Notes to Older Self

mary

With Mary McGuire

I love spending time with my older lady friends. By older, I mean 90+. They were raised in an era with precious few career opportunities for women and groomed to excel in the domestic arts. I’m fascinated by their histories. In their company, I’m given the chance to rise to a higher level of civility and practice my manners.

Whenever they serve delicious lunches and desserts on elegant plates, I feel like a nurtured child. They are impeccable in their dress (no jeans, never sweatpants) and accessorize with earrings and matching necklaces. Over the years, a few have given me their outdated polyester castoffs.

Note to older self: Do not give younger women your old clothes.

I visit these ladies at their homes or in public places. I would never consider inviting them to my house unless I hired a cleaning crew weeks in advance, engaged the services of an interior decorator, and a caterer.

Note to older self: Continue to live like a slob so people won’t feel self-conscious about inviting you to their homes.

Recently, one of these beloved friends permanently hung up her baking gear (she made the best chocolate chips cookies ever) and I attended her memorial service.

Upon entering the church, I was beckoned to a pew by my 94-year old friend Mary and her daughter Patty. Next to Patty sat a petite Italian woman, her hair perfectly streaked steel and white and shaped into a Dorothy Hamel bob. She wore a purple polyester pant suit, white turtleneck, and was introduced as Mary’s friend Dora. She, Mary, and the dearly deparDSC_0001ted Dorothy, had gone through school together.

Note to older self: Wear purple often—it looks good with gray hair.

We exchanged such pleasantries as: “You look lovely today.” “What a beautiful necklace.” “Isn’t this warm fall weather exquisite?” “The family should have put a more recent picture of Dorothy on Dorothy2the memorial program, not her senior high school photo.” “I’ll miss her chocolate chip cookies.” “I hope there’s food in the social hall afterward.” “The last memorial we went to had a lot of food.”

As the conversation waned, I silently remembered Dorothy’s quiet kindness. Dora surveyed the chapel. She tapped my arm. “Where is everyone?”

I had no idea.

“Dorothy went to this church for many years. Her fellow parishioners should have come to pay their respects. There are so few people here. It’s disgraceful.”

corvetteNote to older self: Boost attendance at memorial service by offering a drawing for a new car.

In the social hall afterward, we sat at a round table. Coffee was available in a carafe, but the food had been placed on a long table at the far side of the room. Mary leaned over Dora and asked if I’d mind going to get some sandwiches. I didn’t mind at all.

There were four large trays of homemade cookies and brownies. There were no plates—only napkins. I piled a bunch of treats on a couple of napkins.

When I returned to our table, Dora asked, “Where are the sandwiches and plates?”

“There aren’t any.”

Her face pinched with the same look she had when surveying the chapel. She and Mary tried to be gracious about eating nothing but sugar off paper napkins, but I could feel their disapproval.

Note to older self: Always eat lunch before a memorial service.

I left the table to talk to Dorothy’s family and other guests. I returned to say my goodbyes.

Dora took my hand and we exclaimed how delighted we were to meet each other. “I’ll probably see you around town,” she said.

“Do you ever shop at The Purity?”

“Oh yes,” Dora said. “I love that store.”

Of course she does—everybody loves The Purity.

“Last week, I was at Safeway and when I got to the produce section I couldn’t find anything fresh. As I went through the checkout line, a young man with a white shirt and tie came over to bag my groceries. I knew he was a bigwig, given his manner of dress.

“He asked, ‘Did you find everything you need?’ and I said, ‘Most of it, but I’m going to Purity now to buy my produce. Have you looked at your produce department recently? Nothing is fresh. I picked up a green bean and it was limp.” She demonstrated with her right index finger.

Note to older self: Never use an index finger to show a man how limp his green beans are.

“I wouldn’t eat beans like that if you paid me,” Dora continued. “I’m going to Purity where they care about the quality of produce.

“He finished bagging my groceries and told me to have a good day. I told him I would. Then I went to Purity and got what I needed.”

I wanted to high five her.

Note to older self: Sadly, these ladies are a dying breed. Remember them.

Dorothy Casteel

Dorothy Casteel

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Adventures at Sea

Two weeks before Labor Day weekend, my son Harrison and his fiancé Kasi asked to reserve space on a charter boat. I’m not a fan of ocean-voyaging (I tend to get seasick), but enjoy my kids’ company so decided to be adventurous and go. I booked us on the Telstar for Sunday afternoon of that weekend.

