Monday, December 31, 2007

Bake and Plate 2008

The cooks are baking resolutions
That taste like nasty convolutions
So long delayed the restitutions
So why not work with substitutions?

The chastening powder of firm resolve
Is granular—it won’t dissolve,
But I’m not lost in futile time
I’m busy, busy, mixing rhyme.

I’ll cook ’08 with slack protraction
And a gentle fold of interaction
I’ll blend and whip into distraction
A sweeter batter of abstraction.

And this is how the mix is done —
With tone of nature, blaze of sun,
With reflux of nostalgic lime,
A bit of sage, a dash of thyme.

That is how you bake ’08
And then you serve it on a plate!


Friday, December 28, 2007

Old Books and Pure Vanilla

Christmas comes in a flash, and as quickly as it comes it is gone. The cessation of all the action can catch one off-guard like a brutal slap in the face. One moment we are reveling in the excitement and the next we are faced with somber isolation and quiet nothingness.

The shock often brings tears. Tears that are difficult to allay. And even more difficult to understand. But even at that, you and I both know it can happen to any of us – from the youngest to the oldest.

My childhood Christmases were always good though the gifts few. There were generally three gifts in keeping with the number of gifts brought to the Christ Child by the Magi. For me there was a toy, a craft, and new socks, warm bloomers, or a toque.

But my craft gift was more important than the more expensive toy-gift that served to fill an indulgent desire. There was healing to be found for me in the knitting spool, beads, string-art, or paint box and for my brother in a Mechano Set (a precursor of Leggo), modeling clay, copper-tooling or a clock repair kit.

Those craft kits had a vital role to play during the Christmas Season. When the festivities so abruptly ended, they let us down gently. Always, after Christmas, the sudden quiet made me anxious and sad, and that’s when I would curl into a cozy ball in a corner with my craft gift and paint, color, or stitch away until I had emotionally, but imperceptibly, readjusted once again to a normal life and simple existence.

The other thing I remember about childhood Christmases was how, among my three customary gifts, I always had a favorite. With so few it was easy to pick a favorite and the favorite was so special I couldn’t let it out of sight for a moment. That one special thing I hugged to my breast with heart-searing fondness. That special thing came to bed with me, to the dinner table with me, and stood hard by in a visible place when I was doing other activities. Don’t you remember the dump-truck that came to bed and dinner with you? Or the baking set, the egg-laying chicken, the magic whistle, or the paint box? I do.

And so that brings me to this Christmas. My neighbor and I agreed several years ago that we would rally in good cheer one evening during the Christmas Season, rather than exchange gifts. In seemed a much easier fulfillment of duty, without rigid obligation. But didn’t that same neighbor show up on Christmas Eve with a package for me? I reminded her of our agreement.

She responded by saying, “There is no obligation, Roberta. I know our agreement. But I couldn’t pass this stuff up, it was so RIGHT for you.”

And so, what could I do? I opened the little package. And inside there was a bottle of pure, non-imitation vanilla extract and a book, “King Solomon’s Mines” (1891). Could I have been more thrilled? Never.

And that’s when a feeling, so long ago familiar to me, took hold. I felt driven to put my book and my vanilla by my plate at dinner. I felt prompted to tuck these precious items into bed with me at night and position them close when I was cooking, vacuuming, or making beds. I felt a need to hold them close to my breast while watching TV.

I chuckle because it was the book and extract that cushioned my landing this year, as crafts did when I was a kid. On Boxing Day, as happens every year, the bottom fell out of all the gaiety and excitement of the season but it didn’t mist my eyes, as it so often does, or raise a lump in my throat. I just hugged my favorite gifts closer to my chest and without pensiveness, I landed squarely back in my mundane existence. My new Old Book and pure vanilla made it an easy, well-cushioned splashdown.

Today’s Writing Prompt: There was a flash and as quickly as it came, it was gone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Joy and the Responsibilities that Come With It

This Christmas I received a totally original gift from Middle Daughter (MD) that is funny, endearing, sweet, and original. She gave me a “First Aid Box for Brain Block”. And in that box she put snippets of phrases and photos for me to pull for writing prompts when all other inspiration fails.

The rules are rigid. I desperately want to rummage through the full contents of the box, but I’m only allowed to pull one paper at a time and I must complete that assignment before I can pull another.

