I’m not really sexy spam.

It’s almost  October 31, All Hallow’s Eve, a day to celebrate . . .something. Death, blood, monsters, witches, chocolate, pumpkins, pretending to be someone or something you’re not, checking apples for razor blades — all wrapped up in the sexy.

This might be a good time to revisit my blanket disclaimer that if you’ve come here looking for homework answers, you should probably move along.  That definition of Halloween isn’t going to land you on the honor roll. I make stuff up.

Great costume, but he didn't get the sexy memo.

Great costume, but he didn’t get the sexy memo.

With all the talk about sexy Halloween costumes, I challenged myself to come up with costume ideas that would be difficult to convert to sexy.

You wouldn’t believe the images  in my Google cache on searches of “sexy” plus oddball things such as “rock” or “plumbing fixtures.”  You also wouldn’t believe the things I can’t unsee.

While I’m sure it’s not an original idea, I’ve decided to be spam for Halloween.  But not just your run of the mill spam. It’s Halloween, after all, so I’ll sexy it up.  Plus, the best spam doesn’t come right out and TELL you it’s spam. The best spam, like the most savvy of trolls, is sexy, seductive.  Think Catherine Zeta Jones (CZJ) in a black bodysuit.

Here’s the plan:

Dressed like CZJ’s character Virginia Baker, from the movie Entrapment, I’ll wander into whatever Halloween parties I feel like wandering into. Invitations are for sexy nurses. I’m Spam! I can go anywhere!

Trick or treat!

Trick or treat!

I’ll walk up to a group of sexy vampires in conversation, maybe about the weather or politics or the latest blockbuster movies — no matter — and say, “When the music group is this : pulled off, going to be the surface skin body cells and going to be the facial/nose hair utilize them.”

They’ll probably ignore my fascinating banter at first, but I’ll press on: “But despite it being printed on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card, it’s simply not true.On Clive Hills Road a resident reports that someone entered an unlocked 2009 Buick Enclave and rummaged through the glove . Once again, the price range was WAY too high for me, so I ended up just walking around, enjoying the holiday spirit.”

Maybe they’ll turn away. Maybe they’ll ask me to leave.  Whatever.

I’ll just mosey on over to a group of sexy zombies  in the other corner, talking about their vacation plans or renovating a house, and I’ll cheerfully join in,Hi everybody, here every person is sharing these experience, thus it’s good to be at this party, and I used to pay a visit this party everyday but it’s not as good as it used to be. What happened?”

If anyone questions who I am or why I’m there, I’ll just pretend I’m not from around here: “Lub ów szczyl w autobusie, przy stadionem Legii, proazek z piętnaście lat, ogolony makówka. Wykrzykiwał z.”

Undoubtedly at some point  I’ll be filtered from the party, so I’m planning on leaving with one last poignant shout out: “Get rid of the plug by hand and be careful with the rush of scorching oil. Sporting gloves is really an excellent concept.”

While it isn’t my thing, I don’t have any major issues with Halloween. I hope those of you who love it have a wonderful time. Happy Halloween!

I mean,  “Toddler web masters!!”

To show a little  holiday spirit, my gravatar is  “dressed up” in my sexy spam costume. I’m not really Catherine Zeta Jones.

My Halloween costume, 2013.

My Halloween costume.

Chicken-playing toads: a suburb under siege.

It was only a matter of time before hubris caught up with the sassy red fox who roamed the dimly lit cul-de-sacs of my sleepy little neighborhood. About this time last year, said hubris took the form of what you might call a ‘horseless carriage,’ out on the main road leading into town. Maybe you wouldn’t call it a ‘horseless carriage’, but if you lived here you might. It’s just that kind of quaint.

It may have been the fierce desire to maintain the quaint, sleepy sanctity of the  ‘hood that had the cul-de-sac’ers up in arms and running for their torches when the sassy red fox started strutting around in the middle of the day.

“Rabies!” some cried.

“Menace!” hollered others.

“Who keeps stealing my Wall Street Journal?” wondered those who hadn’t actually seen or heard about the fox and whose passions lean  more toward global concerns, such as lack of reading material to accompany their morning Joe.

Finding their thirst for fox blood unquenched despite repeated calls to Animal Control, those defending the home front went straight up the chain of command, tracking down everyone and anyone in county government who had a phone number and a pulse. In some cases, the pulse was optional.

Then one day last fall, there was Sassy, splayed out on the pavement, like some floor covering  called  “Dödräv” over at the Ikea. I like to imagine that if Sassy had to meet with such a cruel fate — the splaying, not the faux Swedish name — it was at least a county car that did the deed, delivering local citizens their tax-funded poetic justice.

