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Thursday
Feb232017

Life's Options in an Unreal World

I don’t know what got me thinking about this the other day but, do you ever wonder what certain people do when they are not doing what they’re more or less known for doing?  There is this picture in my mind of Queen Elizabeth playing in a Scrabble competition with a cold bottle of Guinness in her hand waiting for her turn where she’s gonna lay down her tiles, spelling out the name of the national bird of Guatemala thereby bringing her in almost four hundred points.  Oh, by the way, the bird’s name is Quetzal and she was even able to make it plural. Way to go Queen!!!
In our Survivalist series – this is what actually got me thinking along these lines – I can see General Ishmael Varakov, Supreme Commander of the North American Army of Occupation of the Soviet, a large, rather intimidating old soldier who many times controlled the lives and the deaths of those under him. Slowly he is lowering his great bulk onto the floor of his open office located in the Chicago’s Field Museum, playing with a kitten with his beloved Catherine by his side.
Along the same path, I could see Natalia’s ex-husband, KGB Major Vladmir Karamatsov, playing with that same kitten, a pretty ribbon around its neck being pulled ever so slowly, tighter and tighter, watching the little creature fight back until too exhausted, and then listening to its pathetic little mews as it slowly  dies. I guess I can’t imagine Karamatsov in any other type of universe.  Natalia, on the other hand, would put up her guns and Bali-Song knife and enroll in cooking classes and learn how to make pottery; maybe she would take a tumble at square dancing. Don’t worry though; she would still have her COP pistol tucked in her boot.
Fanny Mulrooney from The Takers would have liked to do something ordinary beside chasing zombies and devil worshipers and listening to grave site recordings but she’s too busy tracking down her other lipstick lost in the bowels of her oversized black handbag.
 Hank Frost from The Call Me the Mercenary would be taking his girl, Bess, out for dinner and dancing except one of his good, size 12 D Florsheim shoes got chewed up by the wood chipper the bad guys were throwing him into before he was able to get away by running through the swamp.  I won’t tell you what happened to his other shoe except that the alligator mistook it for its baby brother. 
All kidding aside, what would you be doing in your alternate universe?  Would the real you come to the surface or are you what you want to be, even in your fantasies?  Does a seafarer dream of sailing among the stars? Do adventure writers grow up to be cowboys?
Sharon

 

Monday
Jan232017

 FRIENDS

Some blogs back and again on Facebook, I’ve mentioned a few of our friends, such as the Spanish voice actor who settled in the States and scared the crap out of us doing his Dracula impersonation while we drove down a dark, deserted country road and another friend, who cut off part of Jerry’s ear while giving him a haircut. These people were unique and we couldn’t have come up with anyone nearly as much fun in the world of fiction.  I wish to add James to our list of friends from the past.

James had been an encyclopedia salesman before leaving France.  He would tell us about his adventures crossing the Alps during winter storms and I’ll have to admit, some of his driving advice paid off when traversing over the snow and ice covered roads during Chicago Winters. He decided to settle in the Midwest and further his education although his mastery of spoken English left much to be misunderstood.  Standing at about six foot six and skinny as a stick, James fell in love with and eventually married a woman who worked for one of the major newspapers in town.  She was the stereotypical American girl, blond and lanky, voicing an opinion on everything topical, and he with his very pronounced accent and his clothing preference of bell bottom pants and striped, knit shirts making him a poster boy for all things French.

We, along with some other friends, were asked to help them move out of their North Side apartment.  Being the only punctual ones in the group, we were there in time to help with any remaining packing that was needed.  I helped Fran empty her closet and throw her clothing into plastic bags and empty out the dresser drawers while Jerry helped her husband take down artwork and curtains from the many long windows adorning the apartment’s walls. I remember Fran shouting to me from the bathroom to find her diaphragm and what went with it and stick it in her purse since she’d be needing it that night.  Never having seen one but too embarrassed to mention it, I spotted something in a small case that I didn’t recognize amid the mess of dresser memorabilia I had just removed.  I grabbed the case and dropped it into her purse. I don’t know what happened that night and I never asked.

The rooms were large, oak floors and high ceilings; a beautiful place but too expensive for them at that time. They had an enormous oriental area rug in the living room which we rolled up and intended to lug down the three flights of stairs and out to the waiting truck.  The rug was heavy and bulky and the very thought of making it down those winding stairs caused us to pause for a bit and rethink the situation  One of us, I don’t remember exactly who, turned their eyes towards the open window in the living room. The rest of us followed suit. Light bulbs exploded over our heads.

