True stories with a twist!

I feel completely in control and of sound mind.  I know I am perfectly safe when I put my head into a lion’s mouth. Similar to the kind of feeling of control that people feel when they free fall from the sky.

Airplanes are mechanical. They have no feelings when they toss people out into space. 

Lions are living creatures and do have feelings. They are territorial. They mark their ground and will challenge anyone crossing the line. Some might think I’m putting my life in danger when I place my trust in the kindness of a wild beast. But I believe I could safely put my head into a lion’s mouth. Why would a lion hurt me when I mean it no harm?images-1

Being involved in this challenge won’t be the first time people have doubted the beliefs of others. They all laughed when Christopher Columbus said the world was round. That assumption is elementary compared to putting your head into a lion’s mouth.

Unknown.jpegCan you remember the days when people doubted the safety of jumping out of airplanes? Jumping from planes is now a sport; maybe it will be an Olympic sport soon. We call the sport “Skydiving,” and it is every bit as safe as putting your head into a lion’s mouth. Lion’s mouth’s don’t require equipment, which can be troublesome: all you need is the good, warm support  and cooperation of the lion.

Unfortunately, in skydiving does require equipment. It is possible that equipment will not operate properly. Circumstances change; sometimes rip cords don’t open when they are pulled. How many airborne soldiers never made it to the ground because parachutes malfunctioned?

A skydiver or two is killed occasionally while jumping out of an airplane.

Sometimes the landing field is overshot and the diver is blown far afield.

Broken bones and other injuries are not uncommon due to bumpy landings. 

But now and then it can be safe to jump out of a moving airplane.

Aside from the possibility of getting killed or crippled for no good reason, they tell me that skydiving can be good, clean fun, exciting and challenging.

But so can putting your head into a lion’s mouth.

What an annoying necessity it is to go for a haircut. Why do we need haircuts on such a regular basis? What was so terrible to walk around sporting a look like Lady Godiva or Cher? Must we always be so darn groomed in order to appear acceptable?

So as I was probing and considering the irritating ritual of transitioning from needing a haircut to well-groomed person, I was fuming about a totally different issue.

I have seen people casually walking around, cell phone in hand, phone encased in a battery charging case, seemingly without needing to recharge the device. But, as I learned on our summer vacation, using your cell phone to take photographs causes battery time to run down quite rapidly. One minute I was filming the Andes Mountains and suddenly my phone’s camera was dead. I would have to resort to old issues of National Geographic magazine to see real pictures.

Whether you happen to be hiking the Andes or meandering through the streets of Manhattan, what do you do if your battery needs a charge? Duck into a local clothing shop, plug it in next to the new spring suits?” Then pretend to browse while the phone recharges?

And what if you forgot to bring your charging cord?

So I was counting on a battery charging case that fits right over the phone and takes over when battery time expires. I sent for the case. 

The new battery charging computer case I ordered had just arrived from Amazon before I left the house for the hairdresser.

The directions said that first I had to “open the bumper.” What language were they speaking? What is a bumper? It sounded British, but since the Brits were busy figuring out what to do with Brexit I dared not look to them for an explanation. And even if I understood the meaning of “bumper,” how would I open it? No explanations given; just orders. Since it was made in China I couldn’t call them for a lesson either.

 Now if only I could attach the case to the phone I’d be happy. But try as I might I couldn’t open it to insert the phone.

As I pondered and agitated about my situation my haircut was completed. I was about to extricate myself from the chair and pay the bill when it happened. A lucky opportunity in the form of an innocent teenaged boy entering the salon. The boy asked where the ATM was, and as he withdrew the money he needed for a haircut the answer to my problem formed in my mind. 

The boy started to wedge himself into the hairdresser’s chair when I casually approached him, and asked,

“Have you ever seen these kinds of chargers? “

“Sure,” was his loquacious one word reply. 

“Did you ever hear of a Bumper?”

“Sure.”

“Oh, great! Would you mind showing me how to put my cell phone into it?”

He was now in his comfort zone.

He took the case and the phone and before I could say, “Split ends,” the two were entwined and functioning as one!

So the saying, “If you want to know how to do anything involving technology ask a young person!” is true. 

It seems to work every time. To further prove my point, some day let me tell you how my 14 year old grandson taught me how to use the safety features on my new car!

EATING COMMENTS

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Have you ever eaten with someone who, after the meal is complete, and you ate everything on your plate, says with great enthusiasm,”You Were Hungry!”

“That was a totally unsolicited and unwanted observation of the amount of food I consumed. The comment surprised me. I felt as if I were being observed and evaluated for how much I ate. And who likes to be judged?

