Archive for the 'Humor' Category

02
Jan
15

Scam Alert

2014 has been another roller coaster for us. I’m beginning to think this might be the new normal for western culture…perhaps for most of the world! Time seems to have tripled…hours can seem like days. What once was the standard for fast communication has been replaced by instantaneous messaging. Never mind the dry, witless, impersonal nature of it; this new world has no time for politeness, graciousness or tact. Too bad if you are suffering with a cold, flu or broken leg and can barely think straight. Reply, Reply, Reply. The show must go on!

Question: What’s an aging brain to do?

Answer: The best it can under the circumstances.

My aging brain has been keen on recognizing and avoiding scam emails—particularly the viral ones that want to foul one’s hard drive. Of course, having a Mac computer affords me an edge on this wave of sophomoric pranksterism, but I went a bit farther and thought myself pretty savvy…until last Tuesday.

I was expecting delivery of a USB SuperDrive from a trusted New York supplier…one that often requires signature upon receipt of electronics.

Apple SuperDrive

Feeling unwell and slightly foggy, I would be gone for a few hours in the afternoon. I don’t have neighbors who can take in a package, so, when I received this email, instead of thinking clearly, I clicked on Get Shipment Label.

SmartPost 1

Clicking on Get Shipment Label brought me to a site clearly stating: Not compatible with your operating system, followed by a list of Microsoft PC programs and systems. That should have been sufficient to bring me back to sensibility, but no, I clicked again with the same result!

Googling FedEX SmartPost and seeing that this was a less than successful coordination with USPS my annoyance increased, since mail delivery on my street is erratic at best. In a stupor, I hit Reply and typed out my request for additional information. I wanted that SuperDrive and I didn’t want to jump through hoops to get it delivered.

Slowly, my brain began to make connections. Check the Reply address, it said. Did I immediately understand the hoax? Took a few minutes, checking back to my original paperwork with the seller, to understand that no brand of FedEx, Smart or otherwise was delivering my order.

Many of you already know what happened next: Yes, my email was returned and there it was: the pirated email address used to scam me. Oy vey!

SmartPost 3

Next step was to look up the seller’s paperwork for delivery date and carrier. UPS was clearly stated, as was the history of transport, the tracking number and promise of delivery that very day. The big green arrow said: On Vehicle for Delivery Today, but for some reason that escapes me now that I am no longer feverish and ill, I still harbored doubt that this equipment would arrive and that I would be at home to sign for it. I was doing a version of Woe is Me from the Life Sucks chorale.

UPS Tracking

I returned home from my afternoon appointment: Nothing on the porch, no notice from the UPS driver. I quickly removed my note and nervously waited, checking the front porch numerous times. Finally, about 7:00 p.m., the UPS driver brought the package and rang the doorbell. Just as I got to the door the driver was scrambling into the truck. No signature required, obviously. I should have realized this since the paperwork did not contain that stipulation. OY vey again! No matter. I had my SuperDrive and I was happy. Apple does everything beautifully—even the delivery packaging is a perfect delight to the senses. Can’t bring myself to discard it. Maybe it can be re-purposed?

02
Apr
14

sharing & caring, a cat story for all ages

This is a story of feline sharing and caring from my yet to be written, therefore unpublished, AdvoCat Studio anthology: My Life With Cats.

Type Embellishments_H 36pt_white.

Frankie, the polydactyl, tabby cat, began his life with us under the care and tutelage of Nicky, our big, luxuriously furred, Himalayan-Birman mix. With patience and forbearance, Uncle Nick taught Frankie the ABCs of cat behavior and etiquette, a sometimes daunting task.

Frank & Nick 150

Frank was already a grown up with a long track record of caring and tutoring each kitten that came to live with us just as he’d been taught, but like any cat, he needed his rest and had his favorite spots.

Frank on radiator_5T-24_cropped

One fine winter’s day, when Frankie was asleep on his favorite morning spot atop the radiator in my studio, dreaming dreams only cats really understand… in walked Beau, the sleekly, beautiful, young prince of the household.

Image 1a_Neg JI-14A_cropped

“Ah, there’s Frank… must be a great spot for a nap,” he said to his cat self as he gracefully leaped up to join his friend.

