Friday, May 8, 2009
Isn't’ it funny the way this pie chart answers the question, “What did I accomplish today?” It is fairly accurate for most AARP freshman. A few adjustments are needed to accurately represent my life. This chart's sleeping category is too large. My personal graph would show a much smaller portion of the day allocated to sleeping. Working would take up the remaining space. I’m considering cutting the eating category out completely by combining it with the working and sleeping wedges. You know, doing two things at once saves time. Doesn't it? I've got the working and eating simultaneously mastered but haven’t quite figured how to eat while sleeping unless I'm fed by a feeding tube directly into the stomach.
I’m determined to be the master of my own destiny or become a complete basket case in the process.
I enjoy my weekends in Cloverdale. Getting away from school, kids, explosions, screaming and conflicting music steaming through my head from three simulators running simultaneously is a blessing. At mission's end on a Saturday afternoon, after everyone has gone home and the school is locked, I step outside, close my eyes and wait....... There, can you hear it - that sound in the distance? A faint whistle announces the arrival of the Coastal Express, The Train of Dreams. Minutes later it's "All Aboard!" I have a favorite seat in the last car. Once I'm settled the train jerks forward and slowly gains speed. Soon its a rhythmic clickity clack down the railroad track. First stop, Fernwood on the Moor. Second stop, Cloverdale. Daytime transforms into twilight as I walk the checkered pavement from the train station to my sanctuary at the end of the lane. Flitterbugs jump across the small canal. The cool evening air is scented with the smell of moving water. With one turn of the key I'm home - away from home. The mantle clock greets me by striking 8:30 P.M. (that is if the trains are running on time).
You'll notice that I keep the light on in the parlor. This lamp near the window gives the appearance that someone is home. I don’t worry about burglary - after all, it is Cloverdale in the Shire, but one can never be too safe.
Once settled, I walk along the narrow canal to the High Street and then downhill to Moss's Wonderland Bakery to purchase pastries for Sunday. The Piggly Wiggly is my second stop of the evening to restock the icebox. With groceries in arm, my to do list is finished. After a stop home to drop off my purchases I'm back down the street to visit friends.
In the early morning hours I return home and fall asleep to the sound of water beneath my bedroom window. My Sundays start with church in the Cloverdale LDS Branch. Afterward, I'll make a stop to visit the nuns at the Convent of the Sisters of Ever Increasing Hope. I have a standing invitation for tea and biscuits after mass. They keep a Diet Coke for me - knowing my religious restrictions. The rest of the afternoon is spent talking to the citizens of Cloverdale in my never ending search for new stories to post in 'Letters from Cloverdale'.
I return to the real world late Sunday evening. On Monday its back to school, kids, explosions, screaming and conflicting music steaming through my head from three simulators running simultaneously.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Darla and Evelyn Fartle are sisters and hypochondriacs. To some hypochondria is a mental condition. To them, it is a religion. A headache is the messenger of a stroke. A sneeze means phenomena. A cough is cancer’s calling card. They live together in a two bedroom flat at 34A Glenwood Close in Cloverdale.
The sister’s weekly routine includes a visit to Dr. Larson. The gentle doctor listens to their list of symptoms, takes their blood pressure, looks in their throats and prescribes the next week’s supply of placebo sugar tablets.
Last week the sisters panicked when they heard the Swine Flu had sickened citizens Dibley in the Downs, the small village down the road from Cloverdale. Both sisters got onto the internet and researched the symptoms of swine flu. Both felt a faint soreness in the throat. Both felt a few muscle aches and Evelyn was sure her temperature was up a tenth of a degree. The called to schedule a doctor's appointment for the following day. That night Darla heard their neighbor, 72 year old Lucy May, coughing through the thin wall separating their flats. The coughing continued for several minutes. Lucy had been eating one of her delicious liver dumplings while watching on old rerun of Green Acres. She laughed at the wrong time and started choking. Darla called for Evelyn to come have a listen. Panic set in as they listened with ears up to the wall as she struggled to breath .
