Monday, April 16, 2018

These Shoes are Meant for Walking

Yup. Those are shoes that my parents got bronzed when I was just a walking, talking chip off the old dysfunctional block. After I inherited them from my sister--the one affected by Only Child Syndrome--I placed them on my dining room hutch near the pewter candlesticks. Now they collect dust together. Naturally my sister kept her pair of booties and I assume they're catching dust somewhere in her house. I imagine she'll pass them down to one of her lucky kids, who will in turn put them on a shelf to collect dust. The pair are impossible to throw away--there must be some curse that befalls ungrateful children unwilling to properly revere family heirlooms--but no one quite knows what to do with them. Stick them in the bathroom? Maybe. They might pass for Odd Objets d"Art to note while on the Royal Throne. That would be one thought. Or how about pawning them off on my husband. He could decorate his office with them. They would join the approximately 2,000 other tchochkes (Google defines this term as decorative rather than functional objects) presently cluttering his office space. The husband has a problem with collecting (or hoarding) stuff, and it borders on the pathological, but he's in denial about it. So am I because I don't need another "crazy" in the family. One is already too much. I have an additional problem with using my pair of metallic beauties--no, no, I don't mean my boobs; I'm still talking about the shoes. I have no one to hand them down to. That's right; I'm childless or childfree depending on which side of the bed you got up on today. So I've been brainstorming what I could do with my shoes besides the obvious one of handing them over to some antique/consignment dealer. One idea is to hold a garage sale and try to peddle them as paper weights or planters. Or, I could make one of the dogs wear them for a millisecond and put the photo or video up on youtube or instagram or some such social media venue. Maybe that would get me my 15 seconds of fame. I don't know if that qualifies. Another possibility is to misrepresent them entirely, as in lie and deceive. I could get some bogus authentication documents off the Internet (you know the kind that tell people you graduated such and such prestigious university or that your pet tarantula is a service critter). I could then tell people they are Trump's baby shoes when he was just a wittle wee tycoon and willing to settle for bronze instead of gold plate. How much do you think they would fetch on E-Bay? I'd be willing to donate whatever I got to the National Fund for Getting Rid of Elected Idiots. So what's your idea? I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Where Did that Tree Come From?

They said it couldn't be done! I've had a few brushes with my orange Saturn Vue, but not because I collided with the two trees in the middle of my driveway. I wasn't feeling so hot when we decided to move to Scottsdale--depression had surfaced, and my concentration rivaled a three-year-old's--so I decided to minimize my losses by going for location, location, location. And Scottsdale is, as any snotty Arizonan can tell you, prime real estate. Yesiree, it is! So I figured I had done my job of selecting a house just by picking out the neighborhood. The rest I left up to my husband and fate. So what if an extra room in one house could only be accessed via a steep 20-step staircase? There was a gorgeous jacaranda tree in front (it blooms for at least 20 minutes every year). That more than made up for any knee or hip injury climbing up and down. Then there was the house that kept getting larger every time you walked through it. Did I really need three spare rooms for the maid, the cook, and the butler? Like that was gonna happen anytime soon!! Which is why I ended up with a unique driveway. I settled. Besides I like a challenge. No one I know has trees in their driveway so that means I get the award for bravery. They--the trees, that is--guarantee that I'm never drunk when pulling into my garage. I never have to worry about ramming my side mirror because I'm going verrry slowwwly so as not to scrape my beloved trees. The trees also are guaranteed nests for colorful singers who decorate our driveway with gunk you wouldn't want your worst enemy to step in. Still, somehow a driveway with two trees that whirl and swirl during monsoons and drop their leaves during a hard frost is appropriate for a dysfunctional kid from a dysfunctional family. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Forensics Case #45: Kidnapping and Assault