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“Oh bother’ muttered Frankie through his sleepy cat lips. ‘Patience, forbearance… that’s the key…”

Image 3_Neg JI-19A_cropped

“Okay, you’re cute, I love you: lay down now.” In truth, Frank was just a tiny bit annoyed, because he’d been dreaming the most wonderful dreams that morning and wanted to get back to them as quickly as he could.

Image 4_Neg JI-24A_cropped

Beau sighed, deeply content with such loving acceptance, but he just couldn’t get comfortable.

 

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“I’ll give him another minute to find his groove,” Frank thought… ‘he’s just a kid.”

Image 6_Neg JI-18A_cropped

“You okay, there buddy?” Frank asked in his best uncle voice.

Image 7a_Neg JI-22A_cropped

“I think my feet are too long,” whined Beau as he twisted about, certain that with perseverance, he’d find his perfect spot right next, and as close as possible, to his friend.

“Feet? Something like that,’ Frank whispered to his own self… ‘something like that!”

Image 8a_Neg JI-25A_cropped

“Got it, Uncle Frank! Thanks”

Image 9a-Neg JI-16A_cropped

“This spot feels great; I’ll just do a quick wash, be done in a jiffy. You don’t mind do you Uncle?”

 

Image 10_Neg JI-20A_cropped

“Musn’t forget the hips ‘n haunches… so important to a cat’s graceful beauty. Appearances are important.”

Image 11_Neg JI-23A

“Okay, all done, I’m back now. Thanks for waiting Frankie.”

Frank, running a bit low on patience said ever so quietly, “I’m sleeping now, gorgeous. Try it, you’ll like it… we’ll both like it.”Image 12a_Neg JI-26A_cropped

But Beau wasn’t ready to sleep yet. Settled near enough to hear his friend’s heartbeat, he said coquettishly, “Tell me a story and then I’ll go to sleep.”

Frank, reaching the end of patience as well as forbearance, thought: “I really don’t have time for this.”

” See you later…bonne nuit,  Beau, sleep well.” He said warmly, and slipped away to where grown-up cats go when they really, really need their rest.

Image 13_Neg JI-11A_cropped

Beau was bewildered; he couldn’t understand why Frankie would just up and leave like that.  “Where’s he going,’ he mused, ‘I’m kind of lonely here all by myself… but I do look good, don’t you think?”

 

AdvoCat Studio Logo

09
Feb
13

cats ‘n dogs love food

Today, I want to post a couple of simple blessings to bring smiles on a cold winter day.  For dog lovers, a YouTube doggie video compliments of klaatu42 . Enjoy!

Speaking of Cats…here is one for cat lovers originally posted (in part) on my Facebook page:

I am trying to work. Bella thinks I need a break. I haven’t even started, Bel. Please get off my key board. (What I will have to do in about 10 minutes is “put her to bed”. Really! I’m not kidding. Oy, vey! She is now laying across my left arm, making it difficult to type accurately. She just decided I’m not worth waiting on and left. Bless her.Bella and her keyboard trick

By 1:30 P.M. Bella’s brother Ben awakes from his morning slumber and stretches out in all his princely glory. “It is time for lunch,” he says and proceeds to set himself between me and the keyboard much as his sister did this morning. He is much bigger than dainty Bella. No matter his tricks, I know how to open the fridge and he doesn’t. Lunch is always 3:00/3:30. Ah, he sees a bird outside the window…off he goes.Bennie and his keyboard trick

Or so I thought… When I closed down the computer and got up to leave the studio, there he was, under my desk, waiting for me to get the message and go down to the kitchen. In fact, both of them were quietly waiting, Ben under the desk and Bella at the doorway. When I rose from my chair, both of them got excited and ran ahead to the kitchen. But it was only 2:00. They waited patiently for about 5 minutes. These cats are smart. They aren’t going to waste energy mewing and fussing…no. They chose their spots to wait it out and I chose mine.

Doggone it! I couldn’t manage the last 5 minutes. They got their lunch at 2:55. If there is reincarnation, I want to come back a cat and live with a push-over like me. Of course, I will be well behaved, like Bella and Bennie.