Somehow the reservations got messed up and I learned on Sunday morning that we’d been scheduled for the previous day’s excursion. (I could go into all kinds of explanations for why it wasn’t my fault—but it probably was.)

On Sunday morning, I spoke with Randy, the owner of the Telstar, and he suggested I call his nephew Richard, who owns the Trek II, and ask if he had any slots for that afternoon.

boatThe benefits of living in a small town were about to kick in.

Richard and Harrison had gone from grade school through high school together. Richard said that the Trek II was out and would not do an afternoon trip. However, his brother Brandon would take out the smaller boat—the Ambush—if we could get six people.

Harrison called his friend Nick who was visiting from Sacramento with his wife Elizabeth and asked if they wanted to go. They agreed.

I called Richard and said we had five. He said to be at the boat by 12:30.

fishingIt was a perfect day—warm with a slight breeze. In addition to our five, three other people showed up. We glided through the jetty and marveled at the gently rolling sea. Kasi was giddy. Harrison was happy. I was glad that I’d fortified myself with Sea Bands and Bonine.

We stopped at our first site and my head began to wobble. I caught the first fish—too small, a throwback. We stayed there for a bit before moving to another spot. I caught a second—a keeper. It would be my last.

By this time, my brain had shrunk a good two inches and turned into a lead ball inside my head. With each dip of the boat, it slammed against my temples. I tried to ignore it. Mind over matter—it would go away.

Harrison was the first to lose his breakfast over the back of the boat. Kasi was next.

I continued to drop my line in the water, determined to get more fish. An hour later, the constant slamming inside my head forced me to sit. I started to cough, lurched to the side of the boat and—yes, you know what happened.

The wind picked up and the waves grew. I put my jacket on and wondered how rough it had to become before the captain called it a day. I sat, crossed my arms against the cold and imagined the comfort death might bring.

The cockpit looked warm. I stumbled inside to sit on a padded bench. Far from bringing relief, my stomach went into a tumble and I raced outside to—well, you know. Let’s just say there are certain things, like bacon, that I won’t be able to eat for a long time—if ever. I was amazed to discover that the dark green vitamin in the GNC Women’s Ultra Mega 50 Plus VitaPack stays fully intact in the stomach hours after swallowing.

The others continued to land fish and have a good time. Kasi and Harrison didn’t feel well, but kept fishing.

Throughout the trip, one passenger guzzled cans of beer from his cooler. He even ate a sandwich. I envied his lack of seasickness until he opened a bag of Doritos and then had to stifle a desire to push him overboard.

After four hours (but what seemed like a day and a half), the captain announced we were heading in. We were just outside of Mendocino. He warned that we would travel against the wind and it would get “kind of rough.”

It was the wildest roller coaster ride ever. If I hadn’t been sick, I would have been terrified.

Waves crashed against the side of the boat as it ran parallel to the coastline. I imagined what we looked like from shore—one moment visible and the next moment vanished into the valley of a wave. At one point, the captain suddenly slowed the engine to allow the boat to surf over two back-to-back gigantic waves. From the deck, I hoped he’d radioed a distress signal to the Coast Guard.

When we finally rolled through the jetty and onto the calm river, I tried to smile and claim I had a good time. When I got home, I pitched the Sea Bands and Bonine into the trash and silently vowed to never, ever go out on the ocean again.

In the future, I’ll content myself with listening to jaunty seafaring songs like this—

 

Space Talk

Each week, the Fort Bragg Advocate News posts a question on their Facebook page. The responses are published in the week’s edition of the paper, which comes out on Thursday. Most questions, such as “What is your favorite Paul Bunyan Days memory?” and “What is the most important issue to you at the local and/or state level?” receive only a handful of responses.

But questions about whether our town should have a Dollar Store or the morality of taking down the town Christmas tree donated by Montessori students and replacing it with Paul Bunyan-type tree generate a flurry of passionate replies.

