem. And when a page doesn't load, I bang on the keys harder. This works randomly often enough that I stick with it. Religions have been based on less.

The other night I chose a couple juicy hours after 3am to wonder if Everything I Ever Wrote would vanish into thin air. This is not something I would like. I would not like it a whole, whole lot. I have written a whole, whole lot of stuff. In the last ten years I've written essays and doggerel and 1200 blog posts and four and a half novels and three other books. I suppose all of it would fit neatly in a small thumb drive with room left over for Wikipedia and the Word Of God but that just makes me sad.

The immediate spark to the fretfest was the notice, on my laptop, that I had not had a backup to the external hard drive for several days, and I should plug it the heck in. Well it was plugged in. Which means it wasn't sucking out data anymore. Typical middle of the night solutions include introducing some sort of virtual lactation coach to sturdy up the USB connection. After I turn that one over for a half hour trying to find the flaw, I move on to other solutions, such as unplugging the hard drive and putting it in the freezer.

This is a solution cooked up in the midnight cauldron of memories, to wit: (1) unplugging things has a disciplinary effect, plus (2) Dave once put the smoke detectors in the freezer when they all went off in the middle of the night. (He then put in fresh batteries and reinstalled them in the morning, and he'd only put them in the freezer because we wouldn't hear them in there, but I never made the full loop on that solution, and tend to believe, at 3am, that freezing things teaches them a lesson.)

Get your own backup service. This one's mine.
I am paying for a backup service on my desktop computer. I don't know what it does, really. Could be I've hired a group of ladies to sing Ooo, baby baby behind me. But the service does send me periodic messages, and they do ask me for more money when it runs out. I visualize all my stuff floating in the air somewhere over the midwest and trying not to bang into trolls. My hope is that when my computer crashes they will hork all of it up like a hairball and roll it back, but I really don't know. Unfortunately, I've almost quit using that computer in favor of the laptop. Does my backup service know to back up my laptop too? I can spend hours in the middle of the night trying to figure that out. Sure it does! My two computers don't talk to each other, but that's a normal sibling thing! Anyone from the outside could tell they're family!

Followed immediately by: of course it doesn't know. Not only that, but Everything I Ever Wrote is probably draining out of my laptop right now in the middle of the night, out of the little holes the hard drive is no longer plugged into. That's how it happens.

Morning. Two cups of coffee. All is clear. I contact the backup service and add my second computer and give them some more money. Took five minutes. Now to solve that damn Trump thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Shooting Up

People invariably describe getting the flu as like being hit by a truck, in spite of the fact that a vanishingly small number of flu victims have actually been hit by a truck before. Of course, the tire tracks are a dead giveaway.

I remember years of not bothering to get a flu shot. I had the notion that I just wasn't one of those people who even gets the flu, based on the fact that I'd never gotten it. And that worked right up until the year I did get it. It gave me a lot of clarity about how I felt about flu: I'm agin it. I've gotten a shot every year since then.

You can get free shots at the grocery store but we always walk to the Kaiser clinic because we're happy with our health plan and like to consume as much doctorage as we can. For instance, if you go to Kaiser for a flu shot, they peer into a screen and tell you it's time to get a colonoscopy and a tetanus booster and a derm checkup and a will, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. The other day we showed up for our flu shots and they said they were out of the Senior Big Boy Dose, although we were welcome to have the puny regular-person dose instead. Nobody peered at their screen to discover we were in fact over 65. I think they peered at us. Dave looks like Santa Claus's skinny brother, I've got chin hairs and bingo wings, and we both think they don't make good music anymore. Shoot us up.

The Senior Big Boy Dose contains more antigens. Seniors need them because their immune systems like to take naps. So we put it off until we could get the double whammy. Our arms are a little bit tender and that's how you know it's working. Our immune systems are all Whoa, up and at 'em, what day is it, where's my glasses?

I loves me some vaccines. They've got vaccines for things I've already had and for things that didn't even used to exist. They've got a vaccine for Rotavirus. That might be a Japanese sports car for all I know but there's still a vaccine for it. You can be vaccinated as a teeny tiny baby for future teenage wickedness. Vaccines are the greatest medical breakthroughs since whiskey, which was developed just after the bone saw.

