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30
Apr

Trash and treasure in 400 words…

[Day 19, writing101 Free Writing, 400 words non-stop]

Four hundred words is not really that many,  it depends on the subject, the time, and style of writing.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do (I don’t like that “been wanting to do” instead of simply saying “wanted to do.”  Anyway, the Word Police probably won’t be interested in this free-writing stuff, except maybe the least faint-hearted among them.  As I was saying, I have thought about writing about clearing out stuff.   I have a lot of stuff, as I’ve explained before, having had two brick-n-mortar shops which closed and moved into my garage…and bedroom…spare room…office/book room…closets…basement, although I’ve been trying to give that space a break as it is already overloaded with stuff.

Now, when I say “stuff” I don’t mean “junk.”  Most, the vast majority of said stuff,  is books…thousands of books, some listed for sale, some waiting to be listed.  I am pleased to say that the junk from among the good books has long since been disposed of, which means that good-junk went to the Goodwill, and real junk went into the trash.

My other stash of mostly-good stuff is dollhouse furniture, dolls, toys, “little everythings” as I call them.  This topic is fodder for another post…dollhouse paraphernalia is a very wide subject.

Then there is the real issue here–dealing with miscellaneous nick-knacks and mementos, souveniers, that sort of thing.  This includes anything any of the kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids ever drew, wrote, or made.   This includes such things as a pinecone with yarn arranged artistically around the edges.  When I asked the granddaughter what it was, she replied: “a pinecone with yarn on it.”  Now–how could I throw that out?

Caveat–this post does not in any way apply to  anything that was my grandmother’s.  Those things are stashed high up, with threatening notes inside or taped to the bottom warning of dire consequences for trashing them–some things are sacrosanct.

[Well, I’m afraid I cheated, I ran over my allotted 400 words, so without thinking I went back and edited out some words.  In fact it was about sixty words, including one entirely foreign subject.  Sorry.  I would go back and try to find an earlier draft (by about 5 minutes) but don’t want to mess up the post.    The deleted sentences had nothing to do with the point of the post anyway.]

End

29
Apr

Spider to the Rescue!

[Day Eighteen: Writing 101, Hone Your Point of View

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.]

It’s a shame what is happening to Mrs. Pauley.  She is a nice lady, kinda strange, but she always treats me nice.  My Dad lived in this house when he was a kid, and he grew up with Mrs. Pauley’s boys.  They was about the same age as Dad, and they always played together as kids, then hung out when they were teenagers.  I think Dad was in one of the Pauley boy’s wedding once.

Dad always liked Mrs. Pauley, but Mom didn’t.  Mom lived in the neighborhood when she was a little girl, and she said her girlfriends did not like to come over to her house because they were scared of Mrs. Pauley.  Dad always said “that’s silly.”   Mom would say “I’m not so sure.”

I heard Mom talking to one of the other neighbors about Mrs. Pauley and how the landlord who owned the house was coming to evict Mrs. Pauley.  That means he coud kick her out and take all her stuff out and set it on he curb.  The neighbor, Mrs. Smith, said that was just awful, but what did Mom expect?

Like this morning, I  was sitting here on the step, and Mrs. Pauley waved and hollered over

“Good morning, James.”

“Hi, Mrs. Pauley.”    She always calls me “James,” instead of “Spider,” which is my street name.    Mom doesn’t like it when I say my name is Spider,  she says it sounds like a gang name.    Mom always calls me “Jimmy” or “Jim.”

It is pretty quiet this morning, no traffic, and no kids outside playing.   It is nice and sunny, maybe a good day to ride up to the store or over to the playground.   There is no school, because it is Saturday.  That means it will be boring around here.  I guess I’ll just sit here on the porch swing and read my new comic book, Spiderman.  That’s where I got my nickname.

A car just pulled up in Mrs. Pauley’s driveway, way up by the garage.   The man who was driving looked at me, but then he just started looking down like he has something he is reading.  I wonder who this is…I have a kinda weird feeling about it, like something is wrong.    I better just mind my own business and read my comic bok.

