IT’S TUESDAY AND I SMELL.
Due to some technical difficulties I am having with WordPress it is necessary that I post a few more things from the past. This post is from 2015.
Enjoy and bear with me.
Last Saturday I volunteered to help out at a Kiwanis Club Fish Fry fundraiser. I was there from 3:30 PM until about 7:30 PM. I helped out selling tickets at the door and greeting the several hundred people who showed up to dine until they dropped. The thing is – I don’t belong to the Kiwanis Club.
Reluctant as I am to say so I must admit something: I am an old man. My youth was in a Post-World War Two 1940s and 1950s.
I was born in 1946 in Cleveland and raised in a small town in the hills of Western Pennsylvania and, in many ways, I lived a childhood rooted in the 19th century. Whenever I tell someone of my daily life they react as if I was telling them a story about an earlier time. They find it hard to believe when I tell them that my mother bought her fruits and vegetables from a man with a horse drawn wagon, we had bearded hobos knocking on our door for a handout, and quarantine signs on our front door whenever a kid got one of the many childhood diseases.
When I moved from The Valley to go to college in The Big City people were amazed and amused when I told them about The Pony Man.
There were few times more exciting for the neighborhood kids than those days when the old wooden wagon piled high with fruits and vegetables and pulled by a pinto pony came down the street. The Pony Man’s name was Carmine and the pony was Tony. My mother would make her selections and drop her money into the basket that sat on the seat next to Carmine. Business concluded Tony would move on to their next stop. Tony knew the route by heart.
A remnant of the Great Depression were the Hobos who “Rode the rails” from coast to coast looking for work. Many of them had been wandering for decades unable to leave the life on “The Road.” Our house was just two blocks up from the river and the main railroad tracks that carried passengers and
freight up and down the Valley. It was not unusual for a Bearded Hobo to knock on our back door looking for a handout and/or an odd job. My mother was a soft touch and handed out a lot of sandwiches. I once found this symbol scrawled on a tree near the house. It meant that a nice lady lived there.
There were also “Tinkerers” who would walk through the neighborhood shouting out “Knives sharpened! Pots Fixed!” Tinkerers were itinerant repairmen, the original “Jack of all trades” workers. They would help the neighborhood Mothers by pounding out dents in their pots and pans and grinding the kitchen knives sharp again. Those were not throw-away items.
Given recent events in our world most people are seeing the word “Quarantine” for the first time. I grew up seeing that word a dozen times a year.
In the 1950s there were a number of highly contagious diseases that were often called “Childhood diseases.” Measles (3 different versions), Mumps, Chicken Pox, and others would sweep through every
year and the local Board of Health would try to control the diseases by posting “Quarantine” signs on our front door. It meant that no one got in or out of that house until the disease had run its course. My father had several bouts of staying in local motels while I and my brother were sick.
In the Summertime the Quarantine was sometimes violated on purpose. When the word got around that a kid had measles or whatever the neighborhood mothers would throw a “Measles Party” to deliberately expose their kids to the disease just to get it over with before school started again in September. It was somewhat perilous, but effective.
A child’s life in those days in my small town was certainly different. It was a much simpler time in many ways than today. However, it also had its own terrors that no longer exist. Every Summer there was the looming fear of another epidemic of Polio, a disease that is rare today thanks to two men names Salk and Sabin.
I could tell you more stories of my childhood in the time-warp Valley where the modern world collided with earlier days when everyone knew everyone else, your child’s milk came to your door in glass bottles and three cents would send a letter across the country.
Perhaps I will. Let me know what you think I should do.
Oh, Man! Am I getting tired of this – or what? It’s not the omnipresent virus and all of the foofuraw surrounding it that I’m talking about here. I’ve already done too much of that. There is nothing new for me to say about it or for you to read about.
What I’m talking about is COFFEE.
You know- that golden nectar that every day brings millions of people back to life? That liquid DNA that transforms us from mere meat with shoes on into a planet filled with creative men and women – some of whom know the difference between coffee and …anything else you might pour down your throat in the morning.
I started drinking coffee when I was in high school. I wanted to look “grown up” and coffee seemed to be my best way to look older and more worldly. Of course I put enough sugar in my grownup looking coffee cup to trigger a Diabetic Episode and three cavities, but I looked “Mature.”
All through college, a long and tortuous journey, I stayed with coffee. By that time I was hooked on the need for the caffeine but the mass amount of sugar faded until it was gone the way of bicycle training wheels and that ridiculously futile crush on Jayne Mansfield.