I haven't had that many vaccines even though I'm a fan. That is because I went ahead and had the diseases instead. I had the mumps when I was a mere infant. I don't know how they could tell. I've seen my baby pictures and I couldn't have gotten much rounder than I already was. It must have been the loss of appetite. To this day if I say No to beer or food, you are instructed to call an ambulance.

But I don't have a lot of health problems. My eyes are too close together, my teeth are too close together, and the day I was born and today are too far apart. On the other hand, if you take the average of those two days, I'm only 33. I'm pretty sure that's how statistics works. I'd ask a scientist but who trusts them anymore?

That's a problem. Vaccines have worked so well people are insufficiently worried about disease. So they're declining vaccination in increasing numbers. There are so many rumors out there. And people really, really don't want to be conned. They would rather get a life-threatening disease than fall for some government shenanigans or Big Pharm conspiracy. Nosirree, in a world where the nebulous "they" are always out to get you, many people refuse to get got. They'd rather get measles than get got.

There's considerable evidence that Russians are spreading rumors about such things for the sole purpose of rendering the American population distrustful of any authority at all. Basically, the message is: don't trust anything you see or hear. Journalists are out for themselves. Scientists think they're better than everyone else so they make shit up just to mess with us. This politician is spouting bullshit, but then again they all do. They're all the same. There is no such thing as truth.

Which means you can be made to believe anything. Once your critical skills have been scraped out of your cranium they're free to insert pudding instead. And this time I do mean "they."

Well, when it comes to the truck description of getting the flu, I guess it's the suddenness they're talking about. The BAM aspect, followed by everything hurting. You feel pretty much okay, maybe just a little off, and then you're abruptly not okay, and you might never sleep right or feel good again. I don't know about getting run over by a truck. But it does feel like the last presidential election.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

High Nunes: The First Epistle To The Banana Republicans

Welcome to Story Time, the Circus, the Greatest Shitshow On Earth. The House Democrat majority has brought everything but the elephant poop. That's what we're here for.

You all know what's going on. This is no honest effort to discover the Truth. We buried that a long time ago. No, this is a shameless attempt to reverse the results of the last election, a coup d'├ętat, the blatant overturning of the wishes of the American People. It's disgraceful. The blatant overturning of the American People's wishes is the job of the Electoral College, and the Democrats know it.

This is not a serious undertaking. The Democrats have spent the past three years fantasizing at night about Watergate. They are wanking away in their basement bunkers, deposing repeatedly, in total secrecy, and we know this, because we were in there with them.

They've got nothing. They have people who talked to other people who overheard other people who got a text from their second cousin. There are no first-hand witnesses that the Democrats can provide, because we've got them duck-taped to their chairs in the White House, the American People's house, not some dank basement room with a hanging light bulb and the scent of damp Democrat panties. All they've got is rumor and hearsay.

Because true patriots do not meekly submit to Democrat subpoenas. They serve the American People, and the American People have no interest in these proceedings. The ratings are in the toilet, by the way. The true obstruction of justice is at the sticky hands of the Democrats who have refused from Day One to allow the President to conduct the business of the American People without oversight. Indeed, this obstruction of Trump and the purity of his vision is no less than an affront to God.

We aren't even allowed to subpoena the whistleblower, without whose blown whistle we wouldn't even be here today. We need to know the identity of the whistleblower and his or her GPS coordinates in order to determine if he or she is a partisan hack and allow the American People to demonstrate how justice is done, old-school.

They've got nothing! The President never once said "This was totally a quid pro quo for purely personal political gain." Quite the opposite. He said there was NO quid pro quo, loud as all hell, and wrote it twice with a Sharpie. So there. And he's right, because the Ukrainians never did what the President wanted, or what somebody's NeverTrumper second cousin said he wanted, and they got their military aid after all, which was only being held up temporarily, which is totally normal, until such time as the public found out about it. No quid pro quo. Or bribery, or extortion, or urinary malfeasance in the third degree, or whatever the Democrat Word Of The Day is.

Even Ambassador Sondland did not say quid pro quo in at least several of his text messages, instead obliquely referring to the "deliverables," which is a totally normal word for things that are open and above-board. Ask any reputable goombah.

