Monday, April 28, 2008

Gone Green

I can't explain why, but today everything that was green was greener. Even yellow was green. I looked around to see if anything was NOT green, and of course some things were...not green, that is...but most of the world was green for a while. Very odd. Very cool.

Green is the most alive of all the colors. Funny that green also means not ripe. Today the world looked pretty ripe to me, boy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How Lo' Can She Go?

Today is my mom's 85th birthday. Her name is Lola, and sometimes I call her Lo-- because that extra syllable just seems like too much effort.

In familial conversations, we refer to her as Gramma Yo. For a granddaughter who was not able to make an L sound, Lola was a tricky one. It came out Gramma Yo, short for Yoya. Some people insist the name comes from Grammy O, for Oliver, which would make sense for my dad, then, to be called Poppy O, rather than his real grandpa name, Poppa Yo. I prefer to think it was the cosmos balancing out all those years my mom was referred to as Mrs. Leonard Oliver. It was her turn to be moniker monitor.

Lo isn't too happy about the big eight five. She's at the age where you start to question the value of aiming for longevity. And here's the kicker: longevity was never her aim. It is, in a profound sense, her curse.

You see, she smoked for years and years. Cancer, heart disease, pregnancy...fuhgeddaboudit. She was going to smoke anyway. She lived on coffee and cigarettes for over 50-60 years. Lean, tall, strong, athletic...she was adept at most sports, although she never played sports. About the only sport she wasn't good at was swimming. Too lean to float--and hard to keep a cigarette lit!

In old age, her doctors told her her thin body was a good thing because she wasn't puttin as much pressure on her joints as a fat old lady would. And she was not a candidate for adult onset diabetes. And her heart could pump enough blood to her extremities because it didn't have to work so hard to feed the lard.

Those damn cigarettes, though, demand their fair share. Sure, smoking kept her thin, and kept her busy, helped her relax and made her look like a glamorous movie star (Lauren Bacall), but there was a price to be paid for the "get out of cancer free" card. For one, she is blinded by macular degeneration and she has osteoporosis, arthritis and a weak, irregular heart beat.

So now you have a woman who went from bone thin to thin bones, from tall to short, from seeing what her kids were doing behind closed doors to not seeing the door.

She is 85 years OLD. And life is not fun...or worth it...any more.

If I were to deliver some sage wisdom, stolen from her history book, it would be this: Think very carefully about the absolutely dirty rotten trick cigarettes are, and about the absolutely dirty rotten trick longevity is, and live your life from this dawn to the next dawn getting eight hours of good sleep, a glass of wine, and some buttered toast in there somewhere.

"Live in the Now" may sound New Age, but give me New Age over Old Age any day.

Monday, April 7, 2008

O, the Power of None

You buy an appliance with an on/off switch. It has two mysteriously simple symbols on it. One resembles a 1 and the other a zero. Or perhaps they are an I and an O. Which symbol indicates on, and which indicates off?

You think for minute about binary code. Okay, I think for a minute about binary code. Binary code is composed entirely of zeroes and ones. Our world of computers...make that our world binary.

One means yes--on, positive, point gained. Zero means no--off, no points, nuttin' honey.

Here's the cruel joke: The line and the circle look like numbers, but are not numbers. They also look like letters, but are not letters. They are symbols. Mysterious. Simple. Almost 2 simple. Yet too complex to include in a blog page without knowing some HTML.

Here's how my mind works, and why the symbols confuse me to this day: the line symbol looks closed, like a sea otter's nostrils underwater. The circle symbol looks open, like a sea otter opening its nostrils to take a deep breath. Big O, open. Open wide. Spread out your arms and give me a hug. Oh that feels good. In XO XO, the X's are the kisses and the O's are the hugs. In France I'm guessing the O's are the kisses. The X's I don't even want to think about.

The circle means on, oui?

No, no,'s not an O. It's an empty circle, a circle with nothing in it, a vacant, empty hole. It doesn't even count for zero, because zero is a number and it's so nothing it doesn't even count for the only number that counts for none. It is the symbol for none. Hence, the circle means off.

Using the process of elimination, the line symbol means on.

Why can't I get this?

Because it's just wrong. Otters cannot breathe underwater.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Frogs Here. Get Your Frogs Here.

If you ever get a fountain, and it starts croaking, don't assume it isn't a frog...because it is.

Think back to biology class. What do frogs do? No, they don't lay on their backs and hold real still while you slit them down the belly. Well, yes they do, but the live ones lay eggs, which become tadpoles, which grow legs, breathe air and become frogs again. And I have all three. The circle of life, baby, right in my front yard.

I'm also the neighborhood mosquito breeder. I went online to see what mosquito larvae look like. It seems Google Images had its camera in my fountain again! I've got a bazillion blood-red squiggling whacky wormies dancing around in the water. They are indeed baby future mosquitos to be. Did you know mosquito means little fly in Spanish? Would little mosquitos, then, be mosquititos? Forget it, don't bother naming them. Their destiny is in my hands. I plan to harvest them and ship them to Costa Rica. They feed them eco-tourist blood and grow them to the size of pterodactyls and use them in The Costa Rican Air planes.

If anyone wants to save the frogs, or the mosquitos, send a letter. Not to me though.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Vespa for Sale

I finished Motorcycle Training. I laughed, I cried, I passed. Now what?

I am more scared than ever. I now have documented proof that I am not a very adept rider. I missed 16 points on the range ride test. Minus 21 is a flunk. I didn't even make any friends in class. Why did I bother?

Here's why I bothered. I needed to prove I could do it. Indeed, I went from not being able to ride a motorcycle to being able to ride a motorcycle. And duh, I got 100% on the written.

On the bike, I can shift from first to second...while in motion, no less. I can brake...with both brakes, no less. I can turn...both directions AND both ways. You didn't know there were two ways to turn a motorcycle did you? Well there are. One way seems "normal" enough. You turn the handlebars in the direction you want to turn and shift your weight to the opposite side to balance the bike. They call this counterweighting.

The other way is less intuitive. The way to remember it is press left, lean left, go left. You actually press the left handlebar away from you (as if you were trying to turn the handlebars to the right!) and lean left. At the proper speed the bike will, no kidding, go left. I know! It should be called the counterintuitive method, but they call it countersteering. It only works when you are going fast enough for the laws of physics to engage. At too low a speed it would be more like press left, lean left, fall down on your left leg. But now, thanks to Rocky and Rick...who originally introduced himself as Bullwinkle...I can shift, brake, counterweight, countersteer, swerve around an obstacle, ride over a 2x4...and properly dismount.

Vespa for sale.