Conspired & Expired

Someone once said about the wilderness that everything in nature was trying to kill you.

Another someone said that it isn’t paranoia if everyone really is out to get you

Well, readers…I am where those two potentials intersect. I’m going to leave you to look up sources yourself, because I have a short tale to tell.

For years, my dad has – as is his way – quietly espoused the virtues of soup. More recently, the Silver Fox has hijacked that same bandwagon – as is more his way.

The other week, The Fox and I bellied up at Tanner Creek for a dinner and some drinks. His – and potentially my one day – neighbor and I ordered the radicchio and apple salad, which we both love. The Fox opted for…soup. He does this occasionally, he likes soup.

Fine.

I can take that low key degree. He’s no soupaholic after all. But just before his soup arrives, the chef comes out and says hi to us. We’re all three chummy with her, so we expect a drop-in if she’s working.

Cookie: Did they tell you about the special?!?

She’s glowing – which as a newly in love person, isn’t big news. This night, however, it’s because said special is a soup.

The Silver Fox is beside himself. Losing more marbles over this disclosure than I thought he had remaining in inventory. Immediately, he orders it.

Me: You ordered the other soup, are you switching?

Him: No, I’m ordering a second serving!

I could see he was shocked I would seemingly suggest two were too many soups.

Him: I don’t care. I love soup!

Yeah, yeah…a septuagenarian right of passage, it seems. Although, one he seems perfectly willing to pretend has been a constant in our dining out universe.

It hadn’t.

Cookie: Our soup of the day is gaslight.

Not to be outdone, mom and dad show up a few days later on the calendar for lunch. They have cleaned grandpa’s “non-perishables” out of his cabinets. I notice because when I climb in the back seat, there’s a ripped paper bag still trying to be full of canned goods sitting next to me.

After commenting on the condition of the bag, knowing the embarrassment of paper bags at grandpa’s and wondering why someone wouldn’t double-bag canned goods, they are proffered to me: the favorite child and also the least likely to take an interest in my own sustenance.

I demur, despite the box of Kraft’s finest nestled into the pulpy gash.

After lunch, they take it up again. This time, I feel it’s my responsibility to teach them the consequences of being too polite. No part of me thinks they thought it mentioned “Hey, let’s bag this shit up for the oldest disappointment boy!”

So when they insisted, I decamped the backseat and too the bag. I looked positively homeless or hapless walking into my building with this bag of canned goods cradled in my arms like a stolen child.

Later that night, when I unpacked the bounty, I felt guilty and sent this text to mom.

Yeah, I’d taken a bag of soup out of my dad’s backseat.

The guilt!

Of course, that passed the next day when I made the purloined Mac & Cheese…

November of 2017?!?

Turns out that was a box of Kraft Karma & Cheese!

I’m not complaining, I figure this event has two benefits:

First, balance. As much as the older generations cling to their passion for all things slurpy, I reach back to my Mac & Chz like Linus and his blanket.

Second…resilience. My toddler-in-college diet hasn’t killed me yet and 5+ year old Mac & Cheese didn’t manage the task. For all I know, this is what kept grandpa going until just weeks shy of his 100th. Obviously, I’m not done suffering meant to be here. I’d like to see a cockroach do as well against that aged box as I did. It would die before ever getting it opened…and I ate the whole damned yellow-dye-#7-including thing in one sitting.

Come at me, karma!

Please?

I shouldn’t tempt fate or beg…you just know that means I’m going out Elvis-style – sans drugs, of course! I’m a good boy.

…and since I’ve mentioned all of that, I may as well tell you that I’m 40% of eating my way through those soup cans! With my dad and The Fox as role models…I never stood a chance against them!

Conspired & Expired

Touched…Appropriately

As I mentioned in my last post, another year of my life recently expired. I believe I may have also mentioned that January has been a crap month.

Where. To. Start…

Let’s see, for those members of the TL/DR club who don’t get the above references or click on the links: my car, Angela, spent a week in the shop getting a surprise two-day repair completed. A week. The repair was $2500 and the extra time in the shop cost me another $1500 in driving income. Additionally, I forked over several thousand dollars to Multnomah County for unpaid business taxes that I was unaware TurboTax did not file. Note to self: start a GoFundMe.

In the middle of all of that, my grandfather died. We’re saying he pulled a Betty White, kicking it just seven weeks shy of his 100th. In my mind, I’m choosing to believe he either A) likes older women and wanted to keep his afterlife opportunities with Betty open; or, B) was taking a shot at teaching his family one final life lesson about getting our hopes up since I think we were all looking more forward to him becoming a centurian than he was. Either way, well played, gramps.

He died on the ninth and my birthday was on the twenty-first. We buried him on the twentieth.

You know where this is going…

When the year starts off like a twisted version of a John Hughes movie plot, it can’t be a good harbinger. Is this the theme for the coming year…Sixteen Fifty-four Candles?

If that’s the case, then this year better end up with something like this

Sidebar: The burial was pretty sweet for as fucked up a thing as death is. Back in the 70s, in a fit of post-divorce adulting, grandpa bought two cemetery plots – one for him and the other for his mother. Well, in ‘74, his older brother passed himself away committed suicide and grandpa gave up his plot for him since his wife and kids basically disowned him after that final act. His thought was that he’d pick up a neighboring third plot at some point and they’d all lay there together until the next asteroid. Well, after his mom died in ‘7…8? – maybe ‘76, I’ll lean on that old memory trope as a scapegoat – he pretty much forgot* to do it. So my dad and uncle decided to have grandpa cremated and then buried over his mother’s grave. Aaaaw. Now the three are together, almost as planned.

It’s a good thing he was cremated, too, because in a fit of communication breakdown between my sister and I, we listed several of grandpa’s non-epic-mid-century furnishings for free online – don’t worry, we’re selling/trying to sell the epic stuff. Sis took CraigsList and I went to Facebook Marketpkace. The breakdown came in regards to grandpa’s bed. When sis said to list it for free, I assumed she meant with the mattress, since the other two bedroom sets were similarly listed.

Wrong.

The spare room beds were used for days each year, while grandpa’s bed was used daily a lot more. But I listed it as a headboard, frame and mattress…and someone was happy to take it for the low, low price of $0.

Lesbian someones.

They picked it up one day before the rest of the crew arrived. When the fam eventually did arrive, I tried to steer them into grandpa’s bedroom for a nice surprise. When they didn’t bite, I told them. My sister went and looked – I don’t think she didn’t believe me, but it was still funny that she chose then to go down the hall.

Sis: Where’s the mattresses, did you move them to the garage?

Me: (laughing) No…they took them.

Sis: They did?!? Chris! Why did you let them have them? They were so old and gross.

Me: <cough, cough> Things grandpa’s last date said! <cough>

It was then that I told her that the takers were lesbians.

It may help to know that for a couple decades, I openly referred to my grandfather as The Grand Dragon for his backwards thoughts on minorities. While everyone else in the family seemed content to write that off as “the way he was raised” I couldn’t. Especially after coming out myself – something I feel the need to state as fact since there’s almost literally no evidence at all to support it aside from a moderate and only randomly occurring lisp. I wasn’t convinced he would change, but I wasn’t going to give bad behavior my tacit approval by granting him my presence. Lo and behold, the man shut up. I have to credit him with that, whatever prompted the change in behavior.

Me: Good thing we had grandpa cremated, because if we hadn’t, you know he’d be spinning in his grave right now!

Mom: (out of nowhere) Christopher!

Damned Mom Ears.

Ok, back to me!

My family didn’t go full Sixteen Candles on me – probably because I mentioned the fact that this timing was drawing potential attention away from me, but since it wasn’t a big birthday, that was…ok. My sister suggested she and her hubster take me out for drinks after we put grandpa in a hole the service and that I should invite the Silver Fox – yes, that’s what my family calls him, too.