I don’t know that this was the case, but I don’t know that it wasn’t the case. What if it was a Volvo? Wouldn’t that, too, be poetic? These are the kinds of things I think about instead of texting-while-driving.

Maybe there was more than one red fox lurking about. I have difficulty telling one fox from another. So for all I know,  there was Sassy and a bunch of Sassy look-alikes. I doubt it, however, because since Sassy’s demise,  the place has been hopping with an exploding toad population.

Rather, a toad population that is exploding. Exploding toads are another thing altogether. I’m pretty sure they’d have to bring in the federales to deal with that.

Call it a leap of logic, but I suspect a correlation between the decrease in fox sightings (to zero) and an increase in toad sightings (to 2.167 bajillion, give or take). I am given to this sort of dot-connecting and keen, insightful analysis.  You might say I’m practiced in the art of deduction.

Whether the toads were there all along and were just keeping a low profile during Sassy’s reign or toads are the snack of choice for foxes and Sassy was single-handedly keeping the toad population in check, I cannot say. I’m just saying it doesn’t take Aristotle to formulate a theory based on the following: “Fox = No Toads” and “No Fox = Toads. Lots and lots of toads.”

Exit fox. Enter toads. I think.

I’m telling you these are toads when I do not in fact know this for certain, for two reasons:

  1. There is a tragic deficit in my formal schooling when it comes to knowing the difference between frogs and toads. I must have been absent from school when they covered this, maybe for my tonsillectomy or maybe when I was faking a stomach-ache to get in a little binge-watching of Gilligan’s Island re-runs. (Before there was Netflix, there was UHF.) I have lived a more-or-less normal life despite this deficit, and I think I have a general idea, owing to my keen powers of deduction. Nonetheless, in a face-to-face encounter with small, hopping creatures of an amphibian nature, I experience an anxious intellectual discomfort much like that some of you might feel in anticipation of having to distinguish a gerund from a participle .

    Well, sure. The striped bell-bottoms are a dead giveaway, but it's much harder to tell the difference when they're not wearing clothes.

    Well, sure. The striped bell-bottoms just scream “Frog.” It’s much harder to tell the difference when they’re not wearing clothes.

  2. I suffer from a tragic combination of astigmatism and vanity. I endured the taunts of a boy named Tony (his real name, because it is seared into my soul and he deserves no anonymity) for all of fourth grade when I was first sentenced to life without clear vision or — at the time — contact lenses. Now I wear my glasses only for important things such as driving, reading, or watching golf.

Before you helpfully offer this, let me say that I know they make contact lenses for astigmatism now. I’ve tried them twice. I much prefer going through life seeing everything through a soft Diane Sawyer-filter to having things floating around in my eyeballs.  

Now throw a little gullibility in the mix: a frog could walk right up to me and say, “Hey, I’m a toad,” and, unable to tell warts from wartless,  I’d believe him/her.

In passing,  others have mentioned the burgeoning knot of toads in the neighborhood. I see no reason to doubt them. I mean, who would say something like “burgeoning knot of toads” if they weren’t knowledgeable and serious?

So, for all intents and purposes,  they’re toads.

And they like to hang out just as darkness is setting in, lying in wait for some astigmatic dimwit passing by so they can hop across the sidewalk in a twisted toad mashup of Chicken and  Frogger.

One of these people grew up to run off with a notorious biker group. The other knows a gerund from a participle and, in retrospect, is probably lucky not to have been beaten to a pulp every single day of fourth grade. This is what happens when you're raised in a home with crazy flower wallpaper and striped upholstery.

One of these people  knows a gerund from a participle and, in retrospect, is probably lucky not to have been beaten to a pulp every single day of fourth grade. This is what happens when you’re raised in a home with crazy flower wallpaper and striped upholstery.

The toad under the street lamp.

As the days grow shorter and my work days get longer, getting in my 10,000 daily steps means venturing out after dark. The street lamps in the neighborhood are bright but spaced far apart.

You might think it would be wise to use a flashlight, but given the vigilante nature of the neighbors (see Sassy’s story), it’s probably safer to push on through the patches of near-darkness, which is what I was doing a few weeks back at a pretty fast pace when a toad made what I assume was a poorly timed  leap across the sidewalk just as my foot was passing.

It landed on top of my shoe and then, with the force of my foot’s momentum, went sailing through the air, landing — on its feet — about 10 feet ahead, just inside the ambient light circle of the street lamp on the corner.

You read that right.

I drop-kicked a toad.

We both froze for what seemed like  . . . seconds. I know at least one of us was thinking, “Did that really just happen?” I don’t think I could have done that if I were trying. Not that  I would. Nor would I advocate trying it. I imagine the toad was thinking the same.

