The Waiting Game

Waiting Game is a hit song by the English pop group, Swing Out Sister. Rumor has it that Swing Out Sister was the only thing the members could agree on when they were trying to come up with a name for their group, and all of them agreed that they hated it.

SOS has had a number of hit songs over the years: Breakout, Surrender, Twilight World, and my personal favorite, Am I the Same Girl?

The answer is: Yes I am, yes I am. Just in cases you were wondering.

Their songs have catchy melodies. And Corinne Drewery has some serious pipes. I have several of their songs in various playlists. You can find their videos on the YouTube® if you’re interested. Or bored, which is highly probable.

My lovely supermodel wife was so bored yesterday that she washed both of our cars. It’s something she hasn’t done in more than a decade.

* * * *

How’s it going out there in Quarantine Land? Today is the 175th day of the month of April. Yeah, that is what it feels like. And I actually like staying at home. Vehicles equipped with loudspeakers have been cruising the streets here in the Lakeside Area broadcasting messages in English and Spanish, telling everyone to stay at home. But if you must leave your home, you better have a facemask on to avoid infection, fines, and death.

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Have a nice day! ¡Que tengas un buen dia!

Lea made masks for us a couple of weeks ago. She said they were easy to construct, and she was happy to do it. Good thing. We might be using them for the rest of the year. Maybe longer, you know, like, the rest of our lives.

The world has changed, has it not? And when this whole Coronavirus thing ends, it will not return to the way it used to be. I don’t think any of us can yet see the full impact this is going to make, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be significant.

I was skeptical about the Coronavirus initially. I thought everyone was overreacting when they started talking about social distancing, isolating at home, quarantine precautions, and cancelling every interesting sporting event on the planet until further notice.

I’m no longer skeptical, but I am bummed out that March Madness, the Masters, and, yes, every other sporting event for this year has been cancelled, postponed, or will be rescheduled for a much later date. Even the Summer Olympics!

Many of the articles I’ve read talk about extending the precautions, not shortening them or, God forbid, ending them. I’m sure this will all end someday, but I’m no longer sure that it will end soon.

We’ve been planning a trip back to the States. We were originally hoping for April. Then we were shooting for May. It’s starting to look like June, but it might not happen until July or August the way things are going.

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These advertisements sum up the current state of affairs very succinctly

A couple of our friends were planning on coming down to visit us this year. Maybe they’ll be able to get here by September, but possibly, not until next year…

* * * *

One of the things you have to adjust to when you retire is suddenly having a lots of idle time on your hands. I guess some of you could think of this time as a preview of what your retirement life will be like. If you find you’re not enjoying it much, do yourself a favor and start rethinking your plans for the future now.

Todd, Lea and I have been trying to keep ourselves busy with various projects and hobbies. Todd has been working on several goldarn things in the workshop. I know because he’s been using a variety of power tools.

Lea has reading books on her Kindle®. A lots of books. And she instituted Operation Opossum. She feeds the herd of opossums that stroll through our backyard at night. Fortunately, opossums eat almost anything, so they’re easy to feed. She even named two of them: Ollie and Opie.

If you want to know anything about opossums, ask Lea. She’s probably read two books about them by now.

* * * *

Todd created Operation Oranges for Orioles. He started by hanging oranges in the tree where Lea has her hummingbird feeder. That worked great, until the goddamn squirrels started devouring the oranges.

So we built a small wooden platform and put it in the triangle garden at the far end of the swimming pool. The birds are happy. The squirrels don’t dare come that far into the yard.

Mischief managed.

* * * *

Todd and Lea have been cooking their asses off in the kitchen. Let me tell you something, it is hell having to be quarantined with two chefs!

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The Swedish Chef and Christy Turlington. She really does look like Lea

Kind of by accident, I started listening to cooking shows on TV. I’ve listened to all the home improvement shows multiple times, and I was getting bored with them. I don’t actually do any home improvement, so it’s not like I needed to master any of the things they do. I don’t actually cook either, but Lea and Todd started watching the cooking shows. And they say things, like, Ooh! That looks like that would be fun to make!

Maybe it wasn’t an accident…

* * * *

I’ve been making sure everything is clean and tidy, and running smoothly here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We’ve had a couple of issues with the pool. All I have to do is call our property manager, Jaime Mendoza, and let him know something needs to be repaired, and he takes care of everything else.

