April Fools

21783582-afc2-4d7c-bfcf-6b726629127aPhoto by Joze

Flash Fiction

APRIL FOOLS

     Today, crisp cool air mingles with a blazing sun as I leave my minuscule apartment on Lexington Ave. The weather has been dreary. This morning is glorious.

     I pull my long chestnut hair into a no-nonsense ponytail, walk and think about the other woman . Damn, I am better looking, appear tall for my height and young for my years.

     Around noon, I stop for lunch at a typical outdoor New York café; the tables are round and small; the metal chairs look uncomfortable, but are not once I sit.

     A waiter fills my water glass, and announces he is my server. The menu choices are unexpectedly appealing; fennel quiche, garlic soup, and more.

     I take time ordering.

     The man on my left, glances my way. His look lingers but reveals nothing, and leaves me questioning if I know him? The feeling we have met and cannot remember where, accompanies the exchange. His thick blond hair is sun streaked and he looks familiar, a little like a friend, Sam.

      Groomed brows frame his eyes. Carefully pressed gray slacks, and a wrinkle-free dress shirt complete his polished look, but I do not know him.

        I sit back to wait for my meal and people watch. New Yorker’s are something, a biker babe dressed in leather, pushes a doggie stroller. The dog wears goggles and rests his paws on the bar celebrity style. I laugh.

       The street is increasingly active as people walk and talk loud.  

        The waiter brings my order and the man who looks like Sam stares in my direction again, his eyes search everywhere. As the tables fill up, the man gives a knowing nod my way, and almost smiles. Although he is facing me, it is hard to tell if he is looking at me, or not.

     I refrain from turning my head to look behind hearing a couple seat themselves. They create quite a stir dragging empty chairs across the concrete and arranging shopping bags. I realize the man who looks like Sam is studying them.

     “Mind your own business,” says a voice in my head.  

     When the waiter takes my empty plate, I order a Cappuccino and the ‘Chocolate – Chocolate’ cake, and listen to the newly seated couple’s angry banter.

     The woman protests, “I didn’t make you come here, Victor, you agreed it was a favorite of ours.”

     “Eve, you’re the one who loved the menu, thought the food so nouveau or something?”

      Her voice rises. “You loved the zucchini mushroom quiche, and what about the gazpacho soup? You raved, said it was the best you’d ever had!”

     His reply is slow and deliberate. “No, you weren’t listening; I said the quiche was good if you like quiche. And the soup ‘the best’ Gestapo! I was being sarcastic.”

     He leaves the table saying, “I’ll be in the men’s room.”  

     I am  stunned.  His voice sounds like Victor’s? My Victor? 

     Look-A-Like Sam rushes to fill Victor’s empty seat, firing off questions that leave no room for a response. “What’s going on? You said you would be at here 12 o’clock, alone. Why did Victor come? Drama? Eve, you thrive on drama. I’ve had enough.”

      Now, I turn my head to see and watch. Coyly, Eve removes her Hollywood style sunglasses, checks her diamond wristwatch, leans forward, and whispers, “Oh, my, it is past noon, isn’t it. Victor’s golf was cancelled.”

    Playing with her blouse buttons she continues, “When he learned I was coming to the city, he said, he would come.”

     Shaking her head, she  continues, her eyes misty. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise. You know I’m married.”

     Look-A- like Sam laughs, “Do you think I’m a fool, Eve? There are other restaurants in this town! Why bring him here? There won’t be a next time.”

     He takes a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, presses it in a nearby waiter’s hand, and leaves abruptly.

     Eve shouts after him, “Next time answer your cell, damn it!” As she tosses her hair back and adjusts her sun glasses.

     The husband returns. A tan complements his brown eyes, perfect Roman nose, and romantic lips. Approaching the table, his aloof expression becomes surprise, as our eyes meet.

     Victor sits down across from his wife, tucks in a cloth napkin and questions, “Who was that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

     Eve clears her throat, forces a smile, and explains, “Someone who goes to my gym. It’s nothing. I’m tired, and sorry. Sorry we had words.” She reaches across the table to take her husband’s hand, “Can we forget it?”

     Eve appears confident and why not? She is not his other woman.

     I linger to finish my ‘Chocolate-Chocolate’ cake, lick the remains of a raspberry garnish from the fork, and pay the bill.

   Stopping at the couple’s table when leaving, I say, “Victor, What a surprise to see you here . . . with . . . your wife? And move into the passing crowd.

. . . .  just saying

Advertisements

Ridiculousness

th

Aging & Attitude

Ridiculous, this is ridiculous; I am telling myself, stressed about baking chocolate chips cookies.