Then the toad hopped away and I continued walking, trying to stay on a more well-lit path.

Now every few days as  I pass by the brightly lit street corner near where the toad landed, there is a toad standing under the street lamp.  Is it the same toad? I don’t know. I have more trouble telling one toad from another than I do telling frogs from toads.

Is he keeping an eye out for me? Trying to send me a message? Warning me to stay away by cracking his knuckles and shrugging his shoulders? Do toads have knuckles? Do they have shoulders? Do frogs?

Does he have county officials on speed-dial?

I’m beginning to know how Sassy felt being labeled the neighborhood menace.

I’m not really a pumpkin juggler.

In the final analysis, the pumpkin probably had it coming. As for me, I fully accept responsibility for my role in the whole thing. Mistakes were made. I can’t say I didn’t have fair warning.

What I have heretofore and/or hitherto considered the agendized propaganda of the anti-pumpkin lobby turns out to have been uncanny insight into the malicious, nay diabolical intentions of autumn’s iconic decorative vegetable. Or edible front porch adornment. Adjust — and maybe sprinkle liberally with nutmeg — to suit your own personal belief system.

Did I listen to these people, these sage seers, these pumpkin-haters? Of course, I did! Their message, however dire, was entertaining.

Did I join their cause, vowing to squash the brewing Pumpkin Revolution? No. I did not. And that, my friends, is where my story begins.

Existential exposition and awkwardly inserted foreshadowing.

It may be worth noting that my confrontation with a heavy-duty Thermos ™ travel mug earlier in the week ended in a draw. The mug came away with a busted lid, and I came away with two broken fingernails . . . and no coffee mug.

Looking back, I think I came out slightly ahead in that one. I got to the coffee and that’s all that really matters.

Ok, maybe that wasn’t worth noting, but now that it’s out there, there’s not much either of us can do to un-note it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is life is a struggle, a struggle that often involves restricted access to caffeine and the resulting collateral damage to the feminine aesthetic. Nietzsche wrote that.*

Occasionally that struggle involves being assaulted by pumpkin, and that, my friends, is also where my story begins.

Sweet potato baby food: a gateway to pumpkin? You decide.

In the course of a lovely lunch with some groovy people, the conversation found its way, naturally, to pumpkin. You know how it goes: someone mentions sweet potato baby food and then someone else’s mind quantum-leapfrogs from orange mushy baby food to pumpkin and then takes another quantum leap to pumpkin spice latte. Here’s how it went down in real time –

Groovy person: [World's most adorable baby] likes sweet potato baby food. . .

Quasi-hippie, with sudden alarm: I haven’t had a pumpkin spice latte yet this year! 

Real time-lapse: About five seconds. And I wonder why my conversations often end with the other person staring at me incredulously.

I feel bad about that. I really do. I mean the quantum leap to pumpkin spice latte thing. Not the incredulous stares. Those I’m used to. And they’re perfectly justified.

A funny thing happened on the way to Starbucks.

All this talk about orange mushy food inspired me, naturally, to stop on my way home at a local pumpkin patch run by a volunteer organization raising money for a worthy cause. Even as I write that, it occurs to me that you don’t see many people selling sweet potatoes for a worthy cause. I wonder why that is.

(You’re staring at me incredulously, aren’t you?)

Fortunately for me, it’s still a little early in the season, so I roamed freely and at a leisurely pace — no need to knock crybaby toddlers out of my way** — in search of MY perfect decorative vegetable/edible porch adornment.

A nice man offered to carry any pumpkin that was too heavy to my car, and the conversation turned, naturally, to the long stems the pumpkin harvesters had left on these particular pumpkins, how they looked like handles.

Pumpkin in its natural state and in its caffeine-infused state.

Pumpkin in its natural state — except for the broken stem — and in its caffeine-infused state.

Despite having somehow avoided ever taking a physics class, I knew somewhat instinctively, if not by virtue of my own unpleasant dealings with gravity, that lifting a heavy pumpkin by its stem was probably not the best idea.

He wandered off. I found the perfect pumpkin and, by virtue of my fiercely independent nature, I decided to lift the 25-pounder on my own. Here’s how that went down in real time –

Me, inside my head: Bend at the knees, lift with your legs. . .steady. . . stand. . whatever you do, don’t drop . . .

What is it about negative thoughts that makes them so much more easily manifested than positive ones?

You can sign up for a marathon and think to yourself, “I am going to win this marathon!”  Chances are, by merely thinking it, you have not increased the odds of winning that marathon.