“If that isn’t death's cough then what is it?” Darla asked.
“You’re right sister. I’m thinking she'll be dead by morning.” Evelyn said while straining to hear more to be sure her diagnoses was correct. Both ladies, convinced it was the flu, moved from the wall and into Evelyn’s room. They debated going next door to check on her but ended up writing a poster warning everyone to stay away because of the Swine Flu and taped it to Lucy's front door. Lucy found the poster the following morning when she opened the door to let her cat out.
She left it on the door thinking the poster's proper owner would come looking for it.
Darla and Lucy drove straight to Dr. Larson’s office the next morning and demanded prescriptions for the Tamiflu they had seen on television. Dr. Larson told them he had something better and started writing a prescription for another placebo. The sisters refused the prescription and again insisted on Tamiflu. When Dr. Larson refused a second time they commandeered the leather couch in the waiting room and refused to leave the office until their demand for medication was satisfied.
Dr. Larson thought for a long time, and being a clever doctor and around handy man, he came up with a solution to keep the sisters off his leather couch and out of his office for the foreseeable future. He called his nurse and gave her a shopping list of things to pick up from Gibbons Hardware Store.
It took his entire lunch time to create his two UN approved bio hazard suits. Both he and his nurse admired his cleverness. The nurse called the sisters into the conference room and taught them how to wear the Swine Flu Protective Coverings approved by the United Nations Department of Biological Weapons. It took all her concentration to keep from laughing during the dressing. When finished, she had the sisters sign a release form the doctor wrote in his office while they were getting outfitted. The form said that because the sisters received special treatment, not offered to anyone else in the community, they had to promise not to be seen in public wearing their protective gear. The sisters understood and were very appreciative of the doctor’s efforts.
The Fartle sisters are now locked safely in their flat, only removing their protective suits for eating and bathing. Lucy is still waiting for the owner of the swine flu poster to come take it from her door. She also wondered why her meals on wheels didn't arrive that afternoon. Life continues in our Confederacy of Dunces.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
News of Swine Flu reached The Confederacy of Dunces. Although there are no reported cases of the flu in the Confederacy, citizens are taking decisive steps to protect their pigs.
Simon and Samantha Best worried the Swine Flu would sicken their prize pig Julie. She would be competing for a blue ribbon in the Shire Fair in September. They took her to Dr. Filmore, Cloverdale’s Vet , to get a vaccination. The doctor’s response was unsatisfactory, even bordering on ignorant.
“Dr. Filmore said the Swine Flu was a threat to humans and not pigs,” Samantha explained. “Well I ask you this. Why is it called Swine Flu if it makes humans sick? Does that make sense to you? Why anyone with half the sense of a flitterbug would see that.”
Simon and Samantha thought if science wouldn’t do anything for Julie then religion might. They brought Julie to Sunday services at Cloverdale’s First Baptist Church hoping the pastor would pre-heal Julie from the virus. Pastor Baynard's response wasn't very Christian. He read somewhere on the internet that Egypt slaughtered their pigs to keep the flu from spreading. The next day he read that Russia and China stopped importing American pork out of fear the pork would bring the flu to their nations. Pastor Baynard is in the business of believing so why should he doubt what he reads? When he saw the Bests walking Julie down the sidewalk toward his office that Sunday afternoon he took out his handkerchief, put it over his mouth and nose and stepped outside meet them. The pastor explained the situation and urged them to have Julie put down in the interests of the entire community. His suggestion didn't go over well with Simon. The Bests left when the Pastor’s concerned turned to outright cursing .
