Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You Can't Go Home Again

That's an old saying to warn people that things change in your absence. Attending my ten year high school reunion provided a lot of good examples. No one stayed 18 years old until I saw them again; they aged just as I did.

Another concept is that, even as an adult, some people revert to childlike roles when they visit their parents. I'll confess that I was like that, although, being a dutiful son, that shouldn't be surprising. It's different now. I'm still a dutiful son, but I'm far more a caretaker and far less cared for than I used to be. I hope I don't tire you out with frequent references to my dad's death, but this post is about that again.

When my dad's older brother died, my father became the patriarch of our family. He was the next ranking male figure for my cousin and second cousin (the sole men in a house of women). Now that my father is gone, the title passes to my other uncle, my dad's younger brother. Whenever he dies, I don't think the mantle will be passed again; we cousins are too separated.

However, I have found a fur cape of familial responsibility on my shoulders. You know how they used to show it in movies about medieval royalty: too warm and heavy and itchy, but it's a symbol of the position, so you'd better get used to it. Due to reasons "I would prefer not to" get into (Thank you, Bartleby), I, the youngest son, am now the patriarch. (Being 200+ miles from my mother, rather than 2,000+ miles is a contributing factor, too.)

I invited my mom to stay with me this week. I thought it would be good to get her out of the house. She got up this morning, claiming she had to go to the bathroom, but, really, who can sleep through an alarm clock at 4:30 a.m., an electric razor, and steel-toed work boots clomping on wooden floors? Actually, I think she misses all the years of kissing my dad goodbye as he left for work. It wasn't quite a Blondie moment as she bade me goodbye, but it felt really weird to realize that it's my turn to go off to work and leave her at home.

I hope she went back to bed.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ice, Ice, Maybe

This is one of those things that make me think I have a screw loose. I think the ice in New Mexico tastes like onions.

I first noticed this at my parents' house in Albuquerque. I dismissed it, though, as thinking maybe the baking soda in the freezer had worn out. Then, I noticed the same taste at their neighbor's house. I suppose that could be because the water in their neighborhood comes from a particular city well. It's not isolated to ABQ, though. My ice in Las Cruces has the same flavor.

I never noticed a funky taste from New Jersey ice. Is there something different about NM's water? I don't notice any flavor in the water itself. Does freezing bring out a particular volatile compound? Ice in restaurant beverages doesn't taste bad. Do they use water filters? Do ice machines handle water differently? Do automatic ice makers in home refrigerators add the taste?

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Last week, I harvested my first tomato of the season. Here it is, the middle of May, the earliest recommended planting time where I grew up in southern New Jersey, and I'm already harvesting in southern New Mexico.

Every time that I accidentally drop a tomato as I'm washing it, and it rolls to the sink drain, I'm reminded of the farce horror movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. I haven't seen it in ages. I need to find out if it's available for rental. When's the last time you saw someone vanquish a giant tomato with earmuffs by holding up sheet music in front of it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Long Time No See

As some of you know, I have been having computer problems, which made it difficult to check e-mail and post to the blog. Well, I still have the computer problems, but I'm less reluctant to use my office computer for these personal tasks. After all, the workday doesn't officially begin until 6:00, so I'm officially here on my own time, which means I should be able to do my personal tasks. Then, when you consider that I end up doing work tasks for other early birds during "my time", I should be allowed to make up for it by completing my interrupted personal tasks during the work day, no?

While on that subject, I have finally gone back to post replies to some of the comments left on earlier posts. If you had left a comment (Robomarkov & Betty, you know who you are), please check these posts to see if I replied to you this morning.

"Death of the Front Porch" (3/15/07)
"Clean vs. Dirty" (3/26/07)
"A Weighty Issue" (3/30/07)
"Trust Me. I'm a Professional" (4/17/07)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's in a Name?

Last week, my condo's name appeared on the old sign in front of our property and on a short wall at the end of our parking lot. You know that I love to nitpick, so I'll point out that I remember we voted on the name in the January 2006 annual meeting, and we also agreed that the condo president would show us the design he chose before actually spending the money on the sign. Now it's over a year later, and something finally was done, but.... 1) What took so long? 2) What happened to showing the rest of us the design before spending money? 3) Why was the wall included? 4) This sounds suspiciously like the new paint job that we didn't have any input on.

Speaking of which, the name for our condo has orange-ish capital letters and black lower case letters. On the Creamsicle colored wall, the capitals are almost lost, like those eye tests at the optometrist, which measure your ability to pick out letters or numbers from backgrounds of a similar color. In that case, our condo name appears to be "asitas ncantadas".

One final gripe: I don't know how much they (we?) paid someone to put this on the wall, but it certainly didn't get us much. It appears to have been drawn on with a magic marker. I can see blotches of Creamsicle through the black letters. Would it help if I went out a bought my own marker to put on a second application?

Sigh. If I didn't have such a kick-ass place to live, I'd take the time to get upset about this. At least I don't have to see this stuff from inside my condo.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Measuring the Success of a Party

Have you ever wondered, "What if I threw a party and no one came?" If you know the answer to that, you're a member of my family.

It all started when I was little, and my mother hosted a gathering for people from our church. I must have stood by the living room window for half an hour, saying, "Here comes a car. Nope, it went on by. Here comes another. Hey, it's slowing down! Nope, it went on by." Of all people, you'd think church members would be considerate enough either to show up or to extend their regrets.

I was never very social, but I thought that turning 18 and graduating high school within a fortnight was momentous, so I wanted a party. I invited 52 fellow students, mostly from the music department. I remember that number distinctly because it's the same as a deck of cards without the jokers. Only 13 came (not sure if they were hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds, or a mixture).

When my brother bought his place, he threw an open house. Appropriately enough, he invited the same number of friends as I did -- and had the same number of guests.

After I bought my condo, I, too, threw a housewarming. Again, only a quarter of my invitees arrived. By this time, I thought my family was cursed. Never could we host a successful party.

Last Halloween, my paradigm changed. (That theme seems to surface in this blog every so often.) Sure, only a quarter (as usual) of my guest list showed up, but they were having a good time. They were chatting, eating, drinking, moving around.... Heck, even I was moving around and mixing with the guests! After everyone went home, and I was sitting on the sofa, trying to catch my breath, I finally realized that it's not the number of guests (nor the percentage) that makes a party successful, it's what goes on during the event and if everyone has a good time.

Sounds nice, doesn't it? Too bad no one showed up for the party I hosted last night....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scaramouche, Scaramouche, Will You Do the Fandango?

My work schedule requires me to go to bed at an early hour. ("Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy but socially dead." -- Yakko Warner) Last Friday night, I thought that the soundtrack of my dream was too loud, so I rolled over to change my dream. The music didn't stop. Plus, it was Middle Eastern or Indian-sounding music, not the type usually in my dreams. "Who on earth is playing their music this loudly in the middle of the night?" I wondered. Then I looked at the clock. It wasn't even 11 p.m.! (I used to think eleven o'clock was a decent hour. Now I think it's the middle of the night.)

I got dressed, went downstairs, and knocked on my neighbor's door. She didn't open the door, just yelled through it. Actually, she turned down the music to even hear me, then yelled through it. "Oh, do you have to work in the morning?" she asked, as if sleep only matters on work days. (The answer was yes, I did have to work Saturday morning.)

I thought it peculiar that she didn't open the door and speak face-to-face. I pondered that she was in a state of undress. I couldn't tell anything from her silhouette. Was she exuberantly dancing? Was she "entertaining" a guest? And does she really need to turn the music up that much to do so? The world may never know.