August 30, 2013


Born on March 14, 1879, it is a little known fact that Albert Einstein spent several years as a conductor, especially in early childhood, during which he passed many happy hours wetting his index finger and inserting it into the nearest live outlet.

After his formative years in the ICU, Albert "Short Circuit" Einstein attended university to pursue his interest in electronics in Earnest--a small town outside of Oslo.  Early in his college career, he demonstrated a bent for invention when he discovered that he could light up an entire room merely by leaving it.

Following his expulsion from university, Albert was hired by Kirschenwassenstrassegottedammerung, Inc., in Germany, by representing himself as the reincarnation of Thomas Edison.  This confused many people, since Edison had not yet died.  Shortly after joining the company, Albert's inventiveness reasserted itself and he came up with a procedure for creating life from dead, sewn-together corpses, using lightning as a life-giving catalyst.  Unfortunately, the chairman of the board of directors, who was also clairvoyant, shelved the project, explaining that "one Henry Kissinger is all we'll ever be needing, thank you very much!"

Disheartened, Albert moved his lab to America and took up residence at M.I.T., where he proceeded to create such popular items as the hand-held atomic cyclotron, an electron microscope the size of three city blocks, the joy buzzer, wind up clacking teeth, and a car seat that, when the ignition key is turned, delivers a 2,000 amp jolt of electricity that fuses the colon shut in less than two seconds…a real plus for those long road trips.

One day, while preparing a wiener schnitzel, he jotted down what is now called the Theory of Relativity, or E=mc2.  Though its usual interpretation is: Energy=mass x constant squared, it was actually a lunch order for his secretary, and, properly interpreted, means:

Ethel wants 2 Big Macs (Ethel hated wiener schnitzel!)

This, once again, serves to prove that behind every man's success stands a good woman…one with a rather large appetite who had a butt you could show drive-in movies on, but a good woman nonetheless.

Once the alternate interpretation was explained to him, Einstein saw big possibilities in using it to create a product for blowing that huge stump in his back yard out of the damned lawn for good and all, and for getting rid of that Rottweiler down the street that crapped on his newspaper every single morning before he even got a chance to read it.  He felt that it also had potential as a cure for constipation.

However, the world had a wider application in mind.

Since the major conquerors of the world have  been diminutive people, such as Napoleon, Caesar, and Dr. Ruth, it was felt that this formula could prove useful in dealing with future conquerors.  On December 7, 1941, Japan volunteered to be a test subject, thereby saving millions in research costs and long distance telephone bills.

Watching in horror as the bombs were dropped, Einstein immediately took steps to see that nothing like this ever happened again.

He fired Ethel.

Einstein is best remembered for a computer game called, "Nuclear Golf."  This was a huge financial success until, due to a programming glitch, parents kept finding their children burned to a crisp in front of video screens flashing, "You Lose!"  Even the damage control move of packaging the game with an air freshener and a stain remover failed to turn Albert's fortunes around and after all the lawsuits were settled, he died in penniless obscurity.


