Philatelic fella’s psychedelic find is frowned on

For starters, let me be clear that I do not blame the post office. To their credit, the post office offers a wide variety of stamps. To the husband’s credit, he has a wide variety of interests, stamps being among them.

Those two things appear a good match on the surface, but there are two underlying problems. First, when you buy stamps to use, you must use them. Secondly, there are few things we send by snail mail today.

The last time either of us mailed a hand-written personal letter was probably 20 years ago. With the exception of our utilitities, we pay most everything online. Today, the items we most often send by mail are sympathy notes and get well cards. Those are the last two forms of human communication yet to be hijacked by the digital age.1394568362000-HENDRIX-FOREVER-SINGLE-STAMP-JY-3209--62766592

“Aren’t these cool?” the husband asks, flashing a sheet of Jimi Hendrix stamps.

Four stamps with an image of Jimi Hendrix with a background of swirling colors come together on a quadrant at the center of the sheet to make a psychedelic image. Four quadrants then come together to form an even bigger psychedelic image.

Yes, they are cool. And I could be overthinking this, but when you send a note expressing sympathy on the heartbreaking loss of someone’s mother or father, doesn’t it seem bizarre to attach a stamp bearing the likeness of the guitar hero of the ‘60s noted for amazing talent and heavy drug use?

“We are deeply sorry for your loss.” And then I plant a stamp on the envelope that screams, “Let me stand next to your fire.”

Fortunately, the Purple Haze stamps are not my only option. The husband also returned with vintage Barnum and Bailey Circus Poster stamps as well.

“Didn’t they have any flags or flowers?” I ask.

“Sure they did; but we’ve had those lots of times.”

Because the husband of many interests also has interests in art and design and history, these stamps are a win-win—artfully designed and commemorating historic events. Nonetheless, the circus stamps are only marginally more appropriate for notes and cards to the downcast.

“We were sorry to hear of your dreadful accident on the ice and learn that you will be immobilized the next six months.”usps-vintage-circus-stamps

I’m torn. Do I use the stamp of the tightrope walker or the stamp with the man in red standing on his head at the bottom of a flight of stairs with his top hat on his feet?  On second thought, I may go with the clown in the red and white striped tights taking a bow.

I could always write under the stamp, “No insensitivity intended.”

I sent out another sympathy card last week. I went with an old Christmas stamp I found in the desk drawer.

The husband noted that since these new stamps are so great, we should use them selectively.

Done. A Jimi Hendrix just went on a magazine renewal and circus stamps on a couple of birthday cards, but we still have a lot left.

I hope the power company appreciates them.

 

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Contact her at lori@loriborgman.com

The accountant won’t rest until the dog does

The only good news an accountant can ever have for you is that the IRS called and demanded you stop filing taxes. Naturally, when our accountant told us the “good news” that his two-man firm had merged with a larger firm, we were suspicious.

He said this would be advantageous to us should he retire. We were dumbfounded. “Why would you want to retire when you can keep doing our taxes?”

He whipped out his cell phone and showed us a picture of a beautiful sunset on a sandy beach. “Don’t you agree I should be there?” he asked.coastlie

“No,” we said in unison.

“Actually, I can’t retire until my dog dies,” he sighed.

He explained that many of the 55+ communities in Florida “hate animals and children.” Restrictions at his community allow fish but prohibit birds, dogs over 15 pounds and children. (Apparently restrictions on children hold regardless of weight.)

“It costs $30 a day for a pet sitter,” he said. “For that money I could buy a new dog every time I return from Florida.”

We remained unsympathetic to his plight, although we were increasingly sympathetic toward the dog.

“Look at this—the view from my balcony.” It was a silhouette of two palm trees against a fiery red sunset.

“Dime a dozen,” the husband says.

“Right. And you can’t get frozen nose hairs and frostbite in Florida,” I said. “Stay here. And don’t forget about your dog.”

He said a lot of people get a doctor’s note saying they need their dog as a support animal to cope with mental distress. But those notes are being more closely scrutinized because of fraudulent claims.

I’ve read stories about people in senior living communities claiming they need pigs, monkeys, snakes, mice and even miniature horses as emotional support animals. The best claim was from a man who needed a parrot. He was granted permission and then he claimed he needed two more parrots. Then when the man would visit the pool, sauntering about like a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder, the parrots began attacking others at the pool.

We stated to our accountant that we were still unmoved by his plight of being torn between doing taxes full-time in a frozen tundra and sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas on a sandy beach with blue skies. So he showed us another picture. This one was of his dog seated in his office chair behind his desk.dog in chair

We were moved now. As a matter of fact, we had a lot of questions: Is the dog on salary? Who has been signing off on our taxes—the accountant or the poodle? If the poodle works outside the office, are his fees lower than our accountant’s?

It doesn’t matter. Our ability to sleep at night because a trustworthy man has done our taxes for years should not get in the way of him enjoying winters in Florida. We are grateful for the years we have worked with our accountant, which is why the next time we visit we are going to take a small thank you gift. A St. Bernard.

 

Coarse language gets attention, of course

liarI liked it better when presidential candidates spent more time shaking hands and kissing babies than calling their opponents liars and losers.

Of course, I also liked it better when family-friendly television shows closed with sappy theme songs—a stark contrast to a family-friendly show that recently closed with kids singing  a refrain that constantly repeated a swear word. I’m not sure if the creators intended it to be cute or funny, but it was neither. It was stupid.

I probably shouldn’t have written that. The s-t-u-p-i-d part.

I once used that word in front of one of the grands and she asked what it meant. I was about to explain the meaning (writers like dissecting words, right?) when her mother materialized out of thin air, sternly reminding the child and Grandma that we don’t say that word.

It’s like we’ve all been roughed up by a heavy grit sandpaper. We lack smooth edges.