Really! Chocolate chip cookies! Have you eaten a home-baked chocolate chip cookie that was not delicious?

I am on a mission to bake my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies and disappointed with the results.

Granny B’s cookies were more like a brownie, square in size , not chewy or gooey, just the right amount of crunch. As you can tell from the picture; not flat or crispy.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

The struggle for perfection is ridiculous, absolutely positively ridiculous.

My children, who I will be bringing them to, remember the cookies, but not the way I remember them; a special treat that accompanied a special woman wherever she went.

Remember special treats for special days. Some of us even enjoyed weekly special treats.

Ours was eating pizza in front of the television on Friday night. Pizza was tomato paste on English muffins with American cheese criss-crossed on the top. The television show was Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip. We snapped our fingers and mouthed the words to the signature song. Then mesmerized by Kooky combing his hair, and prayed he would lend me his comb.

No really, I am being ridiculous. The cookies I baked are practically almost exactly like hers.

I never watched her bake them, but asked for the recipe once. Her response was she followed the recipe on the back of Toll House package but added one teaspoon more water. In later years I pondered and pondered how an insignificant addition to a cookie recipe could produce nirvana , then recalled Granny B baked with Crisco.

Remember the movie, “The Help,” when Minny says to Celia, “The greatest invention since they put mayonnaise in a jar. You have a squeaky door hinge, Crisco. Bags under your eyes, gum in your hair, Crisco”?

I examined the Crisco can, and sure enough, when substituting Crisco for butter add one teaspoon  water.

Now the recipe is just right. Well not exactly, the taste is delicious. That is not the problem.  

The problem? The cookies are too thick and a tad too light in color.  

I get it, I am being ridiculous.

I have tried a 9 by 13 pan, too thick, and 15 by 10, too thin. One is too small; the other too big. It is possible a 9.5 by 14 pan will be just right. Unless I am being ridiculous.

. . . . just saying

Hack Saw Happiness

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 The Happiness Series

I am standing in the kitchen and Mr. Wonderful, my husband Bob, walks behind me headed for the garage.
“Can you get me the hack saw?” I ask.

“The hack saw?”

“Yes, that small saw with the black handle. Isn’t that what it’s called?”

“Why do you want a hack saw?”

I roll my eyes to heaven.

I have used the electric knife before and know the cord and blade are in the back of the silverware draw. However, it will be quicker if he brings the saw back with him when he is done doing whatever it was he was going to do in the garage.

Now he stands behind me breathing over my shoulder as I explain.

“If you saw this plastic container in half, I’ll be able to get the rest of the lotion out.”
The plastic bottle has been sitting upside down the past three days, and I have been sticking my pinky finger in the opening then applying lotion to my arms and legs.

Speechless at first, Mr. Wonderful says, “Lotion is on sale at Publix, I’ll go buy some.

“It’s not about the money.” It’s more like . . . . children in China have very dry skin, so eat your green beans. And this lotion has sun screen in it!”

“Okay, so you’re making a statement, you don’t want to be wasteful?”

“Sort of. Is recycling a good choice if a million gallons of water are used to clean the container.”

He interrupts, “Johnson’s Baby Magic  is a Bogo (buy one get one free) this week.”

“I feel better using the spatula to remove the dribs and drabs. See it practically fills this jar. It makes me happy.” I look at him and smile.

He smiles back. “Great. So you are on to a new kind of cause.”

“If I wanted a new  cause or to protest something, I’d refuse to show my license to have a mammogram?”

“Why do you need a license to have a mammogram?”

“Well, any picture identification. Some type of mammogram fraud. However, I cannot recognize my breasts now that they almost reach the floor. I do not argue.”

“Claudia, how many people would use a hack saw to get the last drop of lotion out of a bottle?”

I roll my eyes and say to Mr. Wonderful, “A bread knife really doesn’t work.”

. . . . just saying

Global Positioning System and the Hippocampus

I wrote this awhile back but think it belongs inThe Not Getting Younger Series.”

Gray739-emphasizing-hippocampus.png

Global Positioning System and the Hippocampus

 

     “Did you heard about Todd?”

     “Heard what about Todd?”

     “He fell while out walking.”

     “Oh that’s terrible, what happened?”

     “It’s a long story, something to do with the hippocampus.”

     “The hippocampus, what’s that?”

     “You never heard of the hippocampus? It is the part of your brain that remembers things, especially new stuff.  You know, if you move to a new neighborhood and go out for a walk, how to get back home. Where you parked at the mall or the date of a doctor’s appointment.

