Friday, January 15, 2010

The Man Next Door Has Penguins...

My mom, Anne, recently moved to an Assisted Living Place. She hated leaving her little beachhouse. In fact, She was a pretty blue. Until she found the penguins...

I met him first. My husband and I were bringing yet another load of mom's stuff to her door, when he stepped out of his apartment across the hall. "Hello!" he said. I'm Al! Is she moving in now?" I poked my head over my boxes to see a cheery-faced man, about 5'6", with a walker. He had sounded younger than he looked. "Nooooo, not yet" I answered. "She isn't quite ready."
"Oh, that's too bad." he looked genuinely sorry. "Wanta see my apartment?" I hesitated. He certainly didn't seem like an axe-murderer. Tough to wield an axe with a walker...Perhaps he was just being friendly, and people get lonely in these places. "Sure, I'm Alan and she's Jennifer!" sang out my sanguine husband. And in we went.

It was then I noticed he had a sign on his door that said "Al Sunny " with a sun painted around it. "They spelled my name wrong so I corrected it by painting over it and making a sun!" he said. Not only that, Al had put a small ceramic dog just outside of his door . "That's my watch-dog." he chuckled. "Very low-maintenance."

His apartment was just as sunny as his name. The living room was filled with stuffed animal dogs, ceramic dogs and one real cat . Naturally, I assumed the cat was for the dog's amusement. Or vice-versa. He also showed us his bedroom. There, I came face to beak with 150 stuffed penguins. Yes, he had counted them. Tiny ones, medium ones, huge ones. Penguins, fuzzy and felt and everywhere! It was then I saw the real Al. I have found people who love penguins are people with spunk. Never "victims", they are, like their black and white friends, over-comers of adversity. "Alan and I LOVE penguins" I said.

There was a framed letter he had written to the IRS on his wall. Apparently he had thwarted them when they tried to overcharge him for a year's taxes. My husband praised him for that. "Not too many people do that and come out on top", he remarked. Al was definately an over-comer, a Brave heart, and no sissy. I liked Al. After that he waved merrily to me in the halls near his apartment, as he passed by on his motorized scooter, flag waving.

My mom finally moved in to The Assisted Living Place after weeks of delays. Understandably, she was dismayed at the transition. When she finally met Al, she was wary. Who was this man with the big grin and the funny name? Probably just another person who wanted her to listen to them go on and on about themselves and their "procedures". So Anne was gracious, but slipped quickly back into her apartment after they exchanged names and pleasantries. Thanksgiving came soon thereafter, and she was sick until after Christmas with one of those killer flu bugs. She stayed in her bedroom for 6 weeks. She missed her beach house. The freedom of being able to walk the cliffs and breathe the fresh sea air. But she never complained. Funny thing, I never told her about the penguins...

Finally, the flu went away. And Santa Cruz had sunshine for a few days! With the sunshine came the return from Southern California of her son, my brother James, and his family. Little Gracie, all of two years old, raced down the worn rug in the hall to Mom's apartment. Anne caught her in her arms and they both giggled. "I got you!" she said. Hearing the comotion, Al opened his door. " "Well hello, who's this?"

Anne was too happy to be shy, " This is my grandaughter, Gracie!" "Hi Gracie! he said kindly.
"Do you like penguins?" "Yep!" she said, dancing her little hopping dance. My brother and his wife Gwin came up from behind. After introductions, we all trooped into Al's abode. Gracie stared, mouth open, forgetting to even dance, at those 150 penguins. She couldn't even talk, which was rare for our Grace. Overwhelmed and whelmed-over--she stood in awe. Before they left, Al gave Gracie a very tiny penguin, just her size. Forthwith, Anne decided Al was not so scary after all.

The next day, Mom showed me what she had done. "See" she said, pointing at Al's ceramic dog. Next to the dog she had put a very tiny stuffed bunny. "He still doesn't know who did it" she whispered, with a twinkle.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hair Enough

Hair. Why do we like it so much? When it's beautiful it's really beautiful. It glides on the wind and shines in the sun if it's long. It flows with great lines and flatters a persons' face if it's short. I've decided when I go to heaven I will ask God to have thick, naturally gorgeous hair like Penelope Cruz or Omar Spence (he's a guy I know in Santa Cruz). But achieving beautiful hair is such a pain if it's not a God-given gift! People with naturally straight or wavy hair are absolutely blessed as long as it's thick enough. But if they have fine hair they spend hours making it look thicker. And if they have thick hair they spend hours making it look thinner!

In fact, unless you have naturally manageable, medium thick straight or wavy hair, in a decent color, you have to do some of the following: Straightening, body-waving, teasing, curling, weaving, extensions, coloring, shaving, thinning, layering, blow-drying, hi-lights, lo-lights, and spiral perming. And that doesn't count hair creams, oils, mousses, gels, lacquers, and sprays that make your hair stay in place like a helmet.

