Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Imaginary Neighbors

About six months after we moved into our old neighborhood, a man named Tom moved into the house across the street.  He seemed like a friendly guy and would wave and say hello if we were unloading groceries or taking out the trash.  Sometimes, if we were working in the yard, he would come over to check out our project and chat.  At Christmas time, we left a tin of cookies on his porch just like we did for our other neighbors.

I wouldn't say we had become friends, exactly, we didn't go to his house for cookouts or invite him to our house for drinks.  Our conversations were usually just small talk; complaining about dandelions in the lawn or gas prices, the weather and such.  We didn't really know much about him.  He was just a nice guy who lived across the street.

One day, about a year later, Tom mentioned something about his wife, Darlene.  We were dumbstruck.  Tom had a wife?  We had never seen her or heard him talk about her before.  How could she have been living there all this time without us having known she existed?  It didn't sound like they were recently married and she must have left the house every day because Tom told us where she worked.  We considered the possibility that he was a little delusional and she was a figment of his imagination.  Unlikely, but plausible.  If children can have imaginary friends, why can't adults have imaginary spouses?

It immediately became a casual obsession for us to watch for her.  There were two cars at Tom's house and we had seen both of them coming and going, but never at the same time.  If the red minivan was in the driveway, the silver coupe was gone and vice versa.  We would try to spot the driver whenever either one of the cars were in use, but the windows were tinted in both vehicles making it nearly impossible to get a clear view.  The landscaping obstructed our view of the driver exiting the car.

Finally, on a Saturday afternoon, we saw a woman step out on the porch to get the newspaper.  She was out and then back in the house so quickly that we weren't able to get a good look at her, but we were pretty sure it was Darlene.  Over the next few weeks we spotted her several other times.  Strangely, though, we never saw her with Tom.  We wondered why they never seemed to be together.

We became convinced that Tom and Darlene were the same person.  It seems like a stupid idea, I know, but it was unbelievable the way we could never catch sight of both of them at the same time.  One day, in particular, they were doing some landscaping around their property.  After shoveling some dirt into the flower beds, Tom disappeared into the garage.  A moment later, Darlene walked out of the garage with a flat of flowers.  After planting them, she headed back into the garage and Tom reappeared with mulch.  This went on all day.  Tom in one door, Darlene out the other, never together.

It wasn't really possible that Tom and Darlene were one in the same and we knew that.  He was tall, she was short.  He had tattoos on his arms, she had none.  But it was just so funny how we were never able to spot them together.  We don't live in that neighborhood anymore, and I don't know if Tom and Darlene still do.  But wherever they are, they're probably living happily ever after in separate rooms.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Hair Raising Ghost Story

You may recall that we frequently have visitors of the supernatural variety in our home.  I told you about a few of them here.   There have been many more since then, but this most recent visit was different in several ways.  One, it was not human and two, it left a calling card behind.  This story is 100% true.

Last Thursday evening, right around dinner time, Mr. W, myself and our daughter were sitting around the kitchen island.  My daughter and I were facing Mr. W with our backs to the doorway, but from where he was sitting, Mr. W had a view straight through the dining room and into the living room.  He was looking past us and had an odd look on his face.

"Did we get a cat?" he asked.

"No, why?"

"I just saw a cat walk through the living room."  He held up his arm, then.  "Look, I've got goosebumps."

If any cat were going to visit us "from beyond", I assumed it would be our beloved caramel colored puff ball who passed away a year ago at the ripe old age of 21, so I asked, "Was it Chester?"

"No.  This cat was much lighter.  It may have been white," he said.

We took a quick look but found nothing.  The visiting cat had vanished into thin air.

The next day, I had forgotten all about it until I noticed my daughter's hand held game charging on the ottoman.  She had set it there because it's close to an electrical outlet.  As I picked it up to unplug it, I saw something in bold contrast to the brown leather.  A single white hair, curved, about three inches long.  A cat hair.  I'm not kidding.

I tried to come up with a rational explanation for the appearance of the hair.  I thought maybe it wasn't a cat hair at all, but a human hair.  However, that seems highly unlikely.  While Mr. W and I both have a little gray coming in, his hair is much too short and my hair is much too long to match the hair on the ottoman.  The kids don't have white hair and we no longer have any pets.  We don't have anything with fur on it except the hood of my daughter's coat.  Even then, it's fake fur, and much shorter and darker than the hair I found.  Above all, after having cats for more than 20 years, I know a cat hair when I see one.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is There A Time Warp In Here Or Are You Just Messing With Me?

I'm 44 years old.  On a good day, I look 43½ .  On a bad day, maybe 50 or 55, I'm not sure.  One thing is for certain, though, the only time I look under 21 is in pictures that were taken when I was under 21.  Why am I telling you this?  Because there is a cashier at our local supermarket that insists on carding me every time I buy beer or wine.  Every. Time.

