Saturday, May 12, 2012

Home Run!

My laundry room is just off the kitchen. When I have a dirty dish towel, I  throw it across the room and let it land on the laundry room floor where it will get my attention some time in the future. Most of the time, it will land somewhere in the middle of the floor where I will kick it to a pile with other similarly discarded kitchen towels on my next pass through to the garage. Every once in a while, it'll land in a basket of clean laundry whereupon I find it necessary to walk the extra twenty steps to segregate the two, lest I end up folding and reusing the dirty towel. Once, I managed to throw a strike - straight through the open door of my front loading washer. Yesterday, I threw my first "home run!"

I broke the zipper on my sweater bag. For those who might not know, a sweater bag is something you might put small or delicate items in before putting the whole zippered bag into the laundry. It's usually constructed of a mesh material so that the items inside are washed clean while protected from rougher items swirling around with them such as jeans, zippers, buttons, grommets or hooks.

I had just come home with a new sweater bag and as I was unloading my groceries, I threw my new purchase from the kitchen to the laundry room. I didn't bother to unwrap it - I figured I could do that later. There were two sweater bags in a flat plastic package made stiff with a cardboard insert so that it sailed like a square Frisbee across the room. The package hit flat on the laundry room floor, spinning and sliding, the plastic packaging and the linoleum floor meeting to promote the package's slippery momentum straight to my washing machine.

And then, it kept going, spinning, spinning out of sight, under the washing machine to the black hole that exists behind it. Just like that, it was gone. Who knows what's back there? Am I willing to look and discover what else lives there?

I expect what lives there are the monsters of Maurice Sendak. I hope not for there would be no hope for my sweater bag. At best, there might be stray socks. But, still, is it worth it?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The One About Water

Speaking of Now & Then sequels, there's always one kicking around in the back of my mind. (What I should really do is finish one before moving on to the next but that's no fun.) This is what is currently floating around in my skull. Let me know what you think.

What if?

What it would be like if we lost the internet for even one day? Maybe just a few hours? What would happen? It's mind-boggling to contemplate (and makes great fodder for a plot in an upcoming Now & Then sequel.)

Yesterday, I went to work only to find out there was nothing to do because we had lost our internet connection. Our business exists in an internet cloud and without WiFi there was was no commuting to work. It bothered my boss far more than it bothered me, I can tell you. I still had my phone and used the time to read The Seattle Times. For her it was lost income, the only blessing being that tax season was over.

Later in the day, I drove to our other abode in Vancouver WA and proceeded to knock out our WiFi connection there. It was after five o'clock so there was no real lost productivity but without the internet, it was difficult to "look up" the solution. After making a hard wire connection, logging into the router and testing various wireless devices, we gave up and called Comcast. Clickety-click, the problem was solved in a matter of seconds with the admonition to never touch the WPS button on the router ever again. We didn't lose much in the way of productivity but the consideration was whether I'd be able to work at all today. (I can. I just choose not to.)

After the internet drama ended, we walked to dinner. As we were finishing our meals, we heard the waitress explain to diners at the next table that the restaurant's POS system wasn't working so she was unable to provide a check for their meal or accept payment until the problem was fixed. Overhearing, we poured another glass of wine and wondered if it wasn't possible to just figure out the check on paper - like in the olden days (or currently still in use at your local diner). Apparently, not. It's like counting change. No one knows how to do it anymore.

All this, in just one day.

Just think about it. You couldn't check out a book at the local library or pay your bus fare. Food stamps aren't even stamps anymore. It's called EBT now for Electronic Benefit Transfer. You couldn't buy gas or food regardless of method of payment. ATMs wouldn't work, planes couldn't land, drones would misfire, ballots would be miscounted (oh, wait). Many of us would be without communication of any kind.

You could still do laundry. Laundromats still take coins. Those are the round metal things in your pocket.

I'm just saying. What if?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'll Let You Fold The Folding Chair

If you know that line, you know Pierre and his cavalier attitude not to mention the other books and characters contained in the Nutshell Library. Published in 1962, the books contained therein were “Alligators All Around,” “Chicken Soup With Rice,” “One Was Johnny” and, of course, “Pierre.” I still cherish those books. The entire library was small enough to fit into my mother's purse where she would cart them around just in case she needed to entertain her small children in a restaurant or other situation which called for quiet children. Not that we didn't read them at bedtime as well. Often. In fact, often enough that lines from the stories were often recalled (and still are) in daily conversation such as "'I don't care,' said Pierre" or "Sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice."

When I had kids, I had those books in my purse. My kids loved them too and my oldest was thrilled when I gave him his own set after the birth of his son.

I still have those little, tiny books my mom read to me. Such joy! I can't wait to share them with my grandson! (He's still pretty much into picture books but it won't be long now.)

Through Pierre, and others, Maurice Sendak will live on forever.

(Maurice Sendak passed away on May 8, 2012.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Child Labor

Speaking of OSHA, April 26th was Take Your Kid to Work Day. I often work from home so that wouldn't be much fun for my kids. Plus, my kids have moved out and I don't really want them back.

I figured out it was TYKTWD when I glanced out the window of a 737 while sitting on the tarmac at PDX, waiting for the rest of the passengers to board, and saw a small child in a bright orange vest that hung below his knees carrying two bright orange sticks. Before I knew it there was another one, struggling to load bags on the conveyor belt below the belly of the plane on which I was sitting. At the next terminal, there was yet another one - this one was taller - just generally standing around.

My exact words were, "I'm guessing OSHA doesn't know about this."

By the time we pushed back, other passengers were looking out the window as the first pipsqueak was flopping the orange sticks this way and that - the sticks being longer than his arms - while his father lagged behind snapping photos of his eight-year-old walking along the side of a jet airplane. I have no idea if the pilot could even see the little fellow but there were no mishaps with the children or other airplanes, for that matter.

I was relieved when we were far enough away that the children were no longer in danger of being run over (by us, anyway) and we began our taxi to the runway. By the time the engines revved for takeoff and we were pressed into our seats with the force of the airplane's thrust, it was too late to think about whether there were kids in the control tower.

To be honest, I don't really want to know.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

They're Watching

Why is it that the most aggressive drivers on the road have kids in the car with them? Does this mean that parents are too stressed out?

I was driving with my grandson sleeping in his car seat at a leisurely grandparent-like pace (aka the speed limit), when a mini van sped up my behind me and hung on my bumper until I pulled over to let it pass. The driver was chatting on her cell phone and had baby shoes dangling from her rear view mirror. As she sped by me, I read the sticker in the back window, "Baby On Board."

I thought to myself, "I hope the hell not!"

She is not the only one. I frequently see minivans on the freeway exceeding speed limits, tailgating, and changing lanes erratically. Either the kids are making the drivers so crazy as to get to their destinations as soon as physically possible or - well, there can be no explanation, can there? Otherwise, imagine what these drivers are teaching these children by way of modeling behavior?

Two-year-olds will absorb everything you say and do. I'm afraid it's the same with teenagers and children of all ages in between. If you drive like an asshole, you're likely rearing asshole drivers. Not to mention, dangerous ones, in all likelihood.

But that's just my opinion.