August 25, 2013


         Another year come and gone.  Another line.  Another gray hair.
Yeah.  My husband, Stij, only wishes that’s all there was to it.
We have quite a large garden in the back yard—it was Stij’s last ditch effort to keep me the hell out of the kitchen because he is tired of rebuilding the house.  The neighbors are sure that when our house gets dirty, rather than clean it, we just burn it down—this is how often the local fire department had been showing up each time I tried out a new recipe.
So this year, for my birthday, Stij decided to make my life in the garden (which I really do enjoy) easier.  In Arizona, we have two gardening seasons—spring/summer and fall/winter.  Once one garden is spent, I used to have to go out there with a shovel, rake and 20 bags of manure and sundry other stinky stuff, and amend the soil.  Backbreaking work, let me tell you.  And I am no longer a chicken of the spring.  I’m not even a chicken of the autumn.  I’m more like chicken that was mowed down by a Peterbilt while crossing the road.
At any rate, this past Sunday when I opened a very large box, I discovered one of those Mantis rototiller thingies!  My heart leapt! 
I now owned my very first . . . power tool!  Yes!  I couldn’t wait to try it out!  This was even better than cooking!
First, though, it had to be assembled.  They never show that in the commercials. 
So we dumped out the contents of the box, which sounded like the New York Philharmonic’s brass section falling over a cliff, and surveyed the wreckage.
“Uh, honey?  You look tired.  Why don’t you go soak in the tub for a while,” Stij suggested.
“Are you trying to get rid of me?”
“Yes.  Absolutely,” he said.
“But why?  I want to help you.”
Stij gave me THE LOOK.  I never pushed THE LOOK to the next step . . . THE REMINGTON.  I drew a bath.
When I got out later on, Stij had put the whole thing together and it looked great—just like on TV.
“Let’s go try it out!” I cried.
So Stij gassed it up and to the garden we romped.  Well, I romped.  Stij walked sedately.
I grabbed the two steering handles, and once Stij got it running, I pulled the accelerator. . . hard.
This tiny little machine and I flew across the garden, bisecting my fig tree, chopping my neighbors’ fence to toothpicks and creating a two foot deep ditch across their yard, finally coming to rest halfway through the trunk of a palm tree.
We only stopped because it ran out of gas.  If that thing had a bigger tank, I think I could have made it to Vegas in about 28 minutes.
After Stij pried the mangled metal from the palm tree and talked our neighbors out of a lawsuit, we went home.
“Can you fix it?” I asked foolishly.
“Why?  Do you want to take a spin around the block?”
“Is this why you won’t let me have a car?”
“You’re a menace to society.  You know that, right?”
“I think you may be exaggerating just a bit,” I sniffed.
“Really?  How about the time you added a hundred packets of yeast to your bread batter and then decided to cook it with a flame thrower?”
“I was only trying to stop it from engulfing the whole house.  It was eating the couch!  And it was only twenty packets.”
“And then there was the time when you made Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family and everyone wound up with such hideous diarrhea that we had to get a couple of porta johns to put out in the yard, because we only have one bathroom.”
“I hardly think it’s fair that…”
“OR the time you stopped up the drain in the sink and used sulfuric acid to clear it?
“Okay, okay, you made your point.”
“You need a new, safe hobby,” he said.
And that, dear readers, is how I came to be a writer.

August 16, 2013


Since my birthday is in two days, I have taken a few moments to contemplate getting older.  Here are a few helpful hints to deal with all that marching on that time does:

Always hang out with people older than you—preferably much older—though as the years pass, much older gets harder and harder to locate.  These days, I spend a lot of time at critical care assisted living units swapping stories of Prohibition, milk delivery, and Judge Crater. 

Chew raw garlic constantly. This will keep away those irritating people who cause lines in your face . . . like your family.  This has the added benefit of helping to keep your blood pressure under control. 

Pat your face liberally with olive oil before going to bed—but don’t use so much that you slide off the pillow. 

Get some exercise every day.  I alternate with raking the living room or walking to the store for more raw garlic. 

Keep an upbeat frame of mind.  Stop listening to the news. 

Find a job that you enjoy doing.  If you love being with and talking to people, get training as a counselor.  If you hate people, but love animals, perhaps working for a vet or hiding out in the woods and picking off hunters is up your alley.  If you hate people AND animals, look for work in a morgue or become an ice sculptor in Antarctica. 

Find something to do that makes you happy in your daily life.  Some people go in for gardening.  Others buy a dog.  I stop at every house on my way to the store, ring the bell, and run.  On my way back, nobody confronts me about it because I will have already eaten one whole garlic bulb.
It is critical to get enough rest.  Move out.



