The Perils of Living in Paradise


Moving Questions

When I last moved five years ago, I thought I’d learned some lessons. Apparently not, which is why I find myself asking questions when I’m reaching for the bubble wrap and cardboard boxes in route to a new residence.

Question No. 1. Didn’t I buy a Kindle several years ago so I wouldn’t have to pack and move books? The answer to that is a resounding yes. So how did my tiny book collection — the few I saved from my parents –grow so quickly? And why didn’t  I do a better job of giving the new members of my book family to the library when I finished reading them?

Since question No. 1 had several parts, I’m now onto question No. 4. When did books become so heavy? Or conversely when did I become so weak? The Story of Art, which was given to me as a gift, weighs 4 1/2 pounds. I realize that art through the centuries is a heavy subject, but this book is definitely a weighty tome. I’m sure I’ll never read it, so my plan is to return it to the generous gift giver and thank her  profusely for lending it to me. Her house is filled with books. One more won’t make much difference even if she, too, decides to move.

The next question. What are all those kitchen gadgets in my drawers? And why did I buy them? Actually, I know why I bought them. There’s a charming kitchen/stuff store in Petoskey, Michigan. When we visit in the summer I find myself stuffing all kinds of items into my shopping basket. To be fair, I often use the special glasses designed to keep away the tears while chopping onions. They’re quite handy.

But I haven’t touched the strawberry-shaped gadget that removes the stem. I might use it if I thought of it. But it’s easier to chop the stems off with a knife. The fan I can attach to my cell phone appears helpful. But I’m confident that if I try to use it while talking, I’ll slice off half of my face. I’m also not sure about the two silver “paddles.” I think they’re for mixing flour and other ingredients. I should give them to someone who actually bakes.

Next. Why do I have so many dishes? I’m sure I got rid of several sets of dishware when I moved five years ago. I’ve long had a dish obsession — glassware too — but I swear I don’t remember buying these. There are two of us; ten at the most when we entertain. Would it be possible for me to pare down to a dozen dishes? Probably not.

Are their elves in my closet that manufacture clothing while I’m sleeping? Every time I shop and buy something new, I go through my closet and put together a sack for my cleaning lady. She either gives the items to her mother-in-law or to the local humane society. Still, the mover estimated I needed six clothing boxes — and that was just for storage.

And, then, where did all those shoes come from? When I moved the last time I bought a plastic bag with compartments for 26 pairs of shoes that can be hung on the closet door. That’s it, I told myself. That’s my limit. But when I look in my closet I see 22 shoe boxes stacked on the shelves. It’s those pesky elves again.

I’m not the only transgressor in the family. Why does my man have so many papers and files? Stacks and stacks of them. I have my old tax returns and the car title. Other than that, my paper goes into the recycling drawer. Speaking of which, he saved all the paper and boxes from our last move. I guess that’s good news.

When I asked him if he was going to get rid of some of his papers and start over, he just looked at me. I didn’t have to ask, I could hear the questions forming in his mind. What about all those books, kitchen gadgets, dishes, clothes and shoes? Sorry. I have no answers.

Yes There’s a Problem

Just had to post this great commentary by a friend in my writing class. It’s terrific.


By Karen Grace

Have you noticed how what we thought were appropriate, mannerly declarations and responses have changed?

We used to say “thank you.” The response was “you’re welcome.” Now “you’re welcome” is rare and usually from an older person. More often, it’s “my pleasure,” or a smile or the worst, “no problem.”

“No problem!” Was there a problem? What was it? You did something for me. I said, “thank you.” What was the problem? Or the non-problem? Why is the word problem even part of the response?

We used to walk through town and smile or nod to passersby. Same thing on the bike path [in our island community]. Montanans raise one finger (no, not the middle one) above the steering wheel when they pass another Montanan while driving. They don’t seem to care if it’s someone they know or a stranger. If it’s a Montanan, that’s enough.

What response do we expect when we smile or speak? Maybe a “good morning,” “hello,” “beautiful day.” Not a blank stare or, even worse, a look of fear as if our remark were threatening and the precursor to a violent act. Have we become that afraid of people we don’t know?

In the Beach Club gym one morning, former president George W. Bush entered. That’s not a rare occurrence [on our island] in January. He’s always smiling and if you make eye contact with him, he’ll say, “Good going. Keep it up.” Or he’ll give you a thumbs-up.

That morning on arrival, he did just that to a woman who was using a weight machine. Her response was indignation. “Do I know you?”

“I guess not,” was his reply, said with a smile. It was amusing to the rest of us. But why was her response so wary – even if she thought him a stranger.

We won’t even talk about civil discourse or intelligent debate. The point of a discussion isn’t to convince or WIN! Sometimes when we listen to a view other than our own, we achieve a better understanding of an issue. It could happen. It can help to say “You’re right” or “How interesting” or “Thank you for sharing your ideas” before launching into one’s own take on the subject.

If only the thank you doesn’t elicit a “no problem” response.


My Russian Collision

Maybe everyone else can breathe easy now that the Mueller investigation has shown there was no collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians. But not me.

No, every day my unassuming little blog is bombarded by spam commentary from our Russian “friends.” In my case, this collision is worse than collusion.

I have no idea what they are saying or selling, but I recognize the alphabet since I took Russian in high school shortly after Sputnik was launched. I didn’t sign up for the class because I was worried that we’d be overtaken by the Red menace. I thought it would be a cool teenage thing to say I was conversant in Russian.

I should have studied another more useful language. The only things I can say in Russian are good day, you are a beautiful woman or a stupid boy and I drink vodka – which I don’t.

If I’d studied Spanish, for example, I could chat with the pleasant men working on remodeling the house next door and ask them when the hammering and drilling will come to an end. They’ve been at it for over a year. I’m hoping it will be completed before the end of 2019, but only they know and they’re not sharing that information with me in English.

Back to the Russian onslaught on my blog. It’s beyond annoying. Every couple of days I diligently mark the comments as spam, and then move them to the trash bin. There they join a collection of postings from idiots offering me hot sex, pornography and online gambling.

Today I’ll be deleting 98 comments that are unrelated to my internet prose. And while I’m doing it, I’ll be wondering who would respond to this worthless drivel.

These trolls – to borrow from Hillary Clinton – are the real deplorables of our society and the bane of my website.

Maybe I should be pleased to think that my writing has an international reach. I’m not buying that. There is no détente between me and Russia. Instead I’m issuing a warning.

Держитесь подальше от моего сайта, товарищи. Stay away from my website, comrades.