Unknown.jpegI interpret the comment as an insulting one; it gives the impression that the person with you thinks you ate too much. Hearing that remark addressed to me made me self-conscious. It never occurred to me to pay attention to how much anyone else ate at a meal. So why is the amount of my food intake being observed, judged and evaluated?

When I mentioned my feeling of being insulted to a friend she said,

“Oh no. That is not an insult; My mother was from Italy. In Italy it means that the hostess is pleased that you, enjoyed the food and were happy with the meal“

This interpretation makes the comment,

”You were hungry”

a compliment. You might have been hungry when you started eating, but now you are happily satisfied. And the fact that you ate everything the hostess served is a compliment to her and her cooking.

A third interpretation of that comment is, “I’m glad you were not wasteful with food. It is not a commodity that anyone should take for granted, seeing the hunger in this community and around the world.” So when a person says “You were hungry,” it simply is confirming that you were appreciative of that meal.

Interesting.

It reminds me of my business partnership which lasted twenty two years. A business partnership is almost as hard to manage as a marriage. Two people discuss something, and each assumes that the other person understands a words the same way you do. It astounded me to learn how many ways there are to understand the same sentence. Hearing or saying the same words does not mean you understand an issue the same way.

So the comment“You were hungry”doesn’t mean what you assumed it did.Maybe. But still I wonder, “Does he think I’m getting fat?

LUXURY CARS

Along wealthy, distinctive neighborhoods in any large city exist blocks of luxury. Luxury everything, from designer clothing to shoes, handbags and cars. Especially cars. Jaguars, Maseratis, Bentleys and Rolls Royce’s.

But when I saw a McLaren I asked; what’s a McLaren?  I never heard of a McLaren.shopping

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article about the elusive McLaren. Perhaps the reason I didn’t know about this car before was that not one of my friends, business associates or Uber drivers ever showed up in one. I never saw such a car in parking lots at Costco, Sam’s Club or BJs. There was never this vehicle in front of me at the car wash either.

As I soon learned, the price was not so outrageously terrible: between $230,000 and $300,500, depending on what extra accessories you prefer in a car. For example, are traffic turn indicators really necessary? And why do you need power brakes, when with a little extra strength-building power of pressing hard on the brake pedal you can stop the car yourself! Think of all the extra accessaries we blindly sign up for that we don’t really need.

Believe it or not, when you consider the price you realize that paying for it is not so impossible to achieve.

There are many ways to save money. Here are some suggestions:

Imagine all the money you could save if you eliminated the excessive cost of driving to work. Since you don’t yet own a luxury car why would you want to drive anyway? The distance between New Jersey and New York may seem far at first glance, but look at it in a different light. 

How much is a gym membership worth? Does anybody think of eliminating this cost? What if, instead of working out on mostly mechanical machines, you walked from Morristown New Jersey to mid-town Manhattan for exercise? You could reap a number of benefits. First, you would eliminate the high cost of joining a health club. Secondly that short thirty mile walk would give you all the exercise you needed to stay healthy and in shape.

By walking you would also save on the cost of train fare. Eliminating the price of train travel would really help those dollars pile up in your wallet. Trains would become totally unnecessary in the Walk-Work model.

The only expense that might increase with this new transportation ideal is the small price of leather replacement for resoling your walking shoes. But compared to all the other savings you will gain, this price is a small one to pay as your shoe leather wears down.

Another price-cutting idea is heating your home. Surely you could manage to eliminate the cost of artificial heat used in so many homes. Do you think our country’s founding fathers were stronger and tougher than we are? They survived the cold by lighting bonfires, wearing warm scarves and drinking hot tea all day, although it might be tricky preparing dinner while wearing those bulky sheepskin gloves!

Try to avoid the occasional broken water pipes that may burst when you shut off the heat, but that is a minor problem, easily managed by the local plumber and your electric or gas supplier. 

Electric lights are another frivolous expense. Abraham Lincoln managed to write by candlelight; what a forward thinking gentleman! Think of the romantic environment he established by candlelight. Try it; everyone in the neighborhood will wish they had thought of the idea first!

You have saved on transportation, gas and electricity, and eliminated the cost of a health club. What about all the money you now waste on food, especially prepared foods, or restaurant meals? Some simple Macaroni and cheese casseroles or peanut butter sandwiches (made on day-old bread, saving 50% on each loaf) would be perfectly filling for a tiny amount of money.

With some of these money-saving ideas you will be in a position to put a down payment on your first McLaren.

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The environment will be so much improved! The conservationist movement will praise your name to the skies! And when you tell people that you have a new McLaren they’ll say,”What’s a McLaren? I never heard of it!”

