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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.




    I received such an overwhelmingly favorable reaction, from so many of you, about my encounter with the “Bloody Lady,” that, since I am on a roll, I decided to continue along the medical vein with my new story.

    Scheduling early morning appointments with doctors in the summer, in Tucson, makes a great deal of sense, since it’s really too hot to work up a sweat doing much of anything else. And, my doctors’ waiting rooms are usually cold enough to fool you into thinking you are on a cool vacation. Thus, I had a scheduled appointment with my ophthalmologist for 9:00 a.m.

    Unfortunately, the doctor’s scheduler called to change my appointment to 1:45 p.m., but that wasn’t too bad, since the outside temperature had cooled down to 108 degrees. I don’t know why my appointment had been changed, but I am sure that the doctor had a very good
    reason—or not!

    I arrived at 1:30 so the doctor would not have to wait for me, but then I found out that all of his morning patients had also been rescheduled for that afternoon.  It gave us an unexpected opportunity to mingle with his already disgruntled afternoon patients. All of the seats were taken in the waiting room, so I sat in the optometrist’s office next door. She was a very nice young woman who had recently moved to Tucson from Alaska, so she was very much at home in the frigid office. Not having much to do, she went around and cleaned everyone’s glasses and handed out breath mints.

    Happily, I ran into an old friend who was also waiting to see the doctor. We had a very nice chat, until a woman interrupted and said something like, “Do you want to hear my life story?” My friend was called into the doctor’s inner-sanctum, so I was left alone to hear about this woman’s estranged son who lived in Chicago. I was planning to also become estranged, but my name was finally called for my eye exam.

    Sitting in the examination chair, I watched my doctor’s harried staff running up and down the hall, and I patiently waited for the doctor’s assistant who would check my vision.  I knew that teenagers could be grocery checkers, but I swear that I never suspected that this little kid who came into the office could be an actual eye checker. He told me to put my face into the eye machine and read the eye chart with my right eye. Suddenly, I had double vision. “I can’t read any of  the letters,” I said. “Try it with your left eye,” he said.  “Okay,” I replied. All of the letters were still double.  “Tell me when it’s better,” he said as he flipped the lenses. “Nothing makes it better,” I yelled. “This is really weird,” I said. “My vision was just fine when I came in.”

    He handed me my glasses. “Can you read the chart now?” “Perfect!” I replied. “Good!” he said, “You don’t need a new prescription.” “So what was the problem?” I asked.  He replied,
    “Sorry, I had the lens positioned for astigmatism.” “I guess I don’t have that,” I said. “Nope,” he replied. “Put your head back,” he said.  “I am going to put drops into your eyes.” He added, “This may sting.” He was right, the drops stung my lips.  But, I guess he got some into my eyes, because my vision started to get a bit blurry.

    Finally, he left and my renowned eye surgeon came into the room. He checked me out and said, “Everything is good, however, your cataracts have changed a bit. But since they aren’t interfering with your vision yet, you don’t need surgery now.  Come back to see me in six months.” Ever the optimist, I made my appointment for 9 a.m. on January 4, 2018. The drops, that had stung a bit, really kicked in when I started my car, and I kind of drove myself home. Next week, I go to the dentist. I hope it won’t be a tooth for a tooth day.

    Esther Blumenfeld




    Yesterday was blood workup day in anticipation of my annual physical exam next week. Consequently, I went to pay a visit to my cheerful phlebotomist, the person who gets paid to stab me with a needle. I had made the appointment for early in the day, because I was required to fast before the procedure. It’s no sacrifice to skip a bowl of cereal, but it’s not so easy to leave the house without my morning caffeine fix.

    I arrived on time, but in my zombie-like state, sans coffee, I had to park my car twice in order to line it up between the white lines in the parking lot. Since it was so early, none of the parking places had yet been taken, but it would have been really greedy to occupy three of them.

    Shortly after I entered the building, I was ushered into the laboratory for my test. I am not squeamish, nor do I faint at the sight of blood, however it’s never a good day when the technician can’t find a cooperative vein. That’s why I always say, “The veins in my right arm look good, but I can promise you that they will rock and roll away from you, and collapse as soon as you come anywhere near them with a needle.

