About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

At the Equinox - Is it Just Me or Have a Lot of Bloggers Drifted Off With Spring Fever?

I was reminded this week of something I forget from year to year. In certain seasons in Las Vegas, some of the houseplants must be watered almost every day due to heat and sun. The current cat population is less intrigued by plants than some I've shared life with, so my store of plants has become pretty impressive, with only the very occasional sound of surreptitious chomping in the night. I wonder why I've never had a chomping cat become ill. They are supposed to be creatures very delicate when exposed to all sorts of flora. Mine gack up premium cat food on the floor while retaining the green leafies with which to fill the cat box. Things that make you go "hmmmmmmm" . .

There are some things I don't want to do. Like run the vacuum cleaner and shop for groceries and the list goes on. I don't mind wet chores like do the laundry, clean the bathroom, wash the dishes. But I don't want to make the acquaintance of dusting cloths and Dustbusters, anything involving Pledge or moving little doodads around on all the furniture. And don't show me a push broom. I detest a push broom. I don't have the arm strength for it. I could do it if it could be done with the legs. I don't like to contemplate sweeping the great outdoors. It's too big. All of this can cause terrible conflict for a woman whose father calls her "snotty clean". So, if you get the picture, I finally break down and do what I must. And crab about it a lot.

The arrival of spring has made me want to roast mushrooms and onions and peppers and corn on the grill outdoors and slide into the pool naked in the dark when the neighbors might not be looking from upstairs next door. I want to sit at the cafe table with coffee and a book in the sun, my cat sitting in my lap. When I wake in the morning, I want to look through the French doors with their glass like crystal. A quick inspection of the yard confirmed that I wouldn't seat my rear on the outdoor chairs in their current condition, feeling reluctant to even put my shod feet on the cool deck. The panes in the French doors may be terminal, but I can take them on one at a time and do my best - it was hell for windy across the dark months. The surface of the grill is shiny clean - I was careful last November, the last time I used it. The hired service keeps the pool and spa sparkling. OK, a mixed bag. Get started. Play music. Ply the ever-loving push broom.

The back yard reminds me of Cell Block 419A at the women's prison. Long and narrow, it holds the pool and a modest frame of walking space surrounding it. When I told a friend the unimaginative light block walls were about 15 feet high, he looked so startled I thought, "Well, maybe I'm exaggerating. I'm not so good at that kind of estimation." I've just gone outdoors in the dawn and measured myself like parents who track a child's growth with a mark and the date on a convenient door jamb. That wall is easily twice as tall as I and, on one angle, reaches to the top of the second story. I feel pretty solid about it again - 10-15 feet high. As there are no structures contiguous to any of the walls, the cats cannot escape the yard (just as the women prisoners could not, I suppose). I had to be "worked" about the escape-proof yard for a long time, as I believe that cats can get out of any confinement. However, I finally became a believer. The cats would have to spring 10-15 feet into the air to head for high ground, and I doubt they will. Food, water and an auxiliary litter box are provided. Virginia Woolf and Bogey enjoy the yard during fine weather.

I determined I'd approach my tasks in a linear way, starting in one corner and working my way around the rectangle. "Come on, cats," I called. They joined me, first tiptoeing on the narrow tiled strip separating pool from spa, drinking a little chlorinated water. Soon enough they found places to perch where my frenetic activity wouldn't disturb them. My BFF had sent me some new music and - hey! - it was good. She was right: the one song was very much like our conversational e-mail thread about our individual journeys. I peeled off some layers of clothing, grinning at Virginia Woolf languishing in the sun, eyes scrunched up at half-mast (does she need sunglasses?), shiny black nose sniffing at the air. This wasn't so terrible! I alternated using the hated broom with very conservative squirts from the water hose and even a few blasts of air from the compressor. I'm thorough in most everything I approach, and finally that yard was spotlessly clean, not a cobweb to be found, no leaves blown into crevices. I'd applied SprayWay cleaner to every glass surface (forget Windex, reader!) and finally sat for an iced coffee and a read. When I got up to go inside, there was no telltale powdering of fine desert dust on the rear of my black shorts, a pretty good testament to my efforts.

When I came inside, I was pretty energized, so I started attacking other tasks. I was joined in the bedroom by Virginia Woolf as I put clean, deep green sheets on the bed. I didn't actually look directly at her, but more saw her out of the corner of my eye as she came pussyfooting through the French doors. It's when she jumped up onto the dark green sheets to play the bed-making game that I noticed it. That cat looked as if she'd been dredged in flour, preparatory to immersion in a deep fat fryer for an order of cat crispies. I saw golden eyes, black nose and powdery white cat. And she'd found whatever it was in the yard! WTF? Oh, yeah, I was going to have to wash and dry the sheets again, but I wanted to know what dirty substance lurked in the yard. I paced and inspected, I crawled on the cool deck until my knees were chopped meat. I looked in the precise location where that cat had basked in the sun. Nothing. Have I mentioned there are some things I don't want to do, like dry household tasks or sweeping the great outdoors?

