Dark and Pensive, Infomercial Madness, and Outside of the Sphere

sunset trees

Winter can be beautiful as well as dark and lonely.

I can’t say that I’m sad or even melancholy.  I’m more in a sort of dark and pensive mode, which for me is a familiar, almost comfortable place to be.  My deep preference for solitude and quiet might be hard to explain to those with an extraverted personality, but for me it’s the mental equivalent of a warm fire and a relaxing easy chair.  The gardens of memory, like real gardens this time of year, are subdued and don’t appear to be as active on the surface.  Dormant, maybe, but not dead.

Of course it’s not as easy to turn off the world as it probably should be.  I am better at it than most, but I still have to deal with the practicalities of living and communicating with other people.  It would be nice to be able to tell a few people to go hang (or to just plain get bent) but I can’t shut down completely.  I’m afraid if I do that I won’t be able (nor will I want) to turn back on.

paper nighties

For me, every day is an act of the will to choose to interact with the world beyond my very restrictive sphere.  I don’t want to most of the time.   Today I would much rather prefer to take a trip to the Main Library in downtown Columbus and peruse and read and think in the quiet.  Unfortunately I don’t see a day coming where I can do that, unless I stop off there for a bit on my way to the Paper Nightie Appointment tomorrow.  I scheduled tomorrow and Friday off (I will pay for that one, but I need a little time away and I have the vacation time) so tomorrow I don’t have to scramble about and then have to endure the Paper Nightie Appointment.  I dread it enough as it is.  Friday I hope to finish getting Steve-o whatever Christmas gifts I want to get him- or better yet, meet him somewhere so he can pick out what he wants.

angry birds pants

Dad’s getting Angry Birds jammies.

Most of my relatives have way too much crap to begin with, so I have to be creative.  Dad is quite enamored of the Angry Birds game, and he likes those men’s lounge pants that geezers wear around the house.  It should work.  What else can you buy for the man with the taxidermied squirrel on a skateboard?

squirrel skateboard

Yes, Dad really does have a taxidermied squirrel on a skateboard.

I learned a new word from the infomercials that pollute the airwaves from 2-4 AM.  Insomnia must have some advantages, if only to enlighten me to the wonderful world of such invaluable products such as the Pos-T-Vac, the Nu Wave, and the No-No.

I always thought that area that’s not your neck, not your tits and not your shoulders was simply the not-neck-not-tits-not-shoulders area.  Then I discovered the French actually have a word for the not-neck-not-tits-not-shoulders area.  It’s always good for me to expand my vocabulary.   They call it the décolletage or décolleté- meaning “sort of around the neck area,” and you’re supposed to slather expensive cream on it so it doesn’t end up looking all wrinkled and birdy.  One infomercial suggests you should blast this area with a radio frequency device you can also use on your face to ward away the birdy wrinkles.   ‘Kay….

All I could think of when I came upon this device was Oh. Holy. Shit.

face blaster

If I feel the need to hook my face up to this, I have deeper issues than a few birdy wrinkles.

I can just imagine if I’d found this when I was five years old and had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night at Grandma’s.  Seeing Grandma’s and Grandpa’s dentures sitting next to the sink, glaring out at me from their soaking cups of Polident as I was taking a midnight whiz was enough to give me nightmares for a month.  It was bad enough that Grandma could remove her teeth at night. I could just imagine the insane terror my five year old mind would have gone through if I thought Grandma took her face off at night.

At first glance I thought the above alien face mask was some kind of device intended to turn someone into Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek:

Data

You never know.

Of course women have been doing bizarre things to themselves to attempt to stem the inevitable tide of aging since the beginning of time. The truth is that entropy is always going to win.  Live long enough and your tits will bounce off your knees.

At least most women don’t still wear these awful things:

corset

I bet they itched, too.

I have discovered many interesting things online that I can’t imagine anyone would have any sort of real practical use for, but people will buy anything on Amazon. Even this: It’s a model to practice doing prostate exams.  And you can have it in time for Christmas if you order it by December 23!

prostate exam thing

I have an idea for a new party game based on this: “Pin the Prostate on Bob”?