The sugar was gone which left me with a cup filled with black coffee. I didn’t like black coffee and I still don’t. I don’t hate it. I’ll drink it in a pinch or an emergency. For instance, if some alien species from another world landed here on earth and fell in love with our bovines and cownapped them all back to their home galaxy there would be a crisis in a cup. If that happens I will be forced to drink my coffee black. And don’t even talk to me about “Non-Dairy Coffee Creamers.” Paint belongs on the walls not in my mug.
As time passed my coffee needs did not really change, except perhaps in the quantity consumed, but Coffee Technology was in the fast lane. I went from a metal percolator to the first generation of Mr. Coffee drip brewers, Italian espresso in those tiny cups that were never enough. There was a brief romance with a French Press (It never would have lasted there was just too much pressure.). Then came the explosion known as Starbucks. They were everywhere. Where I lived in the city of San Francisco there were five Starbucks within walking distance for me…and if you know me at all you know that “walking distance” for me is “Drunken stupor crawling on all fours” for most other people.
I liked Starbucks coffee from the beginning. They brew it strong and I like my coffee to be able to fight back if it ever finds itself being poured in a dark alley. I have been a loyal slurper in Starbucks all over the country and even overseas. I have no complaints. But now a pretender to the Throne of the Golden Bean is in my kitchen.
I was first introduced to these devilish little machines a couple of years ago. It was Love at First Sip. Here was something that would let me brew myself a cup of coffee – toss it down my pie hole – and then, almost immediately make another, but a totally different flavor. I could do that all afternoon. And Morning. And Evening.
In deciding to write about this I knew that some people might disagree with me and my thoughts. Well, frankly, I’m not bothered by that. I might offer to share a cup with them and if they don’t see the error of their ways, may they spend the rest of their life drinking Airline coffee. I’m an easy going guy…at least until my tenth cup of the day kicks in.
It wasn’t the Cowardly Lion who said that and we are certainly not in anyone’s Oz. In fact, it seems that we are stuck in an opposite place – “Bitter Reality Land.”
The strange reality of the last month and more has created a new world. I’m not saying that it is one that I enjoy or even understand completely. It is…different – Different in a number of ways that are unfamiliar in my experience and I feel sure is unfamiliar in our collective experience as a nation. It is all rather upsetting. Stores that I like are closed. Restaurants are reduced to drive through lanes and forget it if you need a haircut. And then there are the masks.
“Who was that Masked Man?”
The doors at my bank are locked and you can enter by appointment only. Inside everyone is wearing a mask, including the person who handles mortgages and the like. That masked man is known as The Loan Arranger.
I know that I am not alone when I say that I do not like wearing a mask. I find them uncomfortable and they make my glasses fog up. The Where and When I am supposed to wear such a mask is revealed daily by a variety of contradictory “experts” who can’t seem to agree on anything. They don’t exactly inspire confidence and confidence is what people need right now. I do…and I’m people too. I can prove it. I watched all of Game of Thrones.
Things have changed while we are living, and in some cases dying, with this virus business. But change is a nonstop thing and, in time – long or short – we will start to rebuild our daily lives. Like any reconstruction project the target of the restoration will be different than what it was before no matter how hard we try to make it an exact copy.
As we restore our personal lives we will make changes big and small intentional and accidental. My question is how do you think your life will be different – post virus? Will it be better or worse? How do you want it to be different? This is something I think that we, each of us, have to start thinking about now! Think about it now when, like it or not, most of us have plenty of idle time on our hands. I know how I’m going to approach this.
How I intend to plan my life, however long or short that may be, is to carry around a small notebook and a pen so I can jot down my own personal thunderbolts of wisdom. I know that I want there to be changes. There will be changes in the things that I do and there will be changes in how I respond to other things as they affect me. There will probably be some big changes, but most will be so small that I will be the only person who will notice them. I’m cool with that. After all, in the larger scheme of the universe, I am nobody else’s business. I have no desire to control anyone else and I certainly don’t want to be someone else’s android.
I R2 D-etermined to allow that to happen.
I’m going to start planning my new Chez Krafty today. I will not be caught in a New Life without have a set of detailed blueprints. This brush with a planetary scare has made me realize that I have spent most of my life just drifting. I have drifted from one career to another, from one hometown to another, from one relationship to another, and from one set of standards to another. But from now on I will be controlling the tides. Many, if not most of the things and people in my life will remain – but there are going to be changes. If there aren’t any changes it would prove that I just haven’t been paying attention – and trust me –
THIS IS GETTING RIGHT DOWN TO THE WIRE. Today and Tomorrow and that’s it – a new year and a new decade.
2020? That doesn’t even look real. It looks like a date out of a bad Science Fiction movie.