The solar heater for the pool seems to be about as reliable as the LG refrigerator we used to have. It’s been repaired once already this year, and needs to be repaired again. The guy who installed it, and already repaired it, is supposed to be here today. We’ll see if he actually shows up. Then we’ll see how long it takes to get the heater running again. And finally, we’ll see how long this repair will last…

We’ve been hanging out on the patio a lot lately, and seeing how we’ve all been spending so much time out there, Todd and I put our heads and resources together, and we constructed a stereo system on the patio to listen to music while we do stuff outside.

I had an Aiwa® receiver/CD player, but no speakers. Then Todd remembered he had a big box with two sets of Sony® speakers and a subwoofer, somewhere. All we had to do was figure out where he put them.

We did. The patio stereo sounds pretty damn good, but I think we need at least two more speakers to make it perfect. Four would be better, but I’ll settle for two. Todd hasn’t had anything to say about my idea because Lea thinks I’m out of my fucking mind, and he, wisely, doesn’t want to do anything to piss her off.

* * * *

For me, this quarantine experience has been like unto Retirement 2.0. I have idle time that I can’t fill with any of the activities I used to do because I had nothing else to do. Like, golf. My golf course closed at the beginning of April. It will reopen again when the lockdown ends, whenever that might be.

I’ve had to resort to gardening to fill the hours until we’re given the green light to resume our lives again. I’ve written about my experiences with gardening before. In short, it involved drinking beer and playing in the dirt.

Now, it’s just playing in the dirt. And it’s become a bit of an obsession for me. It started innocently enough. I repotted a few plants on the patio because I hadn’t paid enough attention to them and they were more or less dead.

That’s on me. I never should have ignored my responsibilities for my plants. Our maid, Monica, waters the plants when she cleans the patio, but I think she’s kind of hit or miss when it comes to watering. Her main focus is cleaning.

I’ve got my mind right now. I’m refocused, and I won’t falter in my duties again. I replanted the patio plants that weren’t completely dead in the backyard gardens, and it all went downhill from there. I spent all of last weekend working in the gardens, which was just about the stupidest thing I could do.

My back and my right knee filed for divorce from me on Monday.

* * * *

My back has been a major pain in my… back… for about the last week. Normally, it’s my lower back that bothers me. Now, it’s almost my entire spine from the third thoracic vertebrae my to my sacrum and coccyx.

I can’t sit for more than a few minutes. And moving around doesn’t always do much of anything to decrease my level of pain. I eat Motrin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It helps, but nothing makes the pain completely go away. Swinging a golf club appears to have been doing my back far more good than I realized.

I’ve been working on this post for five days because I can only write one or two paragraphs at a time, and then I have to take a break. If I’m fortunate, I might finish it sometime this week.

* * * *

Okay, back to gardening…  I’m not a master gardener. I’m more of a Chance the Gardener — from the Jerzy Kosiński novel, Being There. It was also made into a movie starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine.

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If you’re not interested in reading the novel, you can watch the movie. I love it

For those of you that don’t know, Chance was the original Forrest Gump. They’re both slow-witted, kind-hearted guys, and they both unwittingly influence everything that goes on around them. I resemble two of those three attributes.

I’m not a smart man, but I know a couple of things about playing in the dirt. Annual flowering plants are a quick way to add a lots of color to your garden. If you buy mature plants. And in a temperate climate, there’s a good chance these plants will automatically reseed themselves from year to year.

Further proof that I’m neither smart, nor a master gardener: I didn’t buy plants. I bought a bunch of packets of seeds. I’ve had some impressive results with marigold  and delphinium seeds down here, so I figured I’d have equal success with other flower seeds. All you have to do is sow them and abracadabra!

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See? I told you

I don’t know what kind of flower seeds I bought. The descriptions were in Spanish, and I was too lazy to translate the words. But the pictures showed pretty flowers. And that’s what I wanted. Pretty flowers with a lots of splashes of colors.

I picked three prime spots in the gardens, and I call them prime because other flowers were already growing around them. I cleared the areas, carefully planted my seeds, and watered them daily for a week. And not one flower sprouted. It’s probably closing in on two weeks as I write this, and I still haven’t seen anything that looks like unto a fucking flower shooting up out of the ground in those areas.

Todd says it’s possible they’ll sprout later this year, or even weirder, next year. I don’t doubt that he’s right, he knows far more about this stuff than I do. However, marigold seeds do not behave thusly. You throw them in the ground and they start growing immediately! All I know is that I’m incredibly bummed out right now.

Seeing no need to make any special preparation for my remaining seed packets, I picked a neglected corner of the gardens where nothing was growing – not even weeds – and dumped all of my remaining seeds on the ground, and watered it periodically.

