Obama: A True Story

Five years ago, my husband’s cousin in Florida and his wife were huge supporters of Obama. My husband feared that Obama was all style and no substance. He was magnetic and electable, and maybe that is all that matters.

Just last month when we visited the cousin, his tune changed dramatically. His son must purchase his own health insurance since his employer does not offer it. He needs insurance for himself and his family and the Affordable Care Act is way too costly for him to purchase. So his wife is keeping her job at a drugstore in order to purchase the store’s insurance for the family. After daycare and insurance costs, she makes very little per week, but it is a far cheaper route than the ACA. The cousin had hoped that a President Obama would make life better for his children. Instead he said he is unhappy with this bleak future he sees for them.

The ACA may be wildly successful as the administration claims, but this is one real instance that it has disappointed.

The cousin has not changed his politics. Now he is interested in Elizabeth (just look at her, you can tell she’s Native American) Warren. His ethnic observation, not mine. Now he is hoping for guaranteed pensions for all employees provided by every business. New disappointments on the horizon?

 

 

 

Sweet Dreams Are Made by Computer

I’ll never forget the most vivid dream I ever had.

About a year ago, my computer screen was turning on at certain times during the day and night on its own. A few times, I woke up to an eerie machine light streaming down the hallway. I became convinced that someone was trying to look in or listen in on us. I don’t know why, since we are the most boring kind of people, but paranoia is not reasonable.

So back to my dream: In the middle of the night the computer screen flicked on. I woke up (in my dream) and started swearing at this disturbance. The light became more intense and the machine started to make noises as if to match my own yelling.

Then I heard fast and heavy footsteps come down the hallway to our bedroom. Because the computer screen lit the house quite well, I saw the owner of those loud footsteps enter the bedroom.

It was a short man, no taller than five foot five. He wore a robe and hood reminiscent of the times of Jesus. He came to the foot of our bed and aggressively waved a scythe over us. In the dream, I woke up but could neither scream nor utter one word even though I tried.

I guess this could have been death what with the robe and scythe and all. If it was, I didn’t feel the fear death should have inspired.

The scythe was ambiguous. The weapon appeared to be highly threatening and benevolent all at once. I came to feel that the scythe waving reminded me of a form of blessing. Instead of a priest waving his hand over me with a blessing, I got blessed with a sharp and potentially deadly instrument. 

Go figure. I guess the computer holds just as much ambiguity.

Winter Rant

Piles of snow sit five or ten feet high in parking lots around town. Three feet of snow surrounds my mailbox. I don’t own boots high enough to cover my legs from the two feet of snow sitting on my grass. I wake up to temperatures of 3 degrees and it warms up to 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yet the goldfinches are showing bits of yellow through their feathers. The sun has been shining nearly everyday. The sky is more often than not a beautiful shade of blue rather than gray.

I remember a dismal winter in the mid-1970s that dropped many feet of snow on the ground with not one day of thaw and not one day of sun. Old ice piled on top of new ice until a walk across a bridge became a treacherous affair. Soon the protective railing between the sidewalk and the water below the bridge offered no security. One slip and tumble could drop you into the frozen water. Dodging the street traffic was safer than walking the ice.

So I’m optimistic about this winter. I’m enjoying the snow today because I will yearn for it on those extreme hot and humid summer days. I’ve sighted robins in my yard in mid-December and I’ve seen them in early February. The robins winter in Florida less time than some snowbirds in my neighborhood. I’ll stay here.

Non-Scents Rant

I hate this smelly world. I’m not talking about the smell of roses or the cooking smells of a tasty meal. I hate the artificial smells that offend my nose just about everywhere I go.

Years ago, the stores sold a few cans of Lysol, and a handful of Glade solid air fresheners that shrivelled up to an ugly glob when left out too long.

Now stores stock more and more aerosol air fresheners, scented candles, and liquid scents on their shelves. These artificial smells are bent on “improving” the smells of our world. But instead they create a worse stink.

These smells invade other products. I accidentally bought laundry soap that had an intense, cloying scent to it. The clothes stunk when I hung them in the closet, and they kept on smelling when I wore them. I couldn’t stand it anymore so I gave the soap away to someone that used it. I could tell because they always smelled like this stinky product.

I try to buy unscented, less artificial products. Often when I scan the ingredients, perfume is on the list of unscented, dermatologist-approved products. Trying to escape the ingredients that sound like something cooked up in a chemical laboratory is nearly impossible to do.

If anything, exercise should improve my health. I take a class at a place that stocks perfumed lotions and body sprays on their bathroom counter. Notice to the women that spray on Victoria’s Secret Sexy body spray: you don’t smell like “vanilla, orchid, sun-drenched clementine and midnight blackberry” (whatever that is). You smell like a hazardous-chemical spill. I’d rather smell your sweaty selves when you exercise than this concoction. I love real vanilla in my cookies, not the faux vanilla on your body.

