I was left home alone with four grandchildren and no car on Monday morning. The local swimming pool does not open until 1:00 pm, so we played Monster. The game migrated outside where I worried the shrieking might attract police. Luckily the fun ended with the six year old in tears over my realistic portrayal of the Monster. I gathered the five of us inside for Charades. The kids silently mouth the words while acting them out, so I can move things along when their gestures are incomprehensible. I decided to act out Sponge Bob because it would be easy and they all are very well acquainted with that television program (and Halloween costume). Starting with the second word, my “sounds like” ear tug led quickly from “rob” (after my brilliant pantomime of a thief) to “Bob.” I waited in vain for some one to call out “Sponge Bob,” but heard only Bob the Builder and a few guesses in no way related to the clue. Reluctantly I tackled the first word by doing a “spin” that eventually led to “spun.” I grew exasperated when “Spun Bob” suggested nothing to them. So I turned sponge into two syllables and they tortuously arrived at “g” for the second syllable but made it a hard “g.” Now they are giving me quizzical looks while yelling out “Spung Bob” (rhymes with “rung Bob”). My seven year old grandson finally has an epiphany, screams “Sponge Bob,” and actually thinks I am in the mood to offer congratulations for his brilliant answer.
Most of my knowledge of Islam and the Quran comes from sources like Wikipedia and Russia’s Facebook postings, so I am legally ignorant. A daughter-in-law sent me passages of the Quran and commentary mentioning Jesus and his Mother Mary which were surprising to me. My very limited reading of this apparent source material seems to indicate that Jesus is not accepted as divine in the Quran but does seem to be held in reverence as the last prophet of Israel and a major messenger of God (Allah), preceding Mohammed. When the aliens arrive on Earth, they will find it hard to believe how intensely we hate each other for our differences when we all seem so much alike.
I have taken in so many boarders and they schedule so many play dates with unknown children that my wife often escapes to our bedroom with a tray of food and the remote control to the television. So it would not be unusual for a bottle of Litehouse Bleu Cheese Dressing to appear on my nightstand. A couple of times a day, I pamper my feet with lotion I keep on said nightstand, hoping to bribe said feet into supporting my jogging addiction. Since I am often wandering through my day in a distracted state, it was inevitable that I would eventually lather my feet with blue cheese salad dressing. I cannot really blame anyone but myself although I have certainly tried. However, I can guarantee that my wife will dismiss her own negligence and make me suffer when she one day squeezes body lotion on her salad. And it will definitely happen if she falls for the blue cheese labels I am attaching to my lotion bottles.
Recently Donald Trump and the White House were defending unpopular immigration detention practices that required the separation of children from parents. The Administration answer to outrage was an attempt at better communication they felt would surely sway 90% of the public to the logic of their position. I usually have the exact same tendency to deflect criticism with my own brand of logical communication. Over the years I was told by both my parents to stop teasing my sisters so much. This was annoying to me because (as I would articulate): (1) my sisters are really sharp and would be insulted if I treated them as if they were weak; (2) they can handle it and give as good as they get; (3) they will be better prepared for the real world; (4) I am really witty; and (5) many other pathetic responses long since forgotten. I thought others were not listening to logic when I was the one who did not get it. Looking back, it seems significant that no one else agreed with me. My brothers were NOT coming up and saying, “Don’t let Mom and Dad bully you, keep up that great teasing. You are hysterical.” So I can actually understand the Trumpian tendency to wear blinders of self interest because I have always hated criticism and explore every rationalization to justify my own biases. If only my parents had actually encouraged my bad behavior, I could have been a contender for President.
Our household of seven has temporarily increased to nine. Two grandchildren from Virginia arrived ahead of their parents for a 17 day summer vacation. On Monday, five hungry grandchildren were in the kitchen as my wife was cutting up strawberries she picked from our garden to supplement the French Toast breakfast she was cooking. I was helping by getting in her way while fixing something for myself. Exasperated, she told me that the two of us could not be working in the kitchen together. I immediately removed myself to the den at 8:53 am, figuring I won that round. I noticed on my calendar that she had a 9:00 am dental appointment that very day. It was rescheduled from the last one she missed. I triumphantly returned to the kitchen with the news, my next great victory of superiority. She immediately raced out the door and drove away. I surveyed my newly reclaimed kingdom and saw yesterday’s dirty dishes, five hungry mouths, and a total mess of partially prepared breakfast. I knew my wife was the ultimate winner because normally she seizes every possible opportunity, no matter how contrived, to miss or reschedule dental appointments. And this one turned out to be a real long one. Her memory is so bad that she even forgot to turn her phone back on after leaving the dentist’s office and so was unable to answer all my urgent calls and texts.
