Sunday, September 27, 2009

September Sunday

Well, I give in. I’ve decided to do what I insisted I wouldn’t, and turn the blog into more of a diary. I can’t imagine what could be more dull than a series of “what I did today” entries (as least as pertaining to my particular life!), but it’s driving me crazy that the blog just sits there awaiting pearls of wisdom that never materialize. I don’t know why I should care that the blog is ignored, but I do. It’s out there. People keep checking it to see what I’ve written. Well, maybe this will cure you all of that!

For that matter, I probably won’t even be able to keep this up. We’ll see what happens.

All right, then. Today was fall perfection. I’m thrilled to pieces that summer is over, especially this past summer, which pounded us with a strangling heat that felt like something you could actually reach out and grab a handful of. Today the sun blazed with a much more benign warmth, something you could walk in without breaking a sweat, something to soak up with comfort and joy.

It was the sort of day where I did a little of this, a little of that, and then a little of several other things, as well. I grocery shopped, taking along my reusable bags, but ran into a checker who seemed to think that at least half the items I was purchasing needed to go into plastic bags before being placed into my reusable bags. Meat I can understand. I do like the meat in a plastic bag. But eggs? Orange juice that was already in a plastic jug? Kleenex?? When I requested that she not do this, she seemed annoyed that I would want my juice cuddling up next to my eggs without the benefit of prophylactics.

I intended to do quite a thorough houseclean but ran out of enthusiasm a lot sooner than I might have hoped. My living room looks great, though!

I did a little work but one of the people on the recording I was transcribing seemed to speak not so much English as Random Meaningless Syllables. I tried to make them into English words, but it was like trying to make Hindi be Tagalog. Just wasn’t happening. So I abandoned that after awhile, too, although like the housework, it will still be waiting for me tomorrow.

The activity which held my attention the longest today was looking through a large box full of old photo albums -- some very old indeed -- which I recently inherited from my downsizing parents. There was a scrapbook made by my paternal grandfather on his return home from the First World War. It is telling that a good deal of the scrapbook consists of concert programs. My grandfather was a musician, a wonderful pianist. His book has programs from concerts at military bases, concerts in towns he was in, concerts where he played and concerts where he was in the audience. All of these programs are annotated. Each performance has a brief critique beside it. This amused me very much, because my father has also always done this. Whether it was a concert at my high school or a professional symphony performance, he rated every number. I often do this, too, and now I know it’s quite the family tradition!

So there it is, a September Sunday in the life of Grammar Moses. Happy fall, everybody!

Monday, August 24, 2009

MIM Addendum

Grammar’s alert and sharp-memoried sister Punkin has advised me that an addendum is needed to today’s MIM entry. She recalls what was without question my most appalling incidence of inappropriate Mimming. Thank you, Punkin, for resurrecting a memory I thought I had successfully entombed forever.

This event took place perhaps seven or eight years ago. Or five. Or fourteen. I have no idea. I was way old enough to know better, anyway. I was in a Safeway store and was just heading away from the deli area after purchasing some cold cuts. A gentleman approached and asked if I could help him. He was unfamiliar with the practice of buying by the gram and had no idea how much to order. He wondered if he could have a look at the package of ham I had just bought. I had no objection to this, so I handed him the brown-paper-wrapped parcel. He peered at the label, and then gently hefted the package to, I suppose, get a sense of what 250 grams felt like. He then returned it to me with polite thanks for my assistance. And what did I say? No, not “You’re welcome.” Not “Happy to help.” I, in fact, said nothing at all.

But MIM said, “That’s okay. You can fondle my meat anytime you like.”

Yes, indeed. If there’d been a stake handy, I’d have driven it through my own throat. What I did do was look like this:

Then I took off at extremely high speed towards the other side of the store, careening my cart ahead of me, seriously endangering elderly ladies, toddlers, and carefully-constructed stacks of sale merchandise. Then I decided that wasn’t good enough because I might meet that poor man in some other aisle if I continued shopping. So I left, abandoning my cart and the 250 grams of fondled ham.

