Alone on an island — June 23, 2021

Alone on an island

Two friends have recommended the documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. But as I’ve explained to said friends, if it’s not the NBA playoffs, the Olympic trials, an occasional MLB game, or a professional wrestling documentary, then it hasn’t been seen on my TV in weeks.

Unlike people who hate having fun, I enjoy the Bee Gees’ music. I’ve also long been a fan of the mane of hair Barry Gibb sported for decades. Barry, a singer-songwriter and producer, was one of the three brothers Gibb comprising the Bee Gees. Maurice and Robin were the other two members. Among oodles of other hits, the Bee Gees penned Islands in the Stream, which was released by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1983.

The song was a humongous hit that topped every chart in the galaxy. There was no escaping it. Trust me. I tried.

Indeed, I’m sharing this moment in music history with you because whenever the Bee Gees come up in conversation, I tell folks (one of) my deepest darkest — that I don’t care for Dolly and Kenny’s version of the song.

As this is considered one of the greatest duets in recorded history, people respond by dern-near passing out.

They reach for the smelling salts when I add that I prefer the Bee Gees’ version of the song.

I mean no disrespect to Dolly, a national treasure who I rank up there with sunshine and puppy dogs, or the late great Kenny, a man whose hits I quote on a monthly basis. In fact, I play tunes from Dolly and Kenny’s Christmas album during the holiday season. I’m especially fond of a song called The Greatest Gift of All.

But when it comes to non-holiday duets, I prefer their work with others and will crank Kenny and Kim Carnes or Kenny and the late great Dottie West when I’m driving or doing something that resembles cleaning.

Back to Islands in the Stream…part of my issue with the song is that, even as a wee lass growing up on the Goff Estate, I had no idea what it meant. My surroundings weren’t populated by too many islands or streams. We had creeks and ditches and mud holes. Could Dolly and Kenny have been referring to the rocks in the ditches and mud holes when they sang of islands in streams? Or perhaps the trash that clung to the logs in the creeks?

Who knows? I just know that I sighed every time the song blared onto either the country or Top 40 radio station.

Because, like I said, there was no escaping it.

You know what would have made it more bearable? Barry Gibbs’ hair.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Inept search — June 16, 2021

Inept search

A couple years ago, I developed runner’s knee in both knees. Thus, I purchased wraparound knee braces. The knees eventually healed, and I stored the braces in an undisclosed area in my house.

By undisclosed, I mean undisclosed to my memory.

Fast-forward to this week, when one of the young runners in my family developed runner’s knee. As a kind and generous person, I offered to lend her my knee braces.

There was only one problem. I couldn’t find them.

I had a vague recollection of finding the knee braces one day whilst performing an activity that could be described as cleaning. On that day, I said to myself, “Self, what the heck are these things?” Then everything – the RICE, the limping, the pain – flooded back to my memory.

But when I needed to locate the braces this weekend, I couldn’t remember where I had seen them. I might have grown up on an estate, but I don’t live in a mansion. There are only so many places they could have been. I checked the obvious locations – my underwear drawer, my sweater drawer, my sock drawer – but I came up empty.

I also pulled out the washer and drawer and looked behind them and ran a yardstick under the appliances. I performed the latter task as that little voice in my head asked, “Dummy, explain to me how two knee braces, not one, but two, flattened themselves and scooted under the washer and/or dryer?”

I had no answer, of course, but I did have a handful of cat hair and dust for my efforts.

Next, I checked the closets…multiple times. I even checked the closet that contains my holiday decorations. I also looked through papers that I have needed to file and/or discard for a year. All that did was remind me that I need to file and/or discard that mess.

After I checked the closet that houses my clothes – for the fourth time – and the cabinets that hold my cleaning supplies – for the third time — I decided to go through the house on a room-by-room basis.

So, I started with my bedroom. I looked through every drawer (again), the closet (again), and the laundry basket. (Yes, it was in my room…for reasons.)

