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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Domestic Life: The Diary

Some days are just destined to be irksome.

Today is such a day. I know this, even though it has four hours and fifty-one minutes left in it.

I woke up, as I always have on Saturdays, a little before six.  Fifty-plus years ago, that meant I could get up, make a big bowl of Special-K, and watch Sunrise Theater, which showed all the cheesiest sci-fi visions of Samuel Z. Arkoff’s American International Pictures, all by myself. Even five year olds need their quiet time, as long as it doesn’t involve a mom-imposed nap (when I read Tim McLaurin’s memoir, Keeper of the Moon, in 1991, I discovered he was doing the same thing, 25 miles away in East Fayetteville).

Today, “Only A Game” was on the radio when I woke. It deserves a better time slot, but I imagine WFAE would argue a sports show on NPR, dad or night, ought not to be gainsaid. I tried listening but the house was already heating up for the morning shift, and I dozed off, catching a bit of Scott Simon’s commentary before waking, again, at 9.20, all confused.

“Charlotte Talks” was on, and I couldn’t possibly have slept backwards to Friday morning when it runs.

I didn’t even bother trying, and the next thing I knew it was “Car Talk”. 39 years of the braying Magliozzi Brothers always wakes me right up.


I got some brekkers and opened the Chromebook. Donald Trump says the Muslim soldier’s father who spoke at the Democratic convention was a stooge and deliberately silenced his wife, who stood next to him during his speech. I wanted to ask where Melania Trump has been the last ten days, and if her website was kidnapped alongside her.


The morning ground on slowly. The first three cars of the day parked in front of my house to consult the auguries via their cell phones. The first car of the day to pass my house, stop, then back up several blocks at high speed, managed not to kill anyone or run into my mailbox like the one on Wednesday.


I checked the news over my lunch. Two vile little men, Tim Moore and Phil Berger, reacted to the federal court of appeals’ smacking down the fourth vote-rigging law of 2015 by declaring the court is in a conspiracy with Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor, to make voter fraud by Negroes legal again, and so win the November elections.

Tim Moore is House Speaker, and Phil Berger is the state senate president. Tim Moore is somewhere between Mortimer Snerd to Berger’s Bergen, and Teller to Phil’s Penn.

The Christian Action League of North Carolina put up the news as revelation. God is a Republican, and Phil Berger is the bearer of His revealed word. Later, CAL posted word that the Democratic Party Platform is Evil and the Republican Platform is Good. They also did a little schadenfreude dance over a South Carolina megachurch pastor who has gone into rehab.

You don’t read much about being a good Christian from the Christian Action League.

Franklin Graham posted some dumb stuff, too, but it has gone right out of mind.


I had a long chat with the producer of the podcast on books I cohost on Saturday afternoons.  We used Facebook video chat, which is a cool app and is almost like having actual company.


The power went out at 11.30. Not a cloud in the sky. After a bit, it returned, looking sheepish and offering no explanations.


We started the preshow prep at 2.28 instead of the scheduled 2.15. Technical problems with the guest’s hookup- which always strike when we don’t begin leave time to find and fix that stuff- meant we didn’t start until almost 2.40, but, after that, the show went well, and we gave good value to all six viewers.

This was my third week as a co-host, and I am starting to find my footing among the founders who have a 47-week head start on me.  

I enjoy the show. I get to pretend competence in my field, work my way through my bow ties, and have some more almost-real interactions with people. A lot of rare book dealers are real shits, particularly when they have the initials of their medieval book guilds after their names.

Rare Book Cafe has a knack for finding the ones who actually want to share their knowledge rather than wield it as a cudgel to beat back the unwashed.


As the show ended I watched some plastic sagebrush meander through my front yard. One of my neighbors- “Beeyul”, his wife calls him in her outdoor voice- has been replacing appliances in his home. That, taken with other circumstantial evidence, leads me to believe Beeyul and Linda intend selling.

This is devoutly to be wished. The man is a waddler who finds breaking down boxes and putting them in his recycling bin unendurably taxing. It involves bending at the waist.

So he piles them next to the recycling bin. He missed recycling pickup Thursday, but no worries. He knows summer’s zephyrs will, eventually, blow all his trash across his back yard and into mine. Just yesterday, a Wal-Mart box the size of an eight-year-old tumbled past my window.