This past week’s question, “What do you think about the new Taco Bell that’s going to be built on the southeast corner of Cypress and Main?”  spawned over 100 replies. I now share my favorites. (Spelling and punctuation have not been altered.)tacobell

Critics who question the nutritional value of the menu.
I think it’s GREAT! I’m exercising my RIGHT to eat unhealthy food…….I served MY country so that we ALL can eat whatever we want, where we want and how much we want! Can’t wait for the EXTRA BIG Baja Blast soda to be here in town!!!!!!!!
They have an Extra Big Blast Soda? With Bacon I hope!
fast food aside; imagine if you went into north coast brewery and after ordering the waitress asks “would you like to supesize that”? “oh, yess i want a 64oz red seal ale…”
Dogs don’t eat that stuff! I would hope we’d support our locally owned Mexican restaurants who serve healthier versions and thus encourage Taco Bell to leave as quickly as they arrive.
REBUTTAL: hey now!! our dogs will eat it…. if we buy it and smother it in bacon…

Critics who make me smile.
Will it have drive through meth like that last one did?
And mmmmm… How appetizing for those hands to be preparing those meals. Just divine!
Speaking of cops, at least all the junkies will be in a central, convenient location
we live next to a world class coffee roasting company but allowed a starbucks to inhabit the old taco bell building… they made that heap of junk look pretty nice and seem to attract the “desert coffee” clients and tourists…
Rebuttal: seriously…what is desert coffee?
Rebuttal to Rebuttal: the foofie creamy triple choco blahblahblah….

Critics of taco prices.
We have I think 9.00 tacos here in Gualala because they are organic give me a break it’s a taco
Rebuttal: Can walk away from taco bell with a lot of food for $9.00
Rebuttal to Rebuttal: …and walkk straight to a toilet….

Fight! Fight!
No no no… We’re just living under rocks! Tweaker need jobs, too!
Rebuttals: Sure, Debbie, I live under a rock. If that makes you feel better lol.
     Are you living under a rock? The locals who LIVE here and depend on actually working jobs to make a living… If *you’re* motivated, one can get into management – more money and more benefits. Of course – one has to actually *want* to WORK…
      Debbie is right, and Erica needs to go to collage and stay off the Progressive propaganda pages found on the internet.
      Gosh, Crystal, maybe you need to find a COLLAGE under your rock, too.
      Erica Ann sounds like she’s just newly moved here and still has the ‘Bay Area” or So Cal mentality…
    Naw she is just Millionaire I bet who has never had to actually look for work in a town that was killed by out of touch progressives.
It will give jobs to which locals? Hello. The jobs it will give will benefit no one. It’s sick. About as sick as consumption of it will make everyone who eats there.
Rebuttals: You do live under a rock.
      What a doomsayer and bunker nut!

Supporters of a fast food combo.
Hope is is a combo with a KFC
Rebuttal: Now we’re talking.

Outside agitation.
yuck! we don’t live here, but plan to someday. One of the reasons we love Ft. Bragg is because of so few corporate chains.
Rebuttals: Dear Sherry. Ft. Bragg doesn’t need you here. As the other posters who actually do live here mentioned some variety/options will be appreciated in OUR Community.
      Sherry is just the kind of person we do need here to keep FB a nice place to live. There are plenty of people here with your perspective, Sherry. Welcome to Fort Bragg!
      Interesting that most of the “anti establishment” nut jobs are not the people born in Fort Bragg but those who are transplants. Theres enough of these lunatics ruining the town, they don’t need more. But here’s a suggestion. If Fort Bragg has too many chains for your taste, you could always move to Mendo or Caspar. I’m sure you’ll be more then happy there.
Sherry’s Rebuttals: First, thank you Toni Rizzo. Second, “Dear” Diver Doug, you sound like a real peach , third, I thought this was a place to express opinions, not be attacked. I didn’t know that there was such a “us v. them” attitude in this community. Why are you all being jerks just because I expressed an OPINION?oh, and if you all hate it sooo much, why don’t YOU move?

My favorite: I just can’t believe how many are acting as though it’s like the falling of the Berlin Wall. It’s a frickin Taco Bell.

(Be sure to watch the “Fast Food Folk Song” below. It’s awesome!)

911

PJsIt was one of those Sundays when three in the afternoon seemed like an appropriate time to get into my pajamas. I was worn out from a weekend of visitors and frivolity—but pajamas at three o’clock? I could have distracted myself by writing a blog post, taking the dog for a walk, jogging, or making a quilt square. But I didn’t want to do any of those things. I wanted to curl up on the sofa and watch hours of mindless television.

So I did.

About six o’clock, I went to the kitchen, poured a glass of water and looked out the window.

“There’s a big black cat in our yard,” I shouted to my husband Gary who was in the living room.

“Wait a second—it’s a dog.”

“What?” Gary cried in alarm.

