Lord knows that we could all use a good laugh in these dark days of der Drumpf.

I’m not a laughy person, in general. I don’t chuckle at my own small talk, I don’t ha-ha when others punctuate their drivel with [seemingly] random jollity, I don’t chortle along with lame punsters. I hate puns. I’d rather punch a punster than  crack a polite smile. So let’s just stipulate that I’m a very straight-faced person.

So I am delighted to share with you two things that recently made me LOL, for reals.

I don’t care who knows this: I love the Real Housewives of New York. Mostly, I love them because I get to drink vicariously every time I tune in. Happily for me, in this season’s episode 17, they all went to Mexico for product research for Bethany’s Skinny Girl liquor brand, the product being tequila and the ROI being that they all got well and truly loaded. I’m talking Outstanding Television.

And then the Countess, LuAnn (was there ever a more hick/less Countessy name than LuAnn??), who is the tallest of the New York Housewives and quite the most pretentious, tried to walk away from the dinner table, and promptly  fell into the shrubbery.

This was  the best pic I could get of the incident, but I hope that you can see that she was not hurt, and that she kept giggling even as she struggled to get back upright (which she could not do — the waiters had wade into the bushes to pull her to her feet).

I’m still laughing. Not at her, but with her, because it does my heart good to see a woman in her 50s still making memories like that. For me, age 61, I’m pretty sure that my shrubbery-diving days are over, and maybe that’s why I don’t laugh enough.

Hmmmm. Food for thought.

The other spot of hilarity in my ho-hum life is that our Dear Reader and Commentor, Elizabeth, who is English, introduced me to a little society of English bloggers who all seem to know each other (mostly through their blogs) and all post the most delicious details about their everyday lives in various corners of Her Majesty’s realm. It’s like reading all the fascinating housekeeping bits from a Barbara Pym novel; the cupboard-clearings, the church rumble sales, the shopping for crisps, the gooseberry jam making — I love it.

About a week ago, one of the bloggers in Wales put up a wordless post, which was a  gif (a short video) from Disney’s The Jungle Book cartoon. It was about  a few seconds of beloved Baloo the bear, dancing:

He got 42 Comments, all taking a guess at what this blogger was celebrating with this joyous bit of dance, all from friends in the blog-o-sphere (remember, these people are English, and have an English sense of humor):

Comment: More in depth blogging.

Comment: I know, you’re dancing for joy because you get to revamp your kitchen?

Comment: It’s a bit blurry but clearly you have a unique dancing style. The little grass skirt really suits you.

Comment: If you turn around, are you bear arssed ?

Comment: Deep and meaningful.

And so on.

But my all-out favorite, the one that made me LOL, was:

Comment: You’ve reached your target weight at fat bastards club?

Now, that’s my kind of FUNNY. If I could figure out how to Comment myself on Blogger sites, I would have happily left my praise for such a happy band of like minds.

Speaking of like minds, I recently finished reading this book:

As far as being able to read a dictionary a page or two at a time, just for pleasure, John Simpson is my kind of guy. I can recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered whether dictionaries wrote themselves, or what. It’s also a very English book to boot.

My favorite digression, one of many taken by the author, was about the word pom, which enlightened me about the close connection between Australian and English humor. (Yes, I’m italicizing English every time. It’s called a running gag.)

Pom, in case you don’t know your Monty Python routines , is what an Australian calls an Englishman. As defined by The Oxford English Dictionary, it is “an affectionate term of abuse” and that is why the Australians and English are funnier than us Americans. We only have nasty, rotten, hurtful, and ugly terms of abuse. We are too simple a people, too half-witted to have the subtlety and sophistication it takes to have an affectionate term of abuse. 

That’s funny.

There’s a slew of books, out now, written by millennial (barely 30 years old)  ladies, that are supposed to be funny. So far I’ve read:

Both these books are collections of autobiographical essays, so their subject matter is limited to: middle school, college, drinking, being 20-something broke, being a child in a dysfunctional family, and quite a lot about weight. Scaachi Koul is “chubby”, and Samantha Irby is “fat”. Samantha Irby is the better writer, but she uses a lot of F-bombs. A LOT. And she has digestive issues that she mentions almost every other page. Saachie Koul is Southeast-Asian Indian, and she needs to learn how to cut her word count in half. They are both very frank about bodily functions, and no indignity is off limits. Does that make them funny? They both make me miss Nora Ephron immensely.

Top Cat and I went to the movies, together, and saw The Big Sick. It’s a modern romantic comedy. You can tell it’s about millennials because the tag line includes their very favorite word of all freaking time: AWKWARD.

For me, there were four big laughs in it, but I can’t recommend it because the actress playing the girl friend has acute vocal fry. And OMG, what is it with millennials that they all have to be so grubby??? The lead guy has an apartment that is so grungy I’m amazed that a girl consented to spend the night there! I swear, the whole time I was dating (in real life) — which was many years, over my 20s, 30s, and 40s — I never had a date with a guy who had an apartment that scuzzy. And if I had, I would have made excuses and shot out of there like I had Crohn’s disease. (Thanks for that, Samantha Irby. I could have lived my life quite happily without ever knowing the details of chronic bowel inflammation.)

So as you see, I am doing my best to amuse myself these days, and not ending up in the bushes, even though, like I said, the thought has occurred to me.

But I promised you a Barbara Sinatra story last week, and here it is:

Barbara Sinatra, Frank Sinatra (Old Blue Eyes, Chairman of the Board — in the olden days they  used to give famous people fun nicknames) died on July 25. She was 90 years old.

Kevork Djansezian/AP

The Washington Post had the best obituary. I think the Post caught how down to Earth, and un-Hollywood she was.

In the Fall of 1994 I spent an afternoon in the Sinatras’ house in Palm Springs, CA because I was the Faberge expert for Christie’s auction house and the Sinatras had a Faberge collection they wanted appraised. For some reason, Christie’s decided that it would add glamour to the house call if I took the European Faberge expert wth me, a twerp who was supposed to be some Russian Prince. Actually, Alexi wasn’t as bad as some of the other Russian “nobility” I’ve met in the course of my work in Faberge, which has left me with a profound skepticism that the words “Russian” and “nobility” ever make sense together.

P.S. Most of them are broke and dumpy, but very impressed with themselves.

Mrs. Sinatra greeted us, and sat us in her living room, where the Faberge was kept in a glass-topped showcase/end table (all small bits: gold boxes, stone and crystal statues of animals and flowers, some nice enameled picture frames, if I remember correctly). I got these pix of Frank’s Faberge from the internets:

And then Mrs. Sinatra did something that no one in her position ever does, when Christie’s people are appraising: She offered us coffee.

She was the very rare client who did not make us Christie’s people feel like The Help.

I thought that was uncommonly gracious of her, I accepted, as did Alexi.

And I don’t even drink coffee. In fact, that cup of coffee in 1994 was both the first and last cup of coffee I’ve ever drunk.

And the other thing that impressed me about Mrs. Sinatra: In every, and I mean EVERY collection of Faberge, there are going to be fakes. It’s just a fact. So, of course, I spotted two or three fakes in  the Sinatra collection and gently explained to Mrs. Sinatra that Christie’s could not catalogue those times as Faberge.

And Mrs. Sinatra just nodded in agreement and said, “I was sure there were a few fakes. More coffee?”

THIS NEVER HAPPENS. Usually, people are so personally insulted when you inform them about fakes that they turn on you. They tell you that, why, just last week someone offered them tens of thousands of dollars for that very piece; or that they have a deep, deep  feeling that I’m wrong; or they snatch the time out of my hands and tell me that I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about even though appraising Faberge is what I do for a living and they, on the other hand, are dentists.

