Monthly Archives: May 2019

“Horror”

When I was young I read horror. Not exclusively (there was a time in my teens when I read lots of romance novels too, the so-called “bodice rippers”, suggesting I wasn’t exactly stuck on one genre) but I was definitely drawn to it. Stephen King was a favorite. At the time critics were hard on him – I remember one comparing him to the literary equivalent of a Bic Mac & fries – which I found unjustified and unfair. I saw his books as novels first, with well-drawn characters and believable dialogue, and the horror aspects while not incidental, as vehicles in his story-telling.

Then there was actual horror in my real life and although I can’t say that was the only reason, in retrospect it was certainly a large one in why I stopped reading fictional horror. I lost my taste for it.

Many years passed. As I’ve blogged before, while I still read some books, newspapers, and magazines, the internet, in the last ten years or so, became the primary focus of my reading, the culprit that slowly damaged my ability to sit down with a book. I still thought of myself as a “reader” but how many books was I actually consuming? Not so many it turns out. I was not happy with myself. I’d let the internet take a dominant place in my life and not entirely for the better.

In 2018, among other goals, I planned to read 20 books. At year’s end, I’d read 30. I set the same goal for 2019 an I’ve already read 24 this year. LESS INTERNET MORE BOOKS.

Although I’d shied from him for a long time, I’d not forgotten my earlier attachment to King. His output and his stature as a writer have only grown. At one point I’d known that he’d even assumed a pseudonym for a series of books in order to temporarily escape the fame and reputation his own name held. I wondered if I could – or should – read him again. I wasn’t sure if it would appeal so I started with a slim newer volume, Elevation. Then I picked up Pet Sematary, a book I’d read long ago and was aware had been made into a movie last year (one I haven’t seen). It had been such a long time I remembered only that it was a book about pets coming back to life and being “not quite right.” I knocked out the 400-page novel in 4 days (the way I USED to read). This book is so much more than I recalled, which admittedly wasn’t much.

Pet Sematary is largely a book about grief. Dealing with loss. In part I want to say, how had I not seen or remembered that from my first read but I know the answer. I was young when I read it. I didn’t really know about grief. I am newly blown away by King’s insights, insights he had as a relatively young man (it’s noted that he wrote the book from ’79-’82), but he was a father of young children and although I’m not a parent, I have an understanding now of the love and fear that go into a good parent’s sense of responsibility for their children.

Humor loops through the tale as well as dread, a dark humor perhaps, yet one I appreciate deeply and recognize as a tool in my own arsenal for dealing with those parts of life which are unfathomable and threaten to crush those they strike.

If you love you will lose. Be that love for a person or a pet, the risk is always there. If you live long enough and you are capable of feeling, losing beloved people (and animals) to death is a given. And it changes people. Some never recover. Not unlike those brought back to life in Pet Sematary, they are never “quite the same” again.

It’s true of me. I’m not the same as I was when I first read King’s book. I already knew that but this book’s deeper meanings weren’t wholly apparent to me. While I no doubt enjoyed the book the first time I read it, there were elements to the horror that would have been lost to me because I’d yet to live them. This second read made that so very clear.

If it was possible, to what end would you go to “bring back” a pet or person who had died? Would you if you could? Even if they weren’t “quite right?” Even if it meant tangling around with dark forces that weren’t entirely benign and perhaps far worse? Pet Sematary wades into those murky waters and even though it’s a work of fiction, the questions it poses, even if posed metaphorically, are provocative.

In my own life I’ve worked hard to accept the deaths of people and animals I’ve loved. I felt convinced that how you handled loss – handled death – could and likely would determine how you conducted – and experienced – your life.

Next veggie stop: outside on the sidewalk?

In late 2017 I posted photos of *expired” marked down produce the small, local grocery store sells. It’s not unusual to see rotting vegetables or even mold; the addition of a SALES ARE FINAL NO RETURNS OR MONEY BACK sign particularly amused me. Here’s the original photos.

Recently the store stopped refrigerating said old produce. That’s right – why waste valuable cold storage on festering vegetables?! Now they reside in a cardboard display outside the cold bins. One of the main items is bagged lettuce – as IF bagged produce didn’t already have enough issues what with the various recalls and E. Coli outbreaks.πŸ˜•
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Braids for summer

In winter my hair is usually down or under a hat but in the warm months I like to do things with it. With Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer in sight, these braids seem appropriate. I’ve been meaning to try this idea for awhile but any time I considered making three braids, I felt too lazy. Not today! I made a ponytail, portioned it into three sections and made three braids. Your hair wouldn’t have to be as long as mine for this style. (I’m still in my growing-long-hair mode as you see.) I like this! Kind of kicky and fun.

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Don’t look too closely

I have a few kitchen appliances but not a lot by most standards. I like to do – or at least think it’s probably a good idea to do – many tasks by hand, both for the exercise and because it makes me feel more connected to the food. (I’ve mixed and kneaded hundreds of pizza doughs, for example, and the process feels important and satifying). There are kitchen chores though, that aren’t possible without the help of an appliance, like a blender, which of course I have. To save space & money, I bought a food processor attachment for my Oster blender four years ago for $17. Thanks to it I could make fake icecream and things like hummus. I got good use from it.

In the winter the plastic base of the food processor attachment broke. I decided to try gluing it.

