my jaundiced eye

the absurdities of life

Category: family

family tree

family tree-2

Politics, gun violence, russia and porn stars have worn me out so I will turn to another soul deadening topic, family. MJE tends to roam alone with the OB&C as an occasional traveling companion. Perfection. However, once a year I am burdened with one of the fragments of flotsam floating in my familial gene pool in the form of my half-sister, astrozeneca. Many years ago she abandoned her perky nineteen fifties given name and was reborn a self-proclaimed sufi, purportedly ascetic and mystical. Well if asceticism means that she limits herself to herbal tea infusions, comfy shoes, voluminous stretch pants and injesting only those foodstuffs prepared by others and which require no effort on her part, then I guess she’s ascetic. As far as mystical, that’s a mighty grey area. According to merriam webster, mystical means “inspiring a sense of spiritual mystery, fascination and awe.” Well it’s a mystery to me how we could possibly be related. And in point of fact, she does inspire a profound fascination with the thought of putting my head in an unlit oven. Awesome.

Siblings aside, MJE and the OB&C have two offspring with whom my loyal readers will be familiar, daughter albatross and son knot, neither of whom displays a single intellectual or cultural trait of ours, good or bad. Albatross is easing comfortably into her late forties having conned us into paying her freight since birth by producing two grand children. She supplements our generous contributions by taking full advantage of the largesse of the united states of america, the state of california, the county of alameda, and the city of oakland. We suspect she is also a grifter of some success as exhibited by her elaborate and presumably expensive head to toe tatts. We were able to pry loose her elder child bandoliera early on and she has miraculously grown into a wonderful young woman unscathed by her early childhood brush with her mother’s narcissistic personality disorder. But in a surprise move, albatross issued forth a second child, jesus! one day shy of bandoliera’s 17th birthday. A miracle baby, apparently the result of a virgin birth as any human paternal being has thus far failed to materialize, at least to us. We have every confidence that she’s got her financials covered in that regard, although the notion of birthing a child in order to guarantee an income stream is deeply perverted to say the very least

Then we have son knot and his long-suffering wife, alhambra. Knot is a graduate of the university of georgia, but is of the opinion that college is a complete waste of time. According to him, success in life boils down to having the right contacts. Wish we’d known that before we went into the poor house to put him through four years of wasted education when we might have simply signed him up for the rotary club. In fact he states with some pride that he never learned a damned thing in college. We could not agree more.

Knot and Alhambra have three little moppets in their clutch; apricot, seymour and the ear-splitting caboose decibelle. They are as different from one another as avocados are to armadillos. Apricot is a pile driver, unwise to get in her way. Destined to be the big boss. Seymour is the thoughtful and kind one, also apparently something of a savant, a whiz with numbers, especially sports stats. Destined to be a very successful bookie or a hedge fund manager. Decibelle is the wild card, a vegan from birth she subsists on pasta and strawberries. She is destined for something beyond our current realm of knowledge; discovering the source of dark matter, figuring out what sketchy stuff sarah huckabee sanders has in her past that keeps her from getting security clearance, or perhaps she’ll hop aboard the astral plane with astrozeneca. We’ll be watching from the other side.


all in the family

all in the family

In the interest of cutting back governmental spending and streamlining bureaucracy, the conald has opted to appoint his son-in-law, jarred to replace the entire cabinet, joint chiefs and white house landscaping crew. Although he has no governmental, diplomatic, military or horticultural experience, jarred, in the conald’s words, “brings a really, really great combination of ignorance, hubris and entitlement” to the tired washington establishment. All other senior governmental duties will fall to daughter e-vanka, a woman so placid that MJE wonders if she might just be on some sort of anti-seizure meds. Reports are that both kids will donate their chump change government salaries to their favorite (totally tax deductible) causes like unplanned parenthood and meals on heels. They will not however be entirely cost-free to u.s. taxpayers who will foot the bill for their staff, offices, secret service protection, travel expenses and refurbished government issued galaxy 7’s. Ditto new understated mid-price wardrobes for jarred (men’s warehouse) and the lady (steinmart) in an effort to avoid having their underlings resent the fact that the bosses’ typical attire costs more than their annual take home pay.

