Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Silly Questions

Upfront disclosure. I did not come up with these questions but I have thought about them from time to time! Hopefully, soon, I'll be back to blogging my own ideas. Suffice it to say for now, my brain's otherwise occupied! In the meantime, enjoy something just plain silly!

Mrs. B

Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Why don't you ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?

Why is abbreviated such a long word?

Why is a boxing ring square?

Why is it considered necessary to nail down the lid of a coffin?

Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn't there a special name for the tops of your feet?

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

Can fat people go skinny-dipping?

If you throw a cat out of the car window, does it become kitty litter?

If you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn?

When being sentenced to death, by Lethal Injection, Why do they sterilize the needle?

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in". but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

If Wyle E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't live there?

I thought about how my mother fed me with a tiny spoon and fork, so I wonder what Asian mothers use? Toothpicks?

If a person with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of it's nose?

So what's the speed of dark?

After eating, do amphibians need to wait an hour before getting OUT of the water?

Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?

Is it OK to listen to AM radio after noon?

What do chickens think WE taste like?

What do people in China call their good plates?

What do you call a male ladybug?

What hair color do they put on the driver's license of a bald man?

When dog food is new and improved tasting, who tests it?

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Why are there Interstates in Hawaii?

Why are there flotation devices in the seats of planes instead of parachutes?

Have you ever imagined a world without hypothetical situations?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?

If a firefighter fights fire and a crime fighter fights crime, what does a freedom fighter fight?

If they squeeze olives to get olive oil, how do they get baby oil?

Why do they put Braille dots on the keypad of a drive-up ATM?

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

What would Geronimo say if he jumped out of an airplane?

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why ARE Trix only for kids?

What is an occasional table the rest of the time?

If you get a beer belly by drinking beer, do you get a pot belly by smoking pot?

Why is Friday 13th considered unlucky, considering that the Last Supper was on Thursday?

What would a burger made of ham be called?

If dawn breaks, does dusk come together?

Why does ‘dyslexia’ have to be so hard to spell?

If you think you’re a hypochondriac, then are you one or not?

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

Why do people talk about ‘girlie’ things but never ‘boyie’ things?

If you sneezed on a computer, would it get a virus?

What did the designer of the drawing board go back to when his/her original design was a failure?

Why do "a fat chance" and "a slim chance" mean the same thing?

Why does your nose run and your feet smell?

Who copyrighted the copyright symbol?

Why are the numbers on a calculator and a phone reversed?

Do fish ever get thirsty?

Can you get cornered in a round room?

What does OK actually mean?

Why do birds not fall out of trees when they sleep?

If a person suffered from amnesia and then was cured would they remember that they forgot?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Of Drums and Dumb-Dumbs

Upfront disclosure. This is a rant.

Neighborhoods are interesting places. I would imagine that, in any particular one, a person might find that 80%-90% of the folks that live there are decent people. They take pride in home ownership. Their properties are well-maintained and landscaped. They mow their laws, they rake their leaves, they plant nice trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. They put appropriate holiday decorations up and out and then promptly remove them when the holiday is passed. If they live in deed-restricted community, they abide by the covenants. Homeowner Association Dues are paid promptly. If they have children, they don't allow said children to walk across their neighbors's properties or drop wrappers from their ice cream bars or Halloween candy on the sidewalks. If they own dogs, they keep them from barking at unreasonable hours and pick up after them on walks. There might be neighborhood block parties from time to time; people getting together who, although they are not necessarily friends, genuinely like each other well enough to share a beer or two on a sunny summer Saturday afternoon while eating a variety of BBQ fare from a pitch-in picnic. Folks drive carefully and within the speed limit up and down the neighborhood streets, knowing there are children at play. Those that utilize the community pool are respectful of others doing the same; keeping an eye on their kids to ensure no horseplay or rough-housing, minding the lifeguards and not attempting to get into the pool area off-hours.

When Mr. B and I moved into our current neighborhood, we knew, since it's relatively large, that we'd likely run into some issues; the 10%-20% of people who, frankly, either just don't give a crap about anything or have a sense of entitlement that they are special and are not required to follow the rules of the neighborhood. Even before Mr. B decided to sit on the Board of Directors for the Homeowner's Association, we each had noticed several things going on within the neighborhood that ranged in the annoyance factor from slightly irritating to really driving us up the wall. Maybe this was why he made the choice to get involved; hoping to make things better.

Now that he's been on the Board going on two years, he's at his limit of tolerance of dealing with the contingent of idiots in this community. I was at mine a while back.