Mankind’s greatest inventions and discoveries have been debated extensively because humans love top ten lists. Fire, Wheel, Nail, and Compass made the early lists when Paper and the Printing Press finally allowed pundits to record rankings. Medical advances (Vaccinations, Penicillin, Anesthesia, Contraceptives) are always in the running. Engine (Steam, Internal Combustion) and Vehicle (Gas Powered Tractor, Car, Airplane, Rocket) breakthroughs are big. Recent advances are occurring at an accelerated pace which makes it hard to find room for Optical Lenses, Electricity, Telephone, Radio and Television, Semiconductors, Personal Computers, and the Internet. Personally I would kick Gunpowder and Nuclear Fission off the invention lists and replace them with Pizza and Ice Cream. And my vote for the greatest human discovery is Reproduction, although it was conspicuously absent from any of the lists I found on Wikipedia.
Fellow blogger Lyz Lens (who is somehow a lot more famous than me) has published ten life changing tips to make your home so much cleaner. All of them are wonderful, but I think you only need her first one: “Divide everything into three piles: things to keep, things to throw away and things to donate. Then, pour gasoline over all three piles and light them on fire.”
My television is broken again. I cannot seem to get the fuzziness of Trump off the channels my wife watches. Even my sports channels are starting to get infected. The cable guy says I am a riot but when pressed, he changes that to idiot. When I am weak I sometimes think maybe we should just give Trump his border Wall and a big military parade. I do not want him to escalate the stakes and start executing children as a bargaining chip to gain financing for his projects. But then I remember that appeasement does not work with a tyrant. Where is Winston Churchill when we need him?
A couple of years ago my oldest son and his wife gave me a Fitbit because I love to count useless things. I have been to our neighborhood pool 38 times since it opened on Mother’s Day weekend and I have counted every lap. But something you clip on a belt or pocket was a clear design flaw for a target audience of active people. So I lost that Fitbit the day I received it. My wife has the newer watch model which I love. So my son and his wife gave me one of my own on Father’s Day despite my earlier carelessness. Our household has been blessed with three graduations and many related functions and parties this week. I drew the duty of picking up our high school grad after the parent sponsored post graduation party at a secret destination. Pick up was scheduled for 3:30 am yesterday at the high school. I scored big and early when the buses were over a half hour late because I came armed with my Fitbit! I paced that parking lot while others huddled in cars with their own devices. Eight hours later I attended a stifling 8th grade graduation where I wandered around behind the standing room part of the crowd spilling out the door. This Fitbit is a wonderful antidote for the daily scourge of waiting because I can compete for step count and see immediate results. Except my wife has forbidden me from telling her (or anyone else) how many steps I take. This ban is painful but at least I get to secretly write down the number every day.
Solicitors continually send me address labels in the name of ex-residents from the last century and/or relatives who have used our address. I hate tossing labels containing our correct address. So I use them. This causes a number of reactions. One is outrage. This, of course, encourages me. Another more muted criticism is just disapproval. I prefer approval but not enough to stop. Eventually I will, though, because it becomes an old joke to even the rare person who is amused. For years, I stuffed postage paid envelopes with solicitations from other marketing mailers but I tired of that meaningless exercise rotating the junk mail. Someone who once opened the mail for a solicitor told me about more creative people who stuffed everything from religious tracts to hard core pornography in those postage paid envelopes. Like Facebook accounts that outlive the deceased forever, address labels keep arriving for people who are long dead. So I expect my legacy will live on forever if my children eventually use labels with my name as a way to honor (i.e., make fun of) me for decades past my demise. Such a possibility eggs me on.