When I go shopping, I like to use the self check-out lanes (we call them U-Scan).  If I'm buying a few bottles of wine or a 12 pack of Landshark (I'm not much of a beer drinker, but Landshark just tastes like summer to me) the routine normally goes like this: I scan the product, look over to the cashier and wave, she waves back, overrides the age requirement and I put the beer or wine in a bag.  Easy, peasey.   Unless "Carol" (I don't know if that's her name) is working the U-Scan station.

The first time I came up against "Carol" I was buying a few bottles of wine.  I scanned the first one, looked over at her and waved, then waited for the screen to show that the age requirement had been waived.  I was still facing the U-Scan monitor when I saw her approach out of the corner of my eye.  She walked right up to me and stared without saying a word.  When I turned in her direction she said "I need to see your whole face."  She had already seen my whole face, but I guess I look 20 years younger in profile, who'd have thunk it?  Weird.

I gotta be honest, that sort of irritated me.  There are dozens of different cashiers in that store and no one had ever behaved that way whether I was going through the U-Scan or a full service lane.

A week or so ago, I found myself once again checking out in the U-Scan with "Carol" running the station.  I scanned all of my other groceries first and saved the wine to the end.  I dragged the bottle over the scanner and waved to her (making sure she could see my whole face) so that she could see I was "of age" to purchase alcohol.  Still, she came over and stared at me.  I asked if she wanted my birth date and she said she did.  "Three eighteen sixty-eight," I said.  She just stood there and continued to stare, so next I asked if she wanted to see my ID.  Yes, it turned out, she did.  "Do I look under 21 to you?" I asked her.  "Maybe," she said, "but that could be because I'm so old."  Using that logic, she could mistake my 12 year old daughter for a toddler.  I had no idea what she meant but I showed her my ID through the window in my wallet.  I was just waiting for her to insist I take it out so she could hold it up to the light.    

So what's the deal with this woman?  Could she be against the purchase of alcohol in general or is it just me she has a problem with?  Does she know that Prohibition was repealed in 1933?  I know that stores have to protect themselves from selling to underage customers, but come on, do I look anywhere close to 21 to you?


Friday, March 30, 2012

Pondering Things Like Cat Litter, Canadian Music and Sea Monkeys

You know me, I'm always pondering something.  On my mind today:

Cat Litter - We don't have a cat anymore, so I haven't bought cat litter in a long time, but I was looking at a display of one popular brand at the store.  It comes in several varieties.  One is for instant odor control, another has maximum odor control for multiple cat homes and yet another is for long lasting odor control.  My question is, why all the different formulas?  Can't each one have instant, lasting, maximum odor control?  Has anyone ever wanted delayed, minimum, or short term odor control from their cat litter?

Grapefruit - Who came up with the name grapefruit?  They don't look like grapes or taste like grapes.

Cookies - What if we called them bakies instead?

Celebrity Endorsements - Do you think Beyonce stops at Rite Aid to grab a box of L'Oreal when her roots are showing?  Is Weight Watchers the reason Jennifer Hudson lost so much weight or could it have something to do with her personal trainer?

Regional Availability of Music - Our local Alternative Rock radio station broadcasts to both Michigan and Ontario, Canada, so they play songs from quite a few Canadian bands.  Ashes of Soma, Default, KO, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman, Evans Blue, City and Colour, Billy Talent and My Darkest Days are just a few.  Do you hear them in your area or is it a regional thing?  (Scroll down to my player to hear these bands.  Be aware that some songs are not kid friendly.)

Sea Monkeys - How is it they can be dehydrated, stored for months, and then brought back to life by re-hydrating them?  Imagine if they could do that with other animals.  Farmers could buy their livestock online and have it shipped to them.  Of course, you would need a really big tank to re-hydrate something like a cow.    Would a dehydrated cow give powdered milk?

Pants - When did people start wearing pants?  First they wore nothing, then loincloths, then flowing gowns/robes and then, presumably, pants became the thing to wear.  Did they catch on right away?  Had underwear been invented by then?

Still pondering.......


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That Will Wake You Up In The Morning

When I read the newspaper, I can't help but scan the obituaries and death notices.  Is that morbid?  I don't really think it is. It's not like I'm hoping any particular name will show up.

It isn't often that I find a death notice for someone I know well.  Once in a while I come across the parent of someone I went to high school with, or maybe a teacher I had or a former neighbor.  When a friend or relative dies, I always read their obituary, as well.  I'm not sure why.  It's just part of the process of accepting that someone is really gone, I suppose.

One morning a few years ago, I was casually scanning through the list of names when I came across one I immediately recognized.  My own.  I nearly did a spit take with my coffee because I was fairly certain I wasn't dead.  I think I may have even called my mom to confirm it.  Once the initial shock wore off and my blood began to circulate again, I read the entry.  The deceased woman was older than me and lived in a different town.  Our last name being fairly uncommon, I figured she must be a relative so I called Mr. W and asked him.  It turns out she was an aunt he hadn't seen in years.

I've often said any day above ground is a good day.  The same is true for any day you don't find your name in the obituaries.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Have You Heard From Me Lately?