Then they showed up to the service with my mom and dad in tow. Apparently, dad wasn’t feeling super the morning of the burial, so they came together. Fortunately, he rallied and we all went for drinks after, with The Fox meeting us.

That’s plenty for me. I joke about wanting attention. It’s only a joke. Let’s not remind me of what my traitorous mirrors refuse to let me forget.

But my sister being the nurturer that she is, brought me a lil something to commemorate the occasion

Plus a couple of beers from a local brewery where she lives – but photo evidence of that is not available for whatever reason. Now, it would help to know that she put on her Hints From Heloise hat during our vacation after seeing the white paint scarring my Angela’s bumper – she’d been attacked by one of the posts in the Silver Fox’s parking garage. Unbeknownst to her, I had listened to her and gotten the Magic Erasers as she had recommended. They worked great…and then I apparently forgot (see above) to mention it to her, so now you’re up to date.

On top of that, and either because of the timing of my birthday and grandpa’s service or just because he’s awesome, The Fox had enlisted Diezel’s help in a Sunday night dinner to celebrate my birthday. They took me to Farmhouse Kitchen – which was highly recommended by another blogger Dr Maria – and we filled up on ridiculously good Thai food. And drinks, of course, who’s style made me wonder if this restaurant chainlet was owned by a K-Pop group.

I mean, seriously…a drink in a disco ball glass. But it was amazing. I just tried to not think about the poor bastard who has to wash these glasses! And just take in what you can see of the decor in the background…I told you it looked like a tax shelter for a K-Pop band!

Plus, cake!

Obviously, I’m well cared for by my friends and family. And remember from the above- referenced post that I was too busy with family stuff and driving that I didn’t have the bandwidth to check in on the birthday goings-on on the FB, which I felt bad about. Turns out, there was no need for guilt as I’d forgotten that I’d made my birthday private sometime during the pandemic…if you’ll allow me to lean on the old brain trope once more. Last time. I promise. Today.

Despite hiding my birthday on social media, I still got several calls from friends and former colleagues – that I ignored, because how dare they! – and texts from acquaintances. Not to mention this lil package that showed up late one night last weekend.

It was from The Kids. At first I thought it was just some cute Christmas treats, but then opened the card. It was a Sorry For Your Loss card and just said the sweetest things. Made me all mushy inside. They’d also included a very flat, very smooth stone that they suggested I rub my worries out on (don’t go there, Diezel) and a $20 to have a couple of drinks on them.

Can you fucking believe it? I was certainly surprised.

So much for the pity party I had planned to throw myself. Fucking awesome friends…where do they get off? The gall!

Now, I feel like I should do something to live up to the attention I’ve had heaped upon me…maybe some Xtopher New Year resolutions – yes, I have my own New Years. Hmmm…I’ll have to think on that.

*Side-sidebar: Things grandpa didn’t get around to doing in a century of life; A) purchase third burial plot; B) notarize his will. So this is fun times, but now you know my proChristination comes hard-wired into my genes.

Touched…Appropriately

Cue The Go-Gos…

And before I begin, congrats to the Go-Gos on their recent inauguration into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

For as much anticipation taking a year off of vacation and travel created for us all, I have to say that my own came and went without much fanfare.

In October.

Which was great on a couple different levels. First, I got to deploy all my snark when asked if I was participating in Octsober. Um, it’s a family reunion-slash-vacation, so that’s a big

The second great thing – and just to be clear, I’m enumerating things beyond seeing the foursome from Texas that I call my extended family. Truth be told, they are the only other family. Anywho, the second great thing was the timing of it all. We’d originally planned this for late June-early July of 2020. And then 2021. But the parentals ultimately decided to exercise their right to cancel/reschedule on the last day they could before everything locked in 30 days out. With COVID and Delta being what it was, they made a good call.

October was the reschedule. For whatever reason, the original date lined up with my youngest brother’s 45th birthday. The fallback encompassed my sister’s 55th. This, of course, brought up my unresolved – and equally heretofore unknown – issues around 70s and 80s coffee commercials. Y’know, the ones with the butthurt housewife that’s upset when her husband orders a second cup of coffee with his dessert. They even spoofed it in Airplane!

Why don’t we ever do family vacations around my birthday?!? Surely not because it’s in the middle of January and everyone is knee-deep in their resolutions.

But the real coup d’etat on the timing was the timing! October isn’t the summer anywhere in the northern hemisphere, nor is it yet fully winter. In the Oregon high desert, that means the resort town we meet up in is itself deserted.

Also, there are no crazy temps either way. Sure, it got down to the 30s at night, but the days were high 50s-low 60s. It was awesome. Light sweater weather during the day, at worst. Then at night it was cold enough you could leave the window open a crack to get that crazy cold air deep sleep going.

Plus, the parents were on the main floor. “Age Rules” being what they are, that means that in addition to playing the TV at the same volume as their ages, the temperature was set the same way. If I didn’t open my window, I’d have woken up looking like a Costco rotisserie chicken!

All of this really bubbles up to the reality that after 4 pm, all there really is to do in Sunriver in October is eat and drink.

Well, that and watch the neighborhood deer.

What? You thought that seeing my family would be the best part of this story to me?

Don’t get me wrong, my enjoyment of my food and beverage consumption was greatly enhanced by my family’s presence. Not just because they are my blood. No, because the extended family foursome I have are Texas residents, so you know one of them was unvaccinated – and proudly declaring her natural immunity from the COVID she survived. Given her Instagram stories, I can safely guess this was from spending her pandemic galavanting around the western side of the country.

Still, I am of the opinion that she should have been vaccinated. I expended a great deal of emotional energy during the vacation trying to not lecture my 20-something first cousin on this topic. Helpfully, we seemed to be seated quite near one another at every damn meal. Well played, family. Well played.

Our usual meal routine for family vacations is that breakfast is a drop in event, we’re on our own for lunches and dinner is a family time. Generally, each person gets a cooking night but since working folk might pop in or out during the vacation according to their schedules, occasionally couples can pair up.

Me? I’m always fucked. I mean, destined to cook alone – the one time I brought someone, his grandmother died the day we fucking arrived…the nerve. I mean, lesson learned. Not that the family minds my solo-cooking misadventures, particularly since their favorite pastime seems to be harassing me while I cook. Can’t blame them, though…I can generally be relied upon to do something entertaining while cooking.

Hey, in the grand scheme of things, two small fires out of all the vacations we’ve taken is a blip at most. Right?!?

There are food related vacation traditions involved, for sure – beyond my minor conflagrations.

The ‘Phew generally orders pizza for his night. And that’s usually the day we arrive so we can ease into it.

The lil bro usually grills burgers.

The bro-in-law usually grills steak.

Mom makes spaghetti.

Dad…well, dad takes us all out to dinner. Then, per family tradition, argues with his brother about whether he can chip in. Short version: he can’t. Long version: we all had another round while they debated.

And, me? Well, since I love cooking but hate cooking for myself, I go all out. I’ve been known to pack not just a favorite knife – turns out, my LTR ends up being cutlery – but even a 10 lb pork loin and most of the ingredients for a molé or a paella pan or what have you. Hey, I’m not starting a fire cooking Mac & Cheese, ok?

You might notice the Texas Foursome was not listed. Not a bunch of cookers in that group. The mom isn’t super domestic, so they come by it honestly. Since there’s usually more people than nights, this usually isn’t an issue, though. Myself, I think this was the first time I’ve stayed the full duration.

This time, my COVID cousin brought along her fiancé. It was my first time meeting him, but it seemed everyone else had met him before briefly at some family function I missed. To his credit, he took up steak grilling duties for one meal – which my brother-in-law regrettably but graciously abdicated. I mean, who wouldn’t cede grill master duties to a Texan?!?

