CRUISICIDAL TENDENCIES

I look fairly well for someone who was almost electrocuted over Christmastime. My boyfriend said he would call 911 after he stopped laughing. He also told me not to get all my tinsel in a tangle or worry about pine needles rupturing my fingertips while I’m taking down evergreen bedazzlement. That was right after he told me he can’t do everything himself. I made the mistake of having my body rub up against the pulsating charge of frayed extension cording. If you happen to have an electric current touching your daiquiri, it acts as a conductor and will cause you to glow in the dark. With one nerve left, I can now go ride up and down the escalator people watching at the airport. Although it would be better if I was booked to go somewhere. Which is one post holiday way of beating the blues by boarding a plane or going on a cruise. I need to do something invigorating. Last January I didn’t go anywhere but the market. I went one of those times forgetting the soup that was simmering on the stove. And a year ago I didn’t make as many groaning noises. I don’t want to become one of those people predispositioned for crabbiness and confinement.

Certain friends have been intensely bugging us to go on a cruise. My boyfriend has his reasons why he doesn’t want to die at sea. Rose clinging to a life raft and watching her beloved get swallowed up by polar water is reason enough for me. Several years ago I did consider going by myself. But I prefer the company of a close mate over hundreds of strangers. Besides, what would the likelihood be that I’d get involved with someone madly and passionately plus pose nude with a priceless pendant around my neck? I would have had to stand on a street corner holding a sign that says Will Work For A Cruise to be able to fund such an ocean soaring misadventure. And be fully prepared to take a jug of wine, a corkscrew, and a pen and paper in case we capsized and I need to send an SOS. Otherwise I’d be making an unavailing attempt at cramming my contortioned self into the empty bottle. It would also be suitable to take thermal insulated clothing, flares, and a water-resistant Smartphone with close connections to helicopter rescue pilots.

I find it hard escaping to expansive seas, the strange smell of fresh air, and approximately sixty thousand passionate seafaring partiers rocking the boat yelling, “Bon Voyage” “Asta La Vista” “Toodle Loo” or “It’s a good ship Lollipop.” Sounds like a suicide watch. And there’s this strange assumption that the fourteen tiered cabin cruisers supposedly promise you everything except camel racing and monster truck rallies. I’m not into camping either. But at least on a ship you don’t have to worry about bears, sparks of fire singing your eyebrows, and you have chefs cooking you fine cuisine. Although I’m sure I would gain another million post holiday pounds per minute digesting their hefty floating feasts. If I ordered the fricassee of flounder, I would want them bringing me all the desserts by mistake. That way I wouldn’t be tempted to order confections afterwards.

I’m wondering which would be worse. Staying at home and risk getting the flu, or participating in an outbreak trapped aboard a glacial targeted superstructure with no means of escape. Not to mention motion sickness and upchucking at two minute intervals. Rocking swiftly and doctors bearing hypodermics are more of a sickening thought than an exciting one. And the trouble with finding myself near a ships railing is that sharks become hungrier than ever. I would have to trustingly rely on a captain with balanced driving capabilities, who can get me places safely and not do transatlantic detours to specific ports for any ‘special supplies’. I wouldn’t want an arsenal of armed guardsmen greeting me. Pirating is another fragment of my fettered imagination. Good guys go to heaven, but marauders go anywhere they darn well feel like. And surely everyone knows what can happen in Vegas if I choose to venture there.

Resolutions and decision making can be tough. If I haven’t made changes and rational decisions by January 7th, I give up. The first month of the year normally doesn’t lend to energetic living. I celebrate sunups and sundowns. I read. I do Bacardio workouts. I shine coins with copper cleaner and think about penguins. And I resolve to live optimistically. I will repel any thoughts of discontent and get active in doing something constructive. I will keep the weight loss myth going by setting out a box of doughnuts to see if I’ll be enticed. I will manage my drinking paranoia. I will look into health care plans devoted to the distress of not having health care. I’ll continue death threats crank calls to the Barackian Palace. I am curious as to what 2015 would be like without certain heads of state. And I will further contemplate that impending voyage. Bless you for not snickering at my unachievable resolutions. Nobody likes a silent sober skinny seasick stalker. I feel I should go with the lesser of all evils (off roading) and spare myself from dysentery, dengue fever, seapox, predatory glaciers, and drowning. I originally moved to California to be a vegetarian. As it turned out, I moved west and became a sexagenarian. I certainly don’t want to become a shark-ingesterian. So unless I have an all expense paid cruise supplying me with weapons and personal safety, only fools rush into these commitments. Wise men say a lot of things, but never “go on a cruise.”