Maybe I'm simple, but, I believe if there are rules that you signed up for, you comply. If there is something that you find unreasonable, you challenge it, but, in a thoughtful, process-oriented fashion.

Those 10%-20% I've mentioned apparently believe otherwise.

In addition to the what I refer to "lazy-ass" syndrome (not picking up newspapers off their driveways or removing flyers adhered to their mail boxes or moving trash and recycling bins back behind their house for days after the pick-up people came through), these people seem to believe that, even though they signed at closing a document agreeing to follow all neighborhood covenants, it's ok for them to:

1. Park in the street on a regular basis. This is a big, big problem because our streets are relatively narrow in many parts of the neighborhood. There are many people who do this, and, over the past year or so, the HOA has been on a campaign to get them to stop. They've received warning letters. They've had the opportunity to come to a Board meeting and explain why they've been in violation and why they should receive a variance. Many of them don't respond to any of the communication they've received and simply continue to park in the street. Others call up the management company and threaten lawsuits. Still others have shown up to the meeting and then been thrown out for becoming disruptive. One home owner, who happens to live in a Cul-de-Sac, feels he should be able to park on the street because he's "not in anyone's way". Forgetting the fact that this isn't a viable reason for a variance, it's isn't true. From our vantage point up "on the hill" above him, I've seen how difficult it's been for delivery trucks, trash pick-up, etc., to maneuverer around his big hulking freaking SUV. Another guy down the street from us has something like six cars so, he feels it's ok for him to park them on the street because where else is he going to park them? Except, he ALWAYS has open space in his driveway. He next tried the "I've got a Handicap Sticker"; seeming to think this meant he could park the car with the sticker anywhere, even if it wasn't a legal parking space. I'm convinced that one of these "gentlemen" is our Beer Can Bandit (someone on occasion throws an empty beer can into our yard; usually, it's around the time the Board has been sending violation letters out about the parking situation). I really, really wish someone who has been complaining about people parking on the street would stand up in the open meeting and challenge these idiots. That's what it is going to take (receiving several violations of $100 each hasn't cut it, they simply don't pay it). Someone should say, "Excuse me, Joe Blow, I also live in this neighborhood and I really want to understand why you feel that you don't have to abide by the rules, but I do?" Of course, no one does. They just bitch and complain on the Yahoo Message Board.

Obviously, parking on the street is a big issue. So big, in fact, that the Board is holding a special hearing meeting in early December. After that, everyone that continues to park on the street will start to receive regular violations and fines. And, if they don't pay the fines, it will be sent to collections. Eventually, their homes can be foreclosed on by the HOA if the fines are not paid. I can only imagine the bro-ha-ha that will ensue. It seems to me it'd just be easier to stop parking on the damn street.

2. Not paying dues and fines. Obviously, Mr. B cannot (and doesn't) share with me who, exactly, is delinquent. He has, though, told me some of the excuses (all of them lame) and that several of those who refuse to pay (or even work with the Board to set up a payment plan) drive around in new BMWs or Mercedes. Oh, and another thing about the dues. Relatively speaking, they are nominal. Compared to what I was paying in California, even compared to what we pay for the townhouse we own in North Durham, they are a drop in the bucket. And yet, another thing that people bitch about is how nothing gets done in the neighborhood; the landscaping is crappy, the streets are a mess, there aren't enough pool chairs at the pool (a place I've NEVER seen crowded in the four years we've lived here, BTW) and we're paying ALL THIS MONEY in dues! Maybe we should have this group of people go after the other group of people who refuse to pay them.

3. Erect structures (sheds, fences, additions or a new mail box) or make visible changes to their property (expanded driveways, trees, extensive landscaping) without getting prior approval from the Board. Living in a planned community means there is supposed to be a certain "look" to the place. Yes, we're all individuals, this isn't Stepford, but, there are rules to be followed. More than once, Mr. B's had to get into it with a home owner who has built something without first getting the okay. These people actually have the audacity to drive by when Mr. B is out working in our yard and bitch at him because they didn't do what they were supposed to do and he called them on it. One of them was the guy who appears to be running the used car lot; he erected a shed that a) did not match the color of his house and b) the siding was vertical instead of horizontal. I told Mr. B that these folks are lucky they don't live in some of the other neighborhoods I've lived in; they'd be required to rip out/take down whatever they did, at their expense, even if it were ultimately approved. Too bad, so sad.

So, this is the dumb-dumb part.