Poor guy. He asked how everyone wanted their steaks cooked and then served us all saddles. I know the pain of going from zero to 60 on cooking. The fires I set are obvious. His was more subtle – merely cremating a cow carcass. Why he gets a pass and I get harassed…well, further evidence of how nice my family is.

Or how much more they…like me?

That all being the case, I still found myself using my extra family time relaxing into cooking for pleasure. I had planned a beef stew over polenta dinner, with an ancillary black bean chili type dish.

Texans, remember? I knew there’s gonna be extra nights. Plus, with COVID protocols being in effect, I was pretty sure dad wasn’t getting a reservation for 10+ anywhere.

I got my stew inspiration from a cook at the restaurant on my block. The recipe served 30, so I halved it. There was 12 of us that night – the ‘Phew brought a girlfriend for the night – and everyone got one serving. Yikes.

My hecklers’ fantasy moment? Making polenta. It’s pretty easy…boil some stock, stir in the polenta and then stir as it does it’s polenta thing. I made the full restaurant recipe, but chose the wrong pan. I chose a 4-quart saucepan and needed at least another quart of space, although in retrospect, I’d have chosen a 6-quart sauté pan so I had more surface area for the liquid to cook off.

So, I fucked up the polenta. Think of it as me being a gracious host and serving low hanging fruit to my loving tormentors.

Remember, to make up for it, I had a second meal up my sleeve!

Plus, my mom pulled her favorite “I have a gay son”/Thanksgiving trick on her cooking night – handing me the spatula. So I cooked up a bunch of spaghetti.

Then, in a fit of “don’t end up like me” life lessons, I made a breakfast date with my 20-something first cousins from Texas and made a date for a breakfast cooking lessons. That sentence was…ouch.

The menu? Frittata and home-style potatoes.

I told them around midnight – it was more of a dropped gauntlet than an invitation – to meet me in the kitchen at 8 the next morning. Then we drank for a couple more hours.

She looked perfectly put together.

Surprisingly, my youngest cousin was already there when I arrived. I’d set my alarm for 745 and brushed my teeth and threw on a ball cap.

When I expressed my surprise, she was all, “What? You said 8!”

For my part, I mumbled, “Well, we’re batting .500”…you know I was still drunk if I was credibly attempting sports analogies. I started in on how easy frittatas are – I mean, do you want to make more than two omelette ever? – and how it can be something you just throw together with supplies on hand, put under the broiler and then slice up like a pizza and throw on the table.

Easy-peasy!

Guess who showed up right about then? That’s right…COVID cousin!

I told them my default frittata: cubed ham, cubed cheddar and broccoli florets. Pro-tip: you can buy the ham pre-cubed and use frozen florets. Aside from that, you’re big decisions are what herbs you want to use. Garlic powder, maybe a red pepper flake and “anything green” were my loose guidelines.

I put COVID cousin on frittata prep and showed my younger cousin the potato ropes. Since we were nearing the end of the vacation, my sister – tasked with provisioning the pantry for each of these vacations and affording my uncle another opportunity to hone his “let me chip in” argument – was in high “use everything up” mode. To that end, I instructed my cousin to use the remaining potatoes.

Short cut for home style potatoes: quarter them and nuke them for 3-4 minutes to soften them up. Then cube them and throw ‘em in a sauté pan with some oil and…whatever spices you have handy!

Why? Because the M.O. for this Homo in the kitchen is “Because I can!” Pretty much everywhere else I’m my life I seem to can’t so this is cathartic.

Keeping with my traditions of affording my family opportunities to harass me while I cook and simultaneously making a near-critical-slash-comedic error, the 6-quart sauté pan I chose for my cousin turned out to be too small for that many damn potatoes.

Fuck my fucking life. On top of the ongoing Struggles of Xtopher, I forgot to get a frittata spread pic. Ugh. Will these humiliations never end?!?

But at the same time, this minor crisis allowed me the chance to show my cousins how to roll with the culinary punches. I’m no Julia Child – despite my default childish behaviors – but I’m all for her “no one needs to know what happens in your kitchen” confidence. If they walked away with any of that from my struggle of tossing 4 lbs of cubed potatoes in a 6-quart sauté pan…my work as a twice-their-age cousin is done.

Since they are in their 20s and I haven’t seen any home cooked meals posted on their Instagrams, I’m gonna guess these confidence boosting lessons will need a <ahem> booster shot.

Cue The Go-Gos…

Small Comforts

We all need them, whether we acknowledge – and even more importantly, appreciate – them or not.

Doris Day parking.

Someone paying your coffee purchase forward.

A rain break when we forgot our hooded jacket or umbrella.

Chocolate.

A familiar face in a crowd.

Or, in my case…warm socks.

Yeah, turns out that’s what really does it for me.

As we leave winter behind and look toward spring’s arrival next week, I’m reminded of all the times I cozied up at home with a big, fuzzy pair of socks. It’s a great cure-all, especially after downing a couple in a tent on the street outside of a favorite bar – while it rains and cold radiates through your shoes and up your legs.

It’s a chilling, but necessary evil to maintain some sort of mental health self-care these days. But luckily, these days are becoming warmer!

Another thing that struck me as I was cleaning up my pics, deleting things I didn’t need and putting others into folders that make them no easier to find in the future, was that the women in my life were much better at providing this small comfort to me than I was at accomplishing it for myself.

Go figure, once again women are better people than men. Thank gourd mankind is not limited only to the male of the species or we’d really be rogered, but good.

Case in point: here are some $25 Keen socks that I bought myself five years ago. Wool, tech weave, lifetime guarantee…

…holes in both big toes.

Compare that to these Gas Monkey socks my sister gifted each of her male relatives a few Christmases ago.

Stop judging my chankles. Chrisism: chicken ankles.

Knowing my sister, she’s not dropping $25 on a pair of over-marketed hoopla socks like her frivolous brother. She’s got the money to, but she’s more shrewd than that. These were three-packs, and I bet she got them for $20 or less.

She’s proud of her ability to find a deal. I think this perfectly highlights the Hunter/Gatherer difference between the sexes, too. I find something and jump on it because it looks good. Or good enough. She, meanwhile, looks around and finds the best option.

Maybe it’s not fair to state that as an absolute difference between the traditional caveman era gender roles. Maybe she’s just smarter about her love languages than I am – and mind you, I’m just talking to myself when it comes to love languages. My sister is kind of Oprah, by comparison. At least where socks are concerned.

And then there’s the Crocodile Dundee of warm socks and love languages: my mom.

‘At’s not a warm sock, *this* is a warm sock! – Crocodile Momdee

She used to work at the local Kroger, Fred Meyers, which is an early inspiration for the present day Target and Walmart concept of adding grocery departments to their Big Box everything-but-grocery stores. Only Freddie’s did it the other way: grocery to everything else.

Anyway, over her 20 years there, all us (adult aged) kids looked forward to our annual Christmas stocking stockings. You see, as part of their Black Friday offerings, they did a crazy half-off all socks from some crazy early hour until the store’s normal opening time.

Mom stocked us up.

Because that’s what moms do.

The pair pictured above were part of one of my Christmas care packages during the time in my life when I lived away from my hometown. I remember these particularly well, since they came with a very mom-usual card:

For Those Cold Texas Nights…

Aw, mom.

So…yeah, my Texas misadventures were back in ’93, which I think must be pronounced 19-friggin‘-93. Meaning these socks that were maybe $9.99 regularly priced, that mom likely got for $4.98 and paid $4.49 for after her meager employee discount have lasted me 28 years.

Twenty-eight-motherfriggin‘-years!

