Confessions of Hoarder

I downsize in slow motion. Every year I sweep the house looking for items to discard. On a shelf with ten books, I declare a 30% surplus and three are laid off. My wife raids the donation pile and puts Declutter Like a Mother back. The next year I see nine books on the same shelf because we bought Spark Joy. I declare a 33% surplus and so it goes. I also skim the books before discarding. Skimming leads to reading A Man Called Ove because no one can resist stories about old curmudgeons. Progress is slow but I have successfully eradicated most paperbacks. Culling the Word has also decimated books published in my lifetime. I retain undamaged hardbacks from the 1880’s through the early 1940’s because they look cool and I favor cosmetics over substance. I did toss a 1937 biography of Cecil Rhodes. My paternal grandfather signed his own name on the inside front cover but I do not want anyone thinking I admire Rhodes. I am a poser and have ten volumes of William Makepeace Thackery writings compiled and published in 1888. I may have read something he wrote but have retained nothing. I love the idea of Carl Sagan but I finally tossed Broca’s Brain. I do not have the requisite brainpower or attention span to actually learn any science. I was fascinated enough by Outer Space to attend a String Theory lecture. But all I remember is the Universe being like a tightly wound ball of string being threatened by Earth’s gravitation pulling too hard on a loose thread. I am going to take a Blogging break to skim Edward Gibbon’s two volume work on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I may return sooner than I expect.


Confessions of Traveler

I thought my wife and I traveled on different flights to minimize the chances of both dying at once but she recently revealed that traveling with me is like dying a thousand deaths. Last week I forgot to reserve airport shuttle lot parking and ended up driving to the 8th floor rooftop of the expensive on-site parking garage where abandoned vehicles were already parked illegally. Panic attack. Next thing I remember was approaching the security screener while gulping down my water and contact solution and frantically searching for credentials. He asked, “Are you alright today, sir?” His tone had a sobering impact, so I smiled, calmly lied, and tried to cover the coffee milkshake stains on my shirt. I could only pack ten copies of Suicide Squeeze because I needed room in my luggage for birthday gifts, peanut butter, and my portable shower. My grandson Diego turned twelve and we gave him football cleats. Amazing how quickly we abandoned our position on the dangers of football after watching him score three touchdowns in a game. Next year we will probably buy him a motorcycle. Meanwhile, I distributed half my Suicide Squeeze inventory in Little Free Libraries. Regular libraries have long posted signs warning me against depositing non-library books in return bins. One Free Library with a lock required a QR code scan. Quickly Retreat. I could break into the box but would be a prime suspect because I do not write under a pseudonym. So I left two copies at covered bus stops, incorporated two others amongst the skeletons in front lawn Halloween displays, and inserted one in a dog house for sale in Alexandria, Virginia. When I returned to the Seattle airport, a long search in the dark eventually established that I had actually parked legally.

Confessions of Old Dog

I interviewed for a Gratitude Blog on WordPress but they assigned me to the Whinyland department. Even so, I am grateful every day I awake up alive, including last Monday at 12:36 am when I scribbled the words Ding Dang Dung in my bedside notebook. Apparently this quirky conjugation of unrelated words was hysterical in my dream. But I could not mold them into an amusing “ringy-dingy ring, rang, rung, sting, stang, stanged” post about the absurdity of the English language. Instead I will whine about what I have lost in the Age of Technology.

I miss walking into any drug store or grocery store to get my annual flu shot. Thanks Covid-19 for creating a reservation system. On Ding Dang Dung Monday, my wife labored on the computer reserving flu shots for that very day. Oops, the Confirmations say Monday, November 7th. I miss seeing doctors in person; the only one I want to visit on Zoom is my dentist.

I miss barber shop comradery. Now I need reservations on an app that notifies customers when to arrive. That is not convenient for a technology idiot like me. Luckily, I like long hair. Except in my soup.

I miss the airport where you could go out to dinner after Homecoming. Last weekend at the same facility, I was caught in massive gridlock because automated pay stations were down. I miss free parking or plugging a few coins in a meter.

I miss the aesthetics of old fashioned bookstores despite the efficiency of ordering books online. I used to surreptitiously plant my novel in the stores. Smuggling copies into Amazon Corporate Headquarters takes the fun out of that game. But I want my permanent electronic record to reflect that I am grateful about living to see the Future.

Confessions of Outdoorman

I spend quite a bit of time outdoors, partly because I have trouble finding my way home. I swam almost every day this summer but ran over my all-time favorite swimming goggles with my truck. They were gifted to me and had lasted two seasons. No problem. I went online to order another pair. They cost $48, so I decided to just swim with my eyes closed. But I needed a helmet to avoid concussing on the sides of the community pool. The lifeguards would forget to hook the stairs back after swim meets and I noticed an older lady would take a stepladder into the pool. I was too cool for that so I exited like a worm scaling the bait bucket. I was a beached whale flopping around with stand-up muscles made of rubber. Each day spectators gathered when I attempted to climb out of the pool.

I made another awkward exit on a hike in Mount Rainier National Park when the bottoms of my ski poles got stuck in the slamming door of the Sunrise restroom. Incoming patrons waited patiently while I extricated myself. I told a young man, “This is why you do not take hiking gear into the restroom.” He just smiled, probably wondering why anyone needed poles to hike or why I thought somebody would steal 45 year old poles if left unattended outside.

My latest outdoor epiphany occurred while watching my granddaughter roller skate with knee and elbow pads. I have decided to purchase some for running and walking because I do occasionally fall. I have not yet sustained a serious injury but cannot count on that luck holding forever. I have not seen any runners using such equipment, so I will either be embarrassed or start a trend.

Confessions of a Pet Sitter

Tomorrow is day ten of my current cat sitting assignment. My wife and I have never had pets although our parents, siblings, and children have been owned by a variety of cats and dogs. My brother Jamie turned a rat in the garage and a raccoon with cataracts into pets. They were not blessed with offspring. I almost created a fictional pet so co-workers and strangers on a plane would not think I was weird. But follow-up questions could expose the lie and make me even weirder. I am astounded when vacationing neighbors and family members entrust me with house keys to enable pet feeding. Unfortunately, security cameras have made snooping less fun.

I have three tips if you dogsit or catsit. First, do not use those words. They make your lisp sound vulgar. Second, do not sit for animals that are smarter than you. My sister-in-law Cindy’s dog can open her front door and I cannot. Third, make time to pray for the pets to survive your watch. I never saw one of my sister’s cats until my last day on duty. Shy cat was alive under an upstairs bed. It would have been embarrassing if an autopsy proved she died six days earlier.

I am currently staying overnight with Leo the cat and Zofia (age 10) at their Condo while the parental units are out of town. I did not prepare well. I live close by but my Fitbit charger, prescription glasses, contact solution, and Zofia’s trombone are always at the wrong residence. I did manage to drive Zofia the familiar two miles to school without my glasses. That boosted my confidence. As soon as we hook up a YouTube camera, I will drive the route blindfolded while Zofia shouts directions and Leo plays trombone.