Winter Will Be the Death of Me Yet

9 Jan

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We had “snow flurries” yesterday.

Floridians call that “a near blizzard” and I am sure there are some enterprising souls who will be expecting their employer to declare a “snow day” today. But they won’t. They will expect everyone to scrounge around in the back of their closets, find something that will serve as a winter coat, bundle up and come on in to work.

Employers are like that—wanting you to show up for work and stuff.

I used to have a job that required me to travel to Maryland–often in January or February, as luck would have it. I stayed in a hotel that was less than a half a mile from the office.

One night it snowed big time. When I got up, there was white as far as the eye could see! It was hard to distinguish my rental car from all of the other big snow lumps in the parking lot because all of the cars were completely covered. “Oh, heck no!” I exclaimed–I am sure this had all the makings of a “snow day.”

Surely my employer will not open their offices today!

So I called the “Incliment Weather Hotline” with baited breath. The recording answered. A man’s voice recited the
date and then advised that the office would be open and said that everything is “business as usual.”

Business as usual?

Business as usual?! Has this guy even looked out his window? How is anyone expected to get to work under these conditions? A person could freeze to death or go snow blind (not sure what that is) or get snow sickness (might be making that one up) or something!

It is a good thing the rental car people had the forethought to provide me with a scraper-thing to clear my windshield. You can’t even buy one of those in Florida. You can buy pecan logs and gator repellent in Florida, but the scraper thing? Forget it!

As I was scraping the glaciers from the windows of the car, I felt the urge to share the experience with a friend.

“I know,” I thought (and it is a wonder I could think at all because you really would have thought my brain would have frozen solid by this point,) “I will call my friend and co-worker back in Florida–the one who grew up in New York, but was smart enough to move to Florida some years back.”

It is a miracle I was able to dial my friend’s desk phone–I don’t know how cell phones can even work in such bitter cold. Don’t the cells freeze up? I guess not because her voicemail answered.

After the beep I said, “Hey, Terri, this is Bill. And this is the sound of me scraping the ice off of my fucking windshield!” Scrape! Scrape! Scrape! said the scraper as I attacked the ice with all of my Flordian might.

When my friend got to work and listened to my message, she laughed and laughed.

Then she forwarded the message to HR and filed a formal complaint about me leaving obscenities on her voicemail.

True story! Except that last part about her forwarding the message and the formal complaint. She would never have ratted me out to those goons in HR!

After I got the windows cleared–all the while feeling just like William H.Macy in “Fargo”, I began the trecherous quarter of a mile journey to the office. While I was driving, I listened to local radio. The morning banter zoo crew people were going on and on about the weather and then they mentioned two things I had never heard of in my life:

  1. Did you know that car doors can freeze shut? Not helpful I am learning about this after I am alreay on the road. If I had had more advanced notice, I could have used this as an excuse not to go into the office. I bet those bastards would have expected me to walk! “It’s only a quarter mile…” Have they no heart?!
  2. Then they explained about the scariest cold thing of all. Have you heard of this “black ice”? It seems that sometimes during the day the snow starts to melt, but when it gets dark (which it does in the frozen north at like, 3:30pm) and the temperatures drop to below freezing (below freezing!) the melting snow–especially the snow on the roads under overpasses, freezes into sheets of ice that look for all the world like normal, la dee da, go ahead and drive as fast as you want road surface.

So your car slides, spins, maybe even rolls over–and you DIE!

That was many years ago, but I am pretty sure that is what they said–“If you drive on black ice, Bill, you will DIE!”

So of course I just assumed my employer would let me leave work well before sundown because they cared about my safety, right? Not so much, as it turns out.

Not only did they make me drive a full quarter of a mile to the office in post-blizzard conditions, they also did not let me leave early. I didn’t get out of there before 5PM. And, as I have already established, it was dark.

Time for the Black Ice to rise up and menace the innocent!

I white knuckled my way back to my motel. As I traversed inch upon inch of road on that harrowing quarter of a mile journey from Hell, I was convinced that at any moment the black ice was going to reach up and grab my rental car (I knew I should have taken that extra insurance!) and throw the vehicle, with me in it, into a dark, cold ravine.

Where I would DIE.