05
Jul
11

getting from here to there

Late Thursday evening, June 30th, I took a closer look at the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Illinois Civil Union law. Yes, yes, yes, I thought as I read quickly through, I know all this. Then saw what I should have seen before: …the civil union license and civil union ceremony must take place within the same county. Whoa! That makes a big difference. Judy and I were all set to head out to our county seat first thing the next morning. We would have procured the license and then found that it would not have been valid at our little church at the edge of the city.  Woe would have been us, to be sure. Thanksgiving to God for saving our behinds once again, then a quick online check for the nearest appropriate county office, along with Mapquest directions.

Early the next morning, my sister agrees to come along for the fun of it and we all set off for an auspicious day—one we think will mark the beginning of the end of marginalization and ignominy. It was all sort of romantic in a way, despite our 34 years together. We were ready. Excitedly, we parked the car and entered what we found to be a queue inching its way toward the approving/disapproving swash of the detection wand, judiciously held by a uniformed man.

Once through, we searched, found what we thought was the proper office and presented ourselves. Two attendants look at us quizzically and ask us if we were looking for a divorce. “No, we’re looking to apply for a civil union license,” we blurt out.

“Oh. We do divorces here. You have to go across the way to that other building. Call this number. They will tell you.”

We called the number, got directions, trudged over to the proper building, walked through the door, and found ourselves staring at a darkened office with a sign on the door informing us that the office was closed for the day due to mandated furlough policies.

This was disappointing to say the least. First thought of the marginalized—bad omens—was quickly buried in a unanimous decision to go forward for the fun parts of the day that had been planned as celebration. So we did and my world did not come to an end.

Bright and early today, July 5th, we made our second trip to the county building. Success. I was nervous with accustomed expectation of veiled judgment from the people behind the counter, which I would have to stuff somewhere, as I have for so many years. There was no judgment—veiled or otherwise. Relief was palpable for me and my witty, comedic twin came pouring out with abandon. (She doesn’t get much of an opportunity, so I couldn’t get her back inside very easily. She thanks me for the opportunity to have made this rare appearance and wishes you were there to appreciate her.)

Judy and I have signed our names to a document that will make us part of an historic movement. That, in itself, is exciting. After surviving cancer and the loss of many loved ones, I wanted my life to be meaningful. I wanted to make a difference…and so I am. Thank you all for walking this journey with me for the past several years. I am excited to see what lies ahead, especially our ceremony happening right in our church…in the presence and loving acceptance of our congregation. This is enormously important and supersedes the private commitment ceremony we had in 1995. This time it’s public and legal…and believe me…it makes a difference. I had no idea what a difference it would make. Something like coming in from the cold…into the warm of acceptable and included…being part of the human face of life.

14
Mar
11

not a piece of cake-part 2

Update:

Last week I went in for my three-week follow-up visit with the cataract doctor. I’d been having a fair bit of eye strain whenever working on the computer (which is a lot of the time), and eager to get corrective lenses for the new frames I’d ordered a week earlier. I had all of this organized and coordinated to occur as swiftly as possible. (Frames are now referred to as chassis, same as autos—I think lenses are still called lenses. That’s a comfort.)

When I heard the ophthalmologist express concern for my visual welfare because I was now near-sighted in the right eye and far-sighted in the left eye, I began to replay the scenario I’d heard at my first visit. Did I hear this lovely man tell me that the cataract in the left eye was not severe enough to be covered by Medicare…and that was why he was just going to do the right eye? I think I did, but he doesn’t remember saying that. Okay, I can’t push the point because the memory can be faulty in medical situations. He suggested that possibly one of the technicians said it. Knowing how important it is to keep the docs liking me, I assented to this having been the case. Just between you and me…it was not the case. The doc said it and I took it at face value, thinking one eye would be easier than two.

As it turns out, doing both at the same time would have been easier for me in the long run. From surgery to new glasses takes about five to six weeks. Being a forward minded person, I’d set aside this time thinking that the left eye was in pretty good shape and might never need correcting. Maybe it won’t, but there is definitely a difference between the two eyes in terms of color and light…and of course now, in equilibrium as well. The good doctor says he would like to see me in six months to consider bringing the left eye up to speed. I will have to go through this whole monkey-business all over again. This means planning my projects and life so that I have nothing visually urgent during this time and nowhere to go, since weekly check-ups and an eye drop regimen are part of the program.