And then, what happened? Trump sent them the Javelin weapons Congress ordered, which they really really needed to fight the Russians. Obama didn't send them Javelins. He blackly sent blankets and binkies. Neither did Clinton or Carter or Teddy Roosevelt. Democrat pansy-assedness goes back a long way. Only Trump had the courage to hold up the delivery of Javelins for a couple months while he made sure the Ukrainians wouldn't waste them.

The fact is if Democrats had been around when George Washington was using diplomatic channels to secure a treaty with Great Britain, they would have creamed their colonial knickers just thinking about impeaching him.

Are we to take the word of people who claim to know what's on the President's mind? Give us a break. Nobody knows what's in there. He'll say one thing in the morning and do something else at noon. The idea that anybody knows what the President is thinking is plain ludicrous. And yet that is what the partisan peter beaters on the other side of the aisle want you to believe.

Jesus. Don't make us go full Kavanaugh on your asses. Our arms are already in the air and we'll be spitting nails in a minute. Shut up! I'm not screaming, you're screaming!

The American People can see what's going on here. This circus is taking up valuable time the House of Representatives needs to do the American People's business, before our friends block it all in the Senate.

Let's face it: the Democrats have been trying to get rid of Trump since the day he was elected, and also they want to see nude photos of him.

Democratic response:

Yes we have, and no we the hell do not.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Toilet Queen

Well, strike up the marching band and scatter the rose petals. I am the Duchess of Dookieville.

I fixed the toilet.

It's just a little thing I thought I'd try. It's been decades since I could trade on my looks and even then I was just scraping by. I've always gotten a lot further with my sense of humor. But these days people are liable to just stare at you when you crack wise about the old Studebaker and having to go stand in line at the bank for money. I've decided to learn how to do some shit myself in case all my dwindling powers of ingratiation leave me stranded.

The toilet would be a big deal. I don't know much about plumbing but I do know it can make grown men cry and throw things. I do know every time I noticed a new plumbing issue, I would attach a note to the dog and send her out to find Dave. I do know that he would invariably tackle the job and eventually solve it but not without skinned knuckles, bruised ears for blocks around, and eighteen trips to the hardware store. Plumbing involves striking a balance between one's brute strength and the sensitivities of the pipes in question. Things need to be Goldilocks tight and no tighter or looser, but the little blonde is long gone. You think Papa Bear is scary? Give him a plumbing project.

I figured if I could fix the toilet myself I'd have enough credits lined up to allow me to be a jerk for weeks. Dave and I are very close to our toilets. You wouldn't believe how close, really. Downright intimate.

The toilet in question still worked, after a fashion. You could flush it and everything. It just took a day and a half to fill up again. You'd want to do the very best job you could before you flushed, because you were going to have to wait three whistleblower scandals and a paid-off porn queen before you got another flush out of it. I was puzzled. Then I realized there must be debris in the uppy-downy contraption where the water comes back in. I you-tubed it. My diagnosis was sound.

The trick is to get in there and screw off the tippy-top of the uppy-downy and flush it out. This was a little fraught because all the parts were plastic, and reluctant, and you don't want to snap anything off that can't be resnapped later. But I did it. Then you hold a cup over the top of the valve and turn the water back on. We have excellent water pressure. I nearly drove the cup into the ceiling. Then you put everything back together again and hope for the best. A body can hope, right?

Sure enough I flushed the toilet and the water came charging back into the tank. I was the Toilet Queen! Bow down before me! Run a damp towel and some Lysol around the floor while you're down there!

The next time I flushed we were right back where we started.

This was, I'm sure, a direct result of the dishwasher fiasco. The installers insisted I bring in a plumber to fix the shutoff valve and the plumber turned off the water for the house. When he turned it on again, all the faucets and toilets made an explosive horking sound the first time they were used. I figure rust nuggets from 1926 are on the loose and one of them was now a Toilet Bolus.

Which means the entire uppy-downy thing needed to be replaced. That was eight and a half bucks of potential glory in one little box. The hardware store lady said it was easy. I wasn't born even close to yesterday. I ratcheted my expectations way down. But it was easy. Even all the little nuts and washers spun right off and back on again. I was a hero. I was the Countess of Caca.

Dave taught me long ago that an essential step in any successful personal project is to grab a beer and position a chair so that you can admire your work. It's a little tight in that room, but I'm going for it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, was World Toilet Day: "Leave No One Behind."