I don’t really know if there were any revines between the office and the hotel, but at that moment, as I was being terrorized by the sinister black ice, I was pretty sure that I knew exactly how that soccer team felt–you know, the ones who crash landed in the Andes Mountains who had to survive by eating their dead comrades.

Just like them, I was cold, I was scared and boy, was I hungry!

Fortunately the hotel had a happy hour buffet–after a few pigs in a blanket and two for one beers, I regained my normal intrepid composure.

And that is what winter means to me.

I had best scrounge around in my closet and find that winter coat because I need to get to work. I can only pray that those snow flurries did not freeze into black ice. At least I can take some comfort in the fact that between my house and the office, there are no ravines.

Happy Friday everyone. Stay warm!

Purge or Accommodate? That is the question.

8 Jan catzen blue

Maybe it is the sink or swim transition from “The Holidays” to regular routine; maybe it is the weather; maybe it is a bi-product of my advancing years–what ever it is, I am in a really crabby mood.

It came on like a slow fog, enveloping my being and then just settling into the corner of my mind where my outlook resides.

Not the email kind of outlook–perhaps I should have chosen a better, less confusing term–thank you, Microsoft!–but it is early and cold and I am swimming in my stream of consciousness–I don’t really have the time or the inclination to consult a thesaurus.

You know, outlook–perspective, the way I look at things, the View Master of my soul, my world view goggles.

Point of view not so happy.

I need to find a way to work through this.

I have found that sometimes if you take the time to listen, life will send you messages, telling you the things you really need to know.

Hopefully at this hour, life will not repeat its familiar refrain of, “Reach for the Jim Beam.” That would be cruel. Life knows I gave up bourbon for breakfast last Lent. To tempt me now would just be wrong.

Life, I am listening.

Listening…

Really listening…

PATIENTLY listening…

What’s that, life?

My f-ing Drop Box is full?!

Unless this is a metaphor–and if it is, I don’t want to consider what my metaphorical “Drop Box” might be–I do not find this helpful.

Wait. Could it be that the “Drop Box” is anything you’ve had enough of?

That just popped into my head this very minute, after I swallowed a big gulp of coffee. And a little ran down my chin and that annoyed me and then BAM–insight!

I used to have a lot of insights when I drank breakfast bourbon but most of them just made me late for work. Coffee is a little more productive.

So how do you make more room in your “Drop Box”? You delete files. PURGE FILES–yes, yes, yes!

Wait–I might need that file. No, not that one, the other one. Only I probably need the first one too. No, I am saving those pictures for a rainy day. People pay money for pictures like those–especially if they are in the pictures, if you know what I mean…

“Purge files” seems like such a powerful message—I really will have to meditate on that.

Of course, you can have unlimited space in your Drop Box if you pay a little money to the right entity. Maybe that is the real message here:

Pay money to the right entity if you want your Drop Box to be more accommodating.

That is a very powerful, albeit somewhat disturbing message. So much to think about!

Let’s summarize this valuable message from Life:

Purge your Drop Box and do what it takes to make your Drop Box more accommodating.

I think that is what life is trying to say.

Let’s say that is what it is saying.

That’s what I think. Yes. Just sayin’…

I hope we all learned a valuable lesson today and if not a valuable lesson, maybe a helpful tip.

As you go through your day today ask yourself:

Is this going to make my Drop Box too full?

What can I do today to make my Drop Box more accommodating?

Will I have to purge first, or should I just pay money to some entity to expand my Drop Box so that my Drop Box becomes limitless?

Wishing you and your Drop Box much happiness today.

OH, By all means, feel free to take selfies with your Drop Box and forward them on to Cat Zen Space. My Drop Box loves to accommodate compromising  tantalizing photos I can cash in on  enjoy some rainy day…

Happy Thursday!

Let’s Get Perspective!

6 Jan

Monday was everything I expected it to be–chaotic and non-stop busy. Not too bad, actually.

I think sometimes I enjoy a little chaos.

I wasn’t so keen on waking up this morning.

Before my alarm went off, the cat advised me it was time for me to get my “furless butt out of bed,” as it was time for breakfast. The cat convinces me to get up by sitting on my chest and then patting my face with his paw. He even pats my mouth, as if to say, “this is the hole breakfast goes into. Now get up and give me something to put in my face hole!”