Mrs. Sinatra sat with us, making nice small talk until Alexi and I finished our appraisal. I remember she told me about having been married to Zeppo Marx before Frank, and how one of the older ladies in the California Christie’s office was an old friend of hers from their show girls days. She went into her bedroom, or maybe it was the vault, to fetch the diamond necklace that this old friend of hers calls the “Oh Shit” necklace, because whenever she (Mrs. Sinatra) wears it, people look at it and go, Oh, shit! It had a lot of big diamonds on it.

Then she asked if we’d like a tour of the grounds. Of course I said yes, and NO, we did not run into Frank. She took us into the office, and we were able to stand nose-to-nose with Frank’s Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor, 1953, From Here to Eternity.

You know, all these years I’ve been puzzled why I swear I remember seeing TWO Oscars on that shelf. I knew about the Supporting Actor one, so I’ve always assumed that my memory was wrong about that second Oscar. Just now, thanks to the internets, I have discovered that Frank DID win a second Oscar, in 1971, when he was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Thank you, you glorious series of tubes.

Mrs. Sinatra also took us to see Frank’s train collection. (I got the following text off the inter webs because there’s no way I want to write about trains.)

The trains resided in a replica of an actual railroad station that was located in Ramsey, N.J. Sinatra crammed his station from the floor to the rafters with wooden display cases and shelves brimming with trains of every type and manufacturer. The huge layout dominated the center of the room. Five trains could be operated simultaneously on the layout while others ran on separate loops or around the ceiling. A prominent area of the layout depicted Frank’s hometown of Hoboken. Another area of the station served as a library nook for Sinatra’s many train books and periodicals.

Who knew that Frank loved model trains? Mrs. Sinatra pointed out the most recent bequest, a Japanese bullet train presented to him by some important person in Japan. The Prime Minister?

Anyhoo, I left Christie’s a year later, so I was not involved in the Dec. 2, 1995 auction of about $2 million of Mr. Sinatra’s household goods.But the Faberge estimates where all mine, baby.

Here’s how the Faberge did:

There were some 30 objects by Karl Faberge, all of which sold for a total of $818,685. Among them were two jeweled gold presentation boxes, made in St. Petersburg, which were bought by an unidentified Russian buyer for a total of $291,000.

And that’s my Barbara Sinatra story. Thank you all who voted to hear it.

Thank you for all you reading recommendations last week. I have already finished one of the books (The Cake and The Rain — AWESOME title!) that I might tell you about next week, so long as I don’t fall into any bushes and break an arm or something. I do have a Liz Smith story also, which I will have to tell you because it’s helped me decide what I’m going to do with my life, now that I don’t seem to be writing books any more. Next week, Dear Readers.

Have a great weekend, whether it’s Summer or Winter wherever you are.

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This Summer I’ve been trying out all kinds of new reading material, and most of them bore me to bits.

Science Fiction: I tried The Martian Chronicles, a “classic” written by Ray Bradbury in 1950, but even on Mars it’s the lady Martians who stay home and do the housework. Yawn.

I’ve tried mysteries. P. D. James is supposed to be the gold standard here, but she writes about a life on earth that I am unfamiliar with in that, say, when her poet/detective Dalgliesh declines the offer of a biscuit with his tea he does so with a gesture of sorrow, the likes of which I have no way of knowing what the hell that means. Her exposition is so over-wrought. Also, I loathe poets.

Fiction: If a book begins with a description of scenery, either of a landscape or a building, I’m outta there on page one. I also don’t want to read about Naples, Africa, Scandinavia, American university professors, zookeepers, anything with “Wife” or “Daughter” in the title, or autism.

Deckle-edge is also a mighty huge turn-off.

There is only one sure thing, as far as books are concerned. I can not pass up a memoir written by a famous person: guaranteed satisfaction every time.

Carole Bayer Sager is, in my opinion, a superstar. Her memoir They’re Playing Our Song is about her life, New York to Beverly Hills, which includes amazing success as a songwriter in the 1960s (Groovy Kind of Love) up to The Prayer (1999) to 2016’s Stronger Together. One of her BFFs was Elizabeth Taylor; she also worked with Michael Jackson and just about everybody in the music biz in the past 50 years. She wrote TWO songs for the Monkees!!!

The best bits are about her marriage to and divorce from Burt Bacharach. Hoo-boy, she does not like him. I read this book in one day and her hard-won ownership of her life gave me permission to write about something this week that I wasn’t sure I should, but here goes.

This past week I was very unkind to an old boyfriend, and I feel a little bad about it, but I’m pretty sure he deserved it.

I met a guy in Paris in the Summer of 1976. He, being of a soundly cliche intelligence and because it was a “cute meet”, decided that we were crazily fated to be meaningful to each other the rest of our lives, according to a fantasy he had that I was his Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

In modern parlance, we “hooked up” a year later n California, and then again in New York City 1982 – 83.

I moved on, but Old Boyfriend has remained stuck in this fantasy of “us” for the last 40 years. He likes to get in touch yearly to talk about how crazy we used to be (Big Deal: We went to street parties on Bastille Day in Paris), and how whacky we still were at heart, even though he had long ago opted for marriage and kids and crappy vacation snapshots of the family all wearing the same hawaiian shirt and Xmas newsletters.

I used to marvel at this delusion of our “bond” until it stopped being kind of funny/peculiarand started to annoy me that he was never the least bit interested in updating his info on me. He had zero curiosity about my life; he was still invested in the 20-year old me, long, long, long after I had become completely bored with her and had evolved into a much more fascinating creature.

About five years ago it all got too creepy so I finally told him that we have nothing in common, NOTHING, and I had no desire to continue these communications.

Carole Bayer Sager makes the same point in her marriage to Burt Bacharach (spoiler alert): Burt was never interested in her as the person she really was; he only wanted her to be his muse — he was only interested in his idea of her. I totally get that. In my puny way, I get that (see: below).

Lo and behold, last month Old Boyfriend drops an email to me. Two sentences, along the lines of I still think of Paris and hope you’re doing well. 

I let it sit in the ether for two weeks, then I emailed back: Life is spectacular. Being a Capricorn is starting to pay off: my 60s are so far a whole lot better than my 30s.

He emails back the same day:

Very good to hear and i agree that life in our 60s (still hard to believe) is and can be great.
 
Where are you living these days?
 
I was just trying to figure out when was the last time I saw you. Has it really been thirty years? Scary. 
 
Take care of you.

Let me tell you what exactly about this email made me crazy with resentment and hatred. It was the line: I was just trying to figure out when was the last time I saw you.

Really? How can he not remember? That night about 19 years ago? How can he not remember that time he came to New York from his home in L.A. in the late 1990s to tell me that he’s been “very good for 14 years” (he’d been married for 14 years by then) and now he needed some fun and was I up for “fun”? How could he not remember how he propositioned me to help him cheat on his wife?? And how he expected me to jump at the offer??

Back on that evening in the late 1990s which I remember so clearly, I remember that my first reaction, upon receiving his offer of “fun” was: Jesus Christ. He’s so boring that he doesn’t even have the balls to go out to a bar and find someone new; he has to fly to New York to look up someone he’s already known since the ’70s. I knew he was lazy and had no imagination, but I didn’t know he was this lazy.

The next moment my blood boiled. How dare he think that I would be tempted to have “fun” — with him???  As if I couldn’t do a whole lot better on any Tuesday in Midtown???

And then I was disgusted. This just proved that in the intervening two decades between Paris and that night in the late 1990s — years I had filled with travels, my own marriage and divorce, and few interesting change of careers — he had taken in nothing new about me that changed the fantasy he had of me in my 20s. In my 20s, when we met, I was a much free spirit in that I was getting as much information about life as I could so that, when I grew up, I could make connoisseur decisions about what I liked and disliked, what I valued and what I disowned, and who I wanted to be.