August 9, 2013


           Think you can just water your plants, put them in the proper light, sprinkle plant food over them occasionally and they'll pretty much take care of themselves?
Think again.
I have a greenhouse full of plants…carnivorous ones.  I have collected every type there is, and they're all huge!
As I'm sure you can guess, they have rather different nutritional requirements than your run-of-the-mill begonia, since they require meat.  Oh, they'll eat hamburger…grudgingly; but what they really prefer is live bugs, their favorite being flies.  I have so many plants that buying flies (yes, there are places where you can actually purchase them) has become cost prohibitive, and catching them on my own just doesn't cut it.  If I nabbed 50 flies in a day, I was lucky.  However, that would only be enough to feed one of my largest plants or three of the smaller ones.  
So I raise my own…flies, I mean.
If there is anything more perverse and absurd than actually raising houseflies, on purpose, I defy anyone to find it.
Fly husbandry isn't easy, either, let me tell you.  I have four 5' x 5' x 5' mesh cages for my colonies.  There are thousands of residents, and the inside of my house sounds like Amelia Earhart just turned up in my living room.  And not only do I have to deal with the unsettling feeling that my house could be hijacked to Cuba at any moment, but there's the odor, too.
"Oh, but flies don't smell bad," you say?
Not the flies.  Their food.  A fly's optimum diet is rotten meat, which it not only eats but lays eggs in, as well.  I started with over 75,000 of the little beasties, so you have some idea of what I'm up against.
"Try air freshener," you say?
You think I haven't?
Air freshener, once sprayed, takes a single sniff of the current "bowels of hell" aroma pervading the house and heads, screaming, for the nearest open window.  Baking soda bursts into tears.  Lysol puts on a gas mask.  Nothing helps.
And I take quite a bit of abuse for it, too.
My neighbor calls me "Legion."
I keep finding reversed pentagrams drawn on my doorstep.
Any mail addressed to "The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse" is delivered to me.
All because I love my plants.
Well, at this point, they're so large that perhaps "respect" would be a better word.
Or maybe, "fear."
I don't know what they'd do to me if I cut off their fly supply. But I suspect that becoming the plant version of a granola bar might be involved.
I do much more for them than just feed them, though.  I must mist them all, four times a day, because they like it humid.  I must monitor the heater constantly to be sure it is at the exact temperature they prefer.  I must pipe in "gangsta" rap music for them to listen to during the day.  They're hostile plants with bad attitudes, and they seem to feel that this sort of music indicates that someone, somewhere, truly understands them.  I know, because I tried them on country/western and all I heard was vomiting noises…for hours.  They hate opera (especially Wagnerian, for some reason), expressing their displeasure by snapping at me if I get within range.  And I don't even want to discuss what happens when they hear Barry Manilow.  Just mentioning his name sets them off.
Lately, the larger plants have taken to locking the greenhouse door and cranking up ZZ Top at three o'clock every morning.  My neighbors don't even complain anymore.  The first time they did, I told them that there was nothing I could do about it…that my carnivorous plants were behind it all and had locked me out of the greenhouse.
Even the police don't come around anymore.
I've also noticed recently that I haven't been receiving the invitations to neighborhood parties that I used to.  The babysitting that I was formerly in such demand for seems to have inexplicably dried up, too.  I guess that means that people are spending more time at home with their families, and that’s a good thing.
Well, I'd like to continue this, but I have to get back to the greenhouse, now.
It's time for their bedtime story.

August 2, 2013


           Well, it finally happened.
I was forced to go the Motor Vehicles Department this morning.
The MVD is rather like death and taxes – you can’t put any of them off forever.  A trip to the MVD is almost as unavoidable as an IRS audit, and almost as unpleasant.
But who am I telling?  You all know this.
My latest foray into the wonderful world of dealing with state employees took the form of what I thought was a simple errand to get my address changed on my driver’s license.  I had recently moved, and in a rare, law-abiding moment, decided to have my new address (which was in a much better neighborhood than my old one, and I wanted to flaunt it, snob that I am) placed on my license for all arresting officers to see.  A quick trip, in and out.  I just needed one of those little sticker gizmos to put on the back of the license, and I’d be all set.
I don’t know what turnip truck I just fell off of sometimes.
I arrived at the MVD at 10:00 AM sharp, thinking that I would beat the rush if I got there when it opened.
There’s that turnip truck confusion, again.
I joined a line approximately 247 people long and began my wait.  Before I was halfway to the desk, I had read two novels and written the first three chapters of my own.  I glanced up.
It was dark out.
Hours passed.
At midnight, I was a mere ten people from my destination.
The more forward-thinking (and non-turnip truck riding) folks in the crowd had brought food and sleeping bags with them.  There were several campfires burning and, if I listened carefully, I could hear someone playing a guitar.  The faint strains of “Kumbaya” floated up from somewhere in the line behind me that now stretched back to the horizon.
At 2:00 AM, it was my turn.
“I’m here to get my address changed on my license,” I said, stifling a yawn.
The woman behind the counter regarded me with a gimlet eye, and then uttered the five words that no human being can hear and still have the courage to go on living.
“You’re in the wrong line.”