Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

For the first time ever…

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Our Voters’ Pamphlet came in the mail yesterday and, for the first time ever, I wasn’t very pleased to see it.  First of all, I knew what it contained.  Information about the thirteen candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, five of whom have already dropped out.   Of the eight remaining, I really don’t need to read the pamphlet.  I’ve heard more than enough.

Furthermore, I am still brimming over with the feeling that whether or not I vote in this primary when the ballots arrive, my vote may not matter.  I know this is a direct result of the three million votes that were cast but “not counted” in the last presidential election, and even though this is a different process altogether, I have an overwhelming feeling of unenthusiasm.  As in, what about those super-delegates, anyway?

In fact, it’s the process I’m feeling the most angst about.  Beginning with the   gazillion ways to vote now — at polling places where you may have to prove who you are before you can cast your vote; by mail-in ballot and absentee ballots;  even by dropping a mail-in ballot at your polling place.  And that’s just the voting process.  Never mind the counting and the electoral college and on and on.

I’ve been been voting since I reached my majority in 1957.  I was 21 (that was still in olden times), but it wouldn’t be until 1960 that I would vote in a presidential election.  I still feel good about the fact that I voted for John F. Kennedy.  I don’t remember that there were any debates leading up to the primary… but there could have been.  I’m sure most of my information about Kennedy came from news magazines and newspapers and maybe the radio.  We didn’t have a television in those days and I certainly never saw him in person.

Of course, I will “vote my conscience” as they say, and submit my ballot in plenty of time.  I still hold a glimmer of hope in my heart — for the election, for the electorate, and for our country.  A glimmer…


The Garbage Man Cometh… but when?

Friday, February 7th, 2020

From The Peninsula Sanitation Website

One of my neighbors called yesterday to ask if my garbage had been collected on Wednesday morning.  “Yes, as usual,” I said.  “What time?” was the next question.  Actually, I wasn’t sure.  I left the house  about 8:3o a.m. to get to Ilwaco and set up for the Community Historians class.  I pushed our tote out of the garage before I drove off.

It seems that her garbage wasn’t taken and, when she called she was told that she’d have to wait until next week; the collection time had been changed.  Now, instead of our years and years (and probably years and years, besides) of early afternoon pick-ups, it would be at 6:30 in the morning.  SAY WHAT?

I know for a fact that I rolled that tote out when I’d left for Ilwaco Wednesday  morning.  It certainly wasn’t any 6:30 a.m.  “Were we supposed to be notified about that?” I asked my neighbor.  “That’s what I wondered,” was the response.  “I thought maybe I missed something in the mail.”

From The Peninsula Sanitation Website

So, after we hung up, I called Peninsula Sanitation to find out.  The first time I got the answer machine but when I pushed the appropriate button I was told the hours were Monday thru Friday from 8:30 to 5:00.  So I called again and voila!  A live voice.”

“Yes,” the woman said after I’d identified myself and she could look up my address for herself.  (Apparently, I didn’t sound like I really knew where it was that I lived.)  “The Ocean Park route was getting too big, so we split it.  You’ll have to have your garbage ready at 6:30 a.m. now.”

It took asking just the right combination of questions to find out that the drivers begin their routes at 6:30 a.m. and, no she couldn’t tell me an approximate time for the Oysterville pick-up.   “If you are first on the list, it will be 6:30.”

“Were you intending to notify any of us, or perhaps I missed it,” I said.  There was probably the beginnings of “a tone” in my voice.  “No,” she told me.  “There won’t be a notice.  It already says on your bill that we may be picking up at any time after 6:30.  It’s always on every bill.”

From The Peninsula Sanitation Website

“So you won’t be sending us anything in the mail or putting an announcement in the paper?”  For sure there was a tone this time.  The answer didn’t change.  No apparently is no.  Have your garbage out by 6:30 or risk living with it another week.  Over and out.

It was all a good reminder of what monopolies are all about.  “Snippy” doesn’t begin to describe that voice.  (Mine either, probably.)

I think Mrs. C. is at it again…

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

There is nothing quite so frustrating, annoying, or maddening as having computer problems when you are working against a deadline.  Granted, it’s sort of a self-imposed deadline, as in I told the publisher’s acquisitions editor that I’d fill out the Publication Proposal and send it right off to her.

That was yesterday.  It’s a 13-page proposal and runs the gamut from personal questions (education, employment history, published works, affiliations with community organizations etc. etc.) to detailed descriptions of the proposed book.  Not only the overall concept, proposed chapter titles, and sample photographs, but the word count for the entire manuscript, the number of photos, the target audience, possible competing books, etc. etc. some more.