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Bonus Nipplage

Friend and loyal reader Tom K was intrigued by my offhand mention of a third nipple in a recent blog post about sewing. He latched onto it, as it were, and soon discovered that third nipples are not that uncommon.

Extra nipples usually show up in what is called the "milk line," or a line of embryonic tissue corresponding to where the nipples show up on your pet mammal. They're not usually quite as fancy and involved as the ones used in advertising. They might look like moles.

Men's nipples are generally considered to be useless, but in fact a man can lactate, in the right mood. That mood being if he'd been put on Thorazine, or had a pituitary tumor, or had a baby suckling on him night and day for a few weeks, or was a Dayak fruit bat. These are all pretty specific moods.

People wonder why men even bother having nipples, unless they're Dayak fruit bats where that kind of thing is just expected; and the answer is that early on, both male and female fetuses are pretty much alike, and the male fetus is just holding onto the possibility of being female, until it has to give up its aspirations and live out a life of anger and resentment.

(Similarly, females still retain a little bit of the vas deferens sperm chute too, although they have been socially conditioned not to ejaculate, especially in the boardroom.)

Truthfully, though, even lactating women don't have much call for a third nipple, and it seems like as long as we're tossing in extraneous items we could get a little more creative. Everyone remembers seeing that poor mouse with a human ear on its back. If you're going to have an extra ear--and you could make a case for that--you wouldn't want it on an unrelated mouse. You'd want it on top of your head so you can hear an Acme safe coming.

I believe someone grew the ear on the mouse on purpose to give it to someone else later. There is a man who had a second nose grafted onto his forehead to replace his own damaged one. There are people with two heads. And many people have been born with extra limbs. If I had an extra arm I'd want it in the back and use it just for wiping. But in a society that gets worked up about visible panty lines, such an innovation is not likely to take off.

A number of people have grown horns, usually on their heads. For some reason many of them are Chinese and old. One woman named Zhang Ruifang grew a decent horn out of her forehead and the beginnings of a second, right where you'd want it, on the other side. She was 101 years old and pretty chuffed about the whole thing, although I imagine she'd have preferred a matched set. She had no interest in removing them. It is a tribute to her culture that a woman who has horns and might be immortal was not abused in any way. Most of your historic Christian communities would have had those horns removed at the stake.

I'm not wild about my eyebrow mole, but a real, committed horn would be cool. Not those sissy unicorn horns, either. You stick a drill bit on a horse and people just go all to pieces. And all the glitter that comes with it is a nuisance. No. I want a bugle right on my forehead. You show up unprepared for an argument with a bugle on your forehead, you're still going to win.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Boom Boom

Oh yeah. Authentic Baby Boomer, 1969
Anybody got any spare pearls to clutch?

You probably heard. A young member of the New Zealand parliament was in the middle of a speech about the coming climate catastrophe when she was heckled by an older colleague. "OK, Boomer," she snapped off, in a little bit of unrehearsed genius, and continued on. The old fart had been concisely scorned. "OK Boomer" became a viral hit. An entire generation has been dismissed.

And a whole lot of us famously self-involved Baby Boomers are in a snit about it, apparently.

I was born in the pinnacle of the baby boom, and you can see a lot from the top of a bell curve. You can see even more if you never take offense. And the complete inability to take things personally happens to be my superpower. Be forewarned.

If someone comes at me, I figure either I'm in the wrong, in which case I should promptly own it, or they're mistaken, in which case there's no reason to be offended because it has nothing to do with me. I know: it's sickening how healthy my self-regard is. And, minus a couple adolescent years, it always has been. I don't know if it was part of my out-of-box experience, or if my parents had it installed. Either way, it's damned hard to hurt my feelings.

Not so the conservative radio personality who took to his fainting couch over the dreadful bigotry of the "OK Boomer" diss. Why, it's the new N-word, says he. I Swan! Mercy Lord!

Settle down, Steve Mike Tom Dave Gary. You haven't been persecuted in all your born days. You will live to flower delicately again.

Let's face it. Most of us boomers had nothing to do with the development of weapons of mass carbon redistribution, but we all gobbled up the goodies as fast as we could. We worked for peace and justice until our own war went away and all that artificial wealth rained down on us. We've had more toys than any generation in the history of Life and we're going to the grave with them.