So now I am on a writing marathon. So much to write before the box runs dry. In the meantime, I pulled a phrase from the box when I unwrapped it on Christmas morning and until I get past that assignment, I am not allowed to go on to another.

And so my prompt for today’s blog is…

‘Who cares’, I thought, ‘it isn’t as if …’

Who cares, I thought, it isn’t as if all the joys of the Season stem from the standard things that always march to the front of the line, Fa-la-la, to claim responsibility.

The sapphire winter skies delicately diffused with ice fog. Or the fresh snow all tinted with silver and pastel blue. Or the repertoire of all those beloved Christmas carols that have endured throughout the ages. It’s not as if it is the traditional afternoon Scrabble game accompanied by bubbly wine and a tasty snack of smoked oysters and crackers. Or all the gifts to be found under the tree wrapped in gold ribbon and lavender haze.

It’s not even the sweet, nutty-taste of turkey, stuffing, Christmas Pudding, or the hot rum sauce to glaze it. And it most certainly is not chests or nuts roasting by an open fire while we toast the holidays in the company of Royalty – like me and Good King Winston looking out for the last time at the Feast of Stephen.

So you may well ask, ‘What is it, then, for goodness sake, that stimulates the real joy?’

I am so pleased I can finally tell you. After so many Christmas seasons, only now, in this moment with weakening memory and palsied imagination do I finally know. It is a tiny little box with a tiny little latch that offers mysterious, unexpected surprises, each time I open it.

And so, the writing marathon begins and I’m fair giddy with joy as I anxiously await the next opportunity to open my next ‘prompt’ from my special surprise box. Everyone as surprising as the one before because MD has a sense of humor that makes it impossible to forecast what the next prompt might be.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Naked Truths About Christmas

I’m gonna’ tell you how it is. Today is probably my last entry before Christmas. I have to gather my wits about me for a supper tonight for some of the young people in the neighborhood and our traditional after-dinner game of Balderdash.

We eat and then we play the game and laugh till we cry. Last year one of the player’s had a rutted theme. Wasn’t too long before we knew his definition of every word would be the one that described a woman’s prehistoric, fictional or early Victorian undergarment. “infandous” – the chastity belt that didn’t work, “pegomancy” – a corset worn in medieval times that latched with pegs and leather loops, and “sebum” – the first pair of crotchless panties. Wonder what his theme will be this year.

First surprise Yule-callers came by the other night and we celebrated the season with chocolate rice crisp squares, short bread and spice cookies, coffee, and my tree still rolled up in plastic in the middle of the entry just off the kitchen. Yep, there was the tree in all its glory. Down for the first round but blinking lights gaily as I had just plugged it in for the initial light-testing. And hard by a 3-gallon bucket of decorations spilled on the floor beside it allowing a fairly wide-panned view of a regurgitation-like mess of apples, ribbons, glass balls, and garlands blinking with refractory amusement in the glow of the lights of the downed tree. But long ago, I have realized, surprise callers have to take you the way they find you, which leads to the next night.

Last night more callers, right after supper. But now my tree was up and fully dressed. Couldn’t say the same for Hub. He was in the bath and I was downstairs when the knock came to the door. I knew he had no clothes with him in the bathroom. I was rushing to fill the washing machine so I could run upstairs and answer the door when I heard Hub answer it.

But then, when I came upstairs, a lady friend was standing inside on the door-mat and Hub was wedged on the tuther-side of the open door. Still I could readily see his upper half through the window in the door and what I saw was wet hair and no shirt. The lower part of the door hid the rest of him. “Don’t look,” he said to the visitor, as he talked to her through the window. “I’m not decent.”

The visitor bent over and began removing her boots. The door moaned a bit as Hub gently pushed it away from him a bit in order to escape. And you know what she did?

She stood up and looked. I mean really looked. I’m thinking that Hub is naked, and I’m thinking what kind of person would not turn their head and say, “let me know when I can look”? But no, this person is just looking.

Suddenly she roared with startled laughter. “My God, you aren’t dressed. I thought you were just joking,” as Hub made a mad dash for the bedroom – shirtless, shoeless, beltless, but with long white thermal underwear on his lower half.

I had to say—I just had to say, “Why did you look? Where is your sense of modesty and respect? What kind of woman are you? A little too curious for your own good, it seems to me!”