On the other hand, as soon as you think things such as “Don’t trip over that cord,” “Don’t mess this up,” or “Whatever you do, don’t drop this 25-pound pumpkin and then try to stop its momentum as it tumbles, thereby rolling it over so that it lands on its perfect faux-handle stem and, on its way down, breaks three of the eight fingernails that survived the coffee mug fiasco,” — you’ve significantly increased the likelihood of that very thing happening.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re training for a marathon, consider thinking repeatedly, “Whatever you do, don’t win this marathon!”

If you try this, please report back to me.***

In the best interest of everyone involved, the nice man carried my pumpkin to the car. We had a good laugh at how the stems probably weren’t meant as handles and how maybe using the seat belt would be in the pumpkin’s best interest. Looking back, I suspect the pumpkin was laughing, too.

I suppose it could be argued that pumpkins don’t laugh. I don’t know how we can know this for sure. So why bring it up?

Maybe because Laughing Pumpkins would be a good parody band name.

Pumpkin vengeance

It was just a short while later, as I waited in line at the nearest Starbucks for a grande cup of spicy-sweet, hot, fresh caffeine, that I noticed the true extent of injuries sustained in the Great Pumpkin Tumble, which I now suspect may have been real-time revenge on the part of the decorative vegetable/edible front porch adornment: an open wound.

That’s right: the wounded pumpkin had fought back and only one of us was bleeding.

In the final final analysis, I’m calling this one a draw, too. With the aid of a little antibiotic ointment, some rubber cement, and a few toothpicks, we’re both on our way to recovery.

Then again, maybe I come out a little ahead in this. I got my pumpkin spice latte. That’s all that really matters.

And in a few weeks, only one of us is going to become a jack-o’-lantern and/or pie.

 

Rubber cement and toothpicks figure prominently in a disproportionate number of my personal memoirs.

Rubber cement and toothpicks figure prominently in a disproportionate**** number of my personal memoirs.

 

*Or  not. I make things up. But if he’d had to shell out $40 a pop for a manicure, he would have written it. 

**I probably wouldn’t do that.

*** Don’t try this. I’m not really a sports psychologist. 

**** “Disproportionate” unless you’re McGyver. Rubber cement and toothpicks  figure prominently in his stories, too.

I’m not really a tourist.

This really happened.

I know I say that a lot, and I’m not sure why I would think that you wouldn’t believe me. In this particular case, I’m not sure I believe it myself.

But, as far as I know, this really happened.

On Friday I walked over to the White House to get in one last glimpse before they board the place up following GateGate.* The whole area was abuzz with tourists, protesters, security personnel, construction crews, and others like me, out for a lunchtime stroll.

Pay no attention to the crane behind the curtain.

Pay no attention to the crane behind the curtain.

On my return walk, I approached the corner of 13th and Pennsylvania still processing the image of a woman I’d just passed who was sporting jeggings and a skimpy top with exposed undergarments, along with a traditional religious headscarf, which she stopped to remove after leaving the White House grounds.

It’s no secret that my mind wanders into “There’s A Story There” territory more often than it should, yet I struggled to come up with hers.

And so it was that I was lost in that state of perplexion when I realized that there was a man standing next to me waiting to cross the street. Contrary to instinct, I looked in his direction, probably hoping he’d bear witness to what I’d just seen.

But, no. It was even better.

At first glimpse I thought, “I know him.”

My mind searched its memory banks for a name to put with the face. Then I realized I didn’t know him. I knew the face: it was President Obama’s face.

I don’t mean he was a tall, thin black man with distinguished greying hair.

I mean that I was looking into the face of  The.Spitting.Image. of the Commander-in-Chief. (Let me be clear: he wasn’t really spitting. That’s a figure of speech. I use those sometimes. They get me into a world of trouble.)

I know what you’re thinking because it’s exactly what I was thinking. Why on earth would President Obama be standing on a street corner?

Gone was my confusion over the jeggings-wearing headscarf woman, whose story no longer held any interest to me. Not after finding myself face-to-face with a mom-jeans wearing doppelganger of the President of the United States. (Let me be further clear to avoid casting fashion aspersions toward an innocent impostor: I don’t know for sure that they were mom jeans. I’m still processing the whole event.)

He looked back at me as if to say, “Yeah. I know, right? I get that a lot.”

Then, and I swear this happened, he jaywalked north across Pennsylvania Avenue, then west toward the White House, leaving me staring dumbfounded at a disappearing swagger in brown sports jacket and jeans. There’s a story there. I still don’t know what it is.

It was without a doubt the craziest lunchtime walk ever. I can’t wait to go back on Monday.

* I wish I had thought of “GateGate” myself, but it’s plagiarized from someone whose name I don’t know, who cleverly pointed out that eventually it would come to a scandal named GateGate. 

Better times.

Better times.

Flower power and ball juggling

Life is funny and sometimes full of delightful surprises and so are people.