And there I was, a full-grown woman, and here’s Old Boyfriend acting as though he is someone who does not fall far, far, far below my high standards.

(Also, let me say that, morally, I do not approve of husbands cheating on their wives, and certainly not WITH ME.)

It was on the sidewalk in front of the Film Center Cafe (now shuttered) on 9th Ave in Hell’s Kitchen that I declined his offer, told him I had to go home, and left to catch my train back to Westchester. I never saw him again, but took a certain delight in getting periodic updates on his dopey humble-brags about his incredibly dull life. He goes to Amsterdam off season! His son is elected high school class V.P.! His daughter gets into a third-rate college!

So, yeah, when he wondered when was the last time I saw you, I wanted to reach out into the inter webs and punch him in the face.

But what really set me off was his follow-up query: Where are you living these days?

Carole Bayer Sager (author of the memoir I’m recommending as a great read) channels my feeling about this little query on page 283 of her excellent memoir. She’s at a Hollywood/Beverly Hills diner party with the rich and famous: [The diner guests] engaged in the usual feigned interest in what everybody had been up to, though, of course, if they cared, they’d have known.

If Old Boyfriend cared about what I’d been doing lately, he’d have known. I mean, it’s not like it’s hard to find me out there in the inter webs.

So I sent him a nasty response:

Really? “Where are you living these days?”
 
Have you heard of this thing called “Google”?
 
Try it. Oh, wait. That was one of the things that bored me about you. You aren’t very curious about anything that is outside of the teeny tiny sphere of “you”.
 
Dude. I’m in Russia, China, and South Korea, not to mention all the English-speaking countries of the world. Get your head out of your ass.

Yeah, that’s me after three glasses of wine and a little bit of Don’t You Know Who I Am? (I am the most famous Vivian Swift on the planet, after all. No brag, just fact.)

And wasn’t it extremely nice of me to pick on him for that, instead of reminding him of his disgusting 14th-wedding anniversary offer?

Old Boyfriend sends me his reply, and I have to admit it’s kind of classy:

So glad I reached out to you.
 
Have a good life.

Damn. I was really looking forward to having it out with him.

So I guess that after 40 years, this guy is out of my life for good. As they say in Paris, Meh.

Thank you, Carole Bayer Sager, for writing (page 205, about Burt): I will not miss his narcissism or his inability to ever really hear or see me.

Sam Shephard and Patti Smith in 1971

Patti Smith’s Old Boyfriend Sam Shephard died, and she wrote an obituary for The New Yorker. Oh lordy, I can’t stand Patti Smith: “…a cold, still night, when one could hear the stars breathing.”  Hearing stars breathe is the kind of thing a very pleased with herself 16-year old writes. And good god, what a name-dropper: she’s not even out of the first paragraph and she brings up Yves Klein in reference to  “a blue that might lead anywhere”. A blue that might lead anywhere??? What does that  fucking mean?? And so on, and so on. Every other sentence is an atrocity.

For the record, when Patti Smith name checks Yves Klein she’s ham-handedly alluding to how he’s the one artist who came closest to replicating the intense saturation of Majorelle Bleu, which you can read about in my posts filed under that category in the side bar to the right. P.S.: It’s a blue that leads to Marrakech but, OK, if you want to call it “anywhere” go ahead. Just don’t call it “nowhere”, as Patti does in paragraph 2: … a sliver of a many-faceted nowhere that, when lifted in a certain light, became a somewhere. Oh sweet jesus, she is such a shitty writer.

However, I mention this obit because this, the relationship between Sam Shephard and Patti Smith, as she tells it, is how people navigate a relationship through the decades from their dopey 20s to their mature 60s and 70s. They update each other on the workings of their inner lives, they listen to each other, and they give each other room for change; they keep track of the events and the transformations, and they adjust their understanding of the other accordingly. They do not keep harping on and on about The Way We Were.

Then again, it seems that Patti was happy to make herself available whenever  Sam called, at whatever hour of the day or night, used her as a sounding board when he wanted to hear his own voice. So maybe Old Boyfriends are all the same.

At least Sam Shephard was famous; my Old Boyfriend is just some guy with a condo in Long Beach.

Barbara Sinatra died on July 25 and I have a story about spending an afternoon in her house in Palm Springs and liking her immensely, but I got sidetracked and now this blog post is far too long and I haven’t even got to my weekly update on der Drumpf update because I care.

I could circle back to Mrs. Sinatra next week if you’re interested (let me know).

I’m only dealing with the little lies this week, as when der Trumpf brags that he got a phone call from the head of the Boy Scouts telling him that it was the “greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful.” THAT’S A QUOTE from der DRUMPF.

PHOTO: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER

Then der Drumpf brags that the president of Mexico called him to congratulate der Drumpf’s victory on keeping immigrants from crossing the border.

Then the head of the Boy Scouts apologized to the nation for the crudeness of der Drumpf’s speech to the Boy Scouts and their Jamboree, and said that no one from the head office of the Boy Scouts ever called der Drumpf; and the president of Mexico let it be known that he has never talked to der Drumpf on the phone. Never.

How does devout Christian Sarah Huckabee Sanders live with herself ? After assuring reporters that no, der Drumpf didn’t lie about those phone calls, it’s just that the conversations didn’t take place on the phone, and those conversations never happened? How do all the devout Christians who voted for this lying, deluded, dumb-as-a-bag-of-Cheetos piece of shit live with themselves?

You don’t have to answer. I think I already know.

It’s AUGUST everybody! For all you dear Commenters in the northern hemisphere, it’s the height of Summer and all our Summer fantasies have to some true now or never!

Thea, you will be glad to know that Top Cat finally kept me company out in the backyard last Sunday, as we were seated in our sun set-watching devices, remarking on the beauty of the end of the day. He opened a prized bottle of St-Emilion and after one sip his exact words were: “Why have I been denying myself one of the greatest pleasures known to man?”

And for Jeanie and Becky, who loves a good Lickety pic, this is for you (taken over two days):

We have a smoked-glass dining room table. For some reason, Lickety has decided that Top Cat’s place mat on the dining room table is where he wants to nap lately.

Because some readers have recently sent me emails about not being able to Comment on this blog : Click the READ MORE button on the bottom of this latest chapter of my molehill life, scroll down, and leave a Comment. It’s a design flaw that I can’t seem to code out of.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. I hope all your naps are on the cool, hard surface of your dreams.

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Let’s not talk about the latest bullshit that der Drumpf has concocted to distract from the fact that he is a sniveling manboy in hock up to his eyeballs to Putin; let’s talk about how awesome it’s going to be to watch der Drumpf’s staff blow up each other until all that is left is a pus-filled carcass that is the true heart of the der Drumpf administration. (One word, synonymous with “lighting the stick of dynamite”: Scaramucci.)

Just another Drumpf staffer, making ‘Murica great.

Even thinking of der Drumpf probably makes you feel dirty. So let us cleanse our psyches by going to a land where ass-holery is not so highly revered, such as Australia. . .

If it’s CUTe you’re looking for, you can always count on a wallaby.

. . . or Canada . . .

Just think. But for the 48th parallel, he could have been OURS.

(Just to compare the awesome body language of a real high-quality manly man who is smart and worldly and has accomplished beaucoup on his own v. the weird posing of a snot-nosed mini-turd chip-off-the-block of a cess pool, regardez-vous, s’il vous plait🙂

. . . or my house. Here’s my sweet mama cat Candy with her oaf son, Lickety, on our cookbook shelf in the dining room when it was 95 degrees last week and snoozing in a sun beam was not an option:

That doesn’t look all that comfortable to me but I have to trust that even my cats know where the cool spots are even though, in the brain power department, my cats are rather like the night-lights you switch on in the brain power department when the store is closed and it’s midnight. Because they’re cats: Pure id, fulfilling the pleasure principle.