And that’s only the first seven pages.  The next part is titled “Sales and Marketing” and begins with the explanatory statement, We require authors to be active partners in helping us promote and sell their books locally…  There follow four categories concerning possible sales venues to fill out in detail:  independent bookstores, gift shops and pharmacies, hardware stores, community organizations (historical societies, chambers of commerce, local history museums,etc),and  other unique sales opportunities.  The business name, contact person, address, phone number and local insight/personal connection must be included for each listing in those four categories.  Not impossible to do, but time consuming to look up specific contact information etc.  (Besides which, I have agreed to buy 500 books to sell myself.  I am struggling to be totally transparent concerning this category which is for their sales/marketing people.)

Next came the media information — local newspapers, radio stations, websites and blogs, magazines, and newsletters (church, synagogue, community organization) etc. etc.  Again, not onerous.  Just time-consuming.

It took me six hours to complete the form.  I printed it out to have my Number One Copy Reader (that would be Nyel) take a look.  Then I saved the document, and took a break for lunch.  When I returned to my task… the document was gone.  G-O-N-E.  As in nowhere to be found.  Honestly!  As in don’t even bother to make suggestions — been there, done that.

Tomorrow is another day.  Fortunately I have a printed copy that I can work from.  Of course, the scary part is… what if it happens again?  Before I can return it to History Press.   Aaauurrgh!!!

Come on, Mrs. Crouch! Give me a break!

Once again… a second-class citizen!

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Martin Scorsese

Yesterday as I drove home from some errands in Ilwaco, I listened to Terry Gross interview Martin Scorsese about his recently released film, “The Irishman.”  I was intrigued — not so much by the subject matter of the film, but by Scorsese, himself.  He is a little younger (six years) than I, but he grew up under circumstances that couldn’t have been more opposite than mine.  His films, according to the interview, deeply reflect that background.

Says Wikipedia:  Scorsese’s body of work explores themes such as Italian American identity, Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, faith, machismo, crime and tribalism. Many of his films are known for their depiction of  violence, and the liberal use of profanity and rock music.  

“The Irishman,” just nominated for twenty Oscars, comes directly from influences of Scorsese’s formative years, right down to the rich visual images of stained glass and golden crucifixes. Growing up in New York City’s Little Italy, Scorsese spent a great deal of time surrounded by the saints and martyrs depicted at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.  “Those images certainly stayed with me,” he said yesterday.  As did the sermons, which often focused on “death approaching like a thief in the night. You never know when. You never know how.”

I have never seen a single one of Scorcese’s films.  (Not very unusual, actually.  We can probably count the first-run movies we’ve seen during the last 30 years on one hand.)  But when Ms. Gross said that “The Irishman” is still showing in “select theaters” and is available “on Netflix,” I came home to order it.

Downtown Oysterville – Photo by Bob Duke

She must have meant “streaming” on Netflix.  We can’t stream.  Our internet capability isn’t strong enough; or our broad band isn’t broad enough; or whatever.  If we lived in Long Beach… we were told.  But not here in Oysterville, alias rural America.  I’ll no doubt go to my grave without seeing any first-run movies while they are still first-run.  Oh well.  So did a lot of my forebears and I’m pretty sure they weren’t any the worse for it.  Still…


The Pleasures of Money Laundering

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Bright and Shiny

Things seem to happen in threes.  Or sometimes tens.  Right now, in this household, it’s money laundering which, on the whole, is far better than Kleenex laundering (which has also been high on the list of Retirement Options).  Not that I’m really concerned about the spending qualities of bright vs grubby.  It’s just so much easier to deal with coins than with shredded Kleenex, no matter how clean.

It all comes under the heading of “The Tyranny of the Laundry”.  I first ran up against that concept shortly after I retired but I can’t claim credit for the name.  I think it was Patty Thomas who first first used those particular words in my presence — words that describe the situation precisely.

All Too Familiar

Nyel and I have actually had lengthy discussions about THE LAUNDRY SITUATION.  Like why is there so much more of it now than when we were working?  Did we not wash clothes as often?  Did we go around in dingy whites and dull coloreds?  Worst of all, did we look unsightly?  Or smell?

We’ve given ourselves a pass on all of the above, but for the life of us, we can’t remember much about doing laundry pre-retirement.  When did we empty the hamper?  When did we carry the loads of dirty clothes to the washer and transfer the clean, wet masses to the dryer?  More importantly, when did we hang and fold and touch up with the iron? We have no clue.

Post-Retirement Job Security

There are worse things to blot out of one’s memory, of course.  But it is curious that of all the unrelenting aspects of “doing the laundry” we remember none of it.  Sometimes, I guess, selective memory trumps tyranny.  (Or am I turning into a Republican?)