Case in point, the ever-effervescent blonde in the sunglasses, she who is not just the life of the party but, in fact,  IS the party, the Ginger to my Mary Ann (if Ginger were a brilliant writer. . . and Mary Ann were a hack — ok, forget that analogy), the martini to my lemonade, the *grin* that  keeps me on the bright side, etc., the one and only BlogDramedy has bestowed upon me the honor of becoming one of her Blogs Of Other Bloggers, a name that, unlike Students Against the Treacherous Use of Fur, makes a good acronym.

Classic BlogDramedy.

Classic BlogDramedy.

I’m juggling a lot of balls at the moment. Mine are smaller than hers (more Titleist Pro V1s than Adidas Brazuca), not that size matters. And I’m not wearing knee-high socks, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I have more thoughts about this major award than I have time to write them. “Delightful surprise” and “honor” are just a start.

I had this “Flower Power” seedling of a post sitting in my drafts box, probably headed to “Trash,” but her very kind post featured one of my new header images, so I thought I’d post it while I get back to ball juggling.

Thank you, BD.

If you’ve come by way of BlogDramedy’s blog, welcome and thank you for visiting.

And if, for some reason that I can’t even begin to imagine, you haven’t already been to BD’s place, go check her out. But remember, her eyes are up here, buddy. Yeesh.


Still playing around with summer flowers and header images, I turned these three images . . .

 

 

…into these new header images:

The tiger lilies are in bloom again.

I know the classic Kate Hepburn line is about calla lilies.

I’ve adapted it as a ritual every June. When I see the first tiger lilies appear, I joyfully pronounce, in my best aristocratic, melodramatic Katharine Hepburn voice, “The tiger lilies are in bloom again.”

And then, only then — not on Memorial Day, not the first 90-degree day, not on the last day of school, not on the summer solstice, but on the first sighting of tiger lilies — summer officially has arrived in my world. Bring on the lemonade and the summer reading list (I’m back on a Mary Alice Monroe kick), the sunscreen and flip-flops, the summer music playlist. Next up, fireflies!

A beautiful tree outside my window was struck by lightning last summer and had to be removed. I was sorry to see it go. Without its shade, some tiger lilies have sprung up along the wall. They’re reaching for light and some appear to be struggling more than others, but they’re such a welcome sight.

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It’s officially summer!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On an ever-so-remotely related note — you might have to reach for it like a tiger lily seeking sunlight — I’ve been playing with my camera, Microsoft Picture Manager, and different angles and perspectives for header images. This morning my toes decided to photo-bomb a shot from overhead looking down on the lantana.

It reminded me of the photo challenge I saw earlier in the week.

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Look Who’s Walking.

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It’s lilac season, and isn’t that a good thing?

This morning I got an email from Ottmar Liebert with secret links to new music and a photograph he took in Barcelona of what he thinks might be lilacs.

Here’s one link, to a tune called “quietrainmoss,” from his album “three-oh-five.” It’s definitely worth the listen, if only for the groovy sound he made with paper in his strings at about the 4:48 mark.

His email said that he thought the flowers in the photograph were lilacs, but curiously they didn’t have a scent. I wrote back to let him know that they still didn’t have a scent when the photo arrived in my in-box.

So there’s one more person who probably wouldn’t trust me with pointy objects.

In related lilac news, I had a Carly Simon-fest over the weekend that eventually landed me at her video blog on YouTube, where she makes these little snippets of video from her bedroom on Martha’s Vineyard. I love that island.

I dare say that if anyone else made those videos, one might be tempted to hide the pointy objects.

But they’re adorably, unabashedly, quirkily Carly, and I love them.

I also love ukeleles, avocados, pumpernickel bread, chocolate ice cream, Lucy, and falling into bed. And lilacs. Not necessarily in that order.

Today I walked three miles around my neighborhood. A month ago I could barely walk at all. Baby steps. Almost literally.

While I walked I had a Eudora Welty-inspired reverie, the seedling to a short story based on the fictional theory that Carly might be my long-lost mother. By the time I made it to the computer, it was less Eudora Welty and more nonsense.

To celebrate my three miles of baby steps, I took some photos of my neighbor’s lilacs.

They smell wonderful, but I suppose you’ll have to take my word for that.

Peace and lilacs and all that . . .

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Roadside fruit and other distractions

I set out this morning to write a post explaining why I was taking Le Cahier private for a few days. It seemed like Good Friday was as fitting a day as any, although I’m not sure whether it will be back by Sunday.

There's a story here. I'm still waiting for it to tell itself.

There’s a story here. I’m still waiting for it to tell itself.