Even though jarred and e-vanka are assuming the lion’s share of the responsibilities, there are still a number of areas which will require management. Sons donju and ferret have their hands full pretending they’re running dad’s businesses plus squeezing in daily clandestine meetings with him to find out exactly what he wants them to do. That leaves tiphoney and barren and he doesn’t seem to be cut out for a high profile position.

Since all the good stuff is already taken, poor tiph will have to settle for sloppy seconds, as she has throughout her life. However, what with the budget cutbacks and all, there aren’t that many lower tier jobs left. EPA? No need for that now. Health and human services, ditto. NOAA, nope. FEMA, at best a part time job. National endowments for humanities and the arts, gone unless they teach the art of the deal…

The conald may have underestimated his little also ran, bigly. In hindsight he really should have given her more of a role in the campaign because the girl has over 300,000 followers on instagram. If they’d all gone to the polls and voted for him he might have actually won the popular vote. SAD!



MJE’s persian carpet


So another year come and gone without much to show for it. Fortunately, I have such very low expectations for myself that merely being awake for a time, then being asleep for a time and repeating that every 24 hours or so is enough. It’s great, I am never disappointed. Although I did just read the phantom tollbooth (which was hilarious and thought provoking, but not sure that in this day and age when language is limited to 140 characters it would be understood by most children, or some adults, SAD) and it gave me a momentary twinge about being such a physical and intellectual sloth. But nothing came of it.

As I write, the OB&C is on the phone relating to yet another person the tragic tale of his stolen truck. I would have thought that by now everyone on the planet must have heard about it, but apparently mike in mumbai didn’t yet get the news so is being subjected to the extra long version. He made the fatal mistake of begging the question “how may I help.” If mike’s paid by the call he just blew a whole night’s worth of rupees.

The other day MJE was reading an article from the new york times to the OB&C about melanoma trump’s new cause: cyber-bullying. He looked puzzled. After a long minute or so he turned and asked what exactly is “cyber-bullion.” That my friends, is a question only the gods can answer.

We’ve had the atl circus in town for a bit. Decibelle has made terrific strides and has become a creative and engaging child at long last. And just as forrest gump was always running, she is always skipping, which is a pretty nice thing in and of itself. Anywho, last night she was sitting at the kitchen table with her chin in her hands, musing about something or other and asked me if my mother was alive and I said no (I think knot and alhambra refer to death as being in heaven with the angels, which is surely not where my mother is, that I can tell you), then she asked if my father was alive and I said no. She digested that for a bit and piped up  “you don’t have a mommy and you don’t have a daddy so I guess that’s why you have a husband.” Out of the mouths of babes. Except she has it backwards, that’s why men have wives.

In the spirit of a new year, I thought MJE should try to move beyond a silly blog toward something more substantial . But then I remembered the article in the recent new yorker about ruth draper who wrote and performed short vignettes in the early twentieth century. Later in life she met henry james and asked him if he thought she should go to drama school and pursue a conventional career as an actress. She recalled that “He took a long time to answer,” then lowered his voice and said “no — my dear child. You –– you have woven your own — you have woven your own beautiful — beautiful little persian carpet. Stand on it!” And so I shall.

MJE wishes all of her loyal followers a better than average new year but short of that may the end of 2017 find us no worse off than we are today.

Low expectations.


all in the family


Okay so MJE was going to give p.e.t. a pass this week on his cabinet choices, but how can I pass up ben carson’s touting his having once lived in public housing as a child as qualifying him to head up the department of housing and urban development. Well with that low bar of skill sets as a template MJE puts forth for consideration the following candidates to round out the conald’s cabinet.

