O.K. Baumer

Orville Baumer was about my same age when I met him in grade school. We went to the 5th grade in Riondel and lived not too far apart. We also joined the Cub Scouts that same year, though Orville was a lot better at doing the badges than ever I was. I can only recall getting two in all my time – one for cooking and one for woodcraft. Orv got semaphore and shelter building and a lot more. He went on to Boy Scouts as well.

Orville was a home soul – he stayed in the town long after I had moved away. Went to high school there and eventually graduated a year ahead of me; I had dropped back a year through moving to Australia. He also stayed in the province for his university time, and got out faster with his degree than I did down here.

Orville had girlfriends in high school and university. A lot more than I did. He married a little earlier, though maybe that was a mistake – he ended up with a divorce from that first marriage. Thankfully, his second has worked out well, and he’ll be well into his thirty-some anniversaries.

Orville does like I do – keeps his cars until they are about 13 years old before trading them in. He never buys big ones – always just little sedans. He’s only taken two overseas holidays in his life. He lives in a regular house with the average amount of old furniture, cranky pets, and unsuccessful grass.

But Orv is different from me in one important respect. When tasked by some unknown  teenager with being responsible for all the ills of the world, Orville cringes and apologises. He says he is sorry for whatever the kid complains about and promises to do better. Orville bows his head in shame for owning his own little house and car, eating regularly, and minding his own business. Orville shys away from the internet groups and protest demonstrations and people who complain in malls.

Orville would never tell a work-shy, over-age, quasi-student who plays the welfare system like a xylophone for money, opiates, and sympathy that they are a public pest. He’d never call them pinko parish parasites. He’d never tell them to stuff their puerile secondhand manifesto where the sun don’t shine.

In many respects, Orville Kitchener Baumer is an admirably civilised person. I really should try to emulate him. One day. I’ll let you know which day I choose.

The Proper Nostalgia We Used To Get

Not the stuff they dish out nowadays. Proper nostalgia from cans. With a good layer of fat and bugs on top…

I am not a particularly nostalgic person…because I have a pretty good long-term memory and can remember what was bad about the old days as well as what was good. It may not have been as tough for me as it was for other people, but on my personal scale I could tell the difference between misery and joy.

Being fair to life in modern days as well as to myself, I must say it is better now. Food is available in greater variety and is, for the most part, safer to consume. Our water supply prevents most of the young from getting caries in their teeth – I have a mouthful of posterior teeth that are filled. But I have ’em.

Our houses are sturdier now than they were – go whack an old fibro and frame one with a hammer and see what happens. What happens is a cloud of fragments and asbestos dust…and you won’t get that in a modern dwelling.

You won’t get a face full of tobacco smoke on the train, bus, or airplane these days, either. Nor in a restaurant or bar. – at least not in Australia. You might have to run a stinky gauntlet of the inconsiderate as you go into a public building, but once inside the laws  protect your lungs.

I’d like to think laws protect schoolchildren from bullying, but they don’t. However, public pressure may eventually lessen it. Hopefully it will also be reduced in workplaces, though there again you run up against resistance to decency by the indecent.

My quiet joys today are at least as easy of access as they were when a child. I had a little world that welcomed me and I still have one. I just need to adjust my mind to accept it.

So there’s no need to get all nostalgic and retro about Good Old Days. They were good in parts and bad in others. Better to concentrate on increasing the one and reducing the other right now.

 

Whitening A Reputation

No character is so bad that it cannot be made worse – and frequently this can be accomplished by praising the person in the hearing of others.

Really awful individuals know themselves to be so. They may start out thinking about justification for their sins but eventually have to admit to themselves that they are rotten. Then they either reform and become moral monitors for the community or become proud and arrogant in their waywardness. They boast to others and believe their own words.

They become bad-asses. Generally without realising that this means that they are still asses, but not very good at it…

Here is where you step in and whitewash them. Do it in the hearing of others and you may be thought a lickspittle, but do it to the face of the miscreant and you will become their worst nightmare; the person who lets their air out. The fact that it is bad air is beside the point – a balloon deflates no matter what you let out of the valve.

If you are kindly, sweet, pleasant, and polite, no-one else will suspect a thing.

BTW, I have always admired you…

Dietary Requirements

I’ve got an invitation to a works party at the end of the month – oddly enough very close to the American Thanksgiving – that looks good. The people there will be jolly sorts and not at all stuffy. It’ll be perfect for the old ” exploding turkey ” gag. You can do a power of damage with a 25-pounder Butterball, particularly if you choose the H.E. variety.

I will probably take a pot of chili – though the hostess says she’ll have enough food there. The thing is that it may well be edible, but it won’t be FOOD. It will be party food. And I’m not a Party member…

The note inviting me has a subscript that asks me if I have any dietary requirements. The fact that I’m gonna arrive with a cast-iron kettle of chili and cornbread pretty well answers that. But of course she meant other things:

Do I have religious restrictions that prohibit me from eating things that taste good, based upon commandments from the Middle Ages? Well, yes, I do, and mine go back to the Bronze Age. But the Bronze Age was a very long time ago and a very long way away and I do my own grocery shopping here in Australia at IGA.

