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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.

     

    Friday
    Feb172017

    THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

    When my husband and I moved to Tucson, Arizona, new friends warned us that, “Now that you are in sunny Tucson, you will receive lots of visitors---some of them more welcome than others.”

    The day we moved in, we discovered that a mother coyote had given birth to pups in a bush next to our front door, and Pop kept proudly marching up and down the street. So, our first visitor was an agent from the State Wildlife Department. He said, “Don’t go near the coyotes.” Do I look that stupid? “They will leave soon. Then trim the bush up from the ground, so when they return next year, their ‘cave’ won’t be here.” No cave for me. I cut the whole damn bush down.

    Our next guest was a roadrunner. He was not Disney cute when he beat a lizard to death on our front walk. Then we met a neighbor who told us that a Great Horned Owl had picked up her cat (who was obviously not hitchhiking), and all she found were some whiskers and claw marks. At that, I realized that, like Dorothy, I was not in Kansas anymore---although we had moved from Atlanta.

    It took a few days to get settled, before we received a phone call from a woman in Atlanta. “Great news!” she said. “We are coming to Tucson.” I didn’t have the heart to say, “Who are you?” But I remembered that she was a person that I had briefly met a few years ago at a loud, non-conversational party. So, as I had been instructed by my new friends in Tucson, I responded, ”That’s great, and where are you staying?” There was a silence on the other end of the line, and she said, “Perhaps, we will see you when we get there,” and she hung up. Didn’t see her then. Haven’t heard from her since, and I still don’t know who she is.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love when out-of-town friends and family visit and stay with me. I know who THEY are! I was so excited when my former college roommate, Linda came for a visit. I planned all kinds of enjoyable activities. What I hadn’t planned for was a visit to an Orthopedist. When I brought her home from the airport, I parked in my driveway (that sits on a slight slope). As she reached into the trunk to retrieve her suitcase, the case started to roll down the hill, and as she grabbed it, she broke her finger, before she even got into my house. Happily, she has come to visit a few times since and left with fingers intact.

    A few years ago, I received a call from a couple that was best friends with some dear friends of mine in Denver. I didn’t know them, but invited them for lunch. They were pleased to accept, but before they hung up the phone, they told me that they were vegans. When asked what I fed them, I always tell people, “No problem, I invited them to graze in my backyard”.

    However, the strangest visitor I had was a woman who lived in my neighborhood. One early evening, my husband was having a martini and called that I should come to see what he saw in our backyard. Looking out the window, I had a great view of a woman sitting in our mesquite tree. Her parrot had escaped and had found a perch in our tree. But that was only the beginning of my adventures with visits from unusual birds.

    My friend, Sally and I were invited to attend her daughter’s fancy party in San Francisco. So, Sally flew to Tucson to spend a few days with me before we both flew to San Francisco. On the morning of our flight, Sally shouted, “Esther, come here! You have to see this.” “This” turned out to be a very big, beautiful peacock marching up and down my front walk. I tried to shoo it away, but it flew onto my neighbor’s roof and screamed, “Help! Help!” We had to leave, so I locked the door and set the alarm so the peacock couldn’t break in.

    A week later I returned home. My front walk was covered with peacock poop. That peacock must have thought he was a goose. Anyway, it turns out he had escaped from a small backyard zoo. One of the neighbors had thrown a raincoat over him and returned him to his owner.

    I am still delighted when friends and family come to visit me, and my door is always open---except in rainy season when the tarantulas come out of their burrows.

    So come see me anytime.  If I can take it---You can take it!

    Esther Blumenfeld (Next time I’ll tell you about the bobcat who visited me, when I was sitting outside in my hot tub. But that’s another story.)

    Wednesday
    Feb082017

    THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

    Taking my computer to the Apple folks for a new operating system was like taking my son to Kindergarten for the first day. I knew they could teach my computer things I could not, but never-the-less, I suffered separation anxiety.

    The computer went in for its operation with the name of one mountain range (Yosemite) and came out with another (Sierra). It was comforting that my computer did receive 14 get well messages, including one from the Tucson Mayor wishing my blog a quick recovery.

    After checking that all of Sierra’s functions worked, I had to purchase a new App named Pages in order to write my stories, and attach them to my now, non-functioning website.  I used to write on something named Word, but when I found out that Word would now cost me $100 a month, it left me speechless as well as wordless.

    My magical Apple teacher came the next day. She checked her halo and wings at the door, and proceeded to contact the gremlins at Squarespace. Those are the secretive folks who store my stories in their cave far, far away where no one can reach them by phone, but they are happy to provide good service if you can figure out how to contact them by computer or smoke signals.

    So, today, all is well. But as Scarlett O’Hara would say, “Tomorrow is another day.”

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Jan272017

    CHATTER BOX

    When the automatic ankle lights on my sidewalk didn’t turn off during daylight, I thought I’d have to call an electrician. Then, my neighbor, the engineer, suggested that the sensor on the light might be burned out. I said, “What sensor?” He instructed me to: “Go outside and look for it.” As I pulled the overgrown ivy, away from one of the ankle lights, that had the hidden sensor, they both magically turned off.

    “I did it. I am a genius!” I shouted to myself.  Psychologists describe my outburst as “private speech: language that is spoken out loud but directed to the self.” In other words, I was talking to myself, and as Charles Fernyhough, author of The Voices Within writes: “Self talk allows us to plan what we are going to do, manage our activities and regulate our emotions.”

    When someone honks at me because I refuse to turn left at a traffic light, until I see the green arrow, I usually say to myself, “I’m in no hurry. I’m retired, you poor slob!” And, if he persists, I usually mumble more words that are not fit to print. I don’t care, because when people glance over, they assume I am talking on a cell phone, and that I am a perfectly normal human being.