     Well Todd’s hippocampus is shrinking; just like he used to be six foot one, and is now five ten.  It’s part of the aging process. Remember “The Graduate” and Dustin Hoffman learning that the key to the future was plastics? The hippocampus is now the key to remembering, or so it seems.”

     “Are you sure? I read AARP’s recent article “Age Proof Your Brain,” It lists ten things, and I don’t remember reading about any hippopotamus.”

     “That’s because it’s new information. Perhaps your hippocampus is already damaged. Ever have hypoxia, heart attack, respiratory failure, sleep apnea or almost drown?”

     “I can’t remember.”

     “Don’t look depressed. There are things we can do like jumping up and down for extended periods. There is evidence that Exercise may slow shrinkage of the hippocampus, specifically the part that passes new information into permanent storage.”

     “Enough, tell me about Todd. I’m getting a headache”

     “Well, Todd goes on walks but is gone forever. Apparently, he gets lost in the neighborhood. Marilyn suggested he charge the GPS and take it with him.”

     “Todd’s not old and not forgetful. Who is Marilyn?”

     “Marilyn. . . his wife.”

     “Marilyn isn’t his wife. He’s married to Barbara.”

     “Marilyn’s his wife. Do you want to hear what happened or not? So Todd. . .  by the way he’s almost eighty, goes for his walk and gets lost. After hitting “GO HOME”  on the GPS, gets dizzy from recalculating, falls down and hits his head.  A neighbor called 911. They took him to Emergency, eight stitches and he is still confused.”

     “Todd’s not even fifty. His wife is Barbara, I had them to dinner. What did the doctor say?”

     “Stop using the GPS and see his primary doctor in two weeks. It’s probably his spatial intelligence. There is evidence these GPS systems are effecting everyone’s ability to navigate, not just us Baby Boomers. I’m talking about the Todd and Marilyn Smith on the corner.”

     “Todd doesn’t live on the corner? How will they get to the doctor’s office without the use of a GPS?”

     “Barbara’s thinking of taking a taxi.”

     “You mean Marilyn, right?”

     “Whatever.”                                                                                         

                                                   . . . just saying

Vertigo

Vertigo/The Not Getting Younger Series

   th  I am in Albuquerque visiting my son and have Vertigo. Today it’s not so bad. I just cannot bend over, or rather tilt forward or position my body even on the slightest incline. It is best if I am in a posture perfect position, which is not so bad. At least I am not in bed.
      It started on last Thursday. I woke feeling fine but by 9AM had a severe case of the chills. I was already completely dressed and wearing a sweatshirt but got in bed, and piled on four assorted blankets and comforters. Still ice-cold, I turned on a room space heater to high and fell asleep for four hours. When I got out of bed, I was still fatigued and could not walk straight unless guided by a wall. My head felt too heavy for my body and I was dizzy, very dizzy.

     My son thought it best I visit the emergency room and I could not argue. He took me to the hospital where my daughter-in-law works to be certain I would get the best treatment, and he was right. When he parked by the emergency room entrance I experience a  sense of helplessness like never before, and was thankful my son was at my side. 

     An EKG test ruled out a heart attack. My son spoke to the doctor asking questions, and supplying answers I was too dizzy to ask. It was a complete role reversal and since I am not getting younger graciously accepted his loving care.

     When I flunked the “follow my finger, touch my finger and then your nose test,” and three people rushed to support me after being told to stand and walk, a head scan and MRI were ordered.

     The doctor laughed when I asked if my brain was normal. Then commented that there was nothing acutely wrong. The prognosis was vertigo. I was given a prescription for Meclizine and sent home dizzy and nauseous. 

     The next morning I did an online search and learned vertigo usually is a disorder of the inner ear BPPVBenign positional vertigo exercises | Vertigo …that affects body balance and that specific exercises can help.

     Another cause discussed in the u-tube video by Ninni Girl, was acute vitamin B12 deficiency.  Click skip the advertisement to view the video directly.

     Just when I was getting back on my horse and thought I would be posting consistently this happened, but I am thankful to have an ever so sweet memory of  my son and me.

. . . . just saying

Moving Soon

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAging & Attitude

   We will be moving soon, back to Halifax Plantation; the community we first retired to in 2007. We have been living in Shangri-La, aka a villa apartment, where we have access to several pools and the beach is a three-minute walk. I can meander up to the lobby for afternoon coffee and bring back a free copy of USA Today. The flowers are switched out after several months and housekeeping sweeps outside our door. We are definitely spoiled.