Then I saw that a new theme was available and I played around with it a little, which involved going into my media library, where I found the banana on a ledge.

I realized that after several years of sitting in my media library, that picture might finally serve a purpose in bringing about a post for poetry month.

Maybe I could write that post while Le Cahier was in private status.

Then I came across my photos of the giant Peachoid in Gaffney, South Carolina, which reminded me that I’d set out last week to write a post in response to  Linda’s essay about road trips and such over at The Task At Hand.

Her post got me to thinking about how I probably never would have seen that peachoid close up if I hadn’t been traveling solo. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the banana on the ledge if I hadn’t been alone, either.

Both the banana sighting and the peachoid visit relate to my unwritten poetry post.

On the illusory nature of peachoids and peacock feathers.

Among the things I’ve learned in this my third week as a shut-in recovering from a back injury is that the Peachoid figures prominently in at least one storyline of the popular Netflix series House of Cards. I wish I had known this several months ago when I regaled a group of former colleagues with my knowledge of the Gaffney Peachoid.

There are at least two stories here. I regret telling one.

There are at least two stories here. I wish I had known one when I told the other.

I’ve always wondered why that group of well-heeled Ivy Leaguers includes me in their annual gathering. It probably has something to do with the level of entertainment that comes from my cluelessness.

So, there’s a story there, one in which I come out blissfully unaware that I am, for lack of a more family-friendly term,  a giant peachoid.

You might think the lesson I learned is that it’s important to watch more television.

I know. Me, too.

But then someone brought me a fern with a peacock feather tucked into it, which obviously meant he fancies me.  I learned that from a drive-by viewing of Amish Mafia, which you should not watch because it is horribly offensive and yet it sucks you in and you find yourself wondering what that scoundrel Levi will do next.

Turns out the gift wasn’t so much an Amish courtship ritual as it was a pawning off of the centerpiece the fern-bearer’d won at a peacock-themed dinner event.

I asked if he really doesn’t fancy me or if he was just enjoying being mean for the power trip of it all. He glanced at Frank Underwood and suggested that maybe I’m watching too much television.

On kaleidoscopes, sort of.

I’m not just watching television. I’m watching the grass grow. Literally.

I can sit for longer periods now, which I do in my desk chair by the window, and I’ve been watching the grass return to green and the shoots of soon-to-be flowers peeking up through the beds. Inigo (my dog) came wandering by one day, and as I rolled the chair back to give him access to the window view, the idea of a kaleidoscope came to mind.

I thought about how the colors outside are changing daily and how he would have a different view today than he had yesterday. Then I thought about how, although I hadn’t planned it, this time of confinement has allowed me to spend time with him in what are likely his final days.

That thought itself shifted my own perspective, just like a kaleidoscope.

I’d like to tell you I wrote a poem about kaleidoscopes  — or an essay or a song, or that I painted a painting or made an actual kaleidoscope, but all I really had was the flash of a thought, which I would have bet was a hijack of someone’s wavelength, because it was as fleeting and random as those are.

I half-expected to read a blog post where someone mentioned a kaleidoscope. That sort of synchronicity has happened often during this down time. So far it hasn’t happened, but if you’re planning to write about kaleidoscopes, sorry about the wavelength hijack. I do that sometimes. It weirds me out, too.

Sometimes a flashing thought is just a flashing thought. And sometimes a giant peachoid is just a giant peachoid. And a peacock feather is just a peculiar centerpiece.

What was this about taking the blog private?

This week I renewed the upgrade that will allow me to keep the hippiecahier.com domain name. I’ve been receiving reminders about the expiration for some time now and have given some thought as to why I would renew. This would be as good a time as any for the series finale of hippiecahier.com.

When it came down to deciding, I renewed for one reason: to keep someone else from taking the domain name. I didn’t like the idea of a cyber-squatter taking it and charging me a king’s ransom if I decided I wanted it back, and I was even less happy with the thought of someone taking the name and creating an impostor site. I know. I’ve been watching too much television. But it could happen.

I’ve said before that I planned to stop blogging, once even deleting the entire Hippie Cahier blog. After a period away, I usually jump in again.

However, I think I have more of an idea of my “voice” and what I would like my blog to be, and what I’m ready to discard.

Or I thought so until I looked into my media library, which started this whole meandering post.

Meandering.  That’s the point. The point is that all too often there is no point. Just silliness. Or excessive introspection.

With so few other distractions beyond the unwritten poetry of roadside fruit sightings, mind-polluting television, and watching the grass grow and a dog die, I’ve noticed more about the kind of writing that appeals to me, both as a reader and as a writer, and I’ve been considering a more disciplined format and theme (not just aesthetically).