“It was 2020 on the Third Moon of Zoltar.”
It may sound and look cheesy, but it is real and I’m sure it will take me until Mid-May before I stop writing 2019 on checks and other things. I tend to be a little behind the curve on those things. It will finally start to register in my brain when I start getting complaints from my bank.
2020? Doesn’t it seem like it was just last week that we were fussing and fuming about “Y2K” and how
the world was going to shut down? That didn’t happen, did it? I’m not sure.
2020? I’m not sure that I’m ready for it. 2020 sounds so…permanent, like it means business and isn’t going to take any more guff from people like me.
2020 sounds like a date doesn’t even need a New Year’s Eve to get people ready for the change. If you are not fully prepared for it 2020 will slap you around until you quit whining.
2020 sounds like a Mixed Martial Arts kind of a year – anything goes and you better protect yourself against those kicks to the groin. It reeks of, “I’m rough. I’m tough and I have a secret Sleeper Hold if you get out of line.”
If we can get through 2020 we will then bump into 2021. That year, on the other hand, sounds like a misstep, a stumble on a crack in the sidewalk. 2021 will just fill up a space in time. It’s 2020 we have to watch out for.
The term 20/20 also has a meaning referring to supposedly ideal vision. Since my cataract surgery two years ago I now have 20/20 vision, but it is far from ideal. I can now see more clearly the things that I cannot afford to have.
2020 is different things to different people. I have already received a new 2020 calendar and within thirty seconds it gave me a nasty paper cut.
I can take a hint.
GUESS WHERE I’M AT? NO. NO. NO, NOT THERE EITHER. I AM IN FLORIDA -The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Area. What am I doing down there when there is a perfectly good winter going on in Indiana without me? Well, for at least a few days, that is the idea.
Ever since our five week visit to Ireland I have been cold – freezing even. I needed to do something or I was afraid that I would not survive to see another Springtime. The cold feeling exhausted me. I was empty Physically, Emotionally, Creatively, and even Socially. I felt like I was an empty shell with freezer burn. I hated feeling like that and I don’t think I was very good company for anybody. I was either silent or snapping at everyone – and that’s just not like me. Going to where it was still warm so I could thaw myself was the solution. So here I am in Florida.
I’M NOT TERRIBLY SURE THAT I HAVE A VIABLE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM. Then again I’m not sure if it is really a problem that needs to be solved or just a condition that must be endured.
I’m cold. I have been cold ever since we landed in Ireland and now that we are heading home soon I don’t see a change in the offing. We are returning to November. November does not hold much promise as a time of warm weather. It’s just not part of its makeup. That looks to be the prognosis until, at the earliest, late March/early April. And I’m putting a rosy glow on that idea.
Right now my backbone feels like it is made of permafrost, tundra, and out of work Snowmen. I have tried standing in front of open fires and all that has done is singe my sweatshirt. My spine remains icy cold.
RIGHT NOW I AM BEING STRANGLED BY A BUNCH OF SNAKES. At least that is how it feels. There are power cords, headphone cords, charging cords, HDMI cords, and they’re coming for me! AIEEEEEEGH!
I’m beginning to feel like Samuel L. Jackson in that movie “Snakes On A Plane,” – which is, by the way, one of the funniest dramatic films ever made. I don’t think they planned it to be that, it just turned out that way.
My current situation is that the high-tech monster needs constant feeding. Everything needs to be plugged in somewhere. They are all on life support. Laptops, Netbooks, tablets, Kindles, Nooks, Cellular phones, and a few things I can’t even identify are reaching out with their snakelike cords to be fed. And what do they all need to be plugged into? A Power Strip which itself needs to be plugged into a wall socket.
Whenever I get up from my chair to cross the room these snakes reach out to trip me. They loop themselves around my ankles hoping that I’ll hit the ground so that they can pull a Burmese Python move on me. I have to be very careful. I tell you – I think that technology is out to get me. I’m almost afraid to go to sleep lest they come for me while I am sawing logs.
When computers began to appear in our offices and homes in the mid – 1980s the prediction was that they would relieve us from many tasks, giving us more free time to take up ballroom dancing or whatever. In the same way that we were all going to have “Paperless Offices”
That didn’t happen either, did it?
The reality is that in most offices the need for copies of any report expands to meet the capacity of printers and copiers to produce them. Offices are buried under an avalanche of paper – 90% of it pointless duplications of out of date information.
But I digress.
What can I do to solve my very personal Samuel L. Jackson situation?
I need to be fed, but so do the array of gizmos. I can understand that part of it. But I don’t need to be attached to my food by some long cord. I can take my food with me and devour it wherever and whenever I wish.