   I am conflicted about moving. I like living in a smaller place and having zero outside chores. On the plus side we will have neighbors and space for entertaining.

   However, Mr. Wonderful* is thrilled. He will have a garage, be able to wash the car and kibitz with his golf buddies.

   As I reread what I am writing, I realize what a charmed life we have. Yes, our first years in retirement were consumed by Bob’s symptoms of pancreatic cancer, but he survived, very few do. He has no pancreas. I have been diabetic for thirty years and use an insulin pump, now we are both insulin dependent diabetics. It makes for some humorous situations.

   Life is good. He has all of his hair and teeth, and I have most of my hair and all of my teeth. We both can get out of a chair unassisted.

. . . just saying

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty-three years

R is for Raucous- The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

paula-deenNew Thought on Words

Raucous describes the commotion occurring around Paula Deen’s admission that she used the N-word. Lisa Jackson is suing Dean and her brother, Bubba Hiers, for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Jackson, a former manager of one of their restaurants, is white and has stated; Deen never used a racial slur in her presence. However, during the deposition, when asked if she had ever used the N-word, Deen replied  “Yes.”

The Food Network immediately cancelled her contract. Supporters protested the television’s show knee jerk reaction.

Deen initially a no-show for an interview with Matt Lauder appeared on Wednesday’s, (June26th) show and that is when she shot herself in the foot.

Matt Lauer repeatedly asked about Deen’s motivation for appearing on the show and pressed her to say it was to stop the “financial bleeding”. Deen stuck to her message; she wanted to dispel the lies and tell people, she is not a racist.

Lauer persisted and demanded to know, “How could anyone use the N-word and not be a racist?” Since Deen admits to using the word, she is a racist. Lauer’s omnipotent view reflects today’s faulty thinking, implying that racism can be defined by the  use of a single word.

Dean continued ranting about how she was raised and what her daddy said about lying. The theatrics ending with her saying, “If there is anyone who hasn’t said something they regret, to throw a stone at my head and kill me.” It was a meltdown moment and there is speculation about a daytime Emmy.

Most contracts  have been cancelled, and many affiliations severed with the celebrity during the past few days, over her truthfulness. Think of all the people who are now out of work.

It is reminiscent of the Fairy Tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,”  in which a lone boy unknowingly speaks the truth that the king is in his underwear.

There is a race divide in the United States and more in some states than others.

We moved to Florida six years ago and labeled Northerners. When the following incident occurred I came to understand why.

Robert, a hired landscaper, was working on his own in our yard when it started to rain, big rain, a sudden heavy downpour. Robert was a husky African-American in his mid twenties with a good sense of humor. I called him Robert, he always called me Miss Claudia. I assumed it was due to our age difference. I saw him standing under a tree for protection, went to the garage to press the remote door opener and called, “Robert go in the garage.” He did so reluctantly and stood looking scared, barely inside the door dripping wet. I grabbed a towel, tossed it to him and suggested he dry himself off. His sad eyes were hesitant as he replied, “You sure, Miss Claudia.”

When the rain stopped our conversation became awkward as he said, “I’ll take this home to launder and bring back my next time.” My response was, “Don’t be silly,” and took the towel back. I was from the North but Robert had been born and raised in the South.

We have all been standing on the sideline letting the Emperor think he looks good in his new outfit and now we are throwing stones at the little boy who spoke the truth.

….just saying

Q is for Quagmire – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

FBog_03swamp

New Thoughts on Words

We call them lose-lose situations, predicaments, or sorry plight. We feel squeezed in a trap; morass, swamp, or quicksand­­­­­­­­­. It is a quagmire. Quagmire is a noun meaning, “soft miry land that shakes or yields under foot, or complex or precarious position.” Both are difficult to get out of.

The joke about the Jewish Mother comes to mind. You know the one; A Mother buys her son two shirts. The next morning he comes to breakfast wearing one of them. The Mother says, “What, you don’t like the other shirt?” The son is in a quagmire, an emotional trap, and wonders how to get out.

As with all types of swamps, cranberry to quicksand, once immersed there are techniques to avoid drowning in quicksand, whether you are dealing with your mother or mud.

  1. Stay calm, panicking or wriggling around will only get you in deeper.
  2. Delay reacting while you think over the predicament.
  3. Slowly pull out one leg, and if the muck is only up to your knees, your best bet is to move slowly.

Now let us practice responding to the Jewish Mother’s question, “What, you don’t like the other  shirt?”