Then, I moved onto the master bath, which I hadn’t searched, because putting knee braces in a bathroom cabinet would have made too much sense. Especially when you could toss them into a closet with Christmas cards or underneath the washer and/or dryer.

Yeah, they were in the bathroom cabinet.  

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Pick a fight — May 19, 2021

Pick a fight

Last week, the market research and data analytics firm YouGov released a poll that attempted to answer a question we’ve all asked – what animals do Americans think they could beat in an unarmed fight?

Here’s a list of the animals provided in the poll as well as the percent of Americans who feel confident they would emerge victorious in hand-to-hand combat:

  • Rat 72 percent
  • House cat 69 percent
  • Goose 61 percent
  • Medium-sized dog 49 percent
  • Eagle 30 percent
  • Large dog 23 percent
  • Chimpanzee 17 percent
  • King cobra 15 percent
  • Kangaroo 14 percent
  • Wolf 12 percent
  • Crocodile 9 percent
  • Gorilla 8 percent
  • Elephant 8 percent
  • Lion 8 percent
  • Grizzly bear 6 percent

Here’s what leapt out at me like a rat out of a trash can – 17 percent of my fellow Americans are delusional enough to believe they could take on a chimpanzee and live to tell the tale. Those animals have been known to rip off people’s faces. Their faces!

And who are the 15 percent of folks who think they could defeat a king cobra without a weapon? It’s a snake…that can stand up and look you in the eyes before it kills you. But, sure, you’re going to subdue it with what? Your personality?

There’s a notable gender gap with the king cobra result. Twenty-three percent of men are foolish enough to believe they could beat one of the world’s most venomous snakes whilst only eight percent of women considered the matter and thought, “I stepped on a baby garter snake once, so sure, why not?”

By the way, I know the people surveyed could have fibbed or had some fun with the pollsters, but would you please allow me a few minutes of mirth?

Anyway, when it comes to the big beasts – crocodile, gorilla, elephant, lion, grizzly bear – there’s not much difference in the percent of delusional men or women who think they could win one of those matches.

Now let’s look at the smaller animals – medium-sized dog, goose, house cat, rat. According to the Google, hounds, terriers, and beagles are examples of medium-sized dogs. Whilst I’m sure nearly half my fellow Americans could defeat such a canine in a fair fight, I am equally sure I could not. Those dogs would turn me into a chew toy.

I’m also not so sure about my chances against a goose. My Mommaw Jettie and Poppaw Rufus owned geese and I have flashbacks to the day one chased my sister out of the yard. Then again, if I could get my hands on the goose’s neck…

Rodents carry diseases, so I’d rather not engage a rat…unless I’m wearing boots.

I’ve saved house cats for last. I’m not bragging, but I’m undefeated against house cats. However, I’ve had the advantage of rumbling with cats who’ve considered me their master. One member of my cat army terrified my dearly departed large-sized dog. Also, as he reached under the bed for this infamous member of the cat army, my dad, the late, great Burton Goff, boasted that he had dealt with bulls and biting sows and, thus, he was not afraid of her. He quickly pulled back his bloody hand and retreated from the room.

So, yeah, I’m not volunteering to fight with a house cat. Or any of these animals, especially the chimpanzee or the king cobra or the kangaroo…

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Men in tights — May 12, 2021

Men in tights

As I might have mentioned, I’m a recovering professional wrestling fan. As I also might have mentioned, my former fascination with wrestling — pronounced rasslin’ at the Goff Estate – used to surprise certain people.

I never understood why. After all, wrestling is a soap opera, featuring men in singlets and shorts. And if there’s one thing I’ve always loved, it’s a good soap opera, especially one featuring men in singlets and shorts.

Of course, the professional wrestling my siblings and I grew up watching on WTBS didn’t feature the over-the-top storylines that came to dominate the genre. It did have storylines, though. Not that I can remember any of them, but I can remember being heartbroken by the turn of a heel or when one of my favorites lost an important match.