There are generalizations you can make about any demographic, but I contend people are all the same. The millennials would've squandered our last resources too if we'd left them any. The Greatest Generation would've done the same thing if they hadn't been born into a depression instead. It's just the luck of the draw that we boomers got to eat all the candy.

And that's what "OK Boomer" means. You bet it's dismissive. Because it's referring to the fact that now that we know we're destroying everything and we know what must be done, we still won't do it. Instead we're all upset that someone's calling us names. Damn house is on fire and the teenagers next door are handing us a hose and we're all arms-folded and No! Not until you say you're sorry for being mean. And get out of the petunias.

We're perpetual toddlers.

You're not one of those Boomers, you say? Stereotypes are unfair? Go ahead and fly your #NotAllBoomers flag. Whine that you were always on the side of goodness and can't be blamed. See where it gets you. Nowhere. Now quit pouting and get over your damn self. We've all got work to do.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

And You Don't Have To Bimbo It

One fortunate consequence of not photo-editing pictures of myself on Facebook is that I see a lot of fun ads for how to fix what obviously ails me.

Nikoro is only the most recent. By appearances, Nikoro is a gold razor, and the video in the ad shows someone raking it all over the face, hard: forehead, temples, you name it. And whereas I do have a nice cover crop of facial hair going, the only hairs I actually wouldn't miss are the ones with measurable diameters. I can't remember when the Legacy Hair on my chin first sprouted, but next time I yank it out I'll try to remember to count the rings.

Nikoro is, however, upon further exploration, not a razor at all. Instead it's a metal wand on a stick that you push all over your face to urge it into a state of immaturity. It employs microaggressions or something. Oh, and also it vibrates. The purveyors of Nikoro recommend you apply their vibrating non-razor anywhere you like. Marketing!

According to the website, it has been designed for women who want to reduce their wrinkles or who have drooping skin, face, neck, or chest. I'm not certain what the golden wand is likely to do for my drooping chest but I'm pretty sure I can carry a half dozen of them under each side with nobody the wiser.

This will not be necessary, however, because the Nikoro also comes with an accessory black velvet pocket "to take it everywhere with you, in your handbag for example, without having to bimbo it." Which is an obscure relief.

The Nikoro, if used to massage the upper chest area, is claimed to revive the Cooper's Ligaments. Cooper's Ligaments (a.k.a. "God's Bra") are a cage-like assemblage of supporting tissue that holds the breast in an ideal state of pertness. They were named after surgeon Sir Astley "Hands" Cooper, who discovered them repeatedly for several years in the 19th century.

Cooper's Prototype Ligaments
Whereas it might be possible to revive Cooper's Ligaments, mine are not dead, but only retired. If anything, they're taking a nap and should not be disturbed.

The Nikoro is advertised as a lower-cost home facial improvement product utilizing the extremely ancient massage technique known as "Kibodo." This age defying technique was pioneered by two 540-year-old practitioners, who oughta know. It is said they originally clashed over a demonstration of "Kyoku-te," a facial treatment performed with percussion using the folded hand. (In this country, the facial percussion with the folded hand is carried out by Guido, and it does plump the tissues.)

It is recommended that you start your treatments as soon as possible after age 30 so as to ward off the worst of the aging process. These are your prime beauty-treatment-purchasing years, and if you wait too long, there is a significant commercial danger you will become too old to give a shit.

And if you wait until you're my age, that thing is just going to leave tracks on your face like a vacuum cleaner.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

I Used To Be Fun-Size

We have a situation.

I can only compare it to the similarly trauma-induced Toilet Paper Closet that my mother maintained faithfully until her demise.

Mom sailed patriotically through butter rationing and she was fine with painting the seams on her legs in lieu of stockings but she never got over the toilet paper shortage in World War II, and as long as I can remember her linen closet was stacked to the ceiling with toilet paper.

We, on the other hand, are living with a pile of Halloween candy that could block out the sun. The new topography of our kitchen counter shows up on LIDAR. The center of the pile has probably achieved composting temperatures by now.