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The glued base

That worked for awhile but several times lately, rather than grind in its normal, high-decibel fashion, the food processor attachment, apparently not seated correctly due to the repair job, has made a HORRIBLE sound when I’ve turned it on, not unlike that bad grinding, scraping noise when a car shifts incorrectly. This sound is so alarming I’ve become frightened to use the attachment, even though hurriedly turning the machine off and trying to “reseat” the attachment tends to take care of the problem. I just don’t think my nerves can take it!😦

So, I looked at Amazon. NOW Amazon wants an outrageous $50 for a new one and $34 for a used-like-new one. And it’s thin plastic! And not even high end caliber! $50?! Instead, I looked at other possibilities, keeping cost and “footprint” in mind, as well as ratings. This led me to a small, 4-cup Cuisinart food processor. I can assure you I’ve never owned a Cuisinart anything. Around my kitchen, in addition to Oster, the brand names tend toward Black & Decker, Hamilton Beach, etcetera. Serviceable, unfancy wares. The reason I purchased the little Cuisinart (for under $20) was because it is refurbished through a program called Amazon Renewed. Basically, a supplier fixes up used appliances and they re-sell them (I bought a refurbished Sony CD/cassette player from Amazon in 2017 and its been fine).

Here’s what caught my eye today in the description of Amazon’s refurbished goods:

The products will have minimal to no signs of wear and no visible cosmetic imperfections when held 12 inches away.

12″ huh? I bet they’re just dreamy from oh, 8 feet away. What they’re really saying here is:

You’ll like it better if you don’t look at it too closely.

Are those words to live by or what? As someone who very routinely looks at everything closely, I can see how I’d be well-advised to apply this philosophy to more of my life, not just used kitchen appliances!

A stranger’s “advice”

“Dtjscjnfrgjvxwf juggnjrxcbhhuhb gghu” said the woman seated two computers away from me at the public library. At least that’s more or less what I heard. I had a wicked cold all week and the resultant congestion had muted my usually normal hearing. Although I felt sure I was past being contagious, I’d made a point to sit at a wholly unoccupied circular array of computers so as to not get too close to anyone or to be alarming or annoying with the residual sniffling and throat clearing. This stranger had subsequently taken a seat two away from me at the round table.

Immediately before she’d spoken, I felt what was sure to be a involuntary coughing jag coming on so I’d prepared to temporarily vacate my computer and go hack and choke in private.

On hearing her incomprehensible-to-me words I turned to her and asked, “What?”

You’re missing minerals.

There was no “Excuse me” or “Could I offer you advice?” or ” Could I tell you something ” or “I don’t mean to bother you but…” None of the typical or possibly expected statements were proffered before the unusual non sequitur was uttered.

The immediate response that came to my mind was “I’M SICK!” but rather than say that I said nothing. For one, I sensed that replying would be a tacit agreement to enter into a conversation I was probably not going to want. For another, as I mentioned, I felt that unpleasant “tickle” in my throat and watering in one eye that announced a coughing fit was imminent. I hopped up and hustled to the lower floor of the building to the ladies restroom where I coughed and weezed till the jag passed.

While there I considered the encounter. Now, I’ve lived a number of years. I’ve had all sorts of interactions with strangers. People have said oh-so-many things to me. I’ve learned that a certain degree of restraint and internal skepticism is a good idea when dealing with strangers. Far more often than not, when a stranger says something to me, they want something and have an agenda. As a rule I am really not a fan of agendas.

All that being said, I considered the woman and her words. I am not so cynical and jaded that I unequivocally believe that a stranger could never have something of value to tell me. Secretly, the idea of a soothsayer appearing with wise and insightful tidbits to offer is kind of appealing. That is, a random encounter with a magical person, or a person with magical qualities, seems interesting! No one has ever come along who could see into me, immediately penetrate my very being, but would I say it could never happen? No, I wouldn’t BUT the odds say “not likely.”

Still, I considered the subject at hand. Minerals? Gee, I’d been taking a multivitamin regularly. Granted, it’s a men’s multivitamin that I’ve purchased a few times from Amazon because the price was substantially lower than the women’s version, but I take Calcium to compensate for its absence plus I haven’t grown a beard or anything so I figure it’s okay. In fact I had wanted to blog – but hadn’t – that to my happy surprise, I never got sick this past winter. No colds, no flu. I don’t remember the last winter I escaped unscathed by sickness of some stripe. Despite the current sickness I felt reasonably sure that between the multivitamin and my vitamin/mineral rich diet, I was doing well by myself.

I knew that on return to the computers, I could take up the conversation, perhaps ask the woman to clarify, but I hadn’t been wild about her approach and in part due to my weakened state, I wasn’t really in the mood. I might start something and quickly be sorry. Minimally, any further discussion would be distracting. No, this was one to let go. I was careful not to make eye contact and resumed what I’d been doing at the computer. The woman did not say anything more. After a time she got up and left. I took a look at her retreating figure. Nah, she didn’t look like an oracle.

Short Thought 235 (irony?)

Someone left a pack of raw pork chops, inside a grocery bag along with the receipt, on the dining patio of the vegan restaurant. I learned this because I saw a restaurant employee returning the meat, which was still apparently cold, to the store it came from, a stone’s throw away from the restaurant. Several hours passed before the irony of this event occurred to me. Had someone enjoyed a nice vegan lunch and planned on pork chops for dinner? At what point did they miss their chops? Had they thought twice about bringing raw meat to a vegan restaurant in the first place? Was the vegan restaurant tempted to toss them?