Sunday, November 19, 2023

New Birds in the Yard

 If they gave out awards for trash picking, my daughter The Heir would garner the gold. But if you think about it, championship trash picking is intrinsically rewarding. You come home with better stuff than some stupid trophy.

Yesterday we had a little pre-Thanksgiving get-together here at Chateau Johnson, since the Heir is going to Harrisburg to have Thanksgiving with her significant other's family. When Heir and her s.o. arrived at our house yesterday, I head a little hubbub in the front yard. Then she came to the door and said, "Mom, there's someone here to see you!"

EXHIBIT A: Someone

It was a breezy afternoon. The birds were teeter-tottering back and forth, and their wings flap too. The unit still had its sale tag (although not the price).

Heir trash picked this from in front of a house in Germantown. It was in a plastic garbage bag at the curb. She lugged it all the way to West Philadelphia before she unwrapped it to see if it was damaged. That's a bus and a regional rail line and another bus.

It works perfectly.

EXHIBIT B: L'Oiseau en Up de Close

If I had stacks and stacks of cash, my whole yard would be covered with such wonderful things. But this is far sweeter than buying a dozen silly metal lawn ornaments. This one was free!

EXHIBIT C: L'autre Oiseau

This is the happy outcome of teaching your youngsters to sift through other people's discards. Both of my daughters learned trash picking at my knee, but living in the city they can elevate their achievements to new heights.

Never mind that they both have jobs they like, jobs that make a positive difference in their communities. Never mind that they both have amiable gentlemen as partners. My kids can trash pick. Say what you want, that's a skill.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

In Which I Ponder the Ultimate Fate of My Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Runners

 Wow! Look at the length of that title! Might be a Gods Are Bored record! Long story short, I'm at a crossroads with my beloved Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Runners. It's decision time.

A little background information first.

My feet are the part of my body that scream "She's a witch! BURN HER!" I have bunions, hammer toes, and fallen arches. Between 2009 and 2021 I didn't have one single pair of comfortable shoes. I had to size up two numbers to find anything that would fit over my gnarly feet.

Finally, in desperation, I went with The Fair to R.E.I. to look at their shoes. If there's no R.E.I. in your hood, let me introduce you: It's an outdoor goods emporium that manages to be rugged and bougie simultaneously. Not my kind of shopping experience, necessarily, but desperation will do that to you.

Fair and I went to the shoe department, and a nice outdoorsy kinda guy listened to my foot woes and disappeared into the stockroom. He returned with a box. When he unwrapped the goods inside, Fair exclaimed, "Ew! Don't buy those, they're hideous!"

Undeterred, I tried them on. It was like Dorothy landing back in Kansas with Toto in her arms. Ugly they might have been, but Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Runners were the absolute tits.


Fair wasn't lying. They aren't things of beauty. But they are joys forever.

Altras are lightweight and arch-support-free, with zero drop and roomy toe boxes. The price point is competitive. The colors are a bit ... umm ... intense, but oh well! When you have witch feet, you'll settle for any hue.

And boy, did I settle. I settled right into those Altra puppies like I was born in them. I was such a satisfied customer that I joined the Altra fan page on Facebook. There, when I wistfully commented that I wish I could get Altras in black leather, I was led to Altra Torins. In shiny black leather. The best old lady teacher shoes ever.

So I had a pair of Altra Lone Peak 6 and a pair of Altra Torin 5. Then I bought a second pair of both. Then, in an uncharacteristic burst of self-indulgence, I bought the Altra Lone Peak waterproof hiking boots. For Anneland, and boy oh boy are they perfect.

This is where the Ultimate Fate part comes in.

It's November. That time of year when the Philadelphia Mummers Parade is coming into view.

Last year one little thing marred my Mummers Parade bliss. My feet hurt. The shoes I bought at the thrift store and painted gold might have been two sizes too big, but they still bit my bunions savagely.