While doing some browsing on a technology website, hoping to find an answer, I saw that there are now “Charging Stations” where you just plop your gizmo onto the Charging Station – no cords – except for the cord coming out of the Charging Station itself. It’s not a complete answer, but it’s a start.
I’m hoping that someday soon all of our electronic thingys can operate while cordless and be rechargeable the same way. If things can progress to that state it will eliminate miles of cords that snarl and tangle their way around our feet. I’ll tell you – that day cannot come soon enough for me because I’m getting tired of all these *#$$@&&ing cords on this *#$$@&&ing floor.
Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “Do I Have A Roman Nose?”
THEY SAY THAT CAESAR’S IMPERIAL ROME had the best system of water delivery in the Ancient World. There was a series of aqueducts, canals, pipes, and fountains that covered hundreds of miles and kept the city of Rome clean and quenched.
I think they could have learned a thing or two if they’d been able to study my sinuses in the morning.
When I wake up every morning the entire function of my body seems devoted to the movement of fluids. It’s a good thing that I can blow my nose with my left hand clutching a Kleenex while my right hand is assisting me in doing an impression of the Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Is Paris Burning?”) Fire Department.
By the time my initial purge is done I feel five pounds lighter and the Wabash River is three inches closer to Flood Stage. I don’t know where it all comes from. During the night am I transformed into a sponge? Is my body taking moisture from the air like a fern? Am I the “Quicker Picker-Upper?”
If my first geyser activity was it I could just dismiss it all as, perhaps, Tidal Action – like the Bay of Fundy approaching low tide. The trouble is that this can go on for two or three hours where the only thing missing is a fish ladder. I go through a box of tissues like…like…like a box of tissues.
When my nose sends the signal to my brain that, “The dam has broken!” I grab the nearest tissue, handkerchief, or (embarrassingly) pancake and brace myself for the flood.
It ain’t Mrs. Butterworth, I’ll tell you that.
Having to deal with this for a couple of hours can be exhausting. I just got up two hours ago and I already feel the need for a nap. My nose is turning red from all of that tissue business, my skull is feeling like a used piñata, and I’m going to have to go buy some more tissues.
First, it’s one nostril. Then, when that one raises the flag of surrender, the valves open on the other. I didn’t know that noses could do that.
I’m impressed as well as depressed. My sinuses can operate as smooth as the locks on the Panama Canal. I guess that makes my upper lip the north coast of Colombia.
Once I get through this morning ritual the rest of my day can proceed as it will, but until then I can understand how the Egyptian Pharaoh and his Chariots must have felt when he decided to chase Moses and the Israelites into the Red Sea – five minutes too late.
Things could be worse. Despite all of this every morning nonsense when things eventually dry out I still have a nose. I still have sinuses, and my stock in the tissue company continues to go up.
TODAY IS A DAY THAT HAS BECOME WRAPPED IN SADNESS.
I can understand how that can be, but I choose to not give in to that. There is enough sadness in the other 364 days, more than enough to make anything on this date – excuse the expression – overkill.
Instead of spending today in what has become a sort of morose celebration I have made a personal decision to take the memory of the events and aftermath of 2001 and put them all into a long term perspective. A very long term perspective.
Things happen in Time. Time has been going on for quite awhile now – long before you or I showed up on the scene. God willing and the Creek don’t rise, it will continue on for a few years longer. We may not be around until the bitter end of Time, but Time doesn’t care.
I SAW A LOVELY FAMILY PORTRAIT the other day. It was quite a crowd spanning several generations. At the crux of the gathering was the Patriarch of the Family – Kirk Douglas. THE Kirk Douglas, the world famous actor, who starred in countless movies spanning decades.
He is 102 years old now and still ticking. His wife is 100 years old and still tocking. Together they are defying time.
When I first saw that Kirk Douglas had cracked the century mark it made me feel positively young, but then I saw that his oldest son, Michael Douglas is a year older than me. So much for that illusion of youth that I was clinging to.
Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “O, Canada! Say My Name!”
Down at St. Arbucks the “Usual Suspects” seemed subdued and even quasi-rational. I should have recognized that as an omen of Strange Things to come.
After lunch I accompanied my wife, the lovely and telephonically lethal, Dawn, as she went to buy a new phone. I enjoy being Arm Candy for her. Her first words to the Blue-Shirted guy at Best Buy were, “I murdered my phone.”
The afternoon went from there on a pathway I can only describe as, “This looks familiar, but then again…”
After the phone business we headed to Staples to gorge on 17 cent notebooks and Bic pens. That happens only once a year. It is like a Burmese Python dining on a full grown white-tailed deer. It lasts quite a while before you need to do it again.
