Returning to the world with grace and style.

Oh sure, I suppose it could be colder and the morning commute worse, etc. etc., but I might have handled it with more grace if draped in fur knowing TrueLove SuperStud was watching.

I left my office for vacation on Dec. 21st. Today was my first day back. After nearly two weeks off, I could still use some more time. That I stayed up last night until nearly 2 a.m. fighting with the damn sewing machine didn’t help me transition this morning.

He was an (externally) gorgeous man.

I used to think it a sign of a great vacation to return to work more tired than when I left. Sometimes, I still feel that way. The truth is, this time, I am not more tired. Two weeks off did me (and my abode) a world of good, but like hitting the snooze alarm and muttering, “Ten more minutes, “ I wanted a couple more days.

And I certainly didn’t want 16F and a dusting snow that turned to ice on the windshield.

While “on vacation,” I kept the house a balmy 72F, sometimes a tropical 75F, round-the-clock. Aberrant behavior, you betcha. I loathe paying Appalachian Power one cent more than I have too. But, hey! I was on vacation.

After the indignities of the day (filling the gas tank, finding myself too large to button the stylish down coat that matched my stylish high-heeled boots which also felt too small, and walking into small, but muchly unwelcome problems at the office), I returned to a home holding, per the thermostat, at 55F. The thermostat’s been cranking since then and it may achieve a room temp of 70 or so before I crawl into bed, but since my last act on the way up the stairs will be turn it down to 58F or so, tomorrow morning will be unpleasant.

Eventually, I’ll acclimate to this, my normal winter regime. And, really, I shouldn’t complain. Unlike last year, winter pretty much arrived when it was supposed to. Theoretically, it could all be over but the shouting in 10-12 weeks. But the truth is, I left the house today wearing stylish boots and returned home wearing my office slipper booties because they were warmer and more comfortable. I also parked at a meter instead of in the lot I pay to park in. The meter was a half-block closer to the door.

I’m going to need a few more days to handle Old Man Winter with grace and style.

Well, yeah, it's not this bad.

Still, the cold is paralyzing me. I’ve been so productive around the house the past few weeks and I’ve loved catching up on projects, starting some new ones, planning some others and enjoying the improvements. The last thing I need is to spend the next 12 weeks burrowed on the couch shivering my my-time away.

And another remote goes to live in the basket by the tv.

I’m sitting here watching the local news LIVE on my TELEVISION. My Agog-O-Meter is off the charts.

After puberty, I didn’t watch much television. I preferred books. With the advent of the cyber revolution, the Internet offered me all the entertainment I could handle (plus some). So even having the capability to watch 7000 channels, I mostly ignored the beast. UNTIL, against my will, I became addicted to Law & Order. I was appalled. I was embarrassed. It called for strong measures.

My New Year’s resolution for 2008 was to quit watching Law & Order. It remains the only resolution I’ve ever kept. Without a steady diet of homicide, pedophilia, rape, arson, corruption, and a justice system gone amok, I’ve been happier. You just can’t watch that crap day in and day out with consequences. That Law & Order is on at least one channel at every hour of the day doesn’t help.

I quit cold turkey and it was a lot easier than I thought. I would go days without turning the television on. So, I cancelled the satellite service which was installed years and years ago. The decision to get a satellite dish was made after (a) learning the Barn sits in a television broadcast signal “dead zone” and (b) after spending heaps of money on ever bigger, more powerful, unsightly antennas. The last antenna was only slightly smaller than a cell phone tower. It allowed us to get Channel 3 clearly, 8 on sunny days, 11 now and then, and 13 never. PBS was hopeless. I raised the only child born after 1970 who didn’t grow up with Sesame Street.

When the Green Bay Packers had their great revival in the mid-90s, Chef Boy ‘R Mine and The Ex couldn’t stand the thought of missing a game. 7000 channels including the local stations soon appeared crystal clear on our television moments after the DISH TV truck arrived at the top of the hill. (7000 channels, of course, necessitated a new television.)  The guys monopolized the television and I didn’t much care.

For the most part, I have not missed having television. The parts that aren’t included in that most part are being able to watch the news, not being able to watch Jane and The Dragon, and not being able to turn on one of the annoying morning shows while I’m trying to wake up and get motivated.

So, I figured out how to watch the local news on the computer. I joined Netflicks. I was reasonably happy. Then I learned about the Roku player – this cute little thing was going to let me stream Netflicks to my television set – not a beast by any means, but a larger picture than the laptop. The Roku came with a number of channels none of which included live newscasts.

I got greedy. I wanted news. On the television.

My television does not have a digital tuner. There’s nothing wrong with it otherwise – decent picture, right size for the room, and long-since paid for. When they pulled the analog plug, I couldn’t even get a fuzzy picture. If Armageddon occurred, I was going to have to listen to it on the radio or hope CNN had a livestream.

I am thoroughly enjoying the Roku.  If you have a Netflicks account and aren’t otherwise able to stream it to your television, I can highly recommend the Roku.  If they would just provide me with live newscasts, I would be a content, fulfilled woman.  But they didn’t and I wasn’t.

Well. A friend gave me a digital converter box and a set of rabbit ears. I didn’t figure it would work very well considering the rabbit ears, but I hoped it might pull in one channel clear enough to keep abreast of current events. I also acquired an ancient tiny portable television as I wasn’t about to pry the “big” television out the armoire in order to hook up gitchies to whatzits that might get one channel. And besides, I didn’t want more stuff hanging off the television – between the stereo receiver, the DVD player, the VHS player and the Roku there’s more than enough cords, cables, boxes, and remotes.