A blushing factoid to tell on myself: I consume true crime stories, mostly about serial murderers. I have a handful of favored authors I follow avidly, my tastes refined through the years I have read such things. My mother perverted me in the 1970s (or maybe early 1980s) with the Ann Rule book about Ted Bundy and I've read countless volumes since then. In bookstores, I slink off to the remote aisles where such books are displayed and then place my selections face down in my arms as I continue to shop. I intersperse these reads with biographies, poetry more recently, and other "good" books. But I continue to feed my need.

Now, I'm a well-known wiener about things violent or bloody. Usually I cannot read the pages describing what the killer did to the girl or the disrespect shown to the body. No, I don't have a secret penchant for the stereotypical 1940s gumshoe - tweed jacket, balloony trousers with the waistband under the armpits, a fedora and his face veiled in cigarette smoke. Sometimes the descriptions of the ballistics or DNA evidence make me yawn. So what's the attraction? I am utterly fascinated by the fact that completely bat-shit people walk around among us disguised as the next door neighbor. I want to know what makes them bat-shit. What happened in their childhoods and what makes them bat-shit part of the time but able to blend in part of the time, and - please - what makes them think particular atrocious acts are sexually gratifying? The other thing that pulls me in just a little (I don't want 85 pages of details, but I do want to know generally) is how detectives solve cases. Because they almost always do - more and more cases, some of them cold for 50 years. Hey, crazy people, don't do the crime! You can't get by with anything.

So I'm reading the latest one, quite a find, twisting and turning with a huge cast of characters, a favorite author outdoing herself. It draws me, in particular, because it features a Pacific Coast lifestyle including sportfishing boats, something I know about. I just spoke of this in my last post. The murderers, in this case, were incredibly stupid, but they were young and pretty and expert at that blending in thing. They killed a married couple by beating them up a little (not fatally), tying and binding them up a little (not fatally), then tying them to the anchor of their boat and tossing them into the deep. A witness said the couple had to have heard the anchor chain running out across the deck, knowing it would finally pull them in. It did. Yes, it was the lighter of the boat's anchors, but that's hardly humane. This scenario has freaked me out. I'm not sleeping well at night for thinking of it. I've been on the ocean in the dark. I've heard the chain run out into the sea, though I wasn't tied to it. I cannot imagine the horror those people must have endured.

Now, since 1-1-11, we have Investigation Discovery. 24 hours a day, it shows televised versions of some stories I know well. Whereas I rarely sit down to watch TV, I do often have it playing for white noise. Sometimes a case I've read about will be featured and I can hear the voice of that interesting detective or of that poor mother or of the brave ordinary citizen who was smart enough to recognize bat-shit when he saw it. This morning I was half-reading from my daily reflections and affirmations books. It was still dark outside and I would read my books with more focus several times during the day. This was my first run-through with the first cup of coffee. I heard the names spoken quietly on TV. My fishing boat story that I'm currently reading! I sprinted and leapt into the recliner, nearly tipping it over. Frightening. Bat-shit. Walking around among us.


  1. Excuse me while I wipe the drippings from my chin. I'd like to thank blogger "Me", purportedly from Provence, France, for the fascinating comment, "Nice post. Good blog." The only thing, Me, is that I recognized your photo as being that of Jeffrey Lebowski, the Dude. Now, I think I smell Spam on the grill.

  2. Hey, dude!

    I haven't had a house plant the whole time I've lived in NZ, whereas my UK house was full of them. What's that all about, eh?

    Bat shit - well, I've seen photographs of suburbs full of near identical houses in Las Vegas! Living somewhere so big yet so all the same would drive me round the bend pretty quickly - for starters, I'd never be able to remember where I lived! I dunno - some people are nuts, some go nuts and some are driven there. And although a little of what you fancy does you good, too many nuts can give you allergies, surely. I think you have to have to first begin with co-ordinates for sanity/the norm before you can plot the territory of nuts...it's all relative - not to mention socially constructed much of the time....

    It is quiet in blogland - I forget it exists sometimes.

  3. I remember reading once about this mass murderer. He shot up a church.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist.

  4. @ Rachel ~ I haven't been able to keep plants in years because of munching cats, so it is a pleasant pleasure now Dudette.

    And I love your nuts analogies. Thank you. It makes bat-shit more friendly and less frightening. And I'm glad for you that you don't have to live in Las Vegas, Rae. It's not a nice place.

    Yes, very quiet blogland. I try to take a little cruise through it every little while to take a break from the serious writing, but there's not a lot going on right now.

    I'm glad you stopped by!

  5. @ Kirk ~ OMG, it took me a minute. I almost missed the pun. I'd have been so embarrassed. I don't like to miss levity, no matter how subtle or not. Thank you, my friend. ;~}

  6. It's been a busy week, Les, and it isn't going to get any less busy in the coming weeks. My blogging may be pretty sporadic-but I still enjoy reading yours, even if there isn't always time to comment! True crimes...ewww. Ranks right up there with horror movies for me. Not my cup of tea.

  7. @ Doozyanner ~ Gotcha re: busy, Dooz! I can't even imagine. But I'm with you. And I get it about the true crime stuff. That's why I hide the books once I've selected them and ask for a plain brown wrapper. ;~}