I thought that might be the climax of the day, but I was wrong.
We weren’t home more than five minutes when the landline phone began to ring. Nobody ever calls us on that line except wrong numbers and telephone solicitors.
“Hello, John, this is Jade calling from your Canadian pharmacy about refilling your prescription today.”
I was beginning to feel like a hungry Burmese Python and “Jade” sounded like a Doe about to accidentally step on me. I humbly refer you to my blog posting from May 11, 2015 – “Remember, You Called Me.”https://johnkraft.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/remember-you-called-me/
Dawn just shook her head when she heard me say, “Canadian pharmacy – you’re in Canada?” She could read my mind.
I started with, “Jade, Jade, listen to me. I’ve been binge-watching “Breaking Bad” for the last few days and I’m thinking maybe you, being in Canada, might be able to get me some of that Dude’s stuff – some really good Blue Meth.”
“What are you talking about, Mr. Kraft?” All of a sudden it’s no longer the friendly, “John.”
“I’m talking about you being in Canada you don’t have to mess with the Feds. Say my name, Jade! Right? Say my name! I need some really good stuff and you can do it for me.
“Jade, you gotta help me. What’s that, Jade? You hear that? They’re at my door, Jade.”
The confused voice from north of the border tried to interrupt. “What are you talking about? I don’t understand you.”
I’m not stopping for anything even though Dawn is leaving the room.
“Jade, the Feds, they’re at my door. You gotta help me. Jade, hold on a minute. Wait! Here, you talk to them. Jade? Jade? Jade?”
I wonder where she went.
Perhaps my friend, Jade will go to her supervisor in the boiler room and relate her chat with me. Maybe then they will take my name off of their sucker list. If they really are in Canada they don’t give a hoot about any American “no-call lists.” I figure that if, each time they call they get me, and are plugged into the world of some idiot Meth-head who wants to buy illicit drugs from them while the Feds are busting down the door. If this happens often enough they might decide on their own to quietly put an asterisk next to my name with a notation saying. “If you ever call this guy we will set you adrift on an ice floe chained to Howie Mandel.”
And I thought that today was going to be a quiet, rather boring, day.
Thank you, Jade from my friendly Canadian pharmacy. I hope you will recover soon.
“Holy Broom Closet, Batman!”
I wasted a good portion of yesterday with Doctors, Nurses, and Technicians who spent two hours trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube…and I was the toothpaste.
I am not claustrophobic. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots in my life – literally and in a figurative sense so having a CT Scan is no big deal – except that it is a big deal. They don’t shoot people through that gizmo just for fun.
During my last visit to my Doctor’s office, just before taking off for Texas, his minions took about a quart of blood from my “Good” arm for testing and analysis. They never take blood from my “Bad” arm as if it wasn’t connected to the rest of my body. I think it is, but I can’t prove it.
They took my blood and that was it until later in the day when I got a phone call from “Amy Lou” at the Doctor’s Office.
“The results of your blood tests show an abnormality that concerns the Doctor.”
It has been in the mid 90s and above since what seems like the day after Christmas. I like warm weather, hot even, but this hot spell has pushed my limits right off the table.
I love it when the Weather Bunnies on TV say things like, “It is 96 degrees, but the Heat Index is 187,” or whatever number they toss out. After “96 degrees” the rest is as relevant as chocolate sprinkles on a Hershey Bar. It doesn’t change anything, add anything, or make it any better. When life has been reduced to sticking your head in a pizza oven to cool off something like “Heat Index” is not all that important.
I’M GOOD AT GROCERY SHOPPING. I’M NOT GOOD AT DANCING.
Everybody has those little slices of life where they excel and others where they stink like the next morning in a fraternity house. No matter how hard we try to master a certain skill it evades us.
THE LATEST ATTACK UPON HAPPINESS AND JOY IS UPON US. Two “Food Scientists” as they call themselves, (Actually two Dweebs from Seattle) have announced to the world that they have created a “Beanless Coffee” that tastes, they say, “…the way coffee should taste.” In other words these two morons have reinvented “Postum.” (Look it up)
An article from NPR comes close to orgasm lauding this bit of nonsense.
I WAS WATCHING TV THE OTHER DAY when I actually saw something new. It was an ad from the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company. They were singing the praises of a brand new product: Anti-Bacterial Paint.
The commercial showed this stereotypical suburban mommy gleefully painting away. She was certainly better dressed for painting than I had ever seen before. There was no drop cloth either, so I must assume that this new paint was also Anti-Gravity and never dripped.