    Unfortunately, last year, my regular phlebotomist was on vacation. So I was stuck with the Evil Blood Lady, who said, “Hold still while I draw you.” I was hoping she would paint my portrait, but after using my right arm for a pin cushion, the Evil Blood Lady grinned and said, “Sorry, I guess I should have listened to you.” I looked at her and said, “Not to worry, black and blue are my favorite colors. You can take the needle out of my arm now.”

    Many years ago, I experienced my most unusual encounter with a phlebotomist. When I entered the laboratory, I was confronted by a medical lab technician with no fingers. Happily, she could grasp a needle with her knuckles, and I didn’t come out with a tattoo.  It was kind of like getting your teeth cleaned by a blind dentist, who knew exactly where your nose was supposed to be.

    Happily, this year my phlebotomist had returned from her vacation just in time to come at me with a sharp object. No problems!  I took myself out for breakfast and had a pancake and three cups of coffee to celebrate. I wore my elastic bandage the rest of the day, just to be sure that the blood would stay exactly where it was supposed to be in my really cooperative left arm.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    Recently, I read an article in Mother Jones Magazine written by E.J. Graff, that began: “On a dreary, cold Saturday in April.” Then I looked at my thermostat, and it informed me that, on this hot day in June, in Tucson, Arizona, the outside temperature had just peaked at 115 degrees, setting some kind of record that only a meteorologist can love.

    There’s an old saying, “It’s hot enough to fry and egg on the sidewalk.” Well, that day, it was hot enough to roast a pig! I spotted a Great Horned Owl huddling the shade, on the ground near a tall wall. Upon seeing me, he flew away. That let me know, that while it was too hot for airplanes to take off in the 119 degrees in  Phoenix, a person can always hitch a ride on the back of a really big owl.

    So what! It’s hot! That’s the price we desert rats pay for 8 1/2 glorious months of temperate weather, while our cousins in the North suffer icy winds, blizzards and snow (The other 1/2 is a bow to temperamental September.) But, this article is not totally about summer heat. As Will Ferrell so aptly said, “Summer is real cute until every type of insect comes out of the 8th circle of Hell.”

    Consequently, until the monsoon rains arrive, and bring the tarantulas out of their burrows, it’s time for the noisy Cicadas to come out of the ground, from their 2-5 year lethargy, and begin to play their extremely loud, buzzing sounds. Only the males play these songs, and I guess the females accommodate them to shut them up. It seems to work, because after two or three weeks the Cicadas die off. These insects live a sad but noisy and active sex life. Cicadas are big and loud but harmless to humans. They don’t sting—-They sing!

    There is a legend about Cicadas. The legend claims that; “These insects are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.” The only loud poets I ever encountered wrote Rap Poetry, and entertained in underground clubs.

    Perhaps there’s some truth to the legend, but I think it’s more feasible that Cicadas are the souls of people who wished that their kids, who played the violin, had practiced when they were out of the house.

     I will let you ponder that possibility while I take a teabag out to my car. The bottle of water in there is probably boiling by now. A cup of hot car tea, and a Cicada concert really does let me know that summer has arrived.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“What is so rare as a day in June?”) James Russell Lowell



    Citizens! at our last meeting concerning our house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, several taxpayers suggested that our White House rental application form needs revision. Therefore, we, the three hundred million landlords of the property, formed a Distant Relatives of Dead U.S. Presidents Committee to help us update the screening process.

    It is most appropriate that we now hear from the woman who arrived first at our meeting, who was first in line for coffee and doughnuts and who has been first in the hearts of more than a few of our Country men, our own Vernonata Washington.

    “Mr. Chairman, as you all know, back in 1790, my several-greats-ago cousin, George Washington, looked around the marshlands of Washington, D.C. and saw seven shacks and two pigsties that gave him a nostalgic twinge for Congress. ‘Hey,’ he said. ‘What a perfect place to build the President’s House.’ First, he hired a French fellow named L’Enfant, but it took two years and 730 bottles of Beaujolais for him to dig the foundation. George fired him and turned to James Hobson, the Irishman for an architectural plan. However, the Country was only 20 years old and no one knew how to build the thing. After all, most of their former leaders had lived in castles.  Consequently, in 1794 laborers, African slaves, and six stone-cutters from Scotland, were imported from overseas.”’

