Just A Phase

I often wonder how many phases I went through as a child and youth that my parents endured…with suffering. I hope not many, as I wouldn’t like to think I was guilty of making their lives hard. But there must have been a few.

The phase of hunger, for example. I remember being in the 9th grade and discovering a hunger for sesame-seed bread. They made standard white loaves of it that you could toast and smear with butter. On a cold night in Canada I think I was able to deplete the pantry in an hour – leaving my mother exasperated when she found the empty bread wrapper. My excuse of ” I just had a few pieces ” was belied by the plastic bag containing nothing but stray seeds.

Girls? I remember a summer of puppy love in a construction site trailer court once – about the eighth grade. It might have been puppy love, but I seem to have been turned into a working dog – I did the dishes for that girl for months. Fortunately the weather turned colder and so did the affection.

Car driving? Well, I was a late starter for driver education and fortunately there was a 4WD and an empty paddock on a farm at which we wintered. I could circle it without hitting anything. It made my subsequent driver training here in Western Australia much easier, though it cured me of any desire for 4WD vehicles or paddocks.

Thankfully, I can look back and not have to feel too guilty. I was never a junior Marxist, nor skinhead, nor religious convert. That was a close-run thing when the Baptists got hold of me, but I moved off to yet another boarding school in time before I was dunked. I never shot anybody, and the creatures I did shoot were cooked and eaten. None of my massive robberies, embezzlement, and frauds were ever detected.

And thankfully that was just a phase…

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Calloo, Callay…

Today is St. Valentine’s Day. A commercial celebration of a person who apparently was murdered under Roman governmental decree. Also a person who is said to have cured blindness and deafness by the laying on of hands. His murder is reportedly to have been because he advocated one religion when the government of the time wished the population to participate in a different one.

I have very sensibly purchased a card full of saccharine and a gift full of sugar. I shall give it to someone, who will not, I presume, murder me. It was not a cheap card but you have to be sure with these things. I am still allowed to treat with deity on my own terms, but dealing with the loved one requires a little more circumspection. Heaven can only throw thunderbolts during storms but the wife can do it no matter what the weather.

If this sounds cynical, it is. But it does lead to a number of questions for the student of superstitions. Is St. Valentine’s Day valid for people who are not of his religion? There are lots of us in lots of different divisions of faith…but we all have sweethearts – if we’re lucky – and the commercial pressure is on to promote romance, flowers, jewellery, and confectionery. I don’t think the sellers of canned lovey dovey will check to see if you are the right sort to follow a saint.

I don’t mind romance, love, sex, or anything else that fills up the hours between breakfast and late-night cocoa. I’m up for anything as long as it doesn’t involve teenage music or strobe lights in the eyes. A quiet exchange of expensive cards is fine.

The Lingerie Shop – Retail Clothing Part Eight

No man should ever enter a lingerie shop for any purpose. There is nothing he can do there that will produce a good result – even if he buys the perfect set of lace nothings for his light of love. Because his light will not appreciate them.

The thing that the man wants to see is not the thing that the light wants to wear. Indeed, if the man were to canvas the light for an honest answer – and get it – he would be shopping in the flannelette aisle of Big W. It is a sad thing to have one’s dreams shattered, but even sadder to have it done with a fire axe.

” But what of Victoria’s Secret? ” I hear you ask. Victoria doesn’t have  secret. She’s a tart and that’s all there is to it. The lingerie is a work-related expense, and a pretty poor value-for-money one at that. Compare the lifespan of the average lace step-in to that of a pair of Yakka overalls and see which one helps out with your bottom line. Fortunate indeed the working girl who can cater to her trade in denim and nylon straps. Though it does get a bit itchy around the edges.

Of course there is the question of size. You can get it right and you can get it wrong, but if you get it wrong by buying too large a garment, you ain’t gonna get it.

 

Being Nice To Yourself…And Getting Away With It.

You’ll find as you go through life that you can be cruel to other people and get away with it – just pitch your meanness either too low to see or too high to criticize. Dictators and petty despots get away with this all the time.

You can also be cruel to yourself – Woody Allen, Rodney Dangerfield, and Oscar Levant  made a good living out of this – and your psychiatrist will also welcome you beating yourself up. At medical rates.

Being kind to others is also approved by the general population, as long as they are not required to join in or to contribute too much money. Do good on a small change basis and you’ll be fine.

But being kind to yourself will bring nothing but condemnation. Anything you buy yourself – any treat that you get – any happiness you find – will be looked upon as self-indulgent. Any time you grant yourself a discharge from guilt or an access to peace will be frowned upon. If you want to be nice to you, you’ll have to do it on the sly. So here are some tips:

a. Decide what you like to eat. Buy it, cook it, and eat it…in your own home.

b. Decide what you like to read. Buy the book, find the website, rent the movie. And look at it in your own home.

c. Decide for yourself what makes you comfortable. Do it in your own home.

