Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sometimes God Gets it Wrong

R.I.P. Kaiser Carlile
Once in a blue moon, and remember we had one just last week, something happens that makes me believe in God. And not in a good way.

A recent news story has me broken up and wondering why. Last Saturday an adorable 9-year-old boy who served as the batboy for a local baseball team in Kansas was hit in the head by a player who was warming up. Little Kaiser Carlile was running back to the dugout and got too close; the player's bat struck the helmet Kaiser wore for protection and he went down. Despite the helmet, the immediate attempts at resuscitation and the hospital trauma team giving it their all, the little boy died the next day.

This story hit a nerve and I spent half of yesterday sobbing over his death, thinking especially of the player who had swung the fatal bat and the boy's parents, each now in their own private hell. Kaiser's mom saw it happen, sitting in the stands and watching her son having the time of his life, surrounded by the team he had come to love and regard as an extended family. But then, the horror. The disbelief. The vigil at the hospital. The many, many prayers from hundreds of people that went unanswered. The final outcome, and now the funeral.

It is all too awful to be random. It makes me think that God does have a plan for each of us, and that he really did called Kaiser back for some special reason. Or else it was a mistake, like in the 1978 Warren Beatty-Julie Christie movie, "Heaven Can Wait," wherein a novice angel screws up and taps someone not yet scheduled for death. (Great movie, by the way.) The alternate truth, that Satan rules the world, is simply too hard to bear.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Best of All, It's Gluten Free

Meditation and mindfulness are all the rage these days. A year ago the big push was for sustainability. There was sustainable toilet paper and sustainable laundry detergent for sale in all the sustainable markets. But now that's old news; this year the flock is striving to be mindful. And meditation is huge, mostly because it's so good for you. "Meditating regularly can not only help shift negative thought patterns—it may even slow the loss of brain cells." I read that somewhere, can't remember where but it's everywhere these days, so it could have been on my cereal box this morning.

This week while mindfully waiting for my acupuncture appointment, mindfully hydrating myself at the same time,  I picked up a magazine that is actually titled "Mindful." It talks about all the ways you can be mindful and all the things you can do mindfully. Turns out you can do almost everything you already do, but if you just pay attention while you are doing it you are suddenly very trendy and highly evolved. You can make a mindful sandwich and then eat it mindfully. There's even a recipe for mindful pasta primavera. You can drink mindfully and drive mindfully, although I am pretty sure you cannot drink and drive mindfully at once.

Wanting to be as mindful as possible, I decided to take a six-week course in mindfulness to be taught by a local respected mindfulness expert. Two months ago I mailed her a $150.00 deposit check but never heard back about it. I recently emailed her to see if the class was still scheduled to start in September and if so should I pay the balance due, and she wrote back asking if she had cashed the check because she couldn't find it and wasn't sure if she had spent it, but maybe she had.

I decided not to take her course.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Cryptic Note

Yesterday's post about Cecil the Lion elicited a comment from my old friend Anonymous. I'm still trying to figure out its meaning: "You have finally reached the level of your own ignorance. Congratulations!"

First off, I think we can all agree that the word "Congratulations" should have come at the beginning rather than the end of the comment. It commands the reader's attention, surely the goal of all writing. But copy-editing aside, I am at a loss as to what the rest of it means: How can one reach the level of one's own ignorance? Just where is that level? And aren't you always at it?

Even more mysterious is why that particular post was deemed more offensive than any of the last few hundred. Dammit, Anonymous -- if only you would sign your name, we could plumb the depths of your intelligence.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cecil and the Dead Babies

A memorial for Cecil, none for the dead babies.
I am only human and thus have limited bandwidth in my brain, so I can only follow just so many news stories and no more. One that I have missed, intentionally because I hate anything to do with cruelty towards animals, concerns Cecil the lion who was killed by an American hunter in Africa last week. I had successfully shielded myself from this tragic story until last night, when my husband and I had dinner at a new restaurant nearby and sat in the bar area where two TVs were on. One was playing old music videos, loudly, and the other was tuned to CNN and was muted.

Despite eating my food and enjoying seeing Eric Clapton when he was younger and better-looking, I managed to get the story of Cecil from the incessant crawl underneath photos of his orphaned cubs (where is the mother?) and a distraught Anderson Cooper wearing his fretful look. So in spite of myself now I know it all: The dentist, the $55,000 bribe for a hunting license, the decapitation, the outrage. All I can say is, where is the outrage about the dead baby parts being sold by Planned Parenthood?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hillary Clinton in a Nutshell

The image above is an advertisement running on Facebook today. 
So you click on it and it says 
all you have to do to get your FREE pin is 
"Chip in $15.00." 

And that's Hillary in a nutshell. 
Don't believe a word she says.

