Category Archives: Life and Times

It Could Get Cra-zy Up There

One of my favorite website is COLOSSAL. It’s about art, design, and just a lot of interesting stuff. I ran across something that should be of interest to many of us aging book types:

stairs-1

In Japan the houses are small, and the country being prone to earthquakes makes this slanted, climbable bookcase the center of the home. Even in a good shake, the books stay put.

I see problems.

I’m going to be 60 this year and I really don’t want to climb to the top of the bookcase to fetch my favorite copy of Little Women my husband gave me decades ago. My question would be, is Louisa May worth the risk of a broken hip? Put it on a lower shelf you say. That’s a great idea, but if you buy enough books, eventually, you’ll have to get off the ground.

Have someone else do it. Good, good. The problem is that someone else would wind up being a grandchild. Those of you who have had a climber know that this is a bad, bad example to set for them. We have a grandson who could go either way at this point so I know I don’t want to try and explain to him how shinnying up the bookcase to get Grandma’s pretty blue book is different from shinnying up there and swinging from shelf to shelf like a monkey. Or better yet, playing tag on the shelves with a like-minded friend.

Here’s another picture of the house with this bookcase:

stairs-6

The bookcase is not the only recreational feature of this house. I am guessing the lower room is the kitchen and the seating upstairs is for contemplation and work-from-home space. All I see is Olympic-level pancake flipping from the lower to the upper level. Or, shaking the soda bottle hard enough to see if you can hit a glass on the upper counter.

I’m sure there are a thousand and one more activities that could be devised with this configuration.

Maybe my family is out of whack, but I only see built-in challenges to kids and teens, and lots of visits to the emergency room with these features.

In reality, this is an interesting take on how architecture can evolve to meet challenges of the environment. Read about it HERE.

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Placeholder Vet

Veteran’s Day was Saturday and there was the usual acknowledgement in Church  Sunday morning. I didn’t stand this year. I’ve made myself stand for the last few years, but not Sunday. I was glad to see several more women standing and I suppose out of solidarity I should have stood. I’m always conflicted about my service. It’s my own weird sort of Stolen Valor Syndrome.

The military services became all volunteer in 1973. With the draft eliminated, the military was less free to turn away candidates. I think the real thought was that if we didn’t maintain a huge standing Army, there would be less need for one. Too bad evil doesn’t think like that. Anyway, Viet Nam was winding down and the country was weary so the military wound down as well. I went to basic training in January of 1977. One day after Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president.

I spent nine weeks in Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonia, Texas. Then went, by school bus, to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas. Yes, I managed to hit all the garden spots of Texas in winter. My first experience with Class 100 tornadoes was at Sheppard. I hate tornadoes.  After a bout of German Measles that put me in the hospital and put me back five days in my training, I went to Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho. There I schlepped tools and training records for the rest of my “tour.” I left the service the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in.

There were no hot spots, emergencies, insurgencies, no “cies” at all during my four-year tour of duty. We practiced in what was called “mobility training.” We all had to have our bags ready to go if all hell broke loose somewhere outside the U. S. I did have dog tags to identify my body if the worst happened.  But, all I really did was maintain a place for the next person to come along and serve. And, ideally, that’s what you want. Just keep the lights on and wheels greased, just in case.

People did die in covert military actions during my four years but not  in in “battle.” Overtly, things were quiet. We know there are covert activities because there are always covert operations being planned, executed and mopped up, no matter how peaceful it may look on the news.

This is my struggle. Saying I was in the Air Force, served one four-year TOD, and that I worked in Wing Training is disappointing for the hearer. Wing Training doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as Forward Operating Forces, or munitions. And, it’s not.

“So, you pushed paper.” Yup, that’s what I did. I helped to keep the clattery operation clattering along by scheduling people in fire suppression, small arms, and various duty-specific classes. I stood guard over freedom by  entering it all key-by-key in a pre-internet computer system that ran on punch cards, daisy wheel printers, and miles of continuous-feed computer paper. I kept the bureaucracy humming along to keep you safe.  All the offers of, “Thank you for your service,” are rather sad. They read like compliments to someone at the DMV for not making a hash of your license renewal. So, I sat this year.