Speaking of our stemware collection, many months ago Top Cat, for no reason other than curiosity, decided to go gluten-free. Fine: He substituted his half-a-bagel at breakfast for a rice cake, he cut back on the Doritos, he cheated every Saturday with ciabatta, and he lost 5 pounds. Then, inevitably, since he was not snacking as heartily as he used to, he cut out his usual side dish to his Cool Ranch Doritos:

He quit drinking.

So it’s been almost a month that he’s been dry and last Sunday he told me that I should quit drinking, too, because it’s not healthy that I drink every day.

First of all: Every Day??

I WISH. 

Oh, how I wish that the usual laws of physics did not apply to me so I could have two glasses of wine (OK, three.) (OK! OK! Four.) every day and not end up looking like this:

Or this:

Yes, Lickety is the Otis of our house.

Oh well. It’s useless to argue facts with a person once he has entered the Come to Jesus phase of his self-improvement regime.

So now, in addition to making it through the all the school nights of the week (that’s Monday thru Thursday) and counting the hours until Friday’s blessed arrival of the 5 o’clock angel, I will have to enjoy my beverage[s] in private, sitting in my room by myself watching reruns of Deep Space Nine. Which actually sounds like a pretty hot date: I have a thing for Gul Dukat. (Well, who doesn’t??)

I have to admit that my weekendly rendez-vous with my favorite Pinot Grigiots or white Bordeaux is one of the least boring, nay, most fun things I do, period. I’ve never particularly liked the things that other girls liked: the shopping, the make up, the long phone calls, the crafting get-togethers, “networking”, or beer. I tried a book club but the prospect of reading that much fiction kind of made me want to puke. I have zero interest in quilting. Seriously: Can you see me getting into flower arranging?? No, I am NOT joining a church, or a bluegrass band, or, honestly, anything that involves putting up with other people. The things that some people find fun, well, they bore me.

In April I signed up for Sign Language classes at our local library — that’s been . . . well. . . not exactly fun, but not exactly not fun either. It’s been engrossing. I’m not bored! And I found a delightful study buddy in that class: we meet every Sunday to teach ourselves the signs for our favorite Beatles songs, and then we have wine. That’s fun.

So this past Monday I met with the instructor of ASL at Hofstra University for an evaluation, as I am considering taking my interest in American Sign Language to a new level and I was hoping that I’d test out of the university’s Beginner classes. That evaluation was not fun, because it turns out that taking an ASL class at your library does not, in any way, equip you with the rudimentary conversation skills it takes to hold your own with a fluent, native [deaf] signer. She asked me what I did for work and where I lived and why I wanted to learn ASL, and all I wanted to do was show her that I knew the words to Yesterday.

This week I also taught myself how to make Greek spinach pie. It wasn’t FUN, but it wasn’t not FUN either. Maybe my standards for FUN are too high?

Thank you for your compliments, last week, about my foray into fashion design. I wear that top all the time, and I love it. So, yeah, that was fun. And thanks, Christine, for the nice comment on my hair. I’m letting it get longer for no reason other than my stylist is taking the Summer off. I like it so far, but I don’t want to go long again, I think.

Patricia: When I got home from the hospital emergency room, the raccoon 9see: last week’s post) was still sitting on top of the fence. His foot was not stuck; he was just sitting there. This was not a well raccoon. So I called Animal Control and a guy came and scooped him up in a net and he was euthanized, because fence-sitting for hours at a time is not normal raccoon behavior. His brain was tested and that’s how I got the all-clear re: rabies.

Ann: Would I do that again, put my hands on a raccoon? Nope. I’d call in the professionals at Animal Control asap. I’ll stick to feral cat rescue from now on.

Merci, Margot: Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored — I’m in. Thanks for the recommendation. *Sigh* I do need more fun. Or more wine.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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First Things First, because our democracy is at stake. New York Times Commentor Joanne DavisB from St. Louis put it better than I ever could:

Donald Trump is uniquely ill-suited to and unqualified for the Presidency. He is temperamentally unfit, perhaps to the point of mental illness; he is a studiously ignorant opportunist with no discernible moral compass.

Now that I’ve done what any other patriot would do, I can get back to the pure drivel which is this blog.

Even though it is unbearably hot here on the north shore of Long Island this week — 90 degrees with 94% humidity, which means that the air here is as heavy as if you were wearing a Winter coat made of the itchiest wool and spun glass blend you can imagine — I modeled my re-purposed beachwear thingy from last week, which originally looked like this (more was not pink):

But I cut off the hoodie, nixed the weird sleeve-holders, and sheared the hem to non-shirttail length:

I have been wearing this top every day since I “made” it. And I must say that since I’ve become a Fashion Designer, I’ve been a lot less bored with myself. Lately, I’ve been wondering if Boredom is one of the least inspected aspects of being human, because I suspect that Being Bored is a HUGE part of being human that nobody ever wants to talk about. I, for one, find myself Being Bored at least 20 times a day. Is that just me?

Ah, but then I got something in the mail that was a complete surprise this week, which is an increasingly more rare event these days. I pity the kids who are growing up toady who do not know what it is to anticipate the delivery of the daily mail — love letters, post cards with foreign post marks, a brown paper package wrapped up in string, etc.

But I digress.

I got a carton of books from my Korean publisher:

This is Le Road Trip as it will be read in South Korea. I like that they chose to put les escargot on the cover. And the cats. I am dying to know if that bundle of symbols at the bottom edge is my name. I would love to write my name in Korean!

I have one last story to tell you today, about a girl who did not die from rabies but was still very, very annoyed:

I knew what I was doing: I had taken the precaution of draping an old Winter coat over the raccoon before I tried to lift it off the fence in my backyard. It was the middle of February, and the raccoon had been sitting on top of an old wire fence in my backyard all morning. I was sure he’d gotten his foot caught in it, somehow, and I was determined to set him free. So I persuaded my husband to traipse out in the snow with me and distract the old varmint while I attempted to release him. In other words, I HAD A FOOLPROOF PLAN.Rabies is 99.999% fatal. It is also 100% vaccine-preventable. 95% of all rabies incidents occur in Africa and Asia. 95% of those deaths are caused by domestic dogs that have not been vaccinated against the disease. So if you are heading out for a dive into the dog pounds of Africa or Asia, it is not a bad idea to get a human rabies vaccination before you go (it’s good for 2 years), which will cost you (in America) anywhere from $165 to $395.

If, however, the raccoon that you are trying to lift off a fence in your backyard bites through the Winter coat and sinks his teeth into your middle finger, the cost to prevent rabies retroactively (Is that a thing? “Prevent retroactively“?) costs a whole lot more.

In my case, on that February morning, the bill came to $21,429.00

First of all, as you can see, just walking into the Emergency Room costs $1,600.

I refused the bed they offered me, but I did let them weigh me and take my blood pressure, and I answered a few questions about my current medications and history of cancer (none, and none). It was about 10 minutes of admin.

Four hours later, the hospital pharmacy had finally sent the vials of fluid that had been requested four hours previously. As you can see, the rabies vaccine itself cost $2,092. The Immune Gobulin is given to provide rapid protection until the rabies vaccine becomes effective, and it  cost $16,628. (I am currently objecting to the note that 4 units of 150 — 600 units — were billed; I believe that the dose for my weight would have been all of 80 units. I await a call back from a manager of records to get to the bottom of this.)

The diphtheria / pertussis shot is standard treatment for dog bite wounds — you can see that it cost $289 to get the vial, and then it cost $399 to have a nurse shoot it (in England they call it jabbed) into my arm.

The “Vaccine Other” charge of $236 is anyone’s guess.

The Drug Req Self Adm charge of $29 is for one amoxicillin pill (in England they call it a tablet) that I put in my mouth and swallowed all by myself.