“Honestly, Roberta, I thought he was just kidding. Nobody answers the door in their long johns with no clothes on.”

“Take note,” I said with a chill in my voice, “some do. And when someone tells you they aren’t decent, the respectful thing to do, the kosher thing to do, is keep your back turned until you are given permission to look.”

After this sarcastic game of pitch and catch, we are cast back under the special spell of the Season and we laugh heartily and I promise her I will never let her ever forget what kind of woman she is – looking with such curiosity if given the chance!

Another neighbor delivered a lovely card and stopped for coffee. She noticed my card display particularly the gilded one from my scrap-booking friend. “I’m so disappointed,” she said. “I haven’t got one single glittery card this year and I love glittery cards.”

The disappointment rang in my ears like a mornful toll of bells so yesterday, although I had bedding to wash, floors to vac, and tidying up that still needed doing, instead I sat down and made her the glittery-est card I have ever made in my entire life. Very simple, but it's not about the complexity, it's about the glitter...

So now, with all this nonsense going on, I’m not as near ready for our Christmas celebration on Christmas Day-eve (to fit everyone’s agenda), that I should be. Oh Lord, don’t let me forget to thaw out the big bird in plenty of time. And I must get the pies baked on the 22nd this year, cause we want them fresh but the big ole bird will be monopolizing the oven come the 23rd.

I have to admit, I fret about it all way too much. About making every Christmas the best Christmas my children and grandchildren ever had. I’ve been doing that for thirty years. You’d think I’d eventually stop the painful anxiety cause every Christmas in its own unique way is as much or more than I hoped it would be.

So to you, all my dear beloved friends in Blogland, have a Very Merry Christmas, unique and special in its own way.

P.S. And for those of you that are into pristine, untouched, totally organic, here's a special Xmas card for you... organic snow-woman with no supportive undergarments though the Barbie dolls would all run and hide with shame if she were compressed into Victoria Secret attire.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Promises Are

You will find in a promise, if you pull it apart
A dainty delectable that tastes a bit tart
An incalculable blend bent to disguise
With less thoughtful intent, than better-kept lies.

So I have more faith in mystical things
That approach in blue light or on sacred wings
Cause for many a promise is a weird kind of joke
Too easily uttered, too readily spoke.

Vows shouldn’t be like that, they should settle right in
Cause breaking a promise is the worst kind of sin.
They should telescope dreams and life-schemes ignite
But too often before I can turn out the light
I get a short message updating our truce...

“I can’t keep my promise, but I have an excuse!”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Moments in Time

Moments rushing, rushing, rushing,
Tumbling, trampling, pushing, crushing.
Impatiently moving; So anxious to go
As if scuttled by fear and murderous foe.

For a moment they’re here and then they are gone
Like a rippled reflection lost in a pond
Promptly transfigured to shadows of dust
Reality surrendered – polish to rust.
Such chaos and carnage, I can’t help but reckon
Would it hurt them to pause for one pithy second?

All that I want from my moment debris
Is one untarnished granule of antiquity
But yet when I manage one snip to extract
It slips from my grip
And goes racing back.

Written in response to the writer’s prompt “Moment” at Writer’s Island.

Lost on Writer’s Island

Directions, a compass. I have little concept of either. My internal compass has a weak magnetic pole and a delicate spinner. Like a bad cell-phone, the mechanism is intercepted and useless when walled in by steel, concrete, wood, shadow, or the absence of sunshine.

North, south, east, west. It’s all one and the same to me. Take me into a building with a two-cornered hallway and my compass goes kaput. And then I am lost – looking for Hub to take my hand and lead me out of there. He can follow his nose in the pitch-dark of night and still get where he is going.

Got lost the other day. Went down some non-distinctive hallway at Pauline’s Site and ended up marooned on ‘Writer’s Island’. An island foggy with sea salt and tide. Compass down and no traditional signage to lead me home. Just a roadside prompt that said, “Moments” and some oblique reference to poetry.

Desperate to escape, I spun my poem of “moments” and turned the corner to find I was back on a familiar corner and a familiar street. And that is how this poem came to be.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pets and Peeves

Relationships are supposed to be simple. You love someone, they love you, and so a bond is formed. Other loves shouldn’t run interference. Yet I’ve read more than one story of a cat or dog-loving individual who marries someone who despises the “filthy beasts” and shuns them with utter contempt.