Then I shopped at Save-On for the next couple of months. I didn’t return to Safeway until I had dyed my hair red, grown a moustache, and perfected a Moldavian accent.

No, that last sentence isn’t true but sadly, everything preceding it is.

It Wasn't Me -- it was MIM!

Hello! Grammar is back to share with her loyal fans (who probably gave up on her months ago) a story of how embarrassing it is to be me.

See, I suffer this problem where sometimes my mouth, aided and abetted by my larynx, acts independently of my brain. It just secedes from the whole integral body thing and does whatever the hell it wants. This is not a new thing that I can blame on menopause, which is what I blame just about anything else on these days. I’ve been battling this anarchist mouth for as long as I can remember.

Some of you will recall the time many years back when my daughter was small and had a friend visiting. I was tired of the racket and felt it was time for the friend to go home, but had a headache so didn’t feel like driving her myself. (She was too young and lived too far away to walk.) So I called the child’s mother to come fetch her. Now, a normal person with an obedient oral region would have simply said something like, “I’m really sorry, but I have a headache. Could you please come pick Stephanie up?” Not me. No, I opened up my lips expecting to say those words, but instead said, “I need you pick Stephanie up. I’d bring her myself, but I’m waiting for word.” Yep. Waiting for word. There was no further explanation; that was it. Surprisingly, Stephanie was allowed to continue being my daughter’s friend.

Anyway, today’s fun experience with Ms. Independent Mouth (MIM) involved making some hotel reservations in LA. Having done my homework and checked the best rates I could find online, I then called the hotel directly to see what they could do, since negotiating with a real person at the actual site is almost always the best route to go.

So we're going along fine making this reservation, everything very grown-up and professional, and the reservations clerk asks me:

"And who is the other party who will be staying in the room with you?"

At this point, MIM effortlessly wrests control from my brain, and responds with charming inappropriateness:

"Well, that depends on if there's any good sailors down at the dock that day."

There is a pause, during which the clerk cannot see, but can possibly hear, me smacking myself in the mouth. Then, luckily, she laughs.

A few more questions are navigated without mishap. Then I make a request for a room close to the elevators. I make this request because I am aware that this particular hotel is huge and some of the rooms are miles from the nearest lifts, which is not good for SRH. Anyway, this would have been all jolly fine, had MIM not added:

"Yeah, because the sailors might be pretty drunk, you know. Can't walk too far, right?"

So there you have it. This is what I have to put up with. I’ve put MIM on a time-out, so don’t bother phoning me right now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Facebook Musings

As Grammar’s fans may recall, I joined Facebook several months ago, out of curiosity more than anything else. I’ve been enjoying it. Although I no longer compulsively check up on all my FB friends (of which I am now the proud owner of 37), it’s fun to get regular updates on what people are thinking and doing. It really is an effective way of keeping up.

Here I can see that a niece is excited about the visit of some out of town friends and that a nephew has a new girlfriend he’s over the moon (and frankly quite nauseating) about. I can be alerted to the fact that my office manager is having a bad day or watch a friend’s countdown of days till she’s off on a trip to Europe. Through FB, I can play Scrabble with someone I worked with when I was in my early twenties. I can even do quizzes which tell me such important things such as which key signature I am (F#) or what my predominant chakra is (crown) or what character on the TV show Lost I am (Daniel Farraday). I agree with all these results, by the way. FB is all-wise.

Something I have found quite hilarious is that, one person from my old high school having found me on FB, suddenly people I shared a building with for half a decade 35 years ago are jovially hailing me as a long-lost friend. One guy who I'm pretty sure never uttered a single word to me in the entire five years now puts his two cents into a FB “conversation” between me and my daughter as if he knew me intimately. Following an exchange of friendly insults between VCCGirl and me, this fellow feels entitled to remark:

“Who knew Sheila could be so cruel! Ouch! Remind me to be kind to you.”