The last charge for $347 for Tx Svcs General must be for when I refused to have a X-ray of the raccoon bite.

So that’s how this visit to the ER cost $21,629. However, because I have private health insurance, this hospital and my insurance provider have already contracted set fees for this kind of service and my good old insurance company is contracted to only pay $7,045 to have me not die of rabies.

The difference between the $21,629 that the hospital wants, and the $7,045 that my insurance company has pay, is “written off” as a credit, or a tax deduction, I don’t know.

If I were uninsured but gainfully employed or owned a house or a car, I would probably be responsible for the whole $21,629, for which they can (and probably would) either sue me or sic a collections agency on me. If I were dead broke or here illegally, the taxpayers would pick up the bill.

My question is, if the hospital and my insurance company have agreed that this service of saving dumbshit raccoon saviors from dying from rabies costs $7,045, why does the hospital rack up charges of $21,629? If the service was truly worth $21,629, why didn’t the hospital negotiate for that price, instead of cutting their cost by a whopping  78%??? Shouldn’t a hospital bill reflect their actual costs of care???

P.S. I have to pay a $200 deductible, which the hospital they will get when they explain their bullshit charge of  $16,628.

It’s a whole other story about how many phone calls I had to make to get this info, between me and Billings, Montana and etc., but it’s not very interesting.

Have a wonderful weekend, my Wonder Ones, and stay cool. Our dear Commentor Kirra from Down Under has left our shores to return to “Wintery Australia”, and all we can say is TAKE ME WITH YOU.

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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, der Drumpf Jr.

Christmas has come early!

Sung to the tune of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: (I prefer the Johny Mathis version.)

It’s beginning to look a lot like impeachment!

This is how we know:

Take a look at der Junior Drumpf’s

Latest e-mail dump

With the treasonous Russian evidence aglow!

It’s beginning to look so obvious —

criminal charges fit.

POTUS can huff and puff but our nation will call his bluff cuz

all der Drumpfs are shits!

But, Oh Donald, you sordid pathetic half-wit, I could almost love you today — your destined come-uppance will be a pure delight to watch and lo, How I will dote on you, you festering bung hole of a human, all the minutes and days of your demise.

Der Trumpf is in France this week. I took the precaution of emailing my French friends:

I know for a fact that Donald Drumpf is going to do or say something stupid and offensive to the great French people. I am sending you my deepest apologies in advance. 

So, as he met the French President and his wife, Brigitte Macron, on Thursday, der Drumpf said to her: “You’re in such good shape!”

And since you asked, No, being right about der Drumpf never gets boring.

Hello there. If you are reading this blog for the first time, Welcome; we are all deep thinkers here, ponderers of all matters ontological  and cosmological and stuff. In fact, last week we here were discussing Chomsky’s theory of language acquisition re: Skinner’s behavioral paradigms, so if you’re new to VivianWorld you might want to brush up on the subject here. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

OK. Now that it’s just you and me, faithful Dear Readers, let’s digress to our regularly scheduled blog trivialities.

I am not a fan of bad posture. So I was shocked — shocked — when I saw this picture that Top Cat took of me in my 13th Wedding Anniversary dress last week:

I thought I’d been standing up straight so imagine my horror when I saw this stoop-shouldered crone. The shock of seeing your true self, and all. So I asked my dear Top Cat, my darling  husband of 13 rotations around the sun, to re-take it:

A little too “Kardashian on an imaginary red carpet pose”, but it’s an improvement over the schlub-slouch in the previous pic. Let this be a reminder, Dear Readers, that when in doubt, throw your shoulders back and take 5 years off your LBD.

 

Being as I am not currently in the process of writing a damn book I am filling up my time with various new hobbies, one being shopping. Because I have a problem that needs solving: I am 61 years old and I don’t have a go-to Sumer Look; a uniform, a style; a polished casual fashion statement that is “Me” that I can wear on these long hot Summer days and look appropriate.

Me in the backyard. This is not an outfit that I would wear in pubic. Well, actually, it IS an outfit that I’ve worn in public, but I’m not proud of that. P.S. Taffy is not dead. He is sleeping.

I want to be cool, and “cool”; but nothing so flimsy or sheer that I have to wear a bra (right?). I want to look tidy, and my age, and I want pockets. I love pockets. If there are zippers, the zippers have to be non-decorative — they have to function as fasteners between two meaningful parts of the garment. I don’t want gratuitous zippers.

I want solid colors, simple lines, and NO CAPRI PANTS.

I hate to break it to you, but no one looks good in capri pants.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this Summer the stores are bursting with tops and dresses that feature an off-the-shoulder neckline, or weird sleeves that have the shoulders cut out so as to appear to have random scraps of fabric attached at the armpit. I wasn’t that keen on this look the first time it cycled around, back in the 1970s, and I am no fonder of it now that I’ve aged out of the Rock Chick esthetic.

NO.

HELL no.

So after a quick walk through Lord & Taylor’s because I hate shopping spending many hours investigating the offerings at the mall, I have come to the conclusion that I will have to design my own clothes,since clothing manufacturers don’t seem to be looking out for women my age. But, being as I do not know the first thing about clothes-making, what I plan to do is: Buy stuff that is already made and alter it. I don’t care if I have to “marry” two separate pieces into one, or if I have to cut down a dress, or even if I have to re-purpose a bathrobe. I’m open to any and all possibilities.

Starting at the T J Maax up the road, where I can begin my experiments in Fashion Deconstruction with cheaper clothes, I found a rack of “CoverUps”, a category of clothing that I did not know existed. [FYI: It’s beachwear.] Unlike what is on the regular racks, these colors are fun, the fabrics are sturdy but lightweight , and the styles are a bit dopey — which is fine by me! They are made large so as to be easy on/easy off, which means that you have lots of material to play around with when you make your alterations.

I found this:

Well, to be honest, I did’t find this particular piece; I found one like it in grey linen that I didn’t take a photo of. Because this is it BEFORE, when it had a draw-string hoodie (nobody my age should wear a hoodie, I’m just saying) and it had a button thing on the sleeve that let you roll it up, and it had very long shirt tails in the front and back that made it look almost like a dress.

This is it in blue:

I saw this and I thought, all I have to do was cut off the hoodie, remove the button-thing on the sleeves, cut off those damn shirt tails front and back and I might have something I could wear. I also wish I could take it in on the side seams, but that is beyond my skills.

As of now, I’m halfway done with my re-model. I’ll show you the results next week, when I premiere my New Look.

Dear Readers, in addition to fashion, I am currently obsessed with an Instagram account for Ringing Rocks Jewelry at https://www.instagram.com/ringingrocksjewelry/.

Ringing Rocks is a real thing, and jeweler Christine Sakos incorporates something of their mysterious sound waves into her designs. ou will find her jewelry fascinating, as her pieces reflect a wondrous and very personal mythology that incorporates nature, unseen energies, shades and shadows from the Pennsylvania forest she calls home, and RAISING MOTHS:

By raising these spectacular Luna moths, Christina is doing her noble  best to keep our climate-threatened native species from disappearing — a loss that would make our Summer nights so ordinary, so beige. She also raises Cecropias, North America’s largest moth.

I am obsessed with checking in on her updates on the latest brood of beauties. Drop in, sign up, and Follow Christine if you need a little — a lot — of real-world magic in your life. Support the moths! Tell your friends!  Watch Christine save the future, one moth at a time!

You can also read her blog and see her caterpillars and her astounding jewelry at https://www.ringingrocksjewelry.com.

Happy Bastille Day, mes chers.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

You are ALL high quality people.

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England, America, and Australia in the house! The “house” being New York City’s oldest and last soda fountain, the Lexington Candy Shop on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan . . . 

