May 22, 2011


Think you can just water your plants, put them in the proper light, sprinkle plant food over them occasionally and they'll pretty much take care of themselves?
Think again.
I have a greenhouse full of plants…carnivorous ones…every type there is…and they're all huge!
As I'm sure you can guess, they have rather different nutritional requirements than your run-of-the-mill begonia, since they need meat.  Oh, they'll eat hamburger…grudgingly; but what they really prefer is live bugs, their favorite being flies.  I have so many plants that buying flies (yes, there are places where you can actually purchase these pests) has become cost prohibitive, and catching them on my own just doesn't cut it.  If I nabbed 50 flies in a day, I was lucky.  However, that would only be enough to feed one of my largest plants or three of the smaller ones.  
So I raise my own…flies, I mean.
If there is anything more perverse and absurd than actually raising houseflies, on purpose, I defy anyone to find it.
Fly husbandry isn't easy, either, let me tell you.  I have four 5' x 5' x 5' mesh cages for my colonies.  There are thousands of residents, and the inside of my house sounds like Amelia Earhart just turned up in my living room.  And not only do I have to deal with the unsettling feeling that my house could be hijacked to Cuba at any moment, but there's the odor, too.
"Oh, but flies don't smell bad," you say.
Not the flies.  Their food.  A fly's optimum diet is rotten meat, which it not only eats but lays eggs in, as well.  I started with over 75,000 of the little beasties, so you have some idea of what I'm up against.
"Try air freshener," you say?
You think I haven't?
Air freshener, once sprayed, takes a single sniff of the current "bowels of Hell" aroma pervading the house and heads, screaming, for the nearest open window.  Baking soda bursts into tears.  Lysol puts on a gas mask.  Nothing helps.
And I take quite a bit of abuse for it, too.
My neighbor calls me "Legion."
I keep finding reversed pentagrams drawn on my doorstep.
Any mail addressed to "The Third Horseman of the Apocalypse" is delivered to me.
All because I love my plants!
Well, at this point, they're so large that perhaps "respect" would be a better word.
Or maybe, "fear."
I don't know what they'd do to me if I cut off their fly supply. But I suspect that becoming the plant version of a granola bar might be involved.
I do much more for them than just feed them, though.  I must mist them all, four times a day, because they like it humid.  I must monitor the heater constantly to be sure it is at the exact temperature they prefer.  I must pipe in "gangsta" rap music for them to listen to during the day.  They're hostile plants with bad attitudes, and they seem to feel that this sort of music indicates that someone, somewhere, truly understands them.  I know, because I tried them on country/western and all I heard was vomiting noises…for hours.  They hate opera (especially Wagnerian, for some reason), expressing their displeasure by snapping at me if I get within range.  And I don't even want to discuss what happens when they hear Barry Manilow.  Just mentioning his name sets them off!
Lately, the larger plants have taken to locking the greenhouse door and cranking up ZZ Top at three o'clock every morning.  My neighbors don't even complain anymore.  The first time they did, I told them that there was nothing I could do about it…that my carnivorous plants were behind it all and had locked me out of the greenhouse.
Even the police don't come around anymore.
I've also noticed recently that I haven't been receiving the invitations to neighborhood parties that I used to.  The babysitting that I was formerly in such demand for seems to have inexplicably dried up, too.  I guess that means that people are spending more time at home with their families, and that’s a good thing.
Well, I'd like to continue this, but I have to get back to the greenhouse, now.
It's time for their bedtime story.

May 8, 2011


Have you ever gone to the doctor just because you didn't feel quite right, but weren't sure exactly what was wrong with you?

Prepare yourself.  A problem that would have been cured in your grandmother's day by a strong dose of tonic will now cost you in the neighborhood of three months' salary, the antique clock in your dining room, and all the fillings in your teeth.

There is no such thing as a GP anymore.   The General Practitioner has been reduced to bones in the La Brea tar pits, along with the rest of the dinosaurs.

"I'm feeling weak and tired," I told a Doctor of Internal Medicine.

He put his hand on my wallet and told me to cough (Henny Youngman wasn't kidding!), after which he recommended that I see a heart specialist.

"That's it?" I cried.  "No blood work?  No EKG?  No stress test?  Just 'go to a heat specialist'?"

"Yes," he replied, while counting out my life savings.

So I went to a "heart man,' as he's known in the biz.

He presented me with a bill before he even examined me, then said, "You have six months to live."

I looked at the bill.  I'd never seen so many zeroes in one place before in my life.  "I can't pay this!"

"OK, then I'll give you another six months." (Did Henny Youngman go to medical school?)
"Oh, and I'm sending you to a respiratory specialist," he said.

When I showed up there, the respiratory specialist sent his secretary out to give me my bill in the parking lot!  On it was scrawled the name of a neurologist and the time of my appointment.