Then, after using all those hair-products, you go out into wind or rain and it destroys every carefully blow-dried hair on your head in minutes!!! On a foggy day, my hair sticks to my head like a unitard. And when I had a perm, it would form curls tighter than a gold-digger's hand on her boyfriend's wallet. Indeed, I would wake up every morning to find my hair in a new shape. My child, who pointed at clouds and saw shapes of animals would point at my hair and say: "Horsey?" What can I say? To have a mane is a pain.

Why do we keep on doing this? To look attractive. Which I'm all for, except--it takes so much time to look good. People, don't we have better things to do? Men have the right idea--just shave your head. Unless of course you have a misshapen head. That looks really bad. If a guy's head looks like a ski slope he should NOT shave his head. If I shaved my head, I would look like the cherry on top of a sundae. Oh! Forget that idea...

So, whether you have big hair or no hair, a bob or a mullet, take heart. When we're in heaven I believe we will all be issued perfect hair. I don't know what that looks like, but I just know it won't be as much trouble as what we have now. God willing.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Me: We really should take Purrfect the Kitty somewhere professional to get her a bath. He: YES! She is smelling pretty bad! Take her to...Office Max. Me: Oh! You mean Pet Smart next to Office Max? He: No. I mean Office Max. We just take her in and leave her on the counter at the Xerox station and see what happens.

Our cat, Purrfie, is the J.Lo of Kitties. Gorgeous, cuddly, physically strong and SMART. And 15 years young. So, I took her in to the vet last Thursday for a check-up. Found out the poor thing has to get amoxicillin twice a day. The doctor asked me if I would like to try using Greenies pill pockets to give her the medication. The last time we did this, it worked once. Then she was on to me. The rest of the time was like an extra fuzzy wrestling match, me against the cat. Remembering this, I had the doc give me a large syringe-like thingy with which to splash the antibiotic down her throat. Now that I am an expert on this method, I have decided share specific instructions on how to syringe-feed a cat:

1) Get someone strong to be your assistant--preferably a an ex-KGB agent named Boris.
2) Have assistant hold cat firmly with both arms(see picture) with cat facing you.
3) After growling, cat will claw assistant, knock over a nearby bowl of fruit and proceed to hide under the nearest couch or chair.
4) Coax cat out from under furniture by saying "Here Baby, I won't hurt you!" while shaking a can of "Pounce" treats . Repeat #2
5) Talk softly to cat, while holding syringe behind back. Use Kitty Psychology: Explain why she needs medication, that it will help her get well enough to chase mousies again.
6) Moving quickly, surprise cat by opening jaw with one hand and administering medicine with other to one side of the mouth.
7) Devil Cat may then proceed to yowl and shake her head with mouth open, causing pink amoxicillin spatter to cover you, assistant, nearby walls and ceiling. If this happens, wipe off face, refill syringe, and repeat #2.
8) Have NEW assistant (Vinnie the Ox?) open cat's mouth and hold it there with cat's chin pointed to the ceiling.
9) Administer medicine with syringe while standing above cat, aiming at center of mouth. Stand on chair if height impaired. Cat should then easily accept amoxicillan, with no mess and only minor choking.
10) Apply First Aide to assistant and yourself as needed. Drive to hospital if necessary.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Guerrilla Grocery Shopping

Kids screaming, mortal combat, lost souls wandering around asking for directions, myriads of cans and boxes everywhere, people who take other people's money... is this scene in the guerrilla camps in the jungles of South America? No, it's the Grocery Store!

Supermarkets. They are a part of our culture with rules just as complex as that of guerrilla rebel alliances in the South American jungles. But there are people who have NO IDEA about what to do in a grocery store. Inexperienced, untrained shoppers, they are enemies to themselves and everyone else.

Aisles in grocery stores are the most dangerous. People vie for position with their carts. Power-mad despots block the aisles,not allowing for channels of fair trade. I have have been tempted to throw a grenade to break up a conversation between two women clogging a main store artery. Fortunately they responded to my second "Excuse me". Lucky for them!

My daughter has been a victim of guerrilla warfare. She has been rammed by carts on the run. She has been bulldozed by unsupervised children sent out on reconnaissance missions by their parents. And she has been cut off by people trying to get to a register before she does. Shell-shocked, she no longer ventures into supermarkets until after dark, or when she sees they are without enemy activity.

The saddest part of guerrilla shopping is the victims. These are the SI. Shopping Impaired. They are pitiful souls,usually men, wandering aimlessly around the store. They're the ones with cell phones, asking their partners overly detailed questions about what to buy. Like "What brand of baked beans? OK, that's fine--now do you want; BBQ Style, Brown Sugar, or Maple with Bacon? OK what size can...8 oz. or 16 or 24 oz? " If they can't speak to anyone on their cell phones, you can usually find them meditating on a shelf. If you go away, then come back in an hour, and they're still there. Occasionally I ask if I can help. They look at me as if I am giving them water in the desert. "YES!" one man said, pointing vigorously at his crumpled, sweat-stained list. "What is a gherkin and where the heck do I find them!?"