So I hung up my bow tie, doffed my soaked shirt (being an Internet TV Personality means I have to turn off my box fan to avoid audio-cancelling whooshes), pulled on a tee and went out to collect my treasures: some wrapping paper from a large box, and several Food Lion frozen goods bags.

There are times I wonder if I am being mean, thinking Beeyul knows what’s doing in his backyard. One big sheet of plastic is stuck on a year-old pear tree he planted, and has been for three days. He may not have noticed it. His natural habitat may be a Barcalounger, fingers dancing, like Helen Keller speed-Brailling, across a TV clicker whose numbers and letters are long worn away, and now navigated by sense-memory alone. Outdoors, for all I know, may be to him what the English countryside was to the London clubman: a rather humid place where all sorts of meals fly about uncooked.

He makes other things disappear entirely. In a stunningly simple proof of Bishop George Berkeley's theory of immaterialism, he makes trash- pruned limbs needing to be cut down for recycling hard to do; decaying signs from his real estate days, old Christmas trees, a lawn mower- vanish by simply putting it behind his shed.

I can see them- I play the role of God in Berkeley’s theory, keeping the trash in existence while Beeyul is not perceiving it- but he can’t. His most remarkable trick to date was making a two seater inboard runabout become invisible, not only behind the shed but in my yard, until I asked if he had ever read anything about the combustibility of molded fiberglass.

Shortly afterward, it vanished for real. Even I was impressed.


Back at my desk, I learned that Hillary Clinton rigged the fall presidential debate schedule to overlap two NFL games and deprive Donald Trump of all his potential viewers. The NFL does Huge Numbers- the best.

The Presidential Debate Commission, which was organized by the Republicans and Democrats in 1987, is chaired by Frank Fahrenkopf, a 76-year-old former RNC chair. The 2015 debate schedule was announced in September 2015.

But trust me, Donald Trump says, Hillary rigged it.

She also rigged the Council of Trent, after she sold her soul to the devil for the ability to travel in time. She caused the “Verbal Contract” Governor Pat McCrory alone says he had with the NBA to keep the All Star Game in Charlotte, to fall apart. She has caused the last three weeks of 95+ degree weather at my house to gull me into believing global warming is real.

All Obama’s got left is six months to get his bony butt in gear and take all our guns. Hillary has already seized control of Evil in America, though the Christian Action League of North Carolina has yet to proclaim the news from the gospels of Phil and Silent Timothy.


On Facebook, I was working on a business page when I got a friend request. I accepted it as we have several friends I actually know in common. He opened by telling he thought me terribly good looking.

This always gets my back up, as a long, long history has taught me when people say that, they are often planning a reach for my wallet. I never heard that even from the people in my family all the best child-rearing books say are supposed to endlessly repeat it like a mantra, no matter how many contrary affidavits they get from disinterested parties.

“Are you married?” was next. This is a harder question than it used to be. Formerly it was to find out how out the object of one’s interest was. Now the answer can be ‘no’ or ‘yes’, but a bifurcated yes that obscures as much as it reveals.

My life is simpler (see remarks on looks, above). The answer to A and B alike is ‘no’.

My standard answer since 2004 has been, “When had someone I wanted to marry, I couldn’t. Now I can, there’s nobody who wants to.”

“I would. Call me.”

Oh, law, my Aunt Cleo would say, to which I might add, “My name’s not Svetlana and this isn’t the Aspiring Housewives of Kiev Mail-Order Catalogue.” I saw this play out a few times in the early days of the Internets, when men I knew packed a van and set off for Chillicothe, Ohio for life with the guy of their dreams. It always ended in mutual restraining orders and a flaming heap of one’s personalty in the yard.


So I went out to hack holes in the ground and settle down.

After three weeks of near-hundred-degree weather, the red Piedmont clay is baked as hard as the Egyptian fields around one of Ben Carson’s pyramid granaries in an especially lean year.

It took a lot of energy to produce two dozen holes for some peevish pepper seedlings I’ve been cosseting for weeks. Thermometer gets over 85, they demand fainting couches; I bring them in, water them back to health, and the little bastids repeat the act the next damn day.

Now it’s root, hog, or die.

And in a happy, homegrown takeoff of the Holiday In Express ads, while digging, I cast up half a dozen more new potatoes.


Three hours left. What could possibly go wrong?

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