    When I talk to myself, I can assure you that I am not suffering from auditory hallucinations. I just don’t mind the sound of my own voice, and when I talk to myself, I can be assured that someone is listening. And, if I make a mistake and say to myself, “Hey! That was really dumb,” my feelings won’t be hurt.

    Observing a child at play, one is bound to see the tot engaged in a conversation with himself. When I am alone, I often talk to myself.  How is that any dumber than talking to a cat or dog? When my friend, Perry’s daughter, Rhyann was a very little girl, they had a cat named Gaucho. One day Rhyann asked him, “Daddy, how do you know that Gaucho understands what you are saying?” “Why do you ask that?” said Perry, “Because,” Rhyann answered,“ You are talking English.”

    Whenever I am writing, I like to read my words aloud to hear if I am writing in my own voice, and often my words will give me a good laugh. So, like a crazy lady, I am all alone and entertaining myself without an audience.

    And, I have to admit that I don’t know if anyone is listening when I pray aloud, but it makes me feel better and sometimes helps me think things through. Henry David Thoreau said, “Thinking is only a process of talking to oneself.”

    I don’t know anyone who hasn’t yelled at someone appearing on his television set. Whether you are shouting at a ballplayer, because he fumbled the ball, or telling someone on the news channel that what she has just said is, “really stupid”, you do know that you are really talking to yourself. Those people can’t hear you! And, don’t forget, you can turn them off.

    Self talk, whether it’s silent or vocal is comforting, and the experts tell us that it is a healthy way of dealing with life and all of the gobbledygook going on all around us. So have a good conversation with yourself. It might not help, but it can’t hurt.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”) sung by Louis Armstrong. Written by Thiele and Weiss.

    Friday
    Jan202017

    THE CIRCUS IS COMING TO TOWN

    January 20, 2017 marks the opening of the new “Greatest Show On Earth.”

    After 146 years in existence, Feld Entertainment has announced that the Ringling Brothers, and Barnum and Bailey Circus will close in May. They can no longer compete with the jugglers, clowns and wild animal acts in the U.S. Congress.

    PETA got its way, and the elephants are now taking over the circus.  Hanging onto each other’s tails, they will march in lockstep--- around and around—making circles in the dust around their handlers. The new Ding-a-ling Ring Master, with a trumpet call, plans to surprise his audiences all over the world with his ever-changing acts that will play in portable collapsible tents.

    Of course, high operating costs are always a concern for a new business venture (just ask any lying-tamer) so it is inevitable that the price of tickets will go up.

    The Ringling Bothers, and Barnum and Bailey Circus survived two World Wars. It affected America’s culture. The new Greatest Show on Earth hopes to have the same impact. When the Circus used to come to town, schools were closed, and all the schoolchildren were standing at the curb watching the entertainers pass them by. The new show can certainly do that!

    And, as Congress does their Shutdown Healthcare Act, let’s hope they have a safety net under that high wire.

    With all that in mind, remember that the true spirit of the Circus will never die. However, it’s probably a good idea to duck when the political acrobats fly from hand to hand over our heads.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Jan132017

    AN ALLEGORY FOUND

    Last New Year’s Eve, at a get-together with friends, a young man and I engaged in a conversation about books and authors. When I mentioned to him that I had never read books by Anne Rice, or other authors who deal with supernatural mythology, he suggested that I do so, because he found those books entertaining. So, taking the challenge, I read a book by Donna Boyd who created a world of Werewolves who live undetected among us.

    The story involved two packs of Shape Shifter Wolves, who can change into human forms at will. One pack of Werewolves enjoyed the company of humans and found them inferior but amusing, while the other pack thought them to be parasites that needed to be exterminated.

    The Alpha Male in one of these packs had fur (or hair depending on his form) of a reddish-yellow color, and a business empire that stretched all over the world. He also served in a high position of government, and had an exceedingly large ego. He lived high on the hog (sometimes literally) in a mansion. Since Werewolves considered themselves superior, they took credit for every positive innovation or invention ever created---including the work of Thomas Edison. They blamed the bad stuff, such as wars, on humans.

    According to my Google search, in the last century several Werewolf sightings have been recorded, and many of them have taken place in Wisconsin. This is a good time to remind you that the good people of Wisconsin have also brought us bratwurst, cheese, beer and the Green Bay Packers. However, it is also good to note that on November 14, 1908 Joe McCarthy was born to the McCarthy pack in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, and he followed the “humans are parasites” career path.

    According to Mr. Google, “The history of the Werewolf has roots in many cultures dating back to ancient times”. One legend is the story of the Spirit God, and Shape Shifter, Wisukachek, and refers to an early Native American tribe in the area now known as Wisconsin. For many years, these stories were thought to be mere legend, until; “In 1936 a string of modern Werewolf sightings changed everything. Where did this take place? In the USA State called Wisconsin.

    So, all of this begs the question, Are there Werewolves among us? And, if so, would we ever know? Stephen King writes, “Some Werewolves are hairy on the inside.” That isn’t helpful at all. Was it a hairy inside that really killed Joe McCarthy, or was it excessive alcoholism as the doctors claimed?

    Molly Harper sums it up in Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs: “Contrary to popular myth, Werewolves are born. Werewolves are not made. No matter how many times they bite someone, that person will not turn, though they will probably bleed profusely, and will definitely be annoyed.”

    As far as I am concerned, “A pox on the Werewolves among us.” We will survive them, because as Michael Gerson writes, “Being an American is to belong to a flawed but wonderful tribe.”

    Esther Blumenfeld