  1. Do not explain that you plan to wear the other shirt to the game on Saturday because it is a pastel color. Guaranteed, she will say, “So it’s not good enough to wear to the office. You’ll wear it when no one sees you, strangers.”
  2. Control negative body language, wait her out and let her keep the discussion going. She will continue with  something like, “Did you try it on? Does it fit? I can take it back.”
  3. This may be a good time to kiss her Good Morning, then respond with a question. For example, “How does this shirt look?” With any luck, she will say, “Perfect!” If her response is, “You look like your cousin Jonathan,” you could be in over your knees. Move slowly out the door saying you have an early office meeting.

 

                                                                             ….just saying

Happy Father’s Day 2013

card-FathersDay-BikeCTMHAging & Attitude

The pedaling of an old man riding a wide-tire bicycle grabs my attention as I drive Acoma road. He wears red Ked shoes, the methodical around and around is mesmerizing.  I press the car brakes, slow to a crawl and drop back, to give the senior space, as we approach the corner stop.

A large droopy straw hat shades his face from the morning sun.  He sports a long sleeve plaid shirt and hazardous baggy Dockers.  The blue and chrome fender bike has no basket or hand brakes.

Behind him rides a younger man in a metallic Speedo shirt and black skin-tight shorts.  He wears a helmet and mustache, and he does not pass abruptly. Instead, he moves to coast gently beside the elder, a solid traffic barrier.  They ease the corner together, dance a Minuet synchronized to Chopin.

I stop at the corner, turn right, and follow, absorbing their relationship. It is paternal; head, back and shoulders are an older/younger version of each other.   The son peddles ahead deliberate not to look back, allows his father to ride independently while protected. The old man’s bike wheel does not wobble and the handlebars do not shake. There is an air of pride accompanying his movement. I drive by and see his wrinkled face, guess he is eighty. A full head of peppered gray hair surround a son’s face with minimal expression lines and suggest he  is sixty.

My mind conjures a past Father’s Day, the father wearing the same plaid shirt, Dockers and Ked shoes, the son, jeans and a white t-shirt, both much younger.  Imagine it is 1958, the father, teaching, leads the way with subtle protectiveness and allows the son to celebrate his newly acquired skill, riding a bike. “Daddy, look at me!” He yells with a big smile.

Today is Father’s Day. I watch the pair celebrate with a simple act of being there if needed, pedaling their bicycles.

 . . . . just saying

P is for Preposterous – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

ku-xlarge

New Thought on Words

We know preposterous means; absurd, unbelievable, or outrageous. However, after reading about Joe Muto, Gawker’s Fox Mole, I am confused.

I vaguely remember Muto being fired by Fox Television last April but was unfamiliar with the media blog Gawker, so I looked online. Wikipedia identifies the parent company, Gawker Media, and states “Gawker is a blog based in New York City that bills itself as the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip and focuses on celebrities and the media industry.” Yesterday’s post featured a story about Donald Trump (I still want to call him “The Donald”) giving away suitcases of money.

Joe Muto, a graduate of Notre Dame, worked as a producer for Fox Television for eight years. Disenfranchised with their increasingly conservative view and refusal of co-workers to bring a fair and balanced approach to the broadcast show, Muto met with Gawker editors and when asked to prove he worked for Fox, provided two outtakes. I gather contacting human resources was not an option, and he may not have had an employee photo ID or pay stub. Regardless, Muto knew it was a crime, and although surprised Gawker posted the videos, does not blame them for his criminal record.

Muto’s sentence:

  • Ten Days of Community Service
  • Two hundred hours of private service at a Brooklyn literacy organization
  • A one thousand dollar fine
  • Forfeit to charity the five thousand dollar fee Gawker paid him

“John Cook, editor-in-chief of Gawker, called the sentence ‘preposterous’ and suggested Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. was trying to curry favor with Fox and its powerful chairman, Roger Ailes.”*

What is preposterous?

It is preposterous that Gawker cajoled Joe Muto into thoughtlessly providing outtakes and knowing it could subject him to criminal charges posted the videos.

It is preposterous that Muto now writes for Gawker. Some say the lucrative deal for his book, “An Atheist in the Foxhole,” cushioned the experience.

While cleaning trash in a city park Muto struggled to explain to a fellow community service worker why copying an outtake of Newt Gingrich fussing with his hair is a crime. The guy’s offense was getting drunk and stealing a cab for a joyride. It is rumored Muto answered, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Is  that preposterous?

….just saying

*The News-Journal, “Fox News ‘mole’ resurfaces with book” June 6, 2013