My first pair of Lone Peak Trail Runners have given me two good years and are still rocking on. But I need a pair of gold shoes for the parade. Once I douse the trail runners in gold spray paint, they won't be good for daily use anymore. But they will give me many awesome struts on Broad Street...

It's a quandary.

I have until December 31, 2023 to make a final decision. I'm inclined to sacrifice the daily use of my first pair of Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Runners on the altar of having a super comfortable pair of golden slippers to strut in during every Mummers Parade for the rest of my life.

Sacrifices, sacrifices! Let no one say Anne Johnson doesn't sweat for her art.

Friday, November 10, 2023

In Which I LARP

Welcome back to "The Gods Are Bored," if you've kept the faith all this time. My name is Anne Johnson, and I talk to book case brackets and bored deities. Not necessarily in that order.

It's no secret that I've been struggling at work since September. Mightily. But this here girl knows her some struggle. That which does not kill me only makes me more stubborn.

One gambit that has always worked for me when I'm struggling is to veer off into a fantasy world. And knowing this about myself, I have to wonder: Where has LARP been all these years that it took me so long to find it?

Since I myself didn't know what LARP was until about 2019, I'm going to attempt to define it for you. LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. Basically you join a group, create a character for yourself that fits the parameters of whatever game that group is playing, and you go off into the woods to be that character for a weekend with lots of other people doing the same thing.

Like, dang. This was my entire childhood in the 1960s. 

There is, of course, a big difference between pretending a fallen log is a dragon and riding it while your buddies slash the underbrush with sticks (1965) and attending a modern LARP (2023). LARPs are, so far as my limited understanding goes, based on rules that have descended from Dungeons & Dragons. In other words, the whole thing is complicated. It's almost akin to going to an exotic foreign port as a tourist who knows a few basic phrases of the language and nothing else.

Not only that, these LARPers really know their stuff. They have fabulous gear and deep understanding of the process. They camp overnight at the LARP property from Friday until Sunday! Again, dang. Hats off. This is serious fun.

Several times before the pandemic I attended this LARP and gave it up as a botch. I just couldn't get it at all. It didn't help that I was clearly at least a decade older than the other "older" players, and basically old enough to be almost everyone's mom.

But last spring, this group of LARPers started a whole new campaign. I went down a few times to help spruce up the property, and I got to know them. They, in turn, took me under their wings and helped me fit in. Since everything was new in a fresh campaign, I was a little less lost (only a little).

This fall, LARP has saved me.

My character is Feather. She has an arcane shield and direct knockback, level five wing it, arcane restore, and umami blood type. She has joined a monster-fighting vanguard as a healer. If that makes no sense to you, I totally get it. Still wrapping my own noggin around it.

The LARP is held on a private property near the Pinelands. It's part piney woods and part Christmas tree farm, all tucked away from the world of public education and highway upgrades. The people are smart, funny, cheerful and youthful. There are golems, and basilisks, and hydras, and zombies, and booby traps, and lava pits, and then dinner is served.

I have attended three events since school started. The game is held once a month.

When I set off for LARP last weekend on an early Saturday morning, I was so beaten down and dispirited that I mulled just driving to the beach instead to spend the day pacing some lonely stretch of boardwalk. Instead I went to the game, and it totally breathed life into this withered brain of mine.

You want to get LARP in a nutshell? I was with a group of players, and a vulture happened to fly overhead. I launched into my whole Sacred Thunderbird prayer, which invariably draws strange looks, and instead of those s. l., the whole group that I was with dropped their gear and started praising the Sacred Thunderbird without really knowing what they were praising. When they discerned that it was a carrion bird, they praised it with all the enthusiasm of true Vulture believers!

I think I have found a new tribe.

Readers, I'm still wading through the Gods Are Bored archives, excising spam comments. It's a herculean task, but heartwarming to see all the great comments left on this site by so many of you, over and over again. May the bored Gods bless you, early and often!