I ended up with two hundred flower sprouts growing in about a ten inch by ten inch area. Yeah, of course that method worked. So, yes, I had amazing success, but no one needs that many flowers growing in a small area in a part of the garden that no one can see without a map and a pair of binoculars.

That’s how I ended up working in the garden for the entire weekend. I spent hours moving random groups of baby plants to multiple areas throughout the gardens. And I water the gardens daily. In a few months, maybe more, our gardens are going to look better than they ever have since we moved in. Maybe better than they ever have, period.

* * * *

Another thing we don’t do is go out to eat at any of the fabulous restaurants here in the Lakeside Area. We did that once after the Coronavirus precautions went into place. Our youngest daughter, Abigail, grounded us. On social media. From Minnesota.

* * * *

Social media has been both a blessing and a curse for me during this time. It’s been a blessing because I can stay connected to everyone that doesn’t hang out with me here in the living room. It’s been a curse because not all news is good news.

* * * *

Our very good friend from Arizona, Nikki Scheidecker, had a stroke last week. That came as a huge, unpleasant surprise to everyone that knows her. She’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and she’s only 45. It was described as a minor stroke, but she spent the better part of a week in ICU on IV medications trying to get her blood pressure under control.

I’m not a real nurse, but this doesn’t sound like a minor stroke to me.

Her husband, Justin, has been sending out daily updates on her status via Facebook. She was moved out of ICU today, and now her rehab can begin. We wish you the best of success, Nikki. And know that you are in our thoughts and prayers for a complete recovery.

* * * *

The other Curse of Social Media has been all of the political posts. I’ve been trying to decide how deep I want to wade into the mud, slime and ooze in this post. I just took a shower, and I’m loathe to get dirty again.

I don’t post a whole lots of political posts, but if I see something funny, I’ll probably share it. I’m not a political expert, I see myself as more of a political dilettante. I despise Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham. And all the rest of the Republicans. But I’m not in love with the Democrats by any means. I think both political parties suck ass, and all of the current members of Congress need to be sent packing.

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I found this newsflash to be especially outrageous, and shared it on the Facebook

The average American household lives paycheck to paycheck. The $1200 stimulus checks that some families will receive is a drop in the bucket compared to what they really need to keep their heads above water if they are unable to earn a living during this crisis.

If you make more than $99,000 to $198,000, depending on how you file your taxes, you’re not even eligible for a stimulus check. Unless you happen to be one of the above noted select number of millionaires.

President Trump fired the man who was supposed to oversee the disbursement of stimulus funds. And he has gone on record saying that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent.

* * * *

I foolishly thought that something The Donald did would have to backfire with his supporters. I figured this would be the something that even they couldn’t ignore.

I was wrong.

Donald Trump owns his supporters; heart and mind, body and soul. He could take a shit on their living room floor, and they would have it hermetically sealed and preserved to proudly display on their mantle. And their friends would be envious.

His hold on his supporters is bulletproof against logic, facts, and the truth because there is only one arbiter of the truth. Donald Trump. And EVERYONE else is lying. I don’t know what he put in his Kool-Aid, but that stuff is 100 proof.

Today, The Donald suggested injecting disinfectants into your veins as a possible treatment for COVID-19. This is his quote: “…And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”

Roll up your sleeves and bend over, bitches. Trump supporters, you can jump to the front of the line. We don’t mind. After all, this is your boy talking here, and he can do no wrong.

I can’t wait to see how Dr. Donald’s Miracle Treatment works on you.

* * * *

There ended up being a fair amount of discussion on my Facebook post, both pro and con. And then the personal attacks began from the Trump supporters. It’s what their hero does all the time, so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same.

One guy chimed in that I live in a shithole country, and I should just keep my mouth shut. He’s never been to Mexico, but he’s heard a lots of stories…

A couple of people wondered if I was going to get a stimulus check. The answer is no, there are people who need the money far more than I do, like, a forty thousand millionaires who need to keep making payments on their McMansions, and their vacation homes in the Hamptons. And they have car payments on their BMW’s and Mercedes.

Someone suggested that I was jealous. Nice try, but I live in a gringo mansion in the middle of Paradise, that came equipped with a gardener and a maid. And I pay less for all of that a month than you do for the house you live in that doesn’t have a support staff.

I covet nothing. I have nothing to be jealous of.

I understand the need and the hardships that people are going through. We’ve made donations to more than one of the local food banks, as well as more than one of the local organizations that are trying to help all of the people that have been unable to provide for their families because they can’t work right now.

Hey Jealousy, can you say the same?

