Blog Archive

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


 I went into the bathroom today to do something, probably the usual things that you would do in the bathroom, and as I was looking in the mirror I became aware of my eyebrows. If I could have gotten a closeup picture of just my eyebrows I would have. They're so big that I had to grow a mustache just to distract people. I notice that I seem to squint a lot, like I'm looking into the sun. Of course there isn't much sun here normally to look at, so obviously that's not the problem. The reason I seem to squint is that my eyebrows have a tendency to poke me in the eyes- the very thing they're supposed to be protecting! What gives? Periodically I trim them, but it doesn't really seem to help, I think it just causes them to grow at odd angles, mainly all in a downward direction towards my eyeballs. My dad had bushy eyebrows. They were pretty intimidating. It's probably a good thing that men have pretty bushy ones. It would be hard to be a person in authority if you had to paint your eyebrows on as is the case with some ladies I know. Who would take a judge seriously if he was sitting on the bench in a gown and eyebrows that were the result of Maybellene? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are plenty of female judges that can be pretty intimidating. Lord knows I've met some gals who I wouldn't want to cross, and they don't sit on the bench. Anyway, as I was saying, my dad's were pretty bushy. He was a contractor and used to come home after a day at work, running the saw or planer or some other wood working tool and I'm fairly sure each eyebrow probably held a good half pound of sawdust. I should dip mine in some sawdust so that it looks like I've been working hard. It would be my luck that someone would see that and want me to build them a set of cabinets or some such thing, then what would I do? The jig would be up and I'd half to admit that I came by my rugged appearance falsely. Some years ago, when I worked at the school, there was a young lady who seemed to be in constant need of attention. You never knew what she would do next so we were always on guard around her. One day she came waltzing down the hallway and I noticed something didn't look right, but what was it? I was staring at her face when one of the more observant students yelled, " Amanda shaved her eyebrows!"  That's what it was! Holy smokes! I don't recommend doing that, no matter how starved for attention you are. It looks a little odd to put it mildly. I don't know if they itch when they grow back in or not. Fortunately it's not a fad that ever caught on that I know of. Obviously shaving my brows isn't an option; however, perhaps I could create some special barrettes just to hold them back. I could be stylish and still keep those pesky hairs from poking me. Maybe I could design special ones that look like sawdust so that you wouldn't really have to dip your face in the dust pile, you just clip on a pair. Guess I better get to work. They probably won't be ready in time for Christmas this year, but keep your eyes pealed next year. No doubt they'll be in all the high end catalogues.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

For the love of music

   There is something about music that touches all of us-at least everyone who can hear. I wonder if songs play in the minds of the deaf but they don't know how to express the melody. I believe Beethoven was deaf, but I'm not sure if he was born that way or if it came upon him later on in life. I guess I should research that. Whether you're riding in an elevator and having Musak piped in or shopping in your favorite department store during the Christmas season and listening to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the four hundredth time, we're surrounded by music. If I may, I would like to give a word of advice to retailers all over the country. Stop trying to sell Christmas before Halloween is even here. Remember that your customers have already heard the country rendition, the rap rendition, the new age rendition and the original rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing more times than they care to ever hear again in their natural lives, long before they ever step foot in your store.If you want to play music during the holidays, try playing something that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. You might find your sales exploding.  We're all well versed in knowing that Santa Claus is Coming to Town, someone has Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and Bing Crosby is dreaming of a White Christmas. By December 25th, Santa runs the risk of being shot out of the air by angry duck hunters, the chestnuts are burned to crispy carbon marbles and hopefully Bing, who has been dead for a number of years, isn't residing where snow would bring some small relief from the eternal fires. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.  So, as you can see, music has the ability to be a blessing or a curse. The folks in Hollywood discovered some years ago that it could be used to produce the desired effects during a movie. If the hero of the ninety minute movie dies, the sad music cues and you can see folks wiping their eyes. When the scene is one of danger or suspense the scary music builds to a crescendo and the hair on your neck starts to stand on end before the final act of terror ever occurs. I don't think having Enya play in the back round would have the desired affect in, say, the scene from jaws right before the shark attacks. How often have you heard a melody and your mind goes back to a pleasant time in your life when that particular song was playing? We want to recapture whatever the good feeling was and somehow music helps us do that. The good folks at Apple computers know this and have done quite a booming business making countless downloads available of almost every song imaginable. Jan bought me an I pod last year for Christmas and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can download stuff that I listened to when I was a teen, like the Moody Blues, theme songs from favorite movies like The English Patient and even stuff from a skit from Saturday Night Live when Michael Bolton was a guest and portrayed himself as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I have to admit, I even loved the song from the Geico commercial when the little gecko was down in Texas dancing on top of the bar. I liked it so much that I tracked it down and found out it was called Central Daylight Time by a group named The Wrinkle Neck Mules. I wasn't alone in my search for that song. There were a lot of folks who inquired about it. Frankly, I think if the folks who produce the commercials think they have a winner, they need to put the name of the artist at the bottom of the screen so that interested customers don't have to work so hard to track them down. Do you remember the commercial with the dog who had a bone who couldn't rest for fear that something would happen to it until he ended up insuring it with Travelers Insurance and was able to find peace with it buried in his back yard? The song, Trouble was playing during the whole commercial. The singer was Ray Lamontaigne and I don't doubt that his popularity soared after that commercial debuted. I know I ended up with a couple of his CD's. Obviously the executives at the insurance companies know good music when they hear it. Music most certainly affects how we drive. No doubt if you're on a long stretch of empty highway you could probably get away with some loud, head banging music. For some reason the foot hovering over the gas pedal automatically gets heavier. However, if you're stuck in traffic in someplace like L. A. it's probably not a good idea. I also am not a big fan of really bouncy music when I'm in the car and have to pee and the closest bathroom is miles away. Even with the radio off at such a time, the loud suspense music in my head starts to rise and the apprehension builds- will he make it? Is there a rest stop around the corner? Oh, I can't bear to look.  At times like that a little Bach might be appreciated. Music to calm the savage beast or the savage bladder. One thing is certain, as the holiday season approaches, you won't hear any rendition of Up on the Rooftop, Click Click Click, down through the chimney comes Ol' St. Nick playing on my car radio.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oops I did it again!