 It was like pushing a sausage through the eye of a needle but finally, enough of its weight hung over the ledge and gravity took over, sending that rug down towards the ground and smashing into an elaborate flowerbed then bouncing onto the windshield of a parked car.  James and two other men ran down to the courtyard and pulled the rug off the miraculously unbroken windshield and, with adrenalin driven superhuman strength, they carried the rug to the truck and threw it in. No one reported the incident.  James and his wife got their security deposit back and their area rug they discovered was unfortunately too large to fit in their next apartment; they left it by their new apartment’s dumpster.

We were the next couple to move.  We didn’t have much furniture but did have hundreds of books which I, of course, packed in as few boxes as possible.  Our transition was from a modern apartment building with an elevator to a brick four-story apartment with lots of stairs.  After getting most of the boxes up the stairs, James stood on the landing, perspiration running down his face, soaking his striped shirt, hugging a particularly large box to his chest.  He spoke words of truth when he exclaimed “Ceci est lourd!” as the bottom of the box gave way and the books tumbled out onto the stairs and to the landing below.  Fran unnecessarily translated to us the fact that he found the box to be heavy.  That night we all got more than a little drunk but felt we deserved it.

Sharon

Thursday
Dec152016

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

Jerry has been gone for a few years now; his last Christmas with us was in 2011.  Since then there have been a few notable changes to our Christmas festivities.  The grandkids are older, and the frenzied ripping of wrapping paper and the subsequent throwing of same has toned down a bit and toys for the most part have been replaced with electronics and gift cards.  Our big sit-down dinner has become a more relaxed affair and timing has become more dictated by the comings and goings of various members’ complicated schedules.  Still, I appreciate that we can still get together and share family time.
Neither Jerry nor I were born to rich parents.  Both our families were able to provide us with life’s necessities but many times there was not a lot of money left over for nonessentials.  This was not uncommon in the early 1950s so we were definitely not alone and did not feel slighted by either the big guy in red or by our parents. We might not have gotten a lot for Christmas  but we knew that Santa had dropped by, finished off the milk and cookies, left a few things and, that was what was important.  

Growing up (well sort of) and having children of our own was a wonderful experience, especially during the Christmas season.  Hunting for the perfect tree or the one we felt most sorry for usually turned into an all day affair tramping through the snow in the frigid wastelands of suburban Chicago.  We moved to Georgia and the kids grew up in an old steamboat gothic house with twelve foot ceilings and a wide, open foyer.  Once the tree was cut down from a nearby tree farm, pulled through the front door and we stood it up, our perfect tree usually had to have a few feet whittled off, and then, of course, the entire bottom had to be sculpted and trimmed down.  For some reason, when we'd erect it once more, we would realize that the trunk was swayback and the top was not even close to pointing in an upwards direction.  Jerry would solve this problem by tying a rope to the top and securing it to the tongue in groove pine ceiling with nails.  Once the ornaments were all on you could barely see the rope hidden behind the angel or star.  This system worked well except for the few times it didn’t, thanks to tree climbing cats or tail swishing dogs.

Christmas morning, the kids would wait at the top of the stairs until given the signal to come on down.  This was so we could have Grandma and Grandpa comfortably seated at a safe distance and all adults were fortified with a hot cup of caffeine.   We tried to have plenty for the kids to unwrap; we would wrap candy bars individually, anything to prolong the fun.  Many times,  after the kids had finished unwrapping their stuff, Jerry and I would still be at it.  He would gift me with an abundance of dish towels, each wrapped separately, of course.  Serving spoons of various colors and sizes each came in their own package.  The children and I always got back at him by wrapping a dozen socks into twenty-four little packages along with anything else we could divide up.

The gifts themselves were never as important as the fun we had giving them to each other and just enjoying being a family, albeit maybe not entirely sane but... 

 

Sharon

Thursday
Nov102016

THE END OF DAYS OR A FRESH START

The Cubs win the World Series and Donald Trump becomes our next president.  If we believe that all things happen in 3s, I can't even imagine what will happen next unless UFOs suddenly land on the Mall in Washington DC and a giant tin man named Gort comes out followed by a humanoid who looks surprisingly like movie actor, Michael Rennie.  If this happens, I'll try and remember those famous words, "Klaatu barada nikto."

All kidding aside, we've had our share of excitement, for some of us good and for some of us not so good.  Now it's time for us here in the States to buckle down and get back to work.  We need to work hard to bring this country together. You notice that I didn't say back together.  We never have and never will all agree on anything and that's ok. I know that we all have our differences but we need to remember that we also have a lot of common ground.  We all want what is good for the country and to continue being blessed with its vast resources.  And, if we're not happy with the way those resources are parceled out, we have the opportunity to use our vote to voice our opinion.

