The Long Days — Repost

Prompt: Pace Oddity
Prompt: Memorize

sb10067777h-001

I get up as late as possible, telling myself I will shower after work instead of before work. Makes logical sense.

I complete my assigned tasks. I’m a professional. The day drags, and I become weary of smiling and listening to the same banter, the same jokes, the same complaints and petty politics.

Once back home, a large drink is in order. I don’t feel creative enough to cook, but defrost something instead. We eat in front of TV, with a bottle of wine.

More wine, more TV, then finally, bed, where I dream I am the master of a herd of wild horses.

On the weekend, I sleep later. It’s physically very hard to drag myself out from under the cool white sheets and plump duvet. I meet friends for late lunch. There are jokes and banter, complaints and petty politics. But the pizza is filling. The glass of wine I drink with lunch makes me drowsy, and I nap, dreaming I am a time traveller.

I wake in time to make dinner. We had planned to go see a movie, but I feel a bit tired, so we have steak and salad at home. I’m not very hungry, but have a few more glasses of wine.

Finally it is time for bed. Finally. The day passes so very slowly, it is almost painful. I feel pricks of hurt, and aches in places there should be no aches. But at last, I can turn out the light, and return to my dreams.

__

For me, this is partly what depression feels like. The day passes agonizingly slowly because there is no joy in it. There is no connection, only numbness. Yet you have to meet and speak to people as if everything is perfectly fine; you have to perform everyday tasks as if they matter. There is only one real and meaningful thought: This will soon be over.

Some depression is triggered by an outside event. Sometimes, it is nothing but an inexplicable shift in your feelings of self and of others. People who are depressed can’t help it.

If you have such feelings, please speak to your doctor. There is relief for depression, whether it is counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

If you recognize depression in a friend or family member, realize that pep talks don’t work. They need actual, professional help, and you can encourage them to seek help by pointing out there is no shame in depression, and that there is effective help available.

If the shadows grow too long, and the day passes so slowly that you are desperate to hurry the night, please call an emergency hot line. You can feel better.

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  • Photo: Getty Images.
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Drifting In and Out

Prompt: Enamored


Hello Wednesday,

And hello Jo! Jo is one of the visitors we hosted this past week, as she and others competed in a Multisport athletic challenge nearby– I invited Jo to visit this site, with all its diverse, dark, bright, and incoherent ramblings, hoping she wouldn’t be too horrified. As I said in an earlier post, I was a bit hesitant and pre-stressed about their stay, but it turned out to be a delightful and rewarding time.

Pre-stress. That is the inane experience of freaking out via unwarranted negative anticipation. Part of the stress is that of living up to expectations, part is dealing with the unknown, part is the feeling disorientation because a stream of visitors can impart the feeling of disconnecting you– however unintentionally– from the safety and comfort of “home”.

I am not enamored of this feeling, but I think it is interesting to consider the things that cause us such unnecessary stress. Or understandable stress:

cartoon sane desire


cartoon medical marijuana


cartoon health coverage


I would like to welcome any new visitors to Fluffy Pool. In the manner of blogs, the most recent posts are always at the top, but you might find that some of my stories rely on earlier entries to make sense. Here you will find quite a large community of characters, most interrelated, and sometimes the stories are challenging unless you’ve read what comes before. Ultimately it doesn’t matter since it’s all for fun and entertainment, and satisfies my personal cravings to write about what is on my mind.

Thank you for reading.

~~FP

My August Long Weekend

Prompt: Organize

beach party crowd

My long weekend starts on Thursday evening, with a mac & cheese dinner for family plus 4-6 guests.

Friday morning: Golf.
Friday: sunning, swimming, boating, sand-castling, beverages. Make 2 salads.
Friday dinner: Bring Your Own Dog (hot dog BBQ) for family plus 20.

Saturday morning: Golf. Make spaghetti sauce for 50. Pick up garlic bread. Make salad. Buy watermelon.
Saturday: sunning, swimming, boating sand-castling, beverages. Set up marquee and tables. Prepare plates, cutlery, napkins and condiments.
Saturday dinner: Pasta for 50 (some years 70-80). Meatball Contest. Musical entertainment. Beverages. Dancing.

Sunday morning: Golf.
Sunday afternoon: Bocce Bitch Tournament. Prizes. Variety of salmon appetizers. Beverages.
Sunday evening: Tacos for 30.

Monday: sunning, swimming, boating, sand-castling, beverages. Strike down marquee.
Monday afternoon: Greek lunch buffet.
Monday evening: leftovers for ? Strike down tables.

Tuesday: Bye bye to all except 3 visiting family. Return rental plates, glasses, cutlery, tables, cloths, and pots.