Drums. Our next door neighbor, a guy we do genuinely like even though for the life of me, I cannot figure out his family situation, has a three year old son. A sweet little boy; when we see him, he's always friendly and smiling. The last few months or so, he must have received some drums. Many times throughout the day, I can hear him banging away on them. Our houses are close enough that, especially if it's relatively quiet, you can hear it. And, one good thing about our neighborhood, it IS usually fairly quiet.

So, anyway, a few weeks ago, we started to hear this banging at what we consider unacceptable times. Such as, after 9:00 pm. Or, very early in the morning. Once, it started at 6:30 am and lasted for an hour. The next morning, it began at FIVE THIRTY AM and again lasted for over an hour. After that, I'd had it. Upon thinking about a reasonable way to approach the matter, I decided to send his father (who is a city cop, BTW) an email and inquire as to the loud banging we'd been hearing. I phrased it in such a way as to express concern more than annoyance; hoping it'd give him the chance to save face but also take care of it.

It worked. We exchanged a few emails; he said it was his son and his drums, he was really sorry, he'd see to it.

Yey! Or, so I thought.

Last night around 10:45 pm, the freaking banging started up again. Dad wasn't home (we'd seen him leave for work earlier that afternoon), which means the child was home with either his mom, a sibling, a babysitter, who knows. Who cares? Whoever they were, they must be deaf. And, what the heck was a three year old doing up at 10:45 at night, anyway? After a bit of "discussion", Mr. B went over and rang the doorbell. No one answered so I dug out the father's phone number (which he'd given me in one of the emails). When he answered, I told him it was almost 11:00 and we were hearing that banging again. He told me he'd call the house and "take care of it". It did stop, but, it started back up around 8:30 am. I guess this was "ok", we were awake, anyway, but, who knows what's going to happen? Seriously, how hard can it be to take a drum away from a child at bedtime?

Drums. Dumb-dumbs. Drums. Dumb-dumbs.

End of rant.

Mrs. B

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Stories in Pictures

I’ve been helping my step-mom with a project of preserving the multitude of old family photos she has contained in boxes by scanning them into my computer and then transferring them onto CD.

As I’ve made my way through each stack, I’ve found myself wanting to know more about these folks; especially the ones whom there are several pictures in various stages of their lives.

Here is Gertrude, for example, as a young girl standing with her sister Marie, and another sitting with her mother Eliza on the front porch of their house. There’s also one of her by herself, looking quite mischievous. Then there is a wedding picture where she’s maid of honor to Marie. Finally, the last one; a family picture taken many, many years later with her elderly and care-worn parents Dave and Eliza and her young niece of maybe seven or eight, my step-mom, Margot.

Margot’s told me some stories about Gertrude; first, she verified she was indeed a live-wire who had all sorts of interesting experiences, was a postmistress, and carried on several love affairs; including, apparently (as gleaned from a packet of letters discovered after Gertrude moved into a nursing home in the early 1980s) one with a priest. She never married or had children, so, other than Margot (and now me), there isn’t anyone left to care about the life of this feisty spinster.

Is this something Gertrude was ok with, not entering into to what was certainly then the more traditional and acceptable institute of marriage and motherhood? Yes, she had the look of a bold adventuress about her in some of those earlier photographs, but, what was she REALLY thinking about; wishing and hoping for?

Considering this, I’ve spent a bit of time scrutinizing the faces in these pictures and have been lost in the thought of how surreal it is that I can lay them out in chronological order and know what those faces did not know; what was going to happen (or not happen) to them before the next picture in line.

Margaret Louise, an aunt for whom my Margot was named, sits in what looks to be a field or garden, clutching a raggedy looking doll in her arms. Margaret Louise again several years older now perched in the rumble seat of a car with her older sisters Isabelle and Charlotte; sister Nel at the wheel. Margaret Louise on a picnic with her mother and father and others; all elegantly dressed in the clothes of the era, a well-provisioned hamper of food nearby, champagne glasses in their hand. Included in the series of pictures to be scanned; Margaret Louise’s obituary; dead suddenly at the age of 21 from rheumatic fever.

Two of Margot’s aunts; two different extremes. Of course, not everyone in the pictures in my care had either such a tragic ending or a wild ride. As is (hopefully) the case for the majority of us, most of them had a beginning, a third, a middle, a 2/3rds and an ending with some stand-out moments to be sure, but, mostly lives lived on the B-Side.