    “What’s your point, Vernonata?” “I think we need to ask a prospective White House tenant if he (or she) can, in good conscience live in a house that was built by a bunch of foreigners.” At this a shout was heard from the back of the room. “Well, I think we need to ask if our boarder is going to throw wild parties. My ancestors never did.”

    “Chip Adams,” snapped Felicity Jefferson. “My long-dead, 12-times removed cousin,Thomas Jefferson was your forefather’s Vice President. When Adams was President, half of the 36 rooms in the White House weren’t even plastered. Water had to be carried by hand from half-a-mile away, and the only john around was John Adams. The privy was a three-holer in the backyard. No wonder your relatives didn’t entertain much. When cousin Thomas moved in, the roof leaked and the grounds were in such bad shape that, on dark nights, several visitors  stumbled into pits before limping their way to the House.That’s how Cousin Thomas replaced bowing with handshakes, because he had to pull so many visitors out of holes in the front yard.
    ‘Considering some of the recent White House guests,’ Felicity added, ‘I’d vote for any applicant who’d want to bring the holes back!”’

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” the chairman shouted,”We are getting away from the point. We need some good questions to ask in the residency screening process. You have a suggestion, Vernonata?” “I want to know if future residents will hang up that tacky painting of Cousin George that Dolly Madison picked up at a fire sale. None of the other pictures smell of smoke.” “Veronata! The British burned down the House in 1812. That was one of the few things Dolly Madison saved.” “No wonder Nancy Reagan had to buy new dishes,” she replied.

    “It took 10 years to rebuild the White House, and our fifth President, James Monroe sold his own belongings to furnish it. So quit your carping. What now, Vernonata?” “Wasn’t Monroe the guy who stuck us with that dreadful swampland?” “Yes,” we call it Florida.”

    “Hickory Jackson, you may have the floor.” “I think Chip Adams made a good point about wild parties. My far-removed uncle, Andrew Jackson, opened the house to anybody off the street, so when Congress gave him $9,000 to furnish the East Room, the first thing he bought was 20 spittoons.” “So, we agree that lifestyle should be one of the things we should scrutinize. What else? Yes, Lady Feather Johnson.” “I don’t think that any of our tenants should swim naked in the Potomac River like Teddy Roosevelt did!”

    “Yes, Bully Roosevelt you have something to add?” “You know they didn’t have many bathrooms in the President’s living quarters when my Cousin Teddy was President, and he had six children. Mother Nature drove that old Rough Rider right into the Potomac. And, that shabby old house was so shaky, that every time he gave a dinner party, the State Dining Room floor had to be propped up.”

    “What do all of you think about asking for a damage deposit?” “Yes,” Bossy Truman?” “Are you talking about the House or the Country? If you mean the House, I’m against it.  It’s lucky that my forebears, Harry and Bess didn’t hanker for a water bed, or they probably would have crash landed—kerplunk!—on some tourists from Tombstone. That house was such a dump, by the time my poor relatives moved there from Missouri in 1947, I don’t know how anyone could have lived there. Their daughter’s piano leg sank into the floor, and her sitting room broke in half. By 1948 most of the place was held up by scaffolds because those old timbers were beginning to buckle. The White House was gutted and renovations cost $5,761, because the Korean War bumped up prices.  Say, let’s go get the Koreans to pay for some of those renovations.”

    “I don’t think that would work, Bossy, unless the British also pay us for burning it down during the War of 1812. We are getting off the subject again. So far, here are the questions we’ve come up with to weed out prospective tenants:”  1. Can you live in a house without a ‘Made by American’s label?’ 2. Would you consider some politically effective holes in the front yard to discourage irksome visitors? 3. Will you pay a damage deposit—not for the House—but for the Country?”

    “Okay, what else should we add?” “Yes,” Bully, you have something to say?” “When my other ancestor, Franklin Roosevelt, was President during WWII, the army wanted to paint the White House black, but he refused. Let’s paint it green, so our President could show his love for the environment by staying home and tending to the Green House.”

    “We will bring that up at our next meeting, when we will discuss, ‘Zoning Violations:Terminating a Tenant for Running a Business Out of His Home.’ Meanwhile, consider Calvin Coolidge’s words when he returned from an evening stroll with a friend.

    The friend looked at the White House and joked, ‘I wonder who lives there?’  ‘Nobody, Coolidge replied. They just come and go.’”