In an attempt to disguise my jammies, I put on a jacket and went outside.

scottyThe Scottish terrier responded to my cooing and trotted over, tail wagging and head down. I sat to pet him and looked around to determine how he’d gotten in our yard. The front and back gates were closed and he was too small to jump the fence. Maybe he squeezed through the wrought iron front gate. Could he have flattened to the thickness of a pancake and slipped through the back gate?

The irony of a dog dumped in our yard and having a puppy dumped on given to us a year ago did not escape me. But this one we would not keep. Oh no, we would not.

I went inside and dialed 911.

“I’d like to report a stray dog in our yard.”

“Ma’am that is not an emergency.”

“It is to me.”

“All of our officers are involved in responding to crimes and arresting people.”

I made a mental note to check the online booking logs the following day to verify she was telling the truth. “I didn’t know who else to call.”

She sighed. “Give me your address and when an officer is free, I’ll send one out.”

Wait—doesn’t 911 automatically know your address? It was a bit disconcerting to be asked for mine.

I gave her the information, thanked her for her help, and let her return to the business of dispatching officers to major crimes. I went back outside to comfort the little lost dog.

A minute later, the phone rang. It was the dispatcher. “Is it a black dog?”

“Yes.”

“About a half hour ago there was a report of a missing black dog. May I call the people and give them your address?”

“Yes, thank you.”

A few minutes later a car pulled up in front of our house, a woman got out, entered the yard and yes indeed it was her dog.

His name is Simon and he lives around the block. In preparation for giving him a bath, she’d removed his collar. Then she remembered she’d forgotten to put out the garbage and recycling bins. As she was doing this, he managed to scoot out the gate without her knowledge.

She cuddled him to her and I gave him one last pet. She headed to her car, stopped and turned. “I forgot to ask if you’d like a reward.”

I chuckled. “That’s so kind of you, but no thanks. My reward was being able to spend time with your sweet puppy.”

An even greater reward was finding the owner so he wouldn’t end up being our sweet puppy.

I went back to the sofa.

Two days later, a large bouquet of flowers was delivered to our house with a note: “Thank you for harboring our little ‘angel’ Simon.” Amy & Tony O’Neill.

Two days later, a large bouquet of flowers was delivered to our house with a note: “Thank you for harboring our little ‘angel’ Simon.” Amy & Tony O’Neill.

Lucy – A Year in Review

1185822_10151983487546844_1659436086_nWhen our adult children came to town Labor Day weekend 2013—two weeks after our fifteen-year-old dog Wilson died—they despaired at our empty nest and gifted us with what they felt was the perfect “filling”—a puppy. My husband Gary was elated. I wanted to curl up into a ball and be taken to an asylum.

When Lucy was brought into the house, all I could think of—as I pasted a smile on my face and screamed with what I hoped sounded like excitement—was how much work she was going to create.

destructionOver the course of thirty-five years, we’ve raised four puppies. Gary might have forgotten, but I knew the drill. Even with obedience training and supervision, Lucy would learn about life mainly through the destruction of property—sofa pillows, socks, underwear, plants, holes dug so deeply in the yard that a visitor asked if we’d had trees removed. Given Gary’s disabilities, the majority of transforming her into a “good” dog would fall on me.

My obsession with wanting to skip the puppy stage of her development caused me two weeks of insomnia and vertigo.

559798_10152017172491844_2118415971_nThank God I found Puppy Kindergarten where every Saturday morning for ten weeks, Lucy had the chance to play with other puppies and sweet Elaine Miksak gave me direction on how to calm the hell down and enjoy my baby girl. For the first month, both Lucy and I returned home after class to take naps. After an hour, I’d awake to find my open mouth drooling on the pillow.

By January, Lucy had grown too large for the class (forty-five pounds), and we found Julie Apostolu, who convinced me Lucy was ready for AKC Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) training. I had no idea what that was, but hoped the eight-week course would help me continue to learn patience and understanding.

The CGC class was held in a clearing in the woods next to the Mendocino Coast Humane Society. The first day, Lucy kept tugging on the leash and gagging. She thought she was at a new Puppy Kindergarten and wanted to be free to play with other dogs. When that didn’t happen, she discovered the pine needles covering the ground hid buried cat poop that could be rooted out while pretending she was deaf to the command, “Leave it!” (She waited to come home to vomit on the carpet.)

CGC class is obedience training geared towards a test that certifies the dog is a bona fide good citizen of the canine community. She becomes licensed to do things like bring joy to hospital patients while having the good sense not to jump into bed with them.