If You Only Knew What’s in Food, You’d Never Eat Again

horsemeatToday I am glad I don’t live in the UK.  Or at least that I didn’t eat frozen lasagna in the UK.

2219_findus-horse-lasagna-130208-findusCheddar cheese on lasagna?  That’s almost as bad as eating Mr. Ed!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical.   I love the Brits in most things, but  English food is scary as hell to begin with, at least to American sensibilities.  It’s not necessarily dangerous to eat horse meat, but it is culturally taboo, even in the UK where people eat really nasty sounding things like blood pudding and kidney pie and haggis.  I think as far as frozen lasagna goes I’ll stick with the Stouffer’s red-box stuff.  It may be mystery meat, but it’s still some tasty stuff.

Stouffer's_LasagnaThey don’t claim that the meat is beef.  It’s just “meat” which could be anything.

I think if we really knew what was in food we would never eat again.

 ???????????????????????????????Gravy happens.  And this stuff looks like puke. I want to know who tasted it to verify that it “tastes like beef stew.”  Used beef stew?

When my Dad was growing up on the west side of Marion, there was a dog food manufacturing plant about 2 miles from where he and my grandparents lived.  In the 1950’s horse meat was a major ingredient in dog food, as well as carcasses of various livestock. Back then, pretty much any meat source that could be rendered down was used in dog food.  The dog food plant closed down in the early 1980’s, (long after it had been made illegal to use horse meat in dog food) but I can still remember the stench of that joint if the wind was blowing the wrong way.  It was not a pleasant smell.

One night the horses they were keeping to slaughter the next day got out and followed the railroad tracks to my grandparents’ house.  Dad woke up and was screaming about horses running through the back yard.  Grandpa thought Dad was nuts until he saw the horses for himself.

Sometimes I almost get the vegans’ argument against eating anything with a face.  I couldn’t imagine eating an animal like a horse or a dog if I put a face on it, but then I remember that cats are obligatory carnivores, and I remember that most humans who espouse vegan eating really aren’t as healthy as they want to suggest, mentally or physically.  I just don’t think that smelling like an abattoir, (in spite of not eating meat?) having grey, scaly skin, braid-able hair on the armpits and legs, and straw-like scarecrow hair sticking up from one’s head are indicators of health.  Nor do I think wiping with reusable cloths or burying my car is a good idea to “save the planet” either.  I like an occasional Porterhouse steak.  I like my leather shoes,  I like to remove superfluous body hair, and I’d rather be dead than have dreadlocks.

hippies2Never trust the unbathed.

I understand meat-eating is a cultural thing.  Personally I find the thought of eating dogs highly offensive, but they do it in Asia.  I have no problem with eating rabbits, squirrels or deer, while some people I know think that’s the grossest thing ever.  I don’t care for lamb or mutton, but the dogs love it.  Supposedly that’s what their food is based on, but I really don’t want to know what’s in dog food.  It’s bad enough to consider what’s in food meant for humans.

meatyI found a taste tester.

I could save a lot of money this way.  Just shut up and eat it.  You just don’t want to know.

Squirrels in the Family Tree, the Cat Lady, and Everyone Has an Uncle Bob

Every family has its skeletons in the closet.  This is an encouragement to me, knowing I have ancestors who were crazier than I am.  Then again, heredity explains a lot.

Part of the fun in genealogy research is finding all the squirrels in the family tree, and I’m discovering I have more than my fair share in mine.  It’s been a bit of an adventure finding out which family members had issues with mental illness and to what degree.  Let’s see, for starters, Mom is bi-polar.  Her biological father was certifiably crazy- most likely he was bi-polar (with an emphasis on bizarre manic episodes) also as well as being an incorrigible alcoholic.  He died at age 53 of cirrhosis of the liver.  Thankfully Mom never had a taste for liquor.   Mom didn’t need alcohol to go off in a frenzy.  Her manic episodes were bad enough without it.