The secret quality control ingredient is mom.

Jesus, I’ve had these socks over half of my life.

And these stupid socks that people who love me have bought me over the years make me feel as loved and cared for as anything I’ve ever been told or shown. Even knowing they’ve probably long forgotten the gesture, I remember it each time I go to my sock drawer and pull on a pair of chunky heavy socks for an evening in.

It really is the little things.

Small Comforts

Valentimes Part One

Yeah, I posted Valentimes Part Duex before I posted Part One. Also, I’m posting Part One after the big day. I’m not offering a defense of my timing, either way. It’s my blog and…

So, there.

Anywho…I’ve given between 3500 and 4000 rides since I started driving for Lyft about 18 months ago.

There’s been fewer than expected drunks.

More than anticipated Tinder “dates” – and you’d be surprised how many people pay extra to spring for a Lux ride to take them away from said “dates”…

Rides to funerals and memorials.

Countless healthcare and essential workers during the – sadly – ongoing pandemic.

A couple of unapologetic bastards conservatives.

Trips to or from the E.R. Too many, in fact.

Side note: how sad is it that our effed up healthcare system makes it necessary to take a goddamned Lyft to an E.R. instead of calling an ambulance?!?

And exactly two women who made me cry either during or after their rides.

Goddamned widows. Rubbing my perpetual singledom in my face.

I was actually okay at one widow.

Specifically, the one whose husband died a few years back. He sounds like he was a great husband, I heard their love story – which lasted 41 years.

But he sounded like a fucking badass, too.

Not because he drove a vintage black Mustang convertible.

Nor because they were high school sweethearts.

Or clearly wealthy. Particularly because his widow seemed like she was continuing to live a modest life after his death in honor of his memory, suggesting that the pleasures of their lives together were similarly modest.

The more exciting adventures I learned about during our ride were short bursts compared to the simple daily joys she described.

Their first date. Birthdays. Humble chivalry.

These were the things neither of these people took for granted in their relationship. They didn’t use one another in pursuit of the next big thing – either as an excuse or a means.

Her story was one of a satisfying life together. Inspiring to me in its endurance, something that I fear too few even aspired to in today’s value system.

The second widow was actually the first. Hearing her story made me think I should write a Valentine’s Day post. But it was the second widow who made me realize that the universe wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

Writing a book about my dating misadventures or fictionalizing my own ideals of relationships in my No One Of Consequence book series wasn’t going to cut it.

The least I could do is write an account of true love, even if it was only second hand.

Widow Number One earned her title when her husband had a major heart attack on Valentine’s Day last year.

Strictly going off visual cues, I’d say she was late 70s. I was taking her to work. She was looking like she’d be her own badass, and ended up being a heroic example of living a life for me.

Fret not, I picked her up in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is pretty high rent. Ok, it’s fucking high rent, so she wasn’t working at nearly 80 because she had to.

Turns out, she doesn’t drive at all. Her husband used to take her to work before he died. Luckily (?) the pandemic closed the office down before her bereavement leave put her back to work. Now, she only had to go to the office once a week to ensure things were running smoothly. Normally, she figured she’d take the bus, but…pandemic + late 70s = bad combo.

She was enjoying Lyft, though, and the way she said that made me suspect she was enjoying it as a throwback to her husband taking her to work. I’m pretty sure her return to the office after this all ends will include at least an occasional escort to work.

She told me that when she was going through her husband’s things, she found several Valentine’s Day cards he’d made for her. I thought it was weird that he’d kept them, not her. But as she continued on, I realized these were unused cards.

That got me.

On top of being the kind of guy who encouraged his wife to work a part time office job after their kids left the nest, then celebrated her success when her search for post-child rearing purpose earned her a promotion to office manager after several years – she told me proudly that her employee number was 13, so she’d been there a while.

This is the guy who found his own post-retirement fulfillment in driving his wife to and from work to support and nurture her happiness.

This guy spent his in between hours working on his art. He was a post-career artist. Why would I be surprised that this guy made or was in the process of completing future Valentine’s Day cards for his wife?

Putting myself in that mindset, I got it. It wasn’t about making a card instead of buying one. It was about making one that appropriately captured the depth of feeling he had for his wife. Something that expressed the gratitude one must feel toward the person who accompanies you on the journey of a literal lifetime.

You might not always get that on the first pass. She said these cards were, of course, beautiful and I could tell that finding them had touched her very deeply. But I could easily stay a while in that position her husband must have found himself in – even now: not fully being able to express how this woman made him feel. Abandoning a card because it wasn’t good enough for his wife. <sigh>

But it shows how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the decades. I don’t think I’d have to defend the additional statement that a lot of those changes might have been for the short term good, but long term bad of the individuals.

And I can’t even get a return text.

While you’re here: If you haven’t yet and are curious about the writing works I mentioned earlier – Dating Into Oblivion and No One Of Consequence – check out my author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 for a view of my work. All books are available in paperback or e-book formats – and the e-books are cheap and the pages don’t fall out as I’ve heard from one of my supportive blogging buddies! It’s also a good way to keep up with the blog, since they post to my author page as well as here. I can’t say the same about the consistency of my Facebook author page…

Regardless, thanks for stopping by!

Valentimes Part One

I Am Unresolved

But, still…one (this one, anyway) does like setting and achieving goals. Especially if they are fun or don’t require too much work.

That said, my goals are a mixed bag of those two…adjectives? Qualities?

I dunno.

Nonetheless, here’s a brief accounting of the goings down to date:

1) After Chadwick Boseman died last summer – suddenly, to out of the loop fans – I started putting pressure on myself to get my mind sorted on the Coming of Age test that my doctor had been pestering me about for several years. It’s cute that he thought getting ahead of my fiftieth for the test would provide results. He plied me with mail in poo test kits on every visit for a couple years, trying to sell me on “new and improved” collection methods.

Bless his heart. He’d only known me a couple of years at the time and was unfamiliar with my stubbornness.

When T’Challa died, I finally pulled one out of mothballs my pile of unread mail and stabbed a floater before sending it in.

Of course, I failed.

Since it tests for trace blood and I have ROH (randomly occurring hemorrhoids), duh…blood.

When he calls me with the results, I’m talking to a doctor that finally knows me.

I’m going to write you a referral. When they call, *please* answer your phone.

Hehe.

I replied by asking how many years he’d been chasing me about fondling my feces, which amused me way more than him.

It’s not funny, it’s just funny.

Anyway, my colonoscopy is the week after my birthday. AKA: at the end of this month.

2) At Christmas, after my mom unwrapped a bird feeder from her Secret Satan Santa, I remembered what I’d forgotten: I wanted a bird feeder for my Juliette balcony. Mom directed me to the shed, where there was a hummingbird feeder they had decommissioned some time ago that I was welcome to.

I’d posted about the minimal effort required to install it – basically a trip to the local hardware store.

Side Note: my local hardware store is the one that Anastasia Steele (what a douchey name, but what does one expect from such a masturbatory story?) worked at before becoming involved with the titular character in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Anyway…I finally got around to that. Now the waiting game begins.

She’s a meany. But I’m sure she’s nice enough to invite any takers into her Red Room.

3) And no Resolution List would be complete without a diet or exercise entry.

Diet is not that entry. Although, after reading about the prep for the impending ol’ tooter rooter, I’ll consider that diet.

But I’d seen the latest greatest resolution challenge floating around on social media – something about 100 Days of Motion or some such nonesense. While I consider goals to be a great thing, realistic goals are the ones you attain.

Somehow, 100 Days of Motion for this old bag of bones didn’t seem likely. Unless, of course, one counts getting out of bed as a sit up, on to or off of the couch a squat or some similarly unlikely rationalization a success.

I don’t.