Occasionally daily exposure to the other’s pet ends up magically cultivating a similar appreciation. But in other homes, things get nasty. The dynamics of the relationship clash. And human nature, being what it is, the pet is doted on more to make up for the other’s disdain which only magnifies the situation. And so soon the whole relationship is shabbily frayed.

But what could that possibly have to do with me? I didn’t bring any pets into this relationship. And the pets we have now were discussed and agreed upon. All I brought to this relationship were a few personal possessions, a meager number of books, a Scrabble game and several boxes of hand-written journals. Still Hub looked askance at those boxes and that Scrabble game with the same kind of skepticism bordering on abhorrence that I’ve seen reflected in the face of those who shun felines and canines.

I do think Hub resented my passion for Scrabble. But at the same time, after much pleading on my part, he eventually agreed to scrap Crib in favor of Scrabble. But he did complain – he complained that he was a poor speller and that he was not a Scrabble player. Still complaining, he took his chair at the table in front of the Scrabble board. We played and I beat him mercilessly the first two games. That’s when it occurred to me that maybe if I didn’t back off, he would stop playing.

But when Scrabble is such an enjoyable challenge as it has always been to me, it was difficult to ease up. And just when I was contemplating how to put such a plan into effect, I found it was not good to let down my guard. Because now with extra cajoling on my part, we played a third game and Hub handily won. And he won the fourth and fifth and sixth game as well.

And that is when our Scrabble playing abruptly came to an end. He said to me. “I don’t like this game. I have never liked this game. But since you insisted, I decided to play. But now that I consistently win, there is no reason to continue playing, is there?”

I’m a bit slow on the take-up sometimes. I didn’t realize until some years later what his strategy had been. I assumed that intellectually in word games, I was superior and therefore it was simply a bad stroke of luck. Bad letters. Too many I’s, too many U’s and not enough counters like X and J.

But Hub had a strategy. He concluded after the first two games that striving for a high-value word was not working, so he switched to defensive play. So now he would not build an obvious 7-letter word if it would set me up. Instead he plugged in two-letter words in places that would stalemate the game even though in doing so he was scoring no more than five points. And incredibly, it worked.

So that’s what happened with Scrabble, but I also loved to cuddle in bed with my words. Loved reading in bed. But here I fell into another snare. I, for one, cannot sleep with a light in my room. Never have. And I cannot sleep with someone next to me fidgeting or rustling paper. Regardless of all this, I read in bed for a short time after we were married, and Hub never complained, but I was bloody aware that if he ever adopted the habit, I would be livid. Lights on, glaring in my eyes, pages rustling when all I want is to go to sleep. It would drive me nuts. So I quit that as well.

Words to me are such a delight, but this delight was not shared by Hub. He is eternally frustrated by Politicians, Experts, and Newsmen that smudge the clarity of language with so many words. So I knew better than to allow all those extraneous and wildly imaginative adverbs and adjectives of mine to tumble about, shedding hair on the furniture and piddling behind the couch. Nevertheless, I cautiously continued word-play with my word-pets when left to my own devices.

Lucky for me, it is easier to keep word-pets in seclusion than animal-pets. I kept my words in my head. And then while shopping, baking, or when Hub was away, I took them out and arranged them and rearranged them. We cuddled and kissed. I stroked and examined them all the while looking for relationships, incongruities, contrasts, rhyme, reason and succinct expression.

So with that kind of caution and with so little exposure to my gaggle of words, Hub remained comfortable in his own philosophy that words are tools that have a purely functional purpose like an ax or a hammer. But for that practicality, I am pleased, in an “artful” way.

What an emotional tangle this relationship would be of jealousy, envy, and opposition if he loved my words as I do and wanted to sort and play and kiss and edit them in ways outside of my dominion and approval. That would be worse than interference in my kitchen.

And furthermore, if I had a Shakespearean-Chaucer-type mate, he would rip up this rant and tell me “If you’re going to write, write something worthwhile.”

Instead, when I read what I’ve written his feedback is as practical as the man.

“Good. But you need to shorten it up.”