Let’s start with secretary of state. The conald is looking for someone who will minimize diplomacy and establish more “transactional” ties to other countries. On its face that seems to indicate that he would approach every alliance with an eye to cost vs benefit and winners vs losers. Even if that means that we disengage from nato because, in his mind, there are members whom he feels do not pay their fair share. The fact that this policy might well lead to the proliferation of nuclear capabilities by  countries to protect themselves from aggressive neighbors doesn’t not seem to be of concern. In fact, the conald says have at it and may the best arsenal win. Respectful cooperation is for losers.

So with that in mind MJE puts forth decibelle for the position. Her weaponry consists of just one extremely powerful weapon: her vocal chords. With one diamond-shattering howl she can bring an entire household (or grocery store, school room or if necessary, an american adversary) to its knees without a drop of blood being shed or a dollar spent. Talk about cost effective! She, like p.e.t. never concedes defeat and does not stop until she bends others to her will. Putin, abbas, kim jung il…run for cover and a pair of earplugs. You are doomed.

Now, let’s take a look at commerce. I hesitate to be so bold as to put my name forward, but frankly I am totally qualified. MJE spends an inordinate amount of time engaged in it, amazon, ebay, etsy…I know them all better than anyone else. I endure their unrelenting onslaught of advertising algorithms and emails without submission and in fairness, do buy locally whenever possible. That is when the price is lower, availability is better and ease of purchase is superior, which unfortunately means not much.

Secretary of the interior is a slam dunk: daughter albatross, If anyone cares more about the interior, that is her own, then no one does. She is dedicated to that cause to the exclusion of everything else.

Secretary of defense, see above re: decibelle.

National security advisor: ditto.

Secretary of transportation, alhambra our lsd (long suffering daughter in law) would be an excellent choice. She spends hours every day on our country’s crumbling roads and bridges toting her offspring hither and thither. A battle tested road warrior, she will insure that the infrastructure improvements required to make her carpools easier and drive times shorter will be given top priority.

Head of the faa: Son knot seems a good pick, he travels for business a lot and not on some tricked out private jet. He feels the pain of american flyers, the ridiculous hub and spoke system, the inflated flight times to cover delays and enable airlines to crow about their on-time records, the seemingly endless array of surcharges, the cramped seating and surly service, not to mention the disgusting flying public who dress as though they are either headed to bed or just woke up and haven’t had a chance to shower. The last bit is probably out of the purview of the federal government but MJE thought she’d throw that in because something really needs to be done about it.

Small business administration obviously goes to the OB&C. He has managed to assiduously keep our business small through outmoded product lines, inflated salaries, inadequate employee oversight, understaffing and inertia. A perfect fit for running a governmental agency.

Frankly, MJE is pretty sure I could fill the entire cabinet with members of my family and the country wouldn’t be any worse off than with the current picks. Admittedly none of us has any governmental experience or know how but that does not seem to be a prerequisite for appointment anyway.

Just like the family trump.

the joys of burdenhood

the joys of burdenhood

Well it has been a difficult stretch chez MJE. The OB&C and I have been desperately trying to extricate ourselves from our daughter Albatross’s lifelong self-induced financial plight. A pretty bad seed  from the get go she has blossomed through the years into an extremely onerous and invasive plant. She has, however produced two wonderful children, which is about as miraculous as the immaculate conception. And of course grand children are the ultimate insurance policy. Lifetime coverage.

Loyal readers are familiar with one of the children, Bandoliera-Saturnalia whom we raised and who has now graduated from college and flown off to New York to break into the art biz. That is not quite as easy as it seemed from the comfort of her apartment above our garage. She did luck into some great digs on Bleecker Street, which she is enjoying immensely. It goes without saying that it’s on our dime. But she at least is somewhat gainfully employed at one of those stores that sell absurdly priced “bohemian” clothing and faux vintage stuff. Sadly, she is partial to both of those and I suspect will never bring home any actual money. But man she and her apartment will be lookin’ good!

But back to Albatross, as I may have mentioned in a previous post, one day shy of B-S’s 17th birthday, just when we thought our necks might be unburdened, the aforementioned up and produced another child, Krylon. A sweet and bright boy, the OB&C was immediately smitten. And god knows (which theoretically he should and for which he earns a major black mark in my book) it’s not his fault he is saddled with Albatross as a mother. As dark and inventive as MJE’s imagination is even I cannot conjure up what sort of wildly dysfunctional world he might inhabit.