The neurologist's office called me and gave me my bill total over the phone.  I was then told to report to the ICU.

At the hospital, still not knowing what was wrong with me, I was placed inside an oxygen tent and put on suicide watch.  When the doctor finally came in, he looked just like Henny Youngman.

I took one look at him and said, "Take my life...please."

May 1, 2011


There is no worse psychological trauma a female can endure than swimsuit shopping prior to going on a spring cruise.  After winter, we've all put on a few pounds and nothing reminds us more of that than trying on a bathing suit.  And the styles we have to choose from!  Take it from me, you'll get more coverage if you just wear the money.

I made the mistake of slipping (after greasing my entire body with bear fat) into some of this season's newest designs, all of which are made specifically for twenty-year-olds with perfect bodies.

The first suit I managed to get into (after 20 minutes of trying...and it was MY size) immediately cut off the circulation to all my vital organs.  The dressing room attendant found me on the floor, blue and gasping.  The paramedics had to have a surgeon on the phone to talk them through getting me out of the thing!  But did I take the hint and go home?

Oh, no.  Not me.

I tried on another one.

It was called "Palm Tree," I think because if you take one look at yourself in it, you'll want to hang yourself from the nearest one.

Next was the "Chaplin" model.  If you don't feel like a little tramp in this number, then you have no shame whatsoever.

Then there were the suits with push-up bras.  I tried on one of these and it made me look like I was suffering from some sort of weird glandular condition.  I flashed back to that commercial, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" because if I ever fell over in that thing, the floor would be my home.

Conversely, there are suits that have built-in "bottom shapers."  I'd be afraid to swim in one of those for fear I'd be molested by any number of large seagoing mammals.  And the manatee look wasn't quite the image I was going for, anyway.

I finally gave up on the two-piece suits and switched to one piece.

These were no better.

The first one I tried had so many straps that went in such a multitude of directions that it would have made a better macrame plant holder than a piece of apparel.  Who designs these things?  A dominatrix with a grudge?

At last, I'd had enough.

When the clerk came to check on my progress, I reached out, grabbed her by the throat, and yanked her into my dressing room.

"Arrrrgh," she remarked pleasantly.

"OK, listen up and listen good," I growled in my best Edward G. Robinson. "I'm going to hold you hostage here until I get a bathing suit that fits me, see?  I want a suit that hugs my body, not bitch slaps it senseless, see?  I want contours, not contortion, you mug!  I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I BELONG AT A RESORT, NOT AT A CONDEMNED BUILDING!"

"Arrrrrrgh!" she replied.  I released my choke hold.

"Well, we do have suits in plus siz.....ARRRRRRGH!"

"Wrong answer!" I shrieked, renewing my grip.  "I am a size EIGHT, not eighteen!"

In the meantime, the department manager had arrived to extricate his clerk from my clutches and the dressing room--in that order.

"Ma'am?  Why don't you put down the clerk and we'll give you what you want?"  So now I had plus sizes and a manager cum hostage negotiator.  Apparently, while I wasn't looking, I had become both John Dillinger AND the Hindenburg!

Oh, yeah.  This was gonna be a good day.

After the clerk recovered enough to demand, and get, an immediate transfer to another department and the manager located a comfortable suit in my size (from a dusty box labeled, "Retro Suits--1960) I moved on to the shoe department to find a pair of nice looking sandals.

Now understand that I have rather unusual feet, so shoe shopping is not much better than bathing suit shopping.  My shoe size is 8 AAAA.  My feet are so narrow that I can pick locks and butter toast with them and they are always the headache of the day to the salesperson unlucky enough to draw my custom.

But this salesperson was the unluckiest--it was the clerk from the swimsuit department.  She took one look at me advancing on her and, grabbing the two handiest shoes, formed a protective cross and held it before her.  I think she may have thrown some holy water in my general direction, too, before legging it out of there.

Oh, well, I can always go barefoot.

My shopping list, far from satisfied, included hats, lounge wear, formal wear, lingerie, and casual wear, so I made my way to the appropriate departments.

From the way the salespeople reacted, I surmised that the swimsuit clerk had paid each a warning visit prior to my arrival.  They were all decidedly edgy and either pretended not to notice me or had urgent business elsewhere.  I sighed, tore my list to confetti, then moved on to a department I hadn't planned to visit.

And now, here I am, enjoying the sun and the Mediterranean-blue water, a drink within easy reach.

How did I get here?

The refund I got on my cruise ticket paid for the above ground pool I ordered from the Outdoor department on my fateful shopping trip.  I also bought a little ocean liner toy boat to float at the opposite end.  With a little imagination (and if you squint), it looks like a cruise ship anchored off shore.

If I've learned anything it's that, though a strong constitution is required to deal with sea travel, it is nothing compared to the constitution needed for the pre-cruise shopping trip!