My boyfriend recently asked me, “Wanna go cruisin’ baby?” I surrendered to his terms. We threw away our to-do lists, grabbed his kayaks, sailed around the San Diego Bay for the afternoon, and were perfectly happy campers.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

HORN OF PLENTY (Symbol of abundance and nourishment commonly overflowing with flowers and nuts)

Everyone loves Christmas with the dispensing of celebratory gifts. I was about twelve when under the tree sat wrapping paper tightly taped to what appeared to be two wheels, a seat, with front and back lights. I looked at my siblings and said, “I hope it’s a car!” We don’t always get what we want. My parents had nine other children to buy for to focus solely on me. We were naughty, and still got presents. Maybe Mom and Dad figured if they didn’t deliver, we would burn the place to the ground. We always knew where they hid the matches. But we chose to be nice considering that’s where we ate and slept. It’s been a lifetime chore deciding whether to be insubordinate or admirable.

When I was old enough to be on my own, my mother would come visit remarking on the towels that were spread across my mattress. A little birdie must have told my grandmother, because every Christmas after that she bought me sheets with multi-colored Montgomery Wardish blossoms on them. And with floral wallpaper, it looked like a Holland flower field. I was bummed because they didn’t match my motif. Plus, it was a lot of petal counting when I couldn’t sleep. I was constantly in conflict with my inner Martha Stewart. Except I wanted anything BUT sheets. Toenail clippers. Gift cards. Real flowers. A ribboned Ferrari. My neighbor Carl had barbwire wrapped around his Mustang after his wife found out he was courting the cashier from their dry cleaners. The amount of tormenting that I did wasn’t nearly as proportionate to the amount of deceiving that he must have doled out.

Anyone wishing to maintain a good relationship with their matriarchs should probably not re-gift and give it to someone else. Especially if there’s a strong chance you will see this same person again who might ask, “How do you like your sheets?” I couldn’t fib, since Granny was closely connected to my mother, and Santa. He certainly sees me when I’m lying and knows when I’m a fake. Besides, Hell always has an opening. I didn’t expect everything be handed to me. Setting on the floor in front of me would have been fine.

I’m sure for many years my parents wanted to postulate themselves as rebels of materialism and go on a spending strike. I just hope the money they spent didn’t come from the sale of something illegal. Come to think of it, Dad did work some awfully long hours. I recall some of my siblings curiosity as to where Mom hid their presents. Because by the end of her shopping day, they would be rifling through closets like Obama looking for another voting victory. They started with the obvious. Under the mattress. The car trunk. A public record search, until they used the classic maneuver of indistinctly asking Dad. Any more conspicuous and they could have asked for receipts from Mom’s latest shopping trip. I wanted to be surprised. Only one time did I snoop in the garage and something scared me off. The spiders were also startled at first, then commenced their copulating and web building. Better that, than clutch onto me. It was the end of my search and seizure.

Presents were wrapped and tagged purposely so we wouldn’t have death grips equivalent to pit bulls grabbing loins of beef. Santa knew where to draw the line between barbarianism and equality. He basically said to quit all the fuss and sanctimonious spirit within us, or we would be spending Christmas outside. And those temps in Michigan can dip to fifteen below. I didn’t mind wrapping my siblings presents provided they did my chores for a week and didn’t mind cat hair stuck to the tape. Our feline was often the source of my invasion of wrapping privacy. I’d chase her through the house retrieving the ribbon while she transformed the place into a mass of streaming extras as if it were the set of a ribbon commercial. Then the dog got involved. You have no idea how many hairs come out of pets until they are rambunctiously entwined in strings of satin. I tried tying them up to an armoire with wired organza. It can work if you’re feeding them vanilla wafers.

Despite the mischievousness, there were times my siblings and I begged for more pets for Christmas, as if we didn’t have enough companionship. We didn’t care if they were domesticated. A cow or a goose would have saved Mom a lot of trips to the dairy department. But mom felt her nervous system was responding rapidly enough to our stimuli. And about those wise men who brought gifts of frankincense and myrrh. Wise women would have brought a bum ointment and an elaborate baby buggy. If I ended up married to a female, I wouldn’t have gotten ice cube trays for Christmas. But there was an upside. They’ve kept me drinking for decades.

I tease. Yet what separates privilege from the entitlement epidemic is gratitude. Like any kid, most of the year my ten year old granddaughter wants. But I am extremely proud of her this year for putting herself aside for someone else. It was her idea to pull a name off the tree at church so she could buy a present. My daughter told her that she would have to forfeit one of her own gifts and my grandsweetie complied. The suggested present wasn’t cheap, so my angel said she would even split the cost with her mom. Prior to that, my stinker-bear got caught marinating herself in scents from every single cologne aromatizer at the drug store. So the good deed totally made up for it. Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our kids when we should leave better kids for our planet. In which case everyone would want the gift of an oxygen mask to protect themselves from pollution, and noxious perfumes.