    And leave the key under the mat.

    reprinted from: Blumenfeld/Alpern humor column in ACCENT ON HOMES AND LIVING MAGAZINE ( Atlanta, Ga, 1994 c. Blumenfeld) and DESERT LEAF PUBLICATIONS (Tucson, AZ, 2008 c. Blumenfeld)



    “When all else fails, there is music. When that fails you, there is beer.”
    (James Hauenstein.)

    After landing in Seattle, my friend Paula and I tried to find where the airline folks had hidden our luggage. The airport directions were a mystery, and the only sign we understood was, “escalator out of order.” Then began the adventure of riding several elevators up and down until we discovered our luggage. Schlepping four suitcases across a bridge, we took another elevator up and then one more down until we finally found the taxi stand. We arrived at our hotel just in time to enjoy dinner in their obscenely expensive but delicious French restaurant.

    The next day, we took a tour of the Emerald City with a stop at Pike’s Place Market, where we watched the famous fish mongers toss fish over the heads of tourists. Then it was time to go from shore to ship for our cruise to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. I could go on and on about how pleased we were with the cabin, the food, the tours, the service and most of our eighty fellow passengers, but it is always more fun to write about the less than perfect part of a trip—-which in this case was marketed as “evening entertainment.”

    In all fairness, a small ship sailing to little historical villages has a choice of local musicians, and some have little ear appeal. For instance, the first night, after a welcoming cocktail party and delicious dinner, we were submitted to a barbershop quartet. The only time I ever enjoyed a barbershop quartet was when I saw, THE MUSIC MAN, and the quartet sang, “Lida Rose.” And, as far as I know, “quartet,” means “four.” This group had 20 enthusiastic men, who I assume had 20 enthusiastic wives who were overjoyed to get them out of the house. They were followed by a “swing group” who started playing together, ended up together, but managed to get lost somewhere in between.

    Paula and I learned to sit in the back of the room in order to sneak out inconspicuously. The next night we were led in “Geographical Trivia.” It is an indisputable fact that Americans know little about the geography of our own Country let alone the geography of lower Mongolia, so the affable host of the game had to give us all of the answers as well as tossing prizes to those sitting closest to the front of the room.

    Then, after a beautiful day in the seaside town of Friday Harbor, and a visit to an alpaca farm, where we were greeted by fifty very sweet alpaca females (two, that the owner claimed had become pregnant through immaculate conception.) We then returned to the ship, and were once again treated to cocktails and a delicious meal followed by brain numbing BINGO!

    On the fourth night, after a visit to the breathtakingly beautiful Olympic National Park, we were treated to a “night full of music and laughter.” The taped music was good, but when the old guy with the ponytail started to impersonate the greatest singers of the past, the laughter unfortunately began. It reminded me of what Andy Rooney said, “We don’t need a lot of bad musicians filling the air with unnecessary sounds. Some of the professionals are bad enough.
    The singer was quite taken with his performance, and as he jumped about (microphone in hand) he did not notice that when he had last zipped his fly, his long Donald Trump tie had gotten caught. So every time he jumped Starboard, his tie waved at the Port side audience.
    When he rolled up his sleeves and whipped off his tie, I said to Paula, “Let’s get out of here before he opens his shirt!”

    The next two nights offered a pleasant respite from bad entertainment which is an oxymoron. A highly pregnant professional band singer from Seattle had come home to Port Angeles to deliver her baby, and we were the last gig on her schedule. Her voice was beautiful, but her repartee left something to be desired, when she held her protruding belly, and said, “There’s a diaphragm in there somewhere.  I have no idea where it went.” The Captain of our vessel was thrilled that her water did not break while she was singing the blues. The next night we were treated to a trio who played Zydeco (Cajun) music, and they were really good!

    The last night we left when the lady playing the washboard  handed more washboards out to the audience to accompany both her and the winded tuba player. Paula thought that packing our suitcases would be much more enjoyable.

    Don’t get me wrong!  Other than the entertainment, we really did have fun on our cruise. On my departing questionnaire, I rated everything as excellent, and I never did approach a performer to ask,”So, are you trying to be a musician?”

    Esther Blumenfeld (Sometimes the pause between the notes is the best part of the song) E.B.