. . . and the representatives of the English-speaking world being (from left to right): our own Dear Commentor Elizabeth (from London) , Moi (from Missoula, Montana of these United States), and the holder of the title of our Longest Distance Dear Commentor, who you know and love as Kirra (from Adelaide). This is us on our culinary leg of our cultural tour of NYC last week, after stopping at a typical New York coffee shop for lunch . . .

. . . before fetching up at the Lexington fora  dessert of New York delicacies — egg creams and malted milks. Note to Kirra: I should have explained that a malted milk is like a liquid Tim Tams.

We had begun our ramble through the Isle of Manhattan at the Jewish Museum on 92nd Street to see the Florine Stettheimer exhibit. I love her work and this show is the largest ever gathering of her paintings and costume designs.

I love that her pictures are about something, most usually her life as a wealthy, sophisticated New Yorker with friends from all over the art and theater world.

Her use of color is exciting — she does not shy away from committing herself to richness (above) or froth (see: portrait of her sister).  I love that she uses framing devices such as drapes — which appear in the picture plane as if from no where — and gets away with it! And it takes supreme control over narrative to put in the large quantities of information that she succeeds in putting in her paintings:

See how there is a LOT going on, but you the viewer don’t feel overwhelmed, confused, or disgusted? [cough * Hieronymus Bosch * cough]

I also like how she doesn’t overlap any of her figures as if she were a primitive/outsider painter, which she is not.

If I painted, I would paint like Florine Stettheimer. Which is not to say that I won’t be knocking off some of her brilliant ideas in the future — I steal from the best.

In fact, there is one picture I’m already dying to paint. It’s about something that Kirra told me about her daily life in Adelaide (Australia). She happened to mention, as if it’s just one of those normal things you get used to when you’re  a music teacher in Adelaide (Australia), that the school where she teaches is situated on a nice plot of land that has a nice grove of eucalyptus trees on it. And, oh, yeah, those trees are full of koala bears, which you can see every time you look up.

Mind you, Kirra has been a Dear Reader her for a few years now, and we’d been chatting in person in New York for about 2 hours before she happened to mention this thing about the koala bears. Now, if that had been me, I’d be all, “Hello there, My name is Kirra and I am surrounded by koala bears at work, that’s right, KOALA BEARS, so yeah, my life’s pretty awesome compared to yours.” I mean, being surrounded by koala bears would be something people would know about me within the first 5 seconds of our meeting. KOALA BEARS, people.

Yes, I definitely want to paint a forest of koala bear-bearing eucalyptus trees, with me in the middle, like Carie Stetheimer,  with a big fat smile on my face.

Apart from the breath taking news that there are people in the world who get to go to work in a koala forest, the rest of our Modern English Summit passed in companionable merriness as we walked down 5th Ave, past the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum with its staircase . . .

. . . which is famous for something but I can’t remember what. And we strolled past the Guggenheim . . .

. . . and then we took a bus down 5th Ave. to the Public Library:

Kirra and her husband Neil headed on to Boston, thence to Ann Arbor — I hope this is just the first of many return visits, depending on der Drumpf not being the harbinger of the End Times that he seems to be.

One pic, thousand words, eh? Because I am running out of words to deal with the human turd that is der Drumpf. But thanks to Commenters Fan in Vt and Vicki in Michigan, one word I won’t use is “girly“. I get it.

I also want to apologize to pigs. Calling der Drumpf a pig is an insult to pigs, animals that I like very much.

Melissa: Mike Nesmith’s mother invented Liquid Paper, and she made pots of money from it. Mr. Nesmith writes quite movingly about his relationship with his mother, which had its ups and downs. He was her only child. Mr. Nesmith also made a lot of moola on his own.

Alex: You saw the Monkees IN CONCERT?! What a lucky girl. You must have had nice parents, ones who actually noticed what was important to you.

Book news: Well, my old publishers, Bloomsbury, don’t get my new book. Which is understandable, since it’s a one of a kind thing: I even asked my agent if we could put it  out in the world without a title. . . she said that was a stupid idea. NOT IN SO MANY WORDS, mind you; but I got the impression that it’s a thought right up there with rescuing a raccoon in my backyard.

So now I have to do something I haven’t had to do in ten years: I have to sell myself to a new house. This is the worst: it’s like going on a job interview and a date at the same time. Ew.

Well, with that in mind, you know that I’ll be enjoying extra big cocktails this weekend.

Nobody here has to sell themselves to me: You are the finest Dear Readers any blog can have. Thank you all.

Here’s to You!

**THIS JUST IN**

I just got a text from a fellow cat rescuer: She has three babies ready for forever homes! These boys were found with their feral mother and have been living with a foster mother (and mama cat) and raised to be cuddly, calm little critters that would make great lap cats.

They are currently here on the North Shore of Long Island . . .

. . . but these fellas are willing to relocate out of state!

If you need more info, just leave me a comment —

— and one, two, or three of these golden fluff balls could be yours.

 

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Before I forget, Donald “Tiny Hands” der Drumpf is a self-serving blowhard maggoty half-man and every word that he vomits out of his little girly pie-hole is a lie: a deliberate, democracy-destroying horse-shitting puke-encrusted lie.

“It’s not easy being stupid…”

Today’s headline is a quote from page 89 of Michael Nesmith’s new book-long “autobiographical riff” about his life (so far) on Earth. I love the title, and as a life-long Mike/George fan in the Monkees/Beatles vortex I was vastly interested in finding out what one does in life after becoming very famous, for three years, in your twenties. In Mr. Nesmith’s case, fame and money allow you to unfetter your thinking from the usual day-to-day preoccupations of the un-famous and the un-rich (paying bills, keeping the boss happy, wondering if your life has any meaning), which leaves you frees to spend the rest of your life thinking up stuff to do that keeps you living about 7 years in advance of the culture. He’s a very clever guy.

You remember him then:

This is him now:

On page 89 Mr. Nesmith, in his characteristically elliptical way with words, takes himself to task for letting his fame and money give him a huge ego and overblown sense of entitlement (see: stupidity) by writing: “It’s not easy being stupid“, which is his way of explaining how the consequences of his pathological celebrity behavior made his and others’ life unnecessarily complicated, anxious, emotionally draining, spiritually unstable, and unhappy. That is to say, fame and money don’t make life easy: it makes life hard.

On the other hand, it seems to me that there are plenty of people who find it  easy to be stupid. Just take the plaintiffs and defendants on any average episode of Judge Judy. They are all un-famous and un-rich and they all seem to revel in their stupidity.

The uninsured driver who is indignant that she has to pay for the damage she caused when she T-boned an unsuspecting Honda because she didn’t hit that Honda on purpose. The unmarried mother-of-three with one-on-the-way who claims she shouldn’t have to pay back a personal loan from her best friend because she’s a single mom. The owner of an unleashed  German Shepherd who says her dog only bit the plaintiff because the plaintiff annoyed the dog by walking neat it. The plaintiff who is suing for harassment because the woman to whom she owes $1,200 keeps calling her to ask where’s the money she’s owed.

For these people, it’s really easy being stupid because they live their lives believing that I should not be held accountable when my actions have consequences that I don’t like.

(I thank the great Neil deGrasse Tyson for that pithy summation of human nature.)

Speaking of which, last February my own actions had a consequence I did not like, not one little bit, and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to be held accountable.

Last February was when I tried to rescue a blind raccoon from my backyard, only to have the little bugger turn around and bite me on my right hand.

The actual raccoon. I thought he was stuck on that fence and I tried to lift him off of it. Stupid idea.

With shaking and bloodied fingers I ran to my computer and looked up “Rabies, vaccination for” on the internet and was directed to the emergency room at a Catholic hospital about a mile away. Off I went.