The first few weeks of class were brutal. Lucy would not listen, jerked at her leash, and when she got tired, rolled onto her back and refused to move. Julie offered encouragement and direction, but I felt inept and humiliated.

dirt

After a particularly rigorous digging session in the yard.

One afternoon, as Lucy headed off for the fiftieth time in one direction while I tried to coax her into another, Julie’s assistant, DeeDee, came to my rescue and took the leash. Her expert handling and swift corrections got Lucy’s attention. I watched in awe as my dog looked at her and obeyed commands. Tears filling my eyes, I wanted to get into my car and drive away.

Eight weeks after we started CGC training—Lucy was nine months old—came the test. The dogs had to do things like heel (yeah, right), sit and stay (maybe), down (Lucy liked to lie down because it put her closer to the cat poop), and remain calm when left with a stranger (this would be easy—she loves everyone). All of this had to happen without benefit of treat reinforcement.

We were doomed.

My anxiety grew as I watched others go through the course while Lucy jerked on her leash and gagged. While we were on deck, she calmed down to watch the dog being tested. I looked at her sitting with such dignity and my heart surged with love. I crouched and hugged her, petting her neck and chest, and whispered, “I don’t care if we pass. I love you and am so proud of you. Let’s have fun with this.”

Lucy rose to the occasion, messing up on only a couple of things. At the end of the course, I had to hide behind a crop of redwoods while she stayed with a stranger for a couple of minutes. When I was called back, Julie held out her hand—“Congratulations, she passed.”

Shortly after the photo was snapped, she tried to eat her ribbons.

Shortly after the photo was snapped, she tried to eat her ribbons.

“What? Really?” I grabbed Julie in a hug and howled with laughter.

I looked at Lucy who sat wearing her calm snowy fur like a halo. “Good girl! Good, good girl!”

I wish I could say from that moment on, Lucy sprang from puppyhood to maturity, but no. She’s a work in progress, a spirit we enjoy despite or maybe because of her quirks (pretending she’s deaf to commands, the ability to destroy any toy in less than twenty-four hours, and a need to prune fuchsia bushes).

Since CGC, we’ve taken at least 30 weeks of other classes (Rally Obedience, Jumps and Tunnels, Nose Work) where we learn, have fun, and meet wonderful people and dogs.

I’m happy that our empty nest has been filled with fresh, rambunctious life and grateful to our children who filled a need we didn’t know we had.

Rally O class picture. After hundreds of dollars spent on enrichment classes, this is how Lucy interpreted the command "Sit!"

Rally O class picture. After hundreds of dollars spent on enrichment classes, this is how Lucy interprets the command “Sit!”

Yelp!

For twenty-two years, we’ve lived next door to the Mendocino Coast’s only mortuary. We’re often asked, “Doesn’t it bother you?” No, it does not. (Read my guest blog post “Neighbors.”)

In addition to the mortuary business, there are two apartments on the property—the one directly above the main building is rented to a full-time tenant; the other, above the alley garage, is unoccupied.

In recent years, the owners allow friends to occasionally stay in the vacant apartment. If they rented it for money, it could get listed on Yelp and subject to reviews, which might pose a problem.

My husband Gary is in the habit of waking early. I know the term “early” is open to interpretation. To some people, 6:00 a.m. is early, to others eight. I think we can all agree that three or four o’clock in the morning is damned early. By the time I get going—usually five-thirty or six, Gary is in mid-morning mode and delighted to have company.

I enter the kitchen to, “Good morning! How are ya?”

I groan, stumble to the coffeemaker, pour a cup and search out the nearest dark space.

Our dog Lucy is a slow riser, but usually ready to go outside by six-thirty. Today, she announces to the world that she does not like the vehicle parked in the normally empty space across the alley. Gary yells at her to stop barking while he carries a container to the alley and dumps cans and glass into the large recycle bin.

I pour a second cup of coffee and sigh.

Overall, the apartment above the mortuary garage is a great place to stay. It’s within walking distance to downtown and a short drive to the beach. It’s quiet on the east side, but not so much on the west.

