Looking to Consume

Everyone’s selling, it’s understood
That a profit margin is deemed good
A desirable product at reasonable cost
Flood the market and all is lost
We create demand by choking supply
Advertise it so people will buy
They line up to purchase the few in stock
When they run out the doors they’ll lock
A hew and a cry and a riot or two
For a must have item I’ll eschew
Wait until supply exceeds demand
Then buy on sale or an off brand

For me it was the Cabbage Patch Kids that were the hot item that caused people to lose their minds. That was the first product that entered my vision as a strange fad and dangerous consumer anarchy. I was married that year and fortunately had no interest in that doll. People were trampled. People would camp out so that they could be the first inside when the doors were finally unlocked. The consumer became unhinged. Several years later it was Tickle Me Elmo, then the Furby and then Beanie Babies. I was at the Goodwill and happened to stroll down the toy aisle. They had a big bin filled with former must have Barbie® dolls. Their hair was a mess and most had lost their clothes. These were toys that had been played with and had been out grown and were now waiting for a new child.
    Spied at Goodwill
This brings me back to Cabbage Patch Kids. I remember a woman at the clinic I worked at, who clawed her way to one of the dolls, managed to purchase it, and get to the safety of her car. She ended up with a black eye. But she was so happy to have scored one of those dolls. She didn’t have any kids. She wanted it for herself – as a “collectable” and as an investment. Every once in awhile I see one at a garage sale. Some are filthy and look like they’ve been dragged to hell and back. Others are pristine, still in the original box. I just shake my head and think – nah, not worth it.

Looking Cracked

It has finally happened. I’ve completely cracked up! It started as a small scratch that soon became a fine crack. As time passed the crack got longer and started branching. Soon it reached from side to side and top to bottom. I lived with it. Then I dropped the phone. The crack went through the little thumb print reader. I was finally able to get into the phone and disable the thumbprint ID security feature. So my phone is still working but definitely cracked.

My Fitbit had cracked over a year ago. Again it started as a strange scratch that became a crack. The cracked face started to pucker and turned into a little peaked ridge across the surface. It was working. My sister gave me a gift of a new one. I decided to wait until this one actually died before switching. Besides I had gotten all these new colorful bands for the old Fitbit and I didn’t want to have them go to waste. So with the cracked phone and cracked Fitbit I survived 2020.

Now that it is well into 2021, I feel it is time to relinquish the the cracked and move into a new year with new unblemished and fully functional electronics. This is easier said than done. I tried to activate the new Fitbit. I can charge it. I can wear it (and it will tell me the time and how many steps and stairs I’ve done) but it won’t record my data to my account. It won’t let me add it to my existing account, it won’t let me set up a new account. So frustrating. I broke down and had an online chat with the Fitbit folks. No real help. They suggested that I might need to upgrade my computer with new drivers or update my phone…

Which brings me to the new phone. So far the options are slim to none. I like the service I have. They used to offer you a new phone at a discount. Not anymore. If I want a new phone I’ll have to buy it on the 2 year plan with an added monthly charge on the bill. I stopped by the store but they are woefully devoid of phones. They only had a few that I could try out (but they suggested that I sanitize my hands before and after touching them). If I look online I can let them know which one I want and they can tell me how much it will cost, order it to come in, activate it and transfer all my data and settings.

I’ve been so aggravated that I’m going to wait until the old phone totally dies before getting a new one. I’m continuing to wear the old Fitbit until it stops functioning completely. Yeah. My electronics karma is missing. Or chased off. Or maybe stolen. Whatever the reason it is gone, gone, gone. I’m feeling cracked up but I’m not a crackpot!

Looking at a Sinking Ship

Noah’s Ark took on water
A poorly run enterprise
Panic spread to flightless beasts
But rats were long gone