The OB&C and I are footing the bill for a private school for Krylon (with roughly the same tuition as Princeton) so he might have a fleeting glimpse of what “normal” people are like. However, normal in northern CA would never pass muster in most other places. Case in point, the school refuses to celebrate Columbus Day, choosing instead to celebrate Indigenous People day. Well sunbeams, have you ever seen sears or home depot offer blockbuster deals during their indigenous people day sales?

And so the noose remains tightly knotted until MJE and the OB&C firmly resolve to cut it and let Krylon’s chips fall where they may. When we do, if given the option we’d like to have it done by guillotine if possible.

prairie woman cookin’

pioneer woman

This week MJE finally had enough of dated TV shows and made the switch to the channel of what’s happening now, the Food Network. The line up during my time slot is eclectic, Rachel Ray, the Barefoot Contessa, some buxom bleached blonde chef who talks to her food and of course, teeth and tits Giada. But by far the most compelling character on the roster is the Pioneer Woman. A corn-fed, thirty-something redhead who favors violently patterned clothing, speaks in a baby voice and wears pigtails, without being ironic.

She and her husband Lance (or is it Link) live out on the prairie somewhere with their passel of home-schooled kids. He refers to her as Ma so I’ve never caught her given name. Lance or Link seems to spend all his time trucking cattle from one place to another while Ma keeps the home fires burning and massive quantities of good all American food piled on the table.

Speaking of which, the pioneer woman’s hearty entrees always come with lots of fixin’s. There are no “g’s” in the pioneer woman’s gerunds. She’s always gettin’ something out of the pantry, or choppin’ something, or usin’ what’s on hand because she isn’t goin’ shoppin’ until the end of the week. But bein’ a good prairie cook she always has ample supplies in the basement,  in preparation for the apocalypse no doubt.

The episode I watched involved Ma and her best friend June planning a graduation party for their daughters who have been besties since birth. If a kid is home schooled I’m not sure what graduation means other than you are literally kicked out of the house, but at least Ma and June’s girls got a party before they hit the pavement. And what a shindig!. It had a steer ropin’ game, huge chalk boards for well wishers to write sappy notes to the graduates, a chocolate fountain and a Dixieland band, which seemed a bit off the western theme but way to think outside the box Ma.

The menu was mexamericana snout to tail. Tortilla chips and cheesey dip, tacos, chili (with all the fixin’s of course), and for dessert, rice crispy treats for dippin’ in the chocolate fountain. And boy did ma cook like a madwoman for the do. Frankly MJE thinks June took advantage, but what do I know. Ma made everything from scratch, even the cheesy dip, no Velveeta and Rotel for the prairie cook. And the secret to her rice crispy treats: addin’ mini marshmallows at the end!

The party was a huge success. The girls loved it. And watching the gang trying to line dance to Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey was worth every minute of MJE’s precious gas chamber time.

these shoes are made of satin

Shoes pic 10:29:14-5

My father died when I was eight and my brother was three. A boy’s loss of his father at age three is Freud’s sweet spot. The whole Oedipal thing supposedly kicks in and his life goes all to hell in a mental handbasket. That was a spot-on prognosis in this case. Anywho, we were fortunate enough to be raised by a wonderful nurse with only the occasional maternal intrusion to screw things up. My brother loved nothing more than clanking around the house in our mother’s high heels, you could hear him for miles. Her collection made Imelda Marcos look like a slacker. The specialty was outrageous styles purchased in bulk at the annual Krauss Department store shoe sale. One might even say that she loved her shoes to an unhealthy degree. One time when we were on what was euphemistically billed as a “family vacation” some of her shoes flew out of a suitcase strapped onto the roof of our car. Without a moment’s hesitation, she careened off the highway, slammed on the brakes and dispatched all of her offspring onto Interstate 10 to retrieve them. Apparently she was of the opinion that children come and go, but shoes are forever. So, back to the boy, time came for my brother to start kindergarten and he had to take some wacky test to be admitted. One of the questions they asked was, “What are shoes made of?” and he responded entirely appropriately “satin, of course.” Instead of fast tracking him to the Fashion Institute they declared him too immature for school. My mother was never more proud.

we’re not quitters we’re campers!

