I was in line at a busy barbecue restaurant, one with a sign on the door that says, ‘It will help the line move faster if you know what you want.
This column appeared in the Sunday, June 26, edition of The St. Augustine Record:
One of these days, most likely in the late evening, when young parents are wrangling toddlers into pajamas and couples married since the Reagan years are gazing at a sunset and sharing a bottle of Beaujolais, I am going to start babbling at my television during a re-run of the Family Feud, and they will carry me away in a straight jacket to a place where I can do myself no harm.
This is, at least, the future my 13-year-old nephew Joe has predicted for me.
Joe spent last week with my parents, riding a contraption he calls a hover board between their house and mine several times each day to swim in my pool or help me walk my dogs.
I was glad to have him around, happy to see the texts asking if I would, say, take him to the beach or to play tennis. I imagined myself to be closing in on favorite aunt status, the other aunts shaking their heads and wondering how they could match my level of greatness.
Joe and I talked of important things, like who would win the NBA finals (there have been no finals since 2010 that did not include LeBron James, he told me), and the finer points of a one-handed backhand as beautiful as Roger Federer’s. We played clay-court tennis, then watched it on grass and compared the two.
We risked certain death by walking within inches of a snake laid out along the path to the beach. He made fun of the way I throw (like a girl, of course) when I lobbed a piece of pine bark at the serpent, and I held his phone as he flung a handful of pebbles at it to see if it was alive. We compared cotton mouths to copperheads and wondered which we would prefer to bite us, if we had to be bitten.
I thought we’d bonded, Joe and I, believed that one day when I was old and could no longer rightly call his name, he would talk to me of the week we spent together and tell me he’d had fun.
I crashed into reality when his sisters got to town and I overheard the following conversation.
“Sandi talks to her dogs,” Joe said, his voice grown serious.
When his sisters replied that everyone talks to dogs, he said, more insistently, “No, I mean she has real conversations with them. It ain’t good.”
His sisters allowed that maybe it was strange, but then he had to admit Pancho, my Australian shepherd, is pretty smart and can understand a lot of what a person says.
Joe was still not convinced. He sat quietly for a moment, contemplating, and then said, “I think she does it because she’s lonely.”
I had to intervene. “Joe, just because I live alone doesn’t make me lonely.”
“But you are,” he insisted.
“Why do you think I’m lonely?” I asked.
“Because every time I texted you this week to ask if I could come over, you said, ‘Yes.’”
If agreeing to spend time with Joe means I’m lonely, call me recluse or hermit or just plain crazy. Because until the day they cart me off in that straight jacket, every time that kid calls, I will abandon what I am doing and answer with one word.
I flinched when I saw the number on caller ID. I knew the caller’s message would rival the pestilence, war, famine and death predicted in the Book of Revelation. It might as well have said, ‘Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Source: Saddle up
A link to my latest column for The St. Augustine Record:
Below is the text:
I have a recurring bad dream in which I am standing in front of my high school locker panicked because I have forgotten the combination.
I sometimes still have that dream, although it has changed. Now I am sitting in front of my computer trying to grade student essays, but I cannot log in because I do not know my password.
That nightmare became real this past week when I clicked on an email link I shouldn’t have, compromising my Apple account. I quickly tried to head off trouble by changing my password.
Not so fast, little missy, Apple said. First you have to answer some security questions.
The problem I have with security questions is remembering exactly how I entered the answers. If, for instance, the question is the name of the street where I grew up, did I spell out the word “street” or use the abbreviation?
When Apple asked the name of my favorite teacher, I couldn’t remember if I had used Mr. or the man’s full name.
Trouble ensued. I was locked out of my Apple account for three days while friends and friends of friends received malevolent emails from me.
Imagine my horror later in the week when I received an email saying that I should change every password I have in honor of “World Password Day.”
The last time I changed all of my passwords was when I divorced. At the time, my sole password was “Hutch,” my husband’s nickname. Hutch knew the password, so it had to go.
I had trouble settling upon a new one because I believe passwords should be significant and therefore easy to remember. Of course, I couldn’t use a child’s name because that meant I loved one child more than the others.
Ultimately, I went with the dog’s name.
Apple has deemed the dog’s name insecure, however, and my computer has taken to suggesting passwords for me. These suggested passwords are impossible to remember because they are not even words. They are gibberish.
Of course, the computer offers to store these secure but nonsensical codes in something called its key chain. But I cannot see this key chain. For me, that is the stuff of more nightmares.
The word itself takes me back to junior high school, when my P.E. teacher, Mr. Gumbinger, doubled as the school’s maintenance director. On his belt, he wore a Stanley key chain with a retractable cord.
The key chain held probably 50 keys, in all different shapes and sizes. Some keys opened locker rooms, while some were for filing cabinets and even the Coke machines. The thing was so heavy it’s a wonder the man didn’t develop scoliosis.
The keys to the campus were constantly at his fingertips. That is my idea of a key chain.
Mr. Gumbinger always knew his keys and rarely fumbled for the correct one. It gave us students a sense of security to see him walking the halls with the cord pulled out about a foot, swinging those keys, and whistling.
I’ll take a pass on the Apple key chain because I can’t imagine it ever locating a password as efficiently Mr. Gumbinger did a key.
But all this does give me an idea for a new password, one easy to remember yet odd enough to be secure.
I’m going with Gumbinger.
The appliance repairman’s words reminded me of a country song.
The world would be more peaceful if people made more ice cream. I cannot prove this theory, but I can tell you why I believe it is true. My sister’s four children – twins Faith and Grace, 14, Joe, 12 and Kate, 11 – spent their spring break in St.
I’ll tell you the truth: I’m sick to death of all the maintenance. I love where I live, but I find it requires a lot these days to keep things looking like I even care.
Source: The joys of home ownership
Lettuce, tomatoes and carrots are growing in my garden plot, but I cannot bring myself to plant the watermelons. A Ziploc bag of watermelon seeds sits safely in my freezer, reminding me of a kindness that once split my heart open.
Source: Sandi Hutcheson: Going to seed
He may be the world’s most annoying 12-year-old. He cannot speak without yelling, and his favorite word is ‘ain’t,’ as in, ‘You ain’t the boss of me.
Source: Sandi Hutcheson: Listen up
ABC has a new reality show called ‘My Diet is Better Than Yours,’ in which contestants choose different diets and compete to see who loses the most weight.