So, for now, I’m keeping Hippie Cahier, the blog and the persona. In a day or two, the blog will go “private,” while I decide what to keep and what is ready to archive or whether starting a new blog is the way to go.

I just wanted to say that the “private” status isn’t intended to exclude anyone. It’s intended to exclude everyone. . . but just while I make some changes.  Or not. You just never know with me.

In the meantime, I will be reading as often as chair-sitting permits.

For those of you who are celebrating Easter, have a happy one.

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I never got around to writing a complete post for poetry month.  The half-formed idea included reference to Peter Mulvey’s notion that “the trouble with poets is they see poetry everywhere.” Like in a peachoid or a banana on a ledge or the kaleidoscope sound of a desk chair rolling backwards.

He’s much better at the words and the music than I am, so here he is:

Thou shalt not take the tweets of God in vain.

In retrospect, intervening in a Twitter fight between God and Ricky Gervais was probably not one of my better ideas.

In my defense,  it was bound to happen. Either it was predetermined that I would log onto Twitter on that fateful Sunday morning, or free will was at work. Whenever free will is involved, nine times out of ten, “not one of my better ideas” is the result.

And so it came to pass that I was destined — whether by virtue of fate or poor decision-making — to peek in on Twitter while cleaning the bathroom and converting my office to living space for an out-of-town guest.

I often forget about Twitter for weeks or months at a time, but knowing that I’d be without access to my desktop for a few days led to a last-minute social media binge. Whereas it had been ages since he’d crossed my mind, suddenly I had an urgent need to know what Honest Toddler was up to.

While the computer fired up, I did a precursory scrub of the shower, planning to do a quick peek in at my social media world, and then hop in the shower for the final scrub and rinse.

In retrospect, hopping in the shower was probably not one of my better ideas.

And so it came to pass that I was destined — by virtue of fate or a light-hearted tweet gone awry — to find myself lying on the bathroom floor, gazing toward Heaven, which looks surprisingly like those popcorn ceilings that were popular in the mid-to-late twentieth century, thinking, “So this is how it ends.”

Heaven (dramatization).

Heaven (dramatization).

And also, “Owwwwwwwwww.”

I know. Pretty lame last words, especially for someone whose pasty white corpse was going to be discovered in a most unflattering position. So I attempted to class it up a bit.

“Rosebud,” I offered up to the beckoning light, which, I might add, looks surprisingly like one of those solar tubes installed in window-less rooms to offer natural light.

“No, not Rosebud. Inigo,” shot back the comically concerned canine visage hovering over me. “Uh, how long you think you’re gonna be down there? Because, you know, lunchtime? Tick tock. Tick tock.”

It occurs to me that my dog is getting used to my vertically challenged nature.

A lot goes through a person’s mind after a backwards fall out of the shower onto the terra-cotta flooring that took days to pick out. Things such as, “Can I move my legs? . . . Do my children know that I love them?. . . Why did I think it would be fine to hold out until the deadline to sign up for health insurance? . . . What will the authorities find in my browser cache?”

Eventually I arrived, as I usually do, at “Why me, God?” and that was when the epiphany came to me.

This could very well be an act of God. Or an act of Ricky. One of those.

Direct and swift retribution for my final tweet, the last words I would utter via social media.

When I’d logged on to Twitter, I noticed that God was riled up again over something Ricky, a passionate atheist, had tweeted.  His Eminence was throwing down the gauntlet, including calling Ricky “Muppet Boy.”  (The tweet has since been removed, supporting evidence to those who’ve theorized that Disney might be more powerful than God Himself.)

Here’s where I probably should’ve minded my own business and gone about cleaning the bathroom. You remember what I said about free will, right?

So I playfully tweeted, “It’s Sunday morning. Shouldn’t at least one of you be in church?”

Heh, heh. Ha. Um. Yeah.

It was a joke. Really! You know, a little good-natured ribbing. I mean, God and I, we go back a long way. We talk on a daily basis.  I figured he’d know I was just playin’.

Ricky and I aren’t quite as tight, but we have met, sort of. I’ve been to exactly two tapings of The Daily Show and Ricky was the guest both times. That can’t be coincidence, right?

It’s been about a week and a half since I lay on that cold, hard, stylish terra-cotta floor, wondering which of my dead relatives would arrive via solar tube to take me Home (and, no doubt, to lecture me on the vices of the Internet).

I’ve been writing this post since Saturday, five or ten minutes at a time, either lying flat on the bed with my laptop up in the air, or sitting or standing for a few brief moments. I was able to sit on the couch for a while today. Not only is that progress, it adds Ally McBeal binge-watching to the recuperative process.

So as I get better, I’d like to apologize to God and to Ricky and to the Muppets and to Disney and to anyone involved. Whoever it was, your instant karma skills are impressive.