Wednesday: Sleep. Do laundry, Do more laundry. Try to find lost kitchen utensils. Hose down deck. Avoid weighing oneself.

___

Now, the above is too much work, and as well-organized as it all has become over the years, the number of people who come early and linger late has increased. People have procreated and bring their children to a weekend that meant so much to themselves as children. And so it goes.

How do we scale it back without offending anyone or ruining childhood memories of a fine gathering put together by generous, open-hearted and loving hosts? I enjoy all of the events and dinners, but there are never fewer than 20 or so people here, in and out, over the course of any day. I don’t golf. I personally oversee only the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday dinners, and I have help; friends or family host the others. I organize and provide prizes for the Bocce Bitch Tournament. Most people pitch in to clean up.

We go through scads of toilet  paper. The fridge stops functioning properly. The dog gets neurotic.

But it’s mostly fun. And utterly exhausting. What to do?

All That Kale

Daily Prompt: Puncture

To most people in the UK, if you said “I had a puncture” it would not mean any intrusion of your body, but that you had a flat tire. You don’t have to add the word “tire”. Puncture means flat tire.

When I was very young and my father lent me his powder blue Comet one summer, my girlfriends and I piled in and went for a wild ride in the countryside. Partly showing off, I took a long stretch of highway at top speed and as I slowed to accommodate a curve in the road, I had a puncture.

We were silly teenagers, had no clue how to change a tire, and we had no cellphones then, nor any way to contact my father and rescuer. So we popped the hood (international symbol for car trouble?) and stood around the car, attempting to flag down passing motorists.

Finally a man in his thirties or so stopped, and we fussed and giggled as he changed the tire, in our short cut-offs and crop tops, all legs and new boobs. We were well aware that a gaggle of teenage girls was enough to make a man stop, look, and save the day.

I have an image of this incident in my head: such an incredible, vivid cliché of an encounter. I feel a little ashamed of it now, though I’m not sure why.

And, I realized the flat tire could have happened when I was driving 20 mph over the speed limit, and could have had serious consequences. Everything is a learning experience when you are a teenager.

On to a few of my favourite cartoons!

cartoon now we wait


cartoon masher and potato


cartoon kale for nothing


Kale: I pretended to like it for over a year. But I don’t. Freedom!

Have a wonderful week.

~~FP

Saint of Piss (Repost)

Prompt: Sink or Swim

hurricane-rita-3

The most beautiful deep blue, cloudless sky I have ever seen occurred during one of the worst days of my life. It reminded me that terrible things happen in happy sunshine.

In this case, a monster of a hurricane was headed our way, and in the wake of Katrina only a few weeks before, people decided not to hang around for Rita. Don’t go east, the authorities told us, because people were still evacuating west out of Louisiana. Can you imagine?

We had a friend who lived near Dallas, so that was our destination. Very early, while it was still dark, we set out in the truck with a few belongings; most of the bags were full of food and supplies for our dog, who was comfortably ensconced in his crate. The streets of Houston were entirely empty, the morning clear, and even the entrance to the freeway was completely abandoned, and we felt pretty good about this adventure.

It wasn’t quite clear sailing to Dallas. By the time it was light, traffic was heavy. We drove by boarded up homes, and trucks passed us, rigged so the occupants could retreat with as many as their earthly belongings as possible: besides gas cans, there were chairs, mattresses, and all manner of furniture.

By the time the traffic came to a halt it was close to noon, and the temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme hot weather was part of the storm system, we were told. It would get hotter.

People got out of their vehicles and walked around in the sunshine. Our dog got a nice walk. We moved north, inch by inch.

We talked to local friends and associates by cell phone while we were still in range. We were all keeping tabs on one another— which routes were taken by whom, and what progress was being made. If any.

Rita was relentlessly pushing through the Gulf of Mexico on her way to rip us apart and blow us away, and we were sitting on a paved prison, stuck with thousands of others, running low on water and gasoline. Like most people, we turned our air conditioner off to save fuel. It was 120 degrees out there by now. The route north is flat and treeless and there were no facilities until Spring, a mere 25 miles north of Houston, and still ten miles away, now a seemingly impossible distance.

People did run out of fuel, and we crawled by them. Some of them were crying. The kids were crying. Some of the cars were abandoned. Where did the occupants go? Most of the cars passing by were full to the brim with no room for extra passengers. Where could you walk to, in that heat, with no water?

There was nothing like a police presence, or any government presence. We were, all of us, completely on our own.

Finally, getting low on fuel, we reached Spring, Texas. We were able to pull in to the gas station, like a few others. It was busy. There was no fuel, not at that station or anywhere.

