Tag Archives: real world

The Toy

What I call toys are not what they used to be. Some of these games and gadgets are so expensive that I’d be afraid to turn a kid loose with them.  And when you buy some fun thing you have to wonder whether its going to twist your kids mind or if it will even work when you open it up for use.  All the electronics

Nobody knows how this stuff really works.  You push some buttons and get whatever it is your supposed to get.  You hope. Maybe that’s why in some places electronic voting machines were delivered to polling places without electrical cords and no one batted an eye.  Who knew you had to plug them in to make them work!  But I digress

When I was a kid toys were all about imagination. You created your own story.  Your own plot twists and your own reality.  I guess that’s why I like to watch television with the sound turned off.  I can come up with just as good a story as the TV writers.

A simple metal Tonka truck could provide hours of entertainment in a sandbox.  Up a hill, down a hill.  Dig a hole, move something around.  Plan a trio to anywhere.  And go! Or a pile of plastic green army men. Not bendable.  Don’t light up or make noise.  Just stand there wherever you put them.  But you could recreate all of World War Two with just a few of them. The Allies still win, because of teamwork.

So I bought a simple toy the other day.  For my dog.  I needed something a little more complex than a stick or a ball, but not an HD virtual reality thing.  I like real reality.  Anyway, I throw something and the dog chases it.  But since I broke my shoulder several years ago I cant throw anything very far so I bought a distance enhancer.

It’s a spring loaded tennis ball launcher. Put the ball in the tube, pull the lever back to compress the spring and release.  The ball flies maybe thirty feet in the air and then bounces and rolls on the ground.  Zoom!  Off goes doggy to chase it.  Works great!!

Just one problem.  When I bought the thing I was worried about how well, or if, it would work.    The toy works fine, it’s the dog that’s defective!!  She’s good at chasing the ball.  And she grabs it up in her mouth.  Then runs away with it to play by herself.  Or to make me chase her around to get the ball back.

So I get another ball to launch and while she is distracted by the second ball flying and rolling, I grab the first one that she has dropped.  And round and round we go.  She gets plenty of exercise and I get to see her play, but it doesn’t work quite the way its supposed to .

Then again, her playing this way is like me watching the tube with no sound.  She’s enhancing the game.  Creating her own reality.  She’s a genius.  Things don’t always work out the way they were planned, but they always work out.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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Jitters and Calm

Not quite to day one yet and already feeling nervous. My biggest concern is the itinerary. There is so much to do along this route. And even though I’ve allowed two whole weeks to drive the 2400 miles, there is no way that I can predict in advance at what pace I must go to meet my modest daily goals.
Most days are around 200 miles. Some a little longer and others a tad shorter. Just driving that’s only about four hours. But with dozens of stops along the way the time can slip by quickly. Some of the stops are to take a picture. Or a quick look at the remains of an old building or neon sign. But other places are museums or national parks that require a significant amount of time to see correctly. The Grand Canyon for instance. Takes more than 15 minutes to take it in.
And trying to plan motel stops is also nerve wracking. I don’t want to end up somewhere with no place to stay, but don’t want to be committed to a reservation either. What to do?
You know what? I can toss the itinerary out the window any time I want. The only hard timetable destination I have is the airport in LA at the end of the road. What I do between Chicago and Santa Monica is whatever I want it to be. One visit to Route 66 may not be enough, but I’m gonna see it the best I can. In a way that makes me happy. It is after all a vacation and not a test of endurance!
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Route 66

Get your kicks on Route 66! That’s the way the song goes. And the tv show followed two drifters in a corvette as they travelled the road in the early 1960’s. It’s an iconic piece of American history that took people westward from Chicago to Santa Monica, California from the 1920’s until the interstate system made it largely obsolete. But instead of dying, the road decayed, and attracted the attention of thousands of history buffs who make this pilgrimage.
I am the latest pilgrim, setting out next week for a two week long drive along the twenty four hundred mile trail. And you, dear reader, will be treated to all the details of this trip! Can’t wait!
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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He walks with a limp. Bent and stooped over he looks at the ground rather than straight ahead. With bowed legs and hips that curve to the left, his cane helps him to stand and move along.

That part I remember about him. He’s been like that for several years. But I was taken aback when I saw his face. Mouth sucked in. Cheeks seeming to drop off the side of his face. Almost puffy. Then I realized, he had no teeth! That was new.

When I was a child he had good teeth. Except the two front teeth on top, the ones that show the most. They were brown. He always said that was from being hit in the mouth by a rifle butt when he was in the army during World War Two. I guess that is true.

Then a couple of years ago I noticed that those two teeth had turned white. Dental whitening I thought. Lots of people whiten their teeth.

But the other day I took him to the dentist because his denture was hurting him. After the dental tech took him back to the chair the dentist came out to greet me. She said he’d been a patient of hers for a long time. The sign on her door read cosmetic oral surgery. Now I get it.

Turns out he has only two of his original teeth left. The rest are fake. And one of the originals needs to come out because it’s causing the denture pain. Damn, he’ll be down to one original.

Not like he’s thirty years old though. Not even forty. Or fifty. Hell, not even seventy or eighty. Nope, he’s ninety two years old. And still has one of his own teeth.

With his teeth in, in spite of his posture, he doesn’t look a day over eighty five. With the teeth out he looks like a cartoon character. Around the house he will leave them out. But when he goes out he puts in his teeth. He wants to look good for the ladies. And they all smile at him.

