Friday, June 30, 2006

Jack and the Broomstick

Last week while I was looking for my broom to sweep the front porch, my neighbor Jack called across the street to ask what I was doing. I responded that I had misplaced my broom.

He asked it I was going for a ride.

It took me a minute and then I laughed and waved.

What I should’ve said was, “I was out late last night, and I forgot where I parked it.”

Thursday, June 29, 2006


It’s Thursday, the most glorious day of the week. It is a day like any other day, but better. Thursday is Trash Day. Buddy loves trash day. The song of the diesel powered, smog coughing behemoths echo through the neighborhood all day, starting as early as 6:30 am, in joyful disregard of the city ordinance for morning quiet.

Our house must be at the juncture of at least three different routes, because even though our trash is only picked up once, we can hear the bull elephant bellow of the trucks ringing through the neighborhood all day. Each time a truck starts its song, Buddy springs to action. He runs for the back door, skidding across the laminate flooring and hurls himself against the plate glass until someone lets him outside. He flies down the back steps and across the yard, a white streak, tiny feet barely skimming the ground. He barks. And barks. And barks. Sometimes he barks so much he gets hoarse. He barks some more.

This ritual is repeated several times on Trash Day. He runs back and forth along the fence, jumping and barking. He won’t stay outside all day where he can bark with reckless abandon, unhindered by human barriers. No, he has to come in after each salvo. My son I decided to count how many times we let him in and out on any given Trash Day.

So far we are up to four—it’s 7:30 am. It’s Thursday, Trash Day, the Most Glorious Day of the Week.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jumping out of the Window

My lovely eightysomething neighbor Yvonne is a very independent person. She drives her 1970 Ford truck, no power steering or brakes, all over town. When I first moved to this house just over nine years ago, she still got up on her roof to sweep the leaves off of it every fall.

Well, a while back Yvonne was cleaning out her service porch. A box fell against the door, unexpectedly closing it. The doorknob was broken, and once closed the door would not open again. The phone began to ring. This was Yvonne’s daughter Jan. If Yvonne didn’t answer the phone, Jan would call again and again and then worry.

So Yvonne did what any of us in her shoes would do—she jumped! Yep, right out the window.

Jan found her flat on her back out in the yard an hour later when she came by. Yvonne had to ‘fess up to her aerial antics. Jan did her usual chores at her mother's house, but she didn't say a word to her mother the rest of the hour she was there.

Yvonne has been grounded.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Somebody’s Gonna Get Fired

It’s late June, the height of tourist season on the beach in California, prime tourist destination of the country and the world. The dollars are just pouring in. The hotels are full, and just try getting a place to park coastally in the entire state.

Imagine that you're in beautiful downtown La Jolla. People are strolling down the street, they're playing in the Cove, they’re sunning on the beach—or they would be, but it’s raining. Not just a few refreshing sprinkles mid afternoon when you need it anyway--it’s pouring. There’s thunder and lightening. In La Jolla.

Somebody’s gonna get fired.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Buddy’s Schedule

After making his point by barking at the Motorcycle Guy around 8:00 am, twice if necessary, Buddy goes back to bed with my son. He gets up around 9:00 for the day, goes in and out to eat, use the facilities, lie in the sun, and get pats. For all of these activities he must be let out, and then in again. Though Buddy is a dog, he clearly thinks of himself as a human, and so must sit inside with the other humans, on the couch if possible.

The highlight of a normal day, a non-Trash Day, is the arrival of the postman. Buddy can hear the postman from several houses up. He races to the front door, from the backyard if necessary. Buddy can open the screen door (I wouldn’t mind so much if he’d just close it). He barks, frenzied barking, like we’re all in mortal danger. The evil postman has arrived bearing deadly mail. The postman comes everyday, and everyday Buddy must protect us against the known danger of Direct Mail advertising circulars. Everyday Buddy strives to save us from certain peril— and it works, everyday the postman leaves us unharmed.

Today, the postman just sighs and puts the mail in the box by the front door. He knows that Buddy is just the first dog on this street, and that Buddy’s barks announce his eminent arrival, and sure enough, the chorus of barking begins to cascade down the block. The postman once told me that if he can manage to get by without Buddy hearing him, a rare day indeed, that the other dogs are caught unaware, and many of them continue to nap on their doggie beds, and don’t even bother to bark. But Buddy’s vigilance reminds them that they too are supposed to be on guard against the evil postman.

Today, the Postman shakes his head while I reassure him that if Buddy did get out, he’d just jump on him and want pats; I am not sure about this; Buddy really hates the postman. Buddy loves everybody, but he really hates the postman. I can’t figure it out. It’s been the same postman for many years. I talk to the postman. The postman is friendly. We give a tip to the postman at Christmas. Buddy hates him. Buddy is a smart dog. Buddy is smarter than some people I know. If Buddy had opposable thumbs and could talk, he’d be human. Buddy hates the postman, and he barks at him everyday.

Buddy will bark several more times during the day, necessitating that we let him in and out so that he can keep his schedule. When there’s nothing to bark at, he will go outside and run around the yard barking, just hoping to drum up some business. That’s a normal day for Buddy, a day like any other day, unless it’s Thursday; Thursday is Trash Day.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Packrat

My dad is a packrat, not your garden variety, "Fibber McGee's Closet" kind of packrat, not your "can't close the garage door" kind of packrat, not even your "needs to rent storage space" kind of packrat. My dad is such a packrat that he had to buy a warehouse. A big warehouse.

Recently my dad called me and said, “Do you need a freezer?”
“No, Dad, I still have the freezer you gave me five years ago.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I don’t really even need that freezer. We really don’t use it.”

