Sunday, November 09, 2014

On a Short Hiatus

Taking a break from blogging while participating in NaNoWriMo 2014. Back soon.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Next Time, I'll Remember When the Store Opens


One Friday morning not too long ago, I think I inadvertently surprised and, most likely, upset a shop employee. Honestly, I didn’t mean to do it.

I needed one or two inexpensive plastic containers for my beads. I wasn’t sure if the store had opened yet, but I decided to walk down there and find out. What I found were two ladies standing on the sidewalk in front of the store. “Is the store open?” I asked. They frowned, and one of them mumbled something. Uh, oh, they didn’t speak English. Or maybe they just weren’t speaking it to me.

I peeked through the door. The interior looked dark, so I figured the store wasn’t open yet. However, the lighting there is dismal, anyway, so I tugged at the door. Not locked. I pulled it open and saw a shop employee (SE) stacking up toys near the register. She frowned and told me the store didn’t open until 10 a.m. I was ten minutes early. I thought, Hey, if you’re not open, keep the door locked. I started to close the door, but she told me come in.

I walked in, followed by the women who probably just assumed they were included in the invitation. I don’t think SE noticed them standing behind me. She didn’t look happy to see them. I suspect that SE is probably well acquainted with them.

Supposedly, the store is one of those dollar-type places; however, items generally sell for between one and five dollars. Although I’ve found a few good things there (like inexpensive plastic containers), most of the merchandise isn’t the best quality. The displays are drab, dingy, and disorganized. And the place could use a good scrubbing.

The immediate neighborhood is composed of members of one ethnic group who, I would guess, are mostly low income folks. The store owners are members of another ethnic group. I would bet that the owners are not neighborhood residents.

The majority of the store’s customers are neighborhood residents. Every time I shop there, I notice one or two customers and/or their offspring tossing merchandise around or dropping it where it doesn’t belong. Their behavior always reminds me of the several times I worked at retail jobs and seemed to be constantly picking up discarded merchandise and putting it back where it belonged. That was a never-ending job.

I suspect that maybe, just maybe, the owners of the neighborhood store intentionally keep the store drab, dingy, and disorganized. Maybe they think the neighborhood residents wouldn't “appreciate” a clean store. No matter how many times the store was cleaned up,  shoppers would just trash it again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Started in the Library, Ended in the Street


Some poor soul with mental health issues recently freaked out in the Oceanside library. Among other things, he overturned a table, prompting security to call for reinforcements. Figuring he was in trouble, the man fled from the library, ran across the street, and plopped down on the curb in front of the petite madeline Bakery and Patisserie (yes, that’s how their sign reads).

I had decided to stop there first before heading to the library. Thanks to a serious need for a caffeine fix, I missed witnessing the man’s outburst. Instead, I sipped coffee and watched as four police officers showed up.

My view of the confrontation was partially obstructed by customers sitting at tables near the window. Although the man didn’t seem belligerent, one of the officers pointed something at him. That move didn't look good. “Is she pointing a gun at him?” I asked a customer sitting near the window.

“No, it’s a Taser.”

The man apparently decided to surrender peacefully, so one of the officers cuffed him and sat him in the back of a cruiser. Then all four officers huddled on the sidewalk and discussed something for what seemed like forever.

I wondered why it took four of them to arrest one man. I can understand why two officers would answer the call because, these days, they never know what they’re going to find.

When I walked over to the library a little later, I noticed an evidence van parked on the side of the building. Hmm. . . .  Did the police confiscate the table?

Hey, you never know.

Friday, September 05, 2014

My First Day of School Wasn't That Exciting


Yesterday morning I watched the neighborhood moms marching their kids to school. There were legions of them, both moms and kids. The elementary school is located just west of a busy intersection. So I understand why the moms walk their younger kids to school. But I sometimes wonder how the older ones feel about that.

My mother walked me to school only once, on my first day at kindergarten back in the Early Jurassic Period.

My memory of that day has blurred over the years. I know that I looked forward to going to school. However, even at the age of five, I was quite independent and liked being able to roam the neighborhood, within boundaries of course. I must have suspected that I would have to give up some of my freedom for a few hours a day.

I will never forget sitting in that kindergarten classroom surrounded by squeaky clean kids who were dressed to the nines. Some of my new classmates looked bemused; several of them wept quietly. Others were sobbing as though they thought the first day of school was the end of the world.

In hindsight, I guess it really was the end of our world as we knew it.

But there I was, sitting at my pint-sized desk, squeaky clean and dressed to the nines. I probably was bored out of my mind and eager for my education to begin. Or maybe I was plotting my escape.

I remember that I was totally mystified by the kids who ran sobbing to their moms standing at the back of the room. I’m pretty sure some of those moms were sobbing, too. My mother wasn’t one of them. I know Mom missed my being around after I started school, but it’s not like I was her only child. I had two brothers, one of them less than a year old.

I thought, What the heck is wrong with these kids? I’ve waited five years to get away from home.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mystery Novels Can Be Hazardous to Your Sleep


Maybe I should stick to reading romances before bedtime. I suspect that reading mystery novels probably isn’t the best way to relax at the end of the day.

The other night, I stayed up way too late because I wanted to finish reading a serial killer novel. Actually, another character with homicidal tendencies also popped up in the story. That one was a surprise— and not a pleasant one.

Later that night, or, more likely, very early the next morning, I had a dream about the second murderer, the one who wasn’t a serial killer. I’ll call him “Dewey,” but that’s not his fictional real name.