I can also remember watching wrestling with my poppaw, the late, great Rufus Goff, but not with my dad, the late, great Burton Goff. Daddy was not a fan. He never let an opportunity pass to tell his children that the entire enterprise was fake and ridiculous and not worth our time. He’d cross his unibrow and say, “You know it’s not real.” Well, yeah. “Then why are you watching it?” Because.

Later, when we were adults and wrestling had morphed into a dazzling display of loud music and rude behavior, he would shake his head, sigh, and glance sideways at his children and grandchildren whenever he had to so much as endure a 10-second clip of a show. He must have been wondering where it had all gone wrong for him.

Perhaps I should have suggested to Daddy, a serious soap opera fan, that it was like a soap and the wrestlers were simply characters. Then again, in my analogy, I’m not sure which one would have been the Undertaker — John Black or Stefano. So, maybe it’s just as well that I kept that to myself.

Anyway, although I’m not a prude, over time, I started wincing more and more whilst watching wrestling. One night, I legit said to myself, “Self, I can’t do this anymore,” and I turned the channel. I haven’t watched in years, but I have tuned into A&E’s “Biography: WWE Legends.” They’re profiling eight legends — Steve Austin, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and The Ultimate Warrior. If you’ve missed the original airings and you’re so inclined, check your local listings for the reruns.

The bios have given me a chance to discuss wrestling with my niece, Valerie, who alerted me to their existence, and to reminisce about my days as an active wrestling fan. It’s also given me the insight that if John Black and Stefano had solved their problems with a cage match, it would have spared a lot of people a lot of pain and heartache.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

May the fourth be with you — May 4, 2021

May the fourth be with you

Unlike other Star Wars galaxy fans of my generation, I didn’t grow up watching the movies. Indeed, I didn’t view my first Star Wars flick until a few years after the original trilogy had made history in movie theaters. What’s more, until that fateful Labor Day weekend when I happened across the first Star Wars movie on the TV, I had never had a scintilla of interest in the franchise.

But after that first viewing, I was hooked.

All these years later, on this Star Wars Day – May the Fourth – I’m still hooked. I have watched the prequel trilogy and the sequel trilogy and both standalone films, Solo and Rogue One. I enjoyed the former and loved the latter. Depending on my mood, I might make the bold statement that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie ever. If you disagree, we can duel with lightsabers.

Although my feelings for Star Wars lore have not led me to sample any of the cartoons, oops, I mean animated series, I have read three books detailing the rise of Darth Vader as well as one focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi, aka my favorite Star Wars character. Thus, I’m beyond pumped about the upcoming Obi-Wan series and, of course, I am a faithful viewer of The Mandalorian.

Other than the fact that today is May the Fourth – a play on the Star Wars phrase “May the force be with you” – why am I reminiscing about Star Wars?

Because I’ve reflected on the fact that, for the most part, I’m not a blockbuster kind of gal. I’ve consulted the abacus and, unless the math is wrong, I have seen exactly one Marvel movie and maybe one Justice League movie. That’s a maybe because I’m not sure if the Superman flick I saw falls under the Justice League umbrella. I’m not even sure I know what the Justice League is.

Furthermore, I tried to watch the X-Men movies back in the day, and I made it through two or three before giving up after I realized it’s the exact same movie with different dialogue.

Before any of my friends and family members remind me, yes, I remain a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and yes, I recognize those movies were blockbusters.

Otherwise, I’m sort of a film snob, so why am I a Star Wars fangirl? It’s not due to nostalgia because, as aforementioned, I didn’t watch the movies until I had exited childhood.

I used to think my interest stemmed from the Darth Vader character and his frenemyship with Obi-Wan, but neither of those characters are in The Mandalorian. And while Darth Vader’s – and Leia’s – appearance at the end of Rogue One elevates that movie from good to great, the film was already giving me chills before Vader and his red lightsaber showed up.