There are no longer euphemisms for body parts or body functions. These days everybody goes directly to the graphic and gross.

A part of me shrugs and asks, who cares? Language is fluid, right? Thou thoughtest words changeth not?

Yet, there’s a level at which the coarse language demeans and demoralizes us all. Not only is the speaker demeaned, but the listener is demeaned as well. We become a little less human and a little more animal. Something of loveliness dies.

Maybe coarse language is an easy way of getting attention. Maybe people think coarse language is way of proving strength.

Ronald Reagan lobbed one of the greatest challenges of the last century when he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” His words still echo—and not a single @%*&#!.

I graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri many moons ago when every student had to survive news writing with Hal Lester. If there had been a Marine Corps of journalism profs, Lester would have been the commandant. He could thunder about the misuse of a semi-colon and reduce a room full of overly-confident, smart-aleck college students to quivering ninnies.

One day a rogue asked if we could use vulgarities in news copy. Lester glowered. Then he thundered, “The only people who use vulgarities are people with poor vocabularies.”

I’ve always remembered that. Maybe our coarse language has nothing to do with losing respect for ourselves and one another. Maybe coarsening language is because we’ve all grown a little more stu—er, maybe we’re just not as bright as we used to be.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Contact her at lori@loriborgman.com

Keep calm and color on

The only coloring books I had as a kid were of Cinderella. When I heard that six of the 20 top-selling books on Amazon are adult coloring books, I thought they were updates of Cinderella these many years later.

You know, pictures of Cinderella with bunions on the feet that used to wear the glass slippers. Pictures of Cinderella with gray hair and an extra 20 pounds. Pictures of Cinderella and and the Prince with little birds helping find their reading glasses.Cindrella glasses

Wrong on all counts. Coloring books for adults are coloring pages with intricate patterns, garden, animal and nature themes. Others feature cities, architecture, Harry Potter and swear words. Yep, you read that right.

The adult coloring book craze is touted as a wonderful way to relax, although if you’re coloring swear words (may I suggest red?) you might be better off in an anger management class.

Libraries are falling all over themselves hosting adult coloring nights. They are strictly BYOCP: Bring Your Own Colored Pencils.

Despite the popularity of the craze, there is something slightly jarring about it.

If my doctor colors, I don’t want to know about it.

For some reason, I’d be more understanding if our accountant colored. Maybe it’s because of the stress of working with numbers and the government, and the fact that he’s at a desk most of the day anyway.

Now if our insurance guy unpacks his laptop and I see a coloring book in his bag, we’re finished.

When our kids were growing up, I felt the same way about coloring books that I did about Barbies. I wasn’t likely to buy them, but if someone else did, that was fine.

Our kids had Anti-coloring Books. They were coloring books with a sentence or two on each page that gave kids ideas of what to draw and then they colored their own pictures. They say that kind of thing is too stressful for adults today. Adults need to have guidance and structure—pictures with lines. And someone to cap their washable markers. That’s not true; I made that last one up.

We’re all looking for ways to reduce stress today. We work at relaxing so hard that it has become a major source of stress.

Last week I was talking to a woman whose eyes were darting back and forth as she pondered out loud whether she’d have time to work in a massage that day. Her schedule was full, but give that woman a crow bar and she’d find a way to crack it open and really relax.

A study on cardiovascular patients, from a team of doctors in Italy and the UK, examined the relationship between stress and music with different tempos. The conclusion was that slow and relaxing music decreased blood pressure and heart rate. They also concluded something else—people’s bodies relaxed even more during the pause between the tracks of music.

Silence. Imagine that

 

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Email her at lori@loriborgman.com.

 

 

 

 

Husband flips channels — are houses next?

We have been married more than three decades. You think you know a person, but the surprises never end. I turn on the television and the husband says, “On sweet!”

“It’s not the food channel,” I say. “It’s one of those home remodeling shows.”

I am about to flip the channel when he says, “Leave it. Those on sweets are incredible.”

I can tell we aren’t communicating (it isn’t the first time – not even the first time today), so I ask what he is talking about.

“En suite—it’s a large bathroom that joins a bedroom,” he says. “You know.”

I don’t know. And I’m not sure he knows. So I do what anybody does in the face of the unknown —I quietly Google it.

The man is right; en suite: so as to form a suite: connected: <bathroom en suite>;

I am stunned. I am not stunned because he is right, but because he is current on bathroom design. I’d thought the only thing the man knows about bathrooms is where to find the clean towels.

“Look at that,” he says. “It’s a rainshower shower head. Nice.”

My jaw drops. Who is this man?

“No, no, you’ve got it wrong,” he snaps at the television. “Upgrade the cabinets. It will be worth it.”

Then he turns to me and says, “They’re probably looking at about $15,000 right now.”

Sure enough a number pops up on the side of the screen saying $14,500

The man is good. One of the girls calls and asks what we’re doing. “Your father is helping remodel a bathroom on television,” I say.

“Interesting,” she says. “I told him we were having tile work done in our bathroom and he estimated the cost within dollars.”

I hang up and ask how he has become an expert in luxury bathrooms. Without looking away—and who can look away when they’re rerouting plumbing, knocking walls down to the studs and unpacking a soaking tub—he says, “The gym.”

The husband joined the gym a few months ago.  He’s lost 10 pounds, lowered his blood pressure 20 points and become a home en suite expert.

Turns out he always takes a treadmill in front of the cable news channel and when he grows bored with the news, he switches to the television set next to it, which is HGTV.

“En suite televisions,” I crack.

He is not listening because “Love It or List It” is doing a reveal.

“Wonder what it costs to replace old grout,” I say.

“Grout is nothing,” he says. “That’s a small job.”

“Hmm. The upstairs bathroom – “

Just like that, he’s out the door to the gym.