I dreamed that Dewey had kidnapped me and one of my friends. He threatened to kill us if we made the proverbial false move. Dewey drove us to a humongous industrial complex where he forced us to apply for assembly line jobs at a company that manufactured some of those widgets hyped in “as seen on TV” ads. To add to the weirdness, the interviewer looked a lot like someone I had worked with back in the Late Jurassic Period.

I told the interviewer that the creep lurking at the back of the room had shanghaied my friend and me. I repeatedly asked the interviewer to call the police, but he ignored my pleas. He kept chattering away like a wound-up robot, expounding on the requirements for the job and complaining about Obamacare. Then he asked, “If we hire you, will you go to the company picnic?”

(Yikes! I actually was asked that question during an interview, but it wasn’t a picnic; it was a Christmas party. And, yes, I was hired. And, yes, I went.)

I was desperate to ditch both Dewey and the interviewer. One scared me and had a gun and the other seemed insane. Fortunately, stupid Dewey had neglected to confiscate my cell phone. So I went to the ladies’ room and frantically scrolled through my contacts list. Instead of calling 9-1-1, I searched for a certain individual’s phone number. I found it and poked the number.

And then I woke up.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I Was a 4-H Dropout


When I was nine years old (back in the Early Jurassic Period), my mother suggested that I join 4-H. I guess she thought I needed to develop an interest in something other than reading Nancy Drew novels and scribbling stories in notebooks. I thought I really needed to get out more, so I joined a 4-H sewing club. However, I didn’t do much sewing during the meetings. I went to them mainly to socialize with my friends.

I also attended a 4-H overnight camp for two summers when I was ten and eleven. Those were semi-interesting experiences involving prowler rumors, 6 a.m. swims, a teenage liaison that ended badly, and a cabin mate who talked me into accompanying her on an emergency trip to the outhouse way after midnight. (Thanks to raging teen hormones, our cabin was sans counselor at the time. I still wonder if he got kicked out too.)

But I digress.

With Mom’s, um, encouragement, I always managed to turn a couple of yards of material into something recognizable as clothing by “judgment day.” That was the Saturday in April or May when all the 4-H sewing clubs in the county got together at a local high school to display their members’ projects.

While several sewing mavens inspected our efforts and awarded ribbons attached to tags that read, excellent, very good, good, or, gulp, fair, we toured nearby businesses. After lunch, everyone traipsed into the auditorium where several of the more outgoing club members presented demonstrations or skits to entertain their captive audience. I was a butterfly, one with major stage fright, in the only skit I ever took part in.
Other than having stage fright, I did okay. No fairs for me. I was thrilled when I actually got a very good on my last project, a maroon cotton skirt.

The following September, I picked out a pretty plissé print for my new project, a housecoat. I cut out the pattern, but I just couldn’t get motivated to even work on the project, let alone finish it. My group leader didn’t offer much encouragement. By the end of October, I had slacked off on going to the meetings, much to the annoyance of my more ambitious fellow group members.

I told my mother I wanted to drop out of 4-H.  She was all for it. At that point, I guess Mom finally realized that sewing probably wasn’t going to be one of my talents. And, anyway, Mom said she was “done standing over me to get me to finish anything.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Camels and Zebras and Llamas, Oh My!


According to a few short online news blurbs and a Facebook comment, a tractor trailer truck transporting circus animals was involved in an accident on Interstate 90 last Saturday. The camels, llamas, and zebras riding in the truck were part of a circus performing in a nearby town that weekend.

Although the driver of the second vehicle involved went to the hospital, apparently none of the animals were seriously hurt. I hope the injured driver is doing well and the animals have rejoined the circus. I never will know for sure though, because I can’t find a follow-up to this story, and I seriously suspect there wasn’t one.

Would you believe that reading about the mishap reminded me of something that happened way back when? (Of course you would.)

One winter evening in the late 90s, Other Half and I stopped for dinner at a Friendly’s restaurant. When we left the restaurant, he sprinted across the parking lot to our vehicle, eager to get out of the cold and light up a cigarette.

I was eager to get out of the cold, too, but I stopped in the middle of the parking lot and checked out a pickup truck that was parked at the edge of the lot. The truck had a camper shell, and the camper shell was occupied by an animal that, at first glance, looked like either a humongous dog or a small pony. Instead of heading to our vehicle, I moved closer to the truck to get a better view. That did not go over well with Other Half.

“Hey,” he hollered. “Get in the truck. Let’s go.”

“Not yet,” I said. “There’s a weird animal in the back of that truck. I’m trying to figure out what it is.”

“Never mind, it’s none of your business. Let’s go.”

“In a minute,” I said, moving closer to the pickup. At first, I thought the animal was a mutant form of Great Dane, but the neck was too long, and the head didn’t look like a Great Dane’s.

Between concentrating on getting a close look at the animal and trying to ignore Other Half’s grumbling, I failed to notice the man approaching the pickup.

Busted! The man did not look happy to see me sneaking up on his vehicle.

I’m sure he wondered why I was so interested in his, um, cargo. I was about to confess that I was just curious. However, I suddenly remembered some advice I’d heard somewhere (I forgot where): If caught in the act, play dumb.

“Um, what kind of dog is that?” I asked.

“It’s a llama.” He said.

O-kaaay.

I really wanted to ask more questions. For instance: How the heck did you convince that thing to hop into the back of a pickup?

But I didn’t. I took Other Half’s advice and minded my own business.

[Note: There were several llama farms operating in the area at that time. So it might not have been that unusual to haul small/young llamas around in pickup trucks. Still wonder how they got them in there, though.]