The best answer I can give myself is that the original trilogy featured a group of scrappy guys and one awesome gal who not only took on the evil empire, but defeated it in the face of overwhelming odds. Those other blockbusters feature superheroes or mutants with special powers. Sure, you can make an argument about Luke Skywalker’s DNA and The Force being super powers, but I can also make an argument that he was just a whiny kid.

So, maybe I’m just a sucker for underdogs who defeat fascists.

Happy Star Wars Day!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Word of the week — April 28, 2021

Word of the week

This space is brought to you by the word exsanguination.

This bloody tale began a couple weeks ago when Cady, a member of my cat army, started acting weirder than usual. She pranced around the house, looking toward the ceilings and emitting a strange noise that sounded like something between a cry and a moan.

I initially suspected she was trying to tell me a poltergeist had settled into the attic. Or, worse, that one or more vermin had breached the perimeter. Such concerns worsened when she repeatedly acted like a lunatic in the kitchen. Longtime readers might recall that rodents have tested my resolve over the years by sneaking in behind the stove. And that one rodent lost its life last year in said stove after being injured by and then chased by the cat army.

Anyway, due to Cady’s antics, I pulled out the stove and opened all the cabinets and drawers, but I saw no rodents or evidence of their presence. So, I went on with my life.

That’s what I was doing last Wednesday night, going on with my life, when suddenly, Cady bolted from the living room and sprinted into the kitchen.

When I joined Cady, I found her sniffing around the stove, which was still pulled out from the wall, like she was a detection dog looking for drugs. She also sniffed around the wall, the floor, and the side of the cabinet that leads to the countertop. I knew she was hot on the trail of something. But I checked and it didn’t look as if any of the steel wool that I had plugged into the small hole behind the stove – don’t ask – had come dislodged.

That’s when I thought I saw movement on the countertop. Surely, it must have been my reflection, right?

Wrong. Upon closer inspection, I saw a mouse scurrying across the countertop.

The mouse had no reason to fear me, so I picked up Cady and placed her within inches from the mouse. She didn’t hiss, she didn’t swat, she didn’t acknowledge its existence. Thus, the mouse scurried across the countertop and down the wall.

I assumed it left the way it came in. Noting there was space between the wall and the baseboard, I plugged the seams with steel wool – I should own stock in the product – and then turned around and exclaimed, “Expletive!”

The stove!

What if that mouse was biding its time in the stove?!?!

I don’t have the type of tool needed to remove the back of the stove, so I had to leave it for the night, well, morning because by this point it was past midnight. I had also noticed that the mouse had been feasting on the season’s last Cadbury egg, which had been waiting for me on the countertop. As you can expect, this last turn of events pushed me over the edge.

So, I left the kitchen light on for Cady, who would not leave her post beside the stove, and went to bed. Simon, the other member of my cat army, wanted no part of this adventure. To his defense, he is 14, and Cady is 16. They’re seniors. Besides, maybe the departed member of the army, the late great Alice Aurora Goff, was the rodent slayer.

These thoughts weighed on my mind and I didn’t sleep much. When I emerged bleary-eyed from my bedroom the following morning, I feared I’d find a family of mice living it up. I was prepared to shake their hands, give them the deed to the house, and vacate the premises.

Well, I did find one mouse in the house.

It was lying in the living floor, beside my rocking chair. I pronounced it dead by exsanguination.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Make use of — April 21, 2021

Make use of

Approximately six weeks ago – after months of deliberation – I cut the cable cord and switched to a streaming service that offers live TV as well as access to a library of shows and movies.

I can’t describe the process as painless. Indeed, there are aspects of cable that I miss including their handy onscreen guide and the old people TV stations. Otherwise, streaming and I were getting along fabulously until last Sunday night.

With a baseball game on the TV and the laptop in my lap, I was living the dream. Suddenly, an alert popped up on said laptop. It seems my Internet company was warning that I was danger of reaching the limits of my Internet usage.

Oops!