Losing My Grip

Monday, December 16th, 2019

I’ve come to the point in life where I am losing my grip.  Literally.  I’m not sure about the figurative part.  I’m hoping I’ll be the last to know about that.  But the grip involved in unscrewing caps on over-the-counter drugs (like simple pain relievers for my frequent thumb and wrist agonies) have become all but impossible.

It’s an arthritis thing.  Since arthritis runs in Nyel’s family and he has been suffering the symptoms longer than I, he isn’t much help in the Gripping Department.  But he knows tricks and usually, between the two of us, we can open new bottles and jars of condiments without resorting to smashing them to smithereens in frustration.  Usually.

I often think how our opposable thumbs are one of the key factors in differentiating us and some other primates like chimpanzees and orangutans.  So, as I lose the ability to engage in opposable thumb activities, am I reverting in some crucial developmental way?

I was interested in reading about a study published in the journal Nature Communications that new research finds that human hands are more primitive than those of our closest primate ancestors, chimpanzees.  Apparently, human hand proportions have changed little from those of the last common ancestor of chimps and humans, while the hands of chimps and orangutans have evolved quite a bit — to the point that their thumbs cannot be used in an opposable manner.  Hmmm.

Well… that’s a relief.  I may be losing my grip, but I’m not returning to a more primitive state.  Yet.  In the meantime, hooray for gripping aids and what my mom always called “main strength and awkwardness.”  Seems to work every time.


Inadvertently Part of A Non-Statistic?

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

A Pilgrims hat Thanksgiving cartoon turkey holding a Black Friday Sale sign

It was a smallish Friday Night Gathering.  Some of our “regulars” were out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.   Some might have been busy with leftover turkey and family.  As it was, there were eight of us — four couples, only one of whom  mentioned  that they had been shopping the Black Friday sales.

This morning my Google news feed was full of yesterday’s expected shopping statistics.  They were broken down by generation. According to the surveys,  the biggest group of buyers would be the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and expected to average $626.35 in spending per person.  Next, Generation X ( 1965-1976)   ) averaging $459.72, and coming in third, the millenials (1977-1995) at $252.11 each!

With my 1936 birthdate, I used to be called a “Depression Baby” and Nyel, born in 1943, was known as a “War Baby.”  Now we have apparently been folded into a category called “Traditionalists” or “The Silent Generation” which includes everyone born before 1945.  “The Center for GenerationalKinetics” (say what?) gave no buying statistics for us.

Well… the numbers seemed to all fit the informal information I gleaned from last night’s visitors.  The one couple who went shopping (or at least talked about it) includes a Baby Boomer.  I think the rest of us fall into the Traditionalist/Silent category.

However, as I thought it over… I believe Nyel actually did do some online shopping yesterday.  He mentioned in the morning that we had a book waiting at the library — one I had mentioned to him the other day, written by a friend.  “What?!  I was suggesting that as a Christmas gift.  I have all his other books and want to have this one, too.”  I think Nyel immediately ordered said book online.  I didn’t ask.  Christmas is a time for secrets, after all.

I can’t help wondering if that possible online purchase makes us fall within the Black Friday Shoppers — you know, the ones for whom no statistics are given.  It’s about all the contribution to America’s Black Friday shopping surfeit that I’m willing to make.  (Probably totally unpatriotic of me.)  But I’m still choking over the nine billion dollars in Cyber Monday sales predicted in last night’s news.  Is there a Generation Glut?

Not The Big Brother I’d Hoped For

Friday, November 29th, 2019

Living Nightmare

I’ve just about had it with scams and robocalls and junk mail.  I’m tired of my cell phone ringing in the middle of the night and thinking OMG what if it’s one of the kids.  I don’t want any more pleas from my university or someone else’s favorite good cause hoping for my money.  I’m tired of telling live voices not to call again (they always do) and hanging up on the robots and deleting the personalized impersonal emails.  And I’m beginning to get tired of my own FB friends urging me to adopt their good causes.

What is it about these callers and mailers and users of the internet that make them think that I’m not intelligent enough to know which charities I might be interested in — IF I had the where-with-all.  Which I don’t.  Which, I daresay if they are smart enough to get in touch with me, they should know — from my buying habits if not from my bank account (god forbid) — that “Discretionary Income” is not my middle name.  I feel like Big Brother has taken on a capitalistic persona to the max.

Our House In Alameda

When I was five and we first moved to Alameda, we lived next door to a family who rented Mrs. Musso’s upstairs apartment.  They had a boy about my own age  — maybe his name was Jimmy — and I remember talking to him through our upstairs windows.  For some reason, I began telling people that he was my brother.