I also did research on the cost of rabies vaccines for humans.  Like all other aspects of health care in America there is a wide range of prices nationwide, from a low of $167 to a high of $957.

However, in the New York/New Jersey/ Connecticut neighborhood where I live, the prices range from $317 to $365 for the vaccine. To this base price one must add the administrative cost of having someone fill in my three-page emergency room patient paperwork, weigh me and take my blood pressure,  have a doctor come inspect the bite mark before prescribing the approx. $350 rabies vaccine administered by a nurse, and of course I must be charged for the band aid I got from another different nurse (my FOUR HOUR wait time, by the way, was FREE). I refused x-rays because I’d already been there for two hours and could tell that waiting for x-rays would take all damn day.

Now, I have private health insurance. I never had Obamacare and the current debate about Drumpfcare does not affect me personally. And I still get shitty health care, at least as far as the rest of this story goes.

OK, about this incident with the raccoon, I felt bad that my lifestyle choice (of trying to free wild raccoons from my backyard) had resulted in my becoming a burden to the policy holders of my insurance company, because I believe that unhealthy lifestyle choices are the kind of pre-existing condition that should be exempt from coverage: You smoke, you pay for your own emphysema. But I rationalized that this piddling rabies vaccine cost was a one-time expense in my lifetime. I am NEVER going to try to rescue any more raccoons, ever.

I recently received my co-pay bill for this treatment — my out of pocket fees are $200. So, try to guess what my insurance company was billed for the rest of this little emergency room adventure.

Go ahead. GUESS how much this hospital charged my insurance company for this dose of $350 medicine plus paperwork cost.  The correct guess is:

$21,629.00

When I heard that the hospital charged my insurance company $21,629.00, my heart literally skipped a beat. My next call was to my insurance company, to warn them that they were getting conned by St. Francis Hospital, who had obviously charged them for some kind of pricey hand replacement surgery plus diamond-studded manicure that I never received.

Thankfully, I was assured that the insurance company did NOT pay that outrageous bill in full. As is (apparently) common practice, my insurance company negotiated that figure down to a much more reasonable figure:

$7,062.97.

This is a raccoon-flavored example of what is the problem with health care in America.

I called St. Francis back and spoke to Dolores (probably to er real name) in their billing department (which is in Billings, Montana — approx. 2,000 miles from the emergency room here on Long Island) and asked for their itemized $21,629.00 invoice. I want to see how a simple $350 rabies vaccine ends up costing tens of thousands of dollars.

As they say, that bill is in the mail. I expect to be outraged. But somebody will be held accountable.

Still fuming, I donned my Michael Kors swimsuit and tore out of the house, for I have recently discovered the way to achieve inner peace. As a way to escape the stupidity of the world I just love swimming laps, averaging 70 laps per hour in a 25-meter pool. I can’t wait for Pool Day, twice a week; it’s the quietest and calmest hour of my life. Also, that swimsuit cost $100 for just the top (when did swimsuits get so expensive???) so I’m swimming until I amortize it to $1 per kilometer.

The other three days a week I traipse upon a treadmill; average 4.3 MPH at 3.5% incline for 65 minutes.  But if there’s anyone on the treadmill next to me, I have to outlast them because I am usually quite annoyed with the world (see: der Drumpf). In my mind, I am the righteous  Robin Wright, Amazon General Antiope in Wonder Woman (GO SEE THIS MOVIE), sleek and dangerous and fierce as all get-out.In reality (according to my new physical trainer) I have to tone up my puny 20.02% BMI so I need to incorporate upper body resistance work into my routine. I hate lifting stuff but I do want der Drumpf-face-punching arms like General Antiope.

Thank you, each and every Dear Reader who sent me your Comments re: that anonymous der Drumpf-er two weeks ago; and for last week, when I was too sick of myself to show up for duty. Your Comments mean that keeping this space is worth it, and that what we share here is real and meaningful.  Thank you.

And since several of you Wonderful Yous have asked about the new book I seemed to have written, all I can say for now is that it was a small book I did just for myself and sent to my agent never thinking that she would never find it worth putting out in the world. It’s  a pure indulgence on my part, something I thought was definitely not at all commercial . . . but my agent read it and was so enthusiastic that I was at first thinking she was kidding. She called it “magical”.  I have a contract with Bloomsbury which means that they get first look at it, so it is currently being sussed by my editor there and as soon as I have any news I will Tell All.

One of our most loyal Commenters, Kirra, is arriving upon these shores from yon Down Under this coming week and lo, there will be face time and meanderings and perhaps a cup of tea or two to report on when we next gather.

And don’t forget to wish Canada a Happy 150th birthday on July 1 — we love you Canada!! You’re the world’s best neighbor!

Have a great weekend. And, oh yeah, der Drumpf is a pig-eyed asshole.

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So I got a Comment on my About Me page from “Anonymous” last week:

Please stop your language about Trump. I like your books and tutorials, but your vulgar political comments are a real detriment to your blog.

Well, “Anonymous”, (it takes real courage to post a criticism while you hide behind anonymity — and I’m taking to you, “Anonymous” in Overland Park, Kansas), you are free to stop reading my FREE blog and my FREE tutorials any time my opinions give you and your delicate sensibilities the vapors.

OK, now I can tell you why I wasn’t here last week. It’s because I was in Hell.

Specifically, I was in a Destination-Four-Freaking-Day-Wedding Hell. FOUR DAY WEDDING. What kind of people need that much validation?

The destination was Lake Tahoe, California side, which is the side that schlumps around in a strangely entitled neo-Woodstock daze in clothes that would be far more sightly on someone 75 pounds lighter: I had no internet, no TV, no phone, no radio, and just enough hot water for one of us — but not both — to take a nice shower once a day. Not to mention the fun fun fun of being at the beck and call of “The Never Ending Wedding Plan”, which included an utterly revolting, esthetically disgusting, and completely immoral Pig Roast. It was vile, vulgar, and practically vivisectionist.

Suffice it to say, The Wedding and I did not share the same values.

However, the journey started with the very best of karma on the Jet Blue flight to Reno, where the passenger in Row 13, Seat A made me ever so happy that I was the passenger in Row 14, Seat B:

Loki here (that’s his name, Loki) made up for sitting on the tarmac for FA at JFK for an hour and a half. In-flight entertainment on Jet Blue sucks, so by the time we arrived at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport at midnight I’d watched the live action Beauty and the Beast for the second and third time in my life. (A week later we left Reno on the red eye at midnight, and I watched Beauty and the Beast for the fourth time in my life. Emma Watson, cute and lithe as she is, has only two different facial expressions throughout the film.)

Things we did in 24 hours in Reno:

1. Had a gut-busting breakfast at Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs. They serve two kinds of eggs with hash browns and two slaws in a frying pan, with beans on the side. It seems that beans on the side is a staple in this part of the country. I give that a big thumbs-up.

2. Gave moral support to the patriots of the Tuesday Resist group in front of the federal building in downtown Reno:

3.  Found a dead bird on the sidewalk . . . 

. . . took it to the best bookstore in town . . .

. . . found the shadiest spot in the miniature zen garden there . . .

. . . and said farewell to its little soul:

4. After laying bird to rest, Top Cat bought me the new David Sederis book, Theft by Finding. It is more subversive than his previous books, which gives me hope because we’re practically the same age and I hope to become less and less conformist and conciliatory as I age.

5. Walked around my old high school:

 The place was so empty, so eerily quiet, that Top Cat and I thought that the school year must have ended, so we felt free to stroll around and take photos:

And then a bell rang . . .

. . . and I kept taking photos.  Top Cat and I wondered why no one in authority questioned us for being creepy, or calling for a lock down. This is Nevada — what; are these kids armed? And ready to take care of themselves at the first sign of trouble? This, of course, supposes that Top Cat and I look dangerous, which in our minds we do.