That same person added that some Mercedes and BMW vehicles are made in the USA. They’re probably made in China, too. What’s your point? Our Buick Encore was made in South Korea. It doesn’t mean, or even prove anything.

* * * *

Pop Quiz!

Pick the American car company because you want to Buy American:

A.) Toyota

B.) Mercedes

C.) Chevrolet

D.) BMW

Please take the quiz and leave a comment. I’ll post the results.

* * * *

And then the guy that suggested I was jealous implied that I was having sex with our maid. This guy has been a friend of mine since the 1970’s. We’re probably still friends, but it’s not the same anymore. I doubt it ever will be.

So, well done, my friend. You successfully defended a man who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire. And he sure as hell wouldn’t let you be a member of any of his country clubs.

Big deal! I don’t play golf, so I don’t care!

No, you probably don’t. And once again, you’ve missed my point entirely.

I’m a guy. I might forget that you hit me below the belt, Bill. But I will never forgive you for doing it.

¡Que tengas un buen dia, pinche culero!

The Real World

It’s another beautiful day in the Lakeside Area. The gas shortage appears to have stabilized. All of the gas stations have gasoline again and the long lines of vehicles clogging the roads waiting to get fuel have disappeared.

That’s a good thing.

I started my apprenticeship as a pool guy last week. The only thing I’m allowed to do is clean floating debris out of the pool with the long-handled net. I’ve been getting in a lots of clinical practice. It’s the dry season here, and the mature trees lining the fairway behind our house have been dropping leaves by the ton.

Todd, my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, will be arriving here tomorrow, provided he doesn’t encounter any weather delays at the airport. It’s been snowing like unto a bastard up in Pacific Northwest for the last few days, so we’re all praying for a break in the weather.

Todd has decided he’s going to move down here. Eventually. Todd is a cerebral guy. He likes to over think everything. Twice. The hardest part for him is over. He’s finally made up his mind.

Todd is going to be busy arranging as much of his future life as he can while he’s here, but when he has some free time we’re going to the National Chili Cook Off. Food, entertainment and shopping. It’s a lots of fun. And we’ll get in as much golf as we can.

Beyond that, there isn’t much of anything else going on down here.

* * * *

I was talking to my buddy, Brother Al, a few weeks ago. He mentioned that he doesn’t read many, if any, nonfiction novels. As he put it, he prefers reality.

I used to read a lots of fantasy/sci-fi/adventure novels. And the Bible, which contains all three of those genres. I’ve never been a big fan of reality. I mostly find it very confusing. I rarely need help to be confused. So much of what we deem to be reality may be nothing more than fantasy anyway, so I try not to split hairs over what’s really real and what isn’t.

About a year before I retired, one of my patients was a young man who thought he was being watched by the government.

“It’s not just you.” I told him. “The government is watching all of us. There are cameras on almost every street, and spy satellites everywhere.”

“Yeah, that’s what my dad says, too.”

“Listen to your dad. He’s probably smarter than you give him credit for.”

One of my colleagues overheard me, and suggested that my interaction might not have been the best thing I could’ve said in that circumstance.

“So, you think the government isn’t watching what we do?”

“I’m not saying that, but maybe you shouldn’t have fed into his paranoia…”

“Yeah, but if it’s really happening, it’s not paranoia, is it.”

* * * *

I rarely read anything anymore. If I didn’t have to write my blog posts, I probably wouldn’t even read them. I’m not sure what happened to me; why I developed an aversion to reading. I haven’t tried to analyze it until this precise moment. Most likely I lack the ability to make a long-term commitment to a novel right now. Another reason is the fantasy genre storylines are all essentially the same.

And then, along came Game of Thrones. Because of my current inability to read, I started watching it on TV last week. I was hooked in about five minutes.

Somewhat fortunately for me, TV and movies have jumped on the bandwagon and there’s a lots of fantasy/adventure shows out there for my viewing pleasure. I can’t say that I watch a lots of these shows, but I will l admit that I’ve kind of become addicted to the Marvel Universe. And Star Wars®.

Thanks to technological improvements in CGI, the cinematic versions of these stories are visual tours de force. Superheroes versus supervillains. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion is also Stan Lee’s and George Lucas’s First Law of Storytelling.

But it’s not just computer generated action scenes and explosions. The Marvel Universe movies, and the latest Star Wars® movies are very well written, and the dialogue actually makes you think.

Perhaps the biggest attraction for fans of the Fantasy/Sci-fi/Adventure genre is that we’re transported to a world vastly different from the world in which we live. It’s not necessarily a better world. I mean, there’s no WiFi in Middle Earth.