Did he and I decide together upon this relationship?  I don’t remember.  I do know that, as an only child, I very much wanted a brother — an older one who would pave the way for me.  I don’t think Jimmy would have filled the bill, but before we could put it to the test my mother had a talk with me (about truthfulness) and Jimmy and his family moved away.  I always wondered (with a five-year-old’s logic) if my mother had a talk with Jimmy, too.

Sydney, 1941

I don’t think their moving was related to my story-telling, but I do know that every time I hear the words “Big Brother is Watching” I think of that five-year-old’s fantasy and of how chagrined I felt when I was caught out by my mother. I also connect the Big Brother syndrome to those persistent communications from people I don’t know.   (Strangely, I never relate them to George Orwell or his book 1984.) But, I do wish my mom was still around to have a talk, not with me this time, but with Big Brother.  And truthfulness.  Maybe he would move away.

The Gift of Time

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Schoolhouse Clock

Somewhere along the line during the years I was teaching — (1962-2001) — it became unpopular to have a child repeat a grade.  Kindergarten parents, especially, were appalled that their child might “fail” kindergarten.  “Failure” implied some sort of inability to learn or to fit in with peers — unthinkable!  Educators began talking about providing “the gift of time” — which sounded a lot better, somehow, than “repeating a grade.”

I often wondered how my great-grandmother would have thought about that “gift of time.”  She had been a school teacher right here in Oysterville but, of course in those days, had to give up that occupation when she married my great-grandfather.  However, she taught all seven of her children to read and write, instructing them at home until they were eight or nine years old.  I imagine that “gift of time” was built right into doing chores, learning how to take responsibility, working with others and building moral character.  All my great aunts and uncles attended college in the 1890s and 1900s, had successful careers (even the women until they married) and raised their families with love and firmness.

I’m not sure what got me off on this rant — old lady ramblings, I guess.  I actually began this blog with the thought that my own days never have enough time.  Especially enough time to write.  Then I had the irreverent thought that it’s too bad I’m not a poet.  Surely, a poem does not take as long to write as a full-blown story or article.  Or maybe it does…  My poet friends will no doubt weigh in and take me to task.

Einstein was right — time is relative.  For a five year old, a year is a very long time.  To us elders, a year speeds by before we can get our shoes on.  But no matter which end of life’s continuum we find ourselves straddling, as I see it a gift of time is always welcome.



Virtual Complexities of Fake Shopping

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

The Fashionista

Last Friday night, someone said, “Oh, I see you are wearing Nyel’s vest.”  Busted!  It’s not my best look, but who cares when it’s just me and my true love trying to keep warm on a chilly evening?  This time, though, I forgot to change out of the Xtra-Lg-almost-knee-length-paint-spattered-humongously-fluffy- and-incredibly-comfy-hand-me-down.

Nyel has had two vests since this one and, though I’ve tried several times to get a down vest of my own, I’ve never found one as perfect.  I had, however, recently, tried again.  Eddie Bauer.  On line.  The ladies’ version of Nyel’s recent “dress-up” vest.  It had been a while since my fake shopping spree (if you call ordering one thing a spree), so later when our guests had gone, I went online to see what was happening.

I was amazed to find that I had placed my order on October 15th (time flies!).  When I went to the handy-dandy TRACK YOUR ORDER button, I found that it still said:  Estimated Delivery: Delivery date details will be available once they are provided by the carrier.  I gave it a few more days (maybe it was back-ordered, but you’d think they’d say so…)  Finally, last Wednesday I called Eddie Bauer Customer Service.

The Bookvendor 1964-2001

Then it got complicated.  The nice lady at the end of the line said (after considerable searching) that the order had been shipped to the Bookvendor address.  Say what?!  I tried to stay calm as I told her that we hadn’t been available at that address since 2001 and, in fact, the business had closed in 2001 and no longer existed.  She did some more searching and conceded that I had, indeed, placed other orders to Eddie Bauer since that time and they had gone to my Oysterville address.  She didn’t know what had happened…

However, she removed the charges from my credit card (funny how they had gotten that part right) and placed a new order.  “I’ve put it on  expedited delivery.  The package will arrive Friday afternoon.”  Sadly, Friday came and went and no package from Eddie Bauer.  Tomorrow a new Friday will roll around.  I’ll try to remember to deep-six Nyel’s comfy old vest lest my usual high fashion standard dips below the line once again.

Maybe Today

Meanwhile, I think another call to EB’s Customer Service Department is in order.  It would have been quicker and easier to go into the big city and shop.  Unfortunately, that’s not a reality for me right now…  virtually impossible, you might say.