Friday, November 20, 2009

Farmville Anonymous

"Hello. My name is Lou and I'm a Farmville addict".
"Hello, Lou"

It's time to face my addiction. Look in the mirror and recognize my psychological dependence.

On farming.

Farming? Come on! In my real life I can hardly keep a plant alive, let alone plant, fertilize and harvest everything from roses to red peppers. If fact, last week I accidentally watered a cactus with Sprite.

I can't tell you how many times I've admired somebody's garden and unsuccessfully tried to plant similar flowers in my yard. My neighbors just shake their heads with pity when I arrive home from Lowes with flowers, soil, mulch, and all the optimism one could muster.

"Oh, dear," one neighbor says. "When will she learn?" "You have to give her credit for trying," another observes. " I hope she doesn't bring down our property values," remarks a third.

Farmville is different. The soil has no clay or rocks in Farmville. I don't get sweaty when I garden in Farmville. And everything I plant grows in Farmville.

I can enter the magical world of Farmville with a couple clicks of the mouse. It's a wonderful place for brown-thumbers like me. There's only one way to kill a plant.


Which fully explains my addiction.

In Farmville you can plant a variety of seeds, with germination times ranging from 4 hours (for Strawberries) to 4 days (for artichokes). Coffee is ready to be harvested 16 hours after planting, while aloe vera is ready in 6 hours. My farm has anywhere from 6 to 12 different fruits, vegetables or flowers growing at one time, all ripening at various times around the clock. And if you don't harvest them within 30 minutes or so of their ripening they wither away.

And it's not just the plants that get harvested. Oh, no! I have 2 barns with 20 cows each (93% ready at this time). I also have to worry about harvesting the truffles from my pigs, the horsehair from my horses, the wool from my sheep, the down feathers from my ducks, the eggs from my chickens and the milk from my goats. (I also have an elephant, but his peanuts are collected only about once a week.)

Which, again, fully explains my addiction.

Unlike my real neighbors, my Farmville neighbors do not laugh at me when I plant roses. In fact neighbors in Farmville help each other with their farms (and get rewarded for it with Farmville money and experience). I send my FV neighbors gifts, and receive gifts from them in return. Just today I received a chicken, a purple fence and a goat topiary!

Farmville also has a very nice market (where you can buy seeds, animals, barns, and other useful things like bicycles and butter churns ). I have my eye on a pink outhouse, that is selling for 8 Farmville bucks.

But what I really need to buy is that wagon.

So I can get on it.

And get on with my life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Salem's Lot Flashback

I'm a book on CD junkie and just finished listening to Salem's Lot, a Steven King book about vampires settling in a small Maine town. I read the book years ago, when it was first published in 1975. It scared the crap out of me then. Thirty-four years have passed and guess what? It scared the crap out of me again.

Actually, it may have been worse this time around, since I wasn't the one reading the book. An actor with a very convincing voice was reading it to my car...when I was alone....driving in the the little town of Irmo's Lot, S.C.

Aside from the fright factor, it was interesting to note how much society has changed in 34 years.

First of all, there were no cell phones in 1975. If fact Salem's lot had a 'party line' system, which sounds much more exciting than it really is. A party line is where neighbors share a telephone line and can basically listen in to each others' conversations. We had one for a few years when I was a kid growing up in Western New York. But sadly, we didn't live on Wysteria Lane (the setting for Desperate Housewives) and the available conversations were about as entertaining as a reruns of test-patterns on television. (e.g. "What time does Bingo start in Bergholz tonight?")

With that said, cell phones would have really come in handy in Salem's Lot. Seriously, can you think of an example of when a cell phone would be more helpful? (Your phone lines are cut...vampires are chasing you around your home....)

Another societal change that I noted is that they did not have 911 service back in the least not in Salem's Lot. When the teacher had a heart attack after facing a vampire, he gave Susan his doctor's phone number to call (before passing out).

And, of course, doctors made house calls in 1975 (in Salem's Lot.) When the people in town started dropping like flies (thanks to the vampires), the doctor was running from house to house like a marble in a pinball machine. I don't know what is more unlikely in 2009: vampires or doctors making house calls.

Cigarette smoking was also prevalent in the book. After every vampire attack, Ben and his friends would pull out cigarettes to calm their nerves. But then again, I don't think any of the characters lived long enough in Salem's Lot (thanks to afore-mentioned vampires) to suffer the effects of cancer.

I know that the Twilight series has been a phenomenal success. I've read a couple of the books and enjoyed them. But if you want to read the ORIGINAL vampire book (not counting Dracula), check out Salem's Lot. It should scare the crap out of you.

If nothing else you'll learn about life in the olden days of the '70s.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Toni Home Perms

Every now and them my children ask me to help them curl their hair.

Flash back to my childhood.

I would NEVER ask my mom for help curling my hair. I was the victim of way too many home permanents. In fact, I would run away as fast as I could when she came near me with a Toni Home Permanent box containing toxic chemicals and 52 pink torture devices in varying sizes.

In my Mom's defense, she had the very best intentions in mind. She wanted to make me pretty. The problem was that I was a tomboy with very unruly hair. And Home Perms did not make me pretty. Home Perms made me look like a poodle.

The 'Home Perm Season' in my house was typically the week before Easter. My Mom would stealthily approach, box in her hand and say, "Girls! Look what I brought home for you! A Toni Home Permanent!"

The first year my sister and I were willing guinea pigs, sitting nervously throughout the treatment, which involved rolling hair onto scores of rollers, overlapping each other onto our heads, being doused with noxious chemicals and remaining still as the chemicals seeped into our hair, heads, and clothing. After what seemed like hours, my Mom would take out the rods and rinse the chemicals from our hair.

It wasn't until my hair dried that reality sunk in. My hair had expanded exponentially, in every possible direction. To say my hair was frizzy is like saying a root canal might sting a little.

And there was one fact about home permanents. They were permanent. Nothing but time - or scissors - could get those curls to relax.

My house would smell like Toni home permanents for days. As if my new poodle-do wasn't obvious enough, you could smell me coming a block away. I can recall my 4th grade teacher looking at me the Monday after my Mom had her way with me saying:

"Mary Lou, did you get a Toni home permanent? You look look very.... (still searching for words)... you look very....curly!"

"No, she stuck her finger into a light socket", Alan Clark replied helpfully.

"That was no finger in a light socket mishap," said Miss Forth. "Can't you smell her Toni Home Permanent?"

By this time I was sunk so deep into my chair that only the tip of my afro was showing.

Thankfully, those days are over. When my daughters ask me to help them curl their hair I pull out the electric rollers, or curling irons, and voile!

And if they don't like how it looks, they can wash it out.