Animals have such a way with words, don’t they?

Once she knows I am alert, or at least conscious, it is time for the dog to remind me that she wants to go for her morning walk. She has a special bark that says, “I want to go out and I want to go out now, please!” If I ignore her she crawls up on my pillow and sits on my head. The dog weighs 70lbs, so this tactic is bound to get me stirring.

Animals have a way with non-verbal communication too.

When the dog and I ventured out into the cool, dark morning, I noticed that the street seemed especially dark. Then I realized the street lights were out as far as they eye could see. (I say “the eye” because at that hour, pre-coffee, I only have enough strength to have one eye open.)

Further down the street, I could see lights and the general hub bub that indicates the electric company is working their magic on an electrical pole. It was dark and cold and some poor guy had to not only get out of bed–he had to climb into a cherry picker and play with live electrical wires. (I hope he at least had both eyes open.)

God bless the electric company. (And not just that Rita Moreno show that used to be on PBS, but the real electric company too. And Rita Moreno and friends also.)

Today, I am told (because I don’t really remember when this happened) is “traditionally” believed to be the birthday of Joan Van Ark. She was born in like, 1412 or something. She is a heroine of France, a Roman Catholic saint and, of course, played Valerie Ewing on Falcon Crest.

Wait–that can’t be right. Surely I have some of my facts mixed up here. OH–of course, Valerie Ewing wasn’t on Falcon Crest–she was a character on Knots Landing! What a faux pax! My apologies.

Anyway, I heard she was burned at the stake. Very sad.

Also on this day in 1994 (and this I do remember) figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee with a police baton by some goon who had been hired by the husband of her skaing rival, Tonya Harding.

This incident is remembered primarily because of Nancy Kerrigan’s tearful response to the attack–“Why, why, why?”–a cry that would permeate the collective consciousness for decades to come.

I know I can be found at least once a week, at work, curled up under my desk, writhing and crying, “why, why, why?”  But of course, all of us have a similar tale to tell.

The really horrible aftermath of this event is that it made Tonya Harding famous and she just wouldn’t go away!

She didn’t get any medals at the Olympics, so you would have thought she would slink off quietly–but no! Just when you think  you have completely forgotten her, she pops up participating in some “celebrity” boxing match, or giving a “tell all” interview complaining about how crappy her life has been.

Maybe she should step back and get a little perspective.

Maybe Tonya would benefit from studying the life of Joan Van Arc. Joan was burned at the stake, Tonya! And you think you’ve got it so bad!

Life is so strange, is it not?

The coffee has kicked in and now both of my eyes are open. Time for me to dam up this stream of consciousness and ride off into the sunrise for another thrilling day in the world of gainful employment.

Have an awesome Tuesday.

Let’s Get Married!

5 Jan roses

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If you are familiar with the works of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and numerous other works about creativity and how to get in touch with your inner artist, you may also be familiar with one of the primary tools she recommends: Morning Pages. I borrowed this idea from Ms. Cameron (and I actually met her once, so perhaps I am not out of line if I just call her Julia) although my method is not exactly what Julia prescribes.

Julia recommends writing by hand in a journal you do not share with anyone else, nor should you even bother to go back and reread.

I, instead, am typing a blog for publication.

Actually, the only thing my blogging version of Morning Pages has in common with Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages is that the end product is stream of consciousness and it is unedited.

That’s right–I am blogging by the seat of my pants! (And loving it!)

Writing Morning Pages blogs used to be a regular part of my daily ritual. Rather than provide a mountain of excuses for why that may have changed, I will say, instead, I am glad to be returning to this practice.

Happy 2015.

It is the Monday following New Year’s Day, This is the day that students return to school, vacationers return to work and traffic resumes its normal congested pattern. It will be harder to find a parking place at work, AND, everyone will be back at the office and work will resume apace.

For me, this is represents the BIG let down after “The Holidays.” I may not recover until the Spring thaw.

Besides today, this dreaded day of days, this week promises to be very interesting.

Florida’s ban on same sex marriage has danced its way through the courts. Our valiant Attorney General Pam Bondi has argued and fought for the sanctity of marriage in every courtroom that would have her.

