Real News

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Once again, I am looking out my window and see a news reporter in front of a camera man. Their truck is parked innocently enough on the side of the street. The reporter is sitting on a chair in the middle of the road as easy and natural as he might sit at a kitchen table. It’s a very strange sight but then again I don’t get out much. Perhaps street sitting is the new thing to do?

The pair appears to be covering the ongoing saga of our city’s road construction, or lack thereof. The city workers, bless their hearts, started on our road, got distracted and moved on with their hard hats and heavy-duty equipment. However, they did not flit away until after they chopped up the street outside of our house and left orange safety cones and blocks in their wake.

Directly in front of our house, they left a particularly attractive pile of sewer tubing and broken pallets. Yes, life must be good for those silly distracted workers who never have to finish a project. This reminds me of my mom’s loser ex-boyfriend who was infamous for the same thing. Once, he pulled the inner panel off of her car door to fix the automatic window which wasn’t broken. Like the construction workers, he found something more interesting and never returned, leaving the wires and inner workings of the door exposed. The thought of the beloved station wagon of my childhood, left used and abused, makes my blood boil at a much higher temperature than the stripped road.

I am holding myself back from going out to the reporter to offer the following real news stories. If broken-up roads and unfocused construction workers are news, get ready to be blown away by my ideas to truly inform and entertain the masses.

First story, I have poison ivy on my hands and arms. He could report what the vile poison ivy vines and leaves look like, in addition to exposing its nasty cousins, poison sumac and oak. He could give natural treatments for outbreaks and creative ways to stop it from spreading (insert series of pictures of people with poison ivy wearing socks on their hands to from scratching).

Second story, how about these mosquitos from the heavy rains earlier this summer? They are practically big enough to carry off small dogs and children. Someone should look into just how they got so big and hungry and full of the West Nile virus.  Could this be related to Monsanto?

Last story, to leave the people with a warm and fuzzy feeling, a close up of the couple who used to always walk their poodle with its bad knees and hips. They continue to walk their poodle, but now the dog rides in what appears to be a custom made wagon, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine for just a little longer.

How is that for real news?

Freewill and Gas-station Finds

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The beef jerky stinks.

It was purchased an hour ago at a grungy gas station from a clean-enough box of meat sticks against my advice. As my husband lifted the plastic lid of the container and pulled out a piece of jerky with tongs, he said over his shoulder, “You have to trust someone sometime.”

I wasn’t certain that this sage piece of wisdom applied in this situation.

The clerk watched us warily and sipped from a can of diet Mountain Dew. I guessed he sized us up pretty quickly. We were out-of-towners, two out of the hundreds who must pass by on a weekly basis, lured inside by the hopeful promise of a bathroom and caffeinated beverage to get us through the next leg of the journey. No special treatment was to be given, not that it was expected. Although, a smile might have been nice.

Nonetheless, we slipped the unpackaged piece of meat into a wax paper bag, paid, and left the store. My husband was gleeful at his newly acquired meat snack.

“It’s homemade, the best kind,” he explained, unconcerned with the potential for a weird gas-station-foodborne illness.

Images of a dark garage, with greasy car parts jumbled together in one corner and tools and cans of old paint on sagging shelves, and a workbench where the meat was sliced and seasoned next to a pile of screws filled my mind. I envisioned a man with denim overalls and no undershirt shaking salt over the cut of meat and rubbing it in with dirty, black nails.

“Would you save it for later?” my husband asked sweetly, handing the jerky to me.

Bleh, I shuddered at the thought of actually eating it, but agreed.

So now, the jerky is riding shotgun in my purse. It’s peeking out over the zippered edge until the driver of this rig remembers it, stinking as only an unwrapped piece of dehydrated and seasoned meat will do.

In the meantime, I am trying to keep quiet. My guess is the beef jerky is barely fit for a vulture and certainly not for my spouse. Yet, who am I to crush his dreams of consuming what he expects to be the tastiest purchase ever made from a country gas station? Who am I to stop anyone from doing what they want?

Freewill is only dangerous most of the time, but what are we without it?

“Der Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will.

Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

The Mean Wife

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A red light used to flash when a voicemail came through on the old office phones.  They had cords and wires and buttons, remember those?  I used to wrap the cord around my finger, flatten it out, and kink it up.  The more I used it, the more stretched and misshapen the cord got until I had to swap it out one day with a coworker’s.

Those were the simple days of technology; there was a kind of bliss in not knowing everything.  When the light flashed, it was nice to not know whose voice was on the recording or what information or glad tidings were to be shared.