Oh-oh, here comes a police car…I hope he keeps on driving by.  He’s stopping, and pulling in behind the car in Mrs. Pauley’s driveway.    The cop is getting out of the car, and he is looking around.  The man in the car is getting out and now he is standing by the cop and they are talking and looking at Mrs. Pauley’s house.

Mrs. Pauley has come to her front door and opened it.   They walk up onto Mrs. Pauley’s front porch and are talking to her.   The landlord is waving his arms around like he is mad.

I am just at a good part in my comic book.. it is really cool–Spiderman has just dropped down in front of a house.  There is an old woman with a cat, and a mean-looking dude in a tall black hat like magicians wear–and WHAT?   The comic book lady is screaming.     The man in the tall hat has a knife…no, it’s a sword!

A cop…er, police officer (Mom says it isn’t nice to say “cop,” it’s like an insult or something,) in the next panel of the comic has his gun drawn.  The cop is grabbing the man’s arms…now he is putting handcuffs on the mean man.    Spiderman is handing some papers to the old lady in the comic strip.

Mom is calling me for lunch.  Grilled cheese on rye bread, and tomato soup.  My favorite lunch.

“How is your new comic book, Jimmy?”

I tell Mom the new comic is great, and I start to tell her about how weird it is that the action in the comic book sort of was like the scene with Mrs. Pauley and the landlord, and the Cop.

“Oh, Mrs. Pauley had some good news,” Mother said with a smile, “her sons got together and bought the house from the landlord.  One of the sons is a policeman now, and he was the one to bring her the news.”

Wow!  Maybe Mom is right…maybe I DO read too many comics.

28
Apr

Finding My Voice; loud if not clear

[Day 17  Writing101, Personality on the Page.]

Well, I sort of got side-tracked on the prompts for Writing101.

I published two or three for Day 14, “To whom it may concern.”     The one that made it to actual publication had to do with a word on page 29 of a nearby book: DIAGRAM  .  Actually I wanted to write a general letter to my WordPress chums, but that got side-tracked too…. so consider this to fill that purpose, too.

Then Day 15, “Voice will find you.”  I think I published something on pop-tarts, or maybe about lists, which was not really intended for the Writing 101 exercise.  Day 16 “Third Time a charm,” wants me to write it, so I’ll put it on the back burner and plan to write it later today.

Which brings me to Day 17, “Style: Personality on the Page.”   OK.

So…the topic is my personality of writing.   This was actually what I wanted to write about a couple of days ago: my style of writing — but I’m going to write it in a different style.

First, I guess I really do have some quirks in wording.   Word choice.  (As an aside I can confide here that my brain dictionary wavers at times, and a word I want to use just isn’t readily available.  I am trying to grasp the word I want here for “weird choices.”)   ah ha…idiosyncracies … boy, does that look like it is spelled wrong!

1.  I use the word “actually” a lot.   This word was an immediate favorite back when it first came to my attention.  I like the way it rolls around on the tongue, and adds a distinct air of sophistication about it.  Actually…I overheard my great-granddaughter using “actually” in something she was saying recently.  (Yes, I did indeed feel a shy sense of pride.)

2.  Ellipses…are my favorite punctuation.  Not only does it add tonal quality to reading aloud, but it also looks nice on the page.  Dashes also have a certain flare.    Actually, though, another thing that looks nice on a printed or on-screen page is double-spacing between words.  Sorry APL or whatever style-guide…your new “style” is ugly.  I know it’s not APL, but I don’t have time to go looking for the write acronym.  (Hmm, if its not an acronym, please mentally fill in the correct letters.)   The only style guides I’ve ever used is Turabian, and the Chicago Manual of Style.

3.  I like to start sentences with the word– SO.  Sometimes I even use OK.

4.  Actually I frown on un-trained use of apostrophes…(oops, almost put an apostrophe in the word, which would have made the apostrophe possessive, as in “apostrophe’s placement”   rather than plural…meaning more than one.    Gosh–have you ever noticed what a weird word that is?