 

 

Everybody knows that weather patterns have been changing. It used to be true that beautiful weather was consistently dependable in San Diego, California. It was never too hot or too cold there. And the beaches of La Jolla were always perfect too.images-1

This has been a cold winter in New Jersey. We thought it would be a healthy change to return to the quaint custom of opening the front door without shivering.  

As Mark Twain said,

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” But we would do something. We would escape from the northeast to year round sunshine.

But the “Weather-Fixer in the Sky” issued the alarm that “The Hammers are approaching; drop those temperatures and add some rain, Oh, Mighty Weather-Gods!” 

And they did. When we reached the California Shores we discovered that the cold temperatures and rain came along for the ride. 

We had packed lightly for the trip, knowing that California dress codes were casual. So we were able to reach every traveller’s goal: to pack light. All I needed were some T-shirts, a sweater or two, and extra pair of casual pants. That would basically carry me through our vacation. In normal days these choices would have been perfect. But now, in order to venture outdoors, every piece of clothing I packed had to come out of the suitcase and onto my back at one time. Even a pair of woolen gloves that I found in my jacket pocket from that frigid, snowy day we left for the airport were called into action.

Woolen gloves were definitely not what I would expect to pack on my vacation to Southern California. But I will be more clever planning our next trip; I will book us a trip to Antarctica, where it would be a pleasant surprise if the weather pattern were not as cold as tourists would expect. And we will use every bit of subterfuge to avoid detection by that “Weather-Fixer in the Sky.”

Unknown“Is it legal here?”

“Where can I buy it?”

That question, in all of it’s innocent sincerity, can hide secret desires and hidden wishes. But it also can be an honest search to help relieve chronic pain.

Several friends have developed age related aches and pains, some severe enough to seek medical advice and treatment. Two have received prescriptions for medical marijuana for the treatment of chronic severe pain. So I am aware of the questions regarding the legality of this drug.

On my trip to California this winter I decided to get information about this strange plant with mysterious healing properties. Marijuana sales are legal in California, and sold in state approved dispensaries. I was interested in trying a balm containing cannabis to relieve pain in my hands. Can the healing claims be true?

After many telephone calls and questions, the advice I was given on the telephone, (with no medical background information requested), was that the best product for me would be an externally applied skin balm containing a three to one ratio of CBDs and THCs. CBD oil from the cannabis plant has no mind altering properties. THC is the part of the plant that does contain that property.

Armed with that advice, my husband, son, and son’s significant other embarked on  our mission to La Mesa to the store that sold a variety of products. To our surprise it was located in an ordinary industrial park along with the most ordinary of businesses and products. No sign here of anything unusual or dangerous. Until we approached the dispensary.

A frighteningly high level of security met us as we continued. We parked the car, walked to the entrance and immediately saw two heavily armed guards blocking our way. I felt as if we were approaching the border of a third world country. The first burly guard, armed with a high caliber firearm, told me to open my handbag for inspection. After passing this first step of security we were each asked for our drivers’ licenses. He took all four of them and handed them to a woman making copies of the documents. Next he placed a tray before us, airport access style, and requested that all bags be put into it. “You will get your papers back as well as the bags,” he barked in his gentlest growl.

All of us were surprised at the TSA-like security of this operation. While the items were being scanned I wondered whether similar precautionary steps were taken by NASA before sending the first man into space.

Finally, as a last precaution, we each had to pass through a metal detector.

My husband asked the guard, “Do all dispensaries have this level of security?”

“Only the legal ones!” he answered.

Finally, inside the dispensary we were met by a woman who offered a written menu of all the products that were for sale. They were arranged in categories: Edibles, vapes, lotions. She was assigned to fill our order and would get us everything we needed. We were not permitted to shop by ourselves.

The feeling inside the dispensary was one of uncomfortably watchful distrust. The woman showed us products in various strengths and combinations of CBD and THC. When I selected one of the balms and reached for my credit card to pay, I was reprimanded with, “Cash only.”

So I wondered, “If I buy this balm will I be finger printed? Will they demand that I pose for a mug shot?”

As I left the dispensary my mind swirled with images of armed guards, X-Ray machines and metal detectors. I thought again of having copies made of my drivers’ license and being assigned a watchful guard playing the role of helpful salesperson.

Is this how a bank robber feels after a successful heist?

Is this how a Brinks armored car thief feels after breaking in?

Is this how it feels to prepare for a lengthy prison sentence?

The real question is, did the Cannabis work? Did it relieve the pain?