      I'd like to borrow a line from Brittany Spears and say "Oops I did it again." Now,I don't know what Brittany did again. For awhile there she was doing some pretty bizarre things, but I don't think the song is about any of those; of course I could be wrong. The thing I did again, so stupidly I might add, is I managed to cook the Di Giorno pizza without first removing the cardboard. Twice! How can anyone  cook the cardboard with the pizza twice?Somehow I managed to set the timer for the required amount of time for  a soft crust, and I did turn on the oven and took the plastic off. I don't know why I didn't notice the cardboard. I just laid it right on top of the stone wear pizza plate and shoved that puppy in the oven and slammed the door shut. I was actually feeling pretty proud of myself. It was Saturday evening and we were hosting our friends, the Pinards, for a friendly game of rummy. The game usually starts at 7:00 and Jan doesn't get off work until 5:30, so in order to avoid the last minute rushing around of trying to cook, and eat and clean up before they arrived, I thought I would expedite things. Just trying to be helpful. That's my motto. Set my dad's paint brush on fire when he went to get more gas to clean it? Just trying to be helpful Dad- no need to thank me. Rear back with a claw hammer and smack Fred O'Dowd in the head with the claw while tearing apart a pallet board? Hey Fred, just trying to be helpful. Gotta watch where you stand buddy. Can't be too careful ya know. Put a big scrape in my folks 67 Buick Le sabre at the hospital parking lot? Just trying to be helpful. I was. I truly was. Jan had a  medical emergency and she needed to get to the hospital fast. I was only sixteen and had just gotten my driver's license a few months before. My mom insisted that I drive her so of course I did. Every thing went well as far as my driving, at least at first. I pulled in to the parking lot next to a salmon colored Ford or Oldsmobile or something, I don't remember. Anyway, I was pretty flustered by the experience and worried about her and when I pulled out I cut the wheel a little too sharp and scraped the car next to me. It didn't have any damage at all that I could see, but our car was left with a major scrape. I couldn't very well say 'Oops I did  it again' because it never happened before. There's a first time for everything I guess.  I certainly couldn't run the risk of not being able to drive the car again, so I did the only thing cowardly buffoons normally do. I parked the damned car in front of the house and hoped dad wouldn't see the damage. Actually he didn't for about three days. In the interim, my older brother had borrowed the car to go to Columbus. In an uncommon stroke of good luck, something that even then I wasn't accustomed to, Dad didn't notice the scrape until after my brother had returned the car. Of course Dad naturally assumed that my brother had done the damage, which of course  he denied. In that instance I wasn't trying to be helpful to anyone but myself. Anyway, back to the pizza. If you look closely, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will be able to plainly see that the edge of the pizza clearly covers the cardboard, thus making it almost impossible to ascertain it's presence to anyone but superman or some other super hero with x-ray vision. I really think that frozen pizza makers all over the world should put a warning on the plastic covering the pizza reminding their patrons to remove the cardboard before cooking. If they refuse to do that, then at the very least I think that they should offer the pizza consuming public special glasses with step by step instructions on the lenses. Pizza goggles if you will. No doubt such a fine gesture would endear their customers to them and would result in a blossoming bottom line. I can promise you one thing- if I'd been wearing a pair of pizza goggles, I sure wouldn't be writing this post.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Foggy Morning