While I’m at it, don’t do me a favor by cleaning my exercise mat with a Lysol wipe. It makes my eyes water and burn. I’m rather live with the germs than this anti-bacterial weaponry.

I refuse to cover up cooking smells in my house with the phony smell of a lab-created air freshener made of raspberry/pomegranate/dioctyl dimethyl ammonium chloride. I’ll keep the fish smell over this mixture.

A note to the product development people: you have reached the saturation point of freshening our air with your smelly products. Now you are just adding to the air pollution. 

End of rant. Thank you for listening.

Sixteen and Counting

Write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday.

I was sixteen and neither sweet nor kissed. It had been a few years now that no one wanted to be around my mother and me. Mostly it was my mother, I was just collateral. She alienated everyone in our family by now. She made her best girlfriends turn away from her. My father stopped coming by to see me. He could have met me somewhere, I wouldn’t have told. Besides my mother didn’t care what I did and where I did it. But he didn’t come or call.

One of the most enjoyable evenings I spent when I was sixteen I spent in gluing together colored strips of contact paper into a huge chain. Each link represented one day until I turned 18 and could be free from her. I draped it all around the furniture of my room. She didn’t know or care about this odd bit of decorating. Removing one link gave me some comfort.

One time she told someone over the telephone that she could kill me if she wanted since she gave birth to me. I angrily confronted her later on. She said it was none of my business.

I survived to marry a great guy, have a great child, and write this blog. My biggest regret lies in my lack of a worthwhile career. Three out of four ain’t bad.

Instruments of Writing Destruction

I stabbed him. He pushed me to the limit. He kept pushing me while we lined up to walk to the library in the first grade.

The weapon: my freshly sharpened #2 pencil.

This elementary school stabbing elicited very little reaction from the teacher. Although she did give me the evil eye as she took my stabbing victim to the sink to wash off the lead mark I left on his arm.

My mother always told me I was too passive and sensitive and that I should stand up for myself. So I stood up and lashed out. Today I might have been suspended, if not arrested.

On another day, this same teacher’s lesson plan included a writing assignment. I listened to her directions and grabbed a piece of paper to start writing. In a misguided fit of enthusiasm, I pulled out my box of crayons instead of a boring (and deadly) black-lead pencil.

I carefully formed each letter on my paper, aiming for printing perfection. I alternated a different crayon color for each letter I printed. It was colorful, joyful, and beautiful.

After I handed in this assignment, the teacher pulled out my multicolored paper and held it up for the whole class to see. I thought she was showing off my stellar bit of work.

Untitled

Instead of praising my choice of writing instruments and creativity, she used my paper as a prime example of what not to do. Emphatically she said, “Never, ever hand in a paper like this one.” Of course my name was boldly printed at the top of the page and everyone could see who the culprit was of this crayon-writing crime.

In addition to being called out as a coffee-swilling first grader, assault with a pencil and deviant-writing behavior was also added to my record. My public school education was off to a great start.

Death Calls But Does Not Conquer

I have no power over zombies, vampires, or ghosts. I only know how to ward off telemarketers.

My father bought two burial sites in two different states.

The first one is in a mausoleum in Michigan. This double-occupancy crypt holds his predeceased second wife.

The second one, in Florida, is in a mausoleum about 20 yards from his third wife. She occupies a space in the ground next to her first husband.

English: Woodlawn Cemetery Mausoleum in Detroi...

English: Woodlawn Cemetery Mausoleum in Detroit, Michigan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My father decided to spend eternity in the Florida location. He consistently chose the mausoleum theme because I think he feared the six-feet-under idea and the above ground burial suited him better. Farther away from the cold earth and worms I guess.

Anyway back to the telemarketers.

One day I answered the phone and was greeted by a salesman from a nearby cemetery. I listened to him, amused, what a thing to have to pitch over the phone.

After he rambled on for awhile, my memory was jogged and I nearly shouted, “I already own a plot in your cemetery!” So I told him the whole story about my father’s cemetery-buying spree, and how I came to inherit an unoccupied berth in his real estate.

He said, by law, I can only be buried with a relative. But she was my stepmother, not good enough?

Then I mentioned that my husband and I plan to be cremated. And those small boxes or urns can easily fit into this large casket-size space that I already own. That didn’t please him either.

Finally I told him that his efforts are fruitless. If my husband dies first, he has instructed me to throw his ashes behind the shed in our yard. Silence. He hung up. He didn’t wait to hear the plan for my ashes.

A couple of weeks later some friends told us about the frequent and annoying telemarketing calls they are getting from this same burial-plot selling cemetery.

I never got another call from a cemetery telemarketer again. They must have put me on the Do-Not-Call-Because-They’re-Crazy list. If it works, it works.

By the way, anyone need a slab in a Michigan mausoleum? It’s right next to a nice enough (in life) dead lady. I can let it go cheap. Act fast and I can offer you a Halloween discount.