So this is where I am now: I will pay $700+ for the new glasses and hope my brain will compensate mightily for the split vision. If and when I can figure out when to have the other eye done, I’ll have to get another new pair of glasses. Ca-ching, ca-ching. It’s only money.

24
Feb
11

not a piece of cake

A week ago I had cataract surgery on my right eye. The left eye has not deteriorated enough to qualify for Medicare coverage so just the one eye had its fuzzy lens replaced with a manufactured model (an intraocular lens). I was nervous and apprehensive with memory recall of past medical encounters and uncertainty about the visual future. Despite all of this, and because I had covered all my bases of obligation, I displayed very good vital signs. That was a welcome surprise to me. No one panicking over heart rate and blood pressure. No need for IVs and consultations. The power of prayer and supplication!

While waiting for my 5mg of Valium I had a strong sense of the presence of both my deceased, adopted daughter, Bettina and my sister Florence, there in the cubicle with me. It was a thin place experience. At first their presence was comforting, but after a few minutes I had to ask them to leave and they did. Shortly afterward the nurse popped in with the Valium and there was no turning back. Within a few minutes of swallowing the tablet, I experienced a strange two tiered effect: mellow on the top with an underside of lingering apprehension. Took a while for these two to merge into one, but once they had, I was a lovely patient—agreeable, humorous and trusting.* Even the shower cap was an occasion for joviality. (Those who know me well will know this is not my most common persona.)

*Tip from experience: you get better treatment in the medical system if your doctor/nurse likes you. But if you don’t like them, get the heck out of there.

The doctor poked his head in, greeted me and made some notes. He asked if I was ready and I countered by asking him if he had said his prayers that morning. He replied he had, and since I had as well, we were ready to roll. I believe he said something like rock and roll? To which I most likely replied in the affirmative. (You gotta love that Valium.)

Being wheeled down the corridor to the operating room is a trip in itself, but I was lively and witty and amusing. (I should have been paid minimum wage for this performance.) Once in the OR, lying there like a cadaver waiting to be explored, my apprehension returned. Within moments I felt my sister at my side saying she would stay with me and hold my hand.  Scoff if you must, but this is exactly what I experienced and it was comforting. Do I believe it actually happened? Yes. I believe it truly happened just as the disciples believed they saw Jesus on the Emmaus Road. It may or may not have been factual, but I believe it was true.

The doctor sealed something large and roundish over my right eye and draped the left. I found the whole procedure to be a very strange experience of color, light and sound. Once finished, sight is immediate, but uncomfortable because the dilated pupil lets the light flood in as it hadn’t for several years. I returned home with dark glasses, a Valium hangover, and a number of medications to be dropped into the eye every two hours.

As the Valium worked its way through my system, I felt a bit lost between the thin place experiences and the real world. I lay in an abyss of suspended awareness…neither here nor there…until evening when a good friend came by to take over the eye drop regimen for a few hours. As I talked with him, an avowed, left-brain, linear thinker, I came across to reality-land as though stepping off a boat and onto the dry land we call reality.

The next few days were devoted to recovery and rest. The procedure is essentially painless, straightforward and without serious risks—a piece of cake, people say. The same people do not mention the follow-up weeks, which if cake, definitely are without frosting. Today, 8 days past the procedure, I am counting the remaining several weeks until new glasses sit on the bridge of my aging nose, hopefully loving their new home like crazy and relieving my eyestrain.

In my freezer is some left-over chocolate, chocolate cake with raspberries, walnuts and frosting. This is what cake looks like folks. I think I’ll have a small piece right now.

14
Feb
11

st. valentine day

Some of my friends express disappointment along with disbelief when I tell them that I am not a romantic. I don’t exactly know what I am, i.e., what popular category I fit it into, but romantic is not one of them. Maybe it happened in high school, that most horrible of horrible times. Or maybe it happened later on in my twenties when the road under my feet started swaying…or perhaps it was a gradual shift away from what I came to feel was a box of chocolates. In any case, the world needs its romantics, so I tip my imaginary hat to all who are, and send this quirky little valentine today, with lots of gratitude for your faithfulness in repeatedly clicking back to Called by Name even when the named one has not been answering the phone! (Ah, that’s a bit of my weird humor…you gotta be here…body language and facial expressions go with it.)

