Signs of the Times

File this under “Politics.”

Not the national one.

The fun one.

There’s a nearby business/industrial property situated on a corner where a yellowish brick warehouse sits about 100 yards back from passing traffic that’s chock full of tractor trailers, commuters and vans and SUVs full of softball moms and all their gear.

A single macadam entrance to its loading dock that is narrowed by a rolling, chain link fence gate and concrete barriers remains visibly unvisited by day. But at the end of each day the gate with its single, rusted, NO TRESPASSING sign rolls closed for the night. Alien-esque, sometime before the next dawn, it reopens but no matter how early you pass by, the gate is already open once again.

The front and one side of the building’s frontage otherwise devoid of landscaping consists of a grass lawn that’s home to one modern metal sculpture and a tree or two. It dips into a hollow leading to a long-abandoned front office entrance. There, a tiny, lineless paved lot looks like it once served the company president, staff and visitors (but not the peons). The entire building rear and opposite side hides behind a railroad track embankment and a fenced in lot full of nondescript storage trailers.

The few windows in front reveal nothing about its contents save for a tiny, dilapidated wooden sign, peeling with age. Some of the stick-on black letters have peeled off leaving silhouettes announcing the company name: So and So Imports.

In the past, Stick Chick occasionally noted NO TRESPASSING signs on the lawn but not much else, and certainly not the number of notices that passersby could have placed announcing everything from nearby homes for sale to political rants, lost pets or yard sale ads.

Stick Chick has always maintained that the place must be a front for a clandestine government operation or more nefarious pursuits. Never would you see people bustling about and only once or twice in two decades of passing by on a regular basis did she ever see a vehicle coming or going from that skinny side entrance.

Most recently, and more ironically, facing each of the two roads that meet at the corner, someone unseen, placed a big yellow sign with red stencil-painted letters announcing NO SIGNS ON YARD.

Stick Chick laughed aloud the first time she saw them, imagining the poor bastard assigned to paint and plant the signs announcing no signs.

Some soul with a deeper sense of irony and humor than she recently planted a new accompanying sign. If you are driving and pass by quickly, you might miss it. But just the other day, Stick Chick turned the corner with v2.0 in the passenger seat who erupted with a fit of giggles that lasted a good half mile.

Neil Patrick Harris and the writers of How I Met Your Mother would be proud to know that Barney Stinson’s oft delivered line has made it into the common vernacular.

No Signs

Kudos to the maker of the renegade sign, and the local who took this photo and posted it on Facebook. Stick Chick would be pleased to give proper credit on that one.

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As the Pram Rolls Full Circle

Lately I have meditated on clarity in an effort to conjure specific memories. I have purposefully attempted to attach sights, sounds and smells to each so that they become vivid.

The result of one such attempt is a poem that I wrote and posted this weekend called The Pram. For illustration, I added a stock photo that looked as similar to the one I recalled as I could find.

I received an email from my mom (who read the poem) with this photo attached.

Snoozing on the porch

This is me in the pram.

I remembered.

Mind blown.

The Pram

Lying on my back
On thin foam makeshift mattress
Combed cotton coverlet close to skin
Sounds drift on summer breeze
Birds chirp
Familiar voices and foreign ones float
Interrupted by distant staccato airplane motor
Eyelids heavy I drift
Comforted by nearby walls
Retractable sunshade
I peer upward to glimpse sky
Viewed through mosquito netting
Quivering green leaves shuffling overhead
Squinting in bright green-blue refracted light
Inhaling synthetic scent of bleached white plastic
And clean air and baby powder
Falling downward into cavernous
Dreams
Chilled by air
Warmed by sun
Wholly content
Until squeaky springs
Jar my body
Casting rest aside
pram 1

Cute Bra Right?

That depends on what you expect. Ask any woman about bra shopping, and she’ll likely possess at least one tale of improbable fit, pokey underwires, itchy lace, and ill-fitting cups, not to mention a few harsh words for the designers. But, before we plunge too deeply into that rabbit hole, you’ll need some background.

Before the 2016 American presidential election, which catapulted the real world headlong into an alternate-reality caricature of itself, Stick Chick had a gripe about American trade with China and was pleased to hear candidates talk about renegotiating deals.

Could we talk about quality control of important products?

For humanitarian reasons, Stick Chick makes a practice of avoiding purchase of products made or assembled in China despite their lower price tags. This remains a great challenge because of the temptation to shop on the cheap.

Similarly, she avoids shopping at Wal-Mart [which she calls Wally World; see Vacation the movie] in protest of its policies which help to keep its low-wage workers poor and its endless supply of Chinese-made products. But, despite her best efforts, her options are often narrowed or wholly unavailable.

She noticed this challenge when she shopped for a fabric shower curtain. Stick Chick scoured online and in department stores until, after three months of searching, she had to admit defeat. She could not find a single shower curtain anywhere that was not made in China. In a fit of defiant indignation, she opted to keep the old one until it falls off its rings.

Failed-Inspection-Tags

Her reasons for avoiding purchases of Chinese made items are admittedly not entirely altruistic; Stick Chick also takes issue with the lack of quality control.

Case in point: a recent online bra-shopping experience

The low price should have been a tip-off, but the reviews (which in retrospect had to be faked) glowed. No mention of the bras’ country of origin appeared. The photos that showed off the delicate feminine features and the variety of colors made them attractive. Reviews supported the idea that products were true to size.

After checking the size chart and reviews, Stick Chick ordered her “usual” size in two colors: pink and light blue.

Puzzling to the point of comical, the supposed pink one could be better described as “soft peach” (which was not even an option.) But it was not so unattractive as to dissuade her from keeping it. Likewise, the light blue could better be described as “smoky seafoam green.” Again, not what she expected but pretty too.

The surprise she discovered, about which there was no mention in the product description, was the extenders included in the package with each bra. Bonus.

Had the extenders matched the bras, it might have been more so. The soft peach bra included a neon pink extender. The smoky seafoam green had an added electric medium-blue one.

Chinese Bra IMG_2862

Stick Chick imagined the factory offloaded overstock extenders to gain favor for sending freebies. That, or they’d unknowingly hired either a colorblind employee or one with zero fashion sense.

Stick Chick tried the bras on for size and determining they fit fine without using extensions, laundered them. The rub came after the first wash. Both bras shrunk so much that they no longer fit. Not even close. No way, no how.

Realizing the true purpose of the included extenders, she thought they should have come with this notice:

“We know they don’t match, but hold on to them. You’re gonna need them.”

Judge the lack of QC for yourself and make a mental note of this the next time your government wants to arrange a trade deal with China for something slightly more important like, say, I don’t know, scaffolding or airplane parts.

Can we just make sure it includes a clause about quality control?