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Test of Time

Hub and I didn’t intend to wander from our own deep-seated intuition, but with a brain-dripping kind of programming going on, we eventually did. We scoffed at all the new notions about rearing younguns but the steady bombardment through television, radio, and books, left us insecure in our own abilities and we fell into the trap.

So the new-age ideologies took hold when he was only a baby and now he is grown. Raised without discipline, spanking, or any sense of obligation to others. The outcome is, as the old ones had warned, a bloody annoying conviction of entitlement. That it is his right to spin the world in whatever direction he chooses to spin it.

He comes and literally dismantles the bed when he gets up. He whines and treads about with heavy footsteps. He kisses us again and again to get pats and tickles without risk of impatience on our part. Looks his sweetest. Acts his sweetest. But still maintains enough disturbing noise through voice and action and bed ruffling to make it impossible for us to snooze just a bit longer. We are forced to comply.

For him there has been no discipline and rules beyond the one rule that vetoed bullying. In that we were adamant and he is truly in no way a bully.

So how did it work out now that he is an adult? He is gentle, kind, and honorable. And though not empathetic in the least to demanding a walk before we’ve even had our morning coffee when the wind is howling and the thermometer as close to forty below as it can dare to be, he does have sensitivities. When Hub or I raise our voices even in good-natured bantering, he runs to intervene. Pulling at pants or skirt and begging for kisses to calm and distract us. And yes he is honorable. He does not steal. He does not attempt to take others treats. He is not deceitful. But he can be annoying.

He rattles a metal dish with loud muster in the hall when his meals are not ready on time. When big, bold, and brash friends come to visit, he bounds after them, throws them down, makes them say ‘uncle’ just so they know, without slapping, kicking, or biting, and then the play begins. But other friends that are shy, insecure, are simply kissed and coddled until they are comfortable and then the play begins and he takes the utmost care to not tumble them over or step on them.
But his sense of entitlement just grows and grows. He used to insist we play outside once a day. Now he insists we play outside twice a day. And believe me, he can count to two and past it very accurately. He is not kenneled. And in the woods are his toys – his fox, his deer, his squirrels, and chickens, but he will not play with those amusements unless we come play with him. In fact, come to think of it, he won’t do anything independently. For everything he needs Hub or I as a sidekick.

When Hub saw him on the road and yelled at him to get off the road, he nodded in compliance. But then when a truck came along, he moved to the side and yelled at the truck. “Get off the road”. He doesn’t speak clearly but the emphasis and syllabic rhythm was exact enough to know that’s what he said. Rules, it seems, are made for others—most definitely not for him.

Some of the older generation used to say, “Why don’t you teach him some manners?” But teaching manners would require spanks or withholding treats and we suddenly found we were not about to do that. So now, what do we have?

We have a dog whose demands on our time are endless. He thoughtfully maps out every day so that it will include two group walks, four or more belly scratches, plenty of stroking, several treats, and of course a car ride with Hub. If he is lounging on the floor in the middle of the hallway, anyone passing through that corridor will simply have to step over him. Without restrictions, his consideration must come first. Without rules, without spanking, these are his entitlements, and no one better be forgetting it. And yeh, we could tell him to go lay down in a stern voice. But then he limps to the other room, with his tail between his legs, and sulks and weeps in the big chair. And it is so evident to both of us that the pain he feels surpasses anything that could come from spanking. Without us ever keeping a strain on him, he cannot accept that sometimes we are too busy for him. That sometimes that is how it is. And so he becomes an emotional basket case.

Meanwhile old dog was raised according to the old-fashioned rules. When she was young Hub and I were too busy with young children to make her the center of the universe. So she was kindly cared for but not to the extent that allowed her to ever think that the world revolved around her. So with that kind of upbringing, she apologizes for everything, demands nothing, expects nothing, but she is every bit as kind, loving, and even more patient than Doughee.

She amuses herself without demanding anything. She never complains she is bored as Doughee does. She never demands car rides, or group play, or belly scratches, or walks. If supper is late, she stares at me, but says nothing. If anyone is close to her she rolls on her back just in case they want to scratch her belly, but she never begs or insists. There is no need to tell her to go lie down because she lies dutifully at our feet whether we are home or out visiting until she sees us donning outer wear or hears the hum of a vehicle started outside. Still she is a happy, carefree, dog with no psychological damage.