5.  Spelling: I always told my students to have their writing checked by a relative or friend that knows how to spell.  That caveat was foreign to many of my entry-level university students.   Having said that and insulted my university student followers (sorry,) I will add that once when we were discussing this a fellow grad student commented that he did not do much about spelling and punctuation errors on his students’ papers because he “did not really trust his own grammatical prowess enough to judge that of [his]  students.”

5. I try to write as I speak, so it is like hearing me when reading something I have written.  Digressions may not be my friend, but they are friendly nonetheless.   When I speak I tend to forget what I’m talking about, stutter and stammer, veer off from my train of thought into lightly-related subject matter.

I love words like nonetheless, and notwithstanding,  and enjoy using nonsense words like jigglywog.

A fellow grad student (maybe the same one who can’t spell) said to me once:  “Pat, you should use big words.”  To which my answer was  “why?”     Actually, I do tend to use “big” words in writing, but the reason I don’t use them so much in speaking is that there is a tendancy on my part to forget words, or misplace their meanings or pronounciation…which cancels out the coolness of using the big words in the first place.    Besides, when speaking we are forever tied to what we SAY, whereas if we put something erroneous or stupid in writing there is always a chance to retract and substitute different wording.  That is good insurance against sounding foolish.

So this particular post on “finding my voice” has been written (by me) in what might be thought of as a stream-of-consciousness style.  It is complete with asides, back-tracks, and general meandering.

Unfortunately, anyone who follows me very closely will recognize  my convoluted and rambling verbal speech patterns.

When it comes to writing, I believe my voice varies in tone and style with the subject matter, and purpose of the writing.  A piece that is meant to be humorous will be written in a very different way than a political commentary.   I wouldn’t attempt to write a light-satire piece about any aspect of war–or a serious and somber article about Ronald McDonald.

If I write a blog about my favorite TV star, Jennifer Aniston…it will sound different than if I’m writing about Hillary Clinton.  This is not to say that a compare/contrast article could not be written about these two women…just that the content would be different.   Both are blonde.  One is an actress, the other a politician.  I don’t know much trivia about them.  However, a compare/contrast about specifics–age, cooking skills, favorite authors, opinions about dressing little dogs up in ballet costumes– well, actually…I can’t see any even-close-to-pertinent information piece would have any practical purpose.

[Note to the Word Police:  I hope that I don’t amuse anyone when my intent is to be serious.]

23
Apr

Diagram Discussion …on Page 29

[Day 14, Writing101.  Write about a word on page 29 of the nearest book.]

The nearest book is on a shelf over my left shoulder.  It is on a shelf with a book on Tai Chi, Laughing, and one on the Tarot.  The one I touched first is called Ribbon Basics, by Mary Jo Hiney & Joy Anckner.   It is a book on needlework.   The word that jumps out at me, on page 29,  is:  DIAGRAM.

Let me say that I love needlework almost as much as I love writing.

The difference, now that I think about it, in Writing and Needlework is related– and in some ways reaches a similar goal, which is expression of myself.  In writing all that is really needed is a pencil and paper, or a computer keyboard or equivalent.  Written material flows from deep within me, as with any writer…it stems from a memory or a correlation or a spark of a word or phrase, or picture.

When it comes to needlework of any kind, my original ideas are few and far between.  Faced with a blank piece of fabric I have no idea where to begin.  Add a variety of colored thread or yarn, I might be able to produce a very simple piece of art, limited to a geometric design or a stick-figure outline.  A simple flower-like design could be in storage in my brain, but when it comes to free-form art creation that just isn’t in my talent box.

So what is needed for someone like me to produce a work of art that could approach gift-quality, would require a DIAGRAM.  In my instruction book at hand, the authors have created wonderfully beautiful wall-hangings and pictures, bouquets fashioned with deftness of hands and creativity that could only be genetic in artistic accomplishment.