I do follow strict religious law whenever there is nothing else on the table or when my well-meaning friends make a fuss of it. I’m particularly annoyed when they mention that I won’t be getting any of the bacon or prawns or stroganoff sauce or whatever but I can make it up on extra bread or lettuce…

I plan to bring along my own Dead Sea Scroll with newly-discovered texts that allow everything except eggplant, kidneys, or liver and specifically command the faithful to serve these in double helpings to the everyone else. I shall be generous to all.

As far as chemical imbalances, colonic triggers, or frank allergy, I’m fine. I do like to specify that the food be dead, or at least moving slower than I am. This is to allow me to catch it more easily. I look somewhat askance at mock foods that pretend to be something other than themselves. They may taste fine, but they would eat as well if they were honest about what they are. Frequently the word -association between the real ingredients and the supposed dish are enough to spoil any pleasure. I defy anyone to enjoy mock-tripe, cooked how you will.

I suppose one day I will finally give in to my baser instincts and take some poor woman up on this dietary  requirements thing. She will be thinking pizza squares and cheese on a stick followed by a sausage sizzle and I will demand ( with a doctor’s certificate ) treble-refined Patagonian fleedleberry purée over non-organic turnips. The only downside to the whole thing is if she manages to cook ’em…

 

 

Riding The Horse – Part Ten – Genug Ist Genug

How do you know when enough is enough? And what do you do about it?

If you are sitting at a dining table you’ll know. One of two things will happen; either your plate will be empty or you will be full. It is a blessing when these things are simultaneous. If there is a discrepancy you’ll feel like something is wrong. And this is where we turn to either our intellect or our emotions.

When you use your senses  for anything – seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling – you experience a rising sensitivity, a plateau of appreciation, and then a decline. Your mind knows when it has had enough of any particular stimulation, and reduces its response to it accordingly. In the extreme, it turns to a part of you that deals with disgust and sounds an alarm bell. Enough! Genug! No further!

The wise hobbyist will see this same cycle happening with their pursuits. They’ll start with a tickle of interest, then a rising rush of exploratory lust. Then comes a period of direct reward for effort – the plateau. Finally, however, the interest slackens and the amount of effort put in does not yield an increase in pleasure or knowledge. If they are not careful they get to that alarm bell and start to hate what they once loved. Recognise this cycle, and you can start to control how it affects you.

Start out with a notion. A curiosity about something. A flash of something bright in the water. Pursue it. Start to become enthusiastic – then studious – then fascinated. Then gain a mastery of it – and share your pleasure and pride with others.

But when the interest starts to flag…when the rewards decline but the cost and effort do not…realise the fact and set a careful plan in motion. Analyse how much further your hobby can go for you. How much you can give it and how much it will reward you. Be realistic. See ahead to when you will have had enough. 

And then make a plan to quit it in good humour just at this point. If you need to leave some goal that you can never achieve untouched, do so. Take away a set of fond memories of the hobby before you hear the alarm bell. You will have done your mind a favour and not have wasted all the time and money heretofore spent on the hobby.

Your dinner will have done you good.

Dig Ye Not Deeper Nor Yet Faster Unto Destruction…

I believe it might have been Will Rogers who advised people who found themselves in a hole to stop digging. It is a most sublime thought.

If only I could remember it when I tell a joke that falls flat – or make some unfortunate floater at a party. If I could only realise it in time ( Or better yet – 30 seconds before I utter it …) I should be a happy man. As it is, there are occasions when I wish the floor would open up and swallow me. And I’m sure the people I’m with hope for that too. I shall mind my tongue when standing on a gallows trap.

Of course Will’s dictum also applies to all aspects of life – professional situations, love matters, financial affairs, etc. Even driving a four-wheel-drive truck in soft sand. You can get out but you can’t do it by getting in deeper.

One thing that you can do, besides reform your character and exercise sounder judgement in the future, is help the situation by spreading the hole – making it shallower. If you’ve said an unfortunate thing and your audience has burst into tears or rage, turn to someone close and say ” Well, I said it. Now pay me the $ 5.00 . ” If you’re fast you can use the smoke screen to escape.

Open Slather

Open slather is a phrase that has always fascinated me. It seems so decadent and worldly, and there are any number of things with which I would welcome being openly slathered. I often loiter by vats of chocolate making eye contact with slatherers, but so far to no avail. Unfortunately if you slather yourself, Security takes you away.

Perhaps I have been mis-hearing it. Perhaps it is ” open-slander “, which is much more up my alley. Up until now I have been forced by the law to do my slandering and defaming on a quiet basis. And I’ve had to be careful to whom I have distributed the material. I keep a journal with a careful note of what was said about someone and to whom, so that I do not repeat or contradict myself. Nothing worse than finding that you have done a subtle job of faint-praising someone and discover they have taken it at face value and been delighted. Then you have to start all over again. Remember to save your work.

There is also the thing where we have to consider the phrase and turn it about…is there a ” closed slather “, and who does it to whom? And can you see it on YouTube?

I also wonder at the word “slather ” and wonder if it is derived from the word ” slat “? A slat being a small strip of wood or other material. Does a slather slat something?

I’m going out to get a 2 x 4 and experiment on the rest of the family.