If it was subject to Yelp reviews, I imagine they would read like this:

yelpThis is a wonderful place except for the cat that clawed at the front door in an apparent effort to seek asylum. We believe he’s demonic. We will never stay here again. Laine R., Oakland CA

1601274_10152360261811844_1457279366_n

yelpWe were awakened at daybreak by what we thought was a homeless meth addict flinging things while hollering in the alley. Trembling with fear, we peeked around the curtains to find the man next door dumping cans and glass into the recycle bin and yelling at someone named Lucy. We will never stay here again. Kasi H., San Francisco CA

yelpWe found the apartment well-appointed and roomy. But as we moved our luggage from the car, an albino animal with a brown patch over one eye barked incessantly from the house across the alley. Efforts to ignore it only made the howling louder. As we approached the gate to get a better look, it let out a puddle of pee and rolled in it. Each time we went to or left our car, the creature yowled. We will never stay here again. Jenn H., Kirkland, WAcloseup

yelpWhen we arrived at nine o’clock at night, all was quiet and peaceful. Little did we know this was because the inhabitants across the alley were asleep. At the crack of dawn, we were startled awake by the baying of a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog and a man yelling, “Leave Little Mister alone!” What kind of freaks are these people? We will never stay here again. H. Riley, San Francisco CA

yelp

Kris S. (who refused to disclose the identity of his city)

The Day the Earth Stood Still

InternetTwo weeks ago, all internet and a lot of telephone service along the Mendocino Coast was interrupted when an auto accident on Comptche-Ukiah Road resulted in a pole struck and slammed to the ground. Apparently that pole supported a bunch of microwave ovens—or whatever it is that allows us to electronically connect with the greater world.

Twenty miles away on that Sunday evening, the scene in this house was reminiscent of clips from the 1971 movie “The Panic in Needle Park.”

I hate to admit it, but my husband Gary and I feel we have a God-given right to trouble-free internet access. (I was once told you’re only as sick as your secrets—so there you have it.) In fits of rage, we unplugged the modem, plugged it in, cursed the red light, and called friends to ask if they had service. Oddly, everyone’s phone was busy.

A radio broadcast revealed what had happened and sparked some very serious questions: Who was the driver of the car? Was he drunk? He must have been drunk. I’ll bet he was drunk.

Why are the various contraptions that provide internet, cell phone and bundled services (internet/television/cell and landline phones) on one measly pole? I suggest three poles: one for this, one for that, and one for this and that. Doesn’t this make far more sense than having everything attached to something that can be toppled and freak out an entire community of internet addicts?

After I learned that the services that connect us to the outside world are actually provided through a fancy cable, I had more questions: Why can’t the cable be buried like in civilized communities? Why must it hang from a series of polls that subject it to the perils of wind, storms and careless drivers? Why does AT&T hate us?

AT&T's ugly building in Fort Bragg

AT&T’s ugly building in Fort Bragg

Each time I pay my landline phone bill, I grumble at forking out money for something I rarely use. Now I’m grateful. Unlike many who were knocked out of all communication, my landline continued to function. But it was useless for calling my bundled-service friends and it couldn’t access Facebook.

Without use of the internet, my business came to a grinding halt. (Despite the millions I make from writing this blog, it is not enough to support my lavish lifestyle.) On Monday morning, I was unable to follow the financial markets and check on the latest charitable works of the Kardashians. I was forced to file stacks of paperwork, clear off my desk, and vacuum my office. I plucked my eyebrows, waxed my mustache, and painted a spare bedroom.

It was only ten o’clock.

sweetaffairI went downtown to soothe myself with a treat from the fabulous French bakery, A Sweet Affair. Thank goodness her ovens had not been affected. I went to Feet First to buy a pair of running shoes. I’d once read that runners should refresh their shoes every so many miles. I figured I’d finally fallen into the so many miles category. I put them on and ran home to eat my pastries.

By Tuesday, I wished I’d purchased more than one cupcake (okay, I’d bought two) to sustain me through the bleak hours ahead. (A Sweet Affair is closed on Tuesdays.)

I went downtown, stood on the corner of Laurel and Franklin Streets, and hollered that I had a working landline at my house for rent at $50 per call. Before I even closed one deal, I was arrested. The cop let me go after I allowed him to use the phone for free.

cuteThat afternoon, I studied Lucy and wondered what she would look like with eyebrows. Despite my efforts to conceal the eyebrow pencil, she spotted it and ran into my office. I noticed the red light on the modem was gone. After 48 hours it must have burned out.

I turned on my computer and clicked the icon thingy that gets me on the internet and—thank the powers that be—I was one with the world once again. I spent hours checking email, Facebook, and—believe it or not—even Twitter.

And the Kardashians? After each was fitted with a designer wardrobe, they flew to Israel to negotiate a successful peace agreement with Palestine. Afterwards, they were spotted at Fashion Week in Tel Aviv.