I mean, really, it’s a little breathtaking, isn’t it? It makes me laugh.

And there are more and more of us Boomer folk getting on the system. Why not? We’re the generation that are determined not to get old. We’re going to keep up. We’re going to be part of the fun as long as we possibly can!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our Bionic Relative

Well, hello. I know it’s been awhile but as usual, I’ve been completely uninspired. Today I’m just going to update you on the status of Uncle Jimdandy, otherwise known as The Robot, or sometimes The Energizer Bunny.

About six or seven weeks ago, Jimdandy, having been outside doing some vigorous spring gardening, took a fall down his outside basement stairs and broke his hip. He would want me, by the way, to add that he fell because he was wearing an ill-fitting pair of boots and for no other reason. He lay there in the stairwell calling for help for some time before a neighbour finally heard him.

During his subsequent weeks in the hospital, Jimdandy had surgery for a partial hip replacement, developed pneumonia, developed a clot on his lung, reacted badly to the medication given for the clot (involving all sorts of inappropriate bleeding), and, of course, remained 96 years of age. Any ONE of those things should have killed him, never mind the combination. Instead, he is currently in a rehab facility improving exponentially and fully expecting to go home and resume his “normal” life in a week or so. In his mind, there has never been any question of this.

They figured out very quickly at the hospital that putting him in the “old people” recreational exercise class was ridiculous and made him testy. This man who, until a couple of weeks prior, had been digging energetically in his garden, painting his doors, scrubbing his bathtub, and so on, did not want or need to be sitting in a chair waving his arms passively above his head like a sea anemone.

Other things currently being spoken of are also making him cranky. We have bravely broached the idea of an assisted living facility, especially as he seems to be enjoying the social life at his rehab place, but he is still balking because he does not want to live with “a bunch of old people”, and besides, they’re outrageously expensive. (Jimdandy has a wallet full of pennies black and blue from being pinched.) No, he has a perfectly good home and that’s where he’ll be going, thank you very much. He doesn’t even like the idea of any “help” in the home. The social worker has suggested someone will need to come in daily at first. Jimdandy is horrified. Once a week, MAYBE. If HE thinks he needs it.

And God forbid any of this should be discussed with us, his next of kin, in his absence or in preference to him. Jimdandy is in razor-sharp possession of his mental faculties and fiercely protective of his autonomy. Although his nephew, my SRH, has signing privileges on Jimdandy’s chequing account, all bills are to be brought to Jimdandy in the hospital and Jimdandy will pay them himself, thank you. After very close perusal to ensure no one is trying to rip him off, that is.

What are we to do with such a force of nature? Well, nothing he doesn’t want done, that’s for sure!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Colaptes Auratus

Colaptes Auratus
(Northern Flicker)

It is March 3rd, and spring has sprung. I know this not because of air temperature or crocuses or dates on a calendar. I know it because the woodpeckers have commenced their mating season. And I know this not because of some bizarre sensitivity to woodpecker pheromones, but because my ears work at least as well as those of dainty woodpeckettes.

Ratatatatatatatatatat. Ratatatatatatatatatatatatat.

Take heed, ladies! Admire my great and wondrous pecker! See how fast I can peck! (Apparently pecker speed is a positive attribute in the woodpecker world.)

Ratatatatatatatat. They do it in the trees, where it makes a natural, woody thocking sound. That’s okay. But the urban fellows long ago discovered the metal chimneys that poke out of our roofs from our gas-fuelled appliances.


Surely the ladies cannot fail to desire such a tremendously loud pecker for their very own!

It goes on, and on, and on. The cats peer anxiously up into the fireplace flue, bodies crouched low and tensed for flight should something with monstrous anti-feline intent suddenly drop into the room.