Mom and her biological father are not the only ones by a long shot though.  One of my great-uncles was institutionalized most of his adult life, after he had a severe head injury while working for the railroad. It was really quite tragic.  Oddly enough on his death certificate the cause of death was listed as pneumonia resulting from “Huntington’s Chorea,” or Huntington’s Disease, which is (99% of the time) a genetic disease.  In almost all instances, one of your parents has to have it in order for you to get it.  He was 46  when he died, but neither of his parents had it.  However, the tremors, violent outbursts and general insanity this poor guy suffered from was more than likely connected with brain damage.  I would be curious to find out, but I would guess that rather than Huntington’s Disease, he probably had damage to the frontal lobe of his brain. That wasn’t inherited- which is sort of a relief, but still sad.

Alcoholism is a big character flaw on both sides of my family.  My great-grandfather and another great uncle were notorious for boozing.  Being a drunk isn’t necessarily what I would call mental illness, but way too many drunks drink to drown their depression and despair.  I was enough of a binge drinker in my youth, but thank God the whole binge drinking thing lost its charm for me.  Dad for all practical purposes is a tee-totaler (he likes a very occasional beer) and Mom is a complete tee-totaler, so we never really had to deal with alcohol at home except when my oldest sister came home wasted from time to time in high school.   I was smart enough to crash where I partied when I got wasted.  She is still somewhat of a casual drinker but not a real boozehound.  Of course Mom thinks drinking a social beer now and then will turn you into a lush, but it really depends on the person.  If you’re drinking every night or downright getting stupid with the binge drinking then you need to evaluate your relationship with booze.  I don’t have much use for it other than a very occasional glass of wine.

Then there are the relatives you just don’t want to claim because their behavior makes you really wonder how much DNA you share with them.  I had some really interesting ones.  Aunt Frances, for instance, was a 400# cat lady with a deep disdain for all things foreign (especially my old Subaru,) a loathing of ear piercings and earrings (thankfully she never got to see Steve-0’s 7/8 gauged earrings, or the SS helmet for that matter) and a general distrust of females who insist upon wearing makeup.   I have nothing against cats- I have three of them- but having thirty five of them wandering in and out of your house, eating you out of house and home and breeding uncontrollably is not the proper way to keep cats.  Sending half of your Social Security checks to Jimmy Swaggart probably wasn’t the best decision either, but she just couldn’t resist the televangelists when they appealed for cash.

Uncle Jack was actually one of my great-uncles.  He was a tiny dude, about 5’5″ and slightly built.  He had a withered hand, a taste for whiskey and he chain smoked unfiltered Pall Malls.  Every time I saw him, he always seemed to be either getting ready to go to jail for something or had just got out of jail for something.  He had some really hideous tattoos,  and used language that would make a trucker blush.

I had twin great-aunts- Glenna and Gwendolyn.  I don’t know for sure if they were identical twins or not, but they had the identical horrible bleach-blonde hair do.  I remember when Great-Grandma died (their mother) they got in a fist fight over her stuff, none of it worth a whole lot.  Gwendolyn was married to Uncle Bob- the one with the nudie pics all over his garage- who gave my sister a Budweiser when she was six or seven, and who would look up girls’ dresses if he got the chance.  They had a miniature poodle named Jacques who liked to hump people’s legs and piss on everyone’s hub caps.  Jacques went to the groomer, had his nails painted blue, and always smelled like girly perfume.  Dad always wondered why anyone would prissify a male dog like that, but they were kind of strange.

Everyone has an Uncle Bob- the family pervert.  Thankfully I only got to experience Uncle Bob once a year or less (Dad didn’t want us kids to be around alcohol, especially after the Budweiser Incident) but that was enough.  Everyone wondered why I would not run up and give him a hug.  First of all I am not a hugger by nature.  I am very selective about who I want to hug even today.  As a child I tried to avoid physical contact as much as possible.  So be happy with a handshake- and I was that way with most people I encountered.  I’m not being rude, but I don’t want you looking up my dress or trying to slip me the tongue.  Something about the nudies on the garage walls creeped me out.

This is NOT the Subaru DL I had, but it is the same model.  This one is a 1978, mine was a ’79.  Mine was also red -or at least it was painted red at the factory, before it oxidized, rusted, and ended up covered in fiberglass body filler, primer, duct tape and bumper stickers.  Either not many of them were built, or they just couldn’t handle Rust Belt winters.  It took a lot of duct tape to hold those marker lights in the fenders.