The news media and the entertainers who we financially support to entertain us, not to give us their political opinions, have caused more trouble than they are collectively worth.  If a few singers and actors want to leave us and call another country their home, let them.  They may come to realize that other places have such things as immigration laws which may be a lot stiffer than ours.  Who knows, maybe they'll be rejected!  They might want to look at tax laws as well.  Maybe this is not such as bad place to live in after all!

We've had a few days to gnash our teeth or gloat.  Let's move on.  The world isn't going to end, at least I hope not, but why waste part of our relatively short existence on this planet fighting each other.  I'm not naive enough to say something like "lets all work together" but you get my point.  Let's try to stop attacking each other and instead try to respect each other's differences.  If you've got a gripe, talk about it, complain to someone who can do something about it.  Throwing tantrums and rioting will get you nowhere.  Act like adults!

This country and its laws are for all its citizens, regardless of race, creed or political beliefs, and yet we're all aware that inequality exists.  Whoever said that Life is fair lied.  But rather than passing more legislation that will be ignored by those who disagree, why not look within ourselves to perhaps see each other's point of view and think about it rather than react to it.  We all learned in Biology class that even one-cell organisms react to most stimuli without the ability to think..  Having a few more cells and a brain, I hope we can do better.

Let us open Channel D and sing Hallelujah!

Sharon

 

 

Wednesday
Nov022016

ELECTION YEAR 2016

Ahh, the mysteries that will be solved during the merry month of November are many.  We will know shortly if the Cubs will take the World Series, a life-time dream for many of us. By Thanksgiving morning, we will receive a rough count on how many friends and relatives will be showing up around our dinner table. And, based on who actually shows up, we can only guess as to how many arguments will erupt over the outcome of this year's election.
This has been a very rough election year for all of us in the US.  Conspiracies, allegations of wrong doings, attacks on family members and spiteful “he said, she saids,” that we wouldn’t have allowed our own children to say about one another, run like a raging river of muck throughout our daily news outlets.  Do any of us really care anymore?
Regardless of who wins the big race, little will really dramatically change.  The President is still bound by the checks and balances our forefathers wisely incorporated into our Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
The House originates and sets the wording of bills that, after their membership gives their approval, are then sent over to the Senate.  In other words, they're the money makers.The House is set up to represent the people in their home state based on population.  The Senate, on the other hand, is there to advise the President and approve or disapprove his or her appointments and foreign treaties and to follow through with bills sent from the House.  The Senate also has the sole power to try all impeachments.
Those elected to the House of Representatives have only two years to get their work done before their jobs are up for re-evaluation by the people who sent them there.  If we aren’t happy with the way we are being represented, we can vote them out and replace them with those more to our liking.  Senators are voted in for a term of six years with one-third of the terms up every two years so your vote is a much longer investment in this candidate.  Remember that each state, no matter how large or small, gets just two of these public servants. 
The President can appoint a judge to the Supreme Court but must have the approval of two thirds of the Senate.  We get to vote on our local judge,s so as long as we do our part, we have control.  If, for some reason a local judge gets out of hand and does some unjudgely stuff, many areas of our country have Judicial Qualifications Commissions that can take them aside and explain to them to either get their act together or leave the bench before they get themselves in bigger trouble with the law.
Now having said all this, I realize that we don't live in a perfect society where laws are kept and those who represent us stay true to their promises, but our ancestors didn't come here to create a nation controlled by professional politicians either.  If that were the case, it would have been a lot simpler to continue to live under foreign rule.
We have learned that we can't count on those who we elect to always do the right thing.  We can't count on them to do their job, which is to represent the people who put them in power.   We can't count on them to place our needs above their own political and power/money-driven agenda.  The only thing we can count on is something we should have been doing all along.  Instead of relying on others to take care of our families, control our health care and education and to spend our money we need to take upon those jobs ourselves.
Occasionally we screw-up big time like our choices in the primary elections earlier this year.  We have nobody to blame since we went out and voted for our candidates to run as our choice in both federal, state and local elections, although in some cases, especially at the federal level, the pickings were not too spectacular. Sometimes we vote on local issues and amendments with no clear idea about what is at stake and assume that if it's on the ballot it must be good so, we vote YES.  Maybe you did the right thing this time, but it could be you just voted to lessen the power of your local government and gave control of your child's schools to politically appointed groups outside your community.
Many of us are uncertain of the outcome of the Presidential race and what will happen after the election.  Hopefully those checks and balances will hold and nothing too disastrous will happen; regardless who wins we certainly will need them.  While we're waiting for the next election lets try to keep informed and work out issues closer to home and to find those among us who might be intelligent, honest and willing to serve the will of the people and not the whim.
Sharon