We're not quitters we're hikers #2  pic-2

Several summers ago when our granddaughter Apricot was visiting us, the OB&C declared that they should go camping. He cleared a level place in the woods up the hill from the house, built a fire ring, surrounded it with luminous pink plastic “adirondack chairs” (visible from the international space station) and declared it ready for action. We hauled up the tent, readied the gear, and headed back to the house for pre-adventure cocktails. Well, as one can imagine, after a pop or two the thought of trudging up the hill through the woods in the gloom of night to sleep on the ground in a tent became less and less appealing. Being a traditionalist as well as unimaginative, he hauled out that old workhorse, the rain delay ploy. “Uh oh, I think I just felt a sprinkle, yes, definitely felt a sprinkle, no doubt about it. With this heavy weather coming in, we probably ought to wait until tomorrow.” Good luck with that, think she just fell off a turnip truck? He neglected to factor in that he was dealing with a 4’5”, 43 lb hunk of forged steel with the determination of an army ant who was NOT to be denied her promised camping experience. Apricot struck a defiant stance, shot him a withering look, grabbed her sleeping bag, pillow and knapsack , donned her head lamp and stomped out of the house in her pajamas declaring, as she climbed through the darkness to the tent. “We’re not quitters, we’re campers! “ The OB&C trotted after her like a whipped dog.

the first dog


Years ago the old ball and chain (OB&C) decided we should get a dog. I was adamantly against it, pulled the nuclear option and said “Absolutely not, it’s either me or the d….” I never even got to the “og” part before he was out of the house and backing down the driveway. The dog was a complete pain in the ass, high strung, opinionated, ill tempered, picky eater, afraid of thunder and lightening and a racist. One stormy night he jumped the fence and ran off. OB&C sprang into action, had hundreds of flyers printed with the dog’s picture and nailed them on every telephone pole within a five mile radius. He offered a reward for any information on the dog’s whereabouts and spent weeks scouring the neighborhood. I think I can state without fear of contradiction that if I had jumped a fence in a thunderstorm and run off he would not have expended a fraction of that effort. Someone finally called about the dog and we tracked him down to the hood where he was living like the canine equivalent of Hugh Hefner. We had to drag him back, literally. True to form he lived forever and at the end required more care than my mother-in-law with Alzheimers.

welcome to my madhouse


Just to clarify from the outset, this is really all about me. I suppose that is pretty evident when your blog platform is However, I do plan to cover a broader range of topics other than myself, but do remember, I am the overarching theme.

Just to start, perhaps a bit of biographical background might be helpful. However, that’s sort of a problem, even if I change the names to protect the innocent. That said, as far as I am concerned there aren’t too damned many innocents lying around.

I was born in New Orleans into a household whose cast of characters even Tennessee Williams couldn’t conjure up. Six mismatched siblings under one roof ostensibly under the care of their parents whose interests, for the most part, did not involve child rearing. Cliché alert! The household retainers did the heavy lifting.

I am going to stop before I launch into a re-write of the Help, which frankly I couldn’t even read and gave it to my daughter in law for Christmas. It now has a place of pride along side their other two books, “What a Dog” a biography of UGA, the University of Georgia mascot, and a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus.

But I digress. Things were smooth for a while in our little lunatic asylum, relatively speaking. There was the time my father’s collection of snakes escaped from the cage in the backyard, which caused a stir, and when the neighbors’ gibbon brachiated onto a power line and knocked out the lights for almost a whole day. And of course, my older brothers’ proclivity for public drunkedness and subsequent incarceration was an ongoing irritant. But don’t these things happen in every family if you look closely enough.

Now I inhabit my on madhouse, come on in.