It all goes back to a Halloween forty years ago when we bought what we thought was a reasonable, even plentiful, amount of candy and discovered, an hour in, that we had way undershot. Worse, most of the kids on our porch were dressed up as eighteen-year-olds with scowls and pillowcases. Some of them held out second pillowcases and demanded "one more for the baby at home." This wasn't fun. We phoned our neighbors to see if they had any extra candy and they were panicking also. Someone made a trip to the store to find shelves bare of everything but Tic-Tacs and tiny eyeglass screwdrivers. It didn't occur to any of us that we could turn the lights out and hide under the bed.

So ever since, we've gone way overboard, even though nothing like that ever happened again. Dave wanted to buy candy early, but I know that trick, and I held him off until about two weeks ago. Then we got a few dozen full-size bars. Dave likes to give the immediate neighbor children full size bars, and then it doesn't seem fair so he gets a bunch more full-size bars, and really we don't have that many trick-or-treaters anymore so they might as well ALL get full-size bars. And then we got a couple bags of fun-size bars just to be on the safe side. And we waited.

Then I noticed that the bagged bars were not fun-size after all, but even smaller and presumably even more fun. They were basically only a square inch of candy bar each. Which meant that it wouldn't be that big a deal to go ahead and open it up and pop a few in our mouths. A few here, a few there. How much trouble could I get into, especially during World Series season when I'm already eating salted peanuts in the shell for dinner and praying for a sweep so my colon can recover? The day before Halloween, after we'd gone ahead and opened up the second bag, I was at the store and decided to restock the stash just in case we ran low. The lady right around the corner said she'd gotten five times as many kids as we did last year, and on the Alameda Ridge a few blocks away word was they got 300-400. I got another couple bags of actual fun-size bars, and then another couple just in case.

Not sure what happened after that. We stuffed all we could into the cabinet and some of it whelped. There was a Baby Ruth and a Snickers left out on the counter and Jesus showed up in the middle of the night and loaved and fished them. Then we had three bowls the size of God's satellite dish filled with fun-sized bars with itty bitty bars to spackle up the spaces plus a solid forty full size candy bars not including the twelve we thought were full size but turned out to be packages of eight fun-size. Each.

The six small children who showed up did real well.

Six. Real well.

The good news is I'm finally out of salted peanuts in the shell. Should have bought some more toilet paper, though.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Case For Hibernation

I don't have anything against winter, but hibernation seems like a terrific idea to me. I am really attracted to any protocol that involves major gluttony followed by tremendous sloth. Pride, envy, greed, lust, and wrath have no hold on me. But them other two rock.

Give me that whole bear routine. The idea is to eat as much as one possibly can and then sleep it off for months. Oh, this checks all the boxes. I would give it a shot, even though I know I'd run the risk of spending four months looking for the classroom I never attended in order to take the final exam, or racing through the airport to make my flight, or not being able to find a clean private toilet to poop in.

What I wasn't aware of was that ladybugs hibernate also. Many of them gorge themselves as fall approaches, which I find disturbing, because they do not have the benefit of stretch pants. Nevertheless they apparently start packing on the micrograms and then get together in a big heap with thousands of their little friends, like a pile of puppies, to sleep it off and sit out the winter. I'm not sure what the angle is. As far as I'm aware, ladybugs do not generate heat metabolically. So the bottom ladybug in a pile of cold ladybugs is still cold. Perhaps they just like company.

Ladybugs are also called Lady Beetles but not by anyone I know. Probably only entomologists. Because entomologists know ladybugs aren't bugs, they're beetles. Hell, everyone knows that, but we're still going to call them ladybugs. Entomologists should let a loop out every now and then. Knowledge can be a curse. It's like how I keep trying to tell everyone that "iris" is not the plural of "iris" but I never get anywhere, and I'm the only one unhappy. Nobody cares and I shouldn't either.

What's more interesting is why the beetles are "lady" anything. Evidently in the Middle Ages--so goes the tale--crops were failing right and left and the people prayed to the Virgin Mary for help, and she sprinkled ladybugs over the good Catholic farms. The insects scarfed down the aphids and all was saved. That's just the kind of thing God and his staff will do for the properly reverent. And the people called their saviors the Beetles Of Our Lady. And larded the original story up with supporting religious hoo-ha, to wit: the red beetle represents the cloak of the Virgin and the black spots are her joys and sorrows. That's a lot of significance to heap on a small insect, but in case they get too full of themselves they can fly to Poland, where they're known as "God's little cows."