I took my last year of high school here in 1973 and have not been back since, and this visit did not jog any strong feelings about the place. It’s my old junior high, Upper Moreland Junior High in Willow Grove PA, built in 1929 and torn down c. 1975, that haunts me as the place I dream of whenever I feel vulnerable and need to find myself in a maze situation from which I must escape. Earl J. Wooster High School holds no terror for me, awake or asleep.

6. Dipped into the pool at The Peppermill Casino and Hotel to cool off in the 90-degree afternoon, and for two hours watched six heavily tattooed 20-somethings get so drunk poolside that one girl had to crawl out of the shallow end to her towel, and then had to be led, like a blind person, off the premises.

7. Cleaned off the chlorine and drove southwest to see old V. Swift residence. We got invited inside to have a look around inside, had a wonderful chat with new owners (who were born in the 1980s — THE 1980s!). It looks like this now:

And looked like this in 1973 when I thought it was huuuuge (but now seems so small that I was astonished by the size of the bedroom that me and my sister shared, a room so small that by the standards of these days would almost amount to child abuse):

8. Stopped by Home Goods, my absolute favorite store, to see what the Reno in-crowd is demanding from the premier retailer of good taste. Actually, it was small and dark and unexciting. Shopping Note: Before we headed out of town for Tahoe the next day, we also had to go to Costco (the Wedding Plan requires us fulfill a list of a crap load of items for a Wedding BBQ, no please, no thank you; also to a liquor store for cases of stuff, ditto) and it was twice the size of the Costco here on Long Island, and in the pet food section they sold huge bags of Chicken feed and Horse food.

9. Drove up into the Sierra Nevada foothills and watched the sun set over the Truckee Meadows Valley:

10. Dinner at local Mexican food institution, Miguel’s.

Miguel’s was northern Nevada’s first Mexican restaurant (opened in 1959) and the owner, Miguel Ribera, became so beloved for his excellent food and for the scholarships he offered to hispanic youth that there is a resource center and a public park named after him. This restaurant must have been opened when I lived in town but I never dined here before.

11. Returned to hotel, played Texas Hold ’em until 2am.

The only thing that I want to tell you about Tahoe is that on our last day there, Top Cat and I drove out to Sierraville to escape the snow . . .

. . . and to find the Clothing Optional hot springs hippie resort there. Clothing Optional is OK for Top Cat but neither of us wanted to spend the hours it would take to negotiate how much it would cost him to pay me to skinny dip, so I found a nice sofa in the waiting area . . .

. . . where the whole time I stroked and cooed over this fella he did not open his eyes once . . .

Shot with DXO ONE Camera

. . . until he stretched, and moseyed outdoors to patrol the perimeter:

Still not giving me the time go day.

I’m a cat person so of course I think he’s irresistible.

I’m not going into detail but when I got back to the Isle of Long my agent and I had a lovely discussion about books, such as one that I might have recently completed, and now I have to write a new bio and stand by.

But for now I’m going to make like my Sierraville buddy here, and just head for the horizon.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay as far away from Lake Tahoe as you can. (Sorry, Lake Tahoe.)

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So it was a national holiday in the US of A last Monday: Memorial Day, the day when we Americans remember those who have died in our nation’s wars. It’s a solemn day.

So Ivanka Trump, who as you know has the same common touch and mind meld with “the people” as her piece of shit father, used this sad and mournful day to tweet:

Not to be outdone in our love for America, Top Cat and I purchased patriotic pastries:

This got me wondering, Do other people live this way? Like, in places where they don’t have a hair ball of puke for president?

Because thats a whole lot of red, white, and blue (see: above).

So, on this long Memorial [Three] Day holiday, Top Cat and I put in the annuals (ha! I know I got that right! ANNUALS!), which means the cats think they have a nifty new litter box (with floral accents) in the back yard:

Meanwhile, Bibs and Lickety were stalking something out back by the back property line:

Top Cat and I watched to make sure they didn’t bother the woodland creatures in the back yard. And we also kept an eye on the birds (the smart ones, that is) as they picked out the delicious peanuts from the bird chow we put out:

Ands then we watched the other birds (the dumb ones) look confused when there were no leftovers:

And then Top Cat and I got into a fight.

I should say,  Top Cat and I do not fight much.

We have the usual conflicts of any people who spend a great deal of time together: the little misunderstandings, minor differences of opinion, momentary mis-communications — all which are settled and explained and apologized for in a matter of minutes with calm tones of voice. No, really. We are reasonable people, and our domestic life would make for very boring reality TV.

Our last big fight was three years and five months ago. And it was HUGE. It was the biggest fight we’re ever had.

And now Top Cat wants to re-visit the same issues in that huge fight of yore by asking me for a favor which would require me to “be the bigger person” and let the things of the past be bygones.

Which is really funny, because he knows that I am never ” the bigger person”, not when there is too much to be gained by being the smaller person. For example, never having to stuff hard feelings and rage and bitterness into that place in your soul that eats you alive from the inside out: Small people never have to forgive (which everyone knows is very, very difficult, almost impossibly superhuman, right?) — they are the ones always being forgiven. I’m way into being teeny tiny like that.

Letting the things of the past be bygones only works if you have a terrible memory and, Dear Readers, not only do I have excellent recollection, but I also take notes. Hello? Remember me, the diarist? The one who writes memoir? Where do you think I get my material???

If you want to know exactly what was said by whom on which date, I’m your girl: I have it all in writing. It keeps things fresh so that what happened, say, three years and five months ago, are as if it were just yesterday.

At one point in the increasingly heated conversation Top Cat angrily announced: You never do anything you don’t want to do. Thing is, he said it like that was a bad thing.

Well, as far as I know, nobody gets extra days being 29, or a lifetime immunization from heartbreak, or a reincarnated pet by doing things they don’t want to do. So yes, of course, in my life and in my marriage, I have tried to do as few things that I don’t want to do as possible: I have stayed away from a few weddings and bar mitzvahs, family reunions and dinners out with bores. But there are times when I have indeed shown up, which would be unkind for me to list here, but anyway on this particular point you can’t make me feel guilty because sheesh: life is short and I’m getting old and Woody Robinson (the best cat in the world) is never coming back so you better believe that more and more, I will be spending less and less time doing things that I don’t want to do.

So as Top Cat and I still simmer over this fight, I can’t help but think how I, had I been in the position to ask of Top Cat a huge favor equal to the one he is asking of me, would have gone about it completely differently.

First, I would have taken me out for Mexican food. Because I do loves me a good enchilada.

I would also order me a huge margarita. Because, duh.

Next, I would have told me how much happiness I have brought to his life, how much I mean to him, and how very dearly he respects my feelings. I would be sure to use the word “precious” somewhere in there. “Angelic” wouldn’t be amiss, either.

I, naturally, would by now be filled with feelings not unlike giant fluffy pink clouds and warm rainbow-colored sunbeams.

THEN I would break the bad news about having this HUGE favor to ask, one that he knows is going to ask a lot of me, a very small person, one that he knows I am not likely to be the least inclined to give. I would ask the favor, and quickly tell me that he understands that I need time to think about it, and not expect me to jump at the chance to let bygones be bygones.

Then I would back off. Because I would be smart enough to know that there would be blow-back re: this favor of “letting bygones be bygones” because, duh, we’ve been married for 13 years and he knows that I am the least “letting bygones be bygones” kind of person in this relationship.

The next day is when I would bring up the topic again, asking for this huge favor again, only this time I would do it while we were at North Shore Animal Shelter picking out our new DoG.

And that, Dear Readers, is how you ask your wife (if your wive happens to be me) for a huge favor.

Right?

Have a great weekend, everybody. I hope that nobody asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, but if they do, I hope they ask the right way.

 

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