Now, I use a Smart phone for everything. No cord, no buttons, no fun, really.

I have to know as much as possible before answering any call and have taken a vow to screen all unknown calls.  Fortunately, with advances in caller id, this has become easier than ever.  My husband, on the other hand, looks forward to unknown callers for the chance that he has won the big check from Publisher’s Clearinghouse or some other contest that he never entered.

If I don’t know the caller, I let it roll to voicemail.  Today was no exception.

Five times today, I received a message from the same woman.  She called from different numbers each time, perhaps with the hope to throw me off and get an unguarded, “Hello, this is Puney…” The calls came from unknown landlines and a cell phone, and several restricted numbers, so of course I didn’t answer.

The messages did not grow friendlier throughout the day. In fact, they reached a boiling point with threats against humanity and a promise to find me in a suspiciously Liam Neesan Taken style. While the phone rang unanswered, my voicemail inbox slowly filled to capacity and my left eye developed an uncontrollable twitch.

“She’s just trying to find her power in a powerless situation,” a colleague sympathized with the woman. “I feel bad for her, I really do,”

I pictured a bug struggling in a spider’s web; the harder the woman fought, the more entangled she became with the very thing holding her back.

So after a careful review of her voicemails, I called her back.  I did it to appease the little part of me that sensed desperation within the psychotic threats.  I heard the need for an advocate and patient listener beneath the screaming and unreasonable demands.

Then I discovered that little part of me was wrong.

She was just a mean wife.

A lady bully.

On the meaning of life

Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.

Joseph Campbell

The Last Time

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The last time I had hives, I also turned orange.

I was six years old, small, and always on the prowl for sweets.  My mother was baking carrot-cake muffins for my kindergarten class, or that’s what she planned to do before I ate the entire bag of carrots.  They were those little, sweet, baby carrots no bigger than a child’s finger. Each crunchy bite released a burst of au naturale sugar, just enough to make me want to take another bite.

I’m not sure how my mother didn’t notice that the carrots were disappearing one by one. Or why she didn’t stop my gluttonous child-self from disaster if she did notice. My memory won’t let me see where she was at the time, but most likely she was nearby half-watching, while weaving a basket or meditating on life.

She took free-range child rearing seriously and intervened only when necessary and/or convenient.  The two do not always intersect as one might expect.  Once, I accidentally pepper-sprayed myself; darkness overtook my eyes and a terrible burning fire spread across my face and hands.

I screamed, “Help, I’m going blind!”

She stood nearby and responded by asking with what I had to imagine due to the temporary lack of vision was an amused smirk, “What did you learn from this experience?”

Of course, it was difficult to form words with my swelling tongue to explain that I was just looking for candy not a learning experience.

Insert Kelly Clarkson’s lyric here, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…” to be mentally played in the background for the rest of this post.

The fateful day of the carrot-cake muffins was no different.  Without any other more accessible sweets or increased impulse control, I stood on my tip toes and reached up onto the counter.  I grabbed a carrot and then another and another.

Maybe I shared the loot with the dog or my little brother, this detail is also unclear but it didn’t take long before the entire bag was empty and my stomach was churning. It turns out that carrots are a great source of fiber.  No one else turned orange so the primary guilty party seems obvious.

In retrospect, they were definitely not the right ones for the recipe.  She should have used the adult carrots that have to be peeled and scraped.  They look grotesque in the bag with dirty roots like hairs, manly vegetables compared with their baby counterparts, and better suited for baking.  I was much more of a help than a hindrance by saving the muffins from the wrong type of carrots on that colorful day.  Funny how I never realized it until now, thanks to the therapeutic power of blogging.

When I started to glow a special orange and itch all over, the fun was over.  As the hives developed on my young arms and chest, legs and torso, I realized a few things: that carrots were not a nice treat. Carrot cake muffins would never be my preference.  And as for my mom, it was time to be a parent and call the doctor or poison control for the carrot overdose, right?

Or just call into the school while handing me a bottle of Calamine lotion.

“Hi, yes this is Puney’s mother.  She won’t be making it in today.  She’s a little under the weather, probably something she ate…”

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Interesting fact, carrots although grown and eaten worldwide since 3000BC per the website vegetablefacts.net, they were not used in American dishes until after World War 1 when solders brought home seeds and stories of European cuisine.

Another interesting fact from webmd.com (who knew they were experts on carrots, too?), Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, reportedly hated carrots.  Hard to believe, right?

http://www.vegetablefacts.net/vegetable-history/history-of-carrots/

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/5-healthy-facts-about-carrots

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