Our good friends the Bahamians are on an extended holiday in Europe. At one of their stops, at La Tour d’Argent, when they asked for the wine list they were given this Manhattan phone book-sized inventory of the restaurant’s wine cellar.
No wonder Mr. Bahamian, so nattily and continentally attired in basic black, looks a bit perplexed in this picture! If I had to wade through a thousand-page wine list, I’d be ready to order, say, about next weekend.
The Wrestling Fan and his lovely wife recently spent a few weeks hiking around Turkey. He returned from his travels with a gift for us — a blue pendant with an eye-like set of concentric circles on the front.
Called a nazar (in Turkish, the Nazar Boncugu) the little pendant is supposed to serve as a kind of good luck charm that can protect you from the ravages of the “Evil Eye.” The notion that people can give you the “Evil Eye” — whether through witchcraft, or sorcery, or deviltry, or simply through the sheer force of outright, pulsating human envy and hatred, that certain people can hurt you with a glance — is one of the oldest superstitions known to homo sapiens. And that superstition still has legs. According to the WF, this little blue pendant is the most popular souvenir in Turkey, sold and seen everywhere.
It was nice of the Wrestling Fan to get us some protection from the Evil Eye. But now we are faced with a true quandary: where do we most need this important personal shield? It would be great to have it at the office, where I probably could use every bit of help, from any source, in resisting the depredations of opposing parties and counsel. However, I don’t want to hog the protection. You never know when Kish might need the nazar on the homefront, to fend off the evil antics of slow-moving service providers. And for that matter, maybe it’s greedy to keep the nazar to ourselves. Let’s face it — the entire city of Cleveland could use a Nazar Boncugu to help one of its sports teams finally win a championship one of these years.
Now that I think about it, I wish the WF had packed a few more nazars into his suitcase.
I love fireworks. Who doesn’t? They’re magical. On the other hand, Red, White & Boom, Columbus’ titanic Fourth of July fireworks show, is an absolute zoo. Hundreds of thousands of people cram into downtown to watch the blasts and hear the booms, and then the city is gridlocked forever by a colossal, once-a-year traffic jam.
I hate massive, milling crowds of sweaty, messily drunken people, and I despise unending, exhaust-laden traffic jams. So, as much as I like fireworks, I have let my disdain for getting caught in a crush of humanity keep me from ever watching a Red, White & Boom show.
Until this year — potentially. The accompanying photo is taken from one of the chairs at the table in our backyard. It shows the tops of two of the buildings in the southern part of downtown Columbus. On Friday night, when Red, White & Boom begins, I’ll be out in my backyard, drinking an ice-cold adult beverage and waiting to see whether the fireworks are visible from my backyard perch. If so, I’ll quaff my frosty tonic and enjoy the show. If the fireworks unfortunately don’t show above the rooftops, I guess I’ve just have to guzzle my brew nevertheless.
When I’m on the road for business, there is one unvarying element of my travel routine: the call home. I’m like ET that way. In fact, it’s usually two calls home — one when I get to my hotel room and drop my bags off, and then another when I’m back in the room for good and ready to turn in for the night.
Why two calls? The first one is easy to explain. When I’m traveling, I just want Kish to know where I am. So, I’ll call and remind her of the name of my hotel and give her my assigned room number. In the age of cell phones, this is probably pointless — who wants to hassle with a hotel switchboard when you can call somebody directly? — but it still makes me feel good that she knows where I am.
The second call has a deeper, less rational purpose. Business travel is weird. You’re alone in an unknown hotel room, with all of its alien sights and sounds. Hearing the familiar voice of a loved one just makes the strange room feel less strange.
Curiously, too, the more mundane the conversation, the greater the degree of emotional comfort that is imparted. I don’t need to be entertained by some abstract discussion about a recent Supreme Court decision or the latest episode of a hot TV show. Fill my ear with talk about the HVAC systems guy’s comments about what we need to do to our ducts, however, and I’ll be a happy camper. Those are the conversations that make me feel like we’re at home, talking on the sofa about the events of the day. It’s exactly the kind of comforting mental image that helps me to slip into slumberland.
Every job has its own rhythms, peaks and valleys. In the retail industry, the holiday season is the crunch time. Lifeguards are swamped between Memorial Day and Labor Day, accountants get killed in the weeks leading up to April 15, and ski instructors are snowed under when January and February roll around.
In the law business, too, different practices have different busy and slack periods. The fine folks in the transactional and tax areas get crushed at the end of the year, as clients rush to complete deals or restructurings before their accounting period closes. For litigators, there seems to be no set peaks and valleys during the practice year. It’s more of a crap shoot. Sometimes the new year starts with a rush, sometimes the spring is when all of the work forces seem to come together, and sometimes judges will schedule things between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve in hopes of strongly encouraging parties to voluntarily resolve their disputes.
Whatever your job, when you are really busting it you look forward to the next three-day weekend as if it were your own personal road to salvation. And if the Fourth of July is the holiday that might break up that period where you are buried, you hope like hell that this isn’t one of those years when Independence Day falls on a freaking Wednesday. Because while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a day off in the middle of the work week, we know that a sterile, non-working Wednesday just doesn’t play the same sweet personal music as the full, complete, party-Thursday-night/sleep-in-on-Friday three-day weekend.
I’m happy to report that this year the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, which means that we’ve got one of those official three-day weekends just around the corner. It’s darned good timing in my book.
It’s interesting how dogs can be different.
Penny never met a rawhide bone that she didn’t want to immediately devour. She would take it to a corner of the room, plop down, and use her paws and teeth to tear the bone to shreds and then consume it, with relish. You didn’t know what Penny liked more — the pleasure of using her teeth to rip the bone apart or the full belly that she felt from gobbling down the wet and disgusting shards of rawhide after the destruction was complete.
Kasey’s beagle instinct, however, is completely different. When you give her a bone she wants to go outside and bury it — right now. And she wants to do it in secret, too. Only Kasey can know where all of the bones are buried, and if she sees you spying on her she’ll grab the bone and pick a new spot, away from prying eyes. Kasey seems to get multiple joys out of the experience, too. She is a ferocious digger and likes nothing better than to put those claws to work sending clods of dirt flying. And when the bone is safely tucked away she has the satisfaction of knowing that another bone is under the ground, secure and ready for later retrieval.
Interestingly, I’m not sure that Kasey ever digs up the buried bones. She seems to get her enjoyment primarily from the burial job well done.
The rain, in Spain, falls again, and again, and again.
I’m as much a fan of My Fair Lady as anyone. In fact, I’m as much a fan of rain as anyone this side of a farmer. I enjoy the gentle patter of raindrops on the roof. I like to see things nice and green, and I know that rain is what makes that possible.
But for God’s sake! Enough is enough! In central Ohio we have had gray skies and rain, for weeks now. Our backyard is so lush and green it looks like the tropics. And while those of us who live in the Midwest know that we have to endure the constant overcast during the winter months, we expect to be compensated by some blue skies and bright sunshine when summer arrives. We want to be able to wear shorts and expose our flesh to the sun’s warming rays. We want to sit outside in the clear, rather than remaining huddled indoors or under umbrellas, looking expectantly at the skies.
But not this summer, not so far. I’ve come to hate looking at my iPhone weather app, and seeing either the dreaded cloud with lightning icon or the cloud with rain icon, day after day. Will we ever see the unadorned yellow sun icon again?