Simon and Samantha didn’t give up. After going through all the churches in Cloverdale and getting nowhere their Buddist neighbor suggest Khenpo Ugyne Tenzin, a Buddhist Lama. Surprisingly he was willing to bless the pig. After the blessing, the Lama enlightened them on Julie's previous life as a human mother of six in Cambodia. Apparently she had problems with gluttony and enjoyed distilled spirits. Her current swine state was the consequence for those decisions in her previous life. The Lama promised Julie that if she was a good pig in this reincarnation she would get another chance in human form in the next as she struggled for Nirvana.
Simon and Samantha are now reconsidering their decision to butcher Julie in the fall. She was going to provide their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
“When people think of history they think of famous people,” Seth explained to a judge from the Ministry of Education and Employment. “But what about the average person? Most everybody is just average and we make history just by living.”
The idea for his history fair project came during a lecture his teacher gave on the lives of peasants during the Middle Ages. After school he had a serious talk with his parents.
“Mom, Dad. I want to live the life of a peasant boy during the Middle Ages for my history fair project. I want to eat like they ate, wash like they washed and work like they worked. I know its going to be tough but I want to try.”
Seth’s parents knew history well enough to know the life of a peasant wasn’t easy, but knowing their son’s passion for history and his stubborness, decided to support him. The following day Seth started his research. He took detailed notes and with is parents help, created a daily schedule. The day before embarking on his journey into the past ,his mother took him to the doctor for a complete physical with blood work. Seth realized the amount of effort this project would required and decided to make it his science fair project as well. He wanted to chronicle the effects of living like a peasant on his body. The physical was followed by his six month dental checkup. With facts in hand he was ready.
For two months he did his best to simulate the life of a peasant boy. He got up with the sun and when to bed when it went down. He gave up all electronic devices. He didn’t read because most peasants couldn’t. He worked around the house and spent time on his uncle’s farm outside Cloverdale. He worked hard when he wasn’t at school as a peasant boy would. His mother did her best to keep him on a peasant’s diet. He ate some meat but not much. Mostly he ate bread, vegetables and soups.
After a few days Seth began to smell. Peasants didn’t bath on a regular basis except for washing their face and hands with water but no soap - at least that’s what Seth’s teacher said. Seth’s smell grew worse as the week’s past. It was the first thing you noticed when walking into the Anderson home. At times it was so bad his mother made him eat in a different room. Seth didn’t brush his teeth or comb his hair either. Photographs of his unkempt appearance were taken along his historical journey. Seth wrote about each picture describing how it felt to be so dirty.
"It really isn't so bad," Seth said one day, "except for the rash and the itching."
There was one good thing Seth noticed about being unclean - the girls in his class kept their distance. Seth was considered the ‘cute’ boy in the class and had to deal with girl problems all the time. For the first time all year they left him alone. That made him happy. Of course, without Seth to admire the girls turned their attention to the other boys in the room. Soon, many of the other boys in the class started skipping their baths. If Seth could come to school dirty then so could they. The odor in the classroom became so rank the school nurse finally stepped in and order all the boys, except Seth, to shower, Seth was smart and got permission not to bathe before he started his project.
The day of the history fair was Seth’s last day as a peasant boy. His posters were prepared, examples of his meals were on paper plates and his medical and dental exam results were available for examination. Seth had lost weight but his muscle mass increased. His teeth were dirty but no cavities, which surprised everyone. He did develop a nasty rash which was treated promptly the next day. When asked by a judge what he will remember most about the experience, Seth answered, “I learned that life was hard for peasant children. I learned that we have it really nice today and we shouldn’t take all our technology for granted. I learned that peasant families were closer than families today because they talked a lot and played games because there wasn’t TV or video games. I learned to love the outside and nature. I think the peasants lived a good life most of the time.”
“What is the first thing you plan on doing when you get home tonight and can live like a normal boy,” a judge asked. Before Seth could answer his mother jumped in to respond.
“Seth will take a nice long bath. After that I’ll be waiting with the scissors. This mop on his head will be gone before bed!”
Seth smiled. His mother quickly reached down and covered his unsightly teeth with her hand.