We love them equally, but with Doughee Dog pushing me off my chair, and I haven’t even yet had my morning coffee, I must go for a walk with him in the big storm, or the big wind, the big rain, or the big chill. So you see, more and more I have my regrets that I didn’t let Doughee Dog know from the get-go that he needs to be less confined in attitude to his own self-interests. And I regret that I didn’t humble him with measured discipline.

Truly both are much beloved. But I can’t deny that Old Dog is so much easier to contend with. Everyone who has met my puppies, loves Doughee because he is so handsome and good-natured—and in their face. But all soon say, even those who see no value in dog ownership, that if they ever choose to have a dog, the best they could hope for would be to find a dog as well-behaved as Old Dog. A sweet loyal dog who understands that life is about quiet acceptance and apologetic appreciation rather than impatient demands for compliance.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Presence Rather than Presents

I’m thinking today about what I want for Christmas. The question causes anxiety because as a retiree, I am discovering that despite all the catalogues and flyers piled on my table, with such an overabundance of exotic and lovely gifts, I feel no stir of excitement.

The excitement that once so clearly defined the Holiday Season is still understood, expected, and a given right, but not so easily found, so easily wrapped, and so easily exchanged as it once was in the form of chocolates, a plush robe, or bath oil.

But even so, I think somewhere that joy resides. Perhaps I have to dig a bit deeper. Perhaps it is being smothered by bittersweet longings for youth and past festive celebrations. Whatever the case, I am determined to resurrect it—regardless of how cause and concept are altered by maturity.

So, for openers, the first dominant theory is that as a retiree I have slipped from the practical-reality side of life to the impractical-reflective side. So rather than putting up my tree, I want to write a beautiful poem about Christmas. Rather than tidying up the house, I want to reminisce about childhood. Rather than baking, I want to lounge in my chair and revel in the staggering musical lyrics of “O Holy Night” and “The Little Drummer Boy.”

And rather than finding the perfect outfit for Christmas, I want to find a perfect new phrase that represents my appreciation for life. And rather than a mess of paper packages to stimulate the warm satisfaction of an increase, I want a post-Xmas increase in original notions, warm hugs, sweet truths, and simple delightful stories that I can stash without rearranging cabinets and drawers. I don’t want to have to toss precious old things to make room for new. And there is little hope of finding Christmas joy through space cleansing and the ultimate painful abomination of guilt I am liable to feel for my part in contributing to global warming.

So, wouldn’t it be pleasant to find on my hearth on Christmas Day an abundant menagerie of conversation, loving affection and most of all, the unanticipated ‘presence’ rather than ‘presents’ of a dear one so far away?

The gifts I desire uncannily fill a genuine need. I see them as generous gifts, as transports of delight, gloriously wrapped in the scent of love and ribbons of devotion without the inconvenience of sticky tape that won’t stick and weak paper that so easily tears. Gifts that blossom open without a cutter to reveal contents that dazzle the soul and provide function for the body and festive d├ęcor for the mind.

Yet, even at that, some of my tribe are still bustling about the shops, wincing and sighing. Still on the hunt. And if asked, they would say I am difficult to choose a gift for and impossible to please.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Good Looking and Funny

With Christmas right around the corner, I want to discuss other ways to pump pleasurable endorphins into one’s brain besides eating turkey and chocolate. And how unfortunate it is that we miss easier ways to find joy in a humdrum day—simply by doing things that are truly stupid and utterly inappropriate.

Now before I continue, let me tell you about my day.

Today Hub and I are making the dreaded trip to town. So Hub showers, shaves, puts on clean clothes, a splash of after-shave, and grooms his hair. Soon after I see him examining his image in the hall mirror. He puffs out his chest, sucks in his stomach, and turns left and right examining his profile, his hair, his physique, his biceps, and sniffs the citrus odor of his aftershave.

“You are such a fortunate woman,” he says to the mirror, though his comments are meant for me. “You have a man who smells good, dresses good, looks good, has a sense of humor, takes good care of you, takes you to town” and here he does a clumsy little jig and says, “and is agile as well!”

I laugh at his silliness, at the bold way that he is breaking all the rules about what is and isn’t appropriate. Being so silly when we are too old to be silly. Immature, some would say. With no serious thought given to appropriate or inappropriate behavior.