Please find a mate soon, Mr. Pecky. Once married, she won’t let you be strutting your stuff all over the metal neighbourhood. She’ll restrict you to nice, bug-filled scrags of trees, quiet in their rotting state. And we can all settle down to domestic bliss.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh, shut up, Susan Schwartz

Once again, the blog muse has been awakened by an op ed piece in today’s paper. It is one of those rants against modern communication technology you see on a regular basis. These rants, one notes, are never written by anyone under 40. They’re classic doomsday expositions by cranky old people who think the whippersnappers are doing it all wrong. When have old people ever thought the next generation were NOT doing it all wrong? It’s such a cliché.

This particular manifesto was written by a woman named Susan whose picture at the top of her column assures me she’s well past whippersnapper age. Her unoriginal thesis is that “laptops, BlackBerrys and three billion mobile phones have perforated the distance between public and private, and we’re growing used to toting about portals of availability as if they were vital electronic organs.” She adds, “many young people happily swallow the notion that textual exchange is interaction.”

Here is what I have to say to Susan:

What do you think your grandparents thought when telephones began appearing in everyone’s home? How much time did you spend on one as a teenage girl? Personally, I spent hours on the phone gabbing with girlfriends at times when I could, alternatively, have met with them in person. It didn’t mean I stopped getting together with friends in person; I did that, as well. The phone did not steal time from personal interaction. It simply added a level of communication.

And “textual exchange” is not interaction, we are to believe. Snipes Susan: “Because text rarely communicates tone, we can’t tell the mood of the people reading our e-mails -- and it’s tone that gives words much of their meaning.” In the first place, that's kind of an odd thing for a professional writer to say. Are we to derive little meaning from what you write, then, Susan? And what about your great grandparents? How did they communicate with people who lived more than an easy carriage ride away from their house? They wrote letters. You know, Susan, letters: very much like texting, but on paper. It worked very well to keep in touch in between times when they could get together. Why has this become a bad thing simply because it can now be done electronically instead of with a quill pen?

Our op ed writer adds with a sneer, “…they believe, no doubt, that all their Facebook friends are real friends.” Oh, Susan, of course they don’t. Do you believe this generation, besides being sociopaths, are also stupid? They are very clear on the difference between a friend and an acquaintance and a social or business contact. I very much admire how cleverly they use this type of networking. I believe that laptops, BlackBerrys, mobile phones and our young people who embrace them like “vital electronic organs” do a far better job of keeping in touch than any generation before, and in a healthy way. From what I see, they make dates to get together in person just as frequently as any other generation.

Our columnist Susan also sorrowfully mentions the etiquette aspect of the use of laptops, cellphones and BlackBerrys as she perceives it. This is another matter and one I’ve addressed to some extent before. My basic opinion on this subject is simply that times change and social mores and conventions change with them. This is a process no carping older person has ever succeeded in halting. What I as a middle aged person might consider rude, my children do not. Society recreates its own behavioural dictates with each generation. It always has. You have only to peek into a Victorian etiquette book to remind yourself of this.

Tell me, Susan, do you curtsey when meeting someone on the street? You don't?? Shame on you. That’s extremely rude -- or it was once.

“A married lady, when calling on another married lady, leaves two of her husband's cards along with her own.” Do you do this, Susan? No? Strumpet!

“Never look over goods without any intention of buying them.” Don’t tell me you window shop, Susan!

“Use a handkerchief when necessary, but without glancing at it afterwards.” Um, yeah, okay. That one should stay.

And finally, I found this one in a Victorian etiquette book:

“Remember that, valuable as is the gift of speech, silence is often more valuable.” They were telling the young people to shut up then, too.

The young are creating the world of tomorrow. We can either embrace it with them and their laptops, BlackBerrys and cellphones, or we can sit around and whine about the “lost art of conversation”. Does anyone really want a conversation with someone whose main topic is the “good old days”? Did you, when it was your grandmother?