How Dogs Ruin Scrabble

The last racks: The end game would not be pretty.
Back in the 1949 Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, singer Carol Channing belted out that "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." Well, I happen to have some diamonds and they have never done a damn thing for me. In fact, I couldn't care less if I ever see them again, although once I paid a plumber $210 to open up the bathroom sink drain and retrieve my wedding band, but that was mostly for sentimental reasons. Similarly, the thinking that "a dog is man's best friend" is way off. Actually, when awake, a dog is often a pain in the ass. Case in point: last night two dogs wrecked what would otherwise have been an enjoyable evening for two humans.

My brother-in-law came for dinner and brought his puggle, Leo. Knowing what I know about dogs and cats and dogs in general it was against my better judgement, but Neil didn't want to leave him home alone as a thunderstorm was in the forecast and we all know how well dogs handle those. (Who can blame them; they have no idea that thunder is just God bowling.)

Daisy, snoozing.
Things were fine after the initial freak-out by my cat Lurch who saw the beast and fled to his happy place hidden somewhere deep inside our house I have yet to discover. My other cat, Daisy, was raised with dogs and was bored by it all, barely opening one eye to inspect the intruder and then returning to her nap. After the early chaos, things settled down and Leo finally shut his trap. Dinner was cooked, served and eaten, and Neil and I got down to the real reason for the visit, our all-important Scrabble game. But before we had even counted out our tiles, two things happened: The storm arrived and the next-door neighbor lady ran outside, frantically calling for her dog who had apparently escaped and was now missing.

She shrieked "Shadow!" every 30 seconds non-stop for about the next 90 minutes, louder and louder to be heard over the storm. It was pretty pathetic, I must admit, but still quite annoying.  Making matters worse, each time she shouted "Shadow," Leo went nuts: Insane barking, running from open window to open window, racing from the front door to the back porch, rain pouring through the screens, thunder and lightning, clueless lady screaming "Shadow! Shadow! Shadow!" as if that would bring him back in a steady downpour, like he was just outside her front door, right? It was all so intense that I decided to write a short play about it. There are just two characters. Here's the opening scene:
       (Night. It's raining. A woman's voice can be heard offstage.)
LEO: Bark, bark, woof, arf, yip!
LEO: Woof, woof, arf, yip, yap, bark!!
        (Thunder almost drowns out the woman's voice. Almost)
NEIGHBOR: Shadow! SHADOW!!!!!!
LEO: Bark, bark, woof, arf, grrrrrr, yap!
LEO: Arf, arf, yip, yap, grrrrrr!
       (Loud thunder can be heard.)
LEO: Yip, bark, woof, woof arf!
NEIGHBOR: Shadow! SHADOW! Shadow!
LEO: Bark, bark, bark, woof, arf, yip, yap!
LEO: Bark, arf, yip, yap!
       (Intense thunder and lightning, with rain pouring in open windows.)
LEO: Bark, bark, bark, woof, arf!
LEO: Bark, bark, grrrrr, woof, arf, yip, yip!

Neil, who is hearing-impaired and so missed the calling of the dog's name due to the noise of the thunder, wondered aloud from time to time why Leo was barking so much. Meanwhile he was focused on the game and was gaining on me from the get-go. I was so distracted by all the dog commotion that I played quite poorly. Neil was clearly winning (342 to 274) but we called the game on our last turn, since he had all vowels and I had all consonants. Besides, I wanted Leo gone.

I have no idea if Shadow ever came home. I also don't know the neighbor lady's name as we have never met. She's only lived here for two years now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

America, Land of the Odor Free?

Of all the things that are going right for me, my neighborhood is certainly near the top of the list. The houses are situated close enough to one another so that if you're in trouble someone will hear your screams but far enough away so nobody can see you walking around in your underwear. In our last house in Washington, D.C. the houses were chock-a-block, tight enough to hear the frustrated mother who lived behind us bellow, "Alexander, get in here right now!" or "Alexander, get up here this minute!" several times a day.  (I still check the news daily to see if Alexander has finally snapped and gone on a murderous rampage, shutting her up once and for all.)

Inspector delivering a Warning Letter.
Situated as we are on two wooded acres, we have our own forest primeval right outside the back door. The cats love it. And we can do whatever we want on our property, chopping down a tree here, planting a vegetable garden there. We can also barbecue without fear of punishment.

What's that, you ask? Who would get in trouble for barbecuing in their own backyard? You might if you live in Florida, where the following law is on the books: "Commercial barbecue cookers are not exempt from causing a nuisance odor. If a sufficient number of complaints, representing different households, are reported and an Inspector witnesses the problem, they can issue a Warning Letter."

According to the fine print of that particular law, the cooking odors released by your burgers, franks, chicken or whatever must be contained within your property. I'm not sure what happens if you continue barbecuing after you get the Warning Letter, but it can't be good. Thinking back, I see now that I should have sent one of those Letters to Alexander's mother back in D.C.