Nonetheless, I committed to being more active, minimum bar for success set at five days per week.

I started with three sets of weighted exercises at home – my only real option in Lockdown 2.0 – and had at it. Any movement feels good after months of rather unfocused but still highly effective neglect. So I was satisfied…and increasingly motivated through my own accomplishments.

Then I did a mile of stairs in my building.

It was the end of the second week – which seemed reasonable. But my body informed me otherwise.

I mean…it seemed so reasonable. Then I walked weird for a week. Nevermind the reality of wheezing my way up and down six flights of stairs dozens of times in a mask.

In a fit of frustration over my soreness and lack of saw ownership, which would provide me the ability to cut off my legs, I ordered an e-stim massage unit for a little relief…I hoped.

I have a friend – who I will allow to remain anonymous – that has one he uses for personal massages. That particular endorsement doing nothing but sending my nuts fully back into my torso whenever the topic comes up, I also had one from Bubble Boy.

Not that his was much better. He’d found playing the part of “cowboy” to my “bull” (Ha, I wish) taxing after falling asleep with his attached to his rear a couple of days before one of our assignations. Not that his rear needed a workout, but the results of his nap on a high setting gave me hope for a therapeutic result on a low setting.

It most certainly did the trick! Not bad for a $30 solution to my million dollar baby problem. Here’s a video of the above situation if you want to see ol’ Chicken Legs McGee twitch…

I’d also seen a former colleague hosting outdoor fitness classes, reminiscent of my uber-fit days in Seattle, when I’d wake up at the crack of dawn and go to a boot camp overlooking the Puget Sound and then grab a doughnut before 7.

Anyway, she was doing Saturday morning classes (at a non-crazy hour) for $10 and I thought maybe I should participate. I missed the first week, but the second week I took my Jabba-esque physique out for a trundle. Hell, for all I knew, it would kill me and spare me the colonoscopy.

Upside.

Here is my post following the completion:

And I should be back next week. I was gratified that my former colleague bemoaned being 43 as we caught up, trying to decide “how long it had been” while also laughing at how long it had been. That’s aging for ya, it’s kind of amazing. Additionally, with her being probably exactly middle-aged for a woman, that lent itself to the majority of the participants being only slightly younger than me. So I felt comfortable.

On the other hand, the single attendee who was young-young was someone I was fairly certain that I’d chatted with on asocial media several years back and maybe only unfollowed this past summer. It’s hard to tell with masks and all, but I recognized some thigh tattoos and distinctive guybrows.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize me – or my less-than-impressive thunder. Because, of course the class I went to so that my clothes would fit better started off with midriff-baring downward facing dogs. While that’s a position I would enthusiastically put him into, no one needs to witness my shituation in that same posture.

All that said, the class was great – despite the humbling nature of the endeavor and one errand exertion related fart – and I will be back next week. And I can still walk, thanks to my e-stim buddy.

4) And I nearly forgot this one: I raised my weekly Lyft goal by 50%. When I’d originally set it, my goal was just to minimize street parking expenses, since I don’t have a garage. I usually made that goal, but now that I’m not doing any part-time office gigs, I’m on the street whenever I’m not driving for Lyft.

Honestly, I normally blew that goal away, but officially resetting my goal to the 50% increase was daunting.

So far, mixed results. I’m averaging my new goal over the first weeks of the new year, but I have only achieved the goal itself two out of three opportunities.

There still work to be done. And 49 chances for success!

So that’s what I’ve got going so far this year…I still have my new InstaPot as an open/unopened goal to tackle. I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media will be assaulted by result pics know as soon as I start executing on that goal. I’d like to put it into weekly use…it’s just finding those recipes that will produce leftovers I’ll actually eat or that can be cut into halves easily.

It’ll happen.

How are your resolutions going? Tell me in the comments…

I Am Unresolved

It’s *So* Big!

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to handle this. It’s so much bigger than I expected.

I mean, you hear the words…10 inches and think you understand what you’re hearing. As if you can conceptualize the size of such a large unit. But then you see it and your mind just…🤯

Wow. That’s just…a bit much.

*cat pictured for scale

Wait. What did you think I was talking about?

So, yeah. I got a new TV to replace my problematic 55″ Vizio that I’d had for about a dozen years. For whatever reason, it just decided to die stop turning on.

The newby is an early indirect birthday gift from my parents, who rained shekels down upon me during a car-bound coffee date earlier this week. They’re so awesome, I joke about being their favorite child, despite my occasional feeling that I’m the most disappointing. Thank gourd for Black Sheep Bro, he puts considerable effort into being disappointing. If it weren’t for him, well…I think my personal list of achievements would be looking pretty grim.

I still suspect my parents’ actions with BSB makes him feel pretty fortunate, too, regardless of how hard he campaigns to look like a bastard and ingrate.

Anyhoo.

My parents being great parents and deriving joy from the happiness of their kids waited several hours before checking in to see if I’d gone TV shopping yet. So, yesterday I caved and took my search from virtual into the real world.

Mind you, this 36 hour delay is remarkable for me. Particularly compared to the reality of the still uninstalled hummingbird feeder that I made off with from my parents’ shed on Christmas.

All I needed to do was hit up a hardware store for a hook that would clamp onto my balcony railing…

Regardless, I’d been advised by a Blog Buddy to wait until after the StoopidBowl to shop because people are rubbish and will buy a TV to watch the big game and then return it after. He swore by the open box steal. Having been a career retailer – granted, not in electronics – I knew the phenomenon he was suggesting.

This new TV is a 65″ Samsung and it’s rather overwhelming. Watching it makes me feel like that guy from that vintage stereo ad.

Or was that a speaker ad? (I know who will know, so keep your eyes on the comments…!).

I knew there was room to play with a larger screen, since my old TV had plenty of space on the sides while sitting dead atop its perch. However, once I got the new TV upstairs – no easy feat, given my singledom. Thankfully, the salesperson took pity on me and helped me load it into the car. So at least there was that.

Once upstairs and in front of my TV console, I began to think I’d overestimated my space. The salesperson had suggested that the extra 10″ would shake out to about the width of a 2″x4″ beam on each side. A factoid/estimation that my high school math classes backed up. Still…this visual gave me pause.

But I told myself the screen wasn’t as big as the box. Which was only right by about 2″.

Magically, given the absence of anyone in their 20s or 30s to help, the set up was fairly breezy. It didn’t take long at all…

That’s a pretty quick and easy installation!

Now, it’s anyone’s guess how long it takes to get rid of the collateral debris.

My salesperson gave me a 60 day return window just in case it was too big or not the right TV for me. Unless it breaks, I think it will more than fit my needs. But should I still keep this stuff around for 60 days in case it breaks down?!?

Oh, and best part? That reader I mentioned earlier? He still had my back, even this morning. I woke up to an email featuring an ad that he was passing along. It featured a similarly sized Samsung for a few bucks less than what I’d paid last night – except it was a generation behind the one I got. As if that’s not enough to make me feel like good folks are looking out for me to make sure I get a good deal, here’s an ad from a competitor’s website for the TV I got.

Not a bad deal, especially as an open box…but I paid $275 less!

It’s *So* Big!

The Red Shirt Diaries: #25

Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve posted under this theme.

Maybe it’s been 100 years, maybe only 9 months. If I’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that time is excruciating relative.

Another interesting thing about 2020 has been how the mentally lethal distractions that inspired this theme – based off of the pre-credit scenes in the original Star Trek, where some extra in a red shirt always seemed to die after beaming down to a strange, new world – have shifted. Before the quarantimes, these mental deaths were always near misses with my own mortality.

Now?

I’m projecting.

Lunch with my parents?

People emerging from lockdown 1.0, unsure of how to navigate life in “the real world” again?

A friend’s small wedding?