So many, having seen this display, would be as one is expected to be – appalled rather than allowing themselves to find humor in it. Isn’t it sad, that in our somber judgment, we have forgotten that silly-laughing is every bit as authentic and therapeutic as jokes that play on a comic clash of intellectual thought.

Knowing that laughter is linked to life and longevity, we still feel it is necessary to sneer with sophisticated rigidity at dumb acts and dumb conversation. We feel socially compelled to make discriminatory judgments minute-by-minute of each day of what is funny and what is ‘not funny’ because it is such nonsense. So there is a bareness of laughter in our lives that causes us concern. Enough concern that some communities form Laughing Clubs. Members get together where in desperation they force laughing sounds in the hope that eventually the culmination of their efforts will create enough of a ripple to spawn heartfelt laughter. But I digress.

And so, returning to our topic, social influence has us believing that with maturity it is imperative we act our age and reject silliness rather than seize it. I don’t know why when silly-happy brings its own sweet level of pleasurable endorphins and gaiety.

It’s easy to keep cynicism at bay through mid-life and latter years if we allow ourselves to be happy even if that happiness is prompted by utter foolishness. The complexity is how to shelf the part of us that wants to reject outright silliness thinking that such rejection enhances our own intellect. It’s really quite sad when we can no longer roll on the floor with laughter and find easy joy through exposure to someone who is happy, even if it is silly-happy, rather than practicing sober immunity.

If I were to sum up what gives life special meaning I would have to say dry humor is good. Intellectual comedy is good. But silly-happy is hilarious. With that kind of joke, we don’t have to worry whether our laughter breaks out in a snort, a cackle, a hiccup, an explosion, or even if we dribble a bit in our underpants, because sophistication, delicacy, and decorum have no part to play in silly-happiness.

And so, as Hub puts the car in drive, he says to me. “By the way tomorrow you will be more fortunate than you are today. Bet you thought it wasn’t possible?”

And so, I have to ask, “What is happening tomorrow?”

Hub grins. “So soon not noticing? So soon forgetting the obvious?" Here he breaks into a happy singing voice...

"To know me is to love me. I get better lookin' each day!”

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Treating Friends Right

I got Matador for Christmas last year. He is my robot vacuum cleaner. And he still happily buzzes around the house cleaning up floors for me. Doing his job, sweeping corners with his little broom, and waving a cheery “Hello” to me with it as he dashes across the wide expanse of my livingroom. Or playing hide and seek in the bedroom as he dashes under the dresser and the bed skirts and then suddenly pops out when I cannot find him as if to say, “Had you fooled, didn’t I? Here I am.”

So he's been part of the family for almost a year. But then YD (youngest daughter) phones a couple of weeks ago to say, "Did you know Matador has a carrying handle?"

“No, he doesn’t” I said.

“Oh, but he does. I saw a man carrying a robot just like him on TV.”

“You must be mistaken. The newer robots may have a carrying handle but Matador doesn’t.”

I was sure YD must be mistaken. So I took Matador out of his usual parking spot to have a look. Sure enough. He did have a bit of a handle so cleverly disguised that I had never discovered it even through regular dismantling of his parts to clean them. And even when told what kind of handle it was, it wasn’t that easy to find. But yes, he does have a carrying handle, a cleverly disguised moonshape flap blended in so well with his overall appearance that one would never know. How amazing is that? I have always carried him around cradled in my arms.

So now, knowing this, do I carry him by the handle?

Absolutely not. It strikes me that carrying him around by that little flap is as unkind as the unfeeling dog-dealing brute that showed ED a litter of basset puppies, one at a time, by lifting them out of their pen by their long, soft, tender, silky little ears! Only a brute that carries rabbits by their ears, and kittens by their tails would carry around Matador in that uncaring way.

Now some may think that odd, but later when I asked YD if she carries her robot that way she replied “Most definitely not!” Turns out she feels the same about her robot as I feel about mine. If it had only been a carrying harness with a soft belly-band, we would have been infinitely pleased and carried the little fellows around without remorse.

I hope Matador isn’t offended with me, but I wanted to show you how I would carry him if I was a brute and if he and I didn’t have this special relationship we have and you will then see for yourself how reckless and mean-spirited it would be for me to carry him that way.