The company offered an upgrade – for a price – but any longtime reader of this-here space can predict my reaction to that offer. As soon as the game concluded, I stopped streaming and did not resume until my next billing cycle began six days later.

Yes, that means I missed Aaron Rodgers’ second week as guest host on Jeopardy!

At this point, you might be asking yourself two questions, “Self, didn’t she realize all that extra streaming would result in more Internet usage? Also, self, doesn’t she have unlimited usage?”

As for the first question, apparently, I hadn’t realized it.

As for the second question, I’m assuming you’re new around here. On the other hand, one of my besties, a person who has known me since college, asked the same question. As if I would pony up the money for unlimited usage.

For the final week of the billing cycle, I checked my usage obsessively. Thankfully, regular net usage doesn’t utilize many bytes. To be on the safe side, though, I didn’t watch any social media videos of cats and only accidentally shared gifs last week.

But I can’t live in a silent house. The over-usage was caused, in part, because I had been utilizing streaming music services during work days instead of listening to my music. I will not make that mistake again.

A bigger problem is that I was streaming nonstop the rest of the time. In fact, occasionally I streamed on the TV in the living room whilst simultaneously streaming music on my iPad as I walked on the treadmill in the evenings. I also streamed on the TV whilst reading. And cleaning. And cooking. And weed eating. And showering. And, well, you get the point. Such is my need for background noise that one weekend I streamed a lacrosse game. Or was it a match? Beats me because I know nothing about lacrosse.

I did have the good sense to turn off the TV and the streaming device when I left the house or who knows when I would have received the alert from the company.

Thanks to that alert, I didn’t go over. But if I had gone over because of, let’s say Aaron Rodgers, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But if I had gone over because of a lacrosse game/match that I didn’t even watch? Oh, I would have kicked my own expletive for that.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

An unwelcome guest — April 14, 2021

An unwelcome guest

A week or so ago, I was wasting time on social media when a story caught my attention. According to said story, a woman in South Carolina was alerted to a critter being in her kitchen when her “dog just went berserk.”

She initially assumed her dog had located a mouse, but when she entered the kitchen, she spied what she believed to be a stray dog. Keeping her eyes on the “dog,” the 85-year-old dialed 9-1-1. When first responders arrived an hour and 10 minutes later, the woman learned that the “dog,” who had remained pinned in a corner of the room, was actually a coyote who had gained entry into the house through a pet door.

The first responders used pet toys to lure the coyote out of the house through the pet door. The story did not detail the coyote’s fate, but the woman said she has started keeping the pet door closed at night.

What an excellent idea!

Indeed, I would go one step further and keep that pet door closed permanently. This story has highlighted the reason I don’t have a pet door – you never know what’s going to sneak inside your house. It could be a slithering snake or a rabid raccoon or a small psychotic human.

You just never know.

And this invasion doesn’t have to occur at night or with evil intent. You could be hanging out at your house in the middle of the day, wasting time on social media, when you look up and realize a squirrel or a possum or a baby bobcat has taken up residence on your sofa.

I understand the appeal of pet doors, especially for dog owners. Pet doors allow dogs the freedom to come and go as they please. They allow humans a measure of freedom, too. Humans don’t have to constantly jump up and down like a yo-yo for that canine who can’t decide if he or she wants to stay inside or outside or actually use the expletive bathroom.

It probably works for inside/outside cats, too, but that notion is foreign to me. In fact, my dog, the late, great Mia Frances, was only inside/outside because I had a fenced-in back yard. Still, one time a neighbor’s dog funneled his or her way under the fence and appeared, to my and Mia’s surprise, in the back yard.

I’ve also spotted various other critters, including snakes, rodents, and rabbits, in the yard over the years. Bunnies might be cute, but I would go berserk if one hopped into my house, which is why I do not have a pet door.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Power down — April 7, 2021

Power down

You might recall that a couple years ago I wrote in gushing detail about my obsessive love for my fitness tracker, Esmerelda or Esme for short.