Ms. Bondi should know a little something about the sanctity of marriage–she has had at least 2 of them–and maybe even a third one. (She may or may not have wed her current live-in boyfriend, ophthalmologist Greg Henderson__Google it if you are interested.)

Not that I am judging–it is just that Pam’s main bone of contention about letting “the gays” marry in Florida will “cause significant public harm.” To whom? WTF does that mean?

How come Pam Bondi gets to be the arbiter of which marriages are good for the state and which are not?

She might respond, “Well, I have been married twice–maybe 3 times—you don’t know! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!!!”

All I can say to that is, accruing frequent flier miles does not make you a pilot. Just sayin’…

Leave the navigation to the folks with their eyes (and their hearts) wide open.

And so, to the surprise of no one, Pam Bondi has been rebuffed by every judge she blathered her blather before and now, legally, she has shot her wad.

So to speak.

Ahem…

At long last, the courts have run out of silly excuses for why two tax paying consenting adults cannot enter into a marriage contract that affords them the same protections as other consenting adults who happen to be of the opposite sex.

In other words, in the state of Florida, as of this week, gay marriage is “a thing.”

I have to admit, I am still blinking over the news.

Back in the day, when I came out, a lot of heterosexuals were eschewing marriage and “living in sin” seemed like a perfectly valid option. For the LGBT community, marriage was not even in the cards. Or on the radar. Or, whatever. We wanted job protection. We wanted to be able to find a decent place to live. We wanted people to stop beating us up just because we were gay.

You know, the fundamentals.

Now, as I enter the twilight of my life (No, I am not pretending to be a vampire–different twilight, OK?) it is finally legal for me to get married to another gay person of the same gender.

Even though I didn’t see this coming back when, I did see it coming more recently and yet, I am still amazed.

Which is really a lot of pressure! My significant other and I have only known each other for 36 years–we don’t want to rush into anything! Marriage–that’s a big step!

We don’t want to marry just because we can. It isn’t like one of those punch cards you get in some sandwich shop–after so many purchases you get to get married. Not just married–gay married.

So we are still kicking the idea around.

In the meantime, this weekend there will be a mass wedding in Hemming Park here in Jacksonville.

Hemming Park/Plaza (it has been called both and has been reconfigured many times over the years) is in the center of downtown.

My earliest memory of Hemming Park is from the early 1960s. My mother and I were in the park and I wanted a drink of water. Before I could get a drink, my mother hastily grabbed me and steered me toward another water fountain–the one that had a sign reading “Whites Only”–and away from the “Colored Only” drinking fountain I for which I had originally reached.

In my mother’s defense (may God rest her soul) she was terrified of ALL public drinking fountains. I am pretty sure she wasn’t any more enchanted by the idea of me drinking after white people. I just think she wanted to avoid a public spectacle.

More recently–I guess it was 2008, there was a demonstration in Hemming Plaza demanding marriage equality for gays and lesbians. It was heartening to see so many people step out and step up to say, gays and lesbians are loving and caring partners and parents–they deserve the same rights as any other citizens of this city and state.

And now it is going to happen.

No–I will not be getting married this weekend, but I am volunteering to help with the logistics of the event.

Although I am not quite ready to commit to a wedding of my own–I am ecstatically happy for the people who are not only ready to marry, but are finally allowed to marry.

Not a “separate but equal” domestic partnership, but a same as all of the other consenting adults in Florida, for real, legal marriage.

The “Heteros Only” sign has been taken down. God bless.

I am definitely looking forward to this Saturday.

But until then….for now, I have to get on my bike and ride to work.

The first Monday of 2015 looms…

Until tomorrow–have a great day!
.

Happy Monday!

Phoning in a Blog: Paris Flora

7 Dec

Happy Sunday.

I thought it might be fun (just cause) to see what happens when I write and post a blog using only my smart phone. I am sure in the not too distant future these phones will be capable of actually composing the blogs for me, but thank goodness that day has not yet arrived.

To keep things simple (for me) I am posting a photo blog. Fewer words means fewer wrestling matches with auto current correct.

Plus, I don’t always post blogs on Sundays, but when I do, I prefer to post Photoshop photo blogs.

Today’s blog highlights images of fluoride flora I captured during my trips to Pariah Paris.

Let’s begin with a couple of pictures I took in Paris’ s famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

Pere Lachaise opened in 1804. The first person buried there was a 5 year old girl named Marmalade Adelaide.

