Monday, April 30, 2007

Little Treasures

Julie and I have enjoyed driving California Highway 1 for many years. Morro Bay is our favorite staying place, but everything in the area is charming and inviting.

Cambria, with the original Ian's Restaurant on Center Street was always a target destination. Nearby was a block of small shops with attractive objects of interest and art for sale.

About thirty years ago, I bought a little pill box in one of those shops. I use it every day, and have yet to see something more attractive for its use.

I think it cost me five or six bucks.

It is not for sale.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fear and Sorrow in America

Follows is my response to Rosa Brooks' column in today's LA TIMES

You are so right. Obviously you are neither running a media outlet or for public office. Every point and comparison you make is valid and, unfortunately, unique in today's conventional mindset.

Why do so many Americans want to view themselves as victims? Is it a corollary to our need to feel afraid? The entertainment and broadcast news media thrive on fear. Weekend grosses and TV news ratings are calibrated according to their ability to deliver fear and dread to their viewers.

I don't know why it is so, but I have long recognized Fear as mankind's major motivator. Love and Comfort come in a distant second and third, not necessarily in that order. But I digress.

Thanks for your support.

B.J. Merholz

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sydney Rides

Sydney and I enjoyed a few more months as part of wedded bliss, then Julie threw us both out. She filed for divorce and custody of Joe. I didn’t ask for custody of Sydney but somehow, that’s how the deal went down. She got the kid and I got the dog. I guess she felt she couldn’t handle both.

I didn’t much handle Sydney. He seemed to want to go everywhere with me, but otherwise made no pressing demands so I let him tag along – always without a leash. As a result, we became recognized as a duo. He was welcome wherever we went.

People generally liked him better than me so I often benefited from our association. One case in point: a very nice lady managed her husband’s tobacco shop in the Fairfax District where I bought cigars and pipe tobacco. The rule was that Sydney never came into stores with me. He waited, sometimes impatiently, at the door while I conducted my business. When this charming lady saw Sydney in her doorway, she invited him and began to offer him biscuits. As low to the ground as he was, Sydney could spring about four feet straight up and nab a cookie from her hand. This was after the Cuban cigar embargo was established, but any decent tobacconist had avenues of importation. Because of Sydney, Mrs. Wittner developed a trust in me and I was able to buy bona fide Cuban cigars – at the same price as any reasonable Central American cigar - until the day of her retirement.

I drove nothing but convertibles in those days—with the top down. Sydney’s place of preference was on the flattened canvas of the lowered top. But Sydney seldom just sat there, He usually paced back and forth from one side of the canvas cover to other and then leaned off the edge against the passing wind. If I happened to make too sharp a turn, he sometimes fell off. If I noticed, I would pull up and wait for him to catch up. If I didn’t notice…well…he always found his way home. Luckily, he was never injured by this risky practice.

I have nine years of interesting Sydney memories and stories I could tell, but, to tell the truth,I’ve lost heart for this reminiscence. My close friends, and many others I’m sure, well remember Sydney to this day. Beyond these few notes, the rest of the world will just have to do without knowing more of this fabulous little character.
--Sketched on an envelope by Otho as a commemoration after Sydeny died.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pig Power

I don't think I have mentioned it on this space, but about 18 months ago I damaged the rotary cusp of my right shoulder. Two tears, including the bicep attachment. Aside from other limitations this imposed on my arm usage, it also reduced my ability to swim and perform my usual fitness exercises.

Secure Horizons and the UCLA medical establishment offered me the corrective options of surgery or professional therapy. Surgical coward that I am, I opted for therapy. After a few months, I felt sufficient improvement in pain reduction to drop the surgical option and the professional therapy and to pursued my own personal therapy.

I have been plodding along with strength exercises, stretching and swimming for several months, doing okay, but far from getting back to my pre-tear days.

Last evening, Julie and I hosted one of my popular pig-outs. The main attraction of this big meal is a Harrington's smoked ham from Vermont. I won't elaborate on the menu, suffice to say that everybody (but Julie) ate and drank to something like excess. I, myself, woke up this morning feeling bloated and logy. Eventually, I eased myself to The Spectrum pool in a move somewhat like doing the Easter Week penance of my youth.

After a few laps, however, I found I wasn't tiring as quickly as usual. As the laps continued, I realized that I was swimming longer and stronger than I had for the last 18 months. My shoulder still twinged with some strokes and my head still felt a little mushy but as I approached the 60 minute mark I could only conclude that I had been endowed with the power of the pig. I have always been partial to pig meat for its superior flavor, and now I can appreciate the salubrious, restorative power of pork. The ham was large and I plan to enjoy it frequently during this week of Passover and Easter feasting.

L e chiem!

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