(View posts in the weekend EXTRA edition of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

TOIL & TROUBLE

It was my youngest daughter’s first tackle at making Thanksgiving dinner this year. We had already exchanged holiday happiness earlier in the day. Yet when she phoned again mid afternoon, instinctively I knew that she still needed my motherly assistance. I hadn’t noticed the call until two hours later. By the time I got back to her, the Epicurious had already called her older sister the more experienced Epicurean, who counseled her on doing things entirely different than the way I instructed. I could just see her frustrated face. She probably shouldn’t take any advice from me next year either. Because I’ll be suggesting that she save herself a lot of trouble and leave celebratory cranberry vodka shooters at the door with a sign that says Out to dinner, but drinks are on me. Except I wouldn’t want to provoke a perpetual eye roll from my offspring.

Uneasiness swept in when she told me that the two foil containers holding a ham and a turkey had holes in them and the drippings caused the fire. I was left with the vision of soot saturated table settings and all the potential meal attendees practically passing out from smoke inhalation and starvation. My daughter is a woman of confidence and great capabilities. She did manage to take the package of innards out of the turkey cavity first. And she stuffed and basted properly. When I asked her if she had eaten yet and she said it would be another four hours before they got to gobble, I could easily assume that she wasn’t up slaving over the stove at 5am. I know how much she likes to sleep in. The suspending supper gave the fowl and the pig plenty of time to still claim refugee status. I didn’t want to assume the possibly that she turned the oven on two hundred degrees, which would totally keep them from feasting until Black Friday. Then speeded up the cooking process by upping the temperature to scorching degrees of flame inducing exorcism, leaving a sad state of un-scrubbable scorchness. Most of the dining delay came because she had to smother the flame and clean the oven. And, because her boyfriend with his infinite wisdom as a cookologist stood around telling her what to do. How he got both meats in the oven I’m not sure. I wasn’t aware that he had an associate kiln-fitters degree. She said that she now understands why a cook doesn’t need any extra bodies in the kitchen, and why she wore shorts and a t-shirt fanning herself while everyone else wore sweaters.

My daughter found herself enmeshed in the holiday tradition of making sure all the boys in her hood were filled with fowl. Truth be known, she only invited them for the amount of coins she knew would be left in her couch cushions. After all was said and done, I can’t imagine how my darling daughter ended up cutting the large bird knowing she has no sharp knives to speak of. She probably relied on someone carrying a retractable saw blade in their pocket. And I’m still wondering how the football team found parking in her driveway. I’m also surprised that while they were waiting to chow down, they weren’t frying burgers and brats on the Hibachi in the back yard or ordering pizza. I would have been very worried about my guests going hungry and being fully vaccinated for salmonella poisoning. Not to mention a house full of smog dulling the senses. Maybe she wanted to see if the smoke alarms worked. Maybe she wasn’t satisfied with the caliber of feral dinner guests that were arriving, and just maybe she punctured the foil containers on purpose attempting to lure fire department hunks in uniforms to her house. But she was skillful in putting out the flames herself. I do believe this is how sepia photographs originated. Browned by the heat infiltration from oven infernos.

Nothing like bringing out the best in family familiarity. When I was twentysomething, I remember the steps I took my first time cooking turkey dinner. I bought the bird. Then I had a glass of cheap wine. I stuffed the bird. Had another glass of cheap wine. Put turkey in the oven. Forgot to turn the oven on. Relaxed, drank, and socialized with visitors. Went back to the bedroom to baste the turkey. Checked the internal temperature of the cat. Gave thanks for mom who was there and took over. To make matters worse, I think I asked my mother to stay longer and clean up. My reputation is still ruined after that dastardly day. But I figured the flurry of family was good reason for ingesting a reservoir of fermented beverages. Whoever says I can’t cook obviously hasn’t tasted my toaster Strudel.

My daughters beautiful baked bird showed up later in a picture text. The kid that never wanted to touch a kitchen tool as a teen has turned into quite the cuisine artist. I hope her day ended with an applause and a large amount of turkey leftovers. I love them. Turkey sandwiches. Turkey tetrazzini. Turkey soup. I draw the line with turkey a-la-mode. For Christmas, I am making sure she’s equipped with heavy duty roasting pans, a carving knife, a fire extinguisher, a meat thermometer, and muzzles. Then she won’t be crippled in the kitchen, and will be fully armed against any cooking commandeers.

(Posts can be seen in the EXTRA weekend editions of the Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)