 

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Not necessarily Marmalade’s Adelaide’s grave but it is a nice rose anyway.

Since then the Cemetary has become the final resting place of such illustrious individuals as Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Frederic Chopin, and Edith Pilaf Piaf, to name but a few.

Jim Morrison of The Doors is also buried there.

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As you can see, people are still leaving flowers for Jim.

And speaking of flowers, let us continue with our brief tour of Parisian fauna by paying a visit to the home of  impressionist painter, Claude Monet.

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Monet’s gardens are full of the flora he loved to paint, such as these water lilies.

It is a short trip from Paris to Monet’s house and gardens in a town called  Govern Giverny.

I could devote an entire blog or two to this wonderful place–but that needs to be a blog that isn’t being “phoned in” in order to do it justice. So let’s take a glance at just one more water lily and move along.

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Very nice, Mr. Monet.

Now I have a couple of images from the home of Auguste Rodent Rodin. You know, the guy who sculpted The Thinker–a piece of art made famous by that seminar seminal American sit-com, Doobie Dobie Gillis. (If you get that reference you are most likely past the age of 40. )

thinker and eifel

Look–there’s The Thinker now. I guess that is a French cell phone tower behind him…

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Nice!

I have to say, posting a blog using a phone is as much fume fun as I thought it would be. Although I have, thus far, won the wrestling matches with auto-correct, I grow fatigued of the tiny keyboard. Here are more Paris fauna pictures:

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I can’t say for sure where those were taken. There are a lot of planks plants in Paris, so it could have been anywhere!

Now here are some images captured at a flower market in, you know, Paris:

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Gorgeous, no?

And finally, here is one more:

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Wait. That isn’t actually “flora”–that is a large plastic daisy that was part of the decor of a carnival ride at a Parisian fair.

Please disrobe disregard.

From the ridiculous to the submarine sublime, from fake to real flowers, I hope you have enjoyed this phoned in blog and the prickers pictures of lovely plants and flowers.

Have a beautiful Sun hat Sunday!

 

 

Adventures in Mass Transit

29 Nov

catzenspace:

Our local transit system is going to make some radical changes as of December 1, 2014. So I felt the urge to go back and revisit this blog from a few years ago.

Originally posted on Cat Zen Space:

Because of car problems, two weeks ago I began taking the bus to work. Despite the inconvenience of not having a functional car, I feel real pleasure in knowing that I am doing my part for the environment.

On my first day back in the mass transit groove, the bus is late. It finally arrives and as soon as I get on I can tell this driver is going to be trouble.

“So, did you watch the game yesterday?” she asks in a voice that can only be described as “chipper.”
I am of the belief that chipper is for chipper/shredders, not for human beings.
I am a morning person. Shoot me, but I am. Still, I don’t want to make small talk with strangers in the morning and I sure as heck don’t want to talk about a subject I know nothing about whether it is the gross domestic…

View original 1,354 more words

Dances with Idioms

24 Jul

smashed heads3

I am a procrastinator who can’t wait to get started.

I am violently passive aggressive.

I am a painfully shy exhibitionist–a voyeur who is determined to make you look.

Call me crazy, but I do the same things over and over again and expect different results.

I watch pots and–guess what?–eventually they boil anyway.

I took the road less traveled and got lost. Wound up going in circles. By the time I figured out which way to go, the road less traveled had become thoroughly and repeatedly traveled. Damn road totally lost its cachet.

I refuse to let sleeping dogs lie. If I see a sleeping dog, I wake him up. (But I give him a cookie…)

I cry over spilled milk. But once I get closure, I’m fine.

I like to bite off more than I can chew. Then I spit it out.

I am a back seat driver even when I am alone in the car. Of course I use the driver’s seat to actually drive, but I heckle myself during the whole trip.

Not only do I not fix it if it ain’t broke–I don’t fix it if it is broke. I just throw it away.

I toot my own horn. (I’d toot someone else’s horn but I don’t know where that horn has been!)

I read between the lines because I love white noise.

I know the score, I just tend to forget it.

I cry wolf a lot. No one believes me, but I get a kick out of it.

I can take it or leave it. (Wait, what were my choices again?)
 
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