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Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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Return to lately 2011.
it was just really odd
july 1, 2011
Q: Your hair is getting long. Did you make a decision to stop cutting it?
A: Yeah. My hair's always been long, ever since the Sixties, but Mary suggested I let it get even longer. And I like it this way. That's one of the many nice things about not needing to work anymore. You can let your hair grow as long as you want. Whenever we're out in public now, I'm usually the male with the longest hair. Which I kind of like. There's something really free and happy about having long hair.
Q: How long are you going to let it grow?
A: I'm not sure. But I'll probably just let it continue growing. I want to look like the villain in a post-apocalyptic movie.
Q: So what else have you been doing lately, besides not cutting your hair?
A: Mary and I decided to get a new dentist. That's a big deal for us, because the dentist we had been going to, we'd been going to for about a quarter of a century. He's someone we trust.
Q: So why switch?
A: We live in a small city outside Dallas. Years ago, when both of us worked five days a week in Dallas, it was easy to stop by a dentist or doctor first thing in the morning, or during lunch. But now that neither of us work, and we're home all the time, it just seems like more and more of an effort to have to drive all the way into Dallas, during rush-hour traffic (and like most cities, any time is rush-hour traffic) to get our teeth cleaned, or our eyes checked. Plus, no longer conditioned to it by daily exposure, the city smog does affect us when we leave the clear blue skies of our home.
So we're gradually transitioning. We really only go into the city for medical/dental needs, alcohol, and some foods that still aren't available outside the city.
Our eye doctor and dermatologist were located in the city, but they weren't that good, so they were the first services we switched to local practitioners. And in fact the local practitioners are much better than their city counterparts. No more sitting in the waiting room an hour and a half past your appointment time, and the local physicians are actually more effective at treating a specific condition. Which was a surprise to us. You'd think someone practicing in a large metroplex would be the best in their field, but the truth, from our experience at least, is that a lot of times, they're not. They're in a big city so they can see as many patients a day as possible. You're a dog, and they're the vet. It's all about money.
That isn't the case with our dentist, but still, we wanted someone local. Going to him for a cleaning, counting travel time to and back, took about three hours. Going to a local dentist takes about one hour.
Q: So have you found a local dentist?
A: Not yet. I went on the Internet to read about the dentists available in our area, but like almost everything on the Internet now, you get a lot of contradictory information. You want to buy a new camera. Here's all these customer reviews on Amazon raving about a particular model, but then there's all these other people saying it's a piece of shit. So what's true, and what isn't?
We finally decided to give this one local dentist a try. I was the guinea pig. I made an appointment, and when the time came, Mary and I drove out to his office (about ten minutes away.)
Q: What did you like about him, and what didn't you like?
A: The dentist himself seemed good. He had a no nonsense approach I appreciated, and gave me an honest (and as it turned out, positive) assessment of my mouth. Everyone in his office was friendly, supportive, and sensitive to the fact no one likes going to a dentist. (Although the waiting room did have an aquarium that was weirdly over-stuffed with fish. So many fish, in fact, they had trouble swimming in loops around each other. Seriously. Picture an over-crowded aquarium in your mind, then double the amount of fish in it. It was just really odd.)
On the down side, although the hygienist who cleaned my teeth was someone I felt relaxed with, her cleaning, to me, was not as thorough as I've come to expect. In fact, she spent less time cleaning my teeth than any other hygienist I've ever gone to. And they don't have digital x-ray capabilities (which result in much lower exposure to radiation.)
Q: What made you happy this month?
A: A couple of things.
For one, we've started rewatching Six Feet Under again. We've already watched the entire series several times, but it's been a few years since our most recent viewing. Normally we start a new rewatch in January, one episode each Saturday, but this time we decided to start in June, which as it turned out, unbeknownst to us, is the tenth anniversary of the show's premiere on HBO.
