Sunday, September 28, 2014

Childhood drawings reveal adorably twisted mind

I recently uncovered a trove of my childhood writings, which entirely proves the old saying, "the seed predicts the tree." This is from second grade, entitled "The Wicked Story":

"There is an arrow. There is a house. There is a bat that has short wings. There is a giant spider. There is a lawn mower."

This early piece clearly foreshadows the disdain I would one day feel toward yard work.

Apparently, second grade was one of my dark periods. This one accompanies my drawing of Ronny, the horse: "This is the farm. There are lots of rocks coming down. The rocks hit Ronny on the head. The rock bounces off Ronny. Is this a farm? Yes."

Well, Teacher always said farm life was hard.

Another from that period: "There is an Indian behind the tree. The Indian shot an arrow. The arrow shot down the cat. The cat fell."

Back in the 1960s, political correctness had not yet reached us. Today, of course, I would have been urged to write instead, "the feline companion animal fell."

Another: “I love the rain. The rain helps the flowers to balloom. The flowers balloond all the year. The flowers were pretty. The flowers were blue. I am George."

See, even back then, every time you thought I was going to zig, I zagged.

There is this beauty: "Sometimes I think about being an airplane and fly hy in the sky and zoom! and then up in the air I run out of gas and crash and that is the end of me."

And this: "This is a turkey. The turkey is eating green grass. The grass has a worm in it. The worm is poison."

This is what comes from a childhood watching "Bullwinkle."

This from, perhaps, fourth grade: "Fortunately, Bob was racing a car to win 1,000,000 dollars. Unfortunately, his car got a flat in front of the finish line. Fortunately, he had a spare tire. Unfortunately, he was shot by an FBI agent. Fortunately, he fell across the finish line."

To this day I wonder if Bob’s family at least got the "1,000,000 dollars."

And finally…"The Bear": "Once upon a time there was a bear. He lived in a tree. And he made a secret place. So he could look for his enemies. Whenever one of them came around, they would be sorry."

Probably today a teacher would refer me for therapy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Wa Pics - Los Angeles County Fair

 Now you just need the goggles.

 Just in case you thought it was barley.

 Even the cougar looks dubious about the sales pitch.

Originally devised for beehive hairdos, the cone-brero is now used in farming.

In the 21st Century, we have overcome many culinary taboos.

Pick your own punch line.

Least efficient use of cargo pants ever.

 The doughnut triple cheeseburger. Because it's there.

. . .

Readers may contact George at

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Broken air conditioner during heat wave is no fun

Last week when it was 100+ degrees for days on end, my 1970s air conditioner (nicknamed "Baretta," for its unpredictable moods) finally died. Its wiring actually melted. When the repairman arrived, he literally chuckled at the unit's antiquity.

"I don't even know what this does," he said, pointing to part of the apparatus.

"No way I could even find the parts," he continued, genuinely awed.

So my hope of a quick repair and cooling relief evaporated. I showed him the attic unit, the circuit breaker box, each item apparently more laughably ancient than the last.

"You'll have to replace the house's entire electrical," he said finally, "before I can even think about putting in a modern air unit. It wouldn't be safe."

I had not heard more troubling sounds emanating from somebody since I was a kid and my dog got into the frozen sausages.

"First, though, you have to call the power company to send somebody out to 'spot' the breaker box."

"I can spot it. It's right there," I said.

"They might want you to move it," he said.

The first spotting appointment I could get was in a week, long after this heat wave, long after four sleepless nights of 90 degree airless indoor temps. The Earth has not witnessed so much tossing and turning since J.R. was shot.

I visited hardware stores, but they were sold out of anything involved in the cooling trade. The staff smiled ruefully, like you smile at any idiot who waits to seek relief until day three of an unprecedented heat wave.

As it dawned on me that we would have no A/C until October, I did what anyone seeking relief ever does. I fired up YouTube.

Videos on making your own swamp cooler promised a 30 degree drop in temperature! So I got our big tin washtub and filled it with six inches of water in the living room. Then I stuck in the back legs of a step ladder and hung a soaking wet towel off it into the tub. I set up the fan to blast on it and periodically re-soaked the towel.

I did not experience a 30 degree drop in temperature, but after an hour my lawn did experience several gallons of tub water.

Why did I not replace my antique A/C long ago, before it could fail when I needed it most? Hey, if I go down that road with this old house, I will never stop walking.

Readers may contact George at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Wa Pics - More fun from Britain

In Britain, sandwiches, like teenagers, are not allowed a nightlife. 

 Yes, an appointment is always required at the Hair Bar, where Happy Hour includes our popular Mullet Mojito.

Weird armless lady-man statue in Falmouth. There is a story there, I'm sure, but probably not as interesting as the one explaining why the lady (man?) with the dog is wearing that hat (hair?).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Drought brings opportunity for neighborly one-upsmanship

There was a time when my laziness about watering my lawn was an embarrassment, but now I, like my lawn, am golden.

Suddenly lawns with unsightly yellow patches are fashionable, a scruffy badge of good citizenship! In fact, our neighborhood's previous, unspoken competition over who could grow the greenest, lushest lawn has given way to its opposite.

This plays right into one of my key strengths—neglect. I am mildly competitive, but only as is  measurable in the negative. I have no interest in doing the most. But I can really go the distance when it comes to the least. Dedication, I think, is what they call it. Resolve.

Walk down my street and you are greeted by lawns in varying states of gasp. Some are a uniform yellow, some a pale drought-green with bare patches and growing brown craters. Civic-mindedness at work, yes, as we are all trying to conserve our limited water. But underneath it all is the unmistakeable whiff of competition.

Who can use LESS water than whom? Who can NOT grow the most beautiful lawn? These days one looks upon a pristine green lawn with the judgmental contempt of a Quaker at Hooters.

There is only one thick, dark, lush lawn in my entire neighborhood, guarded by a corgi who is undoubtedly working, in his own way, on yellowing it up. The lawn is new sod, placed already-grown in front of its newly-built house. It looks like it could suck on its own reserves for a year.

I love this lawn. In this drought, it makes me look like a saint.

It is rare in this life that a failing, like being lazy, can pass as civic altruism, but I am capitalizing big. The city says it is O.K. to water your lawn every other day. Blasphemy! I water mine twice a month, and I let it grow long too, so the sun doesn't bake out the moisture.

Most of my neighbors have close-cropped lawns. They probably think I am lazy to let mine grow so unkempt. But I am thinking of putting up a lawn sign—"I'm saving water. Ask me how."

Of course, if anyone rings the doorbell to ask, I will not hear it, as I will be in the back bedroom with my feet up, binge-watching "House of Cards."

If this drought holds, I may make it back through all four old "Downton Abbeys" too.

 My lawn. I win!