I'm convinced the most deadly weapon of the enemy in guerrilla shopping these days is the self-checking machine. We don't have them in my area yet, but they're coming! It has a deceptively cute little bar code reader under which you slide your purchase. Zappo! It twinkles it's little reader light on the code and records it on your bill--except one out of 4 times it doesn't work. Then you need to find a checker to come help you. What is the purpose of this? Checkers are still needed, and therefore paid to be there! HA! I know what the purpose is. It's a weapon to kill off the people who have no patience like myself. Guerrilla grocery shopping: it's a jungle out there!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who Killed The Maid?

Conversation with Alan while climbing into bed. He: We need a wife to do the dishes when we're both too tired! ( I raised an eyebrow)...Or a husband! Me: How about a maid? He: YES a maid! Me: The last maid died. He: Who killed her? Me: I guess we did. I found her hunched over the sink with a fork sticking out of her forehead. Apparently she died of exhaustion, then plunged into the sink. He: So we killed her? From giving her too much to do? Me: Well, working all day and into the night is hard on a maid. He: You always bring up the dead maid story. Me: (nodding) Yep.

--Shorty blog today--big one tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wierd Things People Do In Their Cars

"That lady's yawn is as big as her windsheild" my husband said, pointing. We were driving on Hwy 1, people watching as we drove. Have you ever noticed the wierd things people do in their cars? When they think NO ONE is watching? They yawn. Pick their noses. They sing. When you see someone singing in the car, you just see their lips moving. No sound. It's like...reverse lip sych. I really like the people who are dancing to their car stereos. I usually try to dance with them at stop lights. They don't like that very much.

Business people often use cars as mini-offices. You've see them. They're in their cars, exitedly talking to themselves about important business matters. Yes, of course they have blue teeth ( or tooths) but , they LOOK like they're talking to themselves. Hey, maybe some of them really are talking to themselves? People eat large sandwiches with mustard and HUGE Monster Burritos in their cars. This is messy and looks really bad. Children are born in cars. This is messy and looks pretty bad too.

Many people get dressed in their cars... One day I tried this. I was on my way to lead a meeting at Santa Cruz Bible Church and had to pick up pantyhose at the store on the way. There I was in the drivers seat putting on stockings at a the Morrissy stoplight left turn lane. You kinda have to brace your feet against the windshield at some point. Either that or do a jacknife in the seat with your face in the steering wheel. I did the latter, putting the footie parts on my feet then pulling up. I then realized that there was an older lady peering at me from the car to my right . She looked exactly like Miss Marple on PBS. Now, in my experience, I have found many seniors think other folks are having heart attacks if they see them in physical distress. And this senior looked like she was going to come over and give me CPR! Turning a glowing red, I smiled at her, and stepped on the gas pedal. Thank the Lord the light had changed! I got to my destination looking fresh as a daisy. But then, I am just one more person who has done wierd things in my car!

Sleep-Talking with Alan

It's 2:00 AM and my husband is leaving the bed. No more warm body! Me:Whir ya goin? He: Just downstairs to listen to the radio--can't sleep. Sorry I woke you. Me: Das OK, havin a ba dream anyway. You and me were in a Circus performing(yawn). We were shinging. We were baaaaad. (turning over) Who sings in a Circus, anyway? He: Well, I'm glad I woke you then. Me: Yeah. Is Chip on thish time a morning? If so I am jealoush. He: No, he's not... Say mesothelioma. Me: Meshopeethleemoma. Wha? Why?
He:(chuckling) Just wanted to see what it would sound like when you're sleepy ( exit stage right).
(Sorry for shortie blog today--too tired to write due to lack of sleep)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Falling Up

I have this front door that locks automatically some of the time. So, the other morning, when I go outside to find my cat, I find myself locked out. It is freezing cold--like the MOON, and I am in my jammies and bare feet. Not JUST any jammies, mind you. The ratty, revealing polka-dot ones that don't have all their buttons! They are so revealing that I have taken to wearing the top backwards. What will the neighbors say? Probably "There she goes again!! Why doesn't she ever wear clothes? Or at least sew on her buttons?".

To avoid frostbite and neighborhood controversy, I decide to break into my house. Like an astronaut without gravity, I leap around the side of the house, grab a white vinyl chair and get under the side window to the guest room. It is about 4 1/2 feet off the ground. Just high enough to be difficult. I will have to fall...up!

Fortunately the window is open. I open it all the way, then prepare to launch. Not lunch, LAUNCH. Standing on the chair I carefully throw a leg up and over the window sash. Ow. This is gonna hurt. Pushing off with the other leg, I manage to knock the vinyl chair over. WUMP! I am now straddling the window sill. Where is a saddle when you need one? They make saddles for window sills, don't they? To get inside I do a leg extension that "Dancing With The Stars " would give a perfect 10. And shove off. HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Falling, I grab a curtain, and taking it and the curtain rod down with me, I gracefully land in a heap of curtains on the bed. Purrfie Kitty, who has been watching from the bed, is catapulted, a yeowling, clawing furrball of fear, towards the ceiling. There she lingers, suspended in mid air for, it seems like minutes, until she lands on my head. Falling Up. One small step for a woman, one large leap for kittykind...