I had only a few days to rub the balm into my painful hands before it was time to return to the illegal place I call home. After the strange interlude I do not have any conclusions about the efficacy of Cannabis for joint pain. It was not worth risking arrest for smuggling an illegal substance into New Jersey, so for the time being I will have to hope that Tylenol will suffice to mitigate sore, achy joints.

 

 

 

 

 

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“You should take up knitting; it’s so relaxing”.

Those were the words of a former friend, whom I once mistakenly assumed had my best interests at heart. Now I rack my brain trying to understand what I could have done to her to cause her determination to turn my life into nerve pressuring misery. Knitting: Relaxing? Therapeutic? Really?

Trying to be open and fair minded, I consider the possibility that she has a good idea. As I look around wherever I go, I see women in lectures, on trains, and in recitals peacefully knitting. They appear to be relaxed as they demonstrate the art of multitasking. How hard can a little knitting be? I wonder.

You’ve always liked challenges, I tell myself, and I decide to try knitting. I’ll start with something small. Yes, I can do this! As I think about it I get enthusiastic about learning a new skill. This is going to be great fun. My friend and I head straight to a new knitting shop in Mendham. I immediately understand how addicting this hobby can become. The shop is charming; a converted room in back of an old house. It has original wide wood plank floors and ancient hand hewn wood beams. Displayed around the small rustic shop are beautifully handmade sweaters, vests, scarves and adorable, cuddly baby outfits.images

My enthusiasm increases as I imagine myself presenting my own hand made sweaters to my children, in law children and grandchildren. Depending on how quickly I can turn out each sweater maybe I can make a few for my friends too. I could have them finished in time for the holidays. What would be more thoughtful than a hand knit sweater with unusual hand crafted buttons, hand sewn button holes and pockets trimmed with beautiful special trim displayed around the shop?

Children’s sweaters will be my first project, I reason. They’re small enough to finish in a couple of days and then I can move up to adult sizes. It pleases me to think how excited everyone will be when they see their gifts this year. images-2

Soon the stack of materials I need is very large. I need a knitting bag, skeins of wool of all sorts of wonderful colors, several sizes of knitting needles, buttons, trim and some knitting magazines. The ones with all those cute pictures. I feel adept and practically professional as I gather all my equipment and materials. So far, considering only the children’s sweaters my bill comes close to $1000.00. But this hobby is going to relax me. And the children will be so excited. It’ll be worth it.

 

The first step in starting to knit is to kick off, jump off, or push off. I’d better check the vernacular before talking about this hobby to anyone conversant in knit lingo.

I’ve only begun my first baby sweater when I notice that the stitches are hard to move. A knitting needle can fit under each wool stitch on the needle holding the yarn but after a couple of stitches I can no longer move anything. The wool is so tight that I have to battle the stitch to get it off one needle and onto the next. I take it back to the knitting teacher. “You have to relax when you knit, or you pull the stitches too tight.” She pulls out my completed rows and starts over again, demonstrating her relaxed, easy rhythmic knitting style. “I can do this,” I assure myself, and take my supplies and new found confidence back home. The first few rows look good. The rows I’ve completed are loose and easy, loose and easy, and “What?” There are now holes between the stitches. The stitches are too loose, too easy, and resemble holes the size of the chipmunk tunnels in our garden. “OK, Not a problem; I’ll rip out these few rows and start again.” I turn on some soothing music and begin to knit a baby sweater. The smaller the baby the better

I am relaxed, I am productive, I am creative. The rows are the right tautness this time, and I am making good progress. I hold the project up to show my husband that evening, and notice an odd expression on his face. “Oh, um, very nice,” he stammers, and looks for a newspaper, book, or anything else to hide behind. I look at the baby sweater and am shocked to see that the sweater has taken on the shape of an alien being. What kind of creature could fit into this garment? A cross between Jack Spratt and Humpty Dumpty?

 

The knitting teacher kindly welcomes me back to her shop and explains something about decreasing numbers of stitches in rows to shape the garment. “We can just rip up to here,” she explains, “and start decreasing stitches there.”

This will be the third time I’ve had to rip out the stitches I knitted. There is nothing relaxing, productive or creative about knitting. It should be called the scorch and burn hobby: knit, knit, rip, rip rip. Two steps forward, seventeen steps back.

 

In the interest of maintaining my sanity and sunny disposition I return everything remotely returnable to the knitting store, leaving me with only $649.37 worth of knitting equipment that I will use to remember the experience.  Then I zoom over to the mall before it’s too late and with love in my heart, buy presents for everyone on my list.

They will be so delighted when they see their gifts this year!

 

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