“He will also brush his teeth.” She added.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Blade Wilford, a 12th grade student at Cloverdale’s Comprehensive School participated in an anarchist demonstration in the Capital City last month. The Confederacy's Minister of Social Occasionals authorized the demonstration and issued a legal permit for the group to occupy the High Street from 11:00 A.M. until Noon. The Dunce Anarchists refused to acknowledge the Minister’s authority to regulate their free speech and did what any self respecting anarchist movement would do - they declared anarchy!
Instead of gathering to demonstration at 11:00 A.M. the group slowly assembled over most of the day. Apparently anarchists prefer to sleep in because of nights filled with both self and societal destructive behavior. Drinking, smoking and pub chasing takes a toll on the body and restorative sleep is necessary.
By 6:00 P.M. the anarchists had enough presence in the city square to begin the demonstration. The first speaker screamed obscenities at the State and Grand Council of Ministers. The newspaper reporter covering the event commented on the lack of structure to his speech but was impressed with his unique vocabulary and creative used of obscene phrases. Several members of the police standing within ear shot applauded when he finished by mooning his own crowd of supporters.
The second speaker stood for several minutes without saying a word. The crowd quieted when it appeared he was preparing to say something. The heavily tattooed and pierced twenty something put his mouth up against the microphone, took a deep breath and belched the word “Death”. Screams erupted from the crowd as they turned to face the Fascist police conformists surrounding the square to keep them away from government buildings. Someone in the crowd shouted the anarchist's battle cry, “Death, Doom, and Distraction!”
Blade doesn’t remember much from the demonstration except the stinging blow he took to the head and the use of his right cheek by someone hoping to plow asphalt road. He was in a holding cell when his senses returned. It was Blade's first time in jail. He thought it “blew chunks” and definitely impacted his free spirit. He knew jail time was the price all anarchists had to pay for the cause but he had plans for the following night in Cloverdale. He called his mother. Mrs. Wilford took the train to Capital City to bail him out.
Two weeks later he was called to the district court to answer to the charge of unlawful conduct in a public square. The judge wasn’t interested in explanations. Besides Blade wasn’t in the mood to give them. An anarchist doesn’t explain his motives. The thought of actions having consequences was sacrilegious to him.
The judge passed judgment against Blade - finding him guilty. His punishment was immediate and brutal. Blade was ordered to ride with his mother, brother and sister in the family’s PVan where ever it went. He was taken to school in it and brought home. He was not allowed to accept rides from anyone else and of course the judge revoked his driver’s licenses.
Today Blade is learning that actions have consequences. He rides as low in the seat as possible and hopes fate will show mercy to an anarchist in the making and hides him from the eyes of anyone he knows. We feel it is good for him and encourage him to continue to make progress to join the world of the living and orderly. Perhaps some day.........
Some people love fishing. Others, like Lars Bloomer of 243 Spruce Avenue in Cloverdale enjoy a day of relaxing hunting along Highway 1. He has his favorite hunting spot near the crossroads where Highway 1 intersects with the Coastal Highway.
"The best way to get them deer is patience," Says Lars as he breaks open an ice cold beer from the cooler beside him. "So I enjoy this nature and them birds over there are chirping so it makes it a real natural experience for me. I been stressed lately on account of this slime flu every time I turn on the tv, and with my government assistance checks getting cut on account of this economy I'm finding hunting is my only way to get my mind to rest."
Lars, like other citizens in the Confederacy of Dunces, copes with life his own way. For him success is determined by the number of beers downed and the number of near misses shot in a twelve hour period.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
This was Wilbur Spuuler. Wilbur was the head bookkeeper at Dullmer Dullmer and Lance, Attorney’s at Law. He was unmarried and didn’t get out much. He lived on Chesterfield Street in Cloverdale in a modest two bedroom bungalow. Because of his social inadequacies Wilbur preferred his own company. His evenings were passed by keeping a small immaculate garden of Kentucky Bluegrass, trimmed bushes, several flower beds and a water fountain crowned with a resin Aphrodite. Three wrought iron benches and a miniature copy of a London Bridge street lamp completed the yard making for a picture perfect scene of tranquility. This yard was Wilbur’s relaxing retreat from numbers.