So, I hooked it all up. Even without the rabbit ears extended, I immediately tuned in the 3 major networks and a bunch of other stations I’d never heard of. The picture was beautiful. As fate would have it, one channel was playing the news, one had Law & Order on, and another had Jane and The Dragon playing. Even PBS came in clear as a bell.

I was agog.

So bug-eyed, I disassembled it all and hooked the converter and rabbit ears to the “big” television which was a pain in my pudgy pitoot. Moving everything into the armoire resulted in a loss of PBS and the Jane and The Dragon channel, but I can get them back if I fiddlefart with the antenna.

I am state-of-the-art now!  Relatively speaking.

It’s been a good week to be me.

Now I’ve stayed up too late watching the tube and probably will get up too late to tomorrow to see Today.

[Really, I don’t understand the appeal of late night talk shows. I swear my IQ dropped 10 points watching Jay Leno.]

Common Sense

Thomas Paine

On January 10, 1776, 235 years ago today, Thomas Paine published anonymously the pamphlet Common Sense

Besides other terrific stuff, he said in the pamphlet:

Yet, as the domestic tranquillity of a nation, depends greatly on the chastity of what might properly be called NATIONAL MANNERS, it is often better to pass some things over in silent disdain, than to make use of such new methods of dislike, as might introduce the least innovation on that guardian of our peace and safety.

“National Manners” is not a new concept but one we seem to have abandoned.  Indeed, Mr. Paine, these are the times that try men’s souls.

If you have not read Paine’s masterpiece, it is available online in it’s entirety.

12-Step Program for Refrigerator Magnetaholics?

I have a thing for refrigerator magnets. I realize it’s hokey, bourgeois, tacky and a sign of feeble intelligence. But I love them. They make me smile and, sometimes, guffaw. My penchant for excess is clearly apparent by simply looking at my refrigerator. [I was sorely disappointed to learn my dishwasher door was not metal. That’s probably a good thing as I tend to dribble coffee down the door.]

I don’t even pretend they’re utilitarian. I don’t use them to hold notes, children’s artwork, grocery lists, or medical appointment cards. They are there because I like them. Although when Chef Boy ‘R Mine was little, I had alphabet magnets near the bottom so he could play with them. The magnetic poetry is not on the fridge because I like to sprawl on the couch with the nifty magnetic board and compose my pearls of verse.

Some magnets I bought as souvenirs and others were gifts. Some my son made and some were made by friends. Many were given to me by HMOKeefe. Some I bought just because I liked them or they spoke to my heart.

When I painted the kitchen several years back I packed them away. For reasons I don’t understand and certainly can’t explain, they’ve languished in the closet all this time. During the holiday housecleaning frenzy it occurred to me while cleaning the surface of the refrigerator that I ought to perambulate my lazy butt over to the closet, fish them out and put them back on the fridge. And so I did.

I feel like I’ve reunited with old friends.

Among the puppies, quotes, Wizard of Oz characters, tropical fish and goofy photos are the Unemployed Philosopher Guild’s magnetic finger puppets. If you’ve never seen these things you really must meander over to their website. My favorite is Freud and his accompanying couch. But then again I’m uncommonly fond of Frieda Kahlo. Not to mention Schrödinger’s cat and Pavlov’s dog.

My magnets are not confined to the refrigerator. I also have them on my filing cabinet at work. I haven’t added to that display for a few years now. It’s time to remedy that.

As for alternate locations at home, for years, I’ve been trying to find the right sized piece of sheet metal without grooves to cover one side of my antique filing cabinet so the finger puppets can go live there. I’ve explored the possibility of magnetic paint, but I’m not convinced it will hold the heavier magnets and, besides, we all know how I hate painting. [And if you don’t, please understand that I would rather clean the cat box with my tongue than paint. While cleaning the cat box in that manner is never necessary, painting is and the bitching and moaning that occurs is legendary in its intensity.]

I really do have to get the puppets out of the kitchen to protect them from grease and the occasional flying food spatters. And the cat. She likes to pull them off and play kitty soccer with them. I’m a little tired of finding Dorothy Parker under the church pew though I think if she were still alive she would have something really funny to say about lying under a church pew.

Somewhere I have a package of 50 magnets the size of business cards with adhesive on one side. Their reason for being is to turn business cards into fridge magnets. When I bought them I did so because I figured making my own magnets would be a big bunch of fun. I’m going to throw in the towel and just go buy some more. [Lost Things drive me crazy. It doesn’t matter if I want them or not, their status as Lost is a challenge that makes me feel like a failure when frenzied looking is of no avail.]

Frankly, I think we all have some silly thing we collect not because we need them, but because they make us happy. My shoe collection is another, but that deserves a post of its own as do the reading glasses and watches (all of which need new batteries). And of course there are the cow and barn images.

I have a friend who has a display of antique toasters – at least a hundred of them – that are stacked two and three high on the top of his kitchen cabinets. I have an uncle who collects clocks. Every wall in his house is covered in clocks. I believe they number in the hundreds. My brother and his wife have every movie released on video tape or DVD in the last 20 years. My father acquires old computers he works feverishly on to get them running. He does nothing with his successes as most of them are such old technology they are useless. My mother is into glass birds and painted birdhouses – both collections are getting completely out of hand. [I am so dreading dealing with my parents’ house when the time comes – they’re getting close to needing intervention for hoarding.]

So, what is your silly thing? And how to you justify it?