As with other fitness trackers, Emse was the type of gal who alerted me every hour if I hadn’t gotten my steps and –.

Oh, you might have noticed with that “was” that I’m referring to Esme in the past tense. No, I haven’t murdered her, but, well, keep reading.

Approximately a year ago, Esme started exhibiting a few weird characteristics. Most noticeably, she credited me for exercising when I had been doing less than nothing. In Esme’s world, since I was allegedly burning a couple thousand calories a day, I could also eat a few thousand calories every expletive day.

Although this might not seem like a big deal, it meant there was no need for me to input my food into the app because, at the end of every day, I allegedly had oodles of banked calories just begging to be consumed.

Also, Esme started glowing in the dark. It was as if The Child from The Mandalorian had swallowed a lightbulb and then crept into my room, no doubt looking for frog eggs to eat. I could not sleep with that green light worming its way behind my closed eyelids, so I removed Esme at bedtime.

To review, all this meant there was no need for me to log my food or my sleep, two of Esme’s reasons for existing.

To make matters worse, Esme also started exhibiting issues with her battery. When I contacted the company, they said, yep, there’s a problem, so we’ll give you a discount on a new model.

Uh, no thanks.

I made do with Esme. She continued to buzz me hourly (assuming I hadn’t already gotten my steps) whilst providing me a handy way to keep up with my water and the days I legit exercised (I input it manually).

But a few weeks ago, the battery pretty much quit working. It would be at 100 percent at, let’s say ten o’clock, and down to 12 percent by noon. I found myself charging it every couple hours just to keep it from dying.

Then, after a week when I barely communicated with Esme due to a migraine, I said to myself, “Self, what are you even doing?”

Since that day, she has remained on the table.

And you know what? I’m still drinking water and I’m still exercising five days a week. Sure, I keep track of these activities by pen and paper, but trust me, I have enough of both.

And, no, I don’t jump up every hour on the hour to get my steps. To be honest, though, that’s a relief because Esme had become something of a nag.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Food fight — March 24, 2021

Food fight

If you have indoor cats, you’ve probably noticed they begin to clamor for food as soon as they can see the bottom of their bowl. There are several theories as to why they do this, but at least two of them — poor depth perception, whisker stress (look it up) – suggest they eat from the middle of the bowl and, once it empties, have trouble seeing the food at the sides.

My cat army has another weird eating issue. They refuse to eat food that has fallen out of the bowl and onto the floor and/or food they have nibbled on that has fallen into the bowl.

It is maddening.

For starters, from my aged human eyes, it always appears that the bowl is full, and, thus, that the army should be happy. Trust me. That is not always the case.

Indeed, on a recent Saturday morning, I checked their bowl, saw that it was full, and proceeded to break my fast with a warm bowl of oatmeal. The army did not break their fast. Instead, they sat on each side of me, giving me pitiful stares.

I quickly deduced that the bowl was filled with fallen food and it was beneath my spoiled, privileged felines to feast on such filth.

But on that morning, I decided to make my stand. I had given in before, but not on this day. I am proud to say that I have never lost a staring contest with a cat. What’s more, I roll my eyes when folks compare an unmanageable task to herding cats. Pshaw. It might take some time. You might sport scratches for a few weeks, but you can herd cats.

You can force them to eat fallen food, too, and I was going to prove that if our standoff lasted days.

It lasted three hours and ended with me throwing out the bowl full of, to my aged eyes, perfectly acceptable food, and filling it with fresh food.

When I related this saga to other humans who live with cats, they repeated a variation of the same lines, “You should have known. They always win.”

True and true.

The cat army’s refusal to eat food that has previously touched their mouths and/or the floor has led me to this question – are big cats such as lions or tigers or even mid-size cats like bobcats and cougars so weird? And what about feral cats and outdoor cats?

Because something tells me that cats that survive in the wild are not going to stare at me for three hours and then run to the bathtub and howl with hunger pangs if I so much as suggest they nibble on a kibble that did not directly come from the bag.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.