Sunday, April 11, 2010

Duck Season

My ducks are back! Even though my little backyard pond is more like a group of puddles this year, the duck couple was happily floating and digging this morning like it's their private resort get-away. I'm totally in love. I bought them cracked corn and hopefully the plethora of food will make up for the paltry pond.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rushing In

I don't want anything bad to happen. I really don't. But I have to admit I feel a strange sense of excitement when things happen. Sometimes I go charging right in to see the aftermath. Maybe it goes back to my years as a journalist where story chasing naturally took me into the heat of the excitement. It's really a rush like no other.

My friend Kim and I react to intense situations very differently. Once we were in a glass elevator in the middle of a very tall hotel. We could see all the way down into the lobby 10 or 12 floors below and we both watched, transfixed, as a group of policemen came running in the front doors with guns drawn. Kim and I both frantically started pushing buttons in the elevator--she was pushing the up arrow and I was pushing the down arrow over and over again.

We both looked at each other in amazement and yelled, "What are you doing?" at exactly the same time.

Her response: "There are policemen down there with guns drawn, we have to get as far away as we can."

My response: "There are policemen down there with guns drawn, we have to go see what's happening."

I thought about it later, and I'm sure that my reaction was irrational, but that seems to be my honest reaction; charge right in.

We were in Mexico during the latest 7.2 earthquake and in Coronado during several pretty big aftershocks. But I didn't feel frightened. Just kind of exhilarated. I should have felt fear I guess. I should have felt dread and anxiety and anxiousness. But instead I just felt excited. Something was happening and I might just be in the middle of it.

I'm pretty sure I should be a lot more careful what I ask for.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Just Got My Tan In a Car Wash

I'm leaving for San Diego and a cruise and Mexico and beaches tomorrow. Couldn't be better timing for me since I'm looking out on a couple of inches of new snow.

Of course I had to get ready: buy a few new clothes, get a pedicure, find somebody to play with Captain Casey while I'm gone; and I had to get tan. And fast. So spray tan it was.

Turns out, that spray tanning place works just like a car wash, only for people. The shiny new fangeled machine looks pretty state-of-the-art. You stand in a circular closet and a lady starts talking to you.

"Face the jets for your pre-tan application," she says in a low, sexy voice. So I do. And these slow moving jets spray the coldest mist of smelly spray right in my general direction. Luckily I quickly remembered to squeeze my eyes shut, but I guess my mouth was agape with surprise. I think maybe my tongue is tan now too.

"Face the back for your spraying," she croons. So I quickly turn around only to be blasted from my head to toes with another startlingly cold mist of something not quite right.

Then comes the car wash interval.

"Keep facing the back for your drying," she says. And the stream of cool air blows right up...everywhere.

The lady tells you to get in some pretty silly positions with arms and legs splayed just like you are shown in the helpful picture menu. I can't quite tell which arm I'm supposed to have up and which leg I'm supposed to have forward and I'm starting to think I'm somehow facing the wrong way. I'm afraid to look at the pictures too long, because I know in a second I'll get blasted with tanning mist right in my contact lens.

The best part is the last "anti-aging" application step. You get sprayed with something icy cold and then blown off twice on each side.

I'm looking somewhat tan now--quite obviously fake. Just a nice brown cliche. But what are vacations if not cliche? Especially a cruise to Mexico.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Come Back Ducks

That white stuff is going. The sledding hill is still a sledding hill, but the edges are getting pretty soft. The grass in my back yard is almost back. The curb in my front yard is back. The unfinished landscaping of my side yard is back. And the spring pond behind my house is back. Now I just want the ducks to come back.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Unplugged for Earth Hour

Tonight my house went dark for Earth Hour. I joined people around the world who dimmed their lights from 8:30 until 9:30 p.m. For 60 minutes, the lights were off in some 4,000 cities in more than 120 countries.

As for me, I found myself listening to the loud silence as my house slowly went darker and quieter with each fuse I flipped. Most of my senses were heightened as I wandered around my shadowy house holding my green scented candle in front of me. It was so quiet without the hum of electronics and combined background noise of appliances that I could hear the flickering of the candle flame and my quick, careful breathing. I noticed the soft sound of Casey following me and my bare feet padding from wood floor to carpeting, and from stairways to landings.

The hour flew by. I wish I could say I pondered my commitment to reducing my carbon emissions for the whole 60 minutes, but my mind wandered and my thoughts flew through too many topics to count. I hope I can be more committed. I want to find ways to lower my use. I'm going to try to make my footprint quieter this year and my impact softer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Only the Deserving

It is said without guilt, without introspection or embarrassment. They say it with force and while looking you in the eye as if they truly believe they are right. Not only right, but justified. And moral. And indignant.

It's not that they don't want to help other people, it's just that they want to choose the people to help. It's not that they think other people are less deserving, it's just that they think they are far more deserving. Somehow the decision is easy and the justification ready. It seems far more powerful when wrapped in the name of god. So they do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
~Nelson Henderson

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Gluten

I've learned a new swear word.

It's gluten.

Sounds pretty awful, huh?

It's better if you say the "glu" part while scowling and wrinkling up your nose and then bite down hard on the "ten" and swallow it meanly.