Bygones.

February 43, 2014: the siege continues

Just a quick hello because I’m sick as a dog, tired as an old dollar bill, and in the middle of writing lesson plans on figurative language (next up: idioms and cliches). I wanted to let you know that I’ve been thinking of you because — and isn’t this always the case? — the most blogworthy things happen when I don’t have time to write about them. Here are just a few:

  • I’ve spent much of the past couple of weeks hanging out with the gym teacher and a group of students who were not taking a state-mandated test, while the test was being administered in my classroom. We alternated physical activity and quiet activity. While basketball and juggling are not my sports, I was aces at word searches and hangman.

Interestingly enough, Words With Friends hasn’t really taken off with middle schoolers, nor do they appear to be aware of the basic Wheel of Fortune strategy of guessing R,S,T,L,N and E. In five consecutive games, they guessed the letter Z, so in the sixth game, the teacher took it easy on them, and the puzzle came into play thusly:  TAR__AN. They tried TARQAN, TARWAN, TARXAN. This time no one guessed Z.

  • On a related note, you wouldn’t believe how many jokes I’ve heard about balls in the past two weeks. You wouldn’t believe how many of them were up inside my own head.
  • Also on a related note, I’m starting to think like an 8th grade boy. Everything sounds like a dirty joke. I am not proud of this. I like to think of it as a survival tactic enabling me to think two steps ahead on anything that’s going to set off the rabble-rousers. Not that it helps much. At this point, I doubt we could recite the alphabet without madness and mayhem ensuing.  (…L,M,N,O,P, BWAHAHAHAHA, Ms. Cahier said “Pee!”).  Future Bloggers of America.
  • This really happened: during a planning meeting discussing an upcoming mandatory test, an administrator popped in (possibly right after a parent conference) and reminded everyone not to use sarcasm in the classroom because students at this level are not capable of processing sarcarsm — their thinking is literal at this age. Then we went back to discussing benchmark measures on figurative language and curriculum planning for achieving them. Sensing I was the only one who found this amusingly ironic (probably because my paycheck isn’t on the line), I kept my giggle to myself.
  • The school is in a rural area. The building was closed one day this week for what can best be described as an Act of God. Death and destruction were involved (non-human). In the more suburban, cosmopolitan area where I used to work, the rest of the week would have been dedicated to post-traumatic stress counseling, homework would have been canceled while students processed the horror, and a parent task-force would have mobilized to find somebody, anybody to blame.  Country kids and their families just roll with it.  It was wild. It was a day off. We came back and it was over. After all, there were ball jokes to be made and a scandalous alphabet to recite.
  • Lest I give the impression that I’m loving it, let me state emphatically that I am not.  I’ve met a number of really great kids and nice parents and absolutely fabulous teachers. Unfortunately, the small group (of students)  that always has and always shall exist to perpetuate chaos is louder and more disrespectful and defiant than ever.

It breaks my heart that I can’t get to know the good kids and teach the fun lessons I’m preparing because of all the noise. They walk around the classroom at will. They sit where they want. They do what they want. They say what they want. They tell you they hate you (it’s not that I’m here to be liked, but it makes me sad that they’re capable of ‘hating’ someone they don’t even know) . . . and worse. They pretty much dare you to try to stop them. My goal for however long I’m here (possibly the rest of the year) is to somehow keep enough peace for the respectful kids to have a relatively decent day.  Such a waste for all of us. The good news for me is that this is exactly what I wanted to know before committing to the expense and steps necessary to reactivate my teaching certification. Most likely I will not.

  • What I mean to say by that bummer of a paragraph is this:  this week I morphed into Heisenberg. I mean, I didn’t start a meth lab or
    I wonder if Walt spits in chemistry class.

    I wonder if Walt spits in chemistry class.

    anything. I just went mean, only I didn’t do it in that calm and deliberate, “I am the danger” tone. I was loud. I’m never loud. I reached down inside myself to that place that does not like to yell and let it out.  It was the only way to stop things from escalating to a point where they were going to start throwing furniture. They laughed and pointed out that I spit when I yell.

  • We’re expecting more snow tomorrow night, which may be the universe’s way of giving me another day to get this spitting thing under control.
  • On a brighter note, yesterday was Pi Day. My classroom is next to a math teacher and across the hall from another.  One loves Pi Day and made a big to-do. The other wanted no part of it.  So I decided to remain Switzerland.  Here’s my post from a couple of years ago on the subject.
  • Today is (theoretically) March 15, but if you ask me it’s more like February 43.  Beware the Ides of March. . . and watch out for spitting teachers.

Peace out,

Heisenberg  (“Spitball”) Cahier