Although it is taking some time to work through the process of scanning, cropping, editing and labeling these pictures, it’s obviously nothing compared to what may exist in our current time where there may come to be thousands upon thousands of images of us capturing our every momentous (and not so) occasion, mood, year of our life, etc., These older pictures from the past are even more so precious because there are so very few of them. There might only be a handful to document a person’s years. And, if said person wasn’t terribly well off to afford a photographer’s session or a camera of their own, there would be even less. And the obvious; if someone lived in a time where photography wasn’t yet invented (or just barely), there would be only an odd rare picture. Case in point as to why we are so fascinated with the small collection of photographs of famous people such as Abraham Lincoln. We’ve all probably seen every single picture ever taken of that man!

These pictures have also offered visual evidence of how differently families lived one from another in a similar period of time. Meaning, the occupations they held, the homes they lived in, the clothes they wore, their possessions, their pastimes, their degree of education.

Yet, they all walked this Earth; all would have stories to tell or secrets they wished kept keep.

Margot, an avid genealogist, has often said “Those who are remembered will never die”. I’m more than pleased to have been offered this opportunity to be included with those who will always remember.

Mrs. B

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where Have I Been or Where I Have Been (Whatever)

Yeah, I guess this blogging thing has somewhat slipped by the wayside. Never fear, loyal readers. I'm sure at some point I'll get a second wind/new lease on life regarding writing things that I never know if anyone ever reads, anyway.

Life's bumping along, it's just my creative juices that have apparently dried up!

So, what have I been up to, then?

Let's see. Trying to get organized for the fall/winter months, for one. You know, exciting chores like swapping clothes out from closet to closet (out with the fall/winter ones). Starting to think about what the heck I'm going to do about holiday greetings this year. Part of me is not terribly into it this year. Ok, more than just part of me. It's so much work and for so little return (in general, folks seem to be dropping this whole holiday greeting tradition).

After a long hiatus, we're back to getting our weekly produce box. This means I'm once again having to come up with creative ways to eat various items that normally I'd never buy. Actually, this week, I got lucky as we received many things I like/have recipes for. Such as, kale, romaine lettuce, apples, roma tomatoes and cucumbers. We also got a passel of beets. Mr. B's on point for those, though.

Last night, we mad maple-glazed chicken (cutlets) with apple-Brussels sprouts slaw. We heated up some left-over sweet potato cheddar grits for an all-around exceptionally harvest-y fall dinner. Tonight, I'm gonna try my hand at making apple kuchen for dessert. Later in the week, a white-bean and kale soup with smoked sausage is on tap.

One thing I LOVE about fall. The return to robust (yet healthy) eating and all the yummy aromas that waft out of the kitchen throughout the weekend days.

I saw "Billy Elliot" (the Broadway musical) here in Durham a few nights ago. What an enjoyable evening (with my SIL Shannon; we bought the season tickets together). I was so awed by the sheer talent of the young man who danced the lead (although there are actually FIVE different boys playing Billy since they can only dance in two performances per week; you know, all those child labor laws!)

I'm proud to report that I have read 53 books (so far) this year (not too much longer to go for 2010 but I'll probably manage to crank out a few more in six weeks or so). You know what THIS means, an extra long Blog series of my book reviews.

We're supposed to get a hard freeze tonight. I really feel as though we missed out on two seasons this year. We seemed to go directly from butt-ass cold weather in February/March to hot humid summer (ok, maybe we had three weeks of spring). Now, we've headed pretty much from the hot humid summer (with record making days) to COLD. What happened to those lovely 65-70 degree days and 40 degree nights?

And tonight (early tomorrow), the clocks go back one hour. This means it'll be dark by 4:30 or so tomorrow and darker yet in the mornings (hard enough to get out of bed when it's so chilly).

Sigh. Gotta remember all of those good smells in the kitchen, though. And, the return to drinking good red wine. I'm totally burned out on Pinot Grigio.

Oh, I got an utterly fantastic early b-day gift from my mom and dad in-law. One of those Keurig coffee machines. I'm having SO MUCH fun with it. The variety of K-Cups available is mind blowing. I went into Bed Bath and Beyond to get a drawer-thingie to put under the machine to hold some of the K-Cups. Almost one entire wall was dedicated to all the K-Cups. I couldn't resist; even though I'd ordered some from Keurig (BTGTF + free shipping), I had to indulge in picking up a box of Holiday Selections from BB&B. Spiced Eggnog, Gingerbread, Golden French Toast and Holiday Blend. The cool thing about this is I can have my foo-foo coffee and Mr. B can drink his Kona or Extra Bold or whatever to his heart's content!

Well, that's about it for now. All's fine here. Maybe next week, I'll think of some really interesting thing to blog about.

Mrs. B