In 1997 Wilbur went on his last date. He invited a young salesgirl from Donaldson's Department Store to his home for a meal. After eating, he planned on taking her on a stroll through his back garden. Afterwards he allocated twenty minutes for conversation and wit. The date was scheduled to end at 10:00 P.M. precisely. Wilbur was always in bed reading at 10:10 P.M. Sleep would occur naturally between 10:30 and 10: 35 P.M.
Wilbur prepared a delicious six course meal served on his finest china with red wine. During dinner the girl’s elbow touched the white linen tablecloth. “Strike one,” Wilbur thought. Wilbur was disturbed by the girl's lack of posture. He noticed her back rested against the back of her chair multiple times. “Strike two,” Wilbur thought. After dinner the couple walked through the garden.
“What kind of flower is this?” the girl asked as she admired one of Wilbur’s prized hyacinths.
“Strike three,” Wilbur said out loud. The date ended abruptly. The girl found herself on Wilbur’s doorstep. In one hand she held her supper's left overs in a Red Owl Shopping Center bag and in the other was taxi fare graciously supplied by Wilbur.
The date disturbed Wilbur. He consistently failed at finding a woman he considered a suitable mate. One day after thirty minutes of meditation in the garden Wilbur decided to purchase a dog instead. Wilbur’s first dog was named Maximilian. So were his second, third and fourth dogs. The last Maximilian was Wilbur’s pride and joy. The dog had a bedroom of his own complete with miniature four poster bed, doggie wash stand, and a doggie door to the garden. Life was good for Max until one day when he dug up one of the prized flower beds. Max saw a side of Wilbur he never forgot. From that day forward Max was not allowed in the formal garden. Wilbur had little tolerance for any kind of misbehavior as Maximilian’s one, two and three would testify if they could. Exactness with purpose was the motto Wilbur lived his life by.
Maximilian IV ran away from home a month ago. A neighborhood boy brought him home for the reward money. A folded newspaper and Wilbur's wrath was waiting for him. Max ran away again three weeks later and was once again found and return for a substantial reward. This was strike three as far as Wilbur was concerned. Max detected a new tone in Wilbur's voice. The next day Max found Wilbur digging a new hole in the garden against the far wall. This new punishment confused Max. What was the hole for? Max did a little investigating that evening during the short time Wilbur let him roam around the garden while he enjoyed an ice tea on the deck chair and read the newspaper. Max sniffed the ground near the new hole. There was an unusual smell. The smell of death.
Last Tuesday Wilbur didn’t go to work. His coworkers thought that unusual. Wilbur never missed work. The constable was called to investigation after repeated phone calls went unanswered. The constable heard Maximilian howling in the back garden when he arrived at Wilbur’s home. He broke through the locked gate, walked toward the sound of the dog and found Wilbur dead. His head had a nasty gash above the ear. It appeared he was walking the dog when both his feet got wrapped in the leash. He fell forward and struck his head against the side of Aphrodite's fountain. The Constable wondered how both his feet got wrapped in the dog’s leash. He put together a theory while waiting for the ambulance. According to the theory, Wilbur was standing with both feet together near the fountain. Maximilian must have circled his feet several times with the leash. When Wilbur tried to step forward he lost his footing and hit his head on the fountain.
“Poor dog,” the Constable said. “You’ve lost the best owner any dog could wish for.”
The Constable took Maximilian’s collar off the leash. Suddenly Maximilian darted for the open gate and was gone.
No one knows where Maximilian is today. He is free and that is all that matters. Wilbur’s funeral was held yesterday. There were eight people in attendance if you counted the Pastor and organist.