      There is something about the fog that appeals to writers- artists- philosophers. I'm not sure what it is. For certain it changes the scene before you. If it's not too thick, as is the case in the above pictures, it can add a bit of mystique to the ordinary. I see the Presbyterian church almost every day. There's nothing outstanding about it that I can see. Perhaps because I'm so familiar with it I don't really pay too much attention when I pass by, but throw in some fog and all of a sudden I see it in a whole new light. The bell in the cupola stands out as well as the cross and trees beside the church. The same with the giant Spruce in the middle picture. It's an impressive tree in any kind of weather, but in the fog it fairly well shouts. "I alone am left of the old growth forest that once grew in the center of town. From my towering heights bald eagles see far out into the bay. On my broad branches the raven and the crow perch, seeking shelter from the storm." Look at the reflection of the sun upon the water; still diffused but probably much more to scale than what we see in the sky. As the day wears on and the weather warms a little or the wind comes up the fog will dissipate, but at least I was able to capture the images before they disappear like an early morning dream. As I've mentioned in previous posts, when I'm on the water I hate to see the fog. Perhaps for the same reason that I love it on the land- nothing looks the same. I can pass by a point or landmark a hundred times but if the fog sets in I feel almost lost. Even with a good radar and GPS it's not the same as being able to look out the window and know where you are. I need that certainty of visual confirmation, and the fog robs me of that. It has seldom been my friend out fishing. One July 4th I was on the outside coast fishing off of Surge Bay for king salmon when the fog set in. I was fishing without a crew hand and was surrounded by boats. I watched in desperation as numerous kings struck my gear, stretching the springs on the tattletales, but I was unable to leave the cabin to go pull the gear because I didn't want to run into anyone; or be run into for that matter. By the time the fog lifted the bite was off.What a surprise!  Another time I was almost cut in two by a huge, white cruise ship right in front of Cannery Point. If I hadn't seen it bearing down on me on the radar and thrown the boat into reverse, the Bonnie J would have been reduced to splinters and my lifeless body would have become a tourist attraction. "Oh look Harold, those seagulls are really going to town on that garbage in the water. I thought there was a law against throwing your trash overboard." It's no picnic to be driving a car in either. I recall one time in Ohio driving to work with my head stuck out the window of my "62" VW Bug. That was a real trip. I probably should have had my head examined for owning a "62" Bug to begin with. I must have had fog on the brain when I bought it. I was on a first name basis with the repair shop manager at the dealership. Oh well. Speaking of driving in the fog, I found a quote by well known author
E. L. Doctorow. I like that name, Doctorow. If he was a physician he would be Dr. Doctorow. E. L. is kind of neat too. Anyway, the quote, by E.L. Doctorow.  "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way." Thanks for the insight E.L. I'll keep that in mind.

Monday, November 4, 2013

This Is a Man's World

     I imagine that those looking at this particular post are probably wondering-"what the heck is Botts showing me a picture of a stinking mop for?" Well, I'll tell you why. I have a contract to clean a government building here in town, which of course involves mopping. I needed a mop awhile back when the one I had finally started showing signs of old age. The strings were falling out, I couldn't tighten the hardware any more so the head started flopping back and forth and the handle was developing splinters. My wife happened to be going to Juneau so she picked  me up a new one. Now, I don't mean to be ungrateful. As you know, beggars can't be choosers. That being said, let me just mention that buying a mop is like buying underwear- one size doesn't fit all. It would be nice if it did- then as you got fatter, or in the unlikely event that you lost weight, you wouldn't have to go through your underwear drawer  and start tossing your boxers and briefs in the trash. It seems like a terrible waste, but people kind of balk at the idea of receiving hand-me-down clothes that have been in intimate contact with your private parts. Go figure. Anyway, I was well pleased when I first saw the mop, thinking it would fit the bill. For reasons unknown though, the manufacturer sewed the bottom of the strings. I guess it must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but in my opinion it wasn't. When I was mopping the stick would sway in my hands  like we were dancing. Maybe the handle was made from a rubber tree, I don't know.The mop seemed kind of wimpy to me, and it didn't get into the corners like I felt it should. If I'm going to clean something I don't want it to look just as bad when I'm finished as it did when I started. That being said, when we returned from our trip we had a day's layover in Juneau so I stopped in to Home Depot to pick up some cleaning supplies; you know, Mr. Clean and some window spray. I was passing by the stick goods when I noticed the mop in the picture. Now that was a man's mop- good solid wooden stick, steel hardware and enough strings to make a wig for Dolly Parton. The thing weighed about six pounds before it ever saw a drop of water.  I should have considered that before I bought it, but I didn't. As per usual, I found out after the fact that I should have given the matter a little more consideration. When I first broke it in, I filled the mop bucket and inserted Big Bob.It was so hefty I felt like it needed a manly name. As soon as I lifted it to the wringer, half the water in the bucket was gone. Thunderation! This was one thirsty mop! I somehow managed to shove the whole mop head into the wringer and pushed down on the handle with all my might hoping to remove some of the three gallons of water that had been sucked up. When I tried to lift the handle it didn't want to release and I had to practically stand on the bucket to keep it from tipping while I wrestled with the wringer. When I finally got it loose and started mopping I was amazed at the swath that it covered. With a few passes I managed to mop  half the room. It was like I had a sheet of plywood on the end of the handle. I have to say though that it was quite a workout. To get some idea of what it was like, strap a ten pound bag of potatoes to a five foot dowel and swing it back and forth across the floor. By the time I finished I was sweating a river and had a sore back and bulging biceps, to say nothing of the bulge in my gut that I think was a hernia from trying to lift that mop from the bucket. While I was working I kept hearing that classic song by James Brown- This is a Man's World.  One thing is for certain, this is a man's mop. I just hope I'm man enough to keep swinging it.