This was yesterday's surprise/mystery: a humongous deposit of dead branches in front of my house. Now that the temp has officially hit 100 degrees, I hid inside the house all day. But look what I found when I ventured outside: Me: WTF is this? Husband (Ray): Looks like our neighbors trimmed a tree. Me: Not just ANY OLD TREE. Clearly these leafy layers have been liposuctioned from one of OUR trees. Ray: Can't be. I compared leaves and they're not ours. Must be our neighbor's. Me: Did you do all the forensics? That bleeding corpse is ours, and I bet DNA would prove it. Why else would the killers put it in front of our house? Obviously the murder took place near us, not on our neighbors' acreage. Ours was both the kill AND the dump site. Ray: You're watching too much "Forensics Files" on Netflix. Me: That's irrelevant and, if I may so, just bad detective work. It Looks like we may have a serial killer on the loose silently hacking up innocent trees and leaving them in plain sight. He even arranged it in a sexually-stimulating pose. Ray: Come on, you're not implying a "bush" comparison, are you? Me: You bet I am. And the perp must have the build and strength of a lumberjack. He did it in the dead of the hot afternoon without any witnesses except a few cactus wrens and quail. And he strangled it with his bare hands--no electric saw. Ray: How do you know there weren't any witnesses? Me: No way a witness could deal with this disgusting hack job and not tell anyone. The killer must have assaulted our victim at least five to ten times. Look at the jagged branches and the bleedout. One thing I can tell you; this guy is no surgeon. This is the work of an early serial rapist. Ray: Oh so now, it's rape too. Me: Yeah, I'd throw the book at him if I were investigating this case. There's definite signs of rape. Look at that denuded limb. Ray: You're nuts. The heat has finally penetrated to the gray matter. Me: The least I can do is call 9-1-1. Maybe there's some grafting that paramedics could do. Maybe it's not just hairy limbs decomposing in the hot Arizona sun; maybe the EMTs could bring the body back to life. Ray: Change the channel, please. Me: I think I saw it move. Did you see that? Ray: I'm going inside now to call the city to come take it away. Why don't you come inside too? Me: You're right. I need to get the luminol to look for the blood spatter. Ray: Right.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Witches, Bitches and Kvetches

Depression is a downer, and I say that with great authority since I believe I've experienced most varieties--from the fear and anxiety version that retards your emotional growth to what I call the one-note "drummer" that beats out a nasty mono-rhythm of negativity. It doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing, that internal voice taps out unhelpful messages like "you could have done a better job," "it's your fault he (the boyfriend) left you," " you'll never be happy." You get the idea. Sometimes my depression was so obvious that my mother picked up on it and called in the troops. The troops usually consisted of my sister, who had to be forced into indentured service in the form of movie dates and meals, and my aunt (let's call her Eve) who had extended her mah jong gambling expertise to poker, gin rummy and tarot. Of course it was the tarot that interested me. I'm not saying that I believed everything she told me she saw in the cards, but I always felt a little better after one of her readings. Maybe it was the attention and focus on me and only me that lifted my spirits, but it also wasthe hocus-pocus, supernatural, occult nuance she cultivated. Aunt Eve believed in what she was doing and saying, so her prophecies became all that more convincing. And never more so than on one singular occasion. That was the evening when a high school friend happened to be at my house when my aunt was there. We were all waiting to eat dinner, so I appealed to Aunt Eve to read the cards for "Jeanie." I'm sure I was showing off a little ("Yeah, my father is Stalin-esque, but my aunt is really cool"), but I didn't care. Aunt Eve was a rarity for me: a relative who actually liked me. Of course not everyone held her in such high esteem. Some of my relatives referred to her as a witch (and sometimes a bitch depending on the day of the week), but so what. To me she was a kinda sorcerer, and I liked that Twilight Zone feeling surrounding her. Actually it wasn't until Aunt Eve met with Jeanie and laid some predictions on her that I became a sorta-believer. That is to say despite my inherent negativity and skepticism, I started thinking that there were forces out there and beyond myself and my parents that might make some of my most prized wishes come true. This was empowering for an adolescent who regularly thought of herself as a loser. So Jeanie had her reading with Aunt Eve and came away astounded by her revelations. Bear in mind Jeanie's impression of my aunt took on added meaning due to Jeanie's own quirky personality. Despite her being a bit of a high school outcast like me, she was nothing like me. She was statuesque, blonde with blue eyes, and blessed with confidence (two days after getting her driver's license she busted through a fence, but it never fazed her). She was also funny, optimistic and sure she would always land on her feet. She was, however, unlucky in love since the guy she dated had eyes for a few other gals. But Jeanie walked away from my aunt that evening with a huge smile. "That lady's a witch," she said to me in amazement. She never told me what my aunt said, and I never asked. Privacy was engrained in my teenage brain as much as pop music and bell bottoms. Privacy was a sacred cow, like a bra or dress size or like whether you were cutting swimming for medical (menstrual) reasons or some other more devious reason (like you didn't want your hair to look like a frizz ball when you accidentally passed this cute guy in the halls). Did my aunt's reading hold any truth for Jeanie? I never asked her, even when she divorced her first husband, moved to Juneau, Alaska, and became a honky tonk pianist. By then she had a relationship with another woman and they had adopted a little girl. Jeanie seemed happy--she called herself a "big frog in a little pond," referring to her music career. But it's true what they say about "you can't go home again." Like high school reunions, you cannot recapture the feelings today that bonded you 20 or more years ago. When we met at a seafood restaurant on the docks of Juneau, we reminisced only slightly. Most of the conversation was about the "now" and we took turns kvetching (Yiddish for complaining). Her father and brother had passed away, my sister and I were well on our way to being estranged, and my Aunt Eve was in a nursing home with dementia. In hindsight, however, I can say with honesty that my Aunt Eve hit every mark when it came to me. She told me I would marry, and I did. She told me I would spend time with children, and I did if you count the three years and several summers I babysat and taught third grade. But her greatest gift was peeling back, at least temporarily, the curtain of sadness that blinded me to life's exciting possibilities. For me, that was magical.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Schnauzer as Predator