This terrible-sounding stuff has quite recently reached the top of the 10-most-unwanted list and all my friends are swearing it off. They are giving it up for lent, taking it out of their recipes, and spending more and more time talking about how to avoid it. No more crackers or biscuits or scones or bagels. And forget about bread, it's completely off the table, so to speak.

And the sneaky little stuff is in everything. It hides out in soy sauce and shows up in pasta. It slips into toothpaste and mustard and ham. It's even in lipstick and always in pretzels and don't even think about cake and cookies and pie.

Gluten has become the new villain, overtaking cantankerous calories, frightening fat, and scurrilous sugar. And, it has plowed right over the reigning bad guy called carbs. Restaurants are coming out with their g-free menus and the GF isle in the grocery store is getting longer.

It's not that I think this new craze is a bad thing, necessarily. It just reminds me so much of the others. Last year it was low carb, the year before it was low fat, and this year with the criminal gluten I'm just left confused. My list of things not to eat is getting so long that I sometimes have no idea where to start.

I'm pretty sure broccoli is still okay. As long as it's organic and locally grown and pesticide free and... Well, at least it doesn't have gluten.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Snow Globe Welcome Home

I got welcomed home from a work trip to Indianapolis by a three-foot drift across my driveway. I had to climb my way through in snow up to my crotch just to get into the garage and snow-blow my way out. So, after a long four days of travel and work, more than 9 hours of traveling today and an hour of snowblowing and digging, I'm finally home. I cut a swath through the drift only about as wide as my car, drove in, and shut the garage. I'm hoping by the time I wake up the snow will be gone. Or, more realistically, I'll deal with the rest of this drift tomorrow night.

I'm just making it known that I am DONE with winter. It's the times like tonight that I'm this close to abandoning the snow globe all together.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tupperware or Theatre

Say hello to Aunt Barbara.

She's the nation's top Tupperware sales person, she's irreverent and sassy, and she's a 42-year-old Manhattan man in drag. What an idea! And what a way to stand out in a sea of sameness. I'd go to her Tupperware party any day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Don't Crash for at Least Two Days

Speaking of cars, I'm the proud owner of a shiny new windshield. It's so damn exciting. I looked around at all the different styles of windshields and waited until the perfect day to make the long-awaited purchase. I will certainly miss the pleasure of shopping for windshields, but I suppose there is always next year when the helpful safety inspector will get his "rejected" stamp out again. I know it seemed like no one could see that little crack hidden behind the mirror, but thankfully the safety inspector guy found it in the nick of time.

The girl at the glass shop was very helpful as well. She was careful to tell me as I was leaving with my sparkly new purchase installed, that I should: leave the tape on the windshield for 24 hours, not go through high-pressure car washes for a couple of days, and be sure to not get in any crashes.

"Don't get in a wreck for at least the next couple of days," she said, "because the windshield could pop out."

"Great advice," I told her. "I'll try my hardest to not get in a crash for the next two days, or for the rest of my life."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where Is My Flying Car?

The auto industry has let me down.

The biggest disappointment is, of course, not delivering the flying car I was promised. I feel this disappointment even more acutely because the advertising mascot for the flying car was George Jetson. In my young mind, I was quite convinced that if an idiot like George Jetson could get a flying car, then I most certainly would get one eventually too.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was made in some crazy scientist's garage and loopy Doc Brown made a stainless steel DeLorean catch air. In the 80s I was constantly being told that I was part of that bright hope for the future, so, for me it was only a matter of time until I was flying.

But somewhere in the middle of the 80s it seems that we collectively gave up on the idea of improving cars at all. Not only did we stop dreaming about flying cars, we stopped dreaming about cleaner cars, or more efficient cars, or really much better cars at all. I have my suspicions about what happened, but who knows what the real answer is.

When I was in high school by best friend's sister got a little Honda CRX. It was fast and cool and sporty. And, it was famously whispered around town that the little blue car got an astonishing 50 miles to the gallon. It quickly became the benchmark for us. We all wanted cars that looked just as cool and went at least as far on a gallon of gas. In fact, we younger kids were fully convinced that our cars would soon be getting 100 miles to the gallon. If not more.

It's rare today to hear about a car--any car--that gets 50 miles to the gallon. I'm sure the reasons for this are complicated, and this is not a complicated blog. But I do feel ripped off.

From what I can tell, the average fuel economy today is around 21 miles per gallon. That's exactly the same as the fuel economy rating in 1982. Seriously? No improvement in more than a quarter century? According to an EPA study, fuel economy of cars and trucks jumped from 13.1 miles per gallon in 1975 to 21.1 miles per gallon in 1982. That's more than a 60 percent increase in just 7 years. And those 7 years were formative years for me. Those 7 years created my expectation for the future.

I'm absolutely terrible at math, but it seems to me that if we could mirror that increase today, by 2017 our average would be around 34 miles per gallon. Still not great. Really not good enough. Maybe our energy should be focused on something else that would have even more impact. If I'm not going to get my fuel efficient flying car, then at least I should get a car that does something exceptional.

Maybe go on land AND on water. (I was convinced as a child that my uncle had two cars that could drive on water. But that's a story for another time.)

Or maybe we could just give up on gasoline powered cars all together. I want my car to run on water. Or potato peels. Or cow manure. And, while we are at it, I still want it to fly.