That’s my dad.

And that’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Bear

He was a big and hairy main. Bearlike through the eyes of a small child. And although he projected himself as a friend to children, in reality that was far form the truth.  He was a dentist.
The waiting room of his office was filled with Highlights magazines and LEGO’s. I enjoyed reading the magazines and the toys but when his wife, the nurse called me back to the examination room, fear and panic set in.
Sitting in the chair with my bib around my neck all I could see were the tools. Jackhammers and drills, picks and probes, all sharp and potentially painful. Then there was the novocaine syringe. At least a foot long. I knew it would be stuck in my jaw at least ten times.
I do not know if I was a bad patient or he was a sadistic dentist, but I always needed all of this treatment. Every time I walked in the door. I had more cavities than teeth!
When he began working in my mouth all I could pay any attention to was the hair on his fingers. Six fingers on each hand and every one the size of a hot dog. All of which was covered in hair and jammed in my mouth for hours.
As an adult I go to the dentist twice a year.  My teeth get cleaned.  And that’s all they need. A nice dental hygienist does a quick clean and polish. The dentist comes in and looks in my mouth, asks about the family and says he’ll see me next time.
I still don’t like going to the dentist. Memories of the bear cave are burned into my mind. But I go and my teeth are happy.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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It’s Everywhere!

When you are looking for something you need it seems like it’s often impossible to find. Once you have it of course you see it everywhere. And at a much better price. You might call that extra cost a convenience fee. Or just bad timing.

A couple of weeks ago the weather warmed up and the grass started to grow. And with it, the weeds. So, OK I thought, lets get out the weed and feed and kill some weeds and fertilize that good old grass. One problem: I didn’t have either the weed and feed, or the spreader to put it out. Off to the hardware store.

The weed and feed was easy to find. A dozen different choices. This one fertilizes and kills 250 different weeds. This one fertilizes for three months and kills every weed but crabgrass. And so on.

But wouldn’t you know it. There was only one spreader on the shelf in the store! The guy working there said that the warm weather had brought out the gardeners and there had been a rush on the spreaders the day before. Just one left. And more than I wanted to pay. But I got it because I thought I just had to have it to get this job done right now.

Fast forward one week. I’m on a road trip exploring Georgia’s longest yard sale. Two hundred and forty miles of highway lined with countless yard sales. And guess what I saw everywhere!

The first time I saw a spreader I thought it was humorous. Ten bucks. And then it seemed like I saw one at every sale. It was probably a dozen or so, and every one was ten dollars. Some almost new. Now I feel stupid.

What makes it even worse is that this weekend I went to a big sale at one of the local antique malls. Spring clearance! Half of the dealers were slashing their prices. And one guy had a, yes, a fertilizer spreader! It was very out of place in an antique shop as it was rather new. I think it was just there because the universe wanted me to feel even worse. Or maybe I just imagined it.

I’m in the antique business. I live in antique stores, thrift stores and flea markets. The only things I buy new are eyeglasses and food! Why did I buy that spreader at the hardware store? Who knows?

I learn life’s lessons well. Because I learn the same one over and over. Maybe one day I’ll remember what I’ve learned. Right!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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IMG_1103 The dog was barking at the window. From the sound of it I could tell she wasn’t looking at a squirrel. Or another dog. And she definitely wanted to go outside.

So I got up from my desk and took a step toward the door to let her out as I do a thousand times a day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something through the window. That is what she’s barking at!

Unbelievable! Coming down my driveway, eating everything in its path was an honest to goodness monster. No, not Godzilla or Gamara. Nothing quite like that. It was a machine.

Rolling toward me, on four giant tires big enough to make any monster truck weep, was a yellow bodied machine with a buzz saw at the end of its single arm. Spinning and chewing with both delicate precision and shark like ferocity.

I ran to the door and was outside so fast that dog didn’t have a chance to follow. As I ran toward it the contraption was turning around to start back up the other side of the driveway. Still shredding trees and branches. There was a man inside. My God, its eaten him too I thought. But he was the operator. He could not see me or hear me, so I ran on to the truck that was still headed my way.

Looking more closely I noticed that the truck and the saw had a logo on them. I don’t remember what it said, something about power and trees. They were here to trim the trees along the power line right of way. At least I knew I wasn’t going to die.

Do trees have feelings? I don’t know. I do know that they bleed when you cut them. And I love my trees. But six months ago one of the big ones fell down in the yard, across the driveway, and took out all the power lines and phone lines. Internet that is. It was a real mess cleaning up the tree, part of which is still lying in the woods waiting to be cut up. And getting the power and internet back were a real nightmare.

So I understand why the power company wants to keep branches off of their lines. And it’s ok if they trim the branches. Neatly. Sometimes they just hack away and it looks like a giant rodent came through and gnawed away at everything. Sharp and jagged splinters of trees standing, or leaning, where healthy trees once towered.

My mother stood guard over a beloved purple beech tree every year when the power company came through. They would have to get to the tree through her. And every year they left the tree, and the crazy lady alone. It’s a gorgeous tree.

I talked to the man running the crew and he reassured me that they would clean everything up. And that they wouldn’t be back for several years. I thought about asking him to leave the ground up mulch for me, but that would be a lot of trouble and I already had enough tree issues to deal with.

There are lots of trees here. Some I fear will fall on the house. Or the barn. Or the cars. Or even me. But the power lines are safe for now.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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