Oh, and if you read last week’s screed on Amazon taking it’s sweet time getting me my paint sprayer, it finally came LAST NIGHT. Fat lot of good it did my at midnight. Bill tinkered with it and even read the owner’s manual. I think they walked it over after my complaint. Amazon, Google, Face Book, and Twitter. GAFT the Overlord has a nice ring to it.

It’s a Brave New Amazonian World

No, we’re not doing this kind of painting, but isn’t this neat? And odd. (Gizmondo.com.au)

So, Tuesday I ordered a simple, hand-held paint sprayer. Nothing fancy or elegant, but serviceable and in keeping with our station in life. I, of course, ordered it from Amazon because … you know. Anyway, it was supposed to be delivered to an Amazon Locker yesterday. My husband would pick it up on the way home from work in the wee hours of the morning so we could begin the mistification of paint early this morning.

Not happening. If you haven’t heard, Amazon has decided to start it’s own, in-house delivery system. For nearly two decades UPS has been bringing my Amazon stuff and I was happy. There was that one Big Bang Theory DVD that got crushed in the teeth of a conveyor belt and UPS sent it along anyway, but I called Amazon, they sent a new one, relationship reestablished. Nary a hitch since.

I love a mystery so I have been clicking and checking all the info on my order. Here’s what I know: if you’re part of the brave new Amazonian experiment, you will see the code, AMZL US in the tracking code for your order. From all the reviews I’ve read, particularly on Reddit, beware.

All this is annoying because there is a gargantuan Amazon warehouse within spitting distance of the locker. (Disclaimer: Put down the hand sanitizer for there is no actual spitting involved.This is not a measurement recognized by the U. S. Weights and Measures types, but a dated expression that means close by.)

I’m betting if some enterprising troop were to fire up a delivery drone, the engine wouldn’t even get warmed up whizzing it over to said locker.

Photo of the new Amazon delivery fleet courtesy of WIKI COMMONS

So, I wait. If this is the direction that Amazon is going with customer service, I’m rethinking my dependence on them. Meanwhile, if you see this guy out and about, send him my way. Please.

Not so bad after all

 

We were watching Storage Wars the other day. Lots of odd topics come up in the course of a show like that.

MOM: You just know that one smells to high heaven.

ME: Yeah, it was the last load and everything got chucked in in a hurry. And then mice got into everything.

You  know that smell, the scent of human sadness.

♠♣♥♦

There was supposed to be a graphic of a storage unit spilling out its pitiable contents and the last line was supposed to be the pithy end of this post.

The VAST majority of photos available are either rusted scrape metal and outdoor junk, or tidy units that don’t serve my purpose at all. *sigh* Maybe the human race isn’t as sad as I thought!

Here’s nice summer pic instead:

Have a good one, people!

Regrets, I Have a Few

The 4th of July is a happy holiday. Picnics and fireworks. My life has been such that I haven’t noticed holidays much. It may change soon, it may not.

Anyway, the 4th is one of those days that has many meanings to many people. To me it’s about freedom and that always leads me to thinking of those who make it possible. I was in the Air Force from January 1977 to January 1981. Me and Jimmy Carter were serving together. My one regret in life is that I didn’t stay in for 20 or more years.

I’m not much on the big regrets. Hurting someone with my imprudent tongue is a biggie, but other than that, there aren’t many things to wish were different.

For those of you who served, thank you. For those serving now, my prayers for you and your families. For those who will serve in the future, you will be doing a great and noble thing.

Photo from the Gary Sinise Foundation. Support if you can.

 

 

Learning Curves

and Earning Curves.

Curves2 About a month ago, I decided that eating right and losing weight wasn’t enough to make me healthy, so I started doing something I haven’t done in at least twenty-five years.

I started working out regularly. Five days a week. Yes, you read that right. Robin, the queen of avoiding exercise, is paying to work out.Curves3

That’s one of my cute little coaches checking out my progress at the laptop. (Curves has machines that spy on you and report back to the coaches. Very 1984.) I want to look like her. Can they make me lose about forty years?