My retirement started a cascade of disaster at work. We were already one person short. When I left that made 2. A coworker was promoted into my position and still there were 2 vacancies. They hired a person – who quit in 8 weeks to take a better job. They hired another who lasted 5 months before leaving. So still down 2 people. Then they hired a third one. So still down one. Then another person quit followed by a Cage Wash (CW) tech who moved back to his hometown to be near his mother and partner who was having a hip replacement. The other CW tech failed to take the required certification and quit before being fired. So the tally was 4 people short. Then the person that took my position left and another RVT also left. Making the number 6. That is six out of a staff of fifteen. Rumor has it another person is poised to leave because they have been put in CW and feel it is beneath them. Still another is ready to retire and has had it with the lack of managerial support. That would make the staff 7 people (one who is strictly administrative and working from home) to do the work of 15. That will mean that they will be working every other weekend. If anyone takes a vacation or is out sick the work load will be unmanageable. It is looking pretty bleak. As I’ve been apprised of these developments I have tried to maintain an appropriate demeanor of sympathy and concern. I have also been chanting under my breath “not my monkey, not my circus”. The kicker was when the Big Boss contacted me to “Fill in doing compliance, technical training, and to train the new person once they were hired. Oh and teach my class on line.” There is no way I would do it. They do not have enough money to entice me come back. I just don’t have any interest to torture myself. Whether you consider me a mouse or a rat (pretty sure the boss thinks of me as Rattus sp.), I’m smart enough to run away from a sinking ship!

The poem is a dodoitsu. This is a Japanese form that has no rhyme or meter but consists of a single stanza of 4 lines with the syllable count of 7-7-7-5. The subject is either love or work with a comical twist. In this case it is gallows humor…

Looking in the Box

One of my gifts this last Christmas was a set of under the bed shoe storage bins. I already had a storage rack (on wheels) that I’d gotten for free at a garage sale. It was full. My closet was stacked with shoe boxes. I had 7 rows of boxes on the shelf above my clothes that were 5 and 6 boxes high (you do the math). On the floor I had an additional 5 rows of boxes only 3 or 4 high. I was running out of room. To be fair, of all the shoes there were less than 8 pair that I purchased at full price new. Most of my shoes were either clearance, Goodwill (half price to boot), or garage sale finds. So I decided to go through the shoes and transfer them to the nifty storage containers that would hold 18 pair each. I opened box after box. Looking inside I was astonished to discover shoes I had completely forgotten I owned. I also discovered shoes that had seen better days. To that end I bid farewell to many stalwart pairs that had served me well but whose retirement was past due.

♥ I choked back tears as the Croft & Barrow spring green slide sandals went into the trash. The pleather was peeling from the top and the sole was crumbling.
♥ My tried and true Aerosole flats with the waffle soles (and real leather uppers) had parted ways. I had some goop adhesive that I’ve used to repair shoes before but the soles were too far gone to hold. They were tossed.
♥ I lovingly caressed the suede booties and placed them in the discard pile. The zipper pull was broken on one and the other was on its way to breaking. There was no need to prolong our association.
♥ The grey shootie with the buttons (like the Victorian shoes) were sadly a size 6.5 and even with nylons they were uncomfortable. I put them in the “donate” pile.
♥ There were 3 pair of athletic shoes that had been shoes from work that I’d taken home when they had been replaced. Because they’d never been worn outside, they looked like new but I’d had to purchase new innersoles. One pair was ugly. One had the heel cup worn through. And the last pair had a small (but soon to get bigger) hole where my big toe hit the top. They all went into the donate pile.
♥ There was the pair of boy’s sandals that I wore for a summer but abandoned for a better pair the next year. Into the donate pile they went.
♥ There was a pair of maroon velvet slippers that were too big and a pair of black brushed fabric slip-ons that were too small that were marked for donation.
♥ And the most heart wrenching was my everyday booties in black. I debated for a long time, then made a decision to part with them, changed my mind, changed my mind again and finally just dropped them into the donate bag. The heel had worn down past the rubber and into the heel itself making it hard to maintain balance. I could have compensated for that but they also took on water, gravel, snow, and even dirt only to deposit their load across my floor…

I now have room in my closet for all my dresses to hang straight. My winter boots are accessible. All my shoes that see regular use are in the rolling rack under the bed. My summer shoes and dress specific shoes are in the zippered storage (with clear tops all the better to see them). I have a few special pairs on the shelf in the closet (no more than 2 high so Sparky doesn’t need to reach them for me). I loaded the shoes to donate into the car and will drop them off tomorrow at Goodwill. I’ve even promised not to buy anymore shoes unless I get rid of a pair in turn. Oh and those boxes? I was able to break them down and recycle the cardboard. There was lots of cardboard to recycle!