My backyard is not what you'd call an ecological paradise. First off, we've got fake grass--the kind that looks exactly like the real thing but doesn't grow, doesn't smell and always looks green, green, green. My six schnauzers know it's fake, but they sniff up a storm on it anyway because birds seem to congregate there to munch on seeds and other bird food stuff falling from large nearby trees. And I'm glad the doves, pigeons, and occasional hummingbird or quail still pursue their vegan diet in my yard. I enjoy watching them from my kitchen window that gives me a panoramic view of their birdy behaviors. I'm not keen about the poop they leave behind, but, as they say in Brooklyn, and Woody Allen seconds, pigeons are nothing less than rats with wings. Well, I wouldn't go that far, especially after what happened to me and my menagerie the other day.This is how everything unfolded. The dogs exited into the yard from two doors--a standard wooden kitchen model and a sliding one in the den. They usually don't waste time seeing if I've also made it onto the patio safe and sound.They're a me-me-me bunch, typical of current generations of both pets and people. They usually go about their business immediately, whether it's pooping, standing around aimlessly, urinating or eating the small pebbles we stupidly added to the flower beds. Two days ago they abandoned the usual and within seconds, ripped off their "goofy" masks and donned their "hunter" ones--that is to say, they nailed a bird that was not in what I commonly refer to as the safety zone. The safety zone is that area of the backyard surrounded by a metal fence around a small in-ground play pool. When I say safety zone I mean safe for birds, rabbits, and any other small animals, geckos, insects or--god forbid--snakes. It seemed that one not-so-bright adult pigeon had situated himself in one of the flower beds in the NON-SAFETY ZONE, and oddly enough, did not take off in flight when my schnauzers homed in on him. He fluttered about one or two feet above the heads of the dogs, but seemed to be physically challenged. There was lots of flapping but little lift, as they say in aeronautical circles. From a distance I figured that eventually he would muster enough fire power to at least make it to the top of the five-foot stucco fence surrounding the yard. But no, this bird was not going to fly the coop, and the schnauzers knew it. Faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, the super schnauzers began attacking "Pidg." Unfortunately I was stunned for a few seconds too long. The adult dogs were not as pro-active as the younger ones, who looked like they were batting the poor bird back and forth. Meanwhile I stood still with my mouth agape. This was a first for me. My lab with his soft mouth had always released a wayward bird when I said the magic words, "Drop it," but that phrase wasn't working now. "Drop it, drop it, drop it," I said to Captain, my salt and pepper schnauzer with the uncropped ears. Somehow he had stolen the pigeon away from his brothers and was now racing around the yard, flaunting his prize. He was pursued by his brothers and his now exhausted, out-of-shape owner. After about five or so laps around the yard, I realized Captain was not going to suddenly become obedient and drop the poor bird at my feet. Our communication went this way: Me: Drop it, Captain. Captain (if he could talk): No way, Jose. The other dogs think I'm a wuss, but now they know my prey-predator instinct is alive and well and I could whup them with one paw behind my back if I had to. Me: Drop it, Captain (in a panicky voice, giving way to huffs and puffs) Captain: Best day of my life!! But I don't know what the fuck to do with this winged rat? I sure as hell don't want to eat it--yech! Maybe Mom will finally get smart and do something to help me out. I "heard" Captain's pleas for an easy solution, so I came up with a plan: First, I'd lure the other schnauzers into the house with the promise of "treats. Then I'd deal with Captain and the bird. Actually my plan proved to be a sound one. Once the 5 schnauzers were in the house, Captain had no one left to impress, so he softly dropped the bird on the patio. I never liked touching birds, especially ones that could be dead, so that was somewhat problematic. But I managed to slide the pigeon onto the pooper scooper and deposit him gently on the other side of the pool fence in the safety zone. I tried to hide him in some dense foliage and topped off my humane act with a small dish of water. He was breathing and trying to walk when I saw him next, but I've been too much of a coward to follow up on his progress. Wnile to the schnauzers, this was just another incident to break up the boring monotony of day to day life in the desert, I viewed it as a test of my humanity. I tortured myself with questions: Should I bring Pidg to Wild Bird, a humane group ten miles north of Scottsdale, or should I let nature take its course. I chose the coward's way, and like the brave person I am not, I haven't searched for Pidg to see if he is still in this world. I hope so.