Sure, I could create something that would approach a piece of needlework that could be acceptable…say to my mother or a beloved aunt…who would cherish it as something that had been created by Me.  The worth  of it would be sentimental, or possibly it could have some intrinsic value if I used gold thread on precious antique velvet.   It would never be a collectors’ item, or be displayed in a museum…unless the maker were famous for some other pursuit–not for embroidery skills or working with ribbon.

The Diagrams in this book are intricate and precise, and the results breath-taking in their beauty even on the printed page.

To draw an analogy here, I suppose one could draw a parallel with Life–perhaps an opposite effect.  Life does not come with a diagram, with colors and spaces all mapped out to fill in various stages of living skills.  Life evolves spontaneously, with guidance and influence–to be sure–but the finshed product (or perhaps I should better say the “work in progress” can not be set out in a diagram as can be a needlepoint picture.

23
Apr

List of Lists

[Day 14 Writing101, Make a List]

My son’s boss makes a list every morning of the things he has to do that day. I don’t, but I should.

Oh, I make lists … all kinds of lists.   They are even arranged in outline form, with headings, sub-headings, and points– sometimes even categories under the points, and so on.  Lists are good, but my problem is that usually “the list is the thing,” and it becomes it’s own goal.

A simple list is handy for  a quickie plan for picking up just a few specific things in the grocery store, with no extras– rush through the store with the grocery cart, preferably alone…kids can divert one from the plan, and husbands are even worse.  In theory this pick-up-a-few-things shopping trip is good: it saves money, avoids filling up the cart with spur-of-the-moment items, and saves a lot of time.   In practice, however, this method can have the opposite effect–dashing around the store searching for certain things can eat up more time than a brisk-browse up and down the aisles; forgetting to buy needed supplies because they aren’t on the list; and can actually cost more per item because there is no time to comparison-shop.

Sometimes a list can actually help to remember the three items that are the reason for the trip.  A simple list: (Underwear, Crescent Rolls, New Hammer) for example, can be useful if it is written on a scrap of paper and carried in a shirt pocket…and can be accomplished in one giant box store like–well, you know.  These diverse items can be found in completely separate areas of the store, and there are a myriad of wally-wonders in between that are calling out shoppers’  names.

Some lists are more cryptic puzzles than actual prompts.  This is especially true of lists of ideas for topics for my blog. I have flashes of brilliant insight often, which can be turned into fodder for the page–if I can remember it.  My poor old brain is pretty much packed full, and it is necessary to start erasing information to make room for new.

Here is my list for today.

Write blog post.     Sort out desk top.  (Put away, goodwill, trash.)    Call to cancel cable.    Work on cleaning garage.   Get ready for contractors to tear out ceilings.    Call same and hassle them about schedule.   Read email.    Send out book orders.  Read Commons blog.  Read some other blogs.  Write another post.   Feed the cats.

.

22
Apr

Flashback to the Ocean

[DAY 13, Writing101.   Assignment: a continuation of DAY 4,  Two Posts in a series.]   The post for Day 4 was about something we had lost, or that we had had at one time but no longer.] http://mumbletymuse.com/?s=day+four

One windy day in Ohio (is there ever a non-windy day in my backyard in Ohio?) we decided to put up one of those big square plastic covers with the cheap metal supports, and guide-wires and all that.   There were three of us, me, my daughter and my son.  Maybe if there had been another person we would have better results.

But I am getting ahead of my story, and while this may double as the DAY 14 post, I think it is…to write about foreboding atmosphere…that might be cheating.

We got the four posts laid out at their respective four corners of the top cover, inserted the posts into the post-holes as instructed, and prepared to lift the cover  into an upright position.  We had it all figured out, and in theory the top should have just raised into position and hooked onto the stakes at the corners, and we would have at least that much of the tent-like cover up in place.     Then all we would have to do was  raise the center pole, a very simple matter, and put up the other four posts in the center at each side.