Looking to Diet

Calmkate posted a little challenge on her Friday Fun blog (https://aroused.blog/2021/02/13/friday-fun-diet/) where she asks about our “diet” that is how we feed ourselves. To that end I wrote this little poem about dieting…

I have been on a diet my whole life
When other girls enjoyed birthday cake
I crunched on carrots and celery sticks
My mother told me to avoid candy
Turn down desserts
Never drink alcohol
Don’t even think about snacks
But she never cautioned me about love
I drank you in big gulps
Ate up your sweet words
Begged for second and third helpings
Licked my fingers without remorse
Until you were gone
You never really knew the voracity
With which I loved you
I am back on my diet
Craving only you.

Looking at an Old Love

Here we are the day after St. Valentine’s Day. Sparky and I celebrated by doing a carry out at our traditional restaurant – Taco Bell. What better way to celebrate true love than to stoke the fire in the heart (can you say heartburn?) and to test the bonds of true love by sharing a bed with someone who has eaten several bean burritos? As I get older I marvel at the differences between old love and new love. It seems just yesterday that Sparky and I were saying “I do”. Back then everything was an adventure – from buying groceries to visiting family on holidays. We were in the midst of melding our history and expectations to developing traditions for our own family. New love was at times strange and awkward. Like wearing new shoes that pinched a little at the toe, new love was exciting but not always easy. Now old love is a bit like those house slippers that you’ve worn for 3 decades – there are a few holes and the soles are a bit worn. They aren’t pretty but the trade off is pure comfort. Of course that isn’t how they started.

There really isn’t anything that says true love like being kissed even though your mouth tastes like the bottom of a bird cage. True love sees you as a raving beauty when you are wearing a ratty nightgown and you have bed head. Old love is relaxed and will help you disinfect the kitchen trash can when the liner splits and spills egg shells, tea leaves and potato peels. Yes, true love is refined and tested and becomes that old love that laughs when the burrito makes your gut start to sing whale songs. And that old love laughs even harder when you laugh at their laughter and toot with every laugh… Yeah, old love can laugh and not be horrified or embarrassed with worry that divorce proceeding will be begun on the grounds of “excessive gas”. It saddens me that too many young people never give their new love time to get comfortable. They are trading in those worn slippers just because they splashed a little coffee on one toe…

Looking for the Meaning of Love

What is this thing that twists the mind
Handsome are considered ugly
And the ugly become handsome
The strong become weak and the weak strong
It makes the smart ones stupid and
Stupid ones smart
Loquacious tongues turn silent and
Of course the silent ones become loquacious
Very cowardly souls find bravery and
Even the brave turn into cowards
This thing steals sight from the eye
Or makes the blind see
Youth withers from it’s lack
Older hearts become young again
Under the influence of love

We are in the run up to St. Valentine’s Day and the love sick are still sick and the lovelorn continue to pine. There are the jaded and those who have been jilted still sneering at those who celebrate their love. Yes, even the people who have forsworn love or steadfastly deny that love exists are sneaking a delicious chocolate heart. We idealize the “perfect” mate and often turn away from others who would give us true love to chase after the unobtainable. Love certainly makes people do strange things. And the lack of love makes us even stranger! We are a species that loves to love. Most people love the concept but not the messy reality. The first time your love burps or worse, farts, can break the spell for some folks. What about the love that snores to wake the dead? Or drools on the pillow? What about your “soul mate” who chews loudly, smacks their lips, or licks the plate?? If those were the only vices would you toss them out on their ear? We all know about the battle of toilet seat up or down, the toothpaste squeezed from the middle versus the end, toilet paper under or over, and leaving lights on and cabinet doors open… And yet we keep looking for love. What is love to you?

Looking Warmed

With cold weather I am always looking for something to warm me up. Now that we are into February, I decided to try out a new recipe – Potato Broccoli Soup. I’ve made broccoli cheddar soup and broccoli cauliflower soup before with varying degrees of success. According to Sparky any soup is good soup. I am a bit more critical. I have made broccoli soups that tended to the grainy and thin. Some even seemed curdled. But this one was fabulous! Not only a smooth and creamy texture, but had a good flavor and was thick enough to satisfy. Most importantly it was quick and easy!!
Potato-Broccoli Soup
1 carton (32 oz) Vegetable stock
4 large potatoes – peeled and sliced thinly
2 crowns of broccoli – separated into florets
3 c. milk (I used 2% but it would work with any kind)
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2 of a medium sweet onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare potatoes and broccoli. Heat stock in a large pot and add potatoes. Stir in pepper, salt, onion and garlic. Add broccoli and milk. Add enough water to cover the broccoli. Cover and boil until the potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle cheese on top. Makes 6 – 8 servings depending on the size of the bowls. Start to finish took me about 45 minutes. Most of my time was spent preparing the veggies.
As a note: I’m off to a good start on the goal to make a new main course each month. Sparky thinks that I should ditch my other broccoli soup recipes since this one is so much better!