However, there’s plenty of ale. And pipeweed. Two things I once was very fond of.

These alien dimensions or worlds are populated with exotic alien races, plus Men, Elves and Dwarves. And mythological monsters, beasts and creatures. And dragons.

Dragons are without a doubt the coolest of all the mythical creatures. There are hundreds of legends and tales about dragons from dozens of races and cultures. Asia, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Europe and Mesoamerica all have dragon myths.

My personal favorite is Tiamat, a Babylonian goddess who took on the form of a massive sea dragon to wage war on her enemies.

And there’s always the Dark Entity of Ultimate Evil who wants to conquer and subjugate the entire world. I guess we have one of those here, though by Evil Dark Entity standards, Satan appears to be more of an underachiever than anything else.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12.

Angels. Demons. God only knows what else. There’s evidently a war going on all around us that we can’t see. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an actual angel. I sincerely doubt that I’ve ever met a demon. But I have encountered more than a few evil human beings.

I don’t have a lots of faith in God. I don’t believe in the devil. But I do believe in Good and Evil. And who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…

I’m trying to remember a fantasy novel that doesn’t have a bad-ass bad guy, and I can’t. Probably because if there wasn’t an evil villain, there’d be no need for a hero to step up and save the day. That’s one thing you can always count on in fantasy adventures. Good always triumphs over evil.

I never imagine myself as the hero in these stories. I’m the least heroic person I know. For one thing, deep inside of my chest beats the heart of a fucking coward. I’m not especially skilled at sword fighting, or any other type of fighting for that matter. I don’t have any magical powers. If I actually found myself in one of these stories, I’d probably be a red shirt guy in Star Trek.

In an epic battle between Good and Evil, there are going to be a few casualties of war. I’ve almost died to death a few times for significantly lesser causes.

Be that as it may, I’m sure part of the reason I originally wanted to be a prophet was I thought I’d end up with a whole lots of magical superpowers.

If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s this: Never read the Book of Revelation after you’ve dropped a few hits of acid.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife is a huge fan of the Crime/Mystery genre. Shortly after we got married, I jokingly told Lea the only reason she watched those shows was to figure out how to kill me and collect my life insurance.

“Oh, I figured that out a long time ago.” she replied, with a totally serious look on her face. I don’t think I slept well for a month.

Law and Order. The Closer. Major Crimes. CSI:, NCIS, and Inspector Gadget. We’ve watched those shows so many times we both know the dialogue of almost every episode. I would never want to be questioned by any of those spooky smart TV cops. I’d probably confess to the Kennedy assassination, even though I was only seven years old when it happened.

We started binge watching True Detective yesterday. Apparently you don’t have to travel to another dimension to find monsters…

* * * *

I used to watch a lots of TV. I loved The History Channel back when they used to air shows about, you know, history. Now their programming is a bunch pseudohistorical, quasi-reality-based crap.

People will always debate what caused the demise of modern day civilization, but for my money it all started with the creation of Reality TV.

Nowadays I mostly listen to the TV. There are very few things that I actually watch. To me, television is essentially radio, with occasional pictures. It’s mostly white noise to me. I use the TV to distract me from the ringing in my left ear. The medical term is tinnitus. I developed it after I was assaulted at work and my jaw was broken.

See? I told you I wasn’t any good at fighting.

The ringing in my ear might be lessening. More than likely I’ve just gotten used to it and it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’ll never go away. It’s a reminder of how parts of me are broken and will never work the way that they used to.

Don’t get me wrong, most of me still works pretty good. Like me, the world is certainly less pristine than it once was. I’m concerned about the reality I perceive, and I’m not sure it’s going to change for the better.

But the last scene in Episode 8 of the first season of True Detective gave me a glimmer of hope.

Marty Hart and Rust Cohle have just closed the case on a crime they had started investigating seventeen years earlier. Their personal lives have been all but destroyed in the process of solving a heinous and horrific crime that turned out to be a series of heinous and horrific crimes. And they were both almost killed to death.

* * * *

Rust: “I tell you Marty I been up in that room looking out those windows every night here just thinking, it’s just one story. The oldest.”

Marty: “What’s that?”

Rust: “Light versus dark.”

Marty: “Well, I know we ain’t in Alaska, but it appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.”

Rust: “Yeah, you’re right about that…  You’re looking at it wrong, the sky thing.”

Marty: “How’s that?”

Rust: “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

* * * *

I hope that’s true. The light is winning…

I can’t tell anymore.