Patsy Porco

Existential Gardening and Body Paint

In gardening, Humor on June 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm

I spent the last four days gardening. Gardening doesn’t involve a lot of mental work so I had lots of time to think as I dug holes, stuck plants into the ground, plucked weeds, and battled termites that were living in a bag of mulch.

One of the things I contemplated was: Who decides what’s attractive and not attractive, desirable or undesirable? Why are weeds things to be destroyed when there are some flowers, which we pay money for and plant in our gardens, that aren’t as pretty as some flowering weeds?

This subject has crossed my mind many times. I’ve often wondered why hamsters and gerbils are kept as pets, but rats and mice are not welcome in our homes.

I once had a really intelligent boyfriend but, according to society (my best friend at the time), he wasn’t attractive. I waffled on whether or not I was higher-minded than society and could like him just for his brains. It turns out it didn’t matter, because he dumped me.

Today, after a few hours of weeding, I called my mother. She told me that my brother had gone to Comfest 2017, a community festival in Columbus, Ohio. My mother said that she never would have gone because women were encouraged to go topless.

“Do women have to go topless?” I asked.

“No, of course not,” she said. “But, women are welcome there without shirts.”

“Where did you hear this?” I asked.

“In the newspaper,” she said. “The article didn’t show the topless women, but it did show pictures of women who went wearing only body paint.”

Just hearing the words “body paint” made my brain groan. That was another conundrum I’ve pondered over the years.

“But, if you’re wearing body paint, are you really naked?” I asked.

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“I’ve seen some really intricate body painting that covers people really well. I’ve often wondered if people whose bodies were covered in paint were really naked.”

“Of course they’re naked!” she replied.

“Why?” I asked. “They’re more covered up than some people are who are wearing clothes.”

“This is ridiculous,” my mother said. “Body paint is not clothing.”

“But if it provides the same coverage as clothes, then ––”

“Let’s talk about something else,” my mother suggested.

“Okay,” I said. “But before we do, I have just one more question about the women in body paint.”

“I have to go now,” my mother said in an annoyed tone. “I’ll talk to you later.” Then she hung up.

Great. Dumped again.

I went back to gardening, but this time I sang along to the radio as I worked. My singing didn’t seem to annoy the neighbors as much as my abstract thinking annoyed my mother.

I think.body paint

 

Addendum:

My husband just alerted me to a new shirt-replacement trend that’s all the rage at popular festivals. I will not be discussing this with my mother, however.

Peanuts and Concrete

In Humor on June 23, 2017 at 6:07 pm

whiskey barrelOne of the whiskey barrels on our deck had rotted and was falling apart. No, there wasn’t whiskey spilling out all over the deck. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be complaining, which is what I’m about to be doing.

What was spilling out between the rotten wooden planks was dirt … and Styrofoam peanuts. Hundreds, if not thousands of Styrofoam peanuts. Maybe millions. At least it seemed like millions to me while I separated the peanuts from the dirt they were embedded in.

I went inside the house for a break, and to malign the former owners of our home.

“You know those whiskey barrels on the deck?” I asked my husband.

“You mean the half-barrels?” he responded.

“Yes, whatever,” I said. “You know what I’m talking about.”

“You’re the one who’s always correcting people about the proper use of words and grammar,” he said.

I sighed. “You’re right. Okay, yes, the half-barrels.”

“What about them?”

“Well,” I said, “The one closest to the grill was falling apart, so I took out the slats and removed the metal rings around the barrel. Guess what was inside?”

“Styrofoam peanuts,” he said.

“How did you know that?” I asked, flabbergasted.

He looked at me in the way that signifies he’s going to leave the room and end the conversation. I grabbed his arm to make him stay.

“Let go of my arm!” he said.

“Not until you answer me,” I said.

“I saw some peanuts lying around the half-whiskey barrel.”

“Didn’t you wonder where they came from” I asked, as I released his arm.

“No.”

I breathed deeply. “Well, the former owners of our house filled the bottom of the barrel — do not correct me and say half-barrel or I’ll kill you — with those damn peanuts instead of dirt or rocks. Then they threw in a bunch of wood to take up even more space before they added dirt. Now we’ve got mounds of dirt, peanuts, and wood on the deck that I have to clean up.”

“Nobody told you to take it apart.”

“It was an eyesore!” I kind of yelled.

“Are you asking for help?” my husband asked.

“No, I’m not,” I said. “I’m just letting off steam. Can you even believe that they took that shortcut, without thinking of the mess they were leaving us?”