Can you see a pattern developing here? Well the exercise of happiness at home is a good start. But consider it as a training phase. Wear yellow clothing and only fly in the daytime if need be…but prepare yourself for bigger things.

One day…go out and order yourself a meal of the things you like to eat in a restaurant. Eat them.

Then go read your book in a public park…or park in a pub and read it.

Then wear the clothing you like out on the street…and go where you find pleasure…and participate in it.

Make no mistake – someone will be angry. Someone will be disapproving. Someone will be unhappy.

But if you have done your training well….it won’t be you.

Home Three – Light

live at home.

That means I get to say what the home looks like – and what it functions like – and one of the functions I insist on are good candles. Or, rather, good electric lights, well-placed.

People who live in commercial premises are subject to the designs of the owners of those premises. If the owners decide that the place will be lit with glow-worms and the dying embers of a peat fire, the visitors have to put up with it. If they are old visitors, they suffer doubly – mood lighting and cataracts do not mix, unless the mood you want to engender is resentment…

In my home I have a light where I need it and experiment has shown me what colour and intensity is best for the task. It can vary widely – the workbench in my Little Workshop has overlapping LED goosenecks while my reading chair has a soft incandescent behind the headrest. The bedroom has ceiling downlights that illuminate the bed for reading or Kama Sutra. The bathrooms have heater/light combinations that make mornings bearable.

Foresight and ingenuity on the part of my wife led to the installation of rooftop solar panels and a good deal of the electricity needed to run these night-time aids comes from them. I am grateful every night. Even on the nights that don’t have Kama Sutra…

 

Home One – Food

I live at home.

Unlike many people who live at hotels, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, sports stadiums, airports, or overseas resorts…I live at home. I do it because I can, and because it does me far more good than the other choices.

The first major attraction for me is the food at home. It comes out of our pantry, freezer, refrigerator, and mysterious boxes that a kid brings to the door. Nearly all of it, save the mysterious flat boxes, passes through my hands via utensils that I use to boil, fry, broil, bake, and steam. I aim to produce one meal a day that can keep the family healthy, and sometimes I can even extend to two – if one of these is simple fare.

I prepare food that tastes good, and has vitamins, fibre, carbs, protein, and pepper. A lot of the recipes are derived from those used by my mother, but adapted to my lesser skills. I am pleased to say that we rarely have a failure so gross that it needs to be buried.

Home food has another great advantage – price. Admittedly we pay metro supermarket prices for the ingredients that come into the house, but the cost of a good dinner at our table is very much less – in some cases 1/6th – of that at a local restaurant. The cost of a bad dinner – the fast food burger – is about the same but the home-cooked one has nutrition and taste.

And the other kitchen factors? Well, I have two arms and two hands and can wash dishes. We have a brand-new oven, grill, and stove, so there is no technical reason we cannot have good food. And when we eat at home, I do not have to keep reassuring a hovering waiter that the dinner is alright.

Plus there is no surcharge on weekends and public holidays.

” I Used To Love You, But…”

Well that’s a great thing to hear, isn’t it? Woe, woe, misery me…

Well, actually, it is a great thing to hear – and for more reasons than you might think:

a. If someone used to love you it shows that you are lovable. You may not perceive this instantly in the mirror if you have been reading Mills and Boon novels or looking at the bright magazines at the checkout…and notice that you don’t look or sound like any of the heroes or heroines of fiction. But someone did see something in you.

b. If they include the word ” but “, there’s a good chance they are trying to show you theirs…and they are moving away. Smile and wave, Kowalski, and reflect that when they are gone there’s going to be a whole new world of other people to love you. If you had vanilla last time you can have chocolate next…or strawberry.

c. If you never knew they loved you, you might want to re-run the tape of your relationship and look more carefully at it. Their love may have been all tenderness and fluffy pillows or it might have been slashed tyres and headaches. If you didn’t actually see any signs of it –  – in any form – you ain’t gonna be missing much in the future. Refer back to ( b. ) above and go out to a party.

d. ” But, it’s all over now. ” Well ffetch a cloth, Granville. And some Jeyes fluid.

e. ” But my standards have dropped. ”

f. ” But then I saw you in your true light. ”

True lights are a getting tougher to find in the shops. You can get LED lights and cheap Christmas lights, but true lights are difficult. Be grateful that you got to have a go while you could. If it’s any help, you can get Everready flashlights at the service station…

g. ” But now I love another. ”

Great. I’d love another myself. Make mine a pint of Double Diamond. And see if they have any packets of crisps.