Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pay Hike

My Hispanic housekeeper told me the bad news: instead of paying her $70 every two weeks for 2 hours of housekeeping, she's raising her fee to $100 for the same services. I gasped and said, "That's $50 an hour."

Her reply: "I work so hard."

My response: "I earned $50 an hour as an adjunct faculty member at the community college -- with both a bachelor's and a master's degrees."

To which she again replied, "But I work so hard. The house is so dirty."

Well, that sealed the deal! Didn't know I was living in such filth, doing the cleaning myself between times for the housekeeper. I vacuum, dust, clean the kitchen every single day, and clean the bathrooms once a week. Y even uses the rug shampooer and cleans the livingroom carpet about every two weeks to keep the dog hair and odors at bay. May not be the best housekeeping in the world, but the house can be opened to guests at any time without my feeling embarrassed or ashamed of the way it looks.

I talked to Y, explained the situation, and told him he's going to have to work with me one day a week to clean the house ourselves because there is no way I'm going to pay $200 a month to have someone else clean it. We'll set the saved money aside and treat ourselves to a nice dinner and a movie once a month instead.

I hope all her other clients, who are also being told of the rate increase, do likewise. She won't have to work so hard any longer because ... she isn't going to have any clients!

Rate hike? Take a hike!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

A black woman was found guilty of child abuse leading to the death of her child. Her husband, speaking to the media after the trial, claimed that his wife did not get a fair trial with a jury of her peers because there were no blacks on the jury. Had there been at least one person of color, s/he could have explained black culture to the rest of the jurors, leading (of course) to a verdict of not guilty.

We all share what’s called the human condition, a set of circumstances that bring us commonality, that make us peers. Our individual uniqueness does not separate us from our commonalities; it simply broadens the definition of one's self in relationship to others. Peers are not cookie-cutter copies of one another, but a common bond of the traits that we share. Underneath the outer shell, we are peers, one who has equal standing with others.

I guess if I ever have to go to trial I may feel differently and demand a jury of my peers: a white septuagenarian female, divorced, retired schoolteacher with both a BA and a MS, mother of two, grandmother of one. After all, unless you’ve walked in my white female shoes, you cannot know my journey.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Three Slices of Life

CafĂ© Society is a comedy of manners: well-dressed, upper-class gentlemen and ladies, living life without a care, but every move carefully crafted, every sentence uttered with perfect inflection. It’s not a film for everyone, but it’s a very typical Woody Allen period piece with pizzazz. The sets and the costumes are spot-on, and the story is what we would call typical of the generation and social class it portrays.

Bad Moms is balls to the walls, flat out funny comedy that mocks the “Stepford Wives” stereotype of a good mother when one character gets fed up with being a good mom and goes rogue. The language is over-the-top and in your face, but the actual storyline is solid and makes a good point about being true to one’s self, rather than trying to live up to a false ideal.

Florence Jenkins
is a poignant story of a woman who contracted syphilis from her new husband on her wedding night and is in the final stages of the mental after-effects as she faces her death. She is pleasantly out of touch with reality and quite charming, lavishing affection on everyone with whom she comes in contact. Hugh Grant plays Jenkins’ husband with just the right touch of warmth, kindness, and love without being obsequious.

Three different films, but one thread in common – live life to its fullest the first time around because there is no do-over.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Best Case v Worst Case

What is going to happen when Petulant Donny gets pissed off and says, "I quit!" There will come a time, and I predict it's not too far in the future, when people are going to begin to pressure him to shut the hell up, and Donny won't like that. When push comes to shove, he wants to be the one pushing and shoving -- but he won't take it from anyone else. In his mind, the best thing to do is have a tantrum and quit, leaving the mess he's made of the political system to figure out how to get back on course. And then he'll stand back and say, "I told you so."

Or he'll continue to plow through the next few months wrecking havoc everywhere he goes, using offensive language, bullying anyone who dares to step into his pathway, and pissing off world leaders with whom he will have to work if elected. It's like he doesn't get it, like he doesn't know what he's saying and the impact his words have once they've been put out there. The neighborhood bully knows only that he feels good about his actions/words, but fails to recognize that he has no friends, no support system, no future.

I don't know which scenario is better/worse, but something is going to blow up before all is said and done.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Great British Baking Show

My new favorite TV show is on PBS: The Great British Baking Show. I watched it last year and loved it, so was happy to find it in the listings again this year. The premise is fairly standard: a group of bakers are brought in, given 3 different (and often challenging) baking tasks to complete, each of which is judged by Mary and Paul, both of whom are well-known and respected British bakers. They are critical in their opinions and comments, so only the best are kept from show to show, no matter how well s/he has done previously. Thus, a star baker one week can go home the next: it all depends on this week's bake.

The three challenges are a technical challenge, which means making a baking product that each baker should not only know how to bake, but bake well. A runny custard can ruin the bake, no matter how good the crust. The second challenge is the star baker challenge, where the bakers are given a recipe to make with minimal directions -- and they each have to figure out how to do it and how to do it well enough to be #1 for that contest. The third and final bake is the showstopper, which is a challenge that the bakers may have practiced at home and done well, but the only performance is that at the actual baking contest. Too thick a crust on a game pie? Sorry, that's not acceptable. Too little or too much seasoning? Sorry, that's not going to cut it. Game is under-cooked or over-cooked? Not worthy of being the showstopper winner.

The variety of bakes is interesting, sometimes featuring recipes from the 1800s, othertimes featuring recipes from the early 20th century. Appearance is a big part of the challenge, so if the crust is too pale or too brown? the filling is too thick or too thin? the appearance is not grand enough? Not going to score points and can lead to a contestant leaving the show. And, beware artificial flavorings! It has to have a natural taste or the judges turn up their noses at the bake, regardless of how well all the other many criteria are met.

This season has come to an end, but look for reruns on your local PBS station. It's well worth the time to watch this dignified British delight.