“They probably weren’t thinking of future owners of their house when they did it,” he said. “Those half-barrels have been here for the 11 years we’ve lived here and probably for many years before then.”

“Don’t take up for those inconsiderate jerks,” I said. “We never would have done such a thing.”

“Sure we would have,” he said. “In fact, we did.”

“When?” I spluttered.

“When the former owners of our last house left piles of broken concrete next to the garage and, right after we moved in, you had me dig a giant hole in the backyard and bury the concrete.”

“That was different,” I said.

“How, exactly?”

“We had to bury it. The dump wouldn’t accept it and Norwalk forbids putting building materials in the trash.”

“But we still left a hole filled with concrete for the new owners. If they ever decide to plant something in that exact spot, they’re going to be very angry,” he said.

I thought about that for a minute.

“I’m going back outside,” I said. “The next time I want to complain, I’m going to tell someone else.”

“Oh, please don’t,” he said.

He didn’t sound very sincere.

peanuts

Addendum: After this was published, my friend, Christine, an environmentalist and gardener extraordinaire, posted an explanation on my Facebook wall (where this story also appeared) for the use of peanuts and wood in planters. It turns out that the former owners of our house weren’t inconsiderate jerks after all. Only we were.

Christine’s Comments: Uses for Foam Packing Peanuts: Check out #10: “Pour peanuts into a large pot and add soil to boost drainage and make it easier to move.”

Use of Wood: It’s permaculture practice to bury old pieces of wood because they absorb water and, as they compost, they release lots of good stuff into the soil. I don’t do the peanuts but I do bury lots of wood and it works wonderfully. I don’t have to water as often. When I read your story, permaculture was the first thing I thought of. That and the fact that I’ve found several pits of buried concrete in the yard usually just where I want to plant a tree!

Grow a Backbone

In Humor on June 18, 2017 at 2:25 am

With all of the innovations in the plastic surgery arena, you’d think someone would have invented a spine extender.

I know spine surgery is tricky, but if surgeons can cut into your brain with no ill effects, why can’t plastic surgeons add a piece of PVC pipe to your spine for added height, or even higher up for a swanlike neck? Nowadays, every part of the human body can be enlarged, lifted, smoothed, or improved upon, so what’s holding up advances in the height department?

Because cosmetic surgery doesn’t qualify for reimbursement under my health insurance, I’ve had to forgo lifts of my face, neck, knees, and glutes, but this operation might possibly be considered necessary for one’s health.

I recently read that a 5’9″ male is considered to be overweight at 202 pounds, but obese at 203 pounds. One pound changes his status from needing to lose a little weight to needing gastric bypass surgery. If that same man’s height were increased by one or two inches, he wouldn’t be close to being obese. He might not even be all that much overweight.

A rule of thumb for weight is that a man gets to weigh six pounds for each inch he is over five feet, plus 100 pounds. A woman gets five pounds for each inch over five feet, plus 100 pounds.

Up until middle age, I was 5’7-1/2″ inches tall. That meant that my ideal weight was 137.5 pounds, which was right on the nose. I weighed 138 pounds for years and looked fine to me. I could even get up to 144 pounds before I began to worry or take action. Then middle age hit me on the head, squishing me down to 5’6″ almost overnight. My new height changed my ideal weight to 130 pounds. I went from fairly slim and tall to chunky and medium height. I know for a fact that gravity hit me with a hammer from above, because my rib cage collapsed onto itself and the weight that had been evenly distributed there came crashing down and settled around my middle, like a little kid’s swim bubble. swim ring

After months of denying the existence of my new spare tire, I eventually had to face the truth the day I was confronted with a three-way mirror in a store’s dressing room. After several stunned moments of staring at my reflection, I reached up to get a dress that I had hung on a high hook. That’s when I discovered that when I stretched, the weight disappeared. It was gone, just like that. But, the catch was that if I wanted the extra weight to disappear permanently, I’d have to walk around with my arms extended to the heavens for the rest of my life, or lose the weight and exercise.

Then one day I got an email from a company that offered to extend a body part that I wasn’t born with. That was my Eureka moment. If they could extend that, why couldn’t they extend my spine, and my neck, while they were at it?

Unfortunately, I’m a big-picture person and don’t bother with details anymore. (I gave that up in my forties.) So, if anyone wants to take this idea and run with it, knock yourself out. All I ask is that I get free spine and neck extensions once the process is perfected. Or, that you figure out how to get the procedures approved under my health insurance.

 

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