Some time before the slumber party the female ladybugs lay eggs near a big food source such as my broccoli crop, which went gray with aphids this year. The stated reason is to give their larvae a better chance to find food. More likely, they're completely stuffed full of aphids themselves and they can barely get off the sofa to fly. Although it all works out the same.

What ladybugs do in a heap over winter is not actually called hibernation, but "diapause," which any entomologist would not be able to prevent himself from telling you. Basically they just push the pause button. (You get a ladybug in peridiapause, she'll be cranky for years.)

Ladybugs have made a nuisance of themselves in the course of their overwintering by congregating on the siding of light-colored houses and finding their way inside, where they warm up, wake up, and spew stinky yellow goo out of their knee-balls over anyone with a disciplinary broom or vacuum. In the course of reading about this I learned that they "are of special consternation to those who are entomophobic," meaning they really creep out people who are afraid of bugs. Who writes this shit? Entomologists? Anyway there are some ways of preventing an infestation. Simply seal all cracks, crevices, and openings in your entire house that are larger than a tiny beetle. And repaint your house. Done!

Well, none of this is as appealing as being a fat marmot snoozing away in a burrow in one of the prettiest places on earth, but it's a living. And there's a lot to recommend it. Fact is, the world would be a better place if we all left it alone for a few months every year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Problems On The Follow-Through

Brussels Sploots?
We're all going to have to learn new things. Old things, really, things our grandparents knew and every generation before that, but not us. Things are going to need to be decentralized. We need to learn how to make our houses comfortable without pumping in a lot of energy from somewhere else; we need vegetable beds in every front yard. Time's a-comin'.

We're on board. In theory. We wear sweaters and we have a vegetable garden. Or something like it.

It's so exciting to think you can plunk a little package of Life into the soil and wring dinner out of it later. In fact it's so exciting that we expend all our enthusiasm right off the bat and have no follow-through. We always planted sugar snap peas. It says right on the package that you can plant successive crops every two weeks, but we feel so accomplished after the first batch comes up that we never remember to do it again. We have a collection of open seed packets (rolled over at the top and a little soiled) going back a decade.

Same thing with lettuce. We put in six plants and a few weeks later there's more lettuce than we can even eat, and then they bolt and we put them in the compost pile. If we'd sown more seeds earlier, we'd have new lettuce, but we forgot, and now we have to wait a few more weeks.

We watch the first few peas ripen and pluck them happily for a few days and then something shiny goes by, and the next time we look the pea pods are fat and nubbly and overdone, and we put them in the compost pile.

We've got basil, and extract a few leaves now and then, but we leave the rest for Donna around the corner to make pesto out of. This year we forgot to bring it over and she forgot to fetch it. First cold snap we'll be putting the plants in the compost pile.

The peppers always do well. Or they used to, but this year we put them in the pea bed just to shake things up and put kale in the pepper bed. The peppers sulked. We picked a few small, dispirited ones and the plants went into the compost pile. The kale was tremendous and we had kale salad for a good week and then the white flies showed up and we pulled them up and put them in the compost pile.

No one needs lettuce flowers.
Know what we have a ton of? Acorn squash. We didn't plant it. It just showed up. There were plenty of seeds in the compost and it could've just as easily been butternut, or delicata, or that stripey thing that looks like a toilet float, but no. Acorn. Every last one. They're easily our most successful crop. That is because you can put them on the counter and ignore them and they'll still be edible months later. And that's what we need in a vegetable.

In short, this is not a vegetable garden. This is an avatar of a vegetable garden.

What to do? There are a few ways to go on this. We could begin paying attention, with sticky notes on the calendar ("PAY ATTENTION") and bone up, and buckle down, and can, freeze, grind, dehydrate, stomp, juice, dig a root cellar, and, in short, go full Grandma on the thing. Or we can find a bright-eyed kid with braids, a Bernie button, and a fug of Patchouli and tell her to go to town on the place in exchange for a fifth of the take. We'd be way ahead doing that.

But we'll probably do the same thing. We'll see what wanders into the yard, feed it, water it, admire it, watch it make a mess in the bed, and then humanely euthanize it. We don't grow vegetables. We grow pets.