Thursday, April 26, 2012

DIY Obits

Okay, I've started reading obituaries. Not looking for myself, or friends and relatives. Just morbid curiosity, I guess.   I'm sure that the obit writers never knew the deceased. I'm betting that they have some fill-in-the blank forms and they get the details from the funeral home guy, with maybe a few nuggets from survivors. These survivors may or may not have been fond of the deceased.

For example, they might start with name (Modine Gunch), nickname (Meemaw), age (97), (died, passed away, was lifted on the wings of angels,).  It would be more  interesting if they let the friends or relatives do the whole job. Name (Modine Wilson Jackson Smith nee  Gunch; she wore out and outlived a few husbands.) Nickname (Pooter, Old Yackety Yak, Klepto.) Age (no one knows, maybe they can count the rings during the autopsy.) lies a'mouldring in the grave. She spent her entire life making others miserable, and she did it very well. Survivors (she outlived them all.) Funeral arrangements ( if anybody gets around to it, we'll let you know).

Probably wouldn't hurt to write your own, instead of leaving it to the whim of some hack writer or your distant relatives who outlived you. Puff it up a little, like you used to do on your resume. Who's going to call you on it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lighten Up!

Why is everyone angry? I don't watch much TV, but I do read papers and magazines. It's not just politicians. Have you read the Letters to the Editor out loud at the breakfast table? You can just picture the spittle flying as they type those letters.

I have read articles explaining this national mood. People are worried about jobs, insurance, socialism, yadayada. That doesn't do it. People have always had stuff to worry about, but worrying alone does not produce anger. I've been turned down for jobs because of my gender, my age, or being too early or too late. So did everyone I know. Those things are frustrating, but they go away when you go to plan B.

Maybe too many people are angry because they hang out with angry people, or listen tao them on the radio or TV, or just think it's expected.  Lighten up, people. Negative vibes make you get all frowny faced and you get ugly wrinkles. Banish those angry people from your lives. Block their gloomy e-mails.  Run from them at the grocery store.

Find the happy souls, gather them around you and smile with them. Smile at your dog. Go to the park or the beach and throw a frisbee around. Listen to music instead of the news. Get a jar of bubble stuff, stick the little wand in and fill your neighborhood with bubbles. Eat more popsicles. Get a double one and feed half to the dog. Smiling is contagious.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Put Money Here

The piece I posted about the lake place, together with a Smithsonian article about small towns, set me to thinking about the character of small towns. They are not all Mayberry, and most of us would go batty after a long spell there. That said, there is a quirky charm.

Hernando, the nearest town to the lake, got a stop light back in the 70's. Soon there was the "Stoplight Bar and Grill," next to the "Stoplight Bait and Tackle and Live Worms." It was a matter of civic pride. "Gone Fishing" was the sign on the door of any store if the owner took the day off.

Weekends are for fishing, so most stores are closed. Book store, hardware store, restaurant, even the police station all operate Monday through Friday. There was a Kwik-King, if your idea of groceries is a six-pack of HoHo's and a stick of jerky. They didn't have a rack of paperback books, what they called "reading books," just Auto Trader and such.

Signs are the mark of a real small town. Often more than one business has to share space or at least a sign. "Ceramic Tile and Wig Styling" was right next to "Guns, Ammo, and Notary Public." We liked "Leonardo's Pizza, Hoagies, and First Baptist Church." My favorite was a sign on a card table by the side of the road in front of a house with a few peach trees in the yard. There were sacks of peaches marked $1, $3, and $5. In front of the sacks was a cardboard box with a sign that said "Put Money Here." I did, and there was probably $50 there. The owner had probably just gone fishing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lake Trip

We've been visiting our lake place for over 40 years, and this view doesn't change. We bought the land in 1970, camped in tents, trailers, built a little cabin almost 15 years ago, put a big porch on the lake side so we could sit out and watch the lake. There's an island out in the middle that has some history to it.

Most every repairman, deliveryman, or neighbor sits on the steps and looks at the island and tells us how they used to swim to it, fish from it camp on it when they were kids. Our kids did too, but didn't sleep over because it was sort of dark and spooky.

Our neighbor, Bob, put some goats out there to clear the underbrush. When they were all done clearing, he found some big old gears half buried in the dirt. We all knew that the island was used somehow to turn train cars around when they were mining phosphate, up until they hit springs back on the 30's. Turns out, these old gears have swastikas on them, so they must have been made in Germany long time ago. Bob and his boys built a raft on some oil drums and floated one of the small gears to his yard. It's only about three feet across, but it nearly sunk the raft. Now it sits down there like a little coffee table,

The water is low this time of year, and the old trestles stick out of the water, but the rails are long gone. You have to wonder how hard they worked, many years ago, to dig and haul that phosphate. Now all is quiet, the water is clear, the fish are happy. Kids are still swimming out there, playing pirates, or Indians, or maybe Nazis.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What do you do?

When someone in your group of friends speaks out about blacks, gays, Muslims, Jews, Democrats, divorcees, nudists,  or whatever, in a derogatory manner, what do you do? Does it matter if you are at work in a friend's home, in your own home, in the speaker's home? What if they are a friend or relative, or both?

Well, the first thing you need to know is that you are not going to change them, or the world, by what you say or do. You may want to change your circle of friends or relatives, but, at 75, it gets harder. You can roll your eyes and shrug, looking around to see who else is rolling and shrugging.

You can stand up and shout "You Nincompoop!" or "You ignorant slut!" but what does that do? It makes you feel better, until you get home, and then you wonder why you did that. We need a signal, a universal signal, that shows less animosity. It needs, however, to allow you to vent, and to let others in your group know that you do not support the nincompoop.

I suggest something like a pocket kazoo, which will become a fad, and will come out of every pocket or purse at the right moment. The nincompoops will not understand the awful noise, but everyone else will. Toot, people, toot!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Florida: No Water Pistols

You may have heard a bit about the wacky Florida "Stand Your Ground Law," that lets you shoot if you feel threatened, even if you're paranoid. This law gives you a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" before you even have an arrest or trial, much less jail time. There's another one that tops it.

Florida has a law that prohibits local governments from enacting gun laws, much less enforcing them. In addition to penalizing cities or counties that try to regulate them, individual elected officials can be removed from office and suffer large fines, and cannot use the services of city or county attorneys to defend them. Take that, you elected official, we can clean your clock for the way you vote.

Add to this wild west mix the fact that the Republican National Convention meets in Tampa this summer. Protesters and counter-protesters are expected from all over. Since real guns can't be regulated, Tampa will prohibit water pistols, slingshots, sticks, string (!) longer than 6 inches, plus a disgusting list of things that might be found in containers. Don't you know someone will try to smuggle in a water pistol disguised as a real one? A stick disguised as an AK47? I am not making this up, as Dave Barry would say. Only in Florida.