Family gathering in Central Oregon for my nephew’s 21st?

Bubble Boy not texting back in a timely manner?

Yeah, they all died at one point or another in my neurotic mess of a brain.

It’s fascinating that my prochristination has me finally getting this out of draft on Thanksgiving Eve. After shaking my initial misgivings about meeting my parents for lunches on their trips into town, I still get a little heebaliscious when thinking about dinner at their house tomorrow.

I overcame my original disease with lunches after just admitting that with the Silver Fox in isolation with his ex-wife about 90 minutes south of Portland, my own isolation was poised to redefine the term lonely. Knowing that I was either at home or driving made me realize that my parents were likely the only people I would actually see intentionally and with any regularity during the lockdown.

Even though I was driving with Lyft ~20 hours a week, I felt like the table between us was buffer enough, since I was completely masked up while I drove people around. Still, it took a few months before we ventured back into hug territory.

Knowing that dinner tomorrow would be just my parents and youngest brother, I agreed to the pandemic indulgence. I still took this past week off from driving, on a doctor’s advice. Right now, I feel like the biggest risk to our meal is a nosey neighbor calling the cops to report our gathering. The Governor has set a 6 people or less from no more than 2 household rule on the day. We will be only 4, but from 3 households. Since the Guv has gone the shocking extra step of encouraging people to report their neighbors if they suspect a violation of these guidelines, I’m thinking maybe I should pick my brother up along the way.

And because my parents are like poster children for great parents, Tuesday evening I start getting texts about coming out tonight to have a special dinner and spend the night.

It’s quite a nostalgic pull from the days when I lived out of state and would fly in early for holidays. But this year, I just can’t get there. I’m missing the rationalization that would make me comfortable spending that much time in their home, potentially exposing them to my city germs.

Also, there’s Myrtle. She’s kind of a situation.

After getting her, I took the advice of friends and family with cats and left her for the night with extra food – with a healthy 50% bump just to be sure – and went to my parents’. Myrtle being Myrtle, I came home to cat puke everywhere – none “fresh” – and a starving cat.

Stupid animal.

The next phase was taking her out with me.

That was an exercise in animal cruelty. She screamed the entire trip out in her cat carrier. Once we arrived, she stayed under the bed the entire visit. Emerging, from what I can tell, only once for some water and to shit on my parents’ hallway carpet.

It’s not easy being her.

So, for many reasons, I demurred on the invite for tonight. Then I woke up with a sore throat today, because that’s just my neurotic brain having fun with me.

But having skipped my nephew’s birthday, dreading the following two weeks and filling my dreams with sole survivor scenarios where my nephew, younger brother and I were the last of our clan, I wanted to go to Thanksgiving dinner.

But now the dreams are back.

COVID has messed up my sleep schedule pretty good. I won’t mix my syzzurp sleep aid with alcohol, so if I drink I’ve resigned myself to bad sleep. But it’s been next level bad these past two weeks. I’ll stay up too late and then get woken up by Myrtle around 9, after logging 4-5 hours. Or, I’ll go to bed around 10 and wake up around 2, wide awake. On the days I can fall back to sleep, it’s usually not until 5 or 6 and then Myrt still wakes me up around 9.

It’s crap.

I think Myrtle just wants the bed. But still, I don’t want to be at my parents’ house with this crap going on and accidentally wake their dogs with my late night meanderings around the house – because then everyone is up.

But I know that part of my recent sleep problems are due to bad dreams. I just want them to remain bad dreams, I don’t need the reality my brain tries selling my unconscious self.

But overall – and I think this is something I need to acknowledge gratefully – no one close to me has died from COVID. Friends of Facebook friends is as close as its come to touching my life in reality. The back of my mind is screaming that I’m due, but I’m shushing it for all I’m worth.

No one got sick from my nephew’s birthday.

No one died after the wedding I dipped on.

There’s been plenty of non-COVID close calls because people forgot how to live after 1.0 ended, but again, nothing in my direct realm.

Then there’s Bubble Boy.

Just so I don’t bury the lead, he’s still alive.

Lil fucker got himself stabbed, though, so it’s not like he’s coming out of this unscathed.

No. I did not do the stabbing. Well, not the literal stabbing. <wink, wink>

Bubble Boy is someone I’ve hooked up with a few times over the years since I moved back to Portland. No, he is not a part of the Dating Into Oblivion blog theme or subsequent book – since we don’t date so much as we mate. He’s not interested in dating and he’s not boyfriend material if he were. But he’s a hot little nugget of a man, I’ll tell you that.

So when lockdown hit and he was up to meet, I decided – after the first three months – to go for it. It took me that long to rationalize a guy in his early 30s having the discipline to isolate or take reasonable precautions during a pandemic.

Sure enough, we start connecting a couple times a month versus our every month or two pre-lockdown rhythm. Then he goes quiet in August. After one missed assignation and a couple unreturned texts, I arrive expeditiously at the obvious conclusion.

Dead.

Then I spend a week re-isolating, assuming – irrationally, I know – that he is in hospital or dead from COVID and that I’ve been exposed, symptoms lacking be damned. Also 1000% not surprised that this might have been the case that my psyche is trying to make to me.

When he finally blips back onto the radar, my reaction to learning he’d been in hospital was “Naturally” and to mentally pat myself on the back. And to be relieved he survived.

After he misses a couple more text replies and another “date” with the explanation that he’d been back in hospital, I ask if he’s sure he should be making plans to meet.

Oh, yeah. I’m fine, my stitches just keep getting infected is all.

Oh, okaaaay.

But, c’mon. You just know that I had to demand an explanation after that overshare.

Stabbed.

“Oh, is that all?” – Me.  Really, it’s so not shocking I ended up alone.

Sure enough, desperate times did indeed breed desperate measures and he’d been mugged one night on his way home. I didn’t press for details, rather assuming it was from something acceptable like essential work.

Plus, I’m enough of a Portlander to know that we are a stabby lot.

You think I’m kidding.

Poorly, by the way. His attacker stabbed him in the collarbone. Of all the…I mean, I’ve never stabbed anyone, but I think I could do so without my blade bouncing off a collarbone, FFS. Although, admittedly on his 5’3″ self, I’d have to work to get down to gut level and avoid ribs and whatnot.

Ok, I’ve clearly put too much thought into that.

But that’s kind of the point of The Red Shirt Diaries – an overactive and macabre imagination.

To redeem myself, when we did successfully meet up post-stabbing and he interrupted the usual commotion involved in our involvement with a caution to be careful of his stitches, I replied by pushing his face deeper into the mattress with one hand, telling him this was his idea and smacking his ass with my other hand.

My little freaky-deaky f*ckbuddy seemed to rather enjoy that. But I also think he knows me well enough to know that I was, indeed, more careful of his stitches after that.

So…one more day to get through and then a couple weeks of what I know will be a neurotic red shirt-esque death watch and hopefully I can sail into the new year with a still-full compliment of friends and family, despite my relatively empty quarantine bubble.

But let’s face it, this being my life, you just have to know that I’d be the one to die of COVID in my circle. How I can’t get there with the people actually in my bubble probably goes back to being raised by great parents who taught me to be concerned for others…

The Red Shirt Diaries: #25

Stüpid Uhmericnz

I can beat this drum all day. Not because it’s fun – although, often it can be funny to witless witness – rather, because it’s quasi therapeutic to not let these moments pass unrecognized.

Also, I like that people are coming around to my way of thinking. It’s about damn time. One is, after all, either a part of the solution or else part of the problem.

I’ve been kvetching about how cities protect themselves from skateboarder liability suits for over a decade. You know those little metal pucks that cities put on the corners of railing/benches/dividers to keep sk8ers from doing tricks on them?

Yeah, those gotta go.