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to one and all. This valentine came to me from one of my dear romantic friends. Where she got it, I don’t know, but suspect it has traveled some from screen to screen, so this funny valentine has miles on her. Of course I had to take it into Photoshop, change it and make it my own. How else would it be from me to you?

Thank you so much for visiting my blog. Your replys are always welcome.

10
Feb
11

on another note…

We, at the little church at the edge of the city, are using themes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s new book, An Altar in the World—A Geography of Faith, this Lenten season. It has been a bit of a challenge to come up with visual art that communicates the breadth of content in this work in a simple, non-literal manner. The bulletin covers,  altar arrangements and lectern will be our main focal points, since the full sanctuary installation will be done by our host-church congregation. Ours would appear to be a fairly self-contained project, but not so, since we will not be relying on traditional purple, but instead, variations of warm sepia.

Once I had all the art finished for the bulletin covers, I turned my attention to the lectern, which will be consistently visible throughout the whole Lenten season. For the last two days the lectern has been running through my consciousness, like a steady hum from some outside electrical source one wishes to high heaven would stop. It has not stopped and is niggling around in my brain, because next week I will have cataract surgery and don’t know when I will have again reliable vision for artful details. Yesterday, ideas came and vanished as I visited several shops looking for something, but not sure what. I was getting discouraged. My God conversations went like this: “Hey, this is your thing! Help me out…give me an idea…bring it forth…please!”

Then I went home and waited. I was discouraged and began thinking again. Suddenly an idea popped into the camera of my brain: Jewish prayer shawl…homespun…something simple and naturally colored that I could enhance somehow with sacred purple. It was a cold evening and I was not going out again, so I looked through my boxes of fabrics and found a length of burlap. It was a little rough and a rather unpleasant ochre color, but I am resourceful. First thing I did was to soak the whole thing in bleach water. Ninety nine percent of the color remained and so did the smell. What next? Keep the cats out of the laundry room and ponder the situation.

While pondering, I served a rather unsatisfying dinner to my dear partner and myself, then returned to the unsolved problem in the laundry room. The burlap was hanging over the tub looking very unpromising. I decided to wash it with soap in the machine. Not to be wasteful of water, soap and energy, I added all the dark clothes in the laundry hamper as well, and looked ahead to a virtuous conclusion.

While waiting for the washer to finish, a recollection came to me that I’d done this before with a bad outcome, but I pushed it to the side of my head. The sight that greeted me upon opening the washer brought the recollection back again, somewhat more forcefully: the burlap was a tangled mass and the dark clothes were covered with its furry mess. Now what?

Like a mother quickly pulling her babies out of harm’s way, I dumped the whole thing into the dryer along with an anti-static cloth that I was sure (!!) would cause all the mess to leap from the fabrics and into the lint trap. I waited, opening the door a number of times to empty the trap, and saying a little breathy prayer as the recollection loomed larger and larger. I knew I had done this before and I was beginning to realize that the price for dumbness was my road ahead for the rest of the evening. I trimmed and ironed what was left of the burlap, hung it up and prayed that it might turn into something useful by morning. Then I began the laborious task of de-furring socks, T-shirts and pants inside and out with strips of silver tape. I was penitent for not waiting faithfully for God’s inspiring thought—for zooming ahead with me-power. Then I went to bed just a little bit doleful.

This morning I surveyed the scene. All the clothes are hanging nicely in the closet with nary a sign of misdeed and stupidity, but the socks called to me and I had to give them a third silver tape massage. Now everything is out of sight and out of mind, except for that drat burlap still hanging mockingly in the laundry room.

I’ve re-learned my laundry lesson, but there are still a couple more fabric ideas to try. Will wait for noon warmth and maybe try a few other retail sources on my way to the grocery. God knows my every need. It will happen and it will be glorious when it does. In the meantime, I have to confess that artful problem solving is a lovely bit of fun and I do enjoy the hunt. So, God be with me—show me what to pick up and what to put down.

Let not my heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

15
Dec
10

you’re it

Long ago.