You see, my dad loves to buy things. It's not that he needs, or even wants the things--he just likes to buy them. He loves a good deal. He loves to bargain for the lowest prices. He loves garage sales. He will stop by someone's house--a complete stranger mind you--and ask if a particular object seen in the yard is for sale. He just loves the thrill of the hunt.

Once when I was at my parent’s house, everyone was sitting around watching Field of Dreams, it was the scene when they turn on the stadium lights for the first time in the corn fields. Me, being a smart aleck said, “Oh, sure, where do you get stadium lights?” My dad said, "I have some.”


Lately I’ve been looking at my closet doors, thinking that I would really rather have those louvered accordion-style folding ones. I thought to myself, hmmmm--no, he couldn’t. So I took a chance before heading to my local home store, and called him up. I described what I was looking for, and guess what he said?

He said, “What size do you need?”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Italian Restaurant Décor

What is up with Italian restaurant décor? Whether it’s the corner pizza joint, one of the many chain Italian restaurants around, or a fine dining establishment, they all look the same. There are variations in Chinese restaurants, sure red booths and paper lanterns abound, but there still seems to be room for the individual taste of the management. Why isn’t it this way in Italian restaurants?

Is there a factory somewhere in China called World of Italian Restaurant Décor pumping out Italian kitsch? Is each new owner of an Italian restaurant required to take the pledge, “I solemnly swear to cover my tables with red checked table cloths, hang Chianti bottles from the ceiling rafters, and adorn the walls with signed black and white, 8 x 10 publicity glossies of Rat Pack members, no matter how exclusive the clientele or refined the menu?”

After eating Italian food, the refrains of “That’s Amore” can haunt me for days. Are there Sinatra, Martin, and Bennett collections called, Old Favorites for Italian Restaurants? One Italian restaurant I frequent has expanded on this theme: they play Italian language lessons in the bathroom. This is not the place where I want to learn how to say, “Excuse me sir, where is the post office, Scuzi Signore, Posti donde esta?” In case you can’t tell, I don’t listen very carefully to the lessons.

How much of our precious petroleum supply goes for making plastic grapes to drape over mini wine barrels? Do they ever dust the grapes, or is the dust some kind of stock from the factory faux finish?

Who knew Sophia Loren made so many movies with so many low cut peasant blouses—or are all of the stills from the same movie?

It seems strange to me to see a clothesline, indoors, hanging overhead while I eat my Chicken Parmesan. Or, is it just me? Do Italian restaurants look like this in Italy? Oh my God, what do American restaurants look like in Italy?

Oh, McDonald’s, never mind.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Motorcycle Guy

Our dog Buddy has a schedule. Aren’t all Jack Russell Terriers named Buddy? We got ours from the shelter—ready named, but I’ve asked around, and they’re all named Buddy. He gets up on normal days at about 8:00 am. This is because at 8:00 am the Motorcycle Guy starts his bike.

Buddy springs to action, leaps off the bed, and pounds on the back door until someone lets him outside. He flies down the back steps and bolts across the yard, a white streak, barely touching the ground. He barks. And barks. Hopefully, the Motorcycle Guy hasn’t forgotten something, because if he has, he turns off his bike and goes back inside. Ten minutes later, he starts his bike again and Buddy is back at the fence barking.

We are not really sure why the Motorcycle Guy sets him off. Don’t get me wrong, Buddy barks. He barks at the parrots in the yard (yes, we have a flock of wild parrots that roost in my neighbor’s tree). He barks at the postman. He barks at people who walk by on the sidewalk, especially if they have dogs. He barks at me. Buddy barks.

But he has a special bark for the Motorcycle Guy, a special vehemence that he saves for the Motorcycle Guy. I think he hates motorcycles--perhaps it is the sound they make. Perhaps the Motorcycle Guy is Buddy’s alarm clock; after all, it is the first bark of the day. My son disagrees; he has a theory. My son thinks that in a past life Buddy too was a Motorcycle Guy. He thinks that Buddy misses the lifestyle, the freedom of the open road, the wind in his hair, the good gas mileage. My son thinks that Buddy just wants to go for a ride.

Tomorrow's blog: Italian Restaurant Decor

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Have Blogged

I guess this is my introductory entry, you know, where I say interesting, thought-provoking things so you’ll keep reading my blog.

Well, it's official, I have blogged. I had to add the word "blog" to my spell check though, and my computer is not even very old. I have had the blog set up since the fall, when on a whim I took a blogging workshop. It sounded so great that I decided I wanted one. So I got one. I was the proud owner of a blog. And then, I couldn't think of anything to say. I mean anything of import. I talk all of the time. I talk for a living. I write all of the time. I write for a living. I write for fun. I have three on line journals. For eight months I have tried to think of something to say, all the while spouting off to the world around me about anything that came into my head, so today, I spouted to my blog. The world can rest easier.

I guess I started a blog because I needed another outlet for my smartass attitude. My friends, family, and students will probably appreciate that I have someplace else to air my odd comments and opinions. For I have finally decided what my blog will be about, not the profound things in life, but my mundane observations, you know kind of like Jane Austin, but without the eloquent writing and beautiful dresses.

I had decided not to tell anyone the address of my blog, even though in the blogging workshop our instructor said that we should tell everyone, so they could read it, you know. But I thought, no way, I don't want people reading the fruit of the inner workings of my complex mind. So, I didn't tell people, and I didn't write. But now, to heck with that, I am not brilliant--hell, I don't even spell well, and blogging will not change that. Anybody bored out in cyberspace read away. Get it while it's hot.

Tomorrow's blog: The Motorcycle Guy