If you received an email from me, lately, it probably wasn't from me.  Someone hacked my Yahoo email account and sent spam laced emails to all of my contacts.  I didn't even know about it until someone mentioned on Facebook that they had been receiving strange emails from me.  When I looked into my account history, I was shocked to see that my account had been accessed from several other states and countries.  I have no idea how it happened, but I hope I've put an end to it.

I did send out an email explaining the situation.  You should be able to tell it's from me (and not the hacker) by the heading which reads "My email was hacked, delete all recent emails from me".  Sorry about the confusion!

My hand is feeling better and I should be back to blogging very soon!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Brace Yourself, If You Need To, That Is

I'm right handed.  Very right handed.  My left hand is good for a few things.  I use it when I'm typing and for non-dexterous things like holding an object, but other than that, it is simply there to give me a symmetrical appearance.  If I attempt to write with my left hand, it looks like a child's writing.  I can't even imagine using my left hand to cut with a pair of scissors or chop vegetables with a knife.  It wouldn't end well.

My dad is left handed.  When he was in elementary school, it was frowned upon to use your left hand for writing.  Teachers would force him to put the pencil in his right hand even though it felt awkward to him.  For some reason, they believed you chose your dominant hand as opposed to it being predetermined.  It did eventually serve a useful purpose for him, though.  He severed a tendon in an accident while at work.  He had surgery and his left hand was in a cast for weeks.  The company gave him a temporary position that required a great deal of writing which he had to do with his right hand.

My husband, on the other hand (pun intended), is ambidextrous.  He writes with his right hand, but does a lot of other things with his left.  He plays sports left handed (except golf) and uses tools left handed.  With scissors and knives, he uses his right.  Interesting, huh?

Back to me.  Like I said, my left hand is my stupid hand, but it was never an issue until recently when my right hand started to give me problems.  At first, it was a little achy if I was using it a lot.  Sometimes it felt stiff in the morning or sore at night.  I chalked it up to the onset of arthritis and took ibuprofen for the pain.  It helped, so I figured it was just something I had to learn to live with.  Around Christmastime, I started to have problems gripping things and my hand was so sore that I couldn't make a fist.  Soon after, the pain in my hand was waking me up in the middle of the night.  A few times, it felt like the circulation had been cut off and I was afraid to look at it for fear that it would be dusky.  I was beginning to lose function in my hand.

To shorten an already long story, it turns out that I don't have arthritis, I have carpal tunnel syndrome.  I caught it early enough that it appears I will have no lasting problems.  To alleviate the symptoms, I have been wearing a wrist brace to keep my wrist in a neutral position.  For the time being, I am wearing it during the day as well as at night and removing it only when I will be getting my hand wet.  In time, I will be able to switch to wearing it only at night and then, eventually, I won't need it at all if my symptoms subside.

The reason I'm telling you this story is that it can be easy to attribute hand and wrist pain to a number of other things.  Anyone who does a lot typing can be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, so that includes my blogging friends.  If you are experiencing pain, tingling or numbness in your hand, fingers and/or wrist, don't ignore it.  If it is, indeed, carpal tunnel syndrome, permanent nerve damage can occur if it is left untreated (click here to see the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome).  It's been less than a week since I started wearing the brace, and it's made a huge difference for me.  I haven't had any pain and I have full use of my hand again.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sometimes, My Virtual Wanderings Are A Bad Idea

I know, I know, I haven't been around much, lately.  I'm trying to get back to blogging regularly.  Really I am.  It's just that I've been so busy doing important things like developing a plan for world peace, building a perpetual motion machine and writing a literal translation of the quatrains of Nostradamus.  In my spare time I've been studying quantum physics and learning ancient languages.  Yeah, something like that, anyway.

Sometimes, when I'm online doing research for said activities, I get sidetracked.  Today, I got caught up in Twilight Zone trivia.  You probably know what a Twilight Zone fan I am, so you can understand how all things TZ are interesting to me.  I love to know what inspired a particular episode or get some behind the scenes scoop.  It started out innocently enough, but I was in too deep before I knew it.  Way too deep.

Alongside trivia about the original 1960's series was information about the 1983 production of Twilight Zone: The Movie.  I was aware that a tragic accident happened during the filming, but I did not know the specifics.  There was a segment that was supposed to take place during the Vietnam war.  Actor Vic Morrow was to run across a river carrying two young children.  All around him explosions would be going off and a helicopter would be flying overhead.  Evidently, the special effects explosions caused the helicopter pilot to lose control and crash, which crushed one of the children to death and decapitated Vic Morrow and the other child actor.

I clicked on a video, thinking it was a clip from the released version of the movie.  It was not.  To my horror, it was the accident as it took place.  A number of cameras were rolling at the time and it was captured on film.  I immediately stopped the video when I realized what I was looking at, but it was still sickening.  All I really saw was the helicopter crashing to the ground and the blades of the propeller shearing off......but still......just knowing what was happening within the fire and smoke.....so upsetting.  It was several hours ago that I watched it and I'm still shaken.

Like I said, sometimes my virtual wanderings are a bad idea.