My workouts take between 45 and 50 minutes and consist of 30 seconds on each machine, 30 seconds of aerobic motion between machines, and stretches. I do the entire circle twice, and all the major muscle groups are involved. The final machine tells me my workout is over by flashing “END.” How’s that for propping up a weak short-term memory?

CurvesHere are my results from Thursday. Green dots are great, yellow dots are okay but not great, and red dots are BAD. (Sort of like the colors on traffic lights, but I digress.)

And now for the life lessons.

  1. I have to pay for workouts to be properly motivated to do them. It’s just like everything else. We don’t usually fully appreciate anything that has cost us nothing.
  2. Most of the time, lack of progress is my own fault. My first two weeks of working out, I made very little headway. I wasn’t sore afterwards, and I didn’t sweat. At first, I thought the machines were too easy, but then I realized maybe, just maybe, the problem was me. I started pushing harder for range of motion and more reps. Guess what? I had no trouble working up a sweat, and I was plenty sore. It wasn’t the machines. IT WAS ME. Just like in every other aspect of life, when I have a difficulty, I should examine myself first.
  3. The harder I work, the more I achieve. Though music is my strongest intelligence, I didn’t learn to play the piano really well until I began to practice regularly. (Props to Austen’s Lady Catherine on this one. She was right.) I don’t succeed at anything without putting effort into it.
  4. Sometimes, good intentions aren’t enough. I thought I was doing everything right at Curves, but all my muscle groups weren’t sore. My abdomen wasn’t sore at all. I started paying more attention to the muscles which were supposed to be worked at specific machines. I isolated them and focused on using them, adjusting my body until I felt them. Guess what? It worked. My sore abdomen can attest to it.
  5. Don’t jump to conclusions. A few days ago, I noticed a lump on my arm and nearly freaked out, thinking it was a tumor. Then I realized it was a muscle! I hadn’t seen a defined muscle anywhere on my body in years. I’m flexing now!

Here’s some encouragement for you, lovely readers. Set your goals and go for them.

You can do it!

Soul Corrosion

Sunday my husband and I stopped to make a purchase before delivering Easter baskets to our grandchildren. We came out to the car and I could hear a woman screaming obscenities. She was on the sidewalk we’d just left. I assumed the usual don’t look, don’t engage posture I learned living in the badbadbad part of Portland many years ago. I opened the truck door and got in only to lock eyes with the woman standing about 15 feet from me. She screamed at me, spit at me, and then swung her coat in anger and started stalking away. After a few steps she turned and spit again and then left. We watched her cross the parking lot into an empty field across from the store.

Homelessness and mental illness were obvious. It was a sad to see a person so corroded by a harsh life. Especially on Resurrection Day.

Fast forward to this morning.

Saturday I was kneecapped by a couple of family members. (Metaphorically. Not that we are such a high-class bunch, but there was no physical violence.) I live with one of the people and had tried to think rationally and keep my powder dry on this. Particularly since this person is in the early stages of dementia. (We are one step away from being that commercial where the guy’s father forgets how to brush his teeth.)

Anyway, today was the day to try and work things out. The person will not even acknowledge the actions of Saturday, and brought up a topic that she circles whenever things get tense.

And then she said, “And you’re always bragging about your writing.”

HA! Again I say, HA!

My writing career is pretty much a dried up husk. I published two books a million years ago and she thinks because I come upstairs to get some time alone to think, I’m bragging.   I can feel the corrosion of my soul in the midst of this. Pretty soon, my soul will look just like my writing career. Or the lady screaming and spitting in the parking lot.

My point in all this is to ask, do you go for the knees when you’re arguing? My natural tendency is to try and hit a clever, snotty tone without looking cheap and low-class. Most of the time I can’t accomplish that so just walk away from confrontation.

What do you do when goaded?

BTB, I acted like a jerk and screamed at this person in my home. But only after she screamed at me. Yeah, that’s no justification. I think I need one of these:

Image courtesy of imgarcade.com