Back in the olden days of my childhood, we played a scary playground tag  game during recess. It may have had a name but we just called it You’re It. This was basically a run around game with one person the tagger, whose mission it was to catch someone—anyone. We ran like crazy, screaming and yelling as though our very lives were at stake. This was especially true when played with boys and girls together. (Remember, this was before co-ed gym and way, way before co-ed dorms!) The tagging was quite aggressive. Being tagged, and hearing you’re it screamed out gleefully had a nasty feeling to it…like being a big fat loser, or at the very least, being hit by a bag of slimy worms (yuck!). Yes we had losers in those days, but the term had not yet been designated as a life-long failing…just a momentary humiliation between children at play.

Fast-Forward 60 years.

Last week I was hit by a nasty respiratory virus and tagged: you’re it and so I am: another victim of this year’s respiratory nemesis, down and out on the side-lines.  I’d been warding off all sorts of bodily ailments for quite a while, but this time, completely exhausted from two months hard work (see Drawing Sacred Circles Advent 2010) and bottomed out over a small incident, the virus I call Wicked, had no trouble tagging me, but I didn’t know it right away. Wicked did this quite silently, like a lion stalking its prey.

Profile of Wicked, 2010.

After a short incubation period of 24 hours I began feeling sort of low in spirit and a bit cranky. After another 24 hours, my throat started to feel like burnt toast still burning. I began my usual ZiCam protocol, thinking I’d lose the bug as I had several times before. By the end of the week (about 56 hours later) I felt better and thought I’d thrown off Wicked.  Then in an Alice in Wonderland moment, I went down like a Christmas tree—cut with an ax at the ankles. I was sick, more sick than I’d ever been with a cold. I had fever and was completely miserable. Felt like flu, but without the body aches—all too reminiscent of the sweaty, feverish weeks before my cancer diagnosis in 2006.  The next day I called my homeopathic physician, received a recommended medication and began getting better, but the process was really slow. Four days passed. I called the doctor. He agreed…progress was too slow…and prescribed another remedy, which has sped things up dramatically.

I am doing a lot better, but not well yet. Still, this state of health/unhealth is way better than where I was 10 days ago. I plan to continue burrowing my way out of this rabbit hole and returning to the land of the living. Wicked can go take a hike!

Conclusion.

This is a really nasty illness—not your average sniffles and sneezes. Take care and beware of those who say…I just have a sore throat… That’s how this particular bug starts its pathway through the human body. Apparently some folks have remained stricken for weeks. I don’t intend to be one of them. I shall not be tagged; I shall not be It. I have plans to take my grandchildren to the fancy French bistro for a Christmas lunch in a few days. I want to see their eyes light up in delight. It will warm my soul.

Take care everyone and don’t take any wooden nickels. 🙂

06
Oct
10

after accounting for the selves

My late-life crisis is nuancing into the light of day. I am relieved. Having stepped outside myself to see my many selves and all those lives they’ve lived, I see progress and that is reconciling. The windy corner is calming and I see the rainbow…most of the time.

A voice speaks to me:

Your days will be an autumn harvest way before winter sets in.

A place at the table is waiting for you.

Follow the raven. He knows the way.

And in so doing, many blessings came my way this past weekend. On Sunday my oldest granddaughter, Miss Green and I spent a lovely afternoon, doing and being. What a lovely bit of gentle light children can be. I can hardly believe I am saying this. How did I get to be old enough to talk this way? That in itself is a mystery. Apparently an additional self has been added to the collection. I shall have to get used to her so I don’t think I am channeling my mother!

Both of my granddaughters attend a bi-lingual school…not Spanish/English…Japanese/English! How extraordinary! Nothing like this would have been in existence way, way, back when I was a child. I am amazed. They are both half Korean, which is really not a whole lot like Japanese except for being Asian. At any rate, they are learning Japanese and bringing home interesting little examples of their lessons with writing I can only look at and admire. Very pretty.

This is my name is Japanese written by youngest granddaughter, Miss Pink (5-1/2).

And this is BD’s name written by oldest granddaughter, Miss Green (8-1/2).

And this is BD’s characterture of them.

And as for me and oncology…I am still in complete remission and might not need another CT/PET scan until January or even March. What luck! Surely, the hairs of my head are truly counted, even the ones that fall to the sink as I comb through in the morning 🙂




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