The instructions and the advertising label had boasted that their product was EASY TO ASSEMBLE, A CHILD CAN DO IT so we were not expecting serious difficulties.

The problem there is, obviously, we did not have a child amonst us…   if we had, she would have been the fourth person, and have a firm grip on the fourth tent corner.

Like clock-work, the three-legged structure settled into an upright position, and–so far, so good.   and all that remained was for  one of us to move  over to the fourth pole, (which was sort of flapping around,) grabbing the end, and sliding it into the pocket on the stake.

A virtual gale blew in at this moment, and although I had a good grip on the pole that I was supposed to be holding, the plastic was flapping, and the whole thing was caving in.   The wind was so strong that it very nearly yanked the metal pole out of my hands, and I felt as if I was about to sail off into the air.

[Here’s where Day Four’s story applies.] http://mumbletymuse.com/?s=day+four

Suddenly I was back aboard that sailing ship, holding on for dear life to the main mast.   The ocean waves were well over the top of my head, and I could see nothing except the top of the mast where I had climbed as far as I could go.  The deafening crash of the giant waves, the creaking of the twisted and leaning mast, the sounds of the wind and the ocean …ended.

…back home in this life, really hanging onto a pole with flapping canvas (plastic) threatening to lift me off my feet…the wind died down, the tent/cover fell down, and I sat down on the grass.

[comment]

As I have commented before, “this story MAY be fiction.”   But this experience with the whipping cover and the sensation of the metal pole being dragged from my hands as I held on with all my might–this incident convinced me that I had a glimpse of a Past Life.   In that life I was a boy on a sailing ship, until I drowned.

19
Apr

Beware of hot Pop-Tarts…and the Word Police

There is something that bothers me, and I have been meaning to throw the question out to see if anyone knows or cares about the answer.

Here it is, the question– how and when was the word “ensure” imposed upon us as the preferred (if not required) usage in instruction booklets and manuals for all manner of appliances and handbooks?

Buy a new toaster. The manual warns that the user must “ensure” that certain precautions are taken before the toaster is put into active duty. There is a long list of things that must be “ensured,” such as plugging the electrical cord into a properly grounded outlet; the toaster should be operated on a safe fire-proof surface; and the user must refrain from inserting inappropriate objects into the toaster.

The manufacturer is usually very specific about what TO DO and NOT TO DO. Never put water into the toaster. Do not operate the appliance when in the bathtub. Do not put butter or jelly on slices of bread before toasting them
In case the bread gets stuck, do not try to pry it loose with a table knife or fork. Don’t allow children to play with the toaster.

My favorite all-time direction deals with the toasting of Pop-Tarts, which is, incidentally, one of my favorite foods. I make no apology. The instructional gem of logic and perfect cover-their-ass precautionary caveats
Is as follows:

“DO NOT toast toaster pastries in this toaster. But IF YOU MUST–ensure that the pastry is not cracked or broken. If it is difficult to remove from the toaster, turn it upside down and carefully slide it out. If necessary, allow the Pop-Tart to cool thoroughly before trying to remove it.”

To return to my original question, I really would like to know how the Word Police managed to spread the apparently mandatory ENSURE word, instead of the old wording such as: “make sure,” or “be sure,” or even “assure” (although the latter probably isn’t correct.)

17
Apr

Flying Fools

[ok, some posts have a will of their own.  This particular work of art was one that I thought I deleted yesterday.  After finishing the draft, I hit the trash button, and thought that would be the end of it.  But no, when I looked at my email from the Commons, there was my post..in full…and it referred to the post itself on my blog.  So I went there, and found the infamous 404 Error message.  Hmmm…what to do?  I decided to let the post live on for posterity.  I copied the text in the email, then pasted it here.   I have no idea if I corrected the problem–or made it worse.  As long as I’m here in the screen to Update the post…so what the heck.  It’s even longer than it was before.]

There is something about airplane travel that brings out the worst in some people. The worst seats in many airliners have to be in the last row, next to the lavatories. These seats do not recline, and are scooted back against the lavatory wall as far as they will go. Unfortunately, the seats ahead of these fixed streets DO recline, effectively forcing occupants to put up with having the back of the forward seat in their laps.