Looking Catty

He gads about town a sleek tomcat
Stalking the ladies like a madman
Daring all comers to combat
A fighter not a lover we can tell
Only strife and violence he begat
That sorry catamount has no home
Sex a better conversation than love’s chitchat
Feels lust a better dance than love’s cancan
Despising all the comforts due the aristocrat

I love to watch people. Since the pandemic, I haven’t had as may opportunities to indulge. Most people are all about brevity in the places I used to be able to eavesdrop. I suppose that is a good thing but it really puts a crimp in one of my more enjoyable pastimes. That said it was most gratifying to be able to listen in on 2 guys discussing dating. Well, not really dating as I think of dating. They were discussing “hooking up”. Where was I to be able to overhear this conversation? Well I’ll give you a couple clues. I had to get an item that after calling around was only available at a specific family owned mega-store noted for having a less than high class clientele. The employees wear little royal blue vests with yellow trim. In the adds prices are always falling. The males were in the computer area. (As I was searching for the adaptor that Best Buy no longer carries because they are obsolete.) The consensus was that love is overrated and sex without strings attached is the way to go. Of course the one sorry tomcat was advocating one night stands and the other said that affairs with married women were the best because if there was an “accident”, the husband was “on the hook”. Getting a good look at the two of them, I suspicion that this was a completely theoretical discussion since they looked like drowned cats that had been the losers in every catfight they had ever fought. The kicker was when the scragglier one started saying that he had been couch surfing and was running out of places to stay… yikes!

As for the poem, it is a Magic 9. This 9-line poem doesn’t have any rules as far as meter or subject matter. The only requirements are a nine line stanza with a rhyme scheme of abacadaba (which is how my grandmother would chant the “magic words” abracadabra).

Looking Unlucky

The last time we rented a car, Sparky and I ended up with flea bites and had to completely decontaminate our clothes and luggage. It was awful not to mention uncomfortable. We swore that we’d never rent a car from that company ever again – even with the paltry $100 in coupons good toward our next (never going to happen) rental. The plan for the vacation to Florida was to rent a car that was a little bigger than my Prius C or his Honda Fit. We had hoped to get a Honda RAV4 or maybe a Subaru Forester. We reserved a vehicle. All was going as planned. The rental company contacted us to see if we could pick up the car earlier than we had planned and it was completely doable. I drove Sparky to the airport and dropped him off at the rental desk and headed home.

He drove the car back home on a Saturday late afternoon and upon entering the house his first words were, “You are not going to be happy.” His second announcement was that the rental company had given us a “free” upgrade to a Chevy Impala. By then I was looking at him with a foreboding in my heart. The tale of woe unfolded. He was given the key, signed papers and they pointed him out the door. By the time he walked from the door to the parking area and realized there was a problem, the rental desk was closed, dark and not a soul to be found. He drove the car home with the window down in below freezing temperatures because the car stunk of cigarette smoke. He was very unhappy. He mentioned that maybe I should check it out as it might be that he’s overly sensitive to smoke. Just to be clear, he cannot smell a natural gas leak. His sense of smell is deficient when it comes to most cooking odors. He asks me to sniff milk cartons and lunchmeat since he can’t detect if they’ve gone bad. So I went to the rental and opened the door. It reeked in a gagging, struggling for breath, turning green kind of way. He tried to call the rental company at the airport. No answer. He called the corporate number. He had some difficulty making it clear what the problem was. The response from corporate was that “The employees responsible would be harshly reprimanded.” We really didn’t care about their internal amercement policy, we just wanted to know how we could get a different, non-stinky car. The bottom line was the car was the car and we were stuck. We put the car in the garage and left the windows down over night in hopes we could air it out. Fat chance.

We drove from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM the first day and 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM the second day. We both had headaches. I had to wash my hair before I could go to bed to get the stench out. Our coats and clothes smelled of smoke. Going back was just as bad. At least during the quarantine I managed to was all our clothes, Febreeze the daylights out of the suitcases, air out the coats, and freshen the backpacks and geobags. They made the mistake of sending us a customer satisfaction survey. Needless to say I had a strongly worded review. That makes 2 car rental companies that are off the list.