Six Feet Under is easily the best series that's ever appeared on TV. Nothing else comes close. The acting, the writing, and the overall emotional complexity of the show is amazing. There's just nothing else even remotely like it.
For another, our tomato crop has been coming in. It gives both of us great joy to go out into our garden and check on all the green globes hanging from our vines. At first, we tried letting the tomatoes fully ripen on the vines outdoors, but we soon discovered that once tomatoes get that ripe, they're invariably visited by birds and tiny, tiny ants. So now we harvest the fruit once each green tomato gets its first blush of color, and let them ripen indoors, on a wide window ledge in our breakfast nook. Once they're fully red, we pop them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, to set the fruit, then eat them. The taste is eye-rolling great.
Q: What did you learn this month?
A: We all live with things we know we need to attend to, but put off. Lately, Mary and I have been going down a list of stuff that needs to be done, has needed to be done for a long time, and doing them.
For example, our side-by-side refrigerator has an ice-maker that hasn't been making that much ice in years. The compartment inside the freezer part of the side-by-side has a capacity to make eight ice cubes at a time. For the past five years, it's only been making three ice cubes per cycle. Which means we've had to supplement that production by making ice cubes the old-fashioned way, filling ice cube trays with water, stacking them in one of the freezers in our garage. Not a lot of work, but still a hassle. Plus, the cold water dispenser in the front of our side-by-side was coming out in dribbles, taking forever to fill a glass.
The side-by-side is under warranty, for which we paid extra, but we had put off having a technician come out. We'd have to get dressed (we normally wear pajamas all day.) We'd have to round up all our cats and secure them in a room behind a closed door, so they don't accidently run outside (they're all indoor cats.) A couple of them, Beauty and Sweet Pea, really don't like being rounded-up. Once they realize we're trying to pick them up to carry them to a room, they tend to run away from us, across carpets, under sofas, up the stairs, down the stairs, eyes paranoid. Plus there's that dead time when you're just sitting around, listening to the walls and ceilings, waiting for the doorbell to ring.
But I finally got around to calling Sears, and they told me both problems were caused by our water filter not being replaced in a long while. I was skeptical that was the real cause of our problem, but we ordered fresh filters, had one installed, and in fact we immediately got full ice production again, and a vigorous rush of cold water from the dispenser. We no longer have to balance a stack of ice cube trays every day, carrying them out to the garage.
So a problem we lived with for so many years was solved, and quickly solved, by a few simple steps.
It does seem that's the way it is, often, in life. You have a problem, think it's going to take a tremendous effort to fix it, so just put up with it for a long time, when in fact, with a few simple steps, once you finally get around to it, the problem goes away. And what a relief that is. A blue-inked pen striking out typed black text.
Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: In-N-Out Burger has finally come to Texas, and in fact to Dallas. Although Mary and I lived together in California for six years (and Mary lived in California all her life until we left in 1982), neither of us has ever had an In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out is legendary among fast food aficionados for providing the best burgers ever served. Everything is fresh (their meat is never frozen), and made to order (no microwaves.) Circling back to Six Feet Under, both Michael C. Hall and Lauren Ambrose said, in a post-series interview, that one of the things they would miss most about Los Angeles was In-N-Out Burger.
And I do count myself as a fast food aficionado. I love the efficiency of fast food, its commonality, the way the foods are engineered to produce an addictive flavor and mouth feel, the fact that it is so big business. Fast food is a true part of Americana, and although I enjoy more refined meals as well, where you have the joy of spending hours in the kitchen, chopping and adding, cold meats and fresh produce spread across your mise en place, five pots and pans on burners, and that is a truly rewarding way to spend a long afternoon with someone you love, that doesn't negate also enjoying a Big Mac.
And I'm especially looking forward to seeing a story I just very recently wrote, back in April, "Our Island", appear in Allen Ashley's new print anthology, Where Are We Going? Allen is someone whose work I've long admired, so it's a real treat to me as a writer to be included in one of his anthologies. It should be out the end of this year, or the early part of next year.