If alone, once I am settled in my seat I fall asleep almost instantly and remain asleep until the plaae has landed and is taxi-ing toward the terminal.  (I can sleep anywhere.)   I am content to remain in my seat until everyone has left the plane.

The last time my son was with me on the flight, and I was sandwiched between him and a mild-mannered sixty-something man who had the aisle seat.  The man and I had exchanged the polite airplane seat-mate smile-and-nod, and we were all minding our own business.  I was almost asleep, son content to look out the window, and the pleasant man next to me had opened his lap-top.

Everything was fine until the seat-belt sign went dark.

Then the back of the seat, in front of my neighbor, crashed backward, forcing the computer screen almost-closed and pushed  against its owner. He asked the man in the seat ahead to move the seat forward part-way. He was ignored. The flight attendant, by request, also asked that the seat be put into upright,but she also was ignored.

Undaunted, the man with the computer kept turning in the seat, trying to hold the laptop in a comfortable position.  To his credit, he did manage to poke the seat-back a few times.

The guy in front never did adjust the seat, except when the inevitable drinks and peanuts arrived, and once when the guy got up to push his way to the lavatory.

I have thought about that incident now and then, especially when the news outlets run their periodic horror stories about air travel.

What is proper protocol in a situation like this?  Does one push  and bump the seat-back until the offender gets the message?   Try making loud and rude comments?   Fake a coughing fit?   Gag?

None of the above would have been likely to move the flying fool ahead of us.  A good smack upside the head would be effective, but then either a brawl would ensue–and delay the flight, or someone would sue.  Chances are the wrong passenger would have been kicked off the plane.

Far be it from me to advocate common sense on the part of the airline management–but wouldn’t it make sense to fix the seats that encroach upon the passengers seated in the seats that do not recline?   And is it really going to keep the airlines from bankruptcy if they remove that extra row of seats that they crammed in there?

If this has offended any of these Flying Fools–good!

16
Apr

The little red sweater…point of view

[DAY NINE, Writing 101 prompt.]

The day was warm and sunny, although the occasional breeze made the elderly woman glad that she had worn a light sweater over her faded bluejeans and tee shirt.  She wore a straw sun hat, with a big sunflower design on it.   She often sat in the park on nice days, watching squirrels, or kids, or people strolling along or walking fast with their heads down.    Today the woman had her bright geometric print knitting bag, and was working away at a patch of knitting that appeared to be about a foot square.

The woman noticed the couple walking slowly along on an adjacent path, and peered at them from under the brim of her hat.  She had not seen them before, the tall pleasant looking man with the aluminum walking cane, and the pretty, fairly small  woman wearing office-clothes and a small purse tucked up under her arm.  They appeared to be in the mid-30s, and both looked serious…not to say somber, not really sad either.  (She was also a writer, and kept her long habit of observing potential “characters” as she went about her daily activities.)

The man’s eyes filled with tears, which he quickly wiped away with his upper arm…holding the cane.  wow, where did that come from?  Something about that old lady with the bright red yarn…reminds me of a sweater Grandma knitted for me that year she stayed with us.  I was fascinated with the way her hands and the knitting needles worked together, and the way the big ball of yarn just seemed to work up into the smooth knitted fabric… like magic.   Grandma was the person I loved most in the world… I was just six at the time, and I was her only grandchild.  She used to say how much I meant to her, and how lucky she was to be blessed with a grandson.   Hmmm, funny how that struck me when I saw that woman.

The man brushed something from the corner of his eye, and laughed at himself.