I went inside the little gas station mart to use the bathroom. There was a very long line. The air conditioner was on, which was a relief, but it wasn’t cool because of the constant stream of people in and out, in and out. A woman in front of me in the line was reeling as if she was drunk. She wasn’t drunk, but dehydrated, because she hadn’t been drinking water, because there was nowhere, until now, to pee. She fainted. A lot of people fainted.

After half an hour I got to the front of the line. The toilet was full and unflushable. There was shit and piss everywhere. I did my best, and as I left, warning those in line behind me, a saint appeared with a mop and bucket. It was the cashier, the only employee in the place. She apologized to me for the condition of the bathroom, then went in and, I presumed, cleaned up that horrendous mess so the people in line had a clean place to relieve themselves. She could have left us to it. There was no gain for her in making that one thing bearable for a bunch of strangers. A saint.

We had a decision to make. It had taken us eleven hours to travel the 25 miles to the Spring gas station. It was another 200 miles to Dallas. The day was still blazing hot, bright and sunny, but nightfall was coming. Did we want to get back in the traffic trying to escape north, and risk running out of fuel? Could we spend the night —or longer— at the side of the road? Would we be safe when the hurricane struck? Would we be safe at all?

One of the great ironies of that day was that of the four lanes of the highway to Dallas, two were gloriously clear. No one was driving south to Houston. The two lanes driving north, stinking of wasted fuel, were bumper to bumper.

We decided to go home and weather the storm. We had just enough gas. We got back to Houston, flying down the empty highway, in half an hour.


  • Originally published January 17, 2016
  • Today’s Prompt: Triumph

Attitude Problem

Prompt: None


Dear Wednesday,

One of the earliest mystery stories I ever encountered was a black and white movie I watched on TV with my family, called And Then There Were None. I was enthralled with not just the high drama and bloodless murders, but the sheer suspense and wtf? Who could possibly be the killer? This was based on a novel by Agatha Christie, and should have started me on a long love affair with the mystery genre, but alas, except for a tween series about a group of Swedish teenage mystery-solvers, I didn’t return to reading hard core mysteries until I was in my 20s.

For reasons unknown I started reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series. He was a dilettante, a snob, insufferably posh and upper class, sported a monocle, and was aided by his loyal manservant and by his lady friend, Harriet Vane. They were not terribly written, but what an odd choice for a first dive into the world of detectives. I stuck with the British-style stories because I favoured the manners and drawing room wit and yes, the lack of gory bloody sadistic murders, to the American-style hard-boiled detective, sexy blondes, and brutal crime scenes.

Probably my favourite American murder mystery to date is Scott Turow’s first novel, Presumed Innocent. It seemed everyone was reading it one summer, my friends and I  sharing our own theories about the plot and the guilty party— and we were all wrong!

I’ve enjoyed mostly British authors (except, funnily enough, Agatha Christie) like Josephine Tey, Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, Ngaio Marsh, and Ian Rankin; and lean towards political/spy mystery thrillers, especially by John Le Carré. Tinker Sailor Soldier Spy is an absolute classic!

One of the best things about mystery novelists? They generally write a series of books, so you know when one adventure ends, there is another delicious fat book awaiting.

As it is Wednesday, I’m including a selection of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is only tenuously related to today’s word prompt, “None”:

cartoon feminine qualities


cartoon attitude problem


cartoon goldfish


Have a happy and mysterious week!~~FP

Miss Monroe Broke Her Toe*

Prompt: Jolt

electical

The illustration accompanying today’s prompt (“jolt”) prompted the above image which, in case you can’t see it, is a gif animation of power towers playing with jump ropes.

I wonder if kids play “skip” any more, or double dutch, or marbles, or hopscotch. Does anyone out there, parent or teacher, have an observation about this? As a child, playtime before school and at recess and lunch revolved around active games. Some of the skipping and double dutch games were detailed and challenging. Where I grew up all the kids had lacrosse balls too: they had multiple uses in games, especially for creative young children. Lacrosse balls are about the size of an orange, very hard with a good bounce.

An interesting thing about skip and marbles, for example, was that anyone at all could play. Get in line for your shot at facing the jump rope. If you didn’t make it, you took your turn looping the the rope for the others to skip. Got some marbles? Set up shop in the playground, or challenge another marble collector.

They were valuable lessons in cooperation, competition, and fair play. I love kids and don’t want to yell at them to get off my lawn, but what comparable activities do they now engage in at school and at play?


*Old skipping song:

Miss Monroe [referencing Marilyn Monroe, though as kids we didn’t realize that]
Broke her toe
Riding on a buffalo
The buffalo died
Miss Monroe cried
And that was the end of the buffalo ride.