If for no other reason than cities haven’t managed police reform to protect their BIPOC citizenry from police brutality – and they are willing to suffer those wrongful death or excessive force suits without taking action to correct the problem. I say “Why? Why, then shall we protect the city from lawsuits from injured skateboarders?”

Let’s face it, skate culture is – in my observation – largely a white guy thing. And they choose – free will and all that crap – to perform tricks on these public constructs, using them in a manner that is not intended. Without helmets, I might add.

For that matter, I haven’t seen one person get ticketed on those e-scooters for violating the terms of use and riding helmetless, either. But the City hasn’t outlawed e-scooters.

But, no…these little metal pucks are somewhere on virtually every block downtown. Not in neighborhoods, mind you. Liability there rests with homeowners. On public property, though, the City is potentially liable for injuries on its property, so it protects itself from frivolous lawsuits from parents of brain damaged teens or spouses of the paralyzed father of their children (proving that we really need qualifiers for parenthood beyond the almost involuntary ability to attain an erection) by installing these pucks to help prevent injury.

No, what we need here is a justice system that is a little more bitchy.

Hold on a second…you raised a child without enough common sense to wear the recommended safety equipment and bought them the skateboard and let them out of the yard unsupervised and they hurt themselves on City property. Now they are a vegetable and We The People are expected to shoulder the blame?

Yes.

Ok, bitch. First of all, the correct answer is “No”. “Hell no, even”. Secondly, the key phrase there is “they hurt themselves. Periodt. We The People had nothing to do with it, this is totally a “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” moment.

And, lastly, We The People think that we owe it to ourselves to ask if you need a date to the Darwin Awards, because we have a feeling you’ll be invited…and we’d really like to go!

Seriously, there really should be a public ceremony – if those are ever allowed again – actually awarding the families of people who improved humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool.

Maybe then we’d stop seeing unqualified humans released into the world unsupervised. Just a couple generations ago, we’d lock our less fortunate family members away in an attic to protect them from themselves and the family from the fallout of any potentially untoward behaviors.

Now, we lack the commitment to our families and our neighbors and buy them skateboards or smartphones, which allow them no end of potential trouble. And then we sue a third party if when shit goes sideways.

Also, now…we have these skateboarder-type people who cheated death and survived what likely should have been last words – think “Hey, watch this!” – and grown up.

And <shudder> procreated. Because wearing condoms was as much a violation of their rights as wearing masks during a pandemic is.

And, worst of all, 70 million of them have now been duped into thinking they were qualified to make an informed opinion about who should lead our country.

Why am I surprised? How long have we been putting the Surgeon General warning on cigarettes…40…50 years? Yet I still see people in their 30s and 20s smoking.

Like I said, I’ve been a proponent of letting Darwin sort it out for quite sometime. Alas…

But that affords me the opportunity to observe and report on the stupid things we do as a culture to help – or exploit – those poor, stupid, Stupid Americans.

Luckily, what I see is usually more entertaining than watching anti-maskers during a global pandemic or white supremacists vote.

Don’t believe me?

Maybe that’s for the best, since now that I’ve made the sad supporting case, the things I’ve ruefully chuckled about when I’ve witnessed them over the past weeks are <poof> gone. I knew I should have taken pictures.

The vagaries of aging…

Things like the sign I saw on the side of a cart in the local Kroger outlet, Fred Meyer. It was on a piece of merchandise handling equipment for an employee gathering online orders:

Free In-Store Pickup!

Um, isn’t that always the free option?

Mentally bending over backward, I know what they were attempting to say. F for execution, though. I get it, you’re trying to differentiate your online shopping/in-store pickup service from say…restaurants, right? When you’re too lazy to cook and order takeout or – for those of you old enough to remember – go to a restaurant to eat, you pay a premium to have the work done for you.

An example of this from my personal history:

I love pasta. It’s a genetic trait passed from mother to child, as far as I can see. Hehe.

But sometimes I just don’t want to expose myself to my own lack of discipline by preparing a full batch of pasta – which I always do, because who wants half a package of pasta in their cabinet and a half jar of sauce in their fridge? And what if you improperly dose out the sauce and don’t have enough left for the second batch?

Ergo, I cook it all up. Because pasta is one of those few foods that I will eat as leftovers. But then…I eat the whole pound of pasta in one sitting.

So to me, it’s sometimes worth paying the markup for a single serving.

To my ex (Rib), though – a chef – it was a non-starter.

I’m not paying $15 for something I could make at home for $.25!

I feel the same about eggs, so I get it. Although, when someone else is buying, I shut up and eat eggs! He stuck to his guns, though. I think I successfully ate pasta in a restaurant once while we were together. Hehe.

So what Freddy’s is saying is that they will shop for your groceries for you and not charge you extra like that chef that boils water for you does. But as far as marketing goes, I wanted to stop and argue with the cashier that made me pay for my groceries.

But, but…it says “free in-store pickup and here I am! Why are you making me pay?!?

Buncha meanies.

Although, since I was picking up cat food and a plant, arguing that I had “groceries” might have been tough.

The plant was “free”, because I’ve long wanted a fig but didn’t want to spend money on one, thinking Myrtle would just eat ruin it anyway. This fig – working name Figly – represents 300 recycled cans and bottles, of the Coke Zero (take that, V!) and craft beer variety, save the occasional fizzy water bottle. Thus, it was “free”. Since all of my Myrtle-free Zones are either too small, too dark for plants or already occupied by other plants like Cornelius, my corn plant, I had to improvise to protect Figly.

I’ll figure out something better. First, I need to get dear Figly a permanent pot, then I’ll rearrange furniture to create a better Myrtle-free Zone. Right now, I’m busy not spending money on a pot for my new plant that I “picked up in-store for free”.

In other stupid news, there have been a few public works projects around my home specifically tailored toward protecting our dummies.

First, with our new trend toward outside dining to protect against COVID spread while also supporting the restaurant industry and also definitely not curbing our right to not prepare our own food…I’ve noticed some issues.

Mostly, I love the City responding to the public need by allowing restaurants to use two to three parking spaces adjacent to their doors as outdoor dining areas. A few non-essential side streets have been turned into on street dining plazas and beer gardens. This has allowed restaurants and bars to add not just seating, but in order to create a dining “experience”, some restaurants have added foliage to their street dining rooms. Now that the weather has turned from False Fall to Actual Fall, sided tents and heaters are being added to the mix – just in time for Lockdown 2.0!

Hey, it even helps the air…plants take CO2 out of the air and release oxygen. That’s a bonus, even though I couldn’t say with any scientific certainty that COVID particles ever get absorbed into the plantings with the CO2. It’s pretty, and that’s enough for me.

But then I see this bar next to my house setting up their outdoor area. They’ve built picnic tables and benches, built planters and then stained them so patrons have a nice area to enjoy their fare.

Then they posted this sign to help people not get stains on their clothing.

On a GD tree. Gourd help us all. I doubt Bob Ross was actually responsible for this apparently recently-painted tree.

Mind you, they built all this on a day they were closed, so they wouldn’t have been ruining customers’ clothes. Just lazy bastard passers’ by clothes who copped an entitled squat on the bar’s work in progress arts and craft project.

More global city-wide cures for stupid that I’ve seen recently involve solutions for one-way streets.

Personally, I think these signs should be replaced with something like…

If you haven’t seen the original Total Recall, the head explodes right after this warning. I think drivers going the wrong way down a one-way street should be prepared for something equally damaging.

But, not Portland. No…

In our bicycle-friendly little burg, where cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road, we’re creating bike lanes on both sides of one-way streets.

Why?

Well, so we have a bike lane for travel in each direction…on a one-way street.

For the cyclists that are supposed to follow the rules of the road.

Sidenote: the song Warning Signs just came on my Of Monsters and Men Pandora station. My Pandora app isn’t even open while I’m working on this?!?

I’m not sure it’s perfectly clear here in the 4:30 PM darkness, but this is a two lane one-way street. See? No yellow line down the center. It used to be a three lane, but in order to protect retired skateboarders cyclists from their own inability to follow rules, the City removed a lane and added a second bike lane for against flow riding. The left-hand bike lane is inexplicably bordered by yellow stanchions instead of white, as on the right-hand with traffic flow bike lane.

Please. How is this possibly expected to work? We’re trying to protect a public who refuses to put forward an accountability for their own well-being.

Note of interest: yes, I was standing in the door of Portland’s oldest strip club – Mary’s Spot – as I took this pic.

Not to be outdone by cyclists, I saw a traffic accident the other day. I was getting on the freeway and a Trump Truck pick up truck exited the freeway on the on ramp I was attempting to use, experiencing a solo spin out and coming to rest pointed the wrong way against an overpass pillar and canted out into traffic so it blocked one lane and almost all of the second lane.

Good citizen that I am, I squeezed by and continued on my way, leaving the situation in Darwin’s capable hands. I also wanted to confirm my recollection that the next ramp on this freeway was actually to – or from in the case of this particular idiot – another freeway. Either this joker successfully drove the wrong way on not one, but two freeways before unsuccessfully exiting on the on ramp I was trying to use or he (I just chose the dumbest gender, I didn’t see that the driver was actually male) drove for multiple exits on the one freeway going the wrong direction.

These are our people…

I do not like them.

Not one bit.

But I like even less waiting for them to show me that their heads are full of shit.

What do you think, do I have a future as a Dr Seuss For Dummies author?

Why can’t families go back to locking away their embarrassing shortcomings, both genetic and/or rearing failures? I figure it’s a toss up, should what I ask for come to pass. With 70 million voting age Americans voting against rationale, science, basic rights and common sense, I know it’s almost as likely that I’d be the one living in my family attic.

At least there’s more than just books to keep me company. I would have the interwebs and social <shudder> media. Words With Friends and I could even take up video gaming!

Hell, maybe that should be what my long game is. My sister has a much nicer home than mine…maybe I should give into it!

Stüpid Uhmericnz

Eff Em El

I should probably type out the title to this post in all caps, but I don’t want to frighten you.

Which is also why I waited two whole – and surprisingly not run-on (oops) – sentences before dropping this lil chestnut on your eyeballs.

If I had any real friends, they’d shoot me.

Today? It would be a mercy killing. Not sure that’ll save anyone from the gas chamber, but maybe? If you pick the right lawyer…

And this day started out so promising, too.

I got my mail in ballot yesterday. Filled it out while I was waiting for my hair to dry today before heading to lunch with the ‘rents.

But, really…that’s the end of the upside. The rest of my day has been all uphill.

It’s so bad, I finally took the 50-something year old recommended poop test that my doctor has been nagging me about for the last three-ish years. I figured, “Why not? Today can’t get any worse…”

As if psyching out fate is a damn thing.

After dropping that off at the lab, I thought that since psyching out fate really isn’t a thing…maybe picking up that heads up penny I saw on the street wasn’t such a bad idea. And, yeah, back on that “if I had any real friends” thing? I totally maintained eye contact with the Street Rockefellers that were camping 3 feet away on the sidewalk so that they’d know that I was picking up money they were apparently too good for. Maybe they’d get mad that I was stealing their money and stab me.

So how does a day with such promise go careening off the rails?

Hard to say, really. Other than maybe the number of times that I’ve rhetorically asked “What could possibly go wrong?” have all hit the ear balls of The Universe at once – because, let’s face it, I really don’t know how any of that shit really works.

Maybe rhetorical questions go in the same category as “Letters to Santa” or “Prayers”…or maybe someone is actually listening and my rhetorical questions all arrived at their destination simultaneously, producing today as a single response to the cumulative inquiry.

  • My laptop seems to have crapped out. This morning, I woke to and email from the Genius Bar with a couple things that could rectify my issues. Of course, that didn’t work. I bought this refurbished Mac as a cheap and easy (on the wallet) replacement for my last laptop about two years ago. I was a little frustrated when it arrived to learn that it was only one model year removed from the Mac that I was replacing, so if I got two years out of it…that nets out to it lasted a year longer than it’s predecessor. See?!? How “bright side” was that statement?!? But, nooooo, my name is Grumpy, Old Xtopher and I am living in Fate’s crosshairs these days!
  • After lunch with mom and dad, I went out for a quick drive session, since I wanted to pull a double shift today. My usual shift is however long it takes to hit 10 rides. Somewhere between 3-4 hours. On double-days, I try to get a few rides in before rush hour and then hit the balance of my 20 in the evening. Keeps my ass from going numb.That’s right…on my second ride, my tire pressure warning goes off. I check the monitor and, sure enough, three tires are showing as 36-42 psi and my rear passenger side is showing 14…13…12.5…9…FML. I drop off my passenger at OHSU and then pull over to inflate so I can drive to Les Schwab for a patch. At least I was/am hoping it’s patch-able. The fact that I had to stop and re-inflate on the way to the tire shop didn’t seem too promising. I mean, the tire shop was maybe three miles from OHSU…I should know any time now whether it’s fixable or I’m fucked. I shouldn’t be too surprised that this is the second time I’ve been back for a repair since getting these new wheels back in…April? May? A blog buddy warned me that she’d had nothing but trouble from her Continentals. Still, I’m trying to find my Attitude of Gratitude by acknowledging that the Contis are doing far better with only two trips to the shop in 6 months, compared to Pat the Patriot’s six trips in 5 months.
  • I figured since I had 90 minutes to kill before I heard about Angela’s tire, I’d walk a few errands. First, dropping off my poo test. Second, third, I’ll swing by the post office and pick up a registered letter (don’t worry, it’s a gift card not a summons) and fourth…I’ll swing by the bank and switch a few nickels from one account to another in case I have to buy a new tire. Probably not the energy to be putting out there – practical as it sounded at the time. On my way from the ballot dropbox to the bank, I passed a spice shop and remembered last night’s craving for a seasoning for my popcorn. In I go! Unable to decide between cheddar and straight up popcorn salt, I pick up both. I head to the counter and…no wallet. Come on! I think I remember leaving it in Angela’s driver’s side glove box while gassing up. If that’s a fake memory, then I’ve lost my friggin’ wallet. Again. Upside: I need a new wallet. Downside: no popcorn seasonings. The guy was really nice about it, too. He offered to let me take the seasonings and bring cash back. Chuckling gratefully at the offer, I declined, thinking I’d probably get hit by an armored car on my way home if I took him up on the kind offer.
  • The most ironic thing about today? While I was at lunch, dad sneaks in one of those “I didn’t want to alarm your <insert parenting partner here>” type questions to make sure I’m doing ok.
  • At the time, I laughed it off, low-key complaining about my laptop. But I asked what had prompted the conspiratorial concern and he pointed back to an Instagram post from last week or so. The post in question was something like this:
  • But I had just shared it to my story from somewhere else on the ‘gram, so now it’s gone. But how lucky am I to have a dad that asks?!?
  • Even luckier to be able to answer, “Nah, just seemed like a good thought to share. With you and mom on my side, I never have to ask for help”! So, that felt good.
  • Everything else?
  • Annoying.
  • Now, I guess I best hoof it up to the post office – did I mention that the registered letter is at a post office branch 20 blocks away instead of the branch that is literally two blocks from my house? – then stop by Les Schwab and at least pick up (I hope) my wallet since it’s been 90 minutes and still no word. Might end up taking the weekend off…
  • Eff Em El