The young woman also noticed the Knitting Lady, and the bright red needlework in her hand.  A sweater for a new grandchild…wonder why she chose red?  Oh that’s an odd thought, why not red?  The new baby would get several sweaters…yellow, maybe pink or blue.  It must be lovely to be a grandmother…once a woman is a mother that is the natural thing.  I know that I will never have a baby, let alone a grand-baby.    My chance at motherhood has come and gone…left on a battlefield in Iraq.  But I hate it when I think like that…my husband and my only love has returned to me.  I guess that little red sweater stirred my motherly instincts…

The young woman smiled to herself, and she and her husband continued on their way.

The Knitting lady finished another row of the swatch of red fabric attached to her knitting needles, and inspected the work, counting stitches forming the beginning  of the leg holes across the fabric.  Satisfied, she gathered her things, wound  the excess of the red yarn onto the ball, and inserted the ends of the needles into it to secure them for the trip home.

She needed to finish that little sweater before her sister arrived for the weekend.

Well this is the last time I am going to waste perfectly good yarn, and my time, on that little mutt.  “If you eat THIS sweater, Miss Prissy, you can just freeze!”

15
Apr

More about airports, and the people who love–or hate them

The most obnoxious seat-mate I ever encountered on an airplane, was all dressed up and carrying a briefcase. This man had apparently had a bad day, or an unproductive sales trip, for he was not happy when he arrived at his designated seat and found me sitting in the aisle seat next to his. He was annoyed to realize that he would have to climb over me to get into his seat by the window.

At about the same time that my seat partner arrived, a happy group of senior citizen types began to take their seats ahead of us, two of them directly in the row ahead. These people had been to Cancun, Mexico, where they had evidentally enjoyed the many and varied attractions of the Mexican tourist city, and were laden with souveniers.

They had a large piñata, shaped like a bird, in addition to a couple of plastic bags with store names on them.  In high spirits, they were creating a slight commotion stowing their bags and packages in the over-head compartment, and underneath the seats. With a lot of thumping and bumping of the seats, and hustle-bustle in general, the front neighbors were changing seats. They were talking to each other in animation, and calling to others in their travel group, who were getting into their seats in nearby rows. They were not particularly loud, just animated, as people are when having fun with people that they know.

My seat-mate waited in the aisle for a very short time while those ahead of us arranged themselves in their seats, fiddled with their seat-belts, adjusting the ceiling air-ducts. There was a moment of aggravation as the seats jiggled and thudded.   The man was sort of sighing in exasperation, and muttering loudly about the disturbance the revelers were creating.

I had intended from the beginning to offer to change seats with the guy in the suit. Usually it is immaterial to me if I sit by the window, as the novelty wears off as soon as the plane emerges from the cloud cover and obscures the view of the ground. I do enjoy watching the plane as it backs away from the gate, and the exhilarationasf the engines rev up for the lift-off.   Air travel is inherently exciting regardless of how many times I flew. I admit to wanting to appear cool and collected, and to match my air of nonchalance with the perceived sophistication of fellow passengers on a given flight.

Besides, I am usually either asleep, or engrossed in a novel by the time the plane actually leaves the terminal. So I am glad to switch seats with someone who prefers to sit in the aisle seat. especially someone with long legs to fold into the cramped area under the seat ahead.

Well the guy was so irritated by the efforts of the forward passengers to get themselves seated and buckled-in…nothing more than normal settling in….and especially not being able to fit his briefcase into the overhead mainly  because of the piñata.    As the man ahead turned to glance backward as he sat down, my seat-mate threw him an incensed angry look, and also gave the front seat a thump in irritation.

At this point I was still going to ask the guy if he wanted to switch seats, but before I had a chance he was proceeding to squeeze by me as I sat in the seat.  He banged the briefcase against my knee, and plopped into the seat next to the window.

Now I…always forgiving…STILL would have traded seats with him, but he slammed the window shade down.  Acting like an ass might be excuseable, but closing off the view was not something I could  forgive.

OK, idiot…sit there.

He huffed and puffed and sighed all the way to Cleveland.  And when we pulled up to the concourse I stood up and waited until all of the passengers in the back of